Wether you spend a month waiting for a weather window in New Zealand, like many of our friends, or a month waiting in Tonga…it always seems like the next cruising season starts with delays. We have been back in the water since May 14th and had plans to spend a week getting the boat back in shape and provisioned, then take off for the southern island group of Hapaai before heading north to the Samoan islands. However, Palarran has had other plans. The first delay was waiting for some winch parts we had ordered over 2 months ago to arrive… apparently there was a mix up? We finally got the parts through customs….another tale all together…and got the winches up and running. Then toward the end of May we were getting ready to head out for a little shake down motor whenI notice water dripping from the raw water pump. CB took a look and realized the lip seal had dried out on us. Great….how were we going to find parts for a 33 year old Yanmar in Tonga!

We called around to the few mechanics and no luck…they advised trying the auto part store….yeah right. But sure as shit…the only automotive store in this part of Tonga had the exact water pump in stock…whaaat? Since a special press was needed to put it all back together, we had the shop fix the pump and were only out 200 TOP…or 100 US dollars…sweet!

The next day we provisioned with the assistance of my friends Tonga ride…thank you Julie Goss…and we were ready to go. The weather was good, the swell was low and the wind would actually allow us to sail south. CB went to shore to check out of the Port and we were all set to leave….NOT! As he was walking away from the dinghy he heard a loud pop followed by a rush of air…the faces of the two guys in front of him told him all was not well. As he turned around he observed a delapidated dinghy with a large hole in its side. Shiiiiit…I was on the boat stowing all our recently purchased food stuffs when I hear a dinghy approach…not my dinghy mind u. I look outside and there is CB in our friends dink…his face said it all.

Luckly one of the guys at The Boatyard, Alan, is a hypalon master and had the very special and expensive glue needed to fix a seam…unluckily, he was off to Hapaai (yep…where we wanted to go) for the next week….shiiiit! So, we borrowed a dinghy from a friend, again thank you Julie Goss, and headed out to the anchorages. We were unsure if our dinghy could actually be fixed and hemmed and hawed over what we would do…swimming to shore just isn’t a viable way to go. After a week we returned…this is now 3 weeks after we wanted to leave. That Monday morning the dude and his magic glue appeared and he WAS able to fix it…for how long…we know not…but it was holding air. Great….now we can go!

NOPE…the same high pressure system that was keeping everyone in New Zealand was creating crap weather here and we were stuck between the high and a low pressure system to the north. The swell was up to 9 feet with little timing inbetween, not to mention 30 knot winds and wind waves. We only had 60 miles to go…but it would have been awful. As we really have no schedule, we waited again.

Cool thing was, some friends of ours were hosting the guys from a Fox Sports fishing show called Stoked on Fishing who were filming for an episode or two on Tonga. We went and hung out in the anchorages with them and watched some very talented dudes fish and spear fish. They caught a ton of fish and we all had a blast partying on the giant catamaran and party platform.

It is now Wednesday and another weather window has appeared and in a few short hours we will leave to head south. All in all, when you are in a tropical paradise…having to stick around for an extra month is really no big deal!

This site is where we post about our travels around the world in our sailboat, and thus, kept far from the discussions of politics. However, since the political nature of the Presidential Election of 2016 has so unfortunately made it into my travel world, I thought maybe a view from the outside may be appropriate.

I am by nature, a non-political person. I want what most people want, equality and fairness for everyone in my country; and thus I vote accordingly. I was brought up in a Republican family with a devoutly Democratic grandmother, both of which influenced my values as well as my life experiences. It never helped to get involved in politics in my job nor my friendships….but I can only stay silent for so long when it comes to what is happening in America now. Sure, I laugh and “like” things on Facebook (odd how that has become so much part of our culture) with regards to politics, but I generally refrain from any outright sermons as I have friends on both sides of the political spectrum; and feel that is just plain rude anyway. But I feel that a view from the outside would benefit all Americans while making decisions in the 2016 election.

I have been absent from my country for the past three years, aside from a few visits home. I don’t earn an income or pay taxes anymore, nor do I partake in any benefits. During this time away, I have traveled by boat through fifteen nations. Unlike what you hear from people who only read stuff on the interwebs, we have always got a glorious welcome from all countries and fellow travelers from their respective countries. We fly our American flag tall and proud, just like anyone else, and have never had a negative remark from anyone. It is the popular response of travelers from the US who have back packed through Europe during the Bush administration, to say that people hate America…it is simply not true! I don’t know how many kayukas and dug out canoes full of people from obscure little islands have rowed up with their fist in the air sporting a big thumbs up stating in their best English “America, yes yes, Obama!”. It makes you very humble when you realize what an impact we have on the world.

I currently live in Vava’u, Tonga. A little island with a miniscule population of 15,000. But in those 15,000 people are Tongans, Samoans, Australians, New Zealanders, English, Germans, Belgians, Americans, Canadians and Swiss (and probably many more that I have left out). It makes for a very worldly discussion when out bar hopping….and I love it. But lately, all talk turns to the Americans with looks of bewilderment as to how we could have let this happen….by this, I mean Donald Trump. For the first time I have found myself defending my country and sometimes, gulp, even apologizing for making such a mockery of such an important election process.

Donald Trump craps on everything we have fought for and represent as Americans. He is a racist, a misogynist, a hate monger and a blowhard. No one should believe that he truly wants to “make America great again”; and I think it is pretty awesome right now! But forget all that, this is not a post about my political views, but of those from other countries who are influenced by everything we do.

I have a Swiss friend here who is an amazing person to have these discussions with. All he wants to know is how a country as great as ours, who have accomplished such an amazing amount of things in such a short amount of time, who have been through all the layers of racism, hate and corruption and come out on top….could ever believe that a man such as Donald Trump could lead with success. He is shocked that we would be entertaining such a buffoon, but also a man who wants to create a socialist republic or a woman who is so obviously corrupt her campaign is literally hiding in the media shadows of the idiocrity of an orange man who resembles a basketball with teeth. His reaction is like all others….shock, and a bit scared, because no matter who we elect, it will affect the world as well.

What to take from this is how the hell did these people get where they are, and what have we become as a country to allow them to get there. There are a lot of good people in politics that could have run a moderate “cleaner” campaign. But we have turned our great electorate process into a reality TV show.

We have made so many good steps in the extremely moderate Obama administration that it would be a shame to throw it all away. Sure, not everything he did worked out or was the best for the nation…but numbers don’t lie and I can’t think of a time where the stock market was higher, the jobless rate was lower or the general perception of the United States from foreign countries was stronger. We are a young country, we have made mistakes and wrong turns. But to let hate and fear take over a country that has made leaps and bounds to get rid of that type of behavior is just sad. Our Forefathers would be ashamed.

No matter what your political views are, this country was founded on a set of principles that talked about acceptance and forward thinking. Aside from the Native Americans, we are all immigrants…all taken in by this great land; it is what has made our country so strong. The current political climate in America is hostile, and that has to stop to become stronger.

You did not have to read this, but if you did, thank you. I hope you realize that when we vote, we not only represent our country, but a world view as well. As a country, we ARE better than Donald Trump. Speak out about our delegates, let people know you are unhappy, but please don’t grasp on to the most hopeless straw that is Donald Trump and his hate mongering speeches….WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT!

Gonna slap a little sailing lexicon on ya.

When a person that owns a boat says their boat is “on the hard”, and they are not in tears. They typically mean the boat is in storage, out of the water and on dry land, usually in a boatyard somewhere.

Which, as it turns out is the exact situation we are in right now, and have been for the last 3 or 4 months.

We arrived here in Tonga on the 12th of October 2015. Spent a 6 weeks or so checking out the islands, beaches, reefs and anchorages around the Vava’u island group until the 2nd of December when we had to put the boat on the hard….*wink* and have been living in a shitty little apartment since.

You might be asking yourself, “why not just stay on your boat, on the hard”.

Answer: Cause it sucks.

So how does a boat go from this:

To this?*

Watch this informative video to find out.

By the way, if you ever find your self in Tonga and need a place to store your boat. Stop in and say hi to Joe and Alan at The BoatYard in Tonga. Great guys and they will totally take care of your boat.

*The keen eyed reader will note that the picture of Palarran at anchor was taken in Fatu Hiva, Marquesas. So technically, you would have to add a couple thousand miles of awesome downwind, open ocean sailing** into the mix before you get to the haulout in Tonga.

**And a couple hundred miles of butt clinchingly terrifying miles too. Sorry to any dudes out there trying to talk their wives into this doing this trip….it’s just part of the package. Crossing an ocean is NO SHIT for real. :)

We ghosted out of Palmerston Island with light wind and the spinnaker up. Weather reports predicted the wind to pick up the next day and remain in the 15-20 knot range…yeah right! This passage was only to be 280 nm so we were looking at about 2.5 days. The winds remained light through the evening until about 0100 when out of nowhere it suddenly picked up to 15 knots. We did one of our famous oh shit get the spinnaker down douses and went with the jib. It kept increasing until it hit 25 knots. No big deal, the seas were fine and the wind was aft of the beam. We continued like this until we were about 60 nm from Niue when we ran into hell on the water. A band of squalls packing winds gusting to 40 knots welcomed us to the triangle of death as it is know. The waters between Niue, Tonga, Fiji and north to American Samoa are notorious for unpredicted shitty weather. Well, we hit it big time. The squalls had been in the area for a few days and the worst part was the seas. Palarran was surfing down waves at 11 knots! At this point we probably should have run off….but we didn’t. We were so close and just wanted to soldier on. We ended up taking turns hand steering…2 hours on, 2 hours off. The weather did not get better, but we must have gotten used to it, because we went from “ohhhhhhh noooooooo shitttt”, to silent grimacing and butt puckering as we tumbled from wave to janky wave. We thought about heaving too, but the short troughs and waves coming from every direction made that seem untenable. Regardless, 16 hours later we sailed into the lee of Niue just as the sun set. We hove to and collapsed in exhaustion (still keeping watch…don’t worry).

The next day we were still exhausted, but had to check in…Niueans are very strict about the check in process. The trouble to get here was worth it as it turned out. The weather improved and the anchorage was amazing. Over the next week we would explore every nook and cranny of this amazing island. It is actually one of the largest raised coral islands in the world. And because the island is largely limestone with no rivers or runoff, the water is some of the world’s clearest diving and snorkeling. You really should read about this unusual natural wonder here.

Niue is an amazing tourist destination. They have somehow found the unknown middle ground between gross overdone commercialism and the absolute lack of any idea where you are going (if given a choice I far prefer lost over gross). This place was designed to explore by rental car on your own. Well done maps and signs with small parking areas mark every sight seeing location. The trails are maintained…sort of. Ropes are in place in the worst spots and sketchy wood ladders descend into lost paradise grottos. But you feel like you are in a somewhat maintained environment without all the bubble wrapped safety features of the US….in fact…this whole island would be surrounded by a safety fence in  the US and only viewed from a helicopter😆


Limestone is fairly soft, and the hard coral encrusted island is slowly eroding away. Storm surge from summer cyclones have left craters, caves and pass throughs like this one all over the island.


On our 2nd day the German cruisers (Katerina and Andre) we had been travelling with rented a car and invited us along. We checked out the many caves and natural swim holes Niue was famous for. Inside the caves stalactites and stalagmites ooze from every corner. The colors are amazing from the highly mineralized water that seeps from above and mixes with saltwater.


Of course CB had to ham it up in his little sleeping hole. One of the first hikes we did was down through some caves and out to the ocean where arches provided amazing views. Holes in the ground opened up into huge caverns with freshwater in the bottom…I wished I had a rope to descend into them….if only Jason Andersen were here!


These grand views were around every corner. No…these photos are not photoshopped, the water is just that blue!


This is the protected side of the island where shallow reefs border crazy limestone cliffs. When the tide is out you can hike to these huge tidal pools that become a placid swimming pool. If you can find me, you’ll notice the cave I’m standing in goes aways back. I actually climbed up through there to the cave above me and the water was deep enough to jump into…no photo unfortunately.


Better shot of the tidal swimming pool. Vistas from the cliffs on the islands on the more exposed southeastern shore.


The rock formations here are off the hook. The first one looks like a guy looking out to sea with his hand shading his eyes. The next photo is of drippy mineral stalagmites oozing over a cave opening. Or a guy puking😊.


The eastern side of the island is exposed and rough. This once was the coral ocean floor. These coral formations are ridiculously sharp and made for some dicey hiking.


One of the hikes on the exposed side lead to this. The ladder went down about 50 feet to a deserted island grotto. Andre is a bit of a soft egg (German translation for wuss) and didn’t like heights…it took him a bit to get down.


This grotto once was exposed to the ocean, thus the sand and palm trees. However, a long time ago either a storm or an earthquake closed off the water way and now a beach with Lagoon resides where the ocean used to flow. There are passages out to the ocean still and it was thundering into the echo chamber of the grotto. Of course we hiked out there…CB stood in the “pool” that is apparently a relaxing tub at low tide…but of course we were there at high and the relaxing pool was now a death trap…that didn’t stop the intrepid CB from getting some video though…and almost getting swept out to sea in the process!


More sea treks led to amazing views and flat reef that you can hike at low tide.


The seemingly little pools at the bottom of this cliff are actually swimming holes at low tide. The next photos is of an inland snorkeling area…probably one of my favorite places so far. The ocean seeps in past the reef to fill up this inland waterway full of swim through caves and amazing sea creatures. I saw my first sea snake and octopus here. We have video that will show up some day when we are not slurping our internet through a clogged straw.


Crawling through caves was awesome…albeit a bit spidery. But the other side led to to deserted beaches like this one. I kinda felt like Indiana Jones on Niue.


Another interesting bit of history is that Niueans bury their dead on what they deem their families land, although we heard the claims to the land were a bit foggy. But on an island this size with so few people, I doubt it mattered….no one lived out in the bush…just buried the dead there…right out front along the road for everyone to see. This guy was apparently a fan of rum, TV and music…because if you can tell…there is a half drunk bottle of rum, some mixer, a sweet 90’s TV with VCR and same era stereo…A whole ‘nother take on pouring a little out for your dead homies.


At the end of the long day filled with amazing hikes and swimming opportunities…we of course found the ‘Sail Away’ bar. The views couldn’t be beat, and neither could the local colorful conversations we had. We left with a bunch of friends that said hi everyday as they passed us or offered a ride. This bar claims to have the world’s toughest golf course. You can actually crack one off into the ocean from that sign…what is a hole in one? Stuffing a ball into a whale’s blowhole😯 Just jokes about the blow hole…but there were whales right out front while we sipped cold brews from  the deck.

If you ever get the chance to go to Niue…do it. We also did a dive there where you swim up an underwater channel through stalactites and up 80 feet to surface in an underwater cave. There is air to breath, although the wave surges pop your ears something fierce. We have video of this too…but ya know….

From here we had probably our best sail yet, all the way to Tonga where Palarran is enjoying a bit of a dry out period on the hard. We will be going back in the water around the 1st of April and can’t wait to start our adventures again. This living on land thing kinda sucks!