The Windward Side

After finishing up math and writing, we geared up to be naturalists for the afternoon to learn more about the ecosystem of the islands.  We were on the look out for any new creatures, shells, plants, or landscapes.  It was great to get out and stretch our legs a bit, too.  Some of our favorite finds were… fungi as big as Michael’s foot, driftwood sculptures, tiny spiders, orange aphids, and some new shells to add to our growing collection.  Elizabeth is getting to be quite the “sheller”, rattling off the names of nearly every shell she picks up!  She is our official trader when anyone comes to the boat to trade for shells.  Her expertise and savvy business skills have gained us some quite rare and unique specimens!  After our walk, William hacked some fresh green coconuts open for us to drink and we huddled under a tin roofed hut to wait out a heavy rainstorm.

Unfortunately, George got word that his wife had been hospitalized for her gout, and he had to rush to catch the boat to get…


This morning at 4:45 a.m. the boat began to shake severely.  Both of us were awoken and disoriented with the sensation.  It was as if we were sailing along a bumpy gravel road, but that couldn’t be possible, could it?  The rumbling, grinding sound that came from below our hulls even sounded like that’s what was happening.   Mark leaped out of bed, thinking our anchor had come loose and we were being dragged across the nearby reef.  However the reality was we were experiencing a major earthquake… well, seaquake for us onboard.  It felt as if someone had switched on the jacuzzi jets as the energy vibrated the waters around us.

Sleep still heavy in our eyes and minds, we couldn’t quite comprehend it all.  I looked across the bay toward another sailboat, noticing that their cockpit lights had come on.  We weren’t the only ones who’d been startled and woken up.  Small tremors continued for the next few moments as Mark and I tried to wrap our minds around what had happened.

The VHF chirped…

Peace, Quiet and Family Feuds!

George lives on these tiny islands (Three Sisters) with his family, but are they squatters??  He tells us this land belonged to his ancestors and was leased to an Australian corporation to be used as a copra plantation.  But his “uncle” argues that the land belongs to him.  The high courts are involved and the case of whose land this actually belongs to has been in litigation for six years.  So much of their money has been spent on litigation and lawyers, in fact, that they don’t even have a school building anywhere here.  George says that when this all gets settled, the courts have already granted permission to build a school on the island, but until then, all money is going to legal fees.

He is a soft spoken man who has survived many traumatic sea journeys.  He’s been tossed overboard or had to hang onto the outboard engine from behind to steer when a boat lost steerage (but he claims it wasn’t so bad because at least the engine water was keeping him warm!)  All the harrowing stori…

Anchor Dilemmas, Drowning the Dinghy and Squalls Galore

We were in much need of some peace and a whole lot of quiet after our time with the loads of kids in Santa Ana.  So we rested for a few hours before lifting anchor at 10:45 pm and motoring out of the harbor using the track we’d made coming in.

Once out in open water, I hit the hay with the expectation of being awoken sometime after 2 a.m. for a watch shift.  I didn’t sleep soundly (I never do on that first night out on passage) but I also never got the telltale tap-tap-tap on my foot signaling my turn at the helm.  It was 5:45 before I stumbled out of the cabin apologetically.  Mark said he’d felt fine all night, and so had opted to let me sleep as long as he could.

There were plenty of squalls to keep me busy during my watch, with winds ranging from 4.5 knots all the way up to a tense 23.  I was determined not to wake Mark for a sail change that I was capable of doing myself.  I brought in the Code Zero when the wind died down and it hung limply over the foredeck.  Our speed dropp…

Spirit House!

Here is a photo journal of our trip to the Spirit House.  This is where the village buries the dead chiefs.  Only men are allowed in the house, and it is considered a very sacred place by the local village.