Tiny Bubbles has arrived at
We haven't entirely adjusted to all the western comforts to be found here, but we're working on it. Australia has been good to us for the most part. We sailed to Bundaberg on the east coast as our Customs check-in port and arrived on Thanksgiving Day. Of course Aussies don't celebrate Thanksgiving so it didn't amount to much, but we thought it was neat. We entered Port in the dead of night using the well marked, but narrow channel lights as guides. We had to sail up to a dock in order for customs and quarantine to board and clear us. We had heard rumors that Australian quarantine confiscates all your food, so we had been eating ourselves silly trying to clean out our larder for the past week. It was quite a change from our land fall in Samoa, when we had only a couple of cans of kidney beans left. In any event the only thing Quarantine confiscated was a bit of leftover dried split peas. The next day after clearing we decided we needed to get a bit citified, so we sailed up the river to Bundaberg proper. It was our first river sailing experience and we had to take into accounts tides and currents. It all went well until we came into town, sailed past where we wanted to anchor, tacked and began drifting sideways straight into the Bundy Belle ferry dock. We had forgotten that we had been sailing with the current and we tacked into a strong counter current. It must have been a bit early for the Bubbles crew, because it took us a minute or two to realize the problem, another minute to panic, and the next Josh was running to the bow to throw out the anchor. We finished about 30ft. from the ferry dock. The Ferry driver came stomping out to the end of the dock, in his ill-fitting khaki shorts and white knee socks, ÒYou canÕt anchor there!Ó ÒSorry about that, we got caught in the current and light breeze, we will move off as soon as we can.Ó ÒHmff, the tide wonÕt be changing for another couple hours. hmffÓ Josh quietly jumped in the kayak, took a long line attached to our small danforth, and we kedged off, until we were out of the way of the ferry dock and tucked into a good little anchor spot. We spent a couple of weeks anchored up the river and then had the exciting experience of sailing up-wind down the river. It took us two days because of the tides and we spent a lot of it towing Bubbles using Red Ranger (our inflatable kayak). We anchored in Burnett heads duck pond. We celebrated a quiet, peaceful Christmas and New Years, possibly our last on Tiny Bubbles...
We had such an amazing time sailing up through the N. Vanuatu chain that it was hard to leave, but the Cyclones eventually chased us out. We were able to stop at the incredible, uninhabited (except for a plethora of bird life) Chesterfield reefs and tiny Rainbow Cay. The birds were not sure what to make of us. At one point I had two resting on his fishing rod while I held it for a photo shoot. One kept inching toward me and seemed to want to take a test peck at my shoulder to find out what I was made out of. Heidi received a heavy dose of bird desensitization and lost her fear of our beaked friends (one too many Alfred Hitchcock movies in her childhood). They were everywhere --in our kayak, on our bow, on our stern, on our sail cover, on our bamboo fishing pole, in the water all around the boat, etc. Unforgettable.
Here are some excerpts from our N. Vanuatu logs:
Sail to Moso Is. Winds 20-35 SE. Anchored in little limestone cove on west side. Good SE wind protection, but very rolly. Ate tuna we caught en-route in channel between Moso and lelepa. Paddled around and explored some limestone caves, climbed up large rock islet to take pics of anchorage.
We have been anchored at a beautiful black sand beach outside Ravenga village on Tangoa Is. for a week now. There is little protection from swell and we are getting rolled about, but we enjoy the villagers too much to leave. We attended Manu's first b-day party today. We arrived just as the final stages of cow butchering were happening. There was still a leg and hoof hanging from a tree above the women's head, which were using axes and saws to cut the meat on old tree stumps. Nearby some children had gotten hold of the lung and were blowing into the windpipe to inflate it like a balloon. We stopped to stare and one of the mammas noticed, next thing we knew it was just us and the lung. All the pickaninny (kids) had scattered, knowing that was some of the men's favorite part. Nothing was too be wasted. Josh was dragged off by the boys to do some slingshot practice, and I was handed a large leaf and appointed chief fly swatter for the large pots of raw meat the women were hacking out. Ravenga is a small SDA (Seventh Day Adventist) village, so no pork, shellfish, kava, or alcohol can be consumed, hence the cow. The cow was obtained by Manu's father, the schoolteacher, after he traded some chicken wire (used for copra) with the next village. The place is crawling with big, fat cows, so we were surprised when we saw the cow for the feast. It was a young heifer. We were also surprised, that with so many cows around, nobody drank milk. "It just isn't our castom (custom)", they explained.
It was a huge feast, with lots of fresh veggies from their bountiful gardens. We were sad to have to run away just before dark, but we are in Malaria territory now.
Sailed to Lamen Bay on Epi. Arrived around 12 noon. Saw the boats Dancyn (only John as Heather is in the States) and Ocean Whisper. John swam up to the boat and after packing away the sails etc. we all went diving. Turtles galore, but we didn't see the dugongs I'd been hoping for. On the swim back to the boat Josh sees the anchor slide on the sand and weed bottom. We decide to "batman it" to a shallower spot closer to the other anchored boats. We do this by paddling out a smaller anchor and kedging off. We try to do it very discreetly, with H paddling and J feeding out rode, because both Ocean Whisper and John have offered to tow us with their dinghies. Of course the entire anchorage noticed, and the Spanish boat next to us made wise cracks about josh's clever ways of saving fuel. Quess they didn't realize we were engineless. We spent 2 more days in Lamen Bay, ate dinner with John on Dancyn 2 nights and spend one evening chatting with Ocean Whisper, but mostly just dive with the endless amounts of turtles, looking for the darn dugong. We swim till we are blue-lipped, but still no dugong. I'm determined to photograph a dugong, Josh is so fed up with dugongs of any sort he's ready to don a costume and pretend he's a dugong, just to get dugongs off my brain.
I never did see that Dugong, and that is sad, because everyone sees dugongs in Lamen bay. They have several regulars, including a large male who is notoriously tame. We did however enjoy the rest of the diving, especially the endless array of turtles, stingrays and porcupine fish that nibble on the weed and algae over the sandy parts of the bay.
On the second day we were anchored in Lamen bay, we looked out to the horizon to see seven sailboats motoring in and more on the way. Whoa, so much for our quiet bay. All of the incoming boats were flying French flags and were from Noumea, New Caledonia. They were part of some race/ rally type thing. There were 9 in total. A few of them were absolute disasters at anchoring, but who's talking?? Anyway, with is many boats in this little bay, my chances of meaningful dugong encounters were looking grim. It was time to go...
side note: That was the one and only crowded anchorage we encountered on the rest of our travels through the Northern Vanuatu Is. The most yachts we ever encountered at one time after that was 3, and that only happened twice. For the most part we were alone.
We left lamen Bay later than planned- about 11 am. We initially had intentions of going to Paama Island, about 15 miles to the North, but at the last minute we turned and headed for Lamen Is. about 2 miles west of Lamen Bay on Epi Island. We had heard that there were no anchorages, but we were feeling lucky. We sailed to the west side of the island and sure enough there was no decent anchorage. It was all steep drop offs, and where it did shallow out, there was either reef or rock. Well, by now it really was too late to make it safely to Paama (of which we also had no detailed charts) and anchor in enough daylight. So we found the shallowest rocky spot we could and then we both dive in and hand placed the anchor in a tiny hole, with the most sand we could find. Once the Master of the vessel was satisfied with the security of our anchor, we decided to paddle around a bit and find a good diving spot, possibly even get ourselves some fresh tucker for supper. Shortly after we gathered our dive gear and jumped in the kayak to paddle around, Josh spotted what he at first took to be a whale, because of its flukes and then realized was a DUGONG! We had read that they need to surface every fifteen minutes to breathe, so we positioned ourselves in opposite directions and the stake-out began. I spotted it the next time and Josh swiftly paddled over to him/her, while I got the camera and dive gear ready. I jumped in and there it was. Amazing, awesome, beautiful (in a chubby, sea cow, kind-a-way). We swam with a dugong. Obviously this was not the uber tame Lamen Bay specimen, because it would only let me get so close for a brief minute or two and then with a flick of his great fluke tail he/she would be gone.
After the dugong encounter we saw a local villager a little ways off fishing in his wooden dug-out canoe. We waved and then eventually paddled over to say hi. "Halo, yu orate?" "Yes gud, ta. Are you fishing?" We asked him. "Ya, is that your yacht?" He asked, gesturing towards Tiny Bubbles. "Yes, that is our sail boat" we answered. "Where you come from?" "We sailed her form Hawaii." At this he shakes his head, as if we are pulling his leg. "You sure?" He asks. This is a pretty typical exchange with a lot of locals we meet (in fact it doesn't vary all that much when we meet other cruisers, either). Anyway this man took more convincing than most and he asked if he could paddle over and have a look at Ol' Tiny. We told him, "Sure, you'll be able to see everything from your canoe." So we all paddled the short distance back to the Bubbles. On the way we asked him if any other "yacht" had ever anchored here before. "Yes", he said carefully, "but they just come short time, then leave. Never stay night time. They say, Lamen Island no good for anchoring. Very dangerous, if wind comes up."
Oh well, it was nearly 5 pm by this time, looks like we'll be the first. We reached the boat and we both peered over the rails on opposite sides. He didn't look any more convinced after he had a look, so we told him we were going to do some fishing for dinner. He got the hint and we both said goodbye, "lukim Yu, Ta ta." "Gud Naet." He paddled back to his fishing site and Josh and I grabbed our hand line for trolling. We decided to use our light line (30 pd. test) and a silicone worm. We started paddling and it wasn't long before Josh called, "fish on! Fish on!" This is normally my cue to start paddling harder in order to keep the tension on the line, but this time he grunted with effort and yelled for me to hold on, "don't paddle! The line'll snap!" He had wound the line around his thigh while paddling and now it had gone taught. "It's a big one, oh he's fighting, it must be an Ulua (trevally)." He began slowly winding in the line. We both held our breath, hoping the line wouldn't snap or the hook shake loose. Everything was going according to plan until Josh was just about to bring the fish along side. We realized we didn't have our fish bucket with us. A bit of a worry on an inflatable kayak. A bit of quick thinking and some panicking we arranged our dive fins in such a way as to be able to sandwich our dinner to be, and we were in business. One swift yank and Josh hauled the fish onto the waiting dive fins. It was a perfect 6 pd. blue trevally. Just enough for dinner, including some sashimi for pu-pus.
We left Craig's Cove on Ambryn with intentions of sailing the 10 or so miles to the next anchorable bay. We had read in a cruising guide that there was hot springs, although it didn't say if there was an anchorage and once again there are no detailed charts covering the uninhabited coast. We decided to go for it, because the idea of hot-springs is irresistible. We threw out a fishing line using the new Rapalla-style diving lure that Tony gave us. Got two strikes, but no fish. When we hauled the lure onboard to check it, there were deep gauge marks along its sides. Josh figures we must have sailed through a small school of dog-tooth tunas. They had also ripped out the plastic mouth piece, which Josh promptly fixed w/ a bit of glue and the plastic top of a pill bottle. Next, to cheer us up we were surrounded by dolphins. We weren't putting out any bow wake (we were almost doing a mind-blowing 3.5 knots), so they didn't jump and play, but they still swam about and kept us company for a good 20 minutes or so. Not long enough though, because that was the end of the good times. After that the wind was either on the nose and gusting or non-existent.
The Banks - We are anchored on the North side of Guau Is. in beautiful Bushman Bay. We are anchored about a 25 minute paddle from Village. There is surf only a paddle away. We got the long board out this afternoon and had some fun in the waist high surf. The tiny village (only two young families) has never had their pictures taken before. We paddled up to the village this morning and everyone was working on building a new church. The people from the nearby village had all paddled over to help. Only the Minister spoke a bit of English. Some of the men spoke a bit of Bislama. After we took their photos the women all peeled off the babies that seem to be permanently attached to their hips and handed them to the men. They walked waist deep into the calm water and preformed their custom water music. This custom is only found in the Banks Islands of Vanuatu. The women perform a series of synchronized fast clapping and slapping both under and over the water to produce music. You have to see it to believe it.
The two men of Bushman Bay paddled to our boat this morning in their dug-out canoe to bring us a specially prepared breakfast. There was an entire boiled chicken and Taro Nalot (a sort of pudding made out of mashed taro root and coconut cream) The women had weaved a beautiful tray out of green palm fronds to serve it on and all the food was wrapped in banana leaves. They asked us to come to the village later for a "Friendship" ceremony.
more excerpts to come...
check back soon
Da' Bubblers send very merry wishes to all. We have a paper tree taped to the wall of Ol' Tiny and our stockings (safety harnesses) hung to the lifelines. We will have a quiet Christmas anchored in the "duck pond" here in Burnett Heads, Australia. We hope to sail out to Fraser Island for the New Year. Once again the Master and Commander of TB would like to wish all of you a wonderful holiday season, sunshine & friendly winds. Please check back in the New Year for lots of new pics and updated logs.
Heidi & Josh
Your babies are safe happy Tday. They will call in the next few hours!
The baromenter continues to rise. We are safe and sound in Tegua Island in the Torres. Cyclone Xavier is now well South of us and quickly losing strength. This is a beautiful bay with one friendly family, lots of fish, lobsters and coconut crabs. Our friends on S/V Cardamone are leaving today, but tell us that the weather forecast predicts the wind to drop off to nothing for perhaps the next ten days. This may cause another delay, but we will be sure to enjoy our time here...a little diving, surfing, fishing, sail repair...all the fun stuff...
Much, much love!
Josh, Heidi and Xavier
Tiny Bubbles is anchored safely in Ureparapara. Cyclone Xavier gave us a scare, but passed east of us. The villagers were prepared to haul Ol'Tiny onto the beach. They had decided which family would adopt us should the worst happen. We are now on our way to Torres, followed by Huon and N. Chesterfield. We still hope to reach Australia before mid November.
Much love to all,
Master Josh and Commander Heidi
Halo, Bula, G'day, etc. We have decided that we can no longer wait for the north winds we were hoping for to take us South to Tanna and Ouvea in the loyaltys. As of 10 AM yesterday morning (H had to get over a nasty case of food poisoning first), we scratched all those plans and have set our sights on the Northern Islands. It really is a wise choice, as we will be sailing in more protected waters and there are lots of opportunities for day hops, not to mention the pygmies, active volcanoes, friendly dugongs and megapods etc. Oh yeah..and warmer water! ...Oh, oh yeah...and Malaria!
Josh has been to visit the WHO (World Health Org.) office and they outfitted us (for free) with specially treated mosquitoe nets. The repellant they have been impregnated with is dandelion root based and the nets can be washed, placed in a plastic bag and put in the sun to be reactivated. He was also briefed in all the neccessary measures to avoid malaria caring mosquitos
The islands we plan to visit: Moso, Kakula, Pele, Nguna, Emae, Epi, Ambrym, Pentecost, Maewo, all the way up to the Banks and Torres groups. From there it's about 400 nautical miles to Huon, an unihabited island on the northern reef of New Caledonia. Another short hop will take us to the Chesterfield reefs followed by Cato Island. From there it is only 200 NM west to Bundaberg, Australia. We've got two months to do it.
Time starts...NOW. We will send messages when we can. Mucho Amore to all.
Note: not all stops are sanctioned by customs and other governing authorities. Mums the word, por favor. Tangkyu tumas. Lukim Yu!
Tiny Bubbles gained a third crew member when Josh's father flew in to meet us in Port Vila, Vanuatu. He didn't arrive until after midnight so we decided to take it easy on him. I dressed up as a hula dancing half crazed native, but when he bypassed me and headed for the bathroom, Josh made off with his luggage. He didn't get too far before he was caught, but the Ni-Vanuatans had a good laugh over it. I guess all those hours in planes and airports (over 50 hours) are the cause of the extra life rafts he brought, otherwise known as his feet.
We fixed up a lovely guest bedroom for him on the bow with a tarp and a private bath attached. That leaves our other guest bedroom (the kayak), free for any other adventurous souls wishing to join us on our luxury Vanuatu cruise. We've spent the last few days introducing him to all of our sailing friends, including the dissipated Australian crew of Dessert Flower whom we had spent a week sailing with around Havannah harbor and Lelepa. We had known Rowan the captain, Franka, his girlfriend, and Ben for less than twenty minutes when they invited us to accompany them on an "overnight" trip to Havannah Harbor. We had only been in port for two nights, but it took all of two seconds for us to grab our masks and spears, give the beloved Bubbles a wave goodbye and we were off. Desert Storm (as she has now been re-christened) is a cavernous 56 ft Ferro-cement ketch. Rowan, the Captain is on holiday for 6 months from his job as a fireman. We wonder if the Sydney Fire Department knows about his home-brew and galley dancing skills. Franka is a multi-talented business woman/shoe designer/gourmet chef, and Ben (a.k.a Has-ben) is taking time off from being a computer techie to sharpen his Casanova skills.
We also introduced Papa Holloway to the lovely, entertaining Ben and Merran, a thirtyish Aussie ex-pat couple. Ben catches eels and exports them to China (rumor is he's so good at it he can do it with one eye closed) and Merran is a machete toting, local accountant. Ben took a look at our website and decided we needed some advice in the fishing department. He made us a new gaff, slow-speed trolling lure (what's he insinuating there?), and designed a new fish attraction device made out of wood and foil (patent pending) for Da' Bubbles. Bring on the wasabi.
We've also spent a lot of time hanging out with our good friend Kevin, an American whom we originally met in Fiji. Kevin is patiently (i.e. teeth clenched/ weather man on notice) waiting for a weather window to head for Oz and beyond. Destination...surf. He dropped by yesterday early a.m. to give us his daily weather update, when Melissa and Tony on Sea-Ya cruised past and called out, "We've only got two people today, why don't you guys jump on and come out for the day?" Before you could say "bubbles" Papa H and I were aboard, warm teas in hand, while Kevin and Josh decided to hang back and talk weather and nurse their lingering sore throats for the day. Tony and Melissa are young Aussies (more Aussies? they're coming out the wood work or woop woop around here!) who recently started doing charters on their brand new 30 ft. sport cat. We had an excellent time exploring the south west coast of Efate on Sea-Ya. The guests Helen and Peter (more Aussies!) didn't seem to mind sharing their charter with a couple of hooligans and had some great stories to tell about cruising their own 45ft steel boat around Tasmania, including an excellent diesel mechanic who prefers payment in tractors, chainsaws or china dolls, your choice.
All in all we're making sure we show Pop H a great time, but don't worry we won't spoil him too much. Once you get used to the luxury on Ol' Tiny, it's hard to go back. We miss you all! And as the locals would say,
Miss Ya Tumas, Lukim Yu, and Tata!
Flotsam, Jetsam, and Driftwood
s/v Tiny Bubbles
Halo! We are in Vanuatu. Port Vila. We arrived at 12:30 am and anchored at the quarantine bouy. we entered at night because we could see leading lights, but we couldn't follow them due to the wind coming straight on the nose. So we had to beat for four hours to make the anchorage, but it was worth it.
We had a pretty good passage, about 540 nm in 7 days. We had some big seas at the start, but it settled down and we caught two big tunas and one big squid. Yum! So far Vanuatu is great, but cold, 60's at night and 70's in the day. I am sleeping with two fleece blankets and am wearing a jacket in the day. Is anyway coming to see us here?
Mucho Amore and Tata,
Master and commander
Bula Re! We are currently drifting along in an almost flat calm, attempting to get back to lautoka and anchor just outside the main wharf. We reached Viti Levu a few days ago, and took a few days sailing down the coast to get to our check in point of Lautoka. We have had mostly great sailing days through the inner reefs of Vanua Levu and Viti Levu, with down wind runs at 4 0r 5 knots. We actually checked into lautoka two days ago, but it is a stinky ugly place, with soot from the sugar cane processing plants. So, we sailed on and anchored in a little bay for a few days. We have decided to sail back to make provisioning easier. We need to do some major provisioning. Luckily this is a very good place for stocking up. If we ever get there (lautoka) or manage to catch up with the elusive wind line, we plan to grab the supplies and use the last week or so on our visas to visit some islands in the Mamanucas and possibly the Yasawas, before heading west for Vanuatu. I already towed the boat with the kayak for a while, but gave up. Why hurry, it's Fiji time!
Anyway, we also spent a few days in a beautiful little island called Yadua (the lizard island). There is only one village there with a pop. of about 200. The island is the caretaker for the tiny nearby island that serves as the refuge for the last remaining Fijian crested Iguanas. They are almost extinct and can only be found on this tiny island. The gov't has appointed one man as ranger to protect the area, they are very paranoid ever since a German Yachtie was caught trying to smuggle one off the island a few years ago. He was given a $3,000 fine and told to leave Fijian waters in 24 hrs. Ever since, no one is allowed to visit the sanctuary or even anchor nearby without a permit. We anchored in a gorgeous little bay about a 2 hr. trek from the village. The bay had an abandoned camp there from Green Force (some environmental group from England) and had 3 bures and a spring water pump.
The entrance to the bay wasa bit tricky due to some reefs, so we had the place to ourselves. The locals told us they had never had a sailboat anchor in the bay before. Not surprising since we had a very close call with a reef when entering the bay. It literally popped up out of nowhere and there was no time to change course. We held our breath waiting for the crunch of hull on reef, but Ol' Tiny being the gorgeous gal she is, just hiked up her skirt and cruised right over that nasty coral. Lucky her skirt was pretty short in the first place. The day after our arrival we found an overgrown, but useable trail that allowed us to trek to the village. We presented our Sevusevu (customary gift of Kava) to the Chief. Because it was a Sunday afternoon we didn't drink any together, but we stayed for lunch. We also had tea at the house of Pita, the ranger for the "lizard island". Besides protecting the lizards from wayward Yachties, he also looked after the village community center. He proudly told us about the new television set and DVD player, currently the movie of choice was "Shrek". His job was to get the entire village to agree on something to watch, luckily the pickins' were pretty slim. Our ears really perked up when he mentioned the village phone. We had been trying for over a week to call home and say "Happy mother's day" to the Madres. Despite the fact that the community center was being used for ladies choir practice, they let us use the phone with our local calling card. We called Mom lee and left a message, and despite the late hour, got a quick chat in with Mom Holloway. We had all the village ladies sitting on the floor around us as an attentive audience as we called, and Josh was a big hit after going around to each lady for a personal "bula"...and of course for calling his mother.
The villagers all lived in bures, (traditional style huts made out of palm and pandanus fronds). It is mainly a subsistence fishing village, apart from some young male villagers diving for Bech de Mer (sea cucumbers) to send to the main island and sold to Asian traders.
When we returned to our little bay, we set up a camp and collected all the coconuts we could eat and drink. We especially love the sprouted coconuts that taste a bit like sponge cake. We cooked some of our meals on land on a fire started with a magnifying glass. It took about twice as long as a match, but we felt real cool. On our last day in the village we went for a dive on the outer reef of the bay. There was beautiful soft coral and a giant napoleon wrasse. I got a nice picture of two lobster hiding under a rock ledge. Then we ate them. We ate the tails and legs for brunch, and then we took the carapace and shell and smashed them all up before pressure cooking them. After pressure cooking them, we strained the broth, added fresh coconut milk, ginger, chili, and other spices and had a beautiful Ol' Tiny style lobster bisque for dinner, a trick we learned from a Kiwi boat in Savusavu.
Anyway, our wind just returned and we are almost to Lautoka, a few tunas are giving us a show off the starboard bow. Perhaps they want to have a little tour of the Bubbles? We'll do our best to invite them anyway.
Much, Much Amore!
Master and Commander
Cast and Crew of S/V Tiny Bubbles is still hanging tough here in Savusavu Bay, Fiji.
We spoke to Mom and Pop Holloway yesterday, and got a nice e-mail from Mom Lee. We were surprised to learn that it had been a month since we had last been in touch. Wow, what happened to a whole month? It sure did go quickly, we had a lot going on I suppose. We also ran into our friend, Shawn. Shawn and a friend Jemma came here to Savusavu for a month volunteer internship as doctors at the hospital. They are only 22 yrs old, but they are qualified doctors already. In England, students specialize immediately, rather than having 4 years of liberal art education first. They have a 1 month semester abroad internship and a residency internship when they return. We recall when the two girls first came to town because our friend Todd (a single-handed sailor and a whole other story) invited us all to dinner on his boat. The volunteer doctors showed up in Fiji around the same time the country was hit with epidemics of both measles and conjunctivitis (pink eye). The measles epidemic really was a matter of reaching all the outer-lying villages and getting infants and children vaccinated by local healthcare workers and volunteers. Savusavu town wasn't really affected, but the conjunctivitis epidemic hit this town like a ton of bricks (right in the eyes, if you will). Every time Josh and I venture into town, we chant our new favorite mantra, "I will NOT touch my eyes" and throughout the day every sentence we speak to each other ends with, ""and remember don't touch your eyes!" "I'm off to check internet, I'll meet you in front of the vegetable market in ten minutes, and remember, don't touch your eyes!" "Okay, I'll stop by the bread shop, see you soon, and remember..." is a typical exchange. We may sound a bit paranoid, but there is reason enough for our vigilance. Number one being the inflamed, infectious, red eyes we constantly meet around town. What else is their to do when you meet a friend in the street and they extend their hand in friendly greeting, but to firmly grasp it as you smile into their swollen, bloodshot eyes. The popular local belief is that the "eye disease" is passed through the air and you can get it by looking at someone with it, or if they have a bone to pick with you, they can give you the "stare" and you'll also be inflicted. Many locals, very courteously wear sunglasses (day and night) so as not to pass it on, and as a means of protecting themselves if they have yet to be infected. Of course there aren't enough sunglasses to go around, so they share. The local hospital does have drops, sometimes. The supply doesn't quite meet the demand and so often we hear of people being turned away empty handed, until the next shipment comes in. Some fellow cruisers, who got it, were able to obtain some from a pharmacy, and many of the foreign owned resorts are bringing in drops from the States and Australia. Our Chilean friend Allen, a fellow cruiser, told us to rinse our eyes with weak tea if we get it. Some Fijian friends swear that breast milk is the best cure, but they neglected to mention how they planned to obtain any. Ironically enough, our new doctor friends managed to avoid both maladies, but Shawn ended up in one of her hospital beds with appendicitis. She had to be rushed by "ambulance" over dusty, bumpy roads the 2 1/2 hrs. to Labasa, the nearest big town with operating rooms and surgeons for an appendectomy. Anyway, she was recovered and healthy when we saw her this afternoon, but gave our systems a bit of a shock, when she told us that Friday (3 days away) would finish up their month and they would be leaving. Where did the month go?
Well it might have something to do with s/v Salmon Berry, home of the infamous Todd. We met Todd after he returned from Koro Island and sailed into Savusavu Bay. We had heard plenty of stories about Todd, but had yet to actually meet him. He sails a beefy 32' boat and was the "other" engineless boat in the Pacific. When we finally met Todd, we got a chance to ask him what happened to his engine. He told us, "I traded it for vegetables in French Polynesia." He's a young, spirited 38 yr. old American and he's been cruising the Pacific for over 12 yrs. He tends to sell valuable, some would say indispensable, items off his boat to keep going, but he's generous to a fault and would offer you his last ration of cabin biscuits if you asked. He's also a shameless flirt and many wonder how he stays a single hander. Josh and I have our own theories. One evening we were returning from dinner with our good friends Patel and Amilken, a local Indo-Fijian family. We had left the kayak at Wai Tui Marinas' dock about a 25 min. paddle from where we had anchored Ol' Tiny. We met Todd holding court with a gaggle of girls, including the two English doctors. He gave us a broad smile and brought over chairs, bringing us into their little circle. Todd had recently sailed his boat out of the creek and anchored near us, a couple of miles outside of town. He started telling us about his "fabulous" lunch. Apparently one of his Fijian girlfriends, a sweet, pretty girl named Elinora, had brought him a huge sack of bele (a type of local spinach) and papaya. I was finding it increasingly hard to concentrate on his story though, because one of his teeth appeared to be either missing or entirely dark green. He went on and on about the bele. "I ate a whole pot of bele for lunch." "We can tell," says Josh. "Do you guys want to come over to my boat and eat bele tomorrow?" Invites Todd. "Not that piece," answered Josh pointing to his tooth. I hadn't yet realized that the dark green "gap" in Todd's mouth was in fact a large piece of bele. Evidently neither had he. Josh's comments finally did the trick though, and Todd turned an accusing voice on all his ladies, "you mean I have been walking around with a huge piece of spinach on my tooth for several hours and not one of you told me." The giggles could be heard for miles. Todd's a great sport and we did have a bele feast the next afternoon. Unfortunately, Todd used up all the time on his Fijian visa and rather than sell his last solar panel or worse to pay the $90 Fijian extension fee, he very wisely sailed west towards New Caledonia and Australia. We hope to meet up again someday soon.
Todd isn't the only thing that's kept us busy this past month. We had lots of social engagements with our local friends. We attended a party to celebrate the birth of their baby girl with our Hindi friends Satya and Satya (yes both husband and wife are named Satya; it was an arranged marriage - go figure - sounds like they should open a law office together). The Hindis celebrate a newborn on the 6th day of life. This is when the baby receives its name by the local holy man and offerings on its behalf are made to all the Hindu Gods. The baby is also adorned with eye make-up and a black dot on its forehead, the symbolism of which I was unable to get a sufficient translation for. We were given small bowls and a piece of plastic to hold on our laps. In the bowls young girls came around and poured sweet, milky tea (I have been at other Hindi parties in which the tea is poured directly into your hand for slurping) and the piece of plastic serves as a plate to hold the Indian sweets and savories that are ladled into your lap by girls carrying huge bowls of the freshly made delicacies. After snacks, the chanting and praying began. A plate of incense was burned and offerings of food, money and other items were put in bowls around the mother. Satya, the new mother, was dressed in her finest sari and unlike the other women present; her head was covered with a beautiful, colorful scarf. We were seated on a mat of woven pandanus fronds on the front porch of their home, constructed of mismatched timber and corrugated metal. 3 generations of their family inhabited the tiny home. When we arrived, josh and I were immediately separated. I went with the women and children to sit on the porch and Josh was ushered out to a makeshift tent of tarps to sit around the kava bowl with other men. This is when you are reminded you are in Fiji -- not India. An honored Aunt (perhaps the one the baby was being named for?) began to heat a metal spoon upside down over the smoldering plate of incense, oil and flowers. Another woman chanted prayers in a sing song voice. I was the only outsider and apparently the only one with a camera. I was encouraged to take lots of pictures; however the crude lighting made it very difficult. I had been told earlier in the night by one of the young girls (they all seemed to latch onto me, which was just as well since most of the older women were too shy to speak to me much) that they would be putting eye liner on the baby's eyes. This was during the height of the pink-eye epidemic and I was horrified to think of someone using some eye-liner pencil on a 6 day old infant. I'd never seen any make-up for sale in any of the stores of Savusavu town, so I could only assume it was some long used eye-pencil from a well meaning aunt. I needn't have worried though, because the "eye-liner" turned out to be the lump of black stuff sticking to the spoon that the auntie was heating over the fire. Once she deemed the black substance (charcoal?) warm enough she dabbed her finger and lined the baby's eyes and made a single dot on her forehead. The make-up job looked a lot more like they were preparing the infant for a football game than eye make-up. She then did the same for the mother, but with a slightly less "Steve Young" look about it. The older women then began to sing and some of the younger girls got up to dance. I started to film a few of the girls and for the rest of the night I was beseeched by all the girls to film them dancing imitations of their favorite Bollywood stars and letting them watch themselves on playback. They were wonderfully shameless in their glittering, flowing Indian garb, spangle bracelets and dangling gold earrings, each one fighting to be the center of the filming. Later that evening we were again seated on the floor and served lots of different vegetables (no meat is eaten during this celebration) curries and spicy chutneys with rotis (Indian tortilla, also called chapati in some regions). It was all bewildering, fascinating and wonderful.
A little while later we attended a 1st birthday party, this time by our Fijian friends. These friends are farmers and they live on a big hill outside of town overlooking the creek and the main boat anchorage. To get to their house you have to follow a steep dirt path past the local reservoir into a bush path that gets more lush as you climb until it finally levels out onto their beautifully manicured lawn (cut entirely by machete/bush knife). Their property is edged with all kinds of tropical flowers surrounding their humble little wooden house with an outdoor fire pit for cooking. we arrived just after the other two guests. They were Elder Cox and Elder Wilson, two 20 something American Mormon missionaries... from?...You guessed it, Utah. Instead of curries we ate boiled dalo (taro), cassava (tapioca root) and fish in lolo (coconut milk). They had also slaughtered a wild chicken for the feast. To commence the feast the two "Elders" said a prayer in fluent Fijian (The Mormons must have some excellent language schools) and then translated it into English for our benefit. After prayers they served the very special, "town bought" birthday cake. This is something Josh and I always wonder at, both Fijian and Indian celebrations always begin with dessert as the first course, (I'm a huge proponent of this). One Indian man explained it as, "a way to not spoil the appetite for the good stuff." Josh and I think it might have something to do with the rarity with which dessert is consumed, unlike in the States where dessert is standard with every evening meal. The house had no electricity so we ate by the light of a single kerosene lamp. Josh and I were quite warm in our t-shirts and lava lavas (sarongs), so the Mormons must have been sweltering in their white dress shirts, black ties, and brown wrap around skirts (sort of like a Brooks Brothers version of a lava lava), not to mention their sacred garments (magic underwear) a set of mini long underwear that they wear at all times under their uniform (which they are also required to wear at all times during their two year missions). They were very nice young men and Josh and I waved goodbye to them as they drove away in their big white truck (they are not allowed to give anyone rides) as we trudged the several miles back to town and the kayak in the dark. There is no Mormon church yet in Savusavu, but they're working hard to change that.
Probably one of our most memorable visits was with our good friends Patel and Amilken and their 4 children. They are Indo-Fijian, but have converted from Hinduism to Christianity. They are very evangelical and the father, Patel is one of the ministers at their tiny church. We had spent several pleasant evenings with them at their home before we left for our trip to the States in Nov. When we returned in Feb., we visited them again and to their delight (and our chagrin); they had made the monumental purchase of a TV set and DVD player. They run the generator in the evenings, and the whole neighborhood crowds outside their front door and peers in their windows to watch DVDs etc. Their favorite rental was an evangelist preacher named Benny Hinn, who ranted at us through the TV screen about prayer and the devil, all the while a 1-800 number and a scrolling message at the bottom of the screen reminds you where to send your money if you want to be a really excellent Christian. Josh made the grave error of bringing out his Epi-pen to explain the severity of his allergy to dairy products. We were then subjected to 1 1/2 hr. of Benny Hinn shouting on the subject of healing through prayer and the reenactment of a former Muslim afflicted with a terrible case of shingles (it looked to us like he suffered more from a bad case of sloppy make-up) and was saved from certain death when the lord appeared to save him and convert him from his former devilish ways i.e. Muslimism.
We really enjoy this family but couldn't think of a delicate way of telling them that we weren't much for television, so like a bunch of cowards we avoided them for a while. It worked fine until we ran into them one Sat. and they insisted we come up to the house that afternoon for an early supper. We trudged up the hill to their home, dreading the inevitable blare of the television set and Benny Hinn. Boy, were we in for a surprise. After a supper of rice, cassava, and mystery meat (mine got deftly plopped onto Josh's plate in a move that would've made James Bond jealous) the generator got switched on and the shiny new TV set fired up. They inserted the DVD and where we expected Benny Hinn to appear, instead was Sledgehammer Sly and Big Boy Bill. It was the newest WWE (World Wrestling Enterprises -- formerly WWF). They had evidently become big fans of the "sport" and all had favorite wrestlers to root for. We tried our best, but I'm not sure we succeeded, in trying to convince them that it was all staged and not "real" wrestling. We watched the mens' wrestling first and then came the women. It was something beyond shocking. Patel's family seemed totally unaffected, but Josh and I turned an entire spectrum of reds. The women wrestlers were having a tournament called "the bra and panty smack down," the object of which was for one of the women to "wrestle" the other down to her bra and panties for the win. It would've been hilarious if it wasn't so gauche. I actually went to high school with Stephanie McMann, daughter of Vince McMann, the creator of this entertainment travesty.
We had a birthday! That's right, Josh turned the decrepit old age of 31. We headed to town in the morning to do some errands and eat at our favorite local restaurant for a birthday "brunch" We feasted on veggie curry with rotis and samosas. It cost $4.00 Fijian, about $2.40 US. I gave him the maple sugar candies I've had squirreled away since Feb. and a book of "get out of jail free" coupons. He also got an unexpected birthday present from our friend Kendra, of Bebi (pronounced Bambi) Lights. Her and her partner Michael, along with the village of Nakobo produces the incredible LED lights that now adorn our masthead. Josh had taken a photo of the light once it was installed in the tri-color housing. I brought the pic to Kendra, and they decided to put the photo of the light and one of Tiny B on their website, www.bebi-electronics.com, and our reward was a free light! It is going to work wonderfully as a cabin light and we won't have to worry about the draw on our battery. It'll give our headlamps a rest as well. For Josh's birthday dinner he asked me to cook my famous (well, famous around TB anyway) tomato chutney, eggplant curry, and wholemeal rotis. We cooked the entire meal on our new copra cooker. Josh designed and built out of materials he found around town and the beach. It runs off of copra (mature, dried, coconut meat) just as the name implies. We haven't thrown our old kerosene stove overboard yet; the copra cooker is more of a fair weather barbecue.
Alright, well now you can probably see why we find it so difficult to leave Savusavu and began venturing to more sections of Fiji. It also happens to be election time here, a rather tense and heated time due to the Coupe that occurred here in 00'. We prefer to hang here and around the smaller islands until everything settles and elections are finished. We have a month and a half left on our Fijian visas, and we need to be to the Mananuca group well before that, so that we are in a good position to head to the island of Tanna on Vanuatu. We'll make the leap any day now, till then Moce Vinaka (goodbye), Sota tale (see ya later), Sega Na Lega (no worries)!...and remember...Don't touch your eyes!
Much, much, love,
Master Josh and Commander Heidi
p.s. Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones is here, but is spending the rest of his Fijian vacation in the hospital after falling out of a coconut tree. Rolling.........
We have been anchored here in front of the swanky Costeau Resort for over a week now. We have met many of the staff and a few of the guests. Everyone is always curious about the Bubbles and her "exotic" crew, (exotic, being a nice term for bizarre). The guests we met invited us up for drinks at the resort. Kristin and Zia are girls from California and New York respectively, on a "girls only" getaway. They swam over to the boat to say "hello". They are in their early thirties and very sweet. The other guests we met, Scott and Michelle are from Melbourne, Australia. They are a young, convivial, couple with two pre-teen age boys. We enjoyed quite a few laughs with them, mostly having to do with the disparities between their luxury holidays and the unparalleled opulence that is life on the Bubbles. We joined them at the pool a few times for sunset cocktails, and despite the resorts exclusive reputation, they didn't shoo us out. Our new found friends did, however ask us if we wanted to use their showers. We like to think that the offer stemmed from the fact that we were in the midst of our "Tiny B style showers, when we met them. This means we were floating around on the kayak, with our heads full of dish soap lather. Rather, than any odor we were emitting. Either way, it was a delight to meet them. We hope to catch up again someday.
Meanwhile Ol' Tiny has been inundated with improvement. It's hard to believe there was room for any, but we managed to make her even better. We've already mentioned our new PVC vinyl sail cover and sun shade, which are working out wonderfully. Did I mention they were yellow? Gorgeous. We also invested in a new LED tri-color light. There is a couple here in Savusavu town, which sells and manufactures them. Josh clambered up the mast the other morning to install it. It's a piece of PVC pipe with 15 led bulbs, that fits into our old tri-color housing. It's almost seven times as bright as our old light, but the biggest difference is the amount of power it draws. Whereas our old light would drain our battery in a matter of hours, essentially leaving us with no running lights on passage, our new Bebi Electronic light draws .09 amps. At that rate we could leave it on all the time with virtually no drain on the battery, amazing. Josh also added a second block to our boom, in effect making a jiffy reefing system. We can now choose between one or two reefs in our main sail and set them in less than a minute. Next, he set our spinnaker pole on its own halyard, so we can pole out the head sail in less than half the time our old system used to take. This will be a huge improvement for passage making. As far as my contributions to Ol' Tiny's improvements, well, as commander I mostly supervise and approve, but I have been attending a cooking class once a week. It is given by Lucy, a very sweet Fijian lady. We use mostly local ground provisions; taro, cassava (tapioca), breadfruit, or yams and local fruits and spices. We have learned both Fijian and Indian dishes. So I am working on my "pink job" skills. We both agree that making the Bubbles a more delicious place is a huge improvement. Josh came to one cooking class, but was uncomfortable being the only Y chromosome present, so now he times it perfectly to show up just in time for the tasting portion. He usually drills me thoroughly after, to find out any new culinary secrets I may have learned without him.
We have also been sailing up to the south tip of the bay and anchoring outside the lighthouse. The fishing is excellent. We have been dining on a lot of fresh squid, which we can get by jumping over the side of the boat and catching them with our three prong spears. Recently a school of juvenile skipjack tunas swam by us while we were diving and Josh managed to get an excellent gill shot on one. So we feasted on tuna as well. Our favorite way to prepare it, is raw with some fresh limes and coconut milk (which we grate and squeeze on the boat) and some onions or pepper if we have it. Yep, life is good.
We plan to sail across the bay and anchor in front of a small village next. Proper protocol is that we will approach the village with a gift of Kava (the local grog) when we first arrive. We will then drink the kava with the chiefs and important elders of the village in a welcoming ceremony known as a "sevusevu". This ensures that you will be welcome in the village, and be allowed to share the local waters for anchoring, fishing etc. Of course they could always refuse your gift of Kava and in that case you would need to up anchor and leave. We're counting on our unrelenting charm to carry us through, that and the splendor of the Bubbles. Much, much, love to all and as the locals say, "Moce vinaka!"
Master Josh & Commander Heidi
Bula from the Bubbles! We have arrived. Somehow we managed to make all our flights, although there was a lot of sprinting required. We had some trouble checking in at the Portland airport, because my ticket was printed as H. Lee and my new passport has Holloway. Luckily, I happened to have my birth certificate and marriage license with me. We made it to our LA connection just as they were almost finished boarding and against their better judgment, they let us on. Our flight to LA got in at 6:30pm and our flight to Fiji was leaving at 7:15. Luckily our baggage was checked all the way through, but we still had to make our way outside and wait for the bus to take us to the international terminal where we needed to check in again, including all the security hoopla. By the time we reached Air New Zealand's terminal it was already five minutes after seven. Ignoring the line, we ran up to the desk and told the ANZ agent our situation. The first thing they did was shake their heads and say, "no way." We gave them our best “puss in boots” impression and they were either very impressed or really disgusted, because they got on the phone and somehow and some why, opened the already very closed flight for us. They assigned an agent to take us up to the gate and she literally bypassed the first set of security, skillfully moved us through the crowds and lines and got us through the x-ray machines and to the gates in a matter of minutes. Not a stellar example of homeland security, but it worked for us. She dumped us at the gangplank, and yelled at us to "jump!", because the plane was already pulling away. We leapt the 20 or so feet onto the speeding plane and ran down the aisle amidst the deafening roar of applause by the other passengers. Well, o.k. not exactly like that. We arrived breathless and disheveled and did our best to ignore the stink eye from the other passengers and especially, the lady we made move, so we could sit together. Hey, it was practically Valentine's alright?! By some evil twist of fate, I think it's called the dateline, we missed Feb. 14th. We left on Mon. the 13th and arrived the 15th. No matter, we celebrated with chocolates and red hots while cruising at a comfortable 28,000 ft. Now, some people may say that 19+ hrs. of flying is a long time to get somewhere, those people haven't traveled on Tiny Bubbles.
We arrived in Nadi around 4am, and as you probably guessed, our luggage did not. This was a mixed blessing, because they agreed to deliver our luggage to Savusavu for us. That would have been a major headache trying to travel with that much stuff, besides our surfboards which we had left in Sigatoka. I say mixed blessing, because when we arrived in Sigatoka to spend a few days at the home stay and surf as we planned, I realized that I had packed the fins and leashes in one of my checked bags. So much for surfing. We caught the first bus to Suva the next morning and the overnight ferry to Savusavu that evening. It's been around 90 degrees since we got here, and the humidity is either 90% or raining. The chocolate supply and Valentines candy I had stashed/ hoarded throughout my luggage melted immediately upon touch down. Even the conversation hearts turned to liquid. Oh well, I'll take my bons bons with a straw.
Josh stood on the deck of the local ferry as it pulled into Savusavu bay in the early a.m. on tippy toes, straining his neck, trying to make out Ol' Tiny in the distance. As we got closer, her brown hull came into view, bobbing away just as we'd left her. Our elation over our reunion dampened a little, once we opened her up and caught a whiff. Hoo-wee, Miss Tiny was awful ripe, she needed some major airing out and some major cleaning. That meant me with a scrub brush, and Josh making kayak trip after kayak trip, ferrying jerry cans of water. Otherwise she was in a fine state, dry bilge and not much bottom growth.
Well, we've got her back to smelling, well like a boat, and clean enough to eat off her floors (only because we don't have a table). We are using a local material that we noticed all the trucks using as awnings, to make a new sail cover and bimini. It's some sort of PVC vinyl? Either way, it seems to hold up well under the tropical sun. We hope to sail to a nearby anchorage in the next few days, where there is good diving and fishing. We miss all of you and send our love! We'll write again soon.
Our time in the States is almost up. Goodbye plumbing, See-ya cold drinks, mega superstores and Chinese buffets. It's been nice. But we must heed the call. The Bubbles beckons. Feb. 13th we begin the long journey home, 3 airplanes, 2 bus rides, and 2 ferries, a bit of trudging and maybe a few taxis and we're there! Well, almost...There is still the matter of getting out to the boat, which means resuscitating the red ranger etc.
Anyway, we have had an excellent stay in the good ol' US of A. Between big air sledding (and big air wipe-outs) hiking in AZ and snow boarding in Maine we ran the gamut of experiences and wouldn't change a second of it (o.k., maybe the wipe-out). I had my Holloway debut in Arizona at the bi-annual reunion, and lived to tell about it. Josh sub-taught in Pennsylvania and was treated like a celeb, thanks to his Father's publicity of our web-site and capers. And of course we ate our way through house and home, buffet and banquet, making up for lost time (in advance) and probably adding a bit of ballast for the Bubbles.
We are returning to Fiji, to the tiny town of Savusavu and the little creek that we moored Tiny Bubbles in to wait out the rest of cyclone season (Nov-May) and then begin our cruising again. We will do small hops within Fiji for a while and then in May, once we get the all clear weather wise, we will head for Vanuatu. We will explore Vanuatu and some of its outer isles and then we plan to head for New Caledonia. We will continue on till Australia, where we will up-hold our promise of trying to sell ol' Tiny to the first gob who falls for her nautical charms. Stay tuned, Tiny Bubbles take 2, coming soon to a PC near you!
Josh and Heidi
Tiny bubbles crew is currently 'enjoying' the cold weather in Portland, Maine. We are visiting friends and family for the holidays, and will return to Fiji and our magnificent vessel in mid Feb. Ol' Tiny is safely (we hope) moored in Savusavu, Nakama Creek for the cyclone season. Meanwhile her Captain and Co-captain are successfully adjusting to in-door plumbing and life among landlubbers. We enjoyed Thanksgiving in Portland, will travel to Pennsylvania for some time with Josh's relatives, and head to Arizona for Christmas. E-mail's free and plentiful here so don't be chintzy with the news. We want to hear from everybody!
Best wishes & Happy Holidays,
Josh and Heidi
I guess I should also say happy cyclone season as well, since Oct. 31st kicked off the start of the season with several days of torrential down pour. Ol' Tiny showed us all her little leaks (minor), and except for making our morning runs extra muddy, the rains didn't pose any problems. It was also on Oct. 31st, exactly one year ago, that we sailed away from the Big Island of Hawaii. So TB had an anniversary. We decided we needed to celebrate, so when we got wind of a Halloween party being held at the Savusavu yacht club, it was time to dig up some costumes. Since it's really Tiny Bubbles anniversary, we knew it was important to honor her, but how? We racked our little brains until they hurt (about 10 min.) and suddenly we were inspired. So thank you, thank you Mom Holloway, because of you, we now hold the prestigious award of first place in the Savusavu yacht club costume contest (there were a total of 5 other people in costume, the rest didn't know what halloween was). Yes, the honor is great, today we walk the streets just a little bit taller, swollen with pride (not candy). Remember the huge pack of bubble wrap that was sent down in poor Papa Stans luggage? Well, we wrapped ourselves up in it (made great protection from the rain) and voila, Tiny bubbles! Get it? Yeah, most people didn't either, but we still won "aren't they adoorwable" first place. Now we are proud owners of two baseball caps from some yacht race that took place in 2001. Ahh, the glory.
We also celebrated Dipwali with a local Indo-Fijian family. Dipwali is the festival of lights, described to us as "the Hindu Christmas". I don't know, seemed more like New Years, as it involved lots of fireworks, home made indian sweets and curries. We arrived during the prayer service and were brought in to view their shrine and offerings. There were lots of oils burning with different flowers to create all sorts of intruiging scents. Very interesting. The men retired to drink "grog" (kava), while I went into the kitchen and got a cooking lesson from the women. All the women were in their brand new sari's, sparkles, glitter and gold Lame galore!
O.k. that's all for now, we are headed for Customs and immigration to get permission to fly out and leave the yacht. The time is ticking away fast.
Lots of love,
This is my favorite greeting of all time. Please excuse the excess of exclamation points, but "bula" just isn't "bula" without one. It's like bread and butter, coconut and curry, Bush and bologna, you get the picture. Anyhoo, we are safely moored in Savu Savu, Fiji on the island of Vanua Levu. We are showered, no really, not a salt water bucket with a fresh water rinse, but an honest and true shower stall. And get this, when you turn the handle water comes out and it keeps coming, but wait it gets better. There are two handles. Two! One for cold and one for...HOT!! (this is another instance that calls for an excess of exclamation points) You'll have to forgive our excitement, but it has been close to a year since we have enjoyed this phenomenon. There is also laundry, dock water, and a local market that sells all the fresh fruit and veggies we've dreamed of. Oh yeah..and there's chocolate. It is incredibly beautiful here, green and lush. The town has lots of steaming geo-thermal vents, the local ladies leave their pots on it to cook while they do their shopping in town. Of course everything tastes a little sweeter after you've seen your life flash before your eyes. Okay that may be a bit of an overstatement. Alright, alright, that’s a huge, gross, gargantuan exaggeration, but we did get pooped. Before you landlubbers run gagging for the toilet, let me explain, "pooped" is sailor lingo for large wave, over the stern = green water flooding the cockpit. Luckily we had two hatch boards in and it just re-arranged the cockpit for us. I'm getting ahead of myself, see, we wouldn't have been in the "pooped" situation if we had only taken the advice of a good and wise friend.
Let's start at the beginning. The opening scene is Niuatoputapu, Ol' Tiny is happily anchored near the wharf. We sailed her there in order to be in a primo position for sailing out the pass. We're checked out with custom officials, said goodbye to all our lovely local friends, and begun the preparations for passage making. Our wise friend Tom stops by accessorized with the latest weather faxes he downloaded through his SSB radio. The outlook isn't rosy, there is potential for something called a "crush zone" to develop. It may produce sustained winds up to 45 knots after which we are likely to be smack in the middle of a convergence zone. "Did we hear a 'might' in there?" we ask Tom. "there's a chance it could move SE instead." "Excellent," we said and raised sail. Bad, bad, master and commander.
We had a lovely sail out the pass and first five or six hours. It was a downwind passage, we were doing hull speed at six knots, we caught a tuna, we didn't see whales. I didn't want to see whales, since TB is small, and humpbacks are very, very, not small. "We'll be there in no time!" we shout to each other. "Maybe we should slow down?" we ask each other an hour later. "Time to reef!" we shout too late. We spent the next twelve hours heaved-to under storm jib and double-reefed main. Early afternoon it finally let up enough to sail again, but it was definitely convergence weather, rainy and squally. Due to the sustained high winds, the ocean swells had built up considerably, at least 12-15ft. Enter "green water" stage left. At this point we were only a few hours away from Duff reef, an area located near the Lau group, but still over a hundred miles from our check-in point of Savu Savu. We need relief, relief from the endless pounding, three hour watches in the pouring rain, and no sustenance other than a few cabin biscuits. Duff reef has no charted depths, in fact instead of depths it has X's, meaning fouled. We can just make it before nightfall. Josh is on the bow shouting directions and watching for coral heads (there's plenty) and I'm on the tiller also watching. Somehow we make it safely, we anchor, there is a beautiful, sparkling, white sand cay with one single palm tree. Despite the fact that it sounds like a retirement condo in Florida, we name it "Lone Palm Cay."
Oh yeah and we caught a Wahoo on the way in, the place is hopping with fish. We cook up a huge meal of sashimi, pasta with red sauce, onions, garlic, pumpkin and more fresh fish. Ifo Ifo, Kang Kang, delicious in any language. We settled down for a good nights rest. We couldn't sleep a wink. The wind was still howling, the boat was getting tossed about, Josh got up to put the other anchor out. Then next morning we sailed the boat in a bit closer to the cay. We waited out the junk weather for five nights at our lovely Duff reef. We spear fished and dived, explored the tiny island and climbed the lone coconut tree at least a dozen times each. In the morning we would see the flipper marks left from the turtles coming up the beach to lay their eggs, and we could see dozens of them at any one time lazing in the shallows. The place was turtle paradise. We didn't see one shark. It was also sheller's paradise, I look for shells while Josh rod and reel fish for papios, which we eat raw right on the sand.
Finally it was time to get back out there, the sky was blue for the first time in ages. It was a slow, but beautiful two day crawl to Savu Savu. We were glued to the tiller, since the winds were too light for Mr. Belvedere (our self steering), but we had islands to judge our progress by once we entered the Nunuku pass in the Koro sea and stars to steer by in the crisp, clear nights. It’s a slow and steady sail into the picturesque Savu Savu bay. We are beyond exhausted, but thrilled to be here. O.k. there it is, that’s our story and we're stickin’ to it. By the way, mums the word on our little stop in Duff reef, Kay? Customs might get cranky.
This place looks like it may be the perfect hurricane hole for the lovely Tiny, we have more research to do. We are hoping to visit the states for the holiday and part of the hurricane season. We have a lot of showers to take. I can't wait to do laundry! What a treat, unlimited fresh water. Life is good. We miss all of you, wish you the best, send us an e-mail.
the knackered, but clean, crew of Tiny Bubbles
Malo Le'lei from Tonga,
We are anchored in the lagoon of Niuatoputapu (land of sacred coconuts). An island approx. 300+ miles north of the capital, Tongatapu. We arrived after a short, but steep passage from Savaii, part of the Samoas. The passage was a meager 170 miles, but hard to windward with strong south easterlies for most of the trip. However, it was only 3 days - a drop in the bucket for the hardy crew of TB, and with a boat full of provisions - who can complain? Don't answer that.
On the third day of the passage we were w/in spitting distance, but lost most of our wind and as darkness was closing in, we heaved-to for the night. There was a brilliant lightning storm, sudden wind that sent Josh scrambling on deck to douse all sails, and enough rain to fill our tanks. The next a.m. we made our approach, past Tafahi, a perfect cone shaped island about 11km north of the lagoon entrance to Niuatoptapu. A well marked, but narrow entrance, ol'Tiny sailed right in and dropped her hook w/out a hitch. No sooner had we finished congratulating ourselves on making port by Friday, so we could check in with customs before the weekend and/or avoid pricey overtime fees, did we learn from a well-meaning yachtie that it was actually Sat. Aug. 20th, not Fri. the 19th as we thought. We had once again crossed the dateline - who drew this thing?!
Anyway, customs was decent enough to give us a choice - pay an exorbitant fee to check in on a Sat. morning or stay aboard until Mon. We chose Monday, but managed to get a bit of diving and spear fishing in anyway. How many large Tongans do you think you can fit in a 'Tiny Bubbles'? Four. Four custom officials came to the boat, another yachtie gave them a ride in their 20hp dinghy, we offered to pick them up in the red ranger but they declined, quite profusely actually. It had to be the shortest boat inspection on record, "do you have any vegetables?" "Yes." "Great, sign this, Bye, Bye."
This e-mail is coming to you via the Peace Corp. workers that we met. There are currently 4 working on this island, along with Elder Wilde, a 19 yr. Old Mormon missionary from Wyoming. However, due to its remoteness, a tiny airport that's been long out of service, and a supply ship that's sporadic and unreliable at best, Peace Corp. is pulling out of this island entirely, and even Elder Wilde is scheduled to leave on the next ship. All four Peace Corp. volunteers work as English teachers in the various schools, and on Tues. we were invited to visit the primary school. We taught a song at every classroom (3) and had a great time trying out our Tongan phrases (4). Now, when we visit the village, instead of "Palangi, palangi! (white person) give me lolly!", we get "Haiti! (Heidi)"from the girls, and "Sauce! (Josh)" from the boys. We also solved the problem of "Red Ranger" our inflatable kayak serving as a jumping castle for young and old alike, by putting a sign in Tongan saying, "Tapu, tapu puna ‘I vaka. Malo aupito!" Basically, "Sacred. Please stay off the sacred boat. Thank you very much!"
The diving has been great with lots of nearby reefs to explore. The Humpback whales are here and you can watch their breaching and fluke displays from the boat. We often hear them singing as we are spear fishing. We realized how spoiled we have been, as this nippy (80 degree) water often leaves us chilled to the bone. We've also learned to forage on the reef at low tide for different types of shellfish. Ifo, Ifo! (yum, yum). There is an uninhabited motu with/in paddling distance, where we can climb all the coconut trees we desire and cook some of our meals on an open fire.
On Tues. we hope to catch a ride on a local fishing boat over to the tiny Island of Tafahi (pop.150) and possibly climb the volcano. Our visas run out on the 21st of Sept. and our tentative plan is to leave a week or so before that. Fiji is our next stop. We hope to anchor off a few of the Lau islands in the Nunuku pass, and then continue on to our check-in point of Savu Savu.
We've managed to hear bits and pieces about the devastation caused by the hurricane in Louisiana. Our hearts go out to all those affected.
Alu'a, goodbye, and aloha! We hope to be back in touch very soon.
Master J and Commander H
Malo e lelei! This e-mail is coming to you thanks to our favorite people, Tom and MaryAnne!! That's right, Linda is hanging out in Niutoputapu with us! Heidi and I are enjoying fishing and shell collecting with them. We left Mata Utu on the 18th, could have gone into Asau, but headed for Tonga around the West tip. It was a hard battle to windward in the beginning, but things got better when we got close. It took 3 days. Niutoputapu is by far the most beautiful island we've laid eyes on. There is a fringing reef with wonderful lagoon, perfect volcano island across the channel, small islet that we just ate dinner on with the other cruisers, and much more.
Lots of love,
Commander Heidi & Master Josh
Still hanging here in Apia, Samoa. Dad Holloway just arrived yesterday...at 3am no less. Josh met him at the airport, but was really distressed when his own father didn't even recognize him.Josh had to practically tackle him and jump in front of him in order for Stan to notice him. Of course, the wig, bling bling (cowrie shell leis) and purple lava lava (sarong) didn't help. Sean (my brother) is also visiting and just returned from a reconnaissance mission in Savaii (the big island of Samoa). We had him check out the anchorages etc. since we plan on sailing Tiny B over there for some more exploring. Sean completed his mission more or less, by riding the very crowded local buses around. Because he's a palagi (white boy) he didn't actually have to sit on anyones lap, but when they packed in all the school children, he got piled high in backpacks. He took the bus all the way to Asau, a possible anchorage on the NW side of the island. Only problem...the bus does go there,it just doesn't go back,the bus driver goes home to his village. Now whats he supposed to do with this silly palagi boy? He got pawned off on a nice local family. They fed him breadfruit, coconut milk and tinned fish and put him to bed in the family fale (local style house).
We had my mom out here for a visit as well. We had an awesome time and she was up for every adventure...even the three million or so steps leading to sliding rocks waterfalls. We have explored all over this island, dived in underwater caves, slid down waterfalls, and sampled all the local fare (boiled bat excluded). Now here we are, still enjoying all the fresh veggies/friut we can get our teeth around and provisioning the boat like madmen, but we are royally sick of "city life". We're ready for clean water to dive and spearfish in and coconut trees to climb etc. We aren't refined enough for city life anymore...our inner savage has taken over. So, basically we are kidnapping Dad holloway and Sean and taking them by way of Tiny Bubbles to Savaii. Savaii, where the cloeset thing to a city is a taro stand and a western union hut. Of course, packing 4 people on to Ol' tiny is going to make the crowded local buses feel like an estate room on the Queen Mary (but only Mom Lee and Katie would know about that really) and there's always the not so little chance we may run out of wind and end up in Wallis or Futuna. Adventure awaits!
Lots of love,
Commander Heidi & Master Josh
Talofa from Apia harbor, Samoa! We arrived yesterday morning after 18 days of beating to windward - complete w/ numerous gales, squalls, doldrums, etc. It was a tooth and nail battle/passage and we only made it to Samoa by the hairs on our chinny chin chins. We left Kanton on the 31st of May, just after 2pm w/ barely enough wind to make it out the channel of the lagoon. Once out, the wind died and we sat... and sat. Around 6 pm Tom and MaryAnn called us on the VHF to ask if they could motor dinner out to us, or perhaps tow us back into the lagoon for dinner. We declined -- pride and determination pushed us on. Being so close to land and darkness setting in, we set vigilant two hr. watches throughout the night. This would remain our watch schedule for the remainder of our passage. Around 7 the next morning Tom called to ask if we wanted breakfast. Unfortunately after a day and night of no wind the current that had been so good to us on our previous passage from Fanning had now set us several miles west. We had now been on the tiller for more than 16 hrs. with very little sleep, the winds being too light for self steering to function. We had actually been looking forward to this passage. We'd intended to stop at two of the uninhabited Phoenix Islands - Manra and Orona, where we would have anchored - later we found out from Tom that they were hit with storms and we probably would have lost the boat, had we tried to anchor there. We also planned a stop at Fakaofa in the Tokelau group. Samoa was only 700 miles from Kanton, but we'd been pushed so far west that it became a much longer trip.
Here are a few excerpts from the log kept during the passage:
June 1 - we made 24 miles - 20 of it in the wrong direction. June 2 - more of the same... June 3 - The equatorial current is having it's way w/ us June 4 - I feel so used. June 5 - Will not make Birnie Island June 7 - Will not make Sydney Island June 8 -- scary storm...had the EPIRB and ditch bag ready. June 9 -- storm dissipated and caught Mahi Mahi! very tired, lack of sleep is getting to us as evidence of the swollen bloody lip Heidi has after trying to check the compass with face. not recommended... June 10 definitely won't make Tokelau, which means good chance won't make Samoa - doldrums - nightly thunder storms. We're so far West that we resigned ourselves to shoot for Wallis Island/ Uvea. Samoa would be too ambitious, being upwind and up current. June 11 -- make this roller coaster stop! June 12 Doldrum, later got favorable wind and made some East. Josh found a tootsie pop today - what a treat, went well w/ the can of asparagus. Did some laundry. June 13 1 yr anniversary. Honeymoon is officially over. why isn't this passage? We will celebrate w/ can of beets and then pretend this day isn't happening. When/ if we ever make port we will celebrate the 1st 5 days, maybe more. Committed to making Samoa, for better or worse. June 14 -- spotted Savaii the easternmost of the Western Samoan Isles. Still about 100 miles away. No wind all day & night. Got hopeful and made the Samoan courtesy flag. June 15 -- still wallowing - little striped fish is swimming circles around the boat. Jumped in and joined him. squalls trhoughout the night. June 16 - Had to stay on the tiller through the night because of light airs. Current really let up. Only 49.2 miles away. Starting to see signs of civilization i.e. birds, bugs, and rubish - never thought the sight of a floating diaper would be so welcome. June 17 - so close we could spit. Only 14.8 miles away at 2:00 pm. At this point the biggest dilemma is whether to sleep eat or shower first. Wish we could do all 3 simultaneously. Having to tack to make easting. Don't know if we can make harbor before nightfall. June 18 after a sleepless night of tacking and a way too close call w/ and enormous cargo ship, we began our approach into Apia harbor.
We used our VHF to try to call Apia port control for permission to enter. We weren't able to reach port control but guess who answered? Tom and Maryann from the yacht "Linda" The same Tom and Maryann we had left in Kanton 18 days ago. They told us they spent another 5 days in Kanton and then cruised to Samoa and had already been there a week! Maybe a 42 ft. catamaran is the way to go! Twin engines!! Anyway, it was great to hear a freindly voice and Tom motored his dinghy along and we chatted as we entered under sail and anchored. We actually did quite well. We've gone 7 months on the provissioning we did on Big Island, before leaving Hawaii. We managed to sail in with a few cans left. However, it won't be a bad thing if it's a long time before we eat another can of cold refried beans.
So now here we are...Honeymoon has been granted an indefinite extension. We are experiencing a bit of culture shock. Apia is pretty metropolitan. Cars, traffic, crowds, planes, etc. We'll be hard pressed to find a coconut tree to climb (without incurring the wrath of an angry samoan), or a decent place to spear fish close to the anchorage. However, there is chocolate- even more than this girl can eat - but I'll try. Well, we've already indulged - cold drinks, veggies, fruit, showers!, and best of all uninterrupted, stress free, slumber. We even went for a run this a.m., it was the 1st time we'd worn shoes other than flip flops in over 7 months.
OK, we can't wait to hear from EVERYONE. Oh, yeah, another bonus - Internet! Boo Yeah!
Much, Much, love,
Heidi and Josh
Hi we made it to Samoa!!! It was a long harrowing trip (details to follow...after we've slept a bit)
We are going through some culture shock, but really enjoying the food. We really love you guys and can't wait to send a longer e-mail tomorrow. Hope all is well at home. E-mail back we can get it at the Internet Cafe - no more lenght limits.
Heidi and I are healthy and happy here in the Phoenix Islands. We've enjoyed every kind of fish known to man and we're getting fat on coconuts - yah right! We can grate them and squeeze coconut milk on every dish, but we paddle to much to put on the pounds...Two days ago Heidi scored 2 lobsters and I caught 1, but yesterday I caught 2 and she got none - can't let her get too big a head, but she has gotten pretty handy with a pole spear!
Today Tom and Mary Anne arrived on the vessel Linda. They are our friends from Fanning and a welcome sight!! We've been the only boat here for a while.
Sorry we have not had details for everyone since Fanning. We left Fanning on March 8th and traveled the 970 miles to Kanton in 8 1/2 days - FLYING!!! It was all down wind and a wonderful passage = no one fed the fish!
Kanton is not what we expected. There is hardly any land and a huge lagoon. Most of the world is underwater, with only 40 island residents.
We see sharks (black tips, white tips, and grays) on a daily basis. We've got a system of sign language and underwater grunts to communicate when there is a shark in our diving area. Late in the day on the in-flowing tide we got to SPAM Island in the middle of the channel and throw rocks for entertainment. The gray reef sharks and giant jacks go nuts! It's fun to stir them into a frenzy from the safety of land. One came close to the kayak yesterday and Heidi was ready to whap it with a paddle. She decided against it. I'll let her tell you more.
Hi all! It sure is nice to be able to send this e-mail and have Tom and Maryanne here with us. As you can imagine with only forty people on the island, we know everyone well by now.
We volunteered in the school (only 15 students) up until break started last week. We celebrated Josh's 30th by having all the children come to the wharf for lots of games.
The village is actually about an hour walk from the wharf where we are anchored. We make the trek about once a week or so. There are two families that live at the wharf, so were not too lonely. The island hasn't seen a supply ship in a while and after 6mo. supplies are a little tight so we make good use of the fresh seafood always available around here. We've dined on fresh shark, sea turtle (not caught by us, but delicious), giant clams, rock crabs, hermit crabs and so much more than I can list here. Dinner is always intereseting. Okay, enough for now..
Tons of love!
Heidi and the much older Josh
Josh had a great 30th birthday. We will leave for Tokelau about May 15.
PS They sounded fine when I talked to them on the radio. They do not come up on the net often but it is always a pleasure to hear them when they do.
Yacht "ALSO II"
Hello, this message is coming to you from the "Yacht ALSO II", Fiji. I run a single side band net every morning. This morning the crew from "Tiny Bubbles" came on and ask that I send you an email: "that they are in Canton and all is well".
I think they said that they may be going to Toukelau next. Anyway they are OK and sounds like they are having a good time.
Hello, I am the Assistant Hotel Director onboard a cruise ship the Norwegian Wind, from Norwegian Cruise Lines.
Today, Sunday, March 06, 2005 we stopped in Fanning Island (port of call) and I met Heidi and Josh who had Tiny Bubbles anchored there. It was their last day in the island, they are starting their trip tomorrow. They are fine and look well. We gave them some tomatoes, lettuce, fruits and cakes for them to take onboard and eat something other than fish! Here is the message they would like me to pass on to you:
We are safe and sound and headed to Canton. Expecting a pleasant voyage. We will be in contact when we can.
Heidi & Josh.
Amazingly, I think we may have used up all the postcards. I'm writing this under minor duress since we awoke to a cruise ship that apparently no one knew about. Let me explain. I think Josh and I may have been the first to notice it. The ship is called "The Europa," as we learned through the eventual radio contact. I guess Bob (the Island Manager) was expecting a ship by this name but on a different day. Now they are cranky and Bob has to run to the Custom Agents' house to wake them up.
Anyway, so much excitement. Today is also the first day of school for all students and Josh's fifth day to cut his toddy tree (more on this later).
This is a German cruise ship so I think we will be able to fit in (smiley face!). We weren't expecting another gourmet meal quite so soon. See, last night we had...lobster! Yes, it's true. Josh caught a spiny lobster (with a little assistance from Yours Truly) on our routine fishing expedition. This was a huge 1 1/2 - 2 ft. lobster and it was so good. It was finger-prickin' good. Yes, it's not called spiny for nothing.
Josh got so enthusiastic while partaking in only the 4th lobster of his lifetime that he pricked his finger. (You remember the last time he partook of lobster, of course [another smiley face]). But, alas, that is not where the comedy lies. It was this morning when he was searching in vain for the bandage he had so painstakingly applied to his finger. (It only took me "a while" to tell him it was stuck to his back.) However, I'm not the only one enjoying a laugh. Josh woke me up the other night laughing heartily in his sleep. When I questioned him the next a.m., he remembered his dream. (Begin dream sequence now: We were at our Hawaiian Blessing; the sets and backdrop all stay the same, save one minor detail. Replace the lovely, graceful, young female hula dancer with...STAN! Now I understand the chuckling[another smiley face here].---End dream sequence now.)
Besides the highly successful lobster trip, we have had many such fishing expeditions. The day before, between the two of us we managed to bring in 10 fish, including a large grouper, several parrot fish, goat fish, a leatherback (which Josh landed with a Hail Mary shot), and surgeon fish. Enough to eat, dry, and share.
But fish is not our only Gastronomic Delight. We have recently become accustomed to a very varied diet. Josh has become an expert breadmaker--saltwater pan bread to be exact. We were able to purchase a large bag of flour when the last supply ship came in. We also have vegetables--namely pumpkin, cabbage (my arch nemesis), green peppers, cucumbers, and sometimes breadfruit.
We received a gift of cabbage and cucumber from a little girl who regularly comes to our Bahai Center English lessons. We then learned that her father is retired Minister of Agriculture from the capital. Hence, the only vegetable garden in Fanning (or at least one of the very few). Well, now we can buy vegetables anytime, and with our gift of Spam, we received an open welcome and a gift of cabbage. (We will stock up before we leave for Canton.)
Josh's writing: We will probably leave for Canton on 2-22-05 our day, which is 2-21 in Hawaii. From what we hear, Canton is even more basic than Fanning----is that possible?
There are five families living on the island. There is no telecommunication, so it will be hard to contact home, unless a cruiser passes through with sailmail. Let's cross our fingers.
We are well-supplied and have learned enough to do well in Canton. Heidi got a local friend to translate some phrases that will be useful and we have been practicing. Almost no one speaks English on Fanning, so I can't imagine we'll find English-speakers in Canton.
OK! Time to storm the German buffet. My new name is Hansel. Heidi is keeping her name....Wonder if there will be brockwurst, weinerschnitzel, or just hamburg? Dankashen! (sp.???)
Hansel & Gretel
We may have been the first to bring in the New Year since the Kiribati capital changed the dateline as a millennium ploy for tourism. We began our Fanning celebrations by joining the NCL staff for a bon fire on the beach. Later we all joined a local party nearby, complete with a large roasted pig and canned meat by the plenty. All the foreign men were asked to stand and make a speech, and no matter how drab, profound or droll they are always followed with shouts of "Boya, boya boya!"
Sometime around 12:15am the foreigners began to check their watches and exclaim, "it's after midnight, we've missed the New Year." Whereas the local people simply shouted, "No matter we're on Kiribati time, always late, lets begin the count down!" And so we did, followed by feasting and later dancing (they call all fast, partner style dancing "doing the twist") We twisted until sometime after 1am and then Josh and I, being used to our usual routine of bed at 8pm, stumbled back to the red ranger for the kayak home.
When the cruise ship arrived two days later, they were recovering from New Years Eve and celebrating New Years day...we felt a little superior for being "so over it, it was so last year."
Anyhow the ship had run into some bad weather and arrived several hours behind schedule, they normally arrive sometime around 6am, offload everyone by 9am, and round everyone up and disappear by 3:30pm. The people didn't start to get tendered in till around 11:30, therefore the ship decided to forego the buffet style barbecue lunch and just serve some fruit and pound cake instead.
Well, you could imagine Josh and my disappointment, but we made the best of it and were pretty thrilled to see fresh fruit besides. However, the tourists were furious and let every poor Indonesian and Filipinos worker know about it. "Where is the buffet lunch they promised?!" and "Is this all there is to eat? Some fly covered bread and fruit!" We then sat and watched as they filled several plates with fresh fruit and cake stomped back to their tables and left it all to sit and attract flies until an NCL worker came and cleared the table.
Some of the trash they leave ends up being the local workers' treasure, such as towels and blow-up floats and expensive souvenir cups. The ship also brought all the things that were not delivered when the boat had to turn away due to storms the last time. Everyone on the Island was waiting expectantly for the bounty the ship was to deliver. The children were all expecting a Christmas gift from NCL, the NCL staff were waiting for mail and food supplies, including holiday delicacies, and Josh and I were barely able to contain our excitement for the package promised from our moms.
As the tenders were ferrying people in, the local barge went out to the ship to pick up some huge fuel bladders. The new driver wasn't completely versed in the ways of loading and just as the last bladder was put into the boat the entire thing reared up, did a somersault and lay face down for all to see. The driver scrambled to safety and the cargo remained trapped underneath, and at the end of the day they just towed the entire disaster back to the lagoon.
The problem lay in two arenas, first the barge doubles as the local ferry, and now no more cargo would be unloaded from the ship. Josh and I waiting expectantly on land for any word, view, or sniff of mail saw the over turned barge being dragged back to shore and feared the worst...our treasured package lay outside the lagoon in a 1,000ft of water. We waited until 5pm and then sadly made our way back to the Red Ranger for the long paddle home.
Just as we were leaving the NCL compound, Roland the asst. manager appeared with a little piece of heaven in his arms! Our package and two letters to boot! Boo-ya! Anyway we had our Christmas celebration as soon as we returned to the boat and every child on the island got an "animals of Alaska" coloring book and set of crayons from NCL.
Speaking of, our English classes are going well. Although it began as mostly teens and adults, the class morphed right before our eyes to small children and weekly renditions of the hokey pokey (for which we have become famous for and even preformed for the New Years eve party after it was insisted that the "I-matangs" perform a song...who knows the words to Auld Lang Syne?)
O.K. Tiaboh for now! We plan on remaining on Fanning until Feb. At which time we will head for Canton in the Phoenix Islands.
Much love to all and to all a good plight, Heidi and Josh
p.s. a big thanks to Tom and Maryann on the catamaran "Linda" for the generous use of their e-mail.
Hope things are going well on the mainland. Heidi had a bit of a stomach flu, but today she came around. We made it to school on the other side of the lagoon. The fishing has been great. I got one giant mussel, 2 kumu, and 1 large parrot fish during a 15 min. outing this afternoon.
Mauri and Merry Christmas from Fanning
We miss you!!! We'll try not to miss another holiday season with family... Tom and MaryAnne on the vessel Linda are giving us the chance to use their sail mail.
The big news here is that the cruise ship was not able to visit the island. We had a 3 day storm that made it impossible for them to enter. We couldn't send out or receive mail. The next ship is January 2nd.
Heidi and I have begun teaching English classes in the village. On Sat. we were invited to a wedding -- comedy from beginning to end! We were guests of honor with a seat next to the elders. A funny custom that kept us entertained was the powdering and deodorizing of all the guests -- including us... Two people would come around, one with baby powder and the other with deodorizer, to spray the armpits and powder the necks of the guests. I was powdered and deodorized about 5 times -- 3 times. Heidi got it 7.
During the days we have been diving and surfing. The channel out of the lagoon is full of fish, so we time the tide and dive the pass. Today we saw a manta ray, 5 sharks (white tip), and a large barracuda. I caught a grouper, squirrel fish, a big parrot fish, and an octopus -- which made up for the one Heidi speared and I lost to an eel.
Merry, merry Christmas! love, Josh and Heidi
Aloha/Mauri from the captain's deck of TB (not tuberculosis)
Life has gotten livelier around here, thankfully since the fishing; eating, sleeping routine was getting a bit old. First off, boat day happened. The Norwegian wind, which cannot enter the lagoon and is forced to spend the day floating outside in a 1,000 ft. of water, arrived around 9am on Monday (to us and Sun. to you). Shortly thereafter upward of 1500 large Americans (and a smattering of Euros) descended upon Fanning island. It was a little shocking, but made our caper ridiculously easy. The only obstacle was getting the red ranger from TB to the beach as stealthily as possible, (later, when we returned stomachs full to find the security guard napping in the red ranger we realized it wasn't all that vital).
Anyway, we had our way with the buffet and found the entire experience a little disappointing...if not a bit disturbing. I remembered hearing through the grapevine that cruise shippers were dissatisfied with the Fanning stop due to the lack of places to drop wads of cash. As far as shopping, I'm not sure what the gripe was about because the villagers were out in full force hocking their wares (crafts). I mean, sure there was no air-conditioned shopping mall, but they had about 50 tables set up for the "not so cruiser, cruisers" to peruse. It was all hand-made crafts such as baskets made of fronds and decorated with shells, knifes made of sharks teeth, cowrie shell jewelry, and various items made out of coconuts.
Although many of the crafts were unique to the Kiribati people and very interesting, it was obvious that it was about quantity not quality. This observation was confirmed by the other cruiser couple here who have been to other of the Kiribati islands. Sadly they are leaving any day now for California, an incredibly ambitious passage on any boat. They are expecting it to take them 5 or 6 weeks. Daunting.
On other news, we got a south swell. Huge surf. Ironically the day the swell arrived Chuck (an American who has Kiribati citizenship through marriage and has existed around these islands for more than 20yrs.) returned with 5 surfers and their photographer. They are here to do a story/photo shoot for Surfer magazine. ¾Supposed to be very uncharted, virgin wave etc.
Anyway they are good fun and interesting to surf with. They motored on Chuck's 60ft yacht here from Christmas Island about 200 miles away. They claim they almost died (from a mild squall that had passed over us earlier) and found the entire experience to be altogether unsettling. Needless to say they are slightly amazed/horror stricken at our journey in TB. OK that'll be all for now, still quite homesick and having a hard time with this incommunicado thing, but otherwise quite well.
Miss you all and please take good care!! Love heidi
Mauri from the TB House of Pancakes!
My turn to write a bit, while my pancake flipping wrist takes a rest...Bisquick has made a major contribution as a staple morning food. The days here all seem to blend together--almost as much as life at sea. So, I'll recap what's fresh and fill everyone in on yesterday.
While Heidi surfed with the Endless Summer gang, I decided to take a walk through town. There is one main dirt path that runs along this 1/4 mile wide strip of land, so getting lost is difficult. I had been walking about a mile when a man headed the same way began dropping a few English words on me.
All I could understand was his name (Bea) and "We drink coconut." 10:00 a.m. Bea showed me the tiny side path and lead me to his home. His 3 kids ran over to stare at me, while his toddler cried like she'd seen a ghost. We climbed a coconut tree on the property and downed a few drinking coconuts. The kids used a spike wedged in pandanus root to husk the coconuts before we hacked off the tops and drank.
The conversation was limited to me drawing pictures in the sand. I drew a map to show them where Tiny Bubbles was located and where my favorite fishing grounds were. Bea took me around and showed me the seaweed and pandanus they were drying. His wife showed me how to make coconut milk--Heidi and I had been trying in vain to make it on the boat.
Then they rolled out a mat for me under their roof/house. I sat on it--not realizing that I was supposed to lay down and rest, while chatting. The fire pit was to one side of the house, so the trash can was always within throwing reach...These people know how to camp.
12:00 Bea decided it was time to take a walk, so we headed to his friends house, where I was introduced to 4 men sitting around drinking toty--a local brew made from fermented coconut sap. They offered me a very full cup, but I declined, fearing the laxative effect that their water would produce. Bea told them I like coconut, so a boy ran up with one.
Two of the men spoke some English, so I got many questions about fishing and island life answered.
They buy very little, since the supply ship is unreliable and comes only 3 times a year. A mat was rolled out again and I laid down under the coconut palm roof of the house to chat. By 3:00 p.m. the bad sun hours had passed, so I told them I was going back to the boat to fish. They told me to bring my wife for a feast next time--I don't think they are cannibals? Tay explained that when there is a feast, they will cook up a pig, chicken, or dog. Abraham walked with me, so he could introduce me to his 80 yr. old mother. From what Heidi and I've seen, she's probably the oldest inhabitant--hard to find people over 50. He also wanted to show off his canoe, which we never found??? He's going to track it down, so he can come fishing with Tubai and me in the lagoon.
Tiaboh (goodbye) from Fanning Island. We love you guys and whish communication was easier...It will be even harder without Wind Runner.
Much Aloha, Josh
Mauri and Aloha! We are safe, sound and healthy (save a touch of homesickness). We are very sorry for not getting in touch sooner, no facilities exist to call or e-mail. There is a satellite phone used for Norwegian cruise line business, but we have yet to be able to use it. We are sending this e-mail through some very nice cruisers (the only other ones) who are stopped here for a short time before heading back to San Francisco. We asked by radio for a passing NCL cruise ship to e-mail, as well as another boat. I hope these messages were received. Please pass this message along as we don't have everyone's e-mail with us.
We made landfall on 11/21 here at Fanning after 21 days at sea. We thought we were arriving on a Sat. but were notified it was Sun. because Fanning keeps their time zone consistent with their longitude, but decided to put themselves one day ahead so that all the islands of Kiribati would be on the same day -- confusing.
We actually spotted landfall just before daybreak on 11/20. You should of heard our "land Ho" shouts. It took most of the day beating hard to windward and fighting the fierce north current to reach the mouth of the lagoon, only to get turned away after we were unable to fight the outgoing current of 5 knots entering the lagoon. We found a mooring set up just outside the entrance and spent the night there waiting for a slack tide in the morning. Our spirits were pretty low until we landed 4 menpanchi (squirrel fish) on one line we had hung off the boat. We had heard rumors that Fanning is an anglers paradise and so far it seems to be true.
Finally, on the morning of 11/21 after a futile attempt to make ol' Tiny and her crew presentable for custom officials we entered the lagoon under sail.
The Lagoon was much larger than we expected, at least 6 miles across and 4 miles wide with crystal clear aquamarine water. Since customs doesn't seem to have a radio or vessel, Roland the NCL employee from Canada, relayed our message and brought the officials (that weren't so official) out to the boat. They were two large local men in t-shirts and sarongs and we had to stifle a laugh when one of them made an attempt to go below and found himself trapped. His eyes got wide when he realized he had to now back himself out again. They quickly decided an inspection of the cabin wasn't necessary and we all managed to wedge ourselves into the cockpit. Josh kept a weary eye on the scuppers.
Shortly after we got clearance and red ranger was brought out of hibernation. We had wobbly legs as we made our way through the tiny village in search of "town" to pay our visa fee (70$ Australian). We must of blinked because we completely missed "town" and had walked through several villages before a group of young copra workers laughed at us and pointed us back the way we came. Town consists of a crumbling building with some caged in offices. Nobody seemed to know where the "treasurer" was so it took us several attempts to change money. We still haven't found anybody to pay the visa fee to.
There are truly no supplies available here, so fish will be crucial. Our days are mostly spent fishing from the boat and taking red ranger exploring for new spear fishing sites. Josh has already gotten advice from local fishermen.
As far as the passage is concerned...I could sum it up with lots of misery with some enjoyment mixed in. Or some enjoyment with a heavy dose of misery. Either way the two of us took our fair share of abuse in the past month.
The first day out we wallowed off the west side of the Big Island, our winds being blocked by Mauna Loa. When we finally passed well west of South Point the winds began gusting and we sailed under double reefed main and storm jib. The seas built to about 10-12 feet and we got tossed around a lot -- sea sickness was rampant. The strong winds and seas were from the east causing us to head southwest for a couple of days. When it bent to the east we made all the easting possible and logged 100+ mile days.
At about 10 degrees north we hit a storm. The other cruising couple here on Fanning spotted the storm on their weather fax and called it a tropical wave. The winds pounded us during the day and night while Heidi and I stayed inside hoping that Mr. Belvedere (our wind vane self-steering) would continue to steer us to perfection under storm jib and double reefed main with the boat heeling to the toe rail. It was tense and there was no sleeping.
After 48 hrs, the storm lifted and we had a few nice days before running out of wind at about 7 degrees north. The winds were light and variable from 7 degrees to 5 degrees, with some days of complete calms. The current was heading north, so during a few days we made more backward than forward progress, while our sails slammed back and forth with the rocking of the boat. All this abuse, but we had no real gear failures. Whoever rigged that boat did a mighty fine job!
Thanks to Pancho and the hand line and lure he gave us, we landed a huge Mahi. Luckily we had heard a tip about how to subdue large catch and it worked like a charm. We brought the huge sucker along the side of the boat and poured gin straight in its mouth. (your supposed to use whiskey and spit it in its mouth and gills, but we confess gin was cheaper and the smell was so repulsive we could only bring ourselves to pour it in.) and he was docile as a kitten after that. Good eating. All day buffet!
James lure almost caught us the biggest Ono (wahoo) we've ever seen, but we hit a squall just as were trying to bring the monster along side and had to stop to reef. We lost him, but seeing as how he looked like he could've taken josh's head off, it was probably for the best.
OK much missed family and friends we promise to be in touch as often and as soon as possible. We also promise that we are in the best of health, eating very well (we may be eating even better on ship day, we think we have a fool proof way of storming the buffet!) having many bisquick pancake, fish and coconut feasts. And generally spoiling ourselves silly. Much love and aloha! Heidi and Josh.
As of now we have no mailing address, as soon as we do we'll let ya know!
Take care of yourselves!
Message from Josh and Hedi, sailing yacht Tiny Bubbles.
As we were leaving fanning island for Christmas island, Josh and Hedi were just arriving about 5 miles out. They are ok, had a good but slow passage, and will be on Fanning for some months. There is no telephone there.
Evreything ok, ETA Fanning Island 3days 22nd of Nov