Some beautiful places.

Well, it is now Friday the 22nd of August. We have taken care of all the paperwork needed to officially leave Niue. Like everything out here the paperwork was a pleasure. Officials super friendly and happy to help a very nice treat for us. So, Willow is basically ready for a morning departure and I find myself sitting on board, hiding from the rain that has enveloped us. I decided to put up a few more shots Bonnie and I thought were pretty good of the natural world we have experienced.

Below is Bonnie checking out all the little critters that live in the coral. She can spend hours and hours in the water. By the time she usually get out, she is nearly blue from cold, and that is in water that is over 80 degrees.

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Here is Jason, getting ready to try and spear a fish or two, not sure of the outcome on this particular day, but likely we did not end up with much. None of us have had great success with the spear guns, ah well; just the same, it is fun to swim around with the intent anyway.

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Bonnie is the real water rat on Willow. She is getting very good at free diving now, able to get quite deep for longer and longer times. I tend to spend my time in the outrigger sliding along the surface. Here she is having fun with the cameraman.

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Yep, we see lots of sharks out here, but they do not seem all that interested in us. Usually they come by to have a look at us, but then decide we are not of much interest and move on. On the other hand, we have met several local islanders along the way that have some rather nasty scars from shark bites. The young boy on Palmerston, John, had a very recent bite on his calf from a Moray Eel. Luckily it did not clamp down, just took a taste and let go. I am amazed how comfortable we all have gotten around the sharks; they are really fun to watch. A new game I have played is to put a big chunk of fish on a big hook and lower it over the side. We then climb into the water and hold onto Willow and watch what happens. After a few minutes the sharks show up and the show begins. It is really amazing to watch them hit the bait and not let go, not until we haul them out of the water that is.

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This is Matt from the boat “Robyn,” doing a superman.

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Back on land now, we have a few good pictures from here on Niue. There are numerous caves around the island to climb around in and swim through. Here is Jason after emerging from a cave walk onto the reef.

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This is a shot of the mooring field off the west side of the island. It is rather deep and rock strewn for anchoring here, so all of us hook into the moorings set there by the local yacht club. That’s right, there is an official Yacht Club here, certified and everything. They serve cold beer and drinks, ice cream and other tasty treats. Not to mention being a nice shady spot with tables and chairs for us cruisers to take a break and meet one another.

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A few more cave shots here. Jason looking a bit small in the cave.

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Jason looking even smaller in another cave.

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Bonnie is endless in here energy for exploration. Non-stop on the go. Niue was a good place to rent bicycles and spend days riding around to see what is out there.

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There I am. I gave up the camera for a while I guess.

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Bonnie and Jason doing a little water ballet for me. Guess you had to be there to fully appreciate the entertainment value. It was very, very funny.

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My beautiful and entertaining Bonnie.

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That is me in there playing cave monkey. It was good fun climbing around, then getting to jump back down into the cool waters.

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Another parting shot of Willow as we look for a good place to anchor. Bonnie is up on the forward sail bundle getting a better view down into the water for coral heads and the like. You can also see the outrigger canoe stored up on deck. We did not move far that day, in protected waters, so, left the dingy trailing astern and the canoe just set on deck.

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Well, there you go, a bit more to see I guess. Will likely be a while before the next update. We should be in Tonga within 3 days then to Fiji by the end of September. We will be moving onto the delivery catamaran and heading for Thailand by the 5th of October or so, but will try to keep up on our movements as I can.

Plan of the next few months.

Below are some pictures and words giving a quick look at what Bonnie and I have been up to the past months. There is always more I want to say and other pictures to show you all, but not this time. We have been on the island of Niue for about a week now and are preparing to leave in the morning (Saturday the 23rd I think it is). So, I will keep this one short in order to do the few things on Willow that need doing.

At the moment it is actually completely cloudy here, gray and rain are the order of the day it seems. Should not last all that long judging by looking at the weather reports we can find on-line.

The next stop for Willow will be the northern islands of Tonga. We will have about 3 weeks or so to spend there and then we have to move on to Fiji where we will haul Willow out for the cyclone season (about 6 months). Fiji was not the origional plan, New Zealand was. Things changed quickly when we were offered a job helping another couple deliver a 60′ catamaran from Fiji to Thailand.

That is the future path for now. Fiji to Thailand on another boat, then working in Thailand on the boat doing a bunch of maintenance and rebuilding. Beyond that is a complete unknown. We are always looking for interesting jobs as we move around, so if anyone has something in mind for us, let us know.

For now we are content with out situation and are looking forward to Tonga in a few days.

OK, good morning from us on Willow. Until next time.

Friends in the South Pacific.

Getting pictures of all the beautiful people we meet is not as easy as it may seem. Many people are shy about getting photographed, some people consider is down right rude, most often we simply do not have the camera with us. I went through our pictures from the last months and came up with the following set that I thought were good. Please thank Jason Rose for many of them. He gives us his, we do the same for him. Keeping track of who gets what credit is beyond my ability, so, just enjoy them I suppose.

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These were on the island called Raraka, in the Tuamotus. That is a young Greater Frigate bird that has no mama. So, this little girl has taken to caring for it.

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Also on Raraka. This fellow is grating up coconut for a meal being prepared for us visitors.. There is a wooden paddle he is sitting on with a metal, serrated tool attached to the end that does the job.

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This dude was funny. He had some crazy stories. One of which was getting attacked by a guy in Tahiti wielding a freaking machete. The got chopped in the neck and had a huge chunk of the meat carved out. He laughed when he told that one.

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A brother and sister swam out to visit us on board Willow. Very peaceful, respectful kids. The simply wanted to say hello and share some coconut with us in exchange for a look inside our boat.

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This is the man that tattooed both Jason and I when in Huahine, French Polynesia. Half of his face is covered as well. Very interesting fellow.

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That is Jason’s brother Alex, with a local sweetheart, and Alex is a pretty big guy. Just to give you a little perspective.

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Jason’s other brother, Trevor with a local fisherman in Huahine.

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Ben, Matt and Camilla in Riatea, with some of the local creatures we met on a walk one day.

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A visitor to Willow one morning for coffee.

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On Palmerston now. From the left is Simon, John, Shekinah and Yvonne. These were some of the folks that were our hosts while we visited there.

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David, my good buddy while on Palmerston. He showed us all how to most easily break into coconuts and carve out the meat. Bested us all at spear fishing and was an all around good young man to spend time with. He works nearly 12 hrs a day it seems. Fishing with his father or uncle, then cleaning the fish, then the coconut breaking to feed pigs and chickens. He is 12 years old.

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Other kids on Palmerston.

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Jason and Matt getting a coconut-shucking lesson from David and Johns father, Edward.

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This is John again on Willow, a wild little man.

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Shekinah visiting Willow, quickly found the coolest seat on the boat.

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This was back in Papeete, Tahiti. It was the night Jason, Matt and I played some music downtown and earned a few dollars. These kids all sat there around the guitar case as the change piled up. Instead of pocketing it, they arranged it in neat piles according to value, stacked and counted.

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This picture has nothing to do with locals we have met, I just saw it and remembered as being a very good days sail from Riatea to Bora-Bora in very light winds. That spinnaker was given to us in Mexico and not seen much use. In calm seas it works great and does a bit better than the junk foresail, However, in general we have not found it to increase speed much, relative to the aomount of work needed to get it set up. Perhaps we need something a bit bigger.

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The Outrigger Canoe on Willow.

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There has been a new addition to Willows fleet of vehicles. I mentioned it earlier I am sure, but really want to say a bit more about our Vaka (that is in Marquesian, Va’ a’ in Tahatian and “Wa ka” in Cook island talk) We would call it an outrigger canoe in English. Above you can see how we put in on deck while at anchor and using it often. When under way I take it apart and store the “ama” or outrigger hull on the other side where the inflatable kayak is.

Now that I think about it, we really have quite a few toys on board Willow. Lets see. There are 3 surf boards, one Vaka, on inflatable kayak, our dingy, two kite boards, three big kites and two small training kites, two guitars, a mandolin, a ukulele, a drum, ahh, that about covers it I think. We do not get bored out here.

The Vaka was bought from a local guy in the Marquises, and it would not even float then due to the many holes in it. So, I got a really good deal. It took me several days to put the thing back to gether, but the result was just fine. Below is the sequence of shots as I first re-launched the thing and went for a test spin.

You can see some of the patchwork on the ama where I had to glue and re fiberglass it back together. All I needed was a can of white spray paint to finish the job.

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These rigs are very, very tippy if you lean away from the ama. But they are a beautiful thing to paddle. Fast, quiet and made for the shallows inside the reefs of these islands. It is like floating in a dreamscape when in clear water and only 6inch between you and the life of the coral.

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I did OK, but definitely flipped over several time at first. Eventually you get the hand of the thing and I am pretty stable now. However, I always carry a bailing bucket with me, always. Again, below you can see the unpainted patches in the deck of the vaka. That was my work and it all seems to be holding up. The bottom of the boat needed most of the work. It looked like the previous owner surfed it onto some rocks.

The whole set up only weighs about 30lbs; thus, it is a rather delicate thing out of the water. I have punched several holes in it already while bringing it up and down from the decks of Willow. My technique is good now and have not had any mishaps for a while.

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Besides just heading out for a long paddle around the atolls and islands, we often take it out to a good snorkeling spot. It is easy to drag around and let other take a break from swimming. Here is Jason taking a breather from spear fishing.

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Jason also has an underwater case for his camera and thus can get some unusual shots.

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Here are a few pictures taken by our friends Kay and Craig from their boat Little Wing, a 28’ Bristol Channel Cutter. We are anchored off of Bora-Bora. Bonnie is getting good at the canoe as well. That is her heading over to say hello to Kay.

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It really does feel like you are floating in air when the water is this clear and calm.

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Well, that is about it for canoe pictures. Have to focus on getting more of them. I have paddled kayaks most of my adult life and love them. However, these outrigger canoes are more to my liking. They are not as well suited as kayaks for rough waters and quick maneuvering, but they are fast. It is a whole different skill set when using a one bladed paddle to control everything. The canoe is 24’ long and only about 17’ wide at the widest. Without the ama, it would not sit upright. It is rather difficult to turn quickly because these designs are built to go straight and fast for racing.

I suppose if I had to choose one sport boat to have on board I would probably go for a kayak due to its versatility and heavy weather abilities. Luckily, we do not have to choose, we can do as we please. It seemed like a fun thing to try out while sailing the waters where these water craft seem so at home.

After a few cans of spray paint the rig looks pretty good. It could really use a big sanding and repainting, but I will just mess that up with the way we use it. So, that is all I will do for now.

The parting shot here is of Bonnie and I heading up a river into the middle of Riatea. Sorry you cannot see Bon better, more of her later, promise. We still use the dingy all the time, mostly just to get to the beach, but also for touring around together. But the canoe is way faster that the dink and outboard.

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Bring on the Music

Once again, my lack of journal keeping has left me at a bit of a loss as to where to take up the tale of our travels. Instead of going from place to place and trying to recall all I can, you will get the tour based on different common themes. I hope. First and foremost has got to be the music.

Here we go. A quick look at the various venues we have played over the past 4 months. I seem to be missing some very good pictures of fun nights playing, but will not let that stop me now.

I thought this a great shot of or friend Arek, from the boat “Ariel.” He is traveling with his wife Evona, and they are good fun. He plays the accordion, piano, guitar, probably many more. Evona plays the piano and oboe at a professional level. Cannot find the pictures of the oboe night. She only got it out once for us. We had many good sessions with them. The accordion was always a big hit whenever we played on the beach with locals around. It is not really a common instrument seen out here. Unfortunately Ariel has headed on a different path than us for now and we are not sure when we will see them next. I will miss them. Will look for a picture of the two of them together, but for now will stick to the music.

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Next is a good shot from the island of Huahine, part of French Polynesia. Our audience was a bit thin at this point, but picked up later on as the sun set. Here I am, with Jason Rose in the middle and his brother Alex. Bonnie is just behind Alex there. Most of the island towns we have visited have some sort of central area that is open for all to sit around in the shade and do whatever it is they want.

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Jason Rose has been our steady companion throughout the South Pacific. He is sailing single handed on his boat Bodhran. (www.jasonrose.com).
Here he is working on a song with Bonnie. She is getting much better at the guitar thanks to her perseverance and Jason’s coaching.

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There was one night in Tahiti that really stands out in my memory. It started out with a bunch of us sailors headed downtown in Papeete with the instruments in tow. Matt, Jason and I set up on the downtown waterfront and took a shot at earning some beer money. There were lots of people wandering around. As it turns out, American folk/country/blues draws a lot of attention. We ended up with about $70 in the guitar case in front of us. Unfortunately, in that town $70 is enough for two pitchers of beer, only just enough.

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None-the-less, we wandered around until we heard some great music coming from an alley bar and had a seat. These local guys were awesome musicians. We sat for a while listening. Then, as usually happens someone calls us in when they see the instruments. I jumped in with the mandolin first, and gave it a go. Not to bad, but the island style of music can be very fast for me.

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Jason and Matt jumped in there and we had an event. The three of us would do a song and they join in, then they lead and we try to follow. These fellows were really good. They had no problems figuring out what we were playing and added a huge new sound to all the songs we had been playing together for months. Well, the evening went on and more people crowded into the place. Pretty soon there were hundreds around, often singing along with whatever songs they knew.

That was a very, very fun night. Then we had to make our way back to the boats, and that took a while at 2a.m.

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Here we are back in Huahine. There were many yachts anchored with us and most of them came in to shore this particular evening to see what would happen on a Friday night. Well, much did happen. We ended up working our way down the street stopping and playing wherever anyone seemed interested. These guys were just standing around their truck and asked for a song or two. Jason and I obliged them.

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While playing at the truck another fellow came by and pulled us along to his fishing boat for some more tunes. They were commercial fishermen and just back from a long day on the water. All were in good spirits and we all took turns with the guitar and singing.

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This is a more recent shot, taken at Palmerston Island, a very unique place to say the least. We spent 10 days there. Every morning Edward (blue shirt in middle) would pick us up in his boat and haul us in for a coffee and chat. Then, we would all get to work on the list of things that they asked us to help them with. We fixed heavy earth moving equipment, solar panels, generators (actually, could not fix the generator, needed a part); Jason was able to be a huge help to many of them with their computers and other electronic equipment. Bonnie taught the kids how to fly our big kites (made here a real hero for sure). Matt fixed up all of the broken bicycles lying around. Ben got some video cameras running and the list goes on.

Now, it was not all work. Every day they set out a huge meal for all of us. Followed by another coffee and music of course. Here Jason and I have a go with Tere and Edward.

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These are some shots from several months ago, back in the Tuamotus Islands. Three or four boats anchored up away from the village and had a beach fire and music. Lets see. There was Willow, Bodhran, Ariel, Just Do It (German couple) and Robin (British boat).
It was a spectacular night.

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Here is Matt off of “Robyn” having a go with his guitar.

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Well, that was the quick tour. There were many more nights we played and mornings and afternoons, but do not have pictures of it all. I wish I had more and will try to take more as we go. We have met some fantastic musicians and have been luckily enough to play with them and learn from them. Hopefully there will be many more good times to come.