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


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!