Logbook: Newcastle, NSW, Australia


With boat work (Livia) and a trip back to Canada (Carol) in the cards for Team Giddyup, we parked SV Estrellita 5.10b for a month at a slip at the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club in Newcastle, NSW, Australia.

It was fun to be in a marina for a month. We didn’t worry about the weather every day. We went running regularly. There was a boardwalk all of the way into downtown from the marina dock and we went for long sweaty walks. We took long showers, rinsed the boat, did laundry, and were able to focus on boat projects without worrying about stowing items for transit and with easy access to supplies.

We found the community at the NCYC to be a treat. Great staff, fun people on the docks, lots of sail training and dinghy sailing. The town is a working class base with gentrification happening and so, for us, it was a fun mix of working port, down and gritty, and fancy coffee, craft beer, type places. There is a large farmers market and every kind of shopping we could want.

We sailed away from the port of Newcastle at dawn towards the big city - Sydney.

The sudden proliferation of boater Christmas lists

BonVoyage5 (2)If you are a cruising blog reader, you’ve probably already figured this out but if not, let me clue you into a little secret.

The main reason that people who read boating blogs are inundated with Christmas present suggestions this time of year is to trick Amazon into giving boaters money. The gear links in the posts are usually tagged with the boaters’ Amazon Affiliates number. Whether you buy the piece of the gear that they link, or something else for yourself or your loved ones, whether you buy it right then or in the next day or so, the boater gets paid by Amazon for generating a sale.

This is, as I see it, a win-win situation. Obviously, it is a win for the boater, but how is it a win for YOU?

First of all, you have managed to give money to a boater without any money coming out of your pocket. You buy yourself a present, the boater gets a beer. You get to feel good about that without having to pay a single cent for it. You win!

Second of all, we boaters feel guilty about being money grubbers and so we usually put a lot of time and energy into our gear recommendations. The motivation may be suspect, but the recommendations are real. Most of us are probably sitting at our nav or salon tables, looking around our bluewater cruising vessels at all of the gear inside, and trying to think what our favorite (linkable) pieces of gear are. Good solid useful recommendations for fun well tested gear – you win!

And so, with that in mind, I tried to think of three inexpensive items that we use regularly, have lasted, and have solved problems on our boat.

P1070610 (Copy)1.) Black Diamond USB rechargeable headlamps. Now that I have said that, you will ask yourselves, why did it take so long for these to be invented?! BD now makes headlamps that can be plugged into any 12V USB charger (which are everywhere in our boats 12 outlets now that all of our electronics are USB chargeable) and recharged. This solves two problems: not having to carry batteries around and the corrosion that is a constant problem on the metal prongs that touch the battery. No more running out of batteries, or carrying around so many that they get old and leak. And no more sanding the corroded little metal prongs in order to make the stupid things work!

P1070609 (Copy)2) Stick on velcro. This may sound weird but good stick on velcro is difficult to find and has solved numerous install issues for us. What problem does it solve? Holes in your boat! You can mount remote controls, ipads, pictures, all kinds of things on your boat without drilling any holes in your boat. When you change your mind, pull the velcro, use some residue remover, and it’s like it never happened.

P1070611 (Copy)3) Reusable produce bags. We’ve all switched to reusable shopping bags already, right? But you still use the plastic bags in the produce aisle, don’t you? I’ve posted about these before as they were a liquid motivation purchase, but years later these babies are still going strong. All they are is a small mesh bag with a drawstring that can hold an huge bundle of produce, and are washable and long lasting. I have used these at every market from French Polynesia through Fiji and New Caledonia. Every small plastic bag you can avoid using in the islands is a big gain. I used them today in Australia at the Newcastle farmers’ market.

Passage Notes: A shark bit (hit?) our tow gen

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It was daylight and I was on watch. We were about 300nm off the E Coast of Australia near the Lord Howe Seamount Chain. Our tow gen, which is normally suspended by ropes from our stern pulpit, banged into the stern pulpit. This sometimes happens in big following seas when the tow gen propeller surfs a wave and slackens the line. When it happens, we jam ropes or other soft things between it and the stern pulpit to prevent damage. This time I sat staring at the stern pulpit for a second because the seas weren’t that big. The tow gen banged again against the pulpit. I thought maybe something was fouling the propeller and looked behind the boat toward the prop.

I saw a huge dorsal fin surface, moving sideways to our path. As it crossed where the tow gen prop was trailing, the back of the shark also rose out of the water for a second. I caught only a glimpse of it and I am terrible at estimating size and distance but I can tell you that I have never been in the water with a shark that big.

P1070539 (Copy)I squealed. Carol raced up from down below. And we watched the shark, now under water, pacing the tow gen prop, then falling further back but still visible in the waves pacing our boat. I took some video but of course the camera was downstairs initially and so it was too late when we brought it up (the story of cruising and wildlife usually). There is a grainy moment in the video where Carol and I see the shark with our eyes, but this screen shot (below) just shows something darkish in a wavelet.

When we pulled the propeller upon landfall in Coffs harbour several days later, it had candy stripe strips of paint removed from its shaft as if something hard/sharp had been pressed against it while it was spinning. Was it the shark’s skin when it bumped it? Did it actually bite it? We have no idea. There was also a gouge out of the propeller blade.

We had heard that sharks hit tow propellers but we had never spoken to anyone who had actually had it happen. I can state for the official record that they DO!

Terrible pic of the shark that bit our tow gen

Logbook: Coff’s Harbour, NSW, Australia


Coffs Harbour


We found the descriptions of the anchoring at Coffs a little confusing and didn’t have a guidebook yet. The inner anchorage, more protected in general from the swell wrapping in is between the old pier and the marina. The outer anchorage is anywhere outside of the old pier including snugged up against the breakwater to the SE (out of view in the picture). While we were there the boats in the outer anchorage were always rolling more than those in the inner anchorage. We anchored for an hour in the inner anchorage awaiting room inside the marina for us to come in and clear customs.

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Coffs Harbour was an extremely walkable/bus-able place for boaters needing to get to various supplies. There are also tons of small restaurants in the marina area itself and a 5 minute walk outside of the marina. If you want quick groceries, there is a small IGA close by and the enormous Cole’s further away towards town is enough to boggle the mind of someone who has been in the islands for a few years.


As we’ve already mentioned in our passage notes, we found Coff’s welcoming, cozy and in general to suit our tastes. There are gorgeous beaches on either side of the marina with loads of happy dogs, families, surfers and wind sports folks. The small hill overlooking the marina is a great walk with a nice view of the ocean for fun, for exercise and if you want to get a sense of what the swell is doing before you leave.


Carol got in a surf

Passage: New Caledonia to Australia


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We left New Caledonia on 12 Nov 2015. We sailed off of our mooring at Ilot Maitre with our friends aboard SV Dream Time sailing behind us to send us off in style. They broke off to head to another year of lovely gunkholing around Noumea, and we continued sailing out Dumbea Pass pointing at Sydney.


P1070508 (Copy)We knew we would hit a front around 28S and after that the weather was unpredictable but with nothing too scary in the forecast and the MJO was behaving itself. We hoped to sail to Sydney but we knew we wouldn’t know if that was possible until we started pulling weather forecasts after the front.


We started out in 10-15 knot winds, had a bit of light air sailing which over the course of a few days clocked around to the NW. Instead of a few hours of fickle wind while the front passed (as has been our experience in the past) the wind simply flipped 180 degrees to the SSE in the 20-25 kP1070519 (Copy)not range. We reefed down and pointed East until the winds slowly backed around to the ESE and we could continue sailing toward Sydney. After a day or so of this, the forecasts were showing the possibility of an East Coast Low forming over Sydney and so we turned for Coffs Harbour.


At this point we had a 24 hours spinnaker run with an eddy in the Australian current pushing us toward Coffs. Light wind, flat water, sunshine and a favorable current – a Pretorien owners dream! Note: This site gives an excellent visual of the current state of the current.


P1070533 (Copy)The clearance was easy peasy. They took our produce, eggs, cheese and milk and canned meat (poor pate gone) – all as we had anticipated. They examined our shells, took a few pictures, charged the stupidly expensive fee of $380AUD and were on their way. Nice guys.


P1070496 (Copy)Coffs Harbour was a surprising treat. It is a dirty, dusty, slightly run down port filled with a interesting, diverse, salty crowd of honest to goodness sailors. The staff were super friendly. The town was cute and we were picked up when hitch hiking immediately and even given a ride when we were just asking someone about the bus. The showers were hot, high pressure, and with shower heads taller than I am. As an aside, for whatever reason, even though I am only 5’8” most S Pacific shower heads are positioned at my neck requiring (on the few times we’ve been in ports or haul outs) me to crouch down to shampoo. If Coffs were closer to Sydney we would have stayed there for a while but the lure of Christmas and NYE in Sydney proved too difficult to resist.


We made it!


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//WL2K Posting from on Passage

We are currently on passage to Australia and I am midway through my midnight to 5am watch as I'm writing this. We are almost abeam the Gifford Tablemount (a seamount) and in the next day will be passing through a deep section, a valley as it were, of this enormous underwater mountain chain. Our map (link on the left nav bar of this blog) is being updated approxaimately daily as long as the radio comms continue to cooperate..

((As usual, don't panic if it doesn't happen. Our emergency chain is well established and the people in it know who they are.))

So far the passage has been excellent. This isn't to say that it has been easy sailing. Actually it has been a high energy combination of working to keep the boat moving smartly in light air, and reefing her down when the winds come up. Rinse and repeat.

The reason it has been excellent is that we are so excited to be doing it. I don't think we've been this pumped up for a passage since we left Mexico for the Marquesas. This is another leg of "the dream" that we had before leaving the dock. How many times did I imagine the last leg of the Pacifiic Crossing either to NZ or AUS and how many blogs did I read of people making it? A lot...

Making this particular passage rekindles memories of those original hopes, fears and excitement when everything ahead of us was so incredibly unknown. It is one of those cruising moments when you do something for the first time that you dreamt about doing. Those dream come true moments are special and I remember every one of them.

I remember my first swim in clear warm water where I could see the anchor chain (Cabo San Lucas). I remember sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge in the sun in full company of the weekend sailors. I remember hoisting the Mexican courtesy flag, making landfall in the Marquesas, my first atoll. Even though these experiences remain amazing on their successive iterations, there is something special about the first.

I would tell you how many miles we have to go except we aren't certain yet which Australian port will be our first landfall, or when we'll arrive there... Welcome to cruising!

Motus and bays // Maa and Uere




As cruisers we tend to spend a lot of time searching out tiny islands surrounded by clear water and fantasyland (fantasysea?) colors. The downside of such tendencies is that we spend a fair amount of our time in lumpy anchorages. Every once in a while the bump gets to us, particularly in a long stretch of windy conditions, and we find ourselves retreating to bays (when available).


New Caledonia has a huge main island, riddled with bays with reasonable anchoring depths and great holding. We’ve spent most of our time here exploring the islets in New Caledonia’s lagoon and have visited only a few spots on the main island besides the capital city of Noumea. Two of those main island anchorages were recent stops in Maa and Uere. Both are wrap around anchorages, protected from most conditions and very well protected from trade wind conditions even allowing for the wind to slop about a bit in angle. They also are another visual and textural side of New Caledonia – big land mass, sometimes desert looking. It’s been lovely, tranquil and we are starting to regain our drive to explore lumpy anchorages again.


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Since we arrived in Tonga/Fiji/New Caledonia it has been a balance for us between time in exposed fabulous anchorages and flat less gorgeous (to us) areas. In the flat we catch up on chores, cleaning, boat work, writing, long walks, etc.


I think this is why we love atolls so much. Even though they are exposed from many angles, you can have very strong trade winds and still be in flat, flat water. On the contrary, small islets get wrap around waves and the wind doesn’t have to change angle much for them to become more exposed.


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Sometimes of course we get flat windless conditions in the more exposed anchorages. Those times are marked in my memories as some of the best cruising we have had. That windless day in Mopelia. Our recent time in Mato. Tauna in the Gambiers…

Kite Spot: Ilot Nge, Nouvelle Caledonie


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Sometimes it is fun to be in a crowd, at a park, particularly on a holiday weekend. We had a great time at Ilot Nge on Halloween weekend. The anchorage and mooring field were packed on the weekend as boats full of working stiffs escaped the capital city of Noumea for a weekend of playing at this marine park. Even with this rush, there were only a hand full of kiters here and we had the water relatively to ourselves (and our friends).  Launch spot: S22°19'35.70" E166°19'13.88"


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The North side of the island was good kiting at all tides. The South side got a little “crunchy” with coral at all but high tide. You could work your way upwind to the waves or to this gorgeous area of flat water over sand where the only obstacle was some spikes coming out of the water from an old shipwreck.




Some of the moorings are in water too shallow for us but there were plenty to choose from and you could anchor outside the mooring field in slightly lumpier water if you chose. We had three excellent days of kiting there and a fun Halloween party on the beach with the crews of Dream Time and Andromeda.


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The Passage Waiting Game


P1110826 (Copy)With the exception of passages to weather, we’ve never really had to wait for weather windows. For as long as we’ve been cruising, when we say “we’ll start looking for a weather window on X date” we have nearly always had an immediate, too close in time window that requires us to scramble to prep or to check out of the country. Instead of fighting boredom and working on our patience, we have historically had to make certain we aren’t rushing and leaving so quickly that we (and the boat) are underprepared.


And so it is with some amusement that I note that we are getting shut down on our upcoming passage to Australia.


I have been watching the weather in between New Caledonia and Australia on and off for months, and I have not seen such disturbed weather, for such a long period of time, between the two, until now. There was a decent, albeit strong wind window before we were ready to start looking and since then the weather windows have either involved long sections of motoring or big fronts (and associated strong wind and seas) anticipated at arrival.  We are listening to the relevant SSB nets to monitor boats on passage, checking the windows we didn’t take and so far, we correctly predicted that they weren’t the right windows for us.


The nice thing about Australia is that although we have preferences on where we make landfall we have nearly 700 miles of coastline, interspersed with legal arrival ports, as a target. This is wildly different from most of the passage making we have done in which we have to arrive at a very specific point in the sea, where there is a pass into an atoll or a safe arrival path into a single clearance port. On the other hand, this is a longer passage, which makes it more difficult to time generally, to a country which is fussy about after hours and weekend clearances, which makes the timing important.


And so we wait and watch. We have another two weeks or so before our visas expire. Depending on who you listen to the S Pacific hurricane season has either already begun or begins at the end of the month. Little pressures that we snuff out before they grow in our minds.




Waiting and watching means keeping the boat in a constant state of near readiness. We have done all of our pre-passage chores. The boat is tidy. We have bought what groceries we could buy in advance for the passage, then eaten them, and now are readying to buy them again. We are still kiting, swimming, and playing, but every move has to be planned with the passage in mind. We can bring out gear if we have time to let it dry and pack it away before leaving…


At the same time that we become antsy, we also don’t want to leave. The tropics at this latitude are starting to truly feel like summer. The weather is glorious, the already excellent kiting conditions now include warmer water and constant sunshine. There is a reason that cyclone season is considered by some to be the best time to cruise. We are very, very jealous of our friends with EU passports who get more than 3 months in French territories.


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Are we really about to cross the Pacific? Well, finish crossing anyways…


In the next few weeks we will be making our passage to Australia. Do you remember when SV Estrellita 5.10b was at 53° North, traipsing about in “That. Green.” in the Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands), British Columbia, Canada?

There are many ways to count a Pacific Crossing, and as we approach our passage to Australia I find myself reminiscing about the start of it all. In many ways, it was when we turned South from Queen Charlotte City that started our crossing of the Pacific. At that moment, I knew the days of poking endlessly (slowly and joyfully) around the BC coastline were over and although we continued to cruise through the Haida Gwaii and down the coast of Vancouver Island (again) to Tofino, I was starting to think forward to our next legs – our first big passage to San Francisco, crossing into Mexico, the Pacific Puddle Jump. At the time I wrote “This stop was the Northernmost apex of our trip. We are officially Southbound from here.

And it all happened. We had an incredible trip down the coast to San Francisco. A few months later we crossed into Mexico. And 5 months after that we left for French Polynesia. Giddyup!

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And we arrived in what felt like a dream land. And as you already know, we tore ourselves away from French Polynesia at the end of our 3 months, only to shortly return and spend several years, again poking endlessly (slowly and joyfully) around as much of those glorious mind boggling archipelagoes as we could absorb.

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And then things sped up again and we left French Polynesia for Niue, for Tonga, and the next year for Fiji and now New Caledonia. Giddyup!

Here we are sitting in Noumea, New Caledonia, preparing for the last leg to Australia. It seems like so very far from 53° North on the west coast of Canada to 33° South on the east coast of Australia. Still, many people make that trip in about a year and so it is probably the fact that it has been nearly 4 and  a half years since we left Canada that adds to the feeling of distance.

Crossing the Pacific can't be defined by mileage for me. We’ve already passed the longitude of NZ, and we certainly started from nearly the furthest corner of the Pacific we could from here. We've done the miles, but as any sailor who has contemplated this last set of passages (to NZ or AUS) knows, this last leg feels like the finish. It’s a line in the sand. An accomplishment. As a climber might say, it’s a beautiful natural line begging to be finished.

We’re stoked!

It burns! Dealing with the sizzling tropical sun


Growing up in the Seattle area I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about my sun exposure. Given recent research on Vitamin D and sun, if anything, I should have been trying to get more sun!

Questions like “is my sunscreen killing coral reefs?” or “will this sun shirt give me heat exhaustion?” were pretty far from my mind. Once we started boating, even in the WA/BC area, I had to take my sun exposure on the water more seriously. It was surprisingly easy to get burned on the water. However, it wasn’t until we arrived in the tropics and we started kiteboarding that I really had to get serious. Over the years, this is what we've come up with.

P1050605Block not screen: Our first line of defense is to block the sun with clothing: hats, rash guards*, long sleeve loose shirts (with built in or washed in sun protection), etc.

For areas we don’t cover with cloth – like our face or hands – for various reasons related to chemicals, effectiveness and water resistance, Carol and I have changed over almost completely to physical sunscreens (sunblocks) rather than chemical sunscreens. If you don’t know the difference and are curious, go here and scroll to the bottom section. Simply put, we wear zinc or titanium oxide based sunscreens.

So, do we look like 1980s lifeguards? Noooo…kind of…it depends..sometimes yes.

For our sunblocks. we divide them into a three types: those that can be worn every day without looking ridiculous, and those that look a bit ridiculous but are extremely effective when spending the worst section of the day kiting on the water in the tropical sun, and those that look completely ridiculous but are absolutely effective and we can use if we are already a bit burned or are spending too many days in a row kiteboarding our buns off in the sun.

Everyday: Our favorite sunblock which we can wear on our face without looking ridiculous is a tub (not stick) of clear zinc oxide. This is one of those items that we have had guests carry to us in their luggage because it can be hard to find while traveling and we don’t want to do without. I admit I still wear chemical sunscreen on my lips (some form of chapstick lip balm like this one with a light sunscreen).

Everyday is a bit of a misnomer; I don’t actually put either of these on every day because I don’t walk around in the full sun for long periods every day. If I am only going into the sun for a short period, I just put on a hat and a sun shirt. But if I need more than that, I reach for a tub of clear zinc. It rubs in without feeling too sticky (but more sticky than some chemical sunscreens), it lasts a long time, looks normal and really works.

P1050782 (3)Ghosting: When we get ready to go on the water, we resort to zinc or titanium oxide in a stick format which goes on thicker and pastier (and thus less comfortably). Again, we tend to use a simple brand found in a drug store like this. TIP: You can often find sunblock in a brand that normally makes chemical sunscreen like Neutrogena by looking at the baby formulas which is how we found this one.

Although these sticks are generally advertised as clear they leave you white and pasty looking which we call “ghosting”. Once we are “ghosted up”, we can go a full day of kiting without reapplying except on our lips, or on a really long day, on our noses.

The only thing we have found that really works on our lips long enough on the water to be worth it is Lip Armor which you can find at REI. Even with Lip Armor we need to reapply once on a long day because of all of the ways that it gets rubbed off your lips (drinking water, shouting encouragement, epic kissing sessions, you know the drill).

P1050369The FULL Monty: If we’ve been naughty and burned ourselves, we go with the super sticky, not very comfortable, but incredibly effective Badger Sport sunscreen again with Lip Armor. You can see Carol in this photo after he let his nose get burned and so applied a very thick layer of Badger on his burned bits. It is impossible to get burned through this. Don’t be fooled by the SPF 35 rating and you should read a bit about water resistance ratings if you are into water sports. I’ll take an SPF 35 sunblock that doesn’t break down or easily rub off over a suncreen SPF 55 that comes off as soon as I get wet and in the sun. I am fairly certain you could coat yourself in Badger Sport and walk across the desert.

Except that you couldn’t because, the thicker the sun block, the sweatier it makes me. This isn’t a problem kite boarding because we are in and out of the water and in the wind, but it is quite difficult for me to wear even the Ghosting levels of sun block and then go for a hike. I find myself not wearing sunscreen until we reach the summit (but wearing a sun shirt and hat) and then applying some every day zinc, and walking down in my tank top (and hat).

The Burly Girly FULL Monty: A couple of different surfer girlfriends of mine turned me onto Shiseido’s sunscreen stick. It is still thick. It is still pasty. But it doesn’t make my skin clarity unhappy like some of the other thick stuff. I used the “translucent” which was still super, duper Ghosty (but excellent) and have also used the tinted (which makes me look like I’m going kiteboard clubbing – I feel the need to wear tinted lip balm at the same time to complete the makeup vibe).  Even though I’m joking about both, I love them. If I weren’t so tanned I would prefer the clear because I’m not interested in looking like I did full makeup for a day of watersports, but with my tan it looks less shocking to wear the tinted. Both stay on forever and really, really keep me from burning.

And that’s it. I feel a little silly writing about this because sunscreen isn’t rocket science. Still, it took me a few years of being in the tropics to figure out what worked for us.

*I am a ridiculous fan of NRS rash guards and also their .5mm neoprene Hydroskin line (including shorts!). They last 3-4 times as long as any other rash guard I’ve used. We are, of course, really hard on our rash guards. We use them while kiting and while snorkeling, they get dried in the tropical sun regularly and not washed as often as they should. NRS never completely loses its elasticity like other brands (which turn into hilarious blouses). We don’t get anything for saying this.

Critter Report


P1070081It has been quite a while since we posted a critter report and we’ve seen a lot of fun ones in New Caledonia.


The most novel of which are sea snakes. We first starting seeing these in Niue, but New Caledonia is crawling with (and swimming with) them. Carol has had several close encounters with the buggers, crawling across his feet, giving him a little snuggle on the leg while he was wading out to get the dinghy at night.


They are gorgeous and we see them and their skin all over the place.


We saw a dugong from far away but didn’t get a picture.


We’ve seen heaps of turtles. HEAPS!


turtle carol 02So many turtles that when we had friends visiting we decided to have a turtle selfie competition at Phare Amedee which Carol won hands down (see left).


We have had regular visits from dolphins and one set of mother-baby humpbacks in which the mom was breaching and the calf was making hilarious attempts at mimicking.


The underwater scene has been varied but we’ve had some spots with lovely coral and loads of fish. That’s it for now.





Dreaming of Mato




IMG_9235 (2)Another dream.


Another memory of being snuggled up between reefs, in mind blowing blues and greens, in unbelievably clear water.


It’s another one of those many, many cruising experiences I can’t convey in words and can only capture a sideways glimpse of with photos.


I sit down to blog about it and I think how overused the words that I want to select are, even though I *swear* that this time the colors really were blowing my mind and the clarity of the water was actually difficult to believe.


When I give up trying to explain and say “you have to have been there”, I say it because I wish that for other people. I wish that they could see something this intense, float in it, and let it sink in slowly over hours, over days, over different angles of light and different levels of view. I was so glad to be able to take our friends from “back home” to Ilot Mato to share it with them.


Places like this are why I am out here.

Gear Review: Once you go Lavac, you never go back


You might remember the great toilet crisis, followed by our installation of a manual Lavac toilet.


Or maybe you’ve repressed it?


IMG_0808The installation was 5 years ago this month. We have the no electricity Lavac Popular Model. We get no kickback for our review; we are just happy customers. The custom handle in this photo was provided for us by the coolest crew in the world, Ryan and Christine, who took a lot of time, energy, and I’m certain dollars in order to create the coolest Lavac flushing handle you will ever see.


Other than vinegar treatments, and changing the lid seals one time, in 5 years we have done absolutely no maintenance on the toilet. We have not rebuilt the pump. We have not needed to.


This is absolutely, fan-freaking-tastic-ly, amazing. There is not a single marine product that we have purchased that I am more happy with than my manual Lavac toilet. You might find this enthusiasm weird, but if you are a boater, or have done any work on septic systems, you may also understand.


I cannot tell you how many times we rebuilt the pump in the three years we owned our Jabsco toilet prior to buying the Lavac but we at least changed the joker/choker valve at least once a year and rebuilt the entire pump more than once.


Yes, a Lavac (even the manual kind like ours) is expensive, but you want to know how much I would pay to not open up a pump that is full of crap? At least as much as a Lavac. Seriously, no contest. And when I say a pump full of crap I am not being metaphorical.


The only downside: In certain sea states, and at heavy angles of heel on a port tack (Lavac is to starboard) we find that there seems to be a pumping effect from the inflow that can fill the bowl even when the lid is open. This is true even with an antisiphon valve. Our bowl top is above the waterline when we are flat but not when heeled or rolling and so in those conditions we have to shut the seacock. We didn’t sail enough sea miles wit our Jabsco to know whether this is an effect of our configuration, installation and plumbing or the type of toilet.

Logbook: Mbe Kouen (CLOSED)

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Apparently, we slid into this anchorage right before it closed permanently for bird nesting reasons. We were there a few nights with some guests from the USA and midway there a small boat came in and installed a metal post, as if for a sign, but didn’t install the sign. We searched online later and found out that they had recently decided to close Mbe Kouen for tern nesting.

P1070213So, enjoy these pictures…but you can’t go!

We have a thing for low scrub covered uninhabited islets. Although we prefer some coconut trees, these low islands often are surrounded by brilliant colored shallows, and if there is enough water depth and sand, can make for great kite spots, like Ilot Goeland.

In New Caledonia we’ve really been enjoying the view of the mainland from the small off lying islands.

We had enough wind for a kite session, followed by a crazy flat day in which we spent the entire day snorkeling, lazing about on the beach, sitting neck deep in the water, paddle boarding, and BBQing up some tasty lunch. The water was clear, the underwater scene included live coral and plenty of fish, the colors were amazing and, other than the pole installers, we had the place to ourselves.


Kite Mount for GoPro


P1060644There are many ways to strap a GoPro on when kiting. You can mount it on your kiteboard, your helmet, your kite strings, or even (*groan*) a selfie stick.

We like the shots we get with our GoPro strapped to the main strut of our kite, near the leading edge and this is the mount I made to do so. I made wide strap out of Crypton Ultrasuede scraps I had aboard from our cushion covers with two strips of 2” velcro. I used some Seam Stick at first so I could take it to the beach and fit it onto a few different size kites to make sure it would work before I sewed it.

P1060647Then I took neoprene from an old old laptop case and made a pocket for the GoPro. In the flap on the open side of the pocket, I put a snap in plastic tarp grommet and some kite string (spectra type). The kite string was cut long enough so that one side could be tied to the pump up loop on the kite and the other side to the GoPro in case the case failed.

With the case and camera mounted on the kite, I outlined the lens of the GoPro with chalk, removed the case, and cut out the lens hole.

We accidentally tested the backup string when we crashed the kite so hard that the camera popped out through the lens hole (!!!) and the string kept the GoPro dangling from the kite while we sailed back to the beach and removed it.

And here is what we get with it. Not as flexible as a drone, but dirt cheap, and very satisfying.

kouen upwind


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