On the Hard, in Tonga.

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. :)

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And you thought your family was weird.

We are currently in Tonga, but I thought I’d back up and bit and see if I could get the blog caught up alittle since I last posted from Bora Bora.

Sorry about this, but this post comes with some extra credit reading.

Before you continue, follow a couple of the links below or do a little googling of your own on Palmerston Atoll and/or William Marsters.

Downtown Palmerston Atoll

Downtown Palmerston Atoll


The history of this little Atoll is pretty interesting.

As you read…or actually most likely did not read…lazy bastards, the history of this little Atoll in the absolute middle of no where is pretty unique.

We arrived at the island in the middle of the night and waited till day break to approach the mooring field. There is no anchorage and the family on the island would rather you take a mooring ball instead of anchoring on the coral.

The island is part of the cook islands, but they sorta run them selves. We were told to remain on the boat until customs and immigration came out to clear us in.

All went fairly well. We felt pretty bad for the health and welfare lady, she got violently sea sick when she came aboard to “inspect” the boat. The inspection lasted about 3 minutes until she went back outside to vomit.

The moorings are owned and ran by Edward Marsters, who also may or may not be the sheriff of the island. He also was our “host” while we were there. They do not like you to come ashore on your own. So your host will come out in the morning and pick everyone up and take you ashore. Their custom is to host you and feed you while you are there on the island. And that is exactly what they did. Every day around 10am, Edward would come out and pick us and the other 3 boats that were there up and take us to shore to his house and feed us a big lunch.



Ed Marsters and one of his sons John. Entertaining us after lunch

Ed Marsters and one of his sons John. Entertaining us after lunch

The rest of the day we would wander around the little island and visit with other families or check out the school. There are about 60 people living on the island. 30+ of that number are school aged kids.

The little school house

The little school house

We had been hauling around some school supplies with us since we left Panama. So Tawn gathered them all up and donated them to the School. The principle was very appreciative and gave Tawn a Tshirt from the island and a card that all the kids made for her and signed. She also asked Tawn to give a little presentation/talk about her old job to the kids. They were all amazed since they were familiar with the american TV show CSI.

We ended up spending about a week there. Everyone on the island was very nice. They don’t get very many visitors, only about 60 or 70 visiting boats stop there each year, and only 3 or 4 supply ships make a stop. So it’s a bit of a deal when people do make it there.

Checking out the town.

Checking out the town.

It's like perfect

You can just barely see our boat anchored just outside the reef

The little village in town is just picture perfect. Someone is out raking the “streets” every day. Every were we went on this island, the roads and paths were soft sandy walk ways. There are no cars, just a couple of ATVs and scooters.

John, our tour guide.

John, our tour guide.

Picture perfect little town

Picture perfect little town

As we were checking out the town and talking to everyone, I ask how they got internet access. They pointed me over to the “phone company”.



Just step up to the window and pay the guy a few bucks and he’ll hook you up with some island wide internet access! Seriously, the future is NOW!! It’s slow…but it is now.

Server room at the Telecom

Server room at the Telecom

One last picture before I end it.

Yup, seems just about right.

Yup, seems just about right.

Palmerston island is one of those places in the world that is almost impossible to get to. So to be able to have gone there on our boat is very cool experience and one we will remember for a long time.

Posted in Adventures | 2 Comments

One more before we leave.

This post falls under the full disclosure category. I figure it’s only fair that if I post all these stories about how much fun we are having and all the awesome stuff we are seeing and doing. I should also, from time to time tell you about the not so awesome stuff.

I’m just gonna give you the ending right up front. Bit of a spoiler, I know.

But the short story is that we ran aground a couple weeks ago. Oops!

The long story is:

We had been here in Bora Bora for about a week. Decided to head around the island and check out some of the anchorages on the North side of the island. It is very beautiful over there for sure.

We followed the charts and advice from other boaters and got to the spot we intended to go. But another, closer look at the charts and a read through some of our cruising guides showed another anchorage a little further up. Granted, the cruising guide said that unless you draw less than 6 feet, do not attempt to get in there. The pass through the coral is narrow and very shallow.

We draw just over 6 feet. So despite all the warnings, we thought we should give it a go.

As we were approaching the small pass in the coral, Tawn was on the bow giving me directions on which way to go. I was looking at the charts and thought I should be more to starboard, but Tawn was insistent that I go more to port and get as close to the channel marker as I possibly could.

There was a good current running through the little pass against us and the wind was on the nose, so as I was turning more to port we were being pushed a bit sideways and next thing I know…..Bump, bump, bump.

We stopped moving.

The wind and current pushed us abit more up on the coral. Tawn dropped the anchor to stop us moving in the bad direction.

I tried reversing off, but we were stuck hard.

Luckily we were towing the dinghy. We grabbed our stern anchor and put it in the dinghy and I ran it out to port into deeper water to use as a kedge to hopefully pull the bow around and off the reef. But the wind and current was just too much. We were stuck and stuck pretty good, and heeling over avbit.

A few tourist boats came by and waked us pretty good, which was shitty, but it’s what they do best.

As we were planning what to do next, another cruiser came over from the anchorage in his dinghy and offered to help.

We decided to pull up the kedge and re-run it off the back of the boat, which should pull us back the way we came and into deeper water. Tawn raised the first anchor we had down. Then ran back to the cockpit to crank in on the newly re-positioned kedge anchor.

The guy that came to help, used his dinghy to push the bow of Palarran into the wind and to prevent us from getting even more stuck now that the front anchor was up.

With him pushing on the bow, Tawn cranking the stern anchor in on the winch, I put the engine in full reverse and…..slowly…slowly we started backing up. Then poof, we were off the reef and in deep water.

We had to drop the anchor line in order to keep backing off the reef. The guy that was helping us retrieved our anchor for us,

We changed our minds in trying to get into that anchorage. :) We to another close by to dive on the boat and check for damage. Other than some scrapes in the bottom paint and a few very small chunks of fiberglass missing from the bottom of the keel there was no damage at all.

All told we spent about 20 minutes stuck. Maybe half an hour.

All is good and we were back to business as usual in a couple hours.

A couple days later we rented a couple bikes and rode around the island. It’s only 32km(which is Canadian for 19.8 miles) all the way around the island.

We stopped and took a picture of the spot we got stuck. No way in hell we were taking pictures at the time.


We were headed from left to right as you look at the picture, and any of my SoPac mates can probably clearly see where the channel is in that pic. Right were you see the channel end on the right is were it goes from 14 feet to 6.5. Which is fine, but I should have hooked it more left and hugged that marker, which would have kept me in 6.5 feet of water…instead I went more straight and ended up in 6 feet of water…which was no good.

Here is a pic to get us all back in the right frame of mind.


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Even when it’s shitty, it’s still pretty good.

The first part of July found Me and Tawn in Seattle. I had a job with Danno and so we took the opportunity to visit friends, pick up some boat parts, some new kite boarding gear, and some other bits we needed to bring back to the boat.

Tawn flew back through Hawaii so she could hangout with friends Dave and Jen for a few days and buy a new kite board. I flew back via L.A. and got back a day before Tawn did.

My baggage did not.

Half of all the stuff we bought and stuffed into our luggage was in my checked bag. The one the airline lost! Easily $1000 worth of boat parts and other goodies. Luckily it all showed up on Monday afternoon, but the welcome back to Tahiti was marred just a little.

Since we had a few days to kill waiting for my luggage we spent it putting the boat back together and ready to go cruising again and goofing off around town.

This does not mean the same thing in Tahiti as it does in Seattle. I was a little sad.

We left Papeete, Tahiti and sailed to the Island of Moorea about 25 miles away. Moorea here we come!

We were sailing in to Cooks Bay on Moorea island through the pass under headsail alone when the wind completely died. So we rolled up the jib and fired up the engine. That is when shitty reared it’s lumpy brown head.

We’ve had this reoccurring electrical issue that I have been unable to track down. Somewhere in our rat’s nest of an electrical system there is a short. Every now and again, it shows it’s self in the form of a burnt fuse. Which, once blown takes away our ability to charge the batteries with the alternator when the engine is running. Luckily we are in the South Pacific, so we have more than enough sun and wind to keep the batteries charged up.

Historically this issue shows up so infrequently that I sorta don’t give a shit about it. The fix has always been to look at and wiggle some wires, then replace the fuse and it works for another couple months. As a quick aside, if you need an electrician to work on your boat. Hit me up. My rates are reasonable and i’m pretty sure i’d rip you off WAY less than any other “Marine Electrician” you’ll end up hiring.

It is however, officially time to pay the piper. The issue seems to be permanent. As soon as I turn on the ignition, the fuse blows. No matter how vigorously I wiggle wires.

So we spent two days chasing and replacing wires and connections. Good news is I found two corroded wires and replaced them. Bad news is, there is at a minimum one more bad wire somewhere and I have not found it yet.

Honestly though this is not a bad place to work on your boat.


But the sun was shining and there was miles of coral reef to snorkel. So we said fuck it! Jury rigged it so we can at least start the engine and we’ll fix it properly when we haul the boat in Tonga in a couple months.

Right now the patch is to just start it, let it burn up the fuse and carry on. At this point in the story i’d like to take the time to apologize to the good people of Papeete, Tahiti and a couple small towns on Moorea. I’m pretty sure we bought all the 30 amp fuses on those two islands…..sorry if you needed some.

I bet if you made an offer this beauty it could be yours.

Anyway, here are some pictures of awesomeness that we are experiencing instead of fixing stupid wiring issues.



Ali Beth, the shorts you bought me give me awesome balancing powers.

And of course we can always find the bar for sunset drinks!


Posted in Big trips, Palarran | 1 Comment