Category Archives: Pictures

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Sailing & Hiking the Bay of Islands, New Zealand – Moturua Island – PICS!

The Bay of Islands is a spectacularly beautiful place and a sailing playground. There are hundreds of islands and numerous anchorages on each. White sand beaches fringe the coves and lush, forested, tall islands rise up from the green and turquoise waters. Dolphins visit our anchorage and also play in our wake while under way. The only sounds you hear are of birds in the hills and fish jumping. There are nature preserves to hike and rocky points to explore in the kayak. What a cool place we found to hide out during the southern hemisphere cyclone season!

Our friends Brian and Liz are here visiting. You may remember that they bought our previous boat – Pura Vida. They are taking a break from their excruciating full-time jobs of sailing Pura Vida in Mexico. We are all having a blast and it’s been great catching up with them and taking turns exaggerating about our respective sailing adventures.

Alyssa has been playing Super Woman, New Zealand edition. By day she is working in a yacht chandlery (boat parts shop) and by night she is aboard entertaining us all and whipping up amazing meals. It’s exhausting just watching but somehow the woman summons up the energy and is loving it all. She even decided to ‘up the ante’ and in a couple weeks will start working at the local cafe for a couple days a week…..something about them letting her do some baking…

Here are some pictures of the past week. You’ll notice that the geography here is reminiscent of the California coast but with a bit of South Pacific beaches, foliage and sea-life thrown in – a combination that works very well.

Salud from the Bay of Islands, NZ!

- Lewis, Alyssa, Brain & Liz 

Anchored off Paihia. Maori war canoe paddling past and chanting during breakfast - very cool!
Anchored off Paihia. Maori war canoe paddling past and chanting during breakfast – very cool!
Brian; very happy to be back on a boat!
Brian; very happy to be back on a boat!

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Hmmm... I wonder why the anchor won't set?!?!....
Hmmm… I wonder why the anchor won’t set?!?!….
....and then we pulled up a shell - stuck perfectly on the point of the anchor!  We were dragging this shell through the sand!
….and then we pulled up a shell – stuck perfectly on the point of the anchor! We were dragging this shell through the sand!
Alyssa taking note of the awesome private estate tucked in the trees behind our anchorage.....we think we'll build a miniature scale model on our property in Fiji
Alyssa taking note of the awesome private estate tucked in the trees behind our anchorage…..we think we’ll build a miniature scale model on our property in Fiji
Brielle, (my Niece) look! Dolphins!!
Brielle, (my Niece) look! Dolphins!!

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When you need a xmas tree and there aren't any tree farms around you get creative... with a sawzall
When you need a Xmas tree and there aren’t any tree farms around you get creative… with a sawzall
Found it!
Found it!
The happy Mermaid gets her first NZ Cook Island Pine Xmas tree!
The happy Mermaid gets her first NZ Cook Island Pine Xmas tree!

 

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Fiji to New Zealand – Passage PICTURES!!!

Today marks one week since landing in Opua, NZ. A brief update: it’s cold; it’s beautiful; port engine still down but parts have been ordered (it’s the governor); hikes are amazing; prices are high; found a great mechanic; the marina was expensive and not to our liking so we are out at anchor now off Russell; Alyssa is job-hunting and it’s going well; our friends Brian and Liz are coming to visit us soon!; did we mention how beautiful it is here??

Here are the pictures we have been meaning to upload from the passage. Started with palm trees and ended with grey skies and big seas!

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Savusavu to Bua Bay – Catamaran Racing, Diving, Kiteboarding and Motorcycling!

After a few days in Savusavu doing boat projects we headed out to Cousteau’s resort for a few nights. We met some new friends, Bob and Julie, who just built a new house here. We offered to take them sailing and when we were out we hooked a 100+ lb yellow fin tuna!  It was a herculean effort by Bob and I to bring it within arms length of the boat. When I had the leader in my hand to bring him within gaff shot range the knot snapped at the swivel!!  There was much screaming and lamenting but we all enjoyed the fight and were happy that the beautiful fish got away……this time. We then enjoyed a pleasant evening aboard QUIXOTIC with delicious appetizers, an amazing Mahi dinner and fun with new friends. See you guys next year!

We then caught up with Bruce and Jenn on SKABENGA. We all decided to race the two cats to Namena Island. We invited our new neighbors Bob and Anna to join us. We prepped them and pulled the hook the next morning. QUIXOTIC and SKABENGA are both South African-built catamarans and were very evenly matched. We averaged between 8.5 and 9.0 knots during the 25 miles course and both had huge waves and spray flying over the boats as we pushed hard upwind into the swells. It was a blast with much goading over the radio. Almost to the finish line, Bruce hooked a Marlin and effectively forfeit the race to fight him in, ensuring our victory!  Once we were anchored we donned SCUBA gear and explored the underwater world. Namena got hit hard by Cyclone Winston and it shows beneath the surface; it’s still beautiful but we hope it fully recovers soon. Another great night with good friends ensued into the evening.

The next day we sailed for Bua Bay. It was a relaxing downwind sail, wing-on-wing, around the SW end of Vanua Levu and into protected and picturesque Bua Bay. We came here to load our shipping container that Bruce very graciously gave us and brought out here. I also had to fit in one last motorcycle ride before tucking her away for the cyclone season. The ride was epic and the scenery gorgeous. I was less than 15 minutes from our property, surrounded by tall pine trees, and it felt like I was in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California; the only thing that reminded my I was in Fiji was the heat and humidity (see pic below).  I rode the southern coast of the island and beat both me and the bike up on the rough roads. I passed friendly frantically waving locals, shared smiles with kids on the side of the road and steered clear of the wandering cows and sheep. The landscape turned from rolling hills of pine to lush jungle and lined with palms with the sea as the backdrop. There were beautiful churches in the middle of well-manicured villages and set on rocky fresh water rivers. I only had to turn back when I realized I left without grabbing any money for fuel!  It was a great last ride for the season.

We “winterized” the bike, spread bug and rodent poison around and locked our container, said thank you and goodbye to Bob and Anna and returned to QUIXOTIC. We were going to sail west today but are staying put until a low pressure trough rolls through. We just put out 100 feet of chain with a new (more stretch) snubber system and we’re anchored in 9 feet of water over good holding mud – we should be fine here while the weather passes over us.

This morning we also continued our New Zealand passage prep. Today we prepared the parachute sea anchor system as if we were deploying at sea. It’s much easier to do here in a calm anchorage then out in big seas in storm conditions. We are going to run the parachute to 10 feet of chain shackeld to a 250ft nylon rode tied to a 60 foot nylon bridle. The bridle will be led through the cleats/fair leads on the crossbeam and then aft through blocks to the cockpit winches. That way we can adjust the lines and manage chafe from the safety of the cockpit. It looks like it will work – only real world deployment will tell. We hope to manage the weather forecasting and routing so we avoid storms but you can never be too prepared. 

We are planning to depart early next week and sail for Viti Levu via Yadua Island. We have one last errand to attend to before looking for a weather window to sail to New Zealand. Stay tuned.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend. We miss you guys!  

L&A

Bua Bay, Vanua Levu, Fiji

Anchored: 16 50.858 S, 178 36.673 E

We realized we haven't uploaded any interior pictures so here are a few
We realized we haven’t uploaded any interior pictures so here are a few

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The Mermaid working her magic in the galley....I'm SO spoiled!
The Mermaid working her magic in the galley….I’m SO spoiled!
Appetizer platter!
Appetizer platter!
QUIXOTIC cockpit with Bob and Julie
QUIXOTIC cockpit with Bob and Julie
The fight with the monster tuna!
The fight with the monster tuna!

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Exhaustion set in after the fight....hammock time was mandatory
Exhaustion set in after the fight….hammock time was mandatory
SKABENGA trying in vein to keep up with us ;-)
SKABENGA trying in vein to keep up with us ;-)

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Jenn, Bruce, Bob, Anna in Namena
Jenn, Bruce, Bob, Anna in Namena
The whole crazy Pirate crew
The whole crazy Pirate crew

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wing-on-wing
Bob watching the lure and channeling Walu
Bob watching the lure and channeling Walu
Arriving Bua Bay
Arriving Bua Bay

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Drying the kiteboarding gear
Drying the kiteboarding gear
Kite shade tent!
Kite shade tent!
Inspecting the sea anchor
Inspecting the sea anchor
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Mermaid inspecting chafe gear

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CA or Fiji?
CA or Fiji?
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Amazing trees on the property on Bua Bay

 

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Exploring Duff Reef, Catching Huge Mahi, and mid-Ocean Engine Repairs!!

We are anchored in Vanua Balavu after three incredible days of mostly motoring over glassy calm seas and making easy progress eastward!  The first night was spent at Paradise Resort on Taveuni. The next day was an incredible 40nm passage along the windward side of Taveuni, viewing all the amazing waterfalls and catching two HUGE Mahi!  We dropped the hook on the south side of Qamea Island for the night and watched the sun set over traditional palm-thatch Fijian dwellings on the beach. Then early the next day we set a course for Duff Reef, a mid-ocean reef with a unique sand bar to anchor behind. The passage was 50nm and we covered the distance before mid-afternoon. We dropped the hook in 15 feet of crystal clear turquoise water a few hundred yards behind the sandbar. What an incredible place! We kayaked over and walked the perimeter, discovering mating turtles, turtle nests, prints, and sadly, some carcasses. There were also some lone palms to complete the post card picture!

The progress eastward was not without drama of course. You remember the starboard bilge incident – well that is still dry!  We did have an engine overheat issue en route to Duff Reef. Well, I was running the engines very hard to test the cooling systems. After running them hard all day and within sight of Duff Reef I had the port engine overheat alarm sound and so I had to shut it down to assess the situation. We quickly did some calculations to see if we could make Vanua Balavu before dark and it would have been cutting it close, but it was possible. I also didn’t feel comfortable navigating the reef-strewn waters of Duff Reef with only one engine and light to non-existent winds. So we cut a course to VB and I got into the HOT engine compartment…

I saw the water in the coolant overflow reservoir had overflowed into the bilge and the bilge had about a liter or more of coolant…uh…probably reason for overheat. Now, WHY did it overflow was the question. I looked in the reservoir and it was FULL. hmmm… still WHY?  I remembered that when I was first commissioning the engine I noticed a small coolant leak from the fitting that usually goes to the water heater (I didn’t have them hooked up at the time.) Well, in our haste to get out of Savusavu I hooked up the water heater hoses but did not add the coolant yet (I was going to do that later). When I was in that HOT engine compartment it hit me that probably what happened was the empty water heater hoses got very hot and heated the air inside the hoses. That probably allowed some air to be forced into the cooling system of the engine. In the process it must have forced air into the cooling system and coolant out. Compounding the issue was that when the engine cooled down it was sucking air back into the system instead of coolant from the reservoir. So, what I did was disconnect the water heater hoses; get another shorter hose, fill said hose with water, connect it from the two points on the engine that the water heater is usually hooked to; fill the heat exchanger tank back up, drain some coolant from the overflow reservoir, and get the engine running again. Mind you this was all with the help of the amazing, patient, and beautiful resident Mermaid. The engine maintained temp and wasn’t spewing coolant! We changed course back to Duff Reef and saved the day!

We are so glad we didn’t miss out on visiting the reef because it was an incredible spot! Check out the pics!

We are now in our favorite place in the world, Ship’s Sound, Vanua Balavu and we’re aboard our dream vessel. We did it. It’s now time to relax and catch up on some much needed R&R. Get out the hammocks!

Lewis & Alyssa

Ship’s Sound, Vanua Balavu, Lau Islands, Fiji

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Q - L&A

Quixotic Sails Again!!!!!

She’s out of the creek! She’s sailing! She’s motoring! She’s generating power! She has hot water! She has nets! Her keels track straight! Her rudders steer her on a straight course! She’s a fully-functional sailing yacht again! We couldn’t be happier or more proud of her!

Allan and Rina, Alyssa’s parents, are visiting and just enjoyed a great day of kayaking, sailing, swimming and enjoying the beauty of Fiji. We are moored on Bruce (the Pirate) SKABENGA’s mooring off Jacques Cousteau resort near Savusavu. Thanks Bruce! (for everything man – from the beginning of Quixotic’s resurrection).

Allan and Rina worked their asses off during the first week of their visit. They helped us check boxes on the list and get her to the point we could actually escape the creek. We installed a new LPG system, got BOTH engines running, installed the nets, put the sails on, stowed all our gear and toys, installed the bow seats, got the freezer working, port water heater, bilge pumps, lifelines, running rigging, among many other projects. They were eager to get out (we were more eager) and as soon as the last box was checked – and the thermostat we were waiting to be delivered was installed – we shoved off the dock and motored out of the creek. What a feeling of relief, excitement and pride to see her gliding out on to Savusavu bay and towards open water where she belongs.

We are still working out kinks as can be predicted. I spent two full days in the engine compartment trying to get the generator to stop overheating so we can enjoy ICE! In the end, Alyssa and I had removed the entire generator, slid it forward on its mounts, removed and acid treated the heat exchanger, and replaced the coolant pump – all while at anchor!  It now purrs like a kitten and – wait for it – actually runs too cold (when there is too little of a load)! Success!

There is a long list of people to thank and I wouldn’t want to leave anyone in particular out. So here’s a big VINAKA VAKALEVU and THANK YOU to all our family, friends, and everyone who has helped us make this dream a reality. It was a hell of a ride the past four months. But we pulled it off, Quixotic is sailing again, we have an amazing floating home. Thanks again guys!

Sunset alert so have to run. Here are some pics of Quixotic under sail and at rest. Thanks to Allan for taking the pics from the dinghy under way!

Cheers,

Lewis, Alyssa, Allan, Rina

Moored – Cousteau’s Resort, Savusavu, Fiji

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The Epic Fijian Launch of the Catamaran Quixotic!

It took a whole week and a lot of Fijian manpower but by Saturday afternoon Quixotic was afloat!!  The newly-built Fijian keel had all her weight on it and we can gladly report that both keels carried Quixotic back into the water safely!  It’s a long story with tremendous ups and downs, a fair share of agonizing slow preparation, some nail biting anticipation, and a crushing discovery… but ultimately ending with cheer, elation and a happy ending. Our amazing friends came in huge and helped greatly! Thanks again guys! Glenn & Deb (Beach Access), The Pirate Bruce (Skabenga), Craig & Leanne (True Blue V), Bob & Joyce (Chara)!!  We are both incredibly relieved and utterly exhausted…just in time for another big push getting our new floating home ready to sail and live aboard comfortably. It will all come together in due time….Fiji time that is…

If you’re in a yard back home and want to “splash” your yacht, you simply schedule the travel lift for the next day. The day comes along, your time slot arrives, a big diesel-powered machine lifts her up with straps, moves over the water and lowers her in. The whole process takes about 20 minutes and is totally painless and mostly stress-free. Not here. Not on a beach in Fiji. No Sir. There isn’t a travel lift on this island. There isn’t even a flatbed trailer that could do the job. No crane big enough to lift her. Just timber…..and manpower….and some steel….and Fijian optimism. Well, in the end, it took a long time as we moved her inch by painful and careful inch up on to her home-made steel sleds; then up higher to put pine posts under her sleds and on top of our 2×6 railway. It only took a day and a half to get the sleds under her. And only a day longer to get the pine logs underneath. All week the weather was very uncooperative – dumping rain with howling wind just to test my nerves as I watched her shake back and forth on the single Chinese jack that already had a huge dent in one side and was spewing hydraulic fluid with each pump. I was in charge of every block of timber that was placed and I gave the order for every movement of the jack…and it took all my focus and understanding of physics to safely move her under the conditions and limited resources we had at our disposal.

One of the days we were lowering her new keel on to a sheet of plywood, I was listening intently, and just as the plywood was taking the weight and slightly crushing under the immense load, I hear a huge CRACKING sound! I said “Stop lowering!” and then asked the others where the plywood was crushed or was that the glass.  Well, the boat was fine, the plywood was fine, and one of my jackass workers decided it would be hilarious to slam a piece of plywood together on the other side of the keel. I was pretty upset and after a bit of reprimanding, the next hour of jacking was very quiet and the lift was successful.

We ended up lowering her down the slope by controlling a 5-1 purchase block and tackle system, had two trucks chained to the plates as backup, and then had 6-8 Fijians push her back 6 inches at a time. We started at 0700 and she was floating by 1530.

The only other drama we had was that I went aboard to inspect her for leaks just before the final push. I installed a thru-hull so needed to inspect that. We also installed the port saildrive and needed to check how we did – well no leaks from the thru hull or saildrive…success. Unfortunately, the rest of the inspection didn’t go so well. I looked under the port floorboards and saw water. SH!T! But from experience I immediately tasted the water and it was FRESH! Ok, bullet dodged, all well. Then I moved to starboard hull. No water in the bilge – good. New crack along the bottom of the aft bulkhead – BAD. There was so much stress under that bulkhead while moving her that the glass broke in the void between the hull and the bottom of the bulkhead. This void should not have existed – when you glass in a bulkhead it should be flush against the bottom of the hull so that she can take loading properly, especially when jacking or blocking. Well, we found the one area she couldn’t handle the weight and it gave out. We put wood piles fore and aft the keels to stabilize her but since the ground was sloping with highs and lows there were times she had all her weight mostly on one pile. This made a six inch crack along the bottom of an aft bulkhead. So back to the story…

My heart sank when I saw the crack. I saw water weeping out. I tasted it – salt. Heart sank again. Now the sweat was coming on. What do we do? I am precariously dangling over the edge of a coral shelf about to launch her. I have 20 people outside waiting in anticipation for the green light to push. Are we sinking now? Do we have to pull her back on land? NO!!! 

So I went topside and called for my fiberglass master – Alsace Miller – to come look at the crack. He said we should let her float and see if the glass comes back together. It was only leaking a drop every minute anyway. I agreed but wanted to leave the sleds submerged in case we needed to pull her out. I came topside and saw Alyssa’s face with a look of despair…the same feeling I was having…now mixed with more nerves about launching a sinking boat!

Well, we pushed her over the cliff and she gracefully took to her lines and floated perfectly. We pulled lines over to the dock and brought her alongside. We immediately went to work seeing how much water was coming in. It was only a weeping and seemed to be getting less. We dove over the side but no one could see a crack or any signs of stress. Strange. In the end it was decided to keep her in the water and stop the slow weeping with Marine Tex. If we could stop the leak then we could grind back the paint and fiberglass and epoxy the entire floor and compartment. Well, that’s exactly what was done today and she is stronger than the day she was launched. I also spent a long time with SCUBA gear looking for any sign of damage and couldn’t see any. It’s possible there was water under that bulkhead and the crack in the paint let it out. It’s also possible that the SSB groundplate that is installed near that bulkhead is allowing water into the glass and then accumulated in that area only to be released by a collection of amateurs moving a large catamaran with timber and dreams. I’ll have to wait until I reach a modern yard with ultrasound and moisture meters. Until then, we are no longer sinking, the compartment is hugely reinforced and now definitely a strong jacking point!  I also plan to carry more JB waterweld in the meantime!

The day ended with a proper party aboard Quixotic! Our amazing team: Alsace, Rodney, Natani, Francis, John, Ilikaia, the Hulk and Papa Charlie Brown were here with guitars, kava, beer and huge smiles. We all enjoyed music and celebrating the successful launch of our amazing catamaran. We are all very proud in the work that was done. Quixotic is now and forever part Fijian!

We will have to upload video later this week so you can all see the big day. In the meantime, here are some pics!! Cheers!

**UPDATE: Natani has made the repair to the aft bulkhead and I’ll sleep much better tonight. We ended up glassing both sides of the bulkhead with 6+ layers of glass and epoxy. The lockers have been painted with two-pack epoxy paint and is curing while I post this. She’s water tight baby!!**

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Quixotic Update – New Gelcoat!!! Get the Coconut Logs Ready!!

After a week of playing chicken with the rain clouds and despite three broken Chinese paint guns, we finally completed spraying on new gelcoat! She looks amazing even with the 100’s of bugs now adding character to her topsides…

We are getting painfully close to the finish. It’s suppose to rain all weekend so the painting will resume Tuesday on the bottom. In the meantime we will continue the monumental task of sanding all the new gelcoat in preparation for a good buff and wax. When you spray the gelcoat, the finish is textured orange peel instead of glass smooth – so that requires a lot of sanding with 600 then 800 and then 1500 grit wet sandpaper before its smooth enough to buff and wax.  

We thought about painting the boat with two-pack paint but decided against it for numerous reasons: one – lack of access to a high-quality marine LP paint; two – complete lack of a controlled spraying environment free from dust, dirt, leaves, ash, bugs, and all manner of other flying debris that would certainly ruin our paint finish; three – the ability to sand out the bugs and the ability to fair gelcoat and then apply more and sand again, which we have done 2-3 times; and lastly, gelcoat is harder-wearing and will scratch instead of chip off. The main concern I have is longevity of the adhesion to the old gelcoat…only time will tell how long it holds up. It seems to be a strong bond now but ask us in a year or two if we made the right decision…

We have also serviced the starboard saildrive, ground the old paint off and started applying the interprotect epoxy primer. We chipped the old rubber boots off and we plan to epoxy glue the new ones on and then use epoxy filler to fair the edges; we hear they are notorious for coming loose…

In other news, we thought we found evidence of a rat that made its way aboard through the saildrive hole. There was a small dropping and some chewed foam on the nav table. That kicked us into high gear! We went straight to the grocery and bought glue traps and some coconut cookies. We set the bait stations and sealed off the hole.  Well after a few days all we caught was my bare foot! We came to the conclusion that it must have left the same night. We hope at least!

Plans are well under way to construct the coconut log railway to get Quixotic back in the water. We are planning to put two coconut longs under each keel and extend the railway 50 yards behind the boat into deep water. We then plan to put 2″ steel pipes perpendicular to the logs and place steel plates over these pipes. The keels will rest in a U-channel beam welded to the steel plates. The whole thing should slide carefully back downhill. We will hold her back with a truck or tractor.  That’s the plan at least. Stay tuned for the actual account!

Here are some shots of all the paint prep and finally her new gelcoat before the sanding and buffing…

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Quixotic Update – So Close!! – The Pictures Tell the Story….

Quixotic is officially seaworthy again! We are almost done fairing, sanding, and preparing the hulls for paint this coming week. The interior is completely painted and looks incredible. The crossbeam is back on and the rig tuned, the baby stay chainplate area has been reinforced and re-installed. The stanchions and pulpits have been straightened, welded and reinstalled. We are also putting 5-6 layers of glass on the bottom of her keels so when we beach her she has some extra protection from small rocks damaging her newly glassed keels. So that means that Quixotic is now structurally returned to her former glory and is in many ways stronger than before the storm. Now all that remains is reinstalling the rebuilt saildrive and rebuilt engine and dolling her up with new flowcoat polyester topside paint and then applying her epoxy barrier coats and anti fouling paint. Then it’s coconut log rolling time for the big splash!!  I’ll let the pictures below provide a more detailed update…

In other news, Ellie has been officially transferred to Kurt and Dan, her new owners. We have been spending long days with Kurt going over all of her systems and spares and making sure we do a proper hand-over. We will miss Ellie. She is a beautiful, strong boat that has seen us safely across oceans and taken care of us in seas both rough and calm. Take care of her Kurt and Dan and she will always return the same to you.

We also want to thank our friends Chris and Monica on sv SeaGlub for enabling our boat transition to happen. Thanks again guys! Can’t wait to be anchored next to you when SeaGlub finds her way to Fiji!

Here are some pictures of the progress and of Ellie. Cheers!

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Tough Bash to Suva – Anchored off the Royal Suva Yacht Club

We arrived in busy Suva harbor yesterday after a tough bash to windward. We covered the 60nm from Ovalau Island to Suva in daylight but it took everything Ellie had to push into the 20+ knots and steep confused seas and strong opposing current. We had decent light entering the pass and we anchored in 7 feet of brown water off a very busy commercial port. Quite a shock to the system when compared to pristine almost uninhabited Bua Bay. We have a long list of errands to run while here so we are up early to head into town. Will write later. Here is a pic of Ellie bashing around Viti Levu and of the Mermaid upon arrival in Suva. Cheers

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