Friday, January 29, 2016

New Boat - New blog

Click the link above now our new adventure begins.......

Friday, July 17, 2015

ReVision II Sold

It's official, we are now in-between boats. 
Today we removed our treasures that have kept us safe - Homard (our Lobster bought on a girls weekend away), our Live Laugh Love Bear Simone gave me when we left Mallorca, our St Christopher that Claire bought us when we left UK, our Turkish Eye that Paul and Lizzie gave us in Graciosa, our Aussie Koalas and Wombat Russell - they'll all be packaged up for the new boat. We are excited to follow her travels with her new owners and so glad she'll stay in her pen at Fremantle Sailing Club.
For now I will just share one of our favourite pictures and the video of her sailing in the pacific 

Andrew promised to take me to Bora Bora the night we met and arriving there in 2006 remains one of the most amazing days of my life. 

Sandy and Joan on Zefrin took this video mid Pacfic - between the Galapagos and Fatu Hiva.

We feel very lucky to have owned such an amazing boat and travelled 20,000 nms and visiting over 40 countries or islands. 

Safe sailing ReVision II and look after T&M just like you did us x x

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas in the Wild West

So the trip continues to Western Australia! This time last year we were very settled in Sydney starting to look at buying property (just as well that didn’t come off), we knew where to buy the groceries, had discovered our new best restaurants, had a great bunch of mates and R2 was moored 10 mins from our apartment, which had that view. If you had said that in less than a year we would have been leaving I would have said never. Sydney really is the place that has it all; I over heard a guy on the ferry one day say on the phone ‘it’s still the place everyone wants to live’. We loved it and I don’t mind telling you it really was hard to leave. We had a great send off, which made it even harder as it really hit home what great friends we had made. ReVision went on the truck, the car went on a train and we went business class, all off to the wild west…..

Since we have arrived I can honestly say we have never worked so hard, so it is a little hard to comment on life in Perth yet. Carolyn has been holding down two jobs effectively and has made two trips back to Sydney. Andrew has found his calling and is loving/living work, it just goes to show that it is possible to find a perfect job. Although if you have to go to work, getting up in your beach side apartment, driving down the coast for 20 mins to an office that looks out over the Indian ocean, with dolphins swimming by in an industry you are passionate about is a bit hard to beat - good on him eh – I just wish he’d put the blackberry down at weekends at least!

Then there is ReVision; she has taken up nearly every other spare minute we have since arriving. She fared well on the truck, however the job of putting her back together combined with updating some equipment and carrying out necessary maintenance has been all consuming. She’s been overhauled below the water, all new instruments, all new mast lighting and wiring, pulpit has been off, bowsprit painted, some varnish refreshed, sails repaired – the list goes on… But today we have declared her fit to go to sea – she’s been out just locally but next weekend the plan is to take her on our Christmas trip and go south about 200 miles to Geographe Bay. This is just north of Margeret River, apparently it has some great sheltered, shallow anchoring in clear water - just what we need for some heavy duty relaxation whilst partaking some of the local wines and produce.

That all said our first impressions of Perth are good, the weather and beachside living is certainly agreeable. Carolyn is fairly regularly seen in the sea before work in the morning. The quality of fresh food is exceptional; we do have the best food shop in Perth just up the road, which is just so tempting, but there are plenty of fresh supermarkets which are also fantastic. As a result we have mainly been eating at home, cooking on our new Webber- Q (BBQ), sat on our fabulous terrace overlooking the beach and ocean with Rotnest island in the distance. We have met a few people through work, neighbours and marina neighbours . All of whom have made us very welcome, so we are starting to get out and about a little more – always handy through the Christmas period. Having said that Perth city is probably one of the most uninteresting city’s we have ever been to, there is really nothing there, although it’s small enough to walk across and is quite green. The Swan River is huge but shallow so it’s just water with nothing really going on in the city area anyway. Needless to say we never go there other than for work. The list for and against Perth at present is as follows:

For / Against
Beaches / No shops after 5 or services on the weekend
Weather / A long way from anywhere
Food & Wine / Restaurants
Cottesloe / Perth City
People (other than CUBS) / CUBS (cashed up boguns)
Real stuff happens here – it’s wild! / Too many Brits – one dart board on a balcony is one too many!

It is interesting how you adapt. It’s quite late in the evening and Andrew has just flown off to Dubai, I am writing this with music blaring from the street and xmas revelers partying, and I am oblivious. When we lived in Mosman it was always so quiet, you only heard the engines from ships over the water. Here it is full on with the sound of waves crashing all the time, surf life savers and runners in the mornings, kite surfers in the afternoons and the partying on the weekend. I only realised tonight that I don’t even notice the noise anymore and the sea, beach and sunsets are just spectacular! Maybe I even like living in this place – it makes you feel alive.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a safe and happy new year.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

New Year

Last day of the year starts with a dip in our pool - tough eh?

Then the mob start to arrive.....

Next it's the boats....


Friday, January 11, 2008

Xmas Hols Continued

Andrew proves he can still catch fish even though he works in an office (well??)

Paul n' Drew, aka Carolyn's Mum & Dad join us for a night.

Sailing back to Sydney - skipper trimming the sails (shock horror!)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Christmas Downunder

Happy New Year to everyone!

We had a great Christmas and New Year. We decided to take advantage of the time off and make use of the boat we have been working so hard on for the last few months. So we loaded her up with goodies and set sail a full 20 miles north on 23 Dec. It was actually quite a big deal as it was the first time we have ventured out of the heads since we arrived in Sydney back in April!

It was a fairly bumpy but fast ride up to the Pittwater, it took us a while to remember how to sail in an ocean but soon we were flying passed the northern beaches. We had passed Pittwater by on the way down as we had hoped to holiday here at some point. We were quite excited to be going somewhere new again and we were amazed at how beautiful it was as we sailed in passed Palm Beach (where Home & Away is filmed I am advised for tv boffins). A sea plane landed just ahead of us as we settled into Careel Bay for the night and we were happy as nothing broke.

Christmas eve and we ventured to the mouth of the Hawkesbury River and found two of the most popular bays in the area nearly empty, we settled into America Bay and went exploring waterfalls and beaches of this fab spot together with neighbouring Refuge Bay by dinghy. The Hawkesbury River winds through the Kuringai Chase National Park and is a million miles from the City, unfortunately we cannot get to alot of it due to bridges but there was still more than enough to keep us occupied for a week.

Christmas Eve ended up being quite a special day. After a lovely relaxing day we were enjoying a drink and reflecting on Christmas Eve's past. The year we spent taking ReVision II on our maiden voyage, the year we spent in the Canaries a few days before we crossed the Atlantic and last year in a pub in Yorkshire where after a few beers Andrew agreed it might be a good idea to get married at some point. So Andrew decided to make it official a year on and did the honourable thing by putting a very sparkly rock on my finger. Two bottles of Verve later and Christmas day was a right off!

Monday, December 17, 2007


Oh dear what has gone wrong. Here we are living in Sydney and back in the rat race...well almost. Carolyn has even managed to get a promotion at work and starts a new job in January. We have spent much time and even more money refitting R2 partly because of the fire and partly because of wear and tear after a few years of hard travels. All that remains is to sail out of the heads and head for the ocean. We are going to try a little coastal trip over the holidays, a sort of shake down sail (in my mind) and a sort of hammock lounging, snorkelling trip for Carolyn. Having just read the blog of our friends Walter and Rita on Noa who are currently in South Africa I have to say I am very jealous of their trip and would love to follow in their footsteps. Watch this space......

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

R2 goes to Sydney

During our time travelling around Australia in our trusty Ford Falcon we decided we'd look at staying a while. So while other tourists did the Harbour Bridge climb and went to the zoo we plotted a plan to find a sponsor and get jobs in Australia. R2 was safely tucked up in Queensland while we pursued this goal. After many meetings in both Sydney and Melbourne Andrew did the deal to provide us both a 4 year working visa - not an easy task by any means but he really doesn't like to do half measures.

In March we drove back up to Queensland while the department of immigration did their stuff, two weeks into our stay I got a call for a telephone interview and before I knew it I was also being offered a job in Sydney. So we waited for the best weather we could, as it really wasn't the season for heading south and off we went on our cruise to Sydney. We actually left twice as the first time the wind was against us we turned back for the first time in over 12,000 nautical miles. Eventually we made it into the Sandy Straights and then onto Tin Can bay a fabulous low key holiday destination where they have dolphin feeding each morning. The weather basically gave us a few of days at a time before the next southerly hit, as we got closer and closer to Sydney the gaps seemed to get shorter and shorter although less severe. We were just docking when the first hit but Andrew did super quick parking as the wind went from 5 to 35 knots in a few seconds. The bar on the south entrance to the Sandy Straights is said to be one of the hardest, although we weren't sure why this is other than you have to turn halfway through, we had a super sail through and made it to Mooloolaba, just north of Brisbane the following night.

Mooloolaba was a great spot, very upmarket with man made waterways and huge waterfront homes - the sort of place I really didn't think we'd like as it was so commercialised but it was only commercial in a Queensland kind of way and we loved it so stayed a week, swimming off the beach on the ocean side every morning and eating fabulous seafood. We decided to skip Brisi as we'd been there before and went outside of Moreton Island heading towards Yamba or Southport depending on how long the weather gave us. Late the next evening we decided to round cape Byron and push onto Yamba, this was quite a night, the weather forecasters got it wrong and we had really tough conditions which the died the next morning as we approached the coast again. We found ourselves drifting becalmed with dolphins swimming all around us while we waited for the tide to enter the Clarence river. Yamba was a real outpost, we met the kindest and strangest people here, drank beers with fishermen in neighbouring Iluka, got lifts around town in the back of a van and got told off by NSW maritime for venturing too far from our yacht in our tender.

Coffs Harbour was our next stop after another beating and even more dramatic parking by Andrew as the wind whipped accross the marina - after no marina berthing for years he was now getting quite good. Luckily two fellas who had followed us from Yamba in a tinnie (approx 5m tin dinghy with no protection) were there to take our lines. Next morning the same pair returned to find their boat sunk, we got out every line we had and lent them nearly all our fenders to try and get the boat to float enough to bail it, with some help from a local fisherman and none from the water police they dragged the boat to the shore and we bailed it and tried to save a little of their stuff in the end we dragged them off to the pub. It turned out to be the bilge pump syphoning back into the boat - what a shame, at least they were insured. The next night a yacht race from Sydney to Southport diverted due to bad weather, at 2am we had a load of very scared new neighbours that had been out in a gale in their lightweight Sydney Harbour boats. The weather was so bad and the marina so unprotected we couldn't bear to spend another night on board so we went off to a lovely B&B inland a little for the night, the couple that run it turned out to be would be cruisers so came down the next night to see R2 and took us out for dinner. We eventually broke free from Coffs after filling my new camera with pictures of ugly seas and grey skies.

We had a fantastic trip down to Port Stephens, with the best dolphins we have seen in a long time - loads and they stayed for ages doing the biggest flips and spins. Port Stephens is one of the most beautiful spots we have taken R2 in Australia - the Coast Guard told us as we arrived that they call in Dutch country and that was a good likeness. They had free moorings we took until our friend the wind blew up and made them uncomfortable, so off we went to find a quiet anchorage. We dropped the hook and settled down to make lunch, then we saw smoke! As Andrew investigated found more than smoke - flames. I packed the evacuation bag then Andrew let a fire extinguisher off in the cockpit lazerette where the flames were. Gosh we were so lucky.... it turned out to be the regulator for the wind generator, it shorted out, set on fire and then burned out much of the contents of the locker including electric wires, drain hoses, GPS antenna, nav lights and fenders but just missed the gas hose. And what a mess. A bit shaken up we found a spot in the most expensive marina we have ever been to but they did bring us newspapers, coffee, cocktails, lend us a car and have marble bathrooms! We were now just over 2 hours by car to Sydney so really considered leaving R2 in this fab spot - as if you paid for 2 months it was quite reasonable. But Andrew worked hard and we cobbled things together to make the trip to Sydney.

We arrived in Sydney two days later - just as the next southerly hit - typical. We therefore nipped up into the Middle Harbour to R2's new home on a mooring buoy at Cammeray Marina and left exploring the city on our boat until the next weekend.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Aussie Road Trip 2

After the cool and quiet of the hills we were fancying a bit of beach fun so headed to Yuragir National Park. On the way we made a short stop in McLean - Australia’s Scottish town, all the telegraph poles and lamp posts have different tartans painted on them, there are Scottish shops and the butcher even sold haggis. The town is right on the lake and if wasn’t for the fact it was about 35 we could have felt as if we were in Scotland. We head to the National Park and drove down about 10 kms of rough road and found ourselves in the completely magical spot of Sandon River. The camping area looked pretty ordinary on first impressions, but after we explored a little we found we were in paradise. We had a spot looking right onto the beach, at low tide there was an island just off the entrance to the river which was covered in pelicans. The river itself was as the back of the camping area and was extremely tidal. At the change of the tide we launched our kayak and had a beautiful leisurely push up stream through channels gorged in the sandbanks. Around us was the wildest scenery, all mountains, dry landscapes with the occasional area of mangroves. We took a picnic and landed on an island up stream for lunch - we felt like this was real Australia.

That night we got chatting to our neighbors and ended up being invited for drinks with Joan the ‘Mayoress’ of the campsite and her friends and family. Joan lived about 20 mins away but had been coming to Sandon River for the whole summer for practically her whole life, she was missing a few teeth and enjoyed homebrew made by her husband Bill in large quantities. It turned out that the whole group - about 12 people just move to the beach in their caravans/tents for the summer - some even go to work from there. We had two fabulous nights and then decided it was time to move on. Our next night was even stranger, we went to Crowdy Bay National Park in search of Koalas but instead found nuddie running, moonshine drinking cowboys. There was supposed to be showers at this place so after we put the tent up I went off in search, the spot called Indian Heads was deserted apart from a lot of Kangaroos and one large group with lots of utes and boats around their camping area playing loud music. I walked by the group nervously, but I should have remembered that I was in Queensland, as I was greeted by a really friendly bunch and one guy showed where the shower was. Later that evening after dinner Andrew and I kept getting different visitors from the group and in the end they invited us down. So off we went drinks in hand and met about 5 families that were camping for the weekend, they were farmers from inland and had loads of kids. Not long after we arrived out came the moonshine, Andrew having a chemical background was very dubious but we both tried a little and it was actually alright with a lot of coke. Next the conversation turned to another activity, nudie running! I was terrified when a middle aged man stripped off to nothing but hat and boots and started chasing poor kangaroos while the others shone a flashlight on his arse - this is country living for you!

We were both in need of a bit of luxury after the last few days so we decided our next stop would be in the boutique wine growing region, the Hunter Valley. After a lot of negotiation we managed to strike a bargain deal to stay in one of the nicest hotels in the region. The station wagon loaded with all our worldly belongings pulled in to the driveway of Peppers Convent, along the avenue through the vineyards to the turning circle complete with fountain - this was perfect. We were so spoiled, we got all dressed up, had champagne and canapés before going to diner at Roberts, a fantastic French restaurant on the same estate. Next morning we had the longest breakfast before spending a few hours chilling out in the spa. Life was good!!

Getting right in to the tourist trip now, our next stop was the Blue Mountains. We skirted round the edge of Sydney, nearly running out of petrol about 30 kms from the nearest town when luckily there was a truck stop which charged twice as much as a normal garage but we were so relieved we didn’t care. Our first night in the Blue Mountains was as Glenbrook just inside the park, we did a short hike and found the Nepean river where we took a swim underneath staggering cliff faces in the most clean tranquil spot. We drove 10kms down unmade roads and then hiked to find the Red Hand Caves - famous aboriginal hand prints - we were less than impressed by prints that looked like a two year old had done them - but who are we to comment!? Next to Katoomba, the tourist hub of the Blue Mountains, we did a great hike right out into the middle of the park to Mount Solitary. We stood on the top and looked back at the famous Three Sisters and the blue shimmering eucalyptus trees all around. Unfortunately a lot of the park was inaccessible due to damage caused by forest fires so we decided to cut short our trip and head back to the central coast. Here we spent a couple of nights at the beautiful Boudi National Park before heading to lake Macquarie to catch up with our sailing friends Paul and Liz who we last saw in the Canaries.

Paul & Liz returned from cruising a few months before after selling their yacht Amaranth in America, they live in a beautiful house that they designed themselves on the banks of lake Macquarie. It was wonderful to see them again and exchange all our stories. We spent a few days with them taking full advantage of their kind hospitality. They took us on a city tour of Sydney before leaving us to defend for ourselves in the big city for two days before we flew back to the UK for Christmas.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Aussie Road Trip 1

It’s now a week since we set off on our road trip. Our last day in Bundy was a fuelled by a few too many drinks the night before with our sailing friends and resulted in us just chucking everything we could in the back of the car to be sorted out later! We have a lot of stuff as we decided to take our inflatable kayak with us (just in case we get withdrawal symptoms from being off the water), we are also going to N England for Xmas, New Zealand in Feb -this all means a lot of shoes!! We managed to get away about 3pm and after a quick trip to Woolworths to booster our camping supplies we were on the road. First stop about 2 hours south of Bundy in a place called Howard. A nice little campsite but a bit near the main road for us, although we did meet Lindsay in his ‘big rig’ - this is a coach that has been turned into a home - Lindsay had a coach complete with trailer for his 4x4, washing machine, study, fitted bathroom and parrott!! This is a whole new world! Lyndsay and his wife run their business from the coach and travel around Australia - he gave us loads of good advice on things to do and see and we left Howard really excited about our forthcoming trip.

Mount Tambourine was our next stop. Everyone we met in Queensland told us we had to visit this beautiful area just inland from the Gold Coast. It was good advice as it really is lovely and the town is really quaint and cute. As we arrived in the area we called in at pub for a bit of lunch - this pub held cane toad races every Sunday, had alpacas in the garden and menu items that included crocodile and kangaroo. We felt like we had arrived in Australia. Our campsite in Mount Tambourine was right alongside a gorgeous creek, it was Saturday and was absolutely packed with Australian families having a great time. We read their was a nice walk down the creek so donned our boots and off we went. We realized this wasn’t a real hiking area when we reached the carpark and saw women in heels and dresses heading for the same walk - the pathway was all paved but the views of the gorge were just lovely and we managed to sneak off the path to find some fish poachers downstream drinking whisky - nice chaps though! We eventually found some more remote walking areas in Tambourine but we have realized that walking in Australia is very different to the UK. The countryside here is so wild you dare not leave the path and there are no old established trails like we have.

For a bit of a reality check, after leaving Mount Tambourine we headed to the gold coast. Wow! This is like miami (not been but how I imagine it) all high rise buildings, glitz and cheesiness everywhere - it had to be seen to be believed. We didn’t stop long as friends Darren & Annie on Ripple II had been towed into a nearby marina with engine probs so we stopped by to see how they were doing - in true Aussie fashion they were not letting the engine troubles spoil their celebrations on arriving home! We left them after Darren wound Andrew up over the cricket and found our way back in land to the calm of Lamington national park.

The drive into the park is amazing in itself, a journey you think will take no more that half an hour takes more than double, the roads a twisty turning mountain roads with cliff edge sides but the views were amazing as you drive from one side of the mountain range to the other. The park itself is about 3000 metres above sea level. We went to the Green Mountain section where O’Reilly’s guest house is the famous point with is treetop walk through the rainforest. We were a bit suspicious as how these Irish farmers ended up with a prime bit of land in the middle of the National Park - but the marketing guys have had a field day and they are now building holiday homes up there. Anyway, enough rambling we tucked ourselves in a great corner of the national park campsite, together with billions of Pademelons (little wallaby type creatures), loads of brightly colored parrots and these amazing Satin Bowerbirds (they collect anything blue for their nests - one we saw had loads of pepsi merchandise and even a blue flip-flop). We did two days of full hiking around the park. The first day was beautiful unspoiled rainforest with over eighteen waterfalls on the way back - and we missed some out because quite frankly waterfalls are boring now!!! (Listen to me!) The second day we dropped down into a beautiful creek and walked though amazing Antarctic beech forests (these trees grew in the Antarctic and ended up being in Australia when the land split away and have adapted to grow in the rainforest - they are huge and have several trunks in one tree). Just over halfway round the circuit walk we came across a beautiful guana (big black lizard) so stopped to take a picture, as we walked around the next corner I let out a big gasp and stopped dead - right across our path was the biggest snake I have ever seen, (including in zoos and on tv) it was over 2m long and sunning itself right on the path with no way round. Andrew’s response was first lets take a photo! Anyway we survived and managed to scare it off by stamping our feet. We had our picnic lunch on a rock in the river away from where snakes could get us and quickly walked out of the park. It turned out not to be poisonous but we still wouldn’t like to meet it again.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Trial Camping Trip

Carolyn prepares lunch - outside our new home!
Kangaroos woke us up bouncing around outside the tent the next morning.
We tried our hand at surfing at Agnes Water - the professional surfers didn't seem to mind us in histerics trying to catch waves on Jon & James' body boards! We were exhausted and half drowned by the end of the afternoon but on a spot like this you just had to have ago.

A morning stroll on the beach with only pelicans for company.

Bundy Pics

Andrew receives the Port to Port rally award 'Spirit of the Event' for supporting Dallandra on passage when Ron had a kidney stone - luckily the stone went away but Robyn was very relieved to have us on standby so nominated Andrew for the award.

Our first trip outside of Bundy took us to Elliott Heads beach where we had a great picnic and swam in the sea for the first time since Fji. The beach was deserted and beautiful. If this is just an ordinary Aussie beach I'm excited.

It's sugar cane harvesting season in Bundaberg. This year the cane here has a bug so they are having to burn the leaves etc before harvesting - the fires are amazing but the bits of black stuff all over the boat is not!

Our new car! Freddy the ford has taken Andrew's attention from fixing R2 as he's been servicing the car and getting him ready for our trip south. We bought some cheap camping stuff and have been on a trial camping trip this week.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Turtle Eggs

We had an awesome night on Sunday. We went to Mon Repos, a turtle rookery just along the coast from the marina. We had a talk from the park ranger, then waited. At just after 7am the rangers had spotted a turtle on the beach, we waited a short while until she had dug her nest and then we were shown down to the beach with the researchers to witness her lay her eggs. We were just a few feet from her and watched as she laid 106 eggs. Her eyes look like she is crying but it's just her regulating her eyes while out of the water. She was one of only 700 loggerhead turtles reproducing in Australia and one of the first to arrive at Mon Repos this season. After she had finished laying eggs she buried them and turned towards the sea, oblivious to us watching her she made her way back to the ocean to return in 15 days. After she had swum off the researchers dug up the eggs to count them- they can move them within 2 hours of being laid and they even allowed us to touch them - they were like squidgey ping pong balls. Only 1 in 1000 baby turtles make it to adult. She was 96 cm long and weighed 100 kgs. What a special experience!

Monday, November 06, 2006

ReVision II Down Under

Some 12,000 nautical miles after leaving Spain a year ago we have arrived in Australia. We have spent more than 140 days at sea and vistited more than 40 countries or islands.

Yesterday morning just after dawn we completed our approach to Bundaberg in Queensland. It's really exciting to be here. Will update more later.

Here's a picture of us just prior to arriving taken by Robyn aboard Dallandra

Friday, November 03, 2006


In the last couple of months there has been a few times when I have really wondered what we are doing out here - worrying about cyclones, sleepless nights on anchor watch, horrid weather.... Today, however we have had a unreality check (if there is such a thing), it is just the most beautiful perfect day. We have had amazing weather since getting clear of Vanuatu with lovely sailing but today has just been one of those days dreams are made of. The sea is flat calm, the sky is completely clear and there is only about 6 knots of wind. We motored a little this morning, but then had a better idea. We bought a spinnaker (big coloured sail for the non sailors) from a guy in Raiatea for £50 and have never even had a good look at it. Out it came and we managed to set it up and had fab time playing around with it. We got it set and R2 just loved it, being gently pulled along by this huge parachute, but sitting flat and right on course at 5 knots - we were so chuffed with ourselves. We had a celebratory beer and then sat down to enjoy our lunch. Yesterday we caught a lovely little yellow fin tuna, so we had a fillet each coated in sweet chilli sauce, coconut and sesame seeds then seared and served with salad - basically a free lunch and it was delicious. We sat looking out at the ocean rippling along and the spinnaker bouncing ahead and just said wow this is why! ReVision II's position 0400 GMT 3 November 2006 22 degrees 25 mins South, 155 degrees 49 mins East - 233 miles to Bundaberg.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Blue Skies and Fair Winds

At 00:30 GMT on Thursday November 2nd ReVision II was at 20 Deg 38 Mins South and 158 Deg 11 Mins East with 403 miles to go to Bundaberg. We have had four days of perfect sailing with blue skies and light winds. It's been several months since we have had anything like this. The boat is going well and we were relieved to navigate our way through a series of outlying reefs during the night without incident. We are now crossing an area which is at the bottom of the great barrier reef so there are lots of hazards to watch out for even though most of the time the water if 3000 metres deep. We caught a nice Mahi Mahi on the first day and then a small yellow fin tuna yesterday so we are not going hungry. We didn't buy any food in Vanuatu as we know that Australian customs will confiscate most produce on arrival so we are working our way through the ships stores. Our friends Ron and Robyn on Dallandra, a 47 foot ketch from New Zealand are only a few miles away and we are in touch by radio. Other friends Chris and Karyn on Magic Carpet are a day in front and we will be having a big party in Bundaberg as they are completing a circumnavigation. Yesterday we were able to make contact with our old friends on Kika, Zefrin, Ragtime and Noa who are all on route to New Zealand. It was great to speak to them all. It's still amazing to us that we can speak to people on their boats a thousand miles away with our HF radio. We're hoping the weather holds out so that we can make landfall on Sunday.

Monday, October 30, 2006

On way to Oz

As Cyclone Xavier managed to turn full around and head off in the other direction we were able to breath a sigh of relief. It had come within a hundred miles of us and for some time looked liked we might get a direct hit. Fortunately the weather has settled again and on Sunday morning we left Port Vila making for Port Bundaberg in Australia some 1008 miles to the South West. There are about 30 boats taking part in the Port 2 Port rally including ourselves and already we spread all over the place. We did see one yacht for most of last night before we passed them by. Nothing seen today, Monday but blue skies...can't remember a day like this for several months. At 05:50 GMT On Monday October 30th ReVision II was at 18 Deg 16 Mins South and 164 Deg 53 Mins East with 809 miles to go.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Cyclone approaching Port Vila

We are still here in Port Vila in Vanuatu. We have been pretty busy experiencing Vanuatu and monitoring the weather for the last week. We went for a village feast on Friday which was one of the most amazing experiences of our trip so far. We went with some other cruisers and were met from our taxi by the village caller - a man dressed in a grass skirt, full war paint and calling on a conch shell to announce our arrival in the village. We met with Alick, who had arranged the visit and he explained that in the old days the call was for intruders and alerted the village to attack but now they accept visitors and we were quite safe! Although in many ways Vanuatu has adopted western ways you are very much aware that the ‘past’ is not that long ago and the ‘kastom’ or traditional life is only a little way beneath the surface or still prevailing in some parts of life here. We entered the village and were welcomed by the Chief. We were given a coconut to drink. The villagers were all dressed in traditional grass skirts, flowers, leaf garlands and body paint. They all smiled nervously at us but made us very welcome. The men were then invited to drink Kava, which they had to down in one. It makes your mouth numb then your legs if you drink enough. Traditionally women cannot even see the kava being prepared let alone drink it, but they allowed us to try it - not really my thing but an experience. The village we were in was a group from the neighboring island of Tanna who had come to Efate to earn money to send back to their island. They explained that when they are in their own village life is very different and strictly in line with traditional kastom ways, so for example women wouldn’t drink kava. People from Tanna are especially famous for turning their back on modern influences. They have a very special dance called the Toka dance which is usually only performed at an annual 3 day festival called Nekowiar where the villages of the island come together to make alliances and arrange marriages. This village had been given special permission to perform the Toka dance outside of Tanna and we sat and watched an amazing spectacle of men chanting, bamboo poles being rustled together and passionate singing.
After the dance the men were taken off with the warriors and us women went with the village women to serve the food. The food, laplap which roughly translates to pudding, had been cooked under ground wrapped in banana leaves with hot rocks. It is basically a lot of root vegetables and some meat cooked in coconut milk - it really is absolutely delicious. After dinner we had more dancing. The women and children joined in and invited us too. Andrew had a little boy called Rubin and I had a little girl called Joanna who held our hands tightly for the duration of our attempt to join in, which left us exhausted. The children didn’t let go of our hands until we left and Joanna gave me part of her feather headdress. It really was a very special evening and we felt very honored. The next day we took some gifts to Alick for the villagers.

They have fantastic little buses here which you just hop in and say where you want to go - the driver then finds a route for all the travelers it only costs about 50p and it’s really fun. We went down the south of the island to a village called Mele where they have a cultural centre which was really interesting. We learned all about the history and kastom of Vanuatu along with a lot of tales which we found terribly funny but which the locals believe. Black magic is a really big influence here and even more so on the island of Ambrym, we have noticed the local people really believe this and we have to try hard to respect their views. The history of cannibalism here is pretty horrid as is some of the traditions such as burying people alive - women with the husbands if they died before them, unwanted children, elderly people, sick people etc. When one chief died he was buried with 40 family/villagers who were alive. They also had practices such as knocking out a women’s front teeth to make her more beautiful, bringing up an illegitimate child until he was 13 and then hanging and eating him. The last ‘reported’ case of cannibalism was in 1969 so the government doesn’t really like it discussed as many ‘flesh eaters’ are still alive. There is a lot of joking about it though; the local beer adverts says ‘who’s on the menu?’ and there are tourist t-shirts of cooking pots with people in. I could go on forever but one last strange thing for now - there is a village here that believes Prince Philip is their Chief, they worship him and await the day that he will return to Vanuatu!

We have also done some great snorkeling here, had snakes around our necks, held and eaten coconut crab, spent hours wandering around the 24 hour market and been to see all the sights of Port Vila including the President’s residence, a pink court house and a some interesting churches.

We hoped to fly down to Tanna to see the active volcano there but unfortunately the flights were full. As it happens we could have gone later as we are still here because a cyclone has developed currently 200 miles north east of us. We joined up with a rally heading to Bundaberg in Australia which was supposed to leave on or after 23 October but that day cyclone Xavier made it’s appearance and is currently heading our way. We have prepared the boat best we can and are on a mooring in a pretty protected harbour but are very anxious to see what the next few days will bring.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Halo from Port Vila

After a fast and frenzied trip from Fiji we arrived in Port Vila in Vanuatu on Wednesday October 18th. We dropped anchor at 0300 after picking our way in by radar and computer glad to get out of biggest seas we've seen since we left a year ago. We've caught up on our sleep and started exploring. We are going to a village tonight for a feast cooked in an umu (oven in the ground) and to drink Kava. Hopefully it's not us who are on the menu as the last recorded canabalism here was as recent as 1969 (not sure when the last unrecorded canabalism was). Its a very different place to anywhere else we have been where black magic and ancient tradition is still very strong. We are looking forard to seeing as much as we can whilst we are here but are watching the weather carefully as we will head to Australia as soon we get a window. Cyclone season is approaching fast so not much time to hang around.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Departure from Fiji

After a few more days enjoying Savusavu our new belt for our autopilot arrived and we headed out on route to Lautoka on Vitu Levu the main island in the group. The route to Lautoka took us back out into the ocean for a few miles, then in through a reef pass to a route behind the reef along the south side of Vanua Levu where we made our first stop in a huge mangrove bay. We met up with Chris & Jim on 12th Night here but they stayed put when we left early the next morning. The reef routes are fairly well marked but when a marker is missing it really through's you so we had to pay careful attention. We had to cross a wide expanse of water called Bligh water where the wind really whipped up but we had a fast sail across right on the wind. The reef pass on the other side had our hearts in our mouths as we could only find one marker so had to feel our way in with depth readings and gut feel against a 3 knot current and 25 knot winds - very relieved we put into the nearest anchorage. We took a rest but were woken by a German boat calling us on the radio to say our anchor was dragging, this was all we needed but off we went to reset it putting out all 80 metres of our chain this time. We invited the Germans for a drink but just as we were expecting them R2 was off again, the mud was a bit too gloopy and the gusts were pretty strong 40 knots plus matched with a current setting us side on in between gusts, so drinks on standby we had to reset the anchor, launch the dinghy and set a second anchor. We finally got a good holding but it still leaves you a bit nervous for a good night sleep. Next morning we were off again, now running along the north coast of Vitu Levu with green hills rolling inland and reef all around with occasional little atolls on the outer reef. The autopilot decided to fail again, Andrew quickly realised the gearbox was broken which must have been what caused the belt to snap before luckily we had the right contact and immediately arranged for it to be sent to Lautoka. This meant the next two days of hand steering as we were under motor - not tough just boring. The next night we found a lovely little creek to anchor up in, just us and birds - a bit like Newtown Creek on the Isle of Wight. We managed to find an unmarked coral clump right in the middle of the bay which we closely missed after 'full engine astern'! We sat and chilled with a G&T that night all relaxed - only 30 miles to go. Another early start, and before we knew it we worked our way through the outer islets and into Lautoka. Wow how completely horrid it was - I'm sorry but it really was just minging, we took one look at the anchorage with smoke from the Sugar Factory pouring out and oil floating all over the water and immediately headed further south. A low was forcast to pass over the island group so we decided we deserved a treat and headed into the Marina at Vuda point - this was more like it! A white lie to customs - 'yes, the boat is just out there' when we went to Lautoka to clear in and all was well. We had four lovely nights at Vuda, which had a great little yacht club. Next door was the First Landing Resort where Prince Charles stayed earlier this year - good enough for him then we thought we ought to pay a visit so in we popped took full advantage of the facilities (for free of course) and they were so kind to us we decided to stay for dinner. It was lovely, all lit by lanterns - really romantic. That was until we got chatting to some locals on the next table who it turned out worked for customs when we said we were leaving for Vanuatu next morning and they'd see us to clear us out - oops we already did that earlier in the day.... a quick exit with no further chat and we left Fiji next morning. The trip started in flat calm, within the reef, clear skies all was well. As we approached the pass we could see lots of white stuff - on we went and found surfers having alot of fun, but we were trying to go the other way. Progress was slow but we made it through and got out into a pretty big ocean swell as we left the island behind the wind got stronger and stronger until we had a steady 40 knots with gusts on top - heavily reefed down we speeded along holding on very tight - we stuck with it as the forecast showed reduction which eventually started just after midnight. It was probably some of the roughest conditions we've been in and don't want to go back in a hurry. Now we are gently rolling along with just over 200 miles to go to Vanuatu. Position 0140 GMT Monday 16 Oct 17 degrees 58 South 171 degrees 55 East

Friday, October 13, 2006

Leaving Fiji

We are setting off for Vanuatu today. We've had a great time in Fiji - more to follow.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fijian Hospitality

We are adapting to life in Fiji very quickly. Yesterday we hired a car to explore the island but only drove it about 30 miles. We ventured out of Savusavu, drove through some amazing villages, all very neat and orderly with smiling faces waving at us. Tourism is very limited on the island of Vanua Levu so white faces are very unusual to the people here. We went in search of Nakasa village where we had heard there was a good waterfall. After taking directions from many villagers along the way we found the completely overgrown track we had to follow, we parked up after our nerves couldn’t take any more and hiked the rest of the way down to the river. We couldn’t raise anyone in the village so walked out behind the village in search of the waterfall. After hiking for half an hour through dense rainforest we decided we needed help so headed back to the village. We met Carla and three of her children washing clothes in the stream, she was very excited to meet us and said her husband would take us to the waterfall. He was out hunting wild pigs so she called out for him in a big whooping noise (no need for mobile phones in Fiji), a few minutes later Seca fell through the bush on the other side of the river. Seca hiked up to the waterfall with us and we all swam in the pool, the boys jumped in off the rocks. The fall was beautiful and the area around it completely rugged and unspoiled. We returned to the village, collecting coconuts on the way. Carla had prepared food and drinks for us when we got back and dressed in her best clothes. Seca prepared coconuts, the children cuddled up with me and we had a feast of local vegetables. Seca invited us to drink Kava -(the local grog with him but we have heard it makes you very sleepy and numbs the mouth so declined as Andrew had to drive. Seca only drinks Kava on special occasions but smokes special Fijian tobacco. He told us many Fijians drink Kava all the time and it makes them lazy. Seca and Carla were certainly not lazy, they were building their house when they could buy materials from selling vegetables, Seca also worked on the family farm and was a fisherman. We had a lovely time with them and left about 4pm.
On the way back to Savusavu we stopped in a very different village, this village was obviously very wealthy as the houses were immaculate and the villagers dressed well. We chatted with the villagers a while and were invited to stay but had to return the car. We took a picture and when we showed the villagers one of the ladies was so excited she hugged me. Our day was very special and we felt so welcome in Fiji.

Monday, October 02, 2006


We have finally got over the trip down to Fiji, caught up on sleep, done the laundry and dried out the boat - all the glamorous stuff taken care of and R2 feels like our home once again. We are in Savusavu which is a small one street town on the island of Vanua Levu, the second largest island, in the north of the island group. We are currently on a buoy off the Copra Shed Marina which is a really cute little low key yachting development. The town itself is very simple and pretty poor - quite run down in some places but the people are very warm and kind yet again. It is very different to anywhere else we have been, probably a bit like the Caribbean 20 years ago. Fiji is interesting as the people are either the indigenous Fijians or Indians, the two groups do not appear to mix much and they look very different and obviously have very different cultures. The Indians are fourth or fifth generation descendents of laborers brought from India to work on the plantations, the Indo-Fijians have adapted to life in Fiji in many ways but remain Indian with many of the women wearing traditional dress, Islam and Hindi being the second and third religions here and curry features very prominently on the menu boards. The Fijians have lovely big afro hair and wear Polynesian style dress that we have become familiar with plus the odd England football shirt or two thrown in for good measure.

The weather has stayed a bit wet so we have not done a lot of exploring yet, other than the yacht club bar and the town. The food here is fantastic and really cheap so it’s great not to have to cook on board but not so good for the waistline. We have got a cruising permit so hope to cruise around and do some snorkeling and maybe diving if the weather gets better this week.

Picture of our arrival in Fiji!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Bula from Savusavu

After 4 rain and wind lashed days the drowned rats aboard R2 pulled into Savusavu in the Fiji Islands today. Its fair to say we are glad that the last 600 miles are behind us and that we will be at the front of the queue at the yacht club bar this evening for happy hour. Busy mopping up as best we can at present although as the rain continues to pour it's not proving to easy. More later...

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Drowned Rats

The crew of R2 are officially drowned rats after 3 days of torrential rain and squalls since shortly after leaving Samoa headed towards the Fiji Islands. Today, Thursday 28th September has brought the first improvement in the weather so that we could update the blog. The winds have finally moderated a little and the sea has begun to calm. We have 160 miles to go to Savusavu and hope to make landfall tomorrow, which will be Saturday as we will cross the international dateline tonight. We are looking forward to arrival and drying out. At 19:00 GMT on September 28th R2 was at 16 Deg 19 Min South and 178 Deg 12 Min West.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Talofa Lava from Apia

After eight days of glorious weather and perfect sailing conditions we started to make our finalapproach to Apia, the capital of Samoa. The trip was probably one of the best we have ever had, we had 15 knots of wind just off the quarter, blue skies, clear nights with an amazing moon and gentle waves rolling us along. On our final day we passed the halfway round the world mark from the point we left Punta Ala in Italy just over a year ago - that was cause for a little celebration. We had thought we were going to have to stand off the entrance as our arrival time was going to be night, but the wind picked up just enough for us to arrive on the afternoon of 13 September. There was some thunder squalls around us on our last night, but in the distance so we had been keeping an eye on them but they didn’t come close, that was until we were making our way in! The entrance is pretty straightforward but no buoyage just leading lights on the hill that you had to line up, the reef on either side of the entrance was fierce with breaking waves. Out of nowhere the squall hit us, reduced our visibility to less than a boat length and slammed us with 45 knots of wind. There was no way we could continue as we were not sure how good our chart was and could not see the leading lights. So Andrew turned R2 around and put the engine on full revs taking us out along the track we came in, the sea picked up really quickly and we could only make about a knot against the huge waves. We had to rely totally on our GPS, which at one point told us we were going towards the reef when we were steering away from it because the wind and sea was pushing us. It was really scary and I sat inside monitoring our position screaming it to Andrew every few seconds, while he stood out in the elements being battered by torrential rain and breaking seas - he always gets the short straw. The squall eased a little and we called friends in the harbour on the radio who said it was calm in there and we turned around again and motored in at full speed to calm waters to be greeted by lots of boats we knew. We found a great spot to anchor and got out the beers!

We spent out first night catching up with friends, unfortunately Sandy on Zefrin was not well so they were there which was good for us as they had planned to leave a few days earlier, Noa arrived later in the afternoon with Kika making a night entry around midnight. Next day we cleared in which was easy enough but we had to visit four different offices, but it meant we explored the town a little and met some lovely Samoans in the process.

Samoa is the last place on earth to see the sunset, being just east of the international date line. There are nine islands in the group, all of which are volcanic. Upolu is the most populated, where we arrived in the capital Apia. Samoa is famous for beautiful beaches, spectacular waterwalls, freshwater cave pools and tropical plantations. Robert Louis Stevenson spent the last years of his life here and was known by the locals as Tusitala - teller of tails. In the last century it has been governed by the Germans and New Zealand before becoming independent in 1962. So English is widely spoken as a second language although the culture is very much Samoan. The ‘faa Samoa’, the Samoan way of life resists the pressures of the rest of the world. The ‘Aiga’ the extended family stay close and loyal within the village and the ‘Matai’, the chiefs are well respected , the ‘Alii’ the high chief makes the laws for each village. Houses known as fale in Samoa are usually round or oval, with a high thatched roof supported by wooden posts, most do not have walls and you seen straight through. In Apia some houses have walls but are still very open. The local sports are rugby and cricket.

We hired a jeep for a day and went on a tour, we were side tracked by a hike to a lake in a crater which was amazing and we swam in Lanatoo lake which no-one has ever found the bottom of. Goldfish swam with us and it was so serene and beautiful after the hour hike through dense rainforest. We continued on our tour passing through many villages of groups of fale, we witnessed a women’s committee meeting, waved back at about a thousand people who saw us on our way. We went to the south to see the incredible white beaches and to the north through incredible rainforest, passing gorgeous gorges and waterfalls at every turn. As we headed back to Apia we spotted a Kiribati or cricket match so stopped and met the locals watching. It was cricket with singing and chanting in skirts! The batters waiting sing, the fielders chant and all this wearing the local attire of lava lava, a sarong. Nearly all men in Samoa where lava lava and the women wear the same with very conservative fitted tops that match.

That evening we decided to go in search of a curry house we saw as we left Apia that morning, we found it but they were only doing take-away, but that wasn’t a problem as the lady waiting for her food invited us to come and eat our food at her house with her family. Luna was the bubbliest kindest lady and made us so welcome. She lived in a huge and beautiful house within her family commune of about 20 acres, the house was full of children and relatives who all spoke perfect English. This was the other side of Samoan life. We ended up staying until gone midnight, putting the worlds to rights and learning all about Samoa. Luna’s great grandfather was William Masters who settled in Palmerston and took many wives and spread families around
the Cook Islands.

The next day was Sunday, an important family day in Samoa, so most of us cruisers stayed on our boats and relaxed, we met with Annie who writes for yachting monthly, so watch out for us in her blue water letter! Annie and Tevor invited us for drinks, which went into dinner and a great evening, they have been cruising for years so have many stories to tell.

Yesterday I went off shopping and for lunch with Ellen (Kika), Emily and Sophie (Zeffrin), while Andrew and Nick went off to do some boat errands and ended up in a bar playing pool with the locals including the mayor and a village chief. The fun carried on back to R2 where I cooked dinner last night and much wine was consumed. This is such an amazing place and we feel very at home. Lots more to see and do so another long blog to follow I feel.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Still on route to Apia

Position 14 deg 16 mins south and 165 deg 57 mins west at 18:17 GMT on Monday 11th September. We're still out here rolling along on our way to Apia, Samoa and have 338 miles to go. We have been joined in our trip by friends Nick & Ellen on Kika and Walter and Rita on Noa, they are north of us as they came from the Northern Cook Islands, but have the same distance to run so Nick is plotting us all on his 'geeky' program to see who does best each day. Amazingly we are in the lead at present but the German contingent on Noa are pretty speedy so we have to watch out for them. We also have a lovely family from Alaska aboard Nueva Vida about 30 miles away from us, we left Bora Bora together and kept VHF contact until we got too far apart from them. They have a boat a little larger but very similar to R2 so it is interesting to get their position reports. The winds have been nice and consistent and we've been having a nice trip so far. We are a bit anxious that we may run into a squally zone sometime soon as we know it's out there. For now we are enjoying it, spending our days reading, doing a few boat jobs and cooking. I am proud to say I have perfected my flapjacks at last - ridiculous that they've been such a problem but that's life - Andrew is pleased as if I use up the Muesli in flapjacks he doesn't have to have it for breakfast! Oh the excitement out here!!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Poisition report

At 0437 GMT on Saturday September 9th ReVision II is at position 15 Deg 08 Mins South and 159 Deg 44 Mins West with 703 miles to go to Apia Samoa. Today we finished off the last of our tuna so will start fishing again tomorrow. After a squally night we have had a beautiful day today with clear skies and light winds. All is well.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bye Bye Bora Bora

ReVision II finally left the Society Islands on Tuesday much to the disappointment of Captain and Crew. We are having a good sail so far and are heading towards Apia in Samoa. We are keeping a close eye on the weather which has been somewhat variable of late but so far we have had clear skies and steady winds. We hooked three fish today, firstly a huge sailfish which got free after a brief fight, then we managed to get a large Wahoo to the side of the boat but couldn't gaff it but finally we managed to land a nice Tuna of 8-10lbs which Carolyn is currently preparing for dinner tonight. The moon is full at present and is almost bright enough to read by so night watches are proving more popular than normal. At 0430 GMT on Thursday 7th September ReVision II was at 15 deg 59 mins South and 154 deg 54 mins West and we have 986 miles to go to Apia. More later.

ps just heard from another boat on passage that hooked a whale today but couldn't land that either !

Monday, September 04, 2006

Bora Bora

We finally left our friends at the Raiatea boat yard and village a few days ago and had a lovely trip up to Bora Bora. We motorsailed up to give the engine a really good test and all Andrew's hard work paid off as for the first time since we have owned R2 there was no oil leak and no overheating - we were very pleased! The view of Bora Bora was amazing as we got closer, the lagoon making the clouds above it green and the peaks standing tall, we were very excited as this was one of the places that started this trip for us. The entrance was straightforward and we headed into the clear waters of the lagoon in fantastic weather. We had heard that there was alot of development in Bora Bora so were a little worried that it wouldn't live up to our expectations. There are alot of hotels but the lagoon is so huge and they are mainly bungalows on the water so they don't spoil it too much. The main settlement only has two supermarkets and a few nic-nac shops and had a nice sleepy feel to it. We hiked through the rain forest to the middle of the island on our first day and took a baguette for a picnic on the top of the ridge looking out over the lagoon which was a perfect view. Yesterday we took R2 on a trip all around the lagoon passing through some pretty shallow coral passes which was quite scary but worth it as it was just incredibly beautiful. We have alot of friends here and there is a happy hour at the yacht club, which is great to meet up for a beer without breaking the bank. We had to buy a new outboard in Raiatea as the Honda was no more after it's trip in the lagoon in Rangiroa, so we've been having fun running Suzy in (sorry Suz but what else do you call a Suzuki?) We went snorkeling across the bay and it was quite nice but hope to get to see some of the really amazing coral on the south of the lagoon before we leave. Unfortunately the weather turned a bit and it has been torrential rain through the night and this morning, but it is still warm and we are still in Bora Bora! WOW!