October 29, 2010
October 27, 2010
October 25, 2010
October 23, 2010
But then there comes a spell where we hear bad news from the boats around us. Twice during the two-week span we spent in Vanuatu, cruising boats arrived at their destination with one less person aboard. We're reminded that safety is something we can never be cavalier about.
We arrived in Noumea this morning. Weather changes turned a two day passage into four days, but we spent most of the balance taking a break- tucked safely into a protected bay along our route. Here in Noumea, though, we found friends who had a more memorable passage- the pounding upwind pushed their rig over the limit, and they lost their mast. They're fine, and the boat is eventually going to be fine, but it's sobering.
So I'm grateful. Grateful to be safe in still water with my family. Grateful for Jamie's depth of marine experience and amazing skills on the water. Grateful for our Totem- our vessel in more ways than one. Grateful for a tap on the shoulder to remind us to be vigilant.
October 20, 2010
October 19, 2010
October 18, 2010
October 17, 2010
October 15, 2010
Instead, so we grow sprouts in order to have anything resembling a crunchy fresh veggie. We buy greener tomatoes when we can find them, so they'll be getting ready to eat when other freshies are eaten or past their prime. We try to have fruit on hand that will last.
Before cruising, we were spoiled with our access to excellent food. We had a spectacular diet based on vegetables from a CSA (Chris Lewellyn, I miss you!), meat sourced from farmers we knew (Bruce, will you and Debbie come visit us in Australia?), and staples from an organic buying club (*sniff* those days are distant). Any gaps or cravings could be easily filled by a family-owned neighborhood grocery store that offered a broad spectrum of what the world has to offer.
After years of knowing the producer for the majority of our meat- something I think is important- I was reluctant to switch to "mystery source meat" in Mexico. We tried being vegetarian for a while, and it was OK until we didn't have much access to fresh vegetables in the sparsely populated Sea of Cortez last summer. We have better access in the Pacific islands, but opportunities to purchase can be spaced out by weeks. Except in a couple of locales (like Tahiti, where you can get almost anything you want- for a price) the variety of produce and grains can often be extremely limited, anyway .
If I sound a little glass half empty, I'm probably just down because I recently had to throw out all the remaining flour on board. We make our own bread, so this is kind of a big deal. But we found bugs. Lots of bugs. Flour with the odd weevil is one thing... flour that is alive with larvae is another. Then, it was in the pancake mix- my backup (besides pancakes, it makes excellent fry bread and can be used for some muffins and similar quick bread type baked goods).
It's not all bad. Far from it! When we do get to population centers with markets, we are eating gorgeous, fresh, and local. I've got a pile of pictures from the market in Port Vila to get uploaded and hopefully share tomorrow.
Also, our provisioning in Mexico- which we are *just now*, almost seven months later, finishing up- went really well. As we use up the last of many of our Mexican-purchased goods from the spring, I've been noodling on long-term provisioning lately. Got questions? Send me an email, or comment below.
fresh peanut bundles in the Port Vila market
October 11, 2010
It's a little different for us at the moment. With the cyclone season fast approaching this part of the Pacific, we only have a few weeks left in tropical islands before running south for Australia. As a result, we arrived in Vanuatu with some expectations and a fairly specific plan. Sure enough- so far, Vanuatu has not been what we expected, and forces outside our control have changed our plans!
Originally, we thought we'd arrive on Efate island and spend a couple of days in Port Vila, the capital and our port of entry, before sailing north to Epi island. There, we would encounter people who live in extraordinarily different circumstances than any we have seen before. We'd have a glimpse into a history closely tied to the land and rich with ceremony. We'd get to swim with the resident dugongs in a bay at the north end of the island. There would be epic snorkeling at an atoll between Efate and Epi.
That's not exactly the way things are turning out. We arrived a week ago, but weather systems have kept us in protected waters on Efate. Port Vila has interesting corners and its own charms, but it's not the rural village removed from most vestiges of modern western culture that is the Vanuatu of our Discovery Channel dreams. For the most part, we're just another in the crowd of white tourists disgorged from vessels- cruise ships were in port for half of our stay.
Things started looking up as soon as we got away from town. This seems to be a consistent theme for us: enjoy what the population centers have to offer, but find the outposts as quickly as possible, for this is where the best memories and friends are nearly always made. In company with our friends Mike & Hyo on IO, we worked our way around to the protection of the northern harbor on Efate.
Although we thought Vanuatu would be all about cultural experiences, what we're finding in so far instead is unparalleled sea life. It is simply stupendous: in the last few days, we have seen the largest specimen of nearly every species of sea creature we've encountered to date in our two years of cruising.
It started when we made a pit stop to snorkel at a pinnacle about 7 miles from Vila, and found an incredible combination of pelagic fish and the usual confetti of colorful reef fish. A tuna patrolled with the controlled calm of a predator. Turtles glided through, and the fish all seemed utterly fearless- based on the way reef fish surrounded us, close enough to touch, we suspect dive boats feed them. Mairen, my snorkeling buddy, was nearly hoarse from squeaking with delight with each new discovery.
After settling into an bay near Havannah Harbour, snorkeling the area reefs produced even more drama. We've seen snapper and groupers that exceeded six feet in length. Massive sea turtles have glided by. Buffalo parrotfish, a riot of color and easily 100 lbs, drifting by schools of jittery snappers. In a comical domino effect, Mike accidentally spooked the largest eagle ray we've ever seen which went jetting down and startled a fat whitetip shark on the bottom. Later,Jamie e was lining up a shot on what would be by far the biggest groupers he's ever speared, when he realized he was being checked out by a yellowfin tuna with a body as long as his own. Even the average sized parrotfish, snappers, and groupers vastly exceed the typical fish size we've seen. It is an new feeling to be in waters where we have been knocked off the top of the food chain.
If the reef wasn't magical enough- to cap it off, on the swim back from their last visit yesterday, Mike and Jamie swam with dolphins.
I don't know what's next, but my expectations have been swept back off the table.
Posted via radio: we have no internet access
October 9, 2010
Our family was recently included in a story by Laura Coffey as part of a series on homeschooling and traveling on TodayShow.com - "A moveable feast: For some, the world is a classroom."
For newcomers to our site via MSNBC, welcome! We've been traveling since we sailed south out of Puget Sound in August 2008. It's been a wonderful path for our family, and anyone can do it. If you've had the dream percolating, feel free to email me questions or post them in comments. It sometimes takes a while to reply, as we don't have routine internet access.
My good friend Laureen hooked us up with Laura while we were cruising in French Polynesia (check out her blogs- linked on the blogroll at right: The Excellent Adventure, and Elemental Mom). After putting up with a challenging Skype connection of big audio delays, Laura captured the essence of so much of why we love this cruising life. It's pure joy to see your children learn and grow from the changing environment around us!
For regular readers, who are curious, here's a link to the story:
It's been up a little over a week, although I've procrastinated posting thinking we might get decent internet access. That doesn't seem to be happening, so thanks for bearing with me.
Posted via radio: we have no internet access