Adventures

I have created this blog with the hopes that you, my friend, will follow me as I sail around the world (figuratively or literally, not sure yet) with my parents on their Contest 48. Whereas I hope to keep you updated with exciting adventures of exotic ports and epic waves, keep in mind that cruising - that is, traveling by boat in a leisurely fashion - tends to be filled with days of intense boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Please keep this in mind as you read these entries, for this platform will be just as much an attempt for me to maintain my sanity (and connection to the California-based world), as entertainment and reassurance for you. And so, follow me as I sail the world.

P.S. All material on this blog, words and photos alike, are copyrighted by me. Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. If you decide that this material is worth re-publishing, please give me credit and lots and lots of money.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Few Stats


Who has two thumbs and likes arriving in New Zealand? Thiiiss girrrll.


10 months 13 days, 10,351 miles and 6 countries later, we have arrived in New Zealand. GIGGITY!

There is a general atmosphere of euphoria on the docks here in Opua as sailboats arrive into the calm waters and safe port. Yes, we are all very stoked to be here.

A few stats:

10,351 miles -- well -- 8,995 nautical miles, but 10,351 land miles sounds better.

7 countries: Mexico, French Polynesia (Marquesas, Tuamotus, Society Islands), Cook Islands (Suwarrow), American Samoa, Western Samoa, Tonga (Vava'u, Ha'apai, Tongatapu), and New Zealand.

Top speed: 14 knots

Longest passage: Punta de Mita, Mexico to Hiva Oa, Marquesas -- 18 days, 4 hours and 2,700 nautical miles (approx.).

Nastiest passage: Bora Bora to Suwarrow -- 12-15 foot seas and 25-30 knot winds, 735 nm.

Highest winds: 38 knots -- bashing into from Cabo to Frailes in Baja, Mex.

Warmest water: 85.4 degrees.

Warmest temp recorded in the cabin: 101.5 degrees.

# of books read: 36. A few favorites -- "Shantaram" by Gregory David Roberts, "Pride and Prejudice" by Austen, "Call of the Wild" and "The Sea Wold" by Jack London, "White Tiger" by Aravind Aviga, "Wolf Hall" by Hillary Martel, "Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Twain, and "Getting Stoned with Savages" by Maarten Troost.

# of parasites contracted: unknown.

# of haircuts: 0, but I am in dire need of one.

# of times real shoes worn: 4.

# of different ports/anchorages visited: hella.

# of life-long friends made: hella.

Monetary value of a trip like this: PRICELESS.


Hahahaha... sorry... cheesy, I know, but I couldn't resist.

: )

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The "Favorites"

With less than 200 miles to go, we should arrive in New Zealand tomorrow! Woo hoo! Not that this passage has been bad, in fact I think it has been one of the easiest on the whole trip. Ironic, no? But it will be freaking sweet to be on land again, to have refrigerated foods again, to be able to walk around again, and, oh yeah, to be in New Zealand. Yes, it really is the little things in life.

Seeing as how I have nothing better to do, I will take this time to reflect on our voyage thus far. Someday I intend to post a map with our route on it, or some snazzy Google Earth interactive map or something, but in the meantime, use your imagination.

People always ask (and I am guilty of this too), "What was your favorite place?" This is an unfair question. Most places we have gone hold some sort of "favorite" for me. There was not one place that was head and shoulders above the rest. Of course there are places we visited that I liked more than others, but for the most part they were all pretty damn awesome. Let me list a few favorites:

Favorite surf: Punta de Mita and Putna Burros, Mexico and Irirru Pass, Raiatea (Society Islands). The beaches in Tahiti were good too.

Favorite food: A bomb-ass meal from Hotel Coral after surfing Punta de Mita all day, i.e. Mexican food. Polynesian food is definitely not my favorite.

Favorite snorkeling: West pass of Makemo, Tuamotus. Ha'ano island in the Ha'apai group of Tonga was pretty epic too. As was Perfect Reef in Suwarrow.

Favorite dive: Split Rock, Vava'u, Tonga.

Favorite stargazing: Out in the middle of the Pacific ocean with no land or lights around for 1,000 miles.

Favorite busses/drivers: American Samoa - particularly one bus driver who, when he pulled over to do a little shopping at a mini-mart along the route, bought Lars and me beers to drink along the way.

Favorite pineapple: Picked fresh from the pineapple farms in Moorea. I swear they were watered with sugar water or something.

Favorite mangoes: picked fresh from the side of the road in the Marquesas.

Favorite hike: the hike to the waterfall in Daniel's Bay, Marquesas. (This is ignoring the fact that I was eaten alive by no-nos and mosquitos.)

Favorite party: hmmmmm... this one is a toughy. I would have to say one of the parties on Slow Dance, although the Pub Crawl in Vava'u during the regatta week was super fun. The St. Patrick day party with the rock band and the giant trampolines in Mexico was sweet too.

Favorite rainbow: the most epic rainbow I have ever seen in the Bay of Virgins, Fatu Hiva, Marquesas.

Favorite coconut experience: with John and James on Suwarrow. Thanks to them I can pick a coconut, husk it, crack it open, and enjoy.

Favorite shark encounter: diving with the lemon sharks in Bora Bora.

Ok, I could go on and on, but I think that is sufficient for now. You get the picture. There are great things about every place we have visited. I feel like I should go on to describe a few of my least favorite experiences, just to balance things out, but maybe I will save that for a later post. I would also like to post a picture corresponding to every "favorite", but we will have to see how good the internet is in NZ (and how ambitious I am).

And so, next time, from Kiwiland!!
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At 10/26/2011 9:49 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 32°22.42'S 176°14.86'E

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 4/ 300-and- something

It it hard to believe that we have been "out to sea" for over 300 days, even if "out to sea" is not exactly the right phrase. I think if one added up our total sea time, or days under way, it would be about 10%. The rest of the time has been spent in idyllic ports. Not bad, eh?

At some point in the near future I am going to give a summary of my first season in the tropical Pacific. I say "tropical Pacific" because technically New Zealand is considered both part of Polynesia and the south Pacific - albeit the very south Pacific. But our arrival in NZ marks a new chapter in the story of this adventure. I have no idea what it is going to be like, but can't wait to find out.

The good thing is I should not have to wait very long to find out. We have been making great time with remarkable conditions: 15-20 knots of wind on the beam, making 6-8 knots consistently, fairly calm seas and sunny skies. In all seriousness I could not ask for better conditions. This leads me to believe that I owe you, the reader, an apology for bitching and complaining so much about the "horrible passage ahead." Granted, we are not out of the woods yet, but the forecast through the end of the week looks great. We should arrive in the port of Opua on Friday. I must admit we have been damned lucky with the weather (or lack thereof) this entire trip - even if it means that I do not have many salty tales to tell of savage storms and the like. I am OK with that.

I do, however, have many sweet tales to tell of, and intend to give a Cliff Notes version - if only for my own amusement (and memory) - in the coming day or two. It's not like there is too much else to do out here...
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At 10/24/2011 9:27 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 27°32.83'S 179°30.75'E

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day 2

Only 856 miles to go to New Zealand! Yes, I suppose that is quite a bit considering we are traveling at a speed of about 6 MPH, but we are on our way! The conditions are great right now - 14 knots of wind from the East, 1-2 meter seas... I couldn't really ask for anything better.

BUT, it is already cold. Yesterday it was 70 degrees and I had on a hoodie, slippers, was wrapped in a blanket and sitting in the sun, and I was freezing all day. The wind felt icy. I almost would have thought I was sick or something, but aside from being a bit seasick, I felt fine. Today it has cooled off even more to 68 degrees, but I am already acclimating and have come out from under wraps of the blanket. It is still going to be gnarly though.

OK, getting a bit queasy. Send us good vibes of fair winds and flat seas.

One correction: the passage from Nuku'alofa, Tonga to Opua, New Zealand is 1050 miles, not 1,300. Hooray!
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At 10/22/2011 7:18 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 22°40.51'S 177°19.81'W

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Got Something to Say

I think I have writer's block. Or I don't have anything to say. No - I have a few things on my mind but I am not sure where to begin. So I will just start writing. Sorry if it is incoherent or rambling or boring.

We were supposed to leave for New Zealand yesterday. Perhaps "supposed" is not the right word - we were planning to leave for New Zealand yesterday. The night before the forecast still looked OK, but by the morning the winds had increased to 15-30 knots coming from the direction we are headed (south west) and the seas were 4-5 meters. 15 foot seas are no fun, especially when bashing with high winds. So we decided to wait out the bad weather with the hopes that the next day or two will present us with a better window.

We are buddy boating to NZ with our friends on Sarah Jean, and it was a big decision for all of us to make to stay here. You just never really know how it is going to be out there. However, our decision was confirmed by a Kiwi boat that is just completing their circumnavigation with the final passage to NZ. They stopped by to chat and said that yes, they too are waiting for this weather to pass. In regards to the 30 knot head winds, the woman said, "Better up the ass than on the nose!" In terms of sailing, I couldn't agree more. She also said that this passage from Tonga to New Zealand is one of the most difficult in the world, the other being the passage from Madagascar to South Africa. Having sailed around the world, I believe her, although I am sure there are more I don't want to experience.

You meet all sorts of interesting people out here. A few days ago I met a Hungarian guy who, from 2006-2009, sailed around the world in a 19 foot boat. He was 26 years old when he started. He had all sorts of great stories and showed me pictures of the crazy places he has been, along with a book he wrote afterwards, but it is in Hungarian. He is young (30 is now young), good looking and single, but he turned out to be a little bit creepy. It's all good though... I still have a bit of a heartache for my Slow Dance amigo.

What is not all good is our refrigeration. Last time I wrote that our fridge crapped out but was maybe not broken. It is. This means that we have no refrigerator or freezer (freezer broke back in Vava'u). This means that we can't really prepare meals for the passage, which means that we will have to cook out there. Ugggg. I think we will be eating lots of ramen noodles. And crackers. Nothing cold to eat or drink until NZ. As for beer, we do not drink on passages so that won't be too much of a problem, but it's almost noon and I could go for a cold one now. (Just kidding.)

Speaking of cold ones, apparently it is f-ing freezing in New Zealand right now. Like, 50 degrees. Right now it is 80 degrees in the cabin and it is absolutely perfect. I have decided that 80 is the new 72. Although yesterday it was 90 degrees in the cabin all day, which was borderline sweltering. Fortunately I did not have to do too much... swim, watch a movie, read a book, make sushi... it was bearable. But this cold business? I don't know. We have been in the tropics since January. I have not slept with a blanket on my bed since we left Mexico. Shoes? Don't make me laugh. The only time I wear pants is to keep mosquitos away.

This is all going to change. Even though it is coming on summer in the southern hemisphere I have a feeling NZ is still going to be cold. If you look on a map, you will see that New Zealand is way the hell down there off Australia, damn close to Antarctica. Apparently there can be iceberg warnings in Auckland in the winter. Makes me cold just thinking about it.

And so, I have started digging out the old blankets, hoodies and slippers - all of which smell a bit musty after sitting in the dry bilge for nearly a year. I think I will need to do some serious shopping when we get to NZ. In the meantime, I think I will go for one last swim in this 80 degree, bright blue water that I am going to miss so much.
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At 10/20/2011 9:41 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 21°08.23'S 175°09.80'W

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Tongatapu


Birds eye view of Pangaimotu - arguably the nicest part of Nuku'alofa

Or as I like to call it, Tonga-poo-poo. Granted, a visit to the hospital, an "American" grocery store, customs and a cockroach infested cafe do not warrant a fair judgment of a city, but first impressions are everything. Right?

We arrived in Tongatapu Sunday evening after spending a night in "arguably one of the most idyllic islands in the South Pacific," according to our Tonga guide book. Yes, Kalafesia - the southern most island in the Ha'apai group - is the stereotypical deserted tropical island. It was a bit sketchy getting into the anchorage as the entrance to the lagoon is lined with sharp and shallow reef, and waves breaking on either side. It was no problem for us and we found a nice little spot to drop anchor for the night. Not all boats have been so lucky, as we found a mast on the beach that indicated that a boat sank there recently. Our friends on Sara Jean confirmed that a boat sank there last season. Oops.

We did not sink and had a lovely time beach combing and swimming. The snorkeling was not as good as in other places, but it was cool to be the only people on an island - Robinson Crusoe stylee... kinda. The only other evidence of life we saw was a dog, a few pigs, and chickens. I would like to think I could fare well alone on an island with companions like that, but I decided not to find out.

The other island we stopped at overnight before arriving in Tongatapu was Ha'afeva. I like the cruising style of doing little day sails down an island chain, stopping in places for a night or two. I mean, it's not my favorite way to cruise, but certainly better than doing a bunch of overnight passages. We were only in Ha'afeva for 18 hours, but this gave us time to go for a snorkel and check out an old fishing trawler that sank on the reef years back. It seems like there are a lot of wrecks in this part of the south Pacific. It is a bit disconcerting, but I think most boats are sunk during cyclones, which we are going to New Zealand to avoid.

The wreck was eerie and cool. There is something about swimming over and around a sunken boat that gives me the heebeejeebies (sp?), but also an adrenaline rush. The coolest part of the snorkel was that I found the most awesome shell I have ever found - a bright orange conch shell. I held onto it for about two hours before I managed to give it back to the ocean, one, because there was still a conch living in it, and two, because New Zealand customs will confiscate shells and marine life like that. I thought about smuggling it into the country, but, meh. I think I get a karma boost with the ocean.

Which brings us to Nuku'alofa, Tongapoopoo. The reason we went to the hospital was to visit a friend from a boat who got a serious staph infection in his leg. He and his wife were on their way to New Zealand and he got a fever of 105, so his wife turned the boat around and headed for the nearest hospital. Had she not he would probably not be alive right now.

The visit to the hospital was tough - not only to see Bill and his horrendous leg, but to see the state of health care in Tonga. The hospital was packed with screaming babies and sickly old people. The pharmacy was a shack in the parking lot. There were cockroaches everywhere. Sue, Bill's wife, told us that the families of the patients have to bring everything for the patient - including food, water, sheets... everything you would expect a hospital to provide. Sue told us that Bill is doing much better than he was a few days ago, gracias adios. Going to the hospital and seeing Bill made me so thankful and appreciative that my, my family and friends' health has been so good on this trip.

After the hospital visit we went to the market. I have come to realize that all the markets in the s.Pac are all more or less the same. Fruits and vegetables, baskets and other kitchy trinkets. We bought a few vegetables and then went across the street to an "American" market to buy some supplies. The market was dark and dusty, although they did have a few Kirkland Signature (Costco) products, which is always exciting. We bought a bunch of ramen instant noodles as that is the easiest hot meal on a passage.

After shopping we went to customs where they decided we had to pay a fine of 120 pa'anga because we did not check in the day we arrived - the prior evening. It is ridiculous that they make people check in in each group of Tonga. That would be like having to go to customs when doing interstate travel. What a bunch of BS.

Did I mention that our refrigeration died? Well, I don't know if it died, but it is not currently working. No fridge, no freezer. Warm beer. Shit. A guy is coming today to look at it, but we did not have access to the fridge yesterday. We were all hungry and went to a little cafe for lunch. There were cockroaches in all the corners and a few on the ceiling. The fish and chips were delicious.

As you can tell, Nuku'alofa is not a charming place. Fortunately we are anchored out at Pangaimotu, a little island a mile off the city. This is where the people who live in the city come for a nice afternoon. Big Mama's Yacht Club serves food and beer, has a pool table and free internet. There is also a sunken ship right of the beach which makes for cool snorkeling. This is a nice place, but I don't want to stay here longer than necessary. That being said, I don't really want to leave, because that means heading out on the 1,300 mile passage to New Zealand. Catch-22.

And so we wait. And do laundry, clean, tighten the rigging, and do everything else possible to prepare for what could be a very gnarly passage. But we are waiting for a weather window with the hopes that the passage won't be too gnarly. Vamos a ver. We will see.
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At 10/17/2011 7:15 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 21°07.51'S 175°09.79'W

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dear Diary

I usually try to avoid the "Dear Diary" crap in this space, but sometimes I can't help it. I have a heartache. I have been trying to stay busy and keep my mind occupied, but when things get quiet in the evening my mind starts to wander. Hence this post describing my attempt to keep busy.

Let's back up a bit. Sunday night Sean dropped me off at Rutea around midnight, and we pulled up the anchor and left Vava'u at 3:00 AM. That was not fun, although the passage from Vava'u to the Ha'apai was an easy 65 miles. We arrived at Ha'ano in the afternoon shortly behind Merkava, and after a celebratory safe passage drink with them, it was time to get in the water.

The snorkeling in Ha'ano was the best I have seen since the Tuamotus. The water was not super clear - only about 50 feet of visibility - but all the cool stuff to see was near the surface anyway. The reefs at Ha'ano are made of huge shelves of pristine coral of all different varieties: table top coral, sea fans, fire coral, soft corals... it goes on and on. The edges of the shelves drop off to about 40 feet, and the sheer walls of coral are home to all sorts of exotic sea creatures. There are also tons of caves and swim-throughs, but I was free diving so I didn't venture into too many. Yuka, of course, was in and out of all the nooks and crannies in the coral.

Perhaps the highlight of the snorkel, aside from the amazing coral, was our close encounter with a 3 foot coral banded sea snake. This snake is one of the most poisonous in the world, although it is unaggressive and its mouth is so small that it can only bite a human in the webbing between its fingers and toes. It was still kind of scary to be so close to.

Sea creatures can be scary - particularly when they are out of the water and do not want to be. We left Ha'ano the following morning, and I decided to put a line in the water and test my luck fishing. After breakfast I was cutting up a pineapple when I heard the line start to zzziing. I have become somewhat of a more adequate fisherwoman since Mexico, and was able to reel in a beautiful little mahi-mahi. I did, however, hide behind the life raft as the fish was flopping around on the deck and while Dad killed it. He was also kind enough to clean the fish... something I have yet to learn how to do. I like choosing a lure, I like reeling in a fish (until it gets too close), and I like eating fish, but I do not like killing or cleaning them. I think that is a blue job, anyway.

Just as the fish was all cleaned up we pulled into Pa'angai, the main city of Ha'apai. I stayed on the boat while Mom and Dad went into town and both checked in and checked out. Ha'apai is still Tonga, but they like to make cruisers jump through their bureaucratic hoops. We were in Pa'angai for less than an hour as it is not the most charming of towns. Then we headed for the anchorage we are in now, which unfortunately I do not know the name of.

When we arrived my friends from the boats Architeuthis and Sara Jean were here so we all spent the afternoon together. Since then we have done a ton of snorkeling, beach combing, music playing, and communal dinners. There is nothing like a nice group of friends to keep the blues away. However, this is where the other half of my heartache comes in. Tonight I said goodbye to Mark and Yuka from the boat Merkava, my best friends here in the South Pacific. Fortunately they are going to New Zealand also, but there is a good chance I will not see them for a month or two.

You see, Mom and Dad are very anxious to get to New Zealand. I do not understand the rush. We are going to be in NZ for plenty of time, and who knows when we will be back in Tonga? Perhaps never. Regardless, we are heading to Tongatapu to wait for a weather window to head down south to New Zealand at the end of the week. Merkava is on the slower track and will be hanging out around here for another few weeks. I shouldn't be complaining because I know I will see them again soon, but if you read back over my posts, most of them are of adventures with Merkava. It is going to be tough not to have them around for a while.

I know, I know, I am sorry to be so whiney recently. But I can't help it. A part of me feels like this trip is coming to an end with our arrival in New Zealand, although I know that it will be another adventure. I think I have just gotten comfortable here in the South Pacific and will be sad to leave it. I guess I had better start swimming or else I will sink like a stone, for times they are a changing.

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At 10/13/2011 1:42 AM (utc) Rutea's position was 19°50.94'S 174°24.95'W

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

S/V Slow Dance (and Friends)


The legit crew of Slow Dance

Last night I rejoined Rutea after spending a week on S/V Slow Dance, and I think it is going to take me another week to recover.

Slow Dance is an 80 foot luxury yacht with an owner, captain, chef and crew that work hard and play harder (although maybe it is the other way around). Being on Slow Dance was not only a ridiculous amount of fun, but it also gave me perspective on situation on Rutea. A win-win situation, really.

Boat/yacht/ship - whatever you want to call it - Slow Dance is one of the nicest I have ever been on. There are 3 generators on board to power all the electronics and toys you could want. There are 2 huge water makers to ensure that everybody can take hot showers every day. The stainless is brightly polished decks are spotless. The tender (dinghy) is fast and comfortable to mob around anchorages in. However, to maintain all these luxuries is a TON of work.

Sean (the captain), Suzy (1st mate), and BJ (2nd mate and Sean's brother) work their asses off every day to keep the boat running smoothly - or at least as smoothly as possible. Inevitably once one project - such as repairing a generator - is finished, the refrigeration goes out. Such is life on a boat, but the smaller and more bare bones the boat, (generally) the less there is to fix. But to cruise around in wealth and style is sexy and fun - especially for guests such as myself. And did I mention there is a live-aboard chef? Victoria is not only a very cool lady, but cooks delicious, fresh and healthy meals every day.

During the week I was on the boat a typical day goes as follows:
Sean gets up early, starts the generator and makes coffee for the crew. I roll out of bed around 8 (depending on the previous night's activities) and hang out in the cockpit playing guitar while everybody else chills out before starting a projects. After a few cups of coffee and some breakfast everybody gets to work, whether it is going up the mast to check the rigging, changing the oil on the engine... whatever. There is never a lack of work on a boat - particularly this one. Not wanting to be a total slacker, nuisance or ungrateful guest, I offer to do some menial, unskilled job such as vacuuming the cabins or cleaning the waterline (an excuse to go swimming). I have to earn my keep, although it is nothing compared to the $3000 per night people have been known to pay to stay on Slow Dance.

Around noon the first beers are cracked. This does not necessarily mean that work stops, but Ron (the gracious owner) and Sean (the slave driving captain) allow the rest of us a few afternoons off to go play and explore a few of the beaches and bays that Vava'u has to offer. We load up the tender's built-in coolers with ice cold beer, bomb-ass sandwiches that Victoria makes, and head out. The tender has a 70 horsepower motor that enables 5 of us to cruise over the bright turquoise water at high speeds without spilling our beers.

When we spot a beach that looks nice we head in and check it out, go for a swim and eat lunch of the beach. There is something about drinking an ice cold beer while floating in 80 degree water that really does it for me. When we feel we have sufficiently enjoyed a place we load up back in the tender, and cruise around until we find another place to hang out or until the beer runs out. It is a tough life, I know.

By this time I am usually pretty wasted - from the sun, of course - so I go in for a shower and a nap, only to wake up to a delicious dinner. Nightlife in Tonga is pretty mellow, and while we have been known to frequent a bar or two, most nights are spent sipping beers and chatting or watching movies.

Saturday night we celebrated Sean's birthday with a bonfire on the beach. Although it rained for most of the afternoon he and BJ managed to get a fire going, and the sky cleared up to give us a nearly full moon and tons of stars. Suzy and I decided to go for a night swim and the water was so clear that the bottom was visible from the moonlight.

Yes, life is good on Slow Dance; life is good in general. But cruising on a luxury yacht is not as glamorous as it might seem - unless you own the boat and pay people to work for you. Yes, my friends are sailing the world in style, and they play hard but work harder. This has given me perspective on my situation on Rutea. In comparison to Slow Dance, Rutea is a humble little cruising boat. However, she is very well maintained by her captain (Dad) and the crew (me) is not expected to do too much, except a little polishing here and a little cleaning there. I can go snorkeling, diving, or surfing (if there were waves) whenever I want. I have absolute freedom and very few obligations - in other words I have it damn good. Not that I did not know this before, but after spending a week on a huge, luxurious yacht my sentiments have only been reinforced.

This does not mean that it was easy to leave Slow Dance. Sean dropped me off on Rutea at midnight with a heavy heart - 3 hours before we left Vava'u for the Ha'apai group in southern Tonga. It was hard to leave my friends. Who knows if I will ever see them again? I am going to New Zealand and they are headed towards Micronesia. But such is the life of a sailor: full of love and heartache, uncertainty and a certain respect for the now.

Speaking of the now, we are currently anchored in a little anchorage off Ha'ano island in the Ha'apai group after a rowdy sail from Vava'u. Ha' ha' ha'. (Does the pun translate?) Anyway, I intended to post a few pictures of the Slow Dance homies and our adventures, but I did not have an opportunity before we left, and there is no internet - let alone many signs of civilization - around here.

In closing, I want to thank Ron, Sean, Victoria, Suzy and BJ for a most excellent week. My favorite part of being out here is meeting and doing fun things with cool people like you. Keep in touch. That goes for you, my land-based friends, as well.

PEACE!
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At 10/9/2011 8:50 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 19°16.97'S 174°15.34'W

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