10 Thoughts After Arriving in New Zealand


We have great boat kids. Hazel and Leo now think that doing a 1,000 mile passage is no big deal. They sleep all night. They hold their bowls patiently on their laps when they are feeling queasy. They focus on their work when Sophie school is in session. They can share a cabin and bed when we have guest crew without (much) fighting and yelling. They get incredibly creative and funny. Leo yesterday jumped 2,500 times on the trampoline, and Hazel thinks its a blast when the wind off the jib makes her hair go straight up. 500 miles from the nearest land.


Only Jenna and Hazel (and maybe the ice princess Caroline Sollenberg) would think that a good way to kill time on a passage would be to braid a bikini strap into your hair.

I love Leo’s sense of ridiculousness. (Look again at the photo).

We REALLY need to get our Webasto diesel cabin heater fixed. Immediately. A week ago it was too hot for a blanket at night, and this morning it’s 53 degrees in our cabin. For us right now that is REALLY COLD!!!!!

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Throughout the last 3 months, I joked with people at the various cruising bars that our strategy for arriving in New Zealand was to hit the customs dock with one gallon of fuel left in Sophie. (The theory being you use all your fuel to outrun fronts and storms). I think we succeeded in our strategy. The left photo shows what’s remaining in our port fuel tank, and the right photo shows what’s left in the starboard tank (and the tank is empty when the needle hits the 1/8 mark). Have I mentioned lately that we averaged 8.33 knots over a 1,000 mile passage? Also, there is a fuel dock 30 meters from us.


For what it’s worth, this photo shows what’s left in our port water tank. The starboard tank is empty, and our watermaker has basically stopped working. The fuel dock apparently has water as well.

We had a wonderful time in Fiji over the last 2 months, but over the last week Jenna and I both remembered how much we love sailing offshore. We’ve now sailed around 7,000 miles over the last year. And the fact that we are doing it together makes it special.

I am a much, much better sailor now than I was a year ago.


The Bay of Islands is stunning. We are going to spend the next 6 months in New Zealand, and Sophie will spend most of that time here. I can’t wait to get started. We have already started spotting the boats of friends we’ve met over the summer. The people are all the same, they’re just now a lot colder.

The adventure continues. We are blessed to have the opportunity to do this with our lives.

Hello Opua!


We tied up at the Customs Dock in Opua, New Zealand at 8:42 PM local time, a little under an hour after sunset (above). I am not sure if the highlight of the day was motorsailing at 9+ knots in spectacular sunshine in a 5 knot southwesterly throughout the afternoon, or Jenna braiding a bikini string into Hazel’s hair (photo tomorrow.) All I do know is that Sophie covered 1,072 nautical miles in 5 days, 9 hours. Our average speed over this period was 8.33 knots. Fred and Frank were great crew. We are thankful for so much on this trip and appreciate all of your good wishes and prayers. We made it to New Zealand!

Fiji – Opua, Day 5

We are most definitely in the home stretch. It’s 10.30 AM local time, 28.10.13. Happy New Zealand Labor Day everyone! Current position is 34.01 S, 174.05 E. Winds are 13 knots from the south, and there is a 1-2 meter chop we are plowing through in the bright morning sunshine. Boat speed is 7.5 knots @ 155m with a reefed main and both engines running @ 2800 RPM. We covered 186 miles over our last 24 hours from yesterday’s waypoint. We actually sailed over 200 miles, including a 90 mile tack to the west yesterday afternoon to get a better wind angle after we ran into the southerlies. We have 79 miles between us and the dock, and the last 10 of that is in the shelter of the Bay of Islands. The wind is forecast to swing over to the southwest and drop to 3.5 knots before midnight. We are not quite sure how much fuel we have left on the boat. I am certain we have enough to get all the way to Opua at our current RPMs (and I’ve only been wrong once before in this situation!) On the other hand Jenna is not so sure, so we will spend the afternoon closely monitoring the fuel gauges while engaged in open and polite conversation on the topic. Another key issue we face is New Zealand Biosecurity Hazard compliance. We are not allowed to bring into the country any of our bacon, sausage, parma ham, eggs, fruit, vegetables, and other good stuff. We may have to eat four meals between now and bedtime, and at least some of them will be healthy. Last night we dined on spaghetti with imported Italian pesto and parmesan cheese accompanied by roasted Italian sausage. The movie was “The Pink Panther Strikes Again”, and Hazel almost hurt herself she was laughing so hard. Nothing has broken in the last 24 hours, although I lost the SYC hat the Wickmans gave me when I ran outside to see if the four frigate birds chasing us were going to strike at our lures. Overall the crew is happy, wearing another layer of fleece, and looking forward to sleeping on a dock tonight.

Fiji – Opua, Day 4

So when I was tucking the kids into bed last night (after they had finished watching Roger Moore ham is way through “The Man With the Golden Gun”), I turned to Hazel and said we needed to be thankful that Sophie was so fast throughout the entire day that we had successfully outrun the danger of all the storms chasing us from behind. She paused, smiled quietly, and said “Whoa!” That’s pretty much all we need to say. It’s 10.30 AM local time, 27.10.13. Current position is 30.58 S, 174.57 E. Winds are 6 knots from the east, and the seas are flat. Boat speed is 7.5 knots @ 174m with a full main and jib and one engine running @ 2800 RPM. We covered 210 miles in our last 24 hours, meaning that over our first 4 days we are now officially averaging over 200 miles per day. We could have covered more, but Jenna convinced me at 3:00 AM this morning to turn off a motor to conserve fuel. But overall we succeeded in our strategy of outrunning the front behind us, and that makes us all very, very happy. The GRIB (weather) charts we downloaded all day showed nasty weather (30-40+ knot winds) coming south just 50-100 miles behind us. We had some gusts touching 20 knots in the afternoon, but by last last night it was very calm with an easy sea motion and lots of phosphorescence in the water. We are now protected by the ridge of high pressure extending across New Zealand, the front (now a low) has slid off to the east, and we have just 250 miles left before we tie up to the customs dock at Opua. We still have over half of our fuel left and know we will need to motor into a 10+ knot headwind during our last day, but the big question on Sophie now is whose arrival estimate will be the most accurate. We’ll let you know tomorrow. 🙂 From a boat perspective, nothing broke except one of the main salon forward opening hatches which developed a 2 inch crack. We’re not sure if it was caused by a flying fish (we decked 5 plus one squid the other night) or by a sheet, but it’s an easy repair. The engines sound great. Fred is still raving about last night’s boef a la bourgognon. The temperature is expected to drop 20 degrees by the end of the day, and the fleeces and wool hats are coming out. But we are safe and heading for the barn.

Fiji – Opua, Day 3

We are well over halfway to New Zealand and covered our best 24 hours ever on Sophie! 10.30 AM local time, 26.10.13. Current position 27.31 S, 175.38 E. Winds are 10 knots from the east, and the seas are still comfortable at 1 meter. Boat speed is 9.5 knots @ 174m with a full main and jib and both engines running @ 2800 RPM. We covered 210 miles in our last 24 hours, meaning over our first 3 days we have covered 598 miles. (That is fast.) The really good news is that we covered most of this ground without using our engines, with the combination of a clean bottom, flat seas and a 15 knot easterly contributing to 9.5 knots of sustained boatspeed throughout the night. The less good news (and most of you know that I am too much of an optimist to say “bad news” in an offshore passage update) is that we are outrunning a line of squalls forecasted to develop behind us, but we are in a good position relative to the front and didn’t turn the engines on until 8:00 this morning so we have full tanks of gas and only 460 miles to go to Opua. The extended forecast for New Zealand is for a high to develop tomorrow with no fronts and a light southerly wind and 1 meter swells. If (meaning when 🙂 ) we outrun the squalls tonight, we will have a day and a half of motorsailing and should reach the dock sometime Monday evening. The kids are doing much better, and I knew Leo had recovered when he wolfed down 2 Italian sausages for lunch yesterday. Nothing has broken in the last 24 hours and everyone is well rested and happy. Dinner was an excellent salad and sauteed eggplant (Jenna) accompanied by a very tough corned beef (me). New life lesson: never assume the beef you are roasting is NOT a corned beef when it in fact it actually IS. We are bummed the Sox lost game 2, but it means that Jenna and I will be able to watch some of the Series on shore. Finally, another sailboat just showed up on the horizon ahead of us. Frank’s racing instincts are kicking in as he continues to reel in (sailboat racing term) our new neighbor. They don’t see or hear us yet, but I assume we’ll have a nice conversation when we pass them. All in all, we are having a great trip.

Fiji – Opua, Day 2

Our fast start continues, and it looks like we put the bouncy squally weather behind us last night. 10.30 AM local time, 25.10.13. Current position 24.02 S, 176.05 E. Winds 15 from the east. Seas a very comfortable 1+ meters. Boat speed is 9 knots @ 178m with a full main and jib. Covered 193 miles in our last 24 hours, meaning 2 straight days of 8 knot sailing! The kids, especially Leo, were pretty queasy yesterday but are much better (meaning eating) today. Had a bit of an incident when the beam pounding caused our spare anchors/anchor chain to knock out the bottom of a nonstructural locker bulkhead, routing drain water from the forward cockpit into the starboard bilge. The float switch had broken, but we caught it in time to plug the hole and reroute the drain. I will install a replacement switch today. Also, it seems the SIM card on our sat phone no longer works. From a sailing perspective, Sophie remains a tank. From a food perspective Jenna is cutting up coconuts and pineapple in the aft cockpit, and we’ll eat the corned beef roast with salad and eggplant for dinner. Caught one mahi mahi and “decked” (?) 4 flying fish. There are no strong winds or fronts forecasted between us and Opua, and we have 240 gallons of diesel in the tanks. That means that as soon as this easterly dies down, I’m turnin’ on our Yokahama Mamas, putting the peddle to the metal and playing truck driving music really loud as we motor through the calm and into Opua Harbor some time Monday night. Only 670 miles and 3 World Series wins to go!

Fiji – Opua, Day 1

Off to a fast start in a squally easterly. 10.30 AM local time, 24.10.13. Current position 20.51 S, 176.37 E. Winds 20-25 with gusts to 30 from east. Seas 2 meters. Boat speed 8.5 @ 180. Left Vuda Point 24 hours ago, made 195 miles with 2 reefs in main and 1 in jib over first 24 hours. Fast and (relatively) stable ride. Averaged over 9 knots last night. Self service coq au vin and crepes for dinner. Queasy kids, couple of squalls, and Fred Pot can’t wipe the smile off his face. Sophie is back in offshore mode. Nothing has broken. No fish. We are getting exactly the weather that was predicted, and we expect the wind to ease by nightfall. Overall we are off to a good start. Only 863 miles to go!

So long, Fiji, and thanks for all the fish!

Our time in Fiji is coming to an end after two months. What an amazing country.

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On October 10th we celebrated Fiji Day, commemorating the anniversary of Fiji’s independence from British colonial rule, with tug of war, beach volleyball, water bailing relays, kava drinking, singing and dancing.

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Hazel and Leo had their faces painted and loved playing all the games.

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To round out our Fiji experiences, I finally had the opportunity to try kava. We even let Leo drink a little.

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Jamie describes the flavor as “tea made from cigarette butts” and we all think that’s spot on.

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We really enjoyed singing with the daughter of the chief.IMG_0781 (1024x683)

The past two weeks have been very low key. The kids focused on Sophie School, swimming and playing with friends. I lost count of how many hermit crabs they found. Jamie and I caught up on boat projects and of course we watched Red Sox and Patriots games. What an amazing time we’ve had in Fiji.

Many of our fellow cruisers have already departed and now it’s our turn. Fred and Frank are here to help us crew. We cooked homemade lasagne, beef bourgignon, coq au vin, corned beef, and crepes for the crossing. And the weather window looks good.

We just checked out of customs and as I type this we are heading south. Next stop New Zealand!

Leaving The Vortex


Many people we’ve met over these last few months call Fiji in general (and Musket Cove in particular) “The Vortex” because life is so easy here it’s hard to leave. You just get sucked in. But unfortunately all good things must eventually come to an end. As you can see in the above photo, there are about 30 boats in the harbor right now.

In three weeks, they will be gone. All of them.

The approaching cyclone season forces cruisers here to make a choice: sail 1,000 miles south to New Zealand; sail 1,500 miles west to Australia; sail 1,000 miles north to the Marshall Islands; or put your boat in a concrete hole in the ground in Fiji and hope for the best.

Next week we are sailing to New Zealand, and there is some pretty powerful ambivalence going on right now.


On the one hand, it’s really, really nice here. I’m in a tropical paradise surrounded by palm trees and coral reefs filled with colorful fish. Every time I dock the dinghy, Va and Josie yell “Hi Jamie” from the Island Bar and offer me a $3 beer that’s so cold there are frozen ice droplets on the bottle. I assume you’ve read Jenna’s post about how the last 6 weeks have been all hermit crab races, Fiji Chippendales fire dancers, home schooling heaven, and Red Sox playoff baseball. It will be tough to leave.

On the other hand, we know we have to leave and the voyage to New Zealand can be a nasty trip. Last year a surprise storm hit a group heading from Tonga, and it got pretty bad. One boat rolled, another (a Lagoon 500, same model as Sophie) had bad damage to its deck, and a third boat had it’s dinghy and dinghy davits ripped off its stern. We have friends here who were there last year, and they say the storm caught everyone by surprise, even the weather routers.


So here are some of the things we are thinking about as we get ready for the trip.

  1. The Kiwis we’ve met here, on boats and onshore, are all awesome people. We cannot wait to get to New Zealand and explore their country. We also know Kiwi sailors who’ve done the passage 20 times. They all say you should assume you’ll get some wind when you are down near New Zealand, so simply be prepared to deal with it.
  2. Sophie has proven to be a seaworthy offshore boat, and on our passage from Bora Bora to Rarotonga we had her in 35 knot winds and 5 meter seas for a couple of days. It was just fine. We also know to sail her conservatively when it starts to blow and will be happy to heave to if we get a strong wind on the nose. (Some of the boats that got damaged last year tried to motor straight into 25 foot waves, and the subsequent pounding caused things to break.)
  3. Sophie is also fast, especially when we turn on the motors in light air. By covering 200 miles in a day, we can minimize the amount of time we are exposed to unpredicted storms, giving us an advantage over slower boats or boats without our motoring range.
  4. We have extra crew — Fred and Frank — joining us from Seattle for the trip. Fred and Frank will most definitely get their own blog post at some point, and their presence will double the amount of sleep that Jenna and I will get on the passage. This is a big deal, and we are incredibly thankful that they are joining us.
  5. We are not in a rush, and will leave Fiji when we are ready and when we have the best possible weather window.
  6. Long passages do have some side benefits. I get to do offshore fishing again, and the kids get to watch 3-7 movies a day, depending how rough it gets. (The rougher the weather, the more movies).


In 5 days we leave Musket Cove and will take Sophie over to the marina at Denarau to pick up the boys and wait for a weather window. We’ll have other boats sailing with us. We’re hopeful for a quick 5 day passage. We’ll be ready, and the boat will be ready. Isn’t that what this whole adventure thing is all about?

Go Sox.




Sophie Adventure Cruises in Fiji

Bula! We’ve seen and done a lot over the last six weeks here in Fiji. It’s an amazing place.

Regatta Week at the Musket Cove Yacht Club, visits from Troy & Maureen and Randy & Susan, Leo’s birthday, exploring the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands, sevu sevu ceremonies with village chiefs, provisioning in Nadi and Denerau, and much much more. Here is a long post to catch up.

Robinson Crusoe

We spent a great day anchored at Robinson Crusoe Island, a backpacker resort off the southwest coast of Vitu Levu. Guys in the fire dancing and knife tossing show had fun performing but even more fun teasing each other if they dropped their knives or fire batons.

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Afterwards we all picked numbers for the hermit crab races. The kids love building sand castles for them too and trying to keep the crabs from escaping. This has become their nightly pre-dinner activity on the beach.

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A 9 year old girl followed Leo everywhere for the afternoon. Something tells me this is going to happen all the time now. I’m not quite ready for Leo to be so popular just yet, but how can he help it with that hair! (He desperately needs a trim but avoids me whenever I bring this up.)

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Musket Cove on Malolo Lailai Island is where we’ve spent the most time. The yacht club claims it’s the most exclusive in the world because you can only become a life member if you have sailed to or from a foreign port to here. We’re now proudly flying the MCYC burgee below our SYC one.

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People call this the vortex because it’s so easy here. That’s what everyone says, “It’s so easy,” and they are right. It’s a very protected anchorage which makes all the difference in 20-30 knot trades. The resort has a market, coffee shop, restaurant and big pool. We take the kids to the pool almost every day after Sophie School.

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There’s an island bar with sandy beaches where the kids can play while grown-ups hang out sipping drinks, cooking over wood-fired barbecues every night. They supply plates and silverware and do the dishes. So easy. We have met so many new yachtie and kiwi friends here.

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Regatta Week

Every September the Musket Cove Yacht Club hosts Regatta Week, seven days of non-stop festivities from 8am until late night.

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We had an absolute blast with Troy and Maureen Batterberry who flew in from Seattle in time for the Pirate Day race to Beachcomber. It was more of a no holds barred water balloon fight than race. Troy constructed an incredible water balloon launcher for Sophie out of a funnel and surgical tubing, but we were down to our last balloon by the time it was finished. He managed one perfect hit to a neighboring boat.

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We were greeted by a shuttle boat to shore when we anchored at Beachcomber. It was so hot that most people stayed in the water or in the bar except during tug of war.

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Sophie won the best dressed boat and we enjoyed dancing with all the pirates.

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Hazel loved hanging with her friend Sophia and managed to find another water balloon. Most of the ones the kids threw from the boat ended up in the water, missed their target or broke in their hands. They loved it!

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Afterwards, we had a fantastic spinnaker sail back to Musket Cove.

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…and champagne to celebrate.

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There were a couple races during Regatta Week. For the next one it was a beautiful day, but we had almost no wind and ended up coming in dead last. Hey, it only took us 2-3 minutes to tack and an hour to finally make it outside the reef to the main legs of the race. It felt like a dead calm Thursday night Downtown Sailing Series race in Seattle. Sophie likes wind.

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We had fun competing in the beach events too. Troy and Maureen made it past the first round in the Hobie Cat races.

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Below, Jamie is examined by a judge in the hairy chest competition. IMG_0272 (1024x683)

Our friend Dave from Lightspeed came in 1st and won a bottle of Bounty Rum that he shared with the crowd.

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Maureen, Kathy from Lightspeed and I competed in our first wet t-shirt contest. You needed a 2-piece bathing suit to enter and then the rest was up to you. Given the dozen men with telephoto lenses plus my children on shore, we chose to leave our suits intact.

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The winner, by unanimous vote of the judges and the crowd, was a 70+ woman named Hazel. She’s a very cool lady and our little H loves that there is another Hazel here.

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We also need to thank our friends on Hydroquest, Orkestern and Ninita for introducing us to the golf course here on Malolo Lailai. It’s an easy 9-holes next to a grassy airstrip. If you miss on the first hole you climb out and play your ball from the runway. Jamie is addicted and we’ve now played 4 rounds.

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The kids love riding in the cart with snacks and Leo has played a handful of holes and can sink the ball in 10-12 strokes. Hazel tried a few times too, but it’s hard for a leftie kid to wield an adult rightie club. We may saw off some used leftie clubs in New Zealand for her. Maureen had never played before and she was a natural.

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It was close to sunset before we finished the fifth hole, so the manager asked us to come back the next day to finish up. We did, and had so much fun that we decided to play another round before dinner.

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Seeing our friends happy makes us so happy.

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To top off the day we ate dinner on the beach at Ananda’s Restaurant.

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In the middle of all this we followed the America’s Cup and had the opportunity to watch races with about a hundred kiwis on a big screen at the poolside restaurant. They weren’t set up on the first race, but luckily we had our tablets with us and huddled around the small screen to watch live.

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The first race was typically scheduled for 8:15am Fiji time so Sophie School started late on race days. The kids hung out a lot with new friends Harry and Jackson from Touché M’Dear on Sophie and on land, and patiently waited for races to finish so they could all jump in the pool.

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Harry and Leo have the same birthday so we celebrated a few days early with cake one morning right after the Cup races. Breakfast of champions. FIJ_0681 (1024x683)

Sea Life

Although we were having tons of fun at Regatta Week, we also wanted Troy and Maureen to see more of Fiji, so we headed north to the Yasawa Island Group. Dolphin put on a great show for us.

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And happy day, the fish were biting again!

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Troy caught his first pelagic fish off Waya Island.

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Not only did he catch dinner, but Troy was on a mission to fix our broken ice maker. What fun is Sophie without ice? The problem turned out to be a tiny motor that turns the ice tray that dumps out the cubes. That solved, cocktail hour was back in business and Troy took over as bartender.

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We anchored with ten other boats off Drawaqa Island in the Naviti Group, right around the corner from the channel with the manta rays, near a cool backpacker resort that had a wood fired pizza oven at the beach bar. We read that the best time to swim with manta rays is an hour after high tide, so the next morning Jamie went out in the dinghy on a recon mission and came back in a hurry to get us. All of the tour boats were leaving as we pulled up and at first we thought we missed out, but after five minutes drifting in the strong current, we spotted our first manta ray, then another and another. Wow!


Swimming with humpback whales in Tonga was unbelievable, and this was a close second. We spent over half an hour watching them do what looked like a graceful ballet of flips and turns while they fed. There is an abundance of food in the channel, but rather poor visibility as a result.


It’s a little scary to have a pack of manta rays swim right towards you and then at the last minute circle around you. They did this over and over again, and it was a thrill every time.


Blue Lagoon

We expected a dead calm motoring day up to Sawa I’Lau to see the caves, but by the time we got outside the reef the wind kicked up to 20 knots on the nose so we decided to duck in to Blue Lagoon instead. Yes, that Blue Lagoon. We even watched the movie the first night and then found a few of the locations nearby.

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We did our first sevu sevu ceremony with the local chief who welcomed us into the village. It was quick and easy. We were surprised and a bit relieved, given Jamie’s description that kava tastes like tea brewed from cigarette butts, that we didn’t have to drink it this time.


After days of non-stop activity, it was refreshing to just hang out and relax for a while. We explored Nanuya Lailai, swam and snorkeled, and continued Sophie School.

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With only one day left for Troy and Maureen’s vacation, we decided to take a tour boat up to Sawa I’Lau for a quick morning swim in the caves.FIJ_0839 (1024x667)

En route, the longboat’s outboard sputtered and choked until our guide finally stopped on a reef and attempted to fix it. He managed to get it going again, barely, but we limped along until the motor died again. So much for our quick morning trip. After another hour of sitting there watching all the other tour boats zoom by, we finally persuaded him to give up and call another boat. A fast one this time.

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Zipping along at over 20 knots, it only took a few minutes to reach the caves. The main chamber opens up to the sky and contains a blend of fresh and salt water.

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There is an opening a meter underwater that leads into a neighboring pitch black chamber called the Spitting Cave. Our guide went first so we just had to follow his flashlight, but I’ve never done something like this before and was pretty scared going into the dark unknown. Leo, of course, dove right in and was the first one through, so I took a deep breath and followed. Luckily it was low tide so we only had to swim a few meters underwater. It was so cool. We swam through the dark to the very end of the cave where there is a narrow tube that goes up 30 feet. From directly beneath it you can look up to a small circle of sky. Our guide explained that this is a sacred place and for hundreds of years, villagers hiked up to this opening and spit down into the cave. Then he told us they decided this was a bad habit from their culture so they don’t do it anymore. Plus that wouldn’t work so well in a tourist brochure.

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There isn’t much of an economy in the Yasawas except for tourism and some agriculture. There are no grocery stores or ATMs. The village that runs the caves makes all its money from cave entrance fees and selling crafts to tourists. This was Leo’s birthday so he got a couple souvenirs from the craft tables and a big kiss from the woman who sold them to us. It was well past lunchtime by the time we headed to Sophie. We devoured all of the pringles and cookies I brought for Leo and we were so grateful the fast boat made it back in 20 minutes.

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We celebrated Leo’s birthday and Troy and Maureen’s last night with a traditional Fijian lovo (feast) and dance show at a nearby resort.

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Troy and Maureen opted to fly back to Denerau from the Yasawas so they could maximize their time with us. You can catch a float plane that shuttles people to and from the Blue Lagoon at Turtle Island, a 5-star resort on Nanuya Levu Island.

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We took the dinghy over to drop off Troy and Maureen. Hotel security greeted us at the dock and asked us all to wait out on the dock while he checked on the plane eta.

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We stayed out of the rain on covered benches and they brought us fresh squeezed juice. After about an hour we learned that the plane had been diverted due to bad weather, but they were sending a helicopter instead. It landed right on the beach in front of the resort. Not a bad finale for the week.

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Thanks for a fabulous time Troy and Maureen! We loved every minute with you.

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Sophie Adventure Cruises

After a quiet week of Sophie School we returned south to the Mamanuca Islands and made our way to Denerau to provision and await Randy & Susan’s arrival. Denerau is a manmade island with resorts and marina near Nadi that feels a lot like Fort Lauderdale, complete with US chain restaurants including a Hard Rock Café. There is an awesome Italian store and we splurged on a big leg of Parma ham, wedge of parmesan cheese and 1.5 kg of pesto. Randy & Susan joined us and we made a trip to the vegetable market and meat store before heading out.

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Later, we dropped a hook at Beachcomber for drinks and to circle the tiny island fringed by a white sand beach that takes less than 10 minutes to walk around.

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We had planned to get lunch on shore, but it turned out Beachcomber’s generator was broken so they weren’t really open except for beer, which they have to shuttle back and forth 10 miles from Denerau every day in coolers. They plan to reopen in November after the new generator is installed. Back on Sophie Jamie made us an awesome Italian spread instead.

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The wind kicked up in the afternoon as we motored back to Musket Cove and we were glad to pick up a mooring and show R&S the Island Bar and DIY barbecue.

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We sailed, swam, paddle boarded, snorkeled, played golf and went tubing. Randy and Susan even ran around Malolo Lailai. Jamie is quite the activities coordinator, and adopted the phrase “Sophie Adventure Cruises” as we packed in as much fun as possible each day. Sophie Adventure Cruises now includes drinks in fresh coconut shells thanks to a new cleaver we found at the grocery store in Nadi.

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We made a couple trips to Cloud 9, a cool floating restaurant and bar anchored near Cloudbreak, one of the top 10 surfing breaks in the world.

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They said the surf was relatively small when we were there, clearly not for beginners.

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It was fun to lounge, watch the surf and eat some of our recently caught fish prepared by the Cloud 9 staff. Delicious!

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Randy and Leo even dove off the roof.

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Hazel loved wearing Susan’s hat and sunglasses.

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Sophie Adventure Cruises never disappoints, and we had another dolphin show on our way back.

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Randy joined the fisherman club with his first tuna.

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There’s nothing like fresh sashimi. Pickled ginger and wasabi are a staple on Sophie.

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We enjoyed some spectacular sunsets on the water too.

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Happy 20th anniversary Randy and Susan!DSC01390 (1024x680)

It was an incredible visit. Thanks for joining us.

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And finally, congratulations to the Red Sox advancing to the ALCS. What a nail biter at the end of game 1 today! Sophie School has of course been rescheduled around all the games. We have to stream the WEEI radio broadcast, then catch up on post game video highlights because we can’t get the MLB live video stream to work over our Internet dongles. Listening to the radio reminds me of when I was little and we’d listen to blacked out home games on days Fenway wasn’t sold out. I love the nonchalant “wicked awesome” in the Shaws commercials too. Go Sox!