About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi


"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy Holiday blog post from Down Under!

Wow, it's hard to believe it's been 2 months since our last blog post....a record since we left Seattle over 3 years ago.  To any die hard loyal readers who may still be with us, sorry 'bout that!!!  Will TRY to do better...2013 has seen us almost steadily on the move, traveling over 8000 miles from Ecuador to New Zealand, and it's just been so relaxing to be in one spot for a while!

So what have we been up to, anyway, over the past couple of months?  Well, we spent the first few weeks in New Zealand settling in....and that includes meeting with various tradespeople, and scheduling our major projects that will take place over the next few months.  Welders, shipwrights, sailmakers, canvas workers, boat yards, riggers, painters.....lots of meetings with some really great folk.  We committed to several to start work when we haul out of the water on January 6.  New fuel tanks, new freezer and counters, headliners, new rigging, engine and genset work, the list is long.  But we have a lot of confidence in the team that's assembled.  Hopefully the work will go reasonably smoothly, fingers and toes crossed.  We've really enjoyed our introduction to "the Kiwi way", best described with the 3 words, "no worries, mate".  It's a can-do attitude, and here's to translating the words into action when the saws, cutting torches, and other tools fire up next month!  "...and Bob's your auntie".......

We spent most of November back in the US, visiting friends and family around Seattle, and buying heaps of stuff for Bravo.  Although you can find most supplies, gadgets, and gizmos here in NZ, you pay dearly for it all.  Things are way, way cheaper in the US.  And we can bring in boat supplies free of GST.  So shop we did, doing major damage to any semblance of any "budget" that we'd been kidding ourselves about.

Seattle was damned C*O*L*D for these tropical softies.  With temps in the teens (around MINUS 10 for you Centigradians).  We had to cover up skin we didn't even know we had!  But the skies were mostly clear, so not to bad.  We really enjoyed seeing friends and family.  To all we missed, we're really sorry, it was a whirlwind visit.  You know you can always come down here and do a bit of sailing down under!!!   And to those who put us up (and put up with us!!!) in our sofa surfing travel mode.....MANY THANKS!!!












Kevin brings up another pot of dungeness crab
Thanksgiving was terrific, as we spent a few days with the Hawken gang up in Anacortes.  Partying, crabbing, eating, drinking....hard to beat!!!  (Where did that keg of beer go, anyway???)

















View from Hawkens deck...US Pacific NW at its finest!


You know Seattle is cold when Snoqualmie Falls freezes.  Amazing sight!  photo by David Fox  (lodge is setting of great tv show "Twin Peaks")

David, Diana, and us, the frozen tropic meisters, staying warm in Seattle

Took care of lots of dentist and doctor appointments...no fun, no fun at all.  But looks like we're in reasonably good health, so back we go for another year "out there"!!!  Yeah!!!










Flew home on 10 Dec.  Turned into a real Charlie Foxtrot.  First flight, Seattle to LA, left at 6 am.  A bit early, but no worries.  We spent a few hours in LA with Cindi's brother and his son, good fun.  The next leg, LAX to Fiji, was to leave at 9 pm.  But ughhhhh, that flight has been rescheduled for 7:30 the following morning.  A sick crew member, had to fly another in from Fiji!  Oh well, have to spend night at an airport hotel.  No big deal, right?

Security line in LAX to handle the rescheduled flight.
But ughhhhh, again.  We of course have now missed our final flight from Fiji to Auckland.  So needed to spend another night in an airport hotel, this one in Nadi, Fiji.  All said, the trip took over 3 days.  But our bags all arrived in good shape, so no complaints.











Adam with Ian, seller/builder of the camper, the deal is sealed!
Bought a camper van last week.  20 year old Toyota diesel Hiace.  Will be good to have a place to sleep while BRAVO is torn apart.  And then we'll be able to use it to tour around NZ, heading down to the south island in February.



Tooling down the highway with our new family member

Got back from our 3 day van buying trip, to find that our dinghy and outboard had been stolen from the marina dinghy dock.  Yes, it was locked with a heavy cable lock, both the motor to the dink and the dink to the dock.  Bummer!  Happily, another cruiser found the boat up a nearby creek, tied to a high tide tree.  But the motor was gone.  A trip to the local Yamaha shop fixed that problem, and lightened our wallet by around $2500 US.  We are insured, but our agent said it would count as a claim against us (our first ever), and if we had another in the next couple of years, they'd possibly cancel us.  Damn, it's really hard to win with this insurance game.

Spent Christmas yesterday with an internationally diverse bunch of fellow cruisers at a nearby marina.  Good fun, lots of great food and drink, and a bit of a headache today.  Amen!


 Well, that about wraps up this special holiday edition of the BRAVO BLOG.  We wish all of you a very HAPPY HOLIDAY season, and a terrific 2014.   More adventures to follow!










Thursday, October 24, 2013

Days 6, 7 - Tonga to New Zealand

Yeeeeee Hah!!! We've now cleared customs and quarantine, and are sitting at a dock in Marsden Cove, New Zealand, 1066 miles after leaving Tonga a week ago.

The trip had bits of everything...strong winds, no winds, big confused seas, and flat calms. All in all, a good voyage. Nothing broke, and no one got hurt!!! We spent the afternoon clearing in, with a visit first from immigration-customs, followed by a visit from the Quarantine Officer. She went through our food, primarily, to determine what could stay, and what must be surrendered to the almighty Black Garbage Bag of Doom....pork - into the bag.....chicken - ditto. Dairy products, not so cut and dry. If it's from Ecuador, and much of our foods are, it's a no-go. But wait, your list says Albania, and Belarus are OK, but not Ecuador?.....don't ask, just look at the list!

But all folks were extremely friendly, and no hard feelings all around. After we'd cleared in, we got together with friends on Mystic Moon, who arrived a few days ago, and Sea Whisper, who arrived a couple of hours ahead of us, for a celebration dinner that just wound down.

All in all, a terrific passage. As Bob McDavitt, our weather router meteorologist said: "On this passage, I try to limit the shitty times to 20% or less. You can't do much better for a 7-8 day crossing through an area with gales every 4-6 days" Amen, Bob.....ya done good!!! We're thrilled to have cleared into NZ before a significant low reaches here from the South Island in 2 days, with 30-40 knot winds. Happy to be at a dock for the first time in nearly 2 years, preparing for the boat projects to come.....Stay tuned, as we venture out into the wilds of New Zealand!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Day 5, Tonga to New Zealand

Well, the terrific breeze finally died last night. Been motoring for past 20 hours, and our weather map (GRIB files) show another 20 hours or so before it picks up a bit for the final push to Whangarei.

Wow, it's been cold!!! Around 60F at night, supposed to be down to low 50's by the time we reach NZ.....yikes!!! Worked on getting the heater working today. Finally got it to work while under engine power, while using engine heat for heat source. Will still need to work on getting it to fire at other times. After 3 years, no surprise!

Saw a couple of birds that we assume to be albatrosses today! Huge, perhaps 6' wingspan, and they glide for minutes without a flap of the wings. Beautiful, and a real indicator that we're digging deeper south with every passing mile.

Otherwise all good. Getting a lot of reading done, and the food fest continues.....burp!

Only 128 miles over past 24 hours, due to dying breeze. 255 miles to go!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Day 4, Tonga to New Zealand

The past 24 hours have been beautiful sailing. Winds a bit light at times, but we've kept moving, and have not had to motor yet. (Still expecting to lose the wind tonight, though).

We're getting very excited about reaching NZ in a couple of days, its been a dream to travel here for many years. But we still have to clear into NZ Customs! They're very strict about what can be brought into the country, especially food, as they don't want any bio contamination of their plant species. So we're been going through all of our stores aboard, and cooking and eating terrific meals, even better than usual! All the little treats that would otherwise be confiscated...eat 'em now!!! Prociutto grilled cheese sandwiches? Check....Crab omelet?, Sure, why not!......Gnochii with meatballs, sun dried tomatoes and capers?.....Wouldn't be sailing without it, would it now??? This'll be the first passage with major weight gain! But tasty business, that's for sure, and it beats tossing it into the customs incinerator!!!

Still boogeying along at 6.5 knots in 10 knots of breeze, with 390 miles to go! Yee hah!!!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Day 3, Tonga to New Zealand

Well, another day, another completely different report! (thankfully!!).

The winds have abated a bit, down to around 18 knots, but the big difference is the sea state. Swells are now down to around 5', making for a lovely past 12 hours or so of sailing. The forecast shows that it should start to die over the next day, and we may have a couple of days of motoring ahead of us. We have enough fuel for about 450 miles, so we hope the wind holds as long as possible before we have to start burning dinosaurs!

Just crossed a fun milestone, the official international dateline, at 180 degrees longitude. We're now in the eastern hemisphere, one day later than you readers to our east...(cue the eery music, plenty of reverb, and start up the theremin.....we're coming to you from THE FUTURE!!!) We've actually been broadcasting from the future since arrival in Niue, as Niue and Tonga jiggled the dateline to be included with the more futuristic nations, but crossing the dateline, we're now official!!!

Another milestone, we're at the 1/2 way mark for the passage, with 530 miles to go!!! (Saturday afternoon, 5pm)

Past 24 hour run, 171 miles
GO BRAVO GO!!!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Day 2, Tonga to New Zealand

Wow, what a difference a few hours can make. Shortly after writing the previous post, the barometer started to rise fast, as predicted. A high pressure ridge was approaching, and it brought with it "reinforced tradewinds", gotta love that phrase! Winds built to 25 or so, with gusts in the low 30's, and seas were around 12 feet. We're on a heading which has the apparent wind at about 50 degrees off our port bow, so the seas were continually smashing over us. Green water would cover the boat, at times all the way back to our solar panel arch at the stern!!! We discovered deck leaks below that we'd never seen before, and it bot pretty swampy down here!!! The spray dodger over the cockpit also had water squirting in through the zippers, snaps, anywhere it could find!!! We ran with a staysail and a double reefed main for the night, and by morning the winds and seas were down a bit, also per the forecast.

Now, Friday afternoon, the winds are around 20, with seas of 10'. Not too bad a ride, and we're making good time toward NZ. Should last another day or two, before the winds are predicted to die.

Had an interesting piece of deck flotsam come aboard in the seas...a ROCK! We've found some pumice floating in the water, from an underground eruption somewhere in the pacific. Hopefully it won't get thick, as it makes it tough to run the engine, genset, fridge, or watermaker without fouling the filters.

Fishing report: Who're ya kidding??? No way we feel like fishing in this sea, or even worse, cleaning the catch! (did have one good sized flying fish come aboard last night, but we're not THAT hungry!!!)

That's all from the good ship BRAVO. We're fine, the boat is fine, if a bit leaky on deck, and we're ready for another rock and roll night. Oh yeah, that includes foul weather gear....got down to the mid 60's last night.....brrrrrrr.......

Distance to go: 706 miles, we're nearly 1/3 of the way there!

Day 1, Tonga to New Zealand

Well, we have finally managed to pull ourselves away from Tonga one of our favorite countries. After leaving the Va'vau group behind, we made a quick tour of the next group south, Ha'apai. This area is a fantastic collection of coral reefs, small islands and villages. Unfortunately we were in a bit of a rush to get down to Tongatapu where we could do our check out and prepare for the passage to NZ. But the underwater exploits we did fit in were terrific, and we'll have more of a wrap up, inc. photos, when we next get internet (in NZ).

We checked out of Nuku'alofa a couple of days ago, after a scramble to ready BRAVO for the often challenging passage to NZ. This 1030 mile crossing is known for difficult forecasting, and frequent gales sweep through at any time of year. We are working with ace weather router Bob McDavitt out of NZ to help us with his expertise in the area. We received what sounded like a good weather window, so we finally left yesterday, after a final stop for fuel. (Proved to be a bit of a Charlie Foxtrot. The hose the dock guy passed down to us was full of diesel, and it poured all over a cockpit cushion, soaking it thoroughly! Also, when we had checked out, we had been asked how many liters of fuel we'd need to purchase on departure, duty free. Although we really had not checked for a while, we put down 150 liters. Didn't realize the significance being that that was ALL they could then sell, at what amounted to 1/2 price. Turned out we took 225 liters, the rest at full fare.....ughhhh)

At any rate, we're away at last, bound for New Zealand!!! The first day went very well, with some absolutely beautiful sailing on a close reach. Winds have been 12-15 knots, and our 1st 24 hours after leaving the Tongan reefs was 165 miles, avg of 6.875 knots.

Winds have now increased to 20, and seas are around 3 meters. Lots crash over the deck, and we've discovered several new leaks!!! But all is fine aboard, the sun is out, and we're still averaging 6.9 knots with a double reefed main and 1/2 reefed genoa.

As of Thurs afternoon (Wed on the other side of the dateline), we have 857 miles to go.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Tonga delivers the goods!


We've been really enjoying our time in the Vava'u group, in the Kingdom of Tonga for the past month.  The last time we were here was 29 years ago, as tourists out to explore the south pacific...by airplane at that time.  What a difference 3 decades has made to the little town of Neiafu.  The main street is paved, and little expat run bars and restaurants cater to the yacht cruiser trade.

But once out of town, the islands are much as they've always been.  Small villages with few modern conveniences are typical, and people live, for the most part, at a subsistence level.  People seem happy, and all we've met have been welcoming, warm, and friendly (Captain Cook called Tonga "the friendly isles" for obvious reasons).

We've been snorkeling and diving up a storm, as the Vava'u group of islands offers terrific coral gardens and caves to explore.   Swallows cave is terrific, as we remember, especially in the afternoon sun....



















Cindi having no fun at all!!!












We enjoyed visiting a local Tongan, Matoto, who we befriended when we were last here nearly 30 years ago.  Now an old man, he and his family used to put on feasts at their small island village.  His daughter, now 42, was a dancer at the feasts back then, and she and her dad enjoyed our reunion.



 We also made friends here with David and Hikka on their island of Vaka'eitu.  David's great grandfather lived on the island and received a 150 year lease from the king many years ago.  The island has been deserted for years, and David and his family have recently settled on the island, moving from the Tongan capital of Nukalofa.  Kind of a Swiss Family Robinson goes to the tropics, they warmly welcomed us into their clan.  David, friend John from 'Mystic Moon' and Adam went fishing, and David invited us to the church on Lappe island where he was the guest minister for one Sunday morning, and included a village feast afterward.  




These Tongans definitely know how to feast.  If I were a little pig I'd be afraid, very afraid!!!  Just sayin.....








Thanks, David and Hikka, for sharing your lives with us!


Seattle friends Glen and Carol flew down to join us in this Tongan paradise for a few weeks, and we've been enjoying sharing these Vava'u adventures together.  A terrific place to explore, the islands remind us all of cruising in the San Juan Islands in the Pacific NW.  Small remote islands, an hour or two apart, invite snorkeling, shelling, and general relaxing.  Nice after the multi day passages of much of the rest of this year.



Carol finds the cruising life not TOO tough to adapt....


Although larger than on our past visit, Neiafu is still small, and shopping in the market is always an adventure.  















Here are a few more shots from our travels of the past month around Vava'u.  We'll be moving south from the Vava'u island group to Hapaii in a few days.  Then on to the capital, Nukalofa, where we'll prepare for the 7-8 day passage to New Zealand.



Adam makes friends with Angel, a local piglet.


Ancient low tide rock quarry, with some pieces still unfinished.


Remember the "Intergalactic Bar" scene from Star Wars???  Could have been filmed here at La Paella Restaurant!!!

Traditional boat sailed in from New Zealand, after completing a circumnavigation of the Pacific.

Another Bravo hike.....wouldn't be complete without bushwhacking!!!


Another trip up the mast.....repairs never ending after over 7000 miles of voyaging this year.  The mantra has become:  "JUST GET US TO NEW ZEALAND"!!!  (where we'll be contributing greatly to NZ's GDP)



Thursday, September 5, 2013

Niue.....Niue....whoa, baby, me gotta go NOW!

With apologies to long time rocker Rockin' Robin Roberts and the Wailers (who recorded Louie Louie, on the way to its becoming the Washington state song!!!).


 But really, this country, Niue, one of the smallest in the world, is also one of the most spectacular in the world to visit. Now inhabited by around 1200 amazingly friendly folks (if there were any nasties, we surely never met 'em), the small island nation is basically an enormous chunk of uplifted limestone, surrounded by coral.  The limestone is inundated with hundreds of caves and chasms, both above and underwater.  With no rivers or streams on the little island, there is no runoff, resulting in incredibly clear water for snorkeling and diving.  The water collects in a large underground aquifer, yielding fresh drinking water free for everyone on the island.


Unlike most of the islands we've visited, Niue has no natural harbor, only a minor indentation on the west shore.  The water is very deep right up to the reef, so all visiting yachts hang on a mooring, provided by the Niue Yacht Club.  (The club now has over 1600 members (including the Bravo crew!), more than the population of the country, and not one resident of the country owns a boat!!!)  Dinghy landings are not possible, so there is a cargo crane on the wharf that is used to hoist the dinks out of the water when we go ashore.  A bit unnerving the first time, but actually a lot easier than many of the surf landings we've tried (most successfully!!!!)

The island rolls out the welcome mat for visitors, and everywhere we went we were met with friendly waves and welcoming smiles.  Although only a 3-1/2 hour flight from Aukland, there are surprisingly few tourists, and only one small resort in addition to a few guest lodges.  When the airport went in a few years ago, the population dropped from over 6,000 to its current level, as folks flocked to the big city for jobs and education.  Now an estimated 90-95% of Niueans live abroad, mostly in New Zealand.

Today the island is ringed by parks and whale watching overlooks.  Most of the parks with water access for snorkeling have showers, and it seemed that there was a park every mile or less all around the islands perimeter.  Very cool!!!

So what did we enjoy the most in our 2 week stay on "The Rock of the Pacific"?  The Big Two were the cave exploring and the people.  The rock is also one of the most photogenic places we've ever had the pleasure of visiting.

Applying for our Niue drivers licenses.....no worries!
Together with buddies from 'Mystic Moon' and 'Bella Star' we rented a van for our stay on The Rock, which gave us great access to the parks and happenings.  Without a vehicle, it would be difficult to do justice to the island, as there is no public transport, including taxi service.



Yikes!!!
   





So here, then, is a quick photo tour of the sea caves and hikes that we took during our 10 day stay on the 10 mile island.....





























Cathy ('Mystic Moon'), Nicole ('Bella Star') and Cindi

































As mentioned earlier, the Niuean people are some of the friendliest that we've met in the South Pacific.  There are 14 villages on the island, and every month one hosts a festival day.  Sort of like a county fair, we were lucky to attend the gala for August, and thoroughly enjoyed the day of food, dance performances, games and just milling about with the locals having a good time.  As they say....."they didn't throw this party for us....."  But we were made to feel most welcome by all.....

Rehearsal before the big show!





Gangsta rap.....Niuean style!












Golfing for booze.....gotta like it! 



On the left, a happy winner of a bottle of wine!







Finally enjoyed an interisland rugby match....these big boys hit HARD!!!





We enjoyed a visit with local artist Mark Cross, whose work is shown in galleries and museums around the world.

"BEER...helping white men dance since 1892".....obviously the sign lied!
 The pub life at the Sails Bar is good fun, with about 50 expats, mostly Kiwis hanging out on the island... Trivia quiz night is a weekly scene













Hopefully this has given you a good feel for the country of Niue.  We found it one of the most approachable, welcoming, and just plain fun places to explore.  Don't miss it!!!



We've now sailed on to the Kingdom of Tonga, and have been exploring the Vava'u group for the past week or so.  We were last here 29 years ago, and it's wonderful to be back.......more to follow, stay tuned!