Navigating and Dirtbagging

In the last few months I've had two articles come out - one sailing publication and one kiteboarding. Both are available freely online. Check them out!
Ocean Navigator also featured one of our videos in their web exclusives. I've added those two articles and a previous article in a new section on Livia's List O'Links

FAQ: If you spend so much time in isolated places, how do you post so often?

GOPR4843I know, I know – I write A LOT. Perhaps the question should be WHY do I post so often ;)  I enjoy writing and the process of going back through our pictures and through the places we have just visited is a way of revisiting and consolidating my memories of those places. The blog is first and foremost, our own personal record, and we’ve already enjoyed going back and re-visiting places by reading old blog posts.

For example, forgotten how cold winter cruising in BC was? Just check out this post on Princess Louisa Inlet!

We occasionally meet people out cruising who have seen our blog (which is usually fun but sometimes awkward and deserves an entirely different post to explore) and they ask how it is that we can post so much with so little internet access.

P1030169While offline I write posts regularly. For example, right now I am in Tahanea atoll which is a national park. There are no permanent inhabitants let alone groceries, or cell or internet. Before Tahanea, we were at sea on a 5 day passage. I am anchored all alone in amazing blue water, not a building in sight, sipping my morning coffee in front of our battered hand me down netbook (thanks Dan!) at our nav table, writing.

When we arrive in Fakarava in a few weeks – wait, actually there isn’t internet in the South of Fakarava unless you are using a cell stick which isn’t in the budget so actually when we arrive in the North of Fakarava at the village of Rotoava – I will have maybe a dozen posts waiting to go in Windows Live Writer. Each post will already have been fully formatted offline, with photos also inserted and formatted, and with tags chosen – no need to take up precious internet time/bandwidth trying to get everything right.

Rather than upload those dozen blog posts on a single day, which no one enjoys, I use Bloggers post scheduler to set a date for each post to come out. I do this via the Windows Live Writer program (see below) so I can do it offline but you can schedule posts with the Blogger web interface as well.


You may have noticed that I often use a Monday, Wednesday, Friday pattern, filling up the MWFs until I run out of posts. Often, if I know I will have internet the next day, I take a secondS Fakarava to set up the dates of the posts I haven’t uploaded yet so that when we are online I can simply open the first post, hit the publish button, and depending on the quality of the internet and number of photos, wait for a while. When the upload fails, which on sketchy internet happens regularly, I may have to try to upload the post more than once. When it succeeds, I open the second post and…so on.

As I sit here in Tahanea, disconnected from the internet, I know that I have blog posts which I uploaded in Mangareva that have been going up 3 times a week and will continue rolling out for another week. We aren’t likely to be in the village before they run out so there will be a sudden stop and break after the last scheduled post until we arrive.

Ordinary or Extra?


GOPR4167Are we very adventurous or not very adventurous? Yes, we are.

One of my favorite things about travel is the jarring perspective changes I have when I realize how other people live. When we traveled to Thailand (by plane) for a month, at that time, we felt quite adventurous. Very few people we knew had traveled to that area of the world. When we arrived we met people who had been traveling in SE Asia for years and were disappointed with how commercial and on-the-beaten-path Thailand had become. Our trip, which felt quite extraordinary when discussed with our friends back home, felt quite ordinary in conversation with these vagabonds.

When surrounded by other people sailing around the South Pacific, it is easy to feel as if our journey is an ordinary mainstream one. We are constantly in the company of people who have crossed from the Americas to the South Pacific just like us, who left home and country just like us, and often those people have another ocean under their belt (i.e., the Atlantic). These are our comparison group, our “average”, our peers. Remember, we’re just a bunch of wahoos out here.

In this group of wahoos, even some of our slightly more adventurous than average decisions turn out to be more average than we realize. At the time that we made the decision to turn around at the Cook Islands and return to French Polynesia, it felt scary. We didn’t know anyone who had done it. We didn’t know how our boat would perform upwind in the trades, bucking currents and swell. We didn’t know how our bodies would do living while hammering upwind and perhaps most importantly, how our minds would deal with sailing two miles to make one mile toward goal. Afterwards we met other boats who have done the same route, had friends make the same passage, and have met other people who have sailed much, much more difficult long passages.  And what felt extraordinary initially to us started to feel quite ordinary.

GOPR4838When we meet someone on land, they usually think we are incredibly adventurous, if not nuts. Seeing our lives through their eyes reminds us that we are doing something many people dream of doing, that we are having years of travel experiences when most N Americans get weeks if they are lucky. I’ll admit, we begin to feel pretty cool and pretty “out there”.

Then we meet people who are truly hard core. Our life may feel a little wild to us, until we meet someone who says something like “I normally wouldn’t sail a cored fiberglass hull to Antarctica but because it was my second time there I felt comfortable with it.”, and we feel quite ordinary again.

If it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m definitely not. I love this feeling of perspective shift. I feel so inspired knowing that I could reach for more adventure if I wanted to. It’s always there.

I don’t mind being average in a pack full of crazy people.  It means we are keeping good company.

Logbook: Tahanea (again)



P1030105P1030154It isn’t a surprise to us that when we were choosing which Tuamotus to visit on our  “goodbye tour” of French Polynesia that Tahanea and Fakarava topped the list. Rangiroa, if it were closer to the other two, would have been a contender as well.

Tahanea has fantastic pass diving and snorkeling plus gorgeous remote motu living with sand plateau after sand plateau in the South.

P1030207We started off our stay here in the company of SV Miramis whom we met on our last day in Mangareva and MV Domino whom we met on arrival in Tahanea.

To me, there is not much else to say about Tahanea. The reason is that Tahanea is a sensory overload experience. I can show some of the visual overload in photos and add some of the activity and audio in videos, but I’m left at a loss to better describe the impressions I have of it in words.

I’ll end this post with a few photos and include a few more photo posts from here. We took a lot of video and I expect that it will feature prominently at some point on our Youtube channel.


Passage Report: Gambiers to Tuamotus


GOPR4033Ahhhh…down wind…FINALLY.  Rolly – yes, a bit – but after two years of mostly upwind travel what a novelty to be able to point directly at our goal rather than choosing a tack that allows us to make the most miles made good. What an additional novelty for almost every mile sailed to be a mile made good.

Here is two sailors’ definition of a great passage: 660nm pass-to-pass as measured on a direct line, weaving around a half dozen small atolls, taking 4 days 20 hours for an average of 5.7 nautical miles made good per hour, 100% under wind vane under sail, sailing out one pass and sailing into the other (from pass to pass only, we did not sail off or onto our anchor). In mostly 15-20 knots of true wind, with seas starting at 2.5 meters and descending to 1 meter. We broad reached. We sailed wing-on-wing dead down wind. Maybe we’ll even admit to a tad bit of sailing by the lee. Glorious sun, only one night of light rain (the last night – which made it a nice end of passage fresh water rinse) and no squalls.

In our first leg of our 2014 WESTBOUND (and then northbound), we knocked off 660 of the 4000+ miles we will be sailing this year. A great passage to start with.

Tahitian “Black” Pearls



P1030052Would you believe that we were in French Polynesia for almost two years before we visited a pearl farm? I’m not exactly sure how that happened. I’m glad we waited though because the way that we visited this particular farm was perfect. We were on the beach, and we get to talking to this guy named Eric and it turns out he owns a pearl farm around the corner. The next day we visit while they are cleaning the gunk of strings of pearls. The next time we are in the anchorage near the farm (i.e., Totegegie) he is harvesting and grafting pearls. This is when you take the pearl out and insert a ball inside the pearl for the next pearl. I took a bunch of video of both processes and plan to make a short film of it later.

I put the word black in quotes in the title because the range of colors is amazing. Black is the commercial ideal but aesthetically I prefer the blue-green, the rose, the champagne – rich fantastic colors. We also tasted the oysters – delicious! (but please don’t harvest any on your own – wild or farmed – the farms rely on the wild oysters for new stock)

Liquid Motivation: Birthday Wine



I (Livia) recently joined the ranks of the tweeners. To mark this occasion, Carol and I spent a few days on our own in the bay of Onemea on Taravai.

Carol made crepes for breakfast, we picnicked on the beach for lunch, and with dinner, thanks to Robbie H, we were able to afford a great bottle of wine.

It was a birthday to go down in the memory books and a huge thank you for making it special. The sunset that we toasted it to was nothing short of spectacular – directly into the ocean over the encircling reef of Mangareva.

We haven’t had access to good inexpensive wine for years now and that means we don’t get to have good wine very often. This was a real treat for us.

Thank you, thank you Robbie H!

FAQ: Energy on Estrellita


We had a recent question from a reader about our Honda gen and I thought I would expand a bit. We’ve come to a good energy equilibrium (between our usage and our production). With the following set up, we do not need any extra charging except on the rare occasion that the solar has been terrible for many days in a row or when we are near an internet access point and we spend entire days online (thus using the computers too much).

aGreen energy: We have 245 watts of solar with an MPPT controller feeding into an AGM house bank with 500 amp hours (12V).  The solar provides for the bulk of our energy needs. While on passage we also use an older model Aquair tow generator that we purchased used.

Gasoline: Approximately every 4th day, we use our Honda 2000EUi Companion generator to power our AC Seamaker 20 watermaker for 1-1.5 hours. While this generator is running, there is enough extra power to also charge computers, handheld radios and other peripherals and also to put amps into our battery bank. So far it has run like clockwork with irregular maintenance. We like the Companion because it has a 30-amp plug so we can use our normal shore power cord with it.

What we don’t have/use: We do not have a wind generator. We do not use the main engine for charging although we have a 100 Amp Balmar alternator (downgraded to 80 Amps with its controller) to add to the batteries when we are motoring for other reasons.

In the past we’ve also written a bit about our general energy usage, our batteries, and our solar panels and controller. For those interested in energy, you might also be interested in our diesel and propane numbers in BC, and numbers from Tofino until our puddle jump.

Liquid Motivation: Goodbye Party


P1030011When we had our goodbye party with our friends on Taravai, thanks to Joshua J, we brought the beer.

Our hosts used some recently caught wahoo and made poisson cru (raw fish with freshly pressed coconut milk and lime), grilled fish and rice. The rest of us brought a side dish and Estrellita brought a couple of six packs of big boy Hinanos.

Tip: In French Polynesia, if you bring booze to a party and give it to the host at the beginning of the party, it is now their booze. They may offer it to other people, or not, as they see fit. If you give them beers, and they offer those beers to other people who arrive, they are NOT giving away YOUR beer. They are giving away the beer that you gave to them.

It’s really a doubly wonderful gift. Not only are you giving your host beer which they may not afford regularly on their own (it *is* expensive), but you are also giving them the opportunity to be rich enough in beer to offer beers to their guests. With your gift, they get the pleasure of receiving, of imbibing and also of giving to others.

Thank you, thank you Josh J – you made the party!


Click on the dollar and buy Livia and Carol a cold frosty one:


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