Monday, August 26, 2013


After leaving my family and Bora Bora behind, we set sail for Surwarrow, which is located in the Cook Islands.  Martin and I had heard rave reviews about Suwarrow's coral reefs and great snorkeling, but we weren't sure just what that meant.

What we did know ahead of time is that Suwarrow is featured in the book, "An Island to Oneself" by Tom Neale.  Tom Neale was a New Zealander that lived alone on the island for a total of ten years back in the fifties and sixties.  So, of course, Martin, David, Sue and I all read his book in preparation to see the island and catch a glimpse of the house/shed he lived in while living on the island.  In the book, he describes his adventures and how he manages to survive living off the island and it's natural resources.  It's a quick read and really quite interesting, especially since I knew we were going to the actual island to retrace his steps.

I loved experiencing an almost deserted island (but only for a week!)  Tom Neale's home is now the home to two rangers that live on the island for six months during cruising season.  I guess I was thinking there would be a little museum, but instead, there were just remnants of his home, garden and kitchen.
Tom Neale's Home
The Ranger Station with all the different flags given to them from cruisers from all parts of the world.
What didn't disappoint was the diving and snorkeling.  They were absolutely superb.  Even better, we saw one of the most amazing, preserved coral gardens that I had ever seen while diving.  Beautiful coral platforms full of striking colors with tunnels and caves made for exploring.  It was so lovely that we didn't dare touch anything to make sure that it remained untouched (at least by us).
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Martin and me checking out the beautiful coral gardens of Suwarrow.
Sue captured this photo of Mr. Turtle.
Lily hanging out in the dinghy while we take turns diving.  She loves the water.
Even better than the coral garden, David and Sue had been to Suwarrow the year before and knew where the "cleaning station" was for some local manta rays.  A cleaning station is similar to us taking a shower, but for manta rays.  They would come every morning and let all the little fish feed off of them to get them cleaned and ready for the day.

I thought that I had been blown away in Bora Bora when seeing the manta rays on our dive there, but here… HERE it was absolutely mind-blowing!  We would dive each morning and see up to five manta rays swimming around and they were obviously unfazed by us visiting with them each morning.  It was wonderful because there were hardly any other cruisers on the island while we were there, so we got to be in the water with the rays without anyone else slipping into the water.  Too many people would probably scare them away, so it was lovely that it just got to be us each morning.
The manta rays of Suwarrow.
Me with an all black manta ray.  It was amazing!
We would have up to five manta rays at a time come and swim with us.
While at Suwarrow, the group of cruisers that were with us were such a wonderful group of people.  We loved doing potlucks on the beach and just enjoying one another's company.

Our nightly potluck dinners with other cruisers.
This is Cameron and Sophia from the boat called "Serius".  They sang a little nursery rhyme which was adorable.  They have been sailing with their parents for the last year and a half and their destination is Australia as well.
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Family Time.
We also enjoyed the daily shark feeding done by the rangers every afternoon.  It really was quite funny because one of the rangers would go out to a shallow part off the lagoon and do a call like he was herding in cattle.  All of a sudden all these sharks would come swimming up waiting for the bits he was going to throw out to them.  It was quite entertaining.
The sharks would swim right up to the shoreline.  Right next to me.  They were petrified of us more than we were of them, but it made for some fun photos.
This guy wasn't so scared of me and swam right up to me.  I don't think I ever moved so fast in my life when he tried to nuzzle up to me.
It was also just nice to be able to relax to the sound and breeze of the ocean.
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How Martin and I babysit when the sea makes us drowsy.
DSCN0231I also made a video of us swimming with the manta rays along with photos.  As soon as I can find some decent wi-fi, I'll be sure to post.

Now onto to Tonga.  I can't wait to tell you about beautiful Tonga!

P.S.  We were overwhelmed with all the emails in our inbox from everyone that is reading our blog.  Thank you for the emails as well as the comments made directly to our blog.  So glad that you are enjoying our adventure with us!  We will try and respond to many of your emails when we get to Fiji and the internet is a little more reliable.  Until then, thanks again!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Whale Watching

Sorry that I haven't been able to post lately... I've been a little busy playing with the whales in Tonga.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

One Last Video Treat

Yesterday my family and I went scuba diving with Manta Rays.  It was one of the most beautiful experiences that I have ever had.  It was my first time swimming next to these large, majestic creatures that seemed to be flying, yet in the water. They were so graceful.
While we watched, I had two thoughts come to mind.  My first, is the music that I chose for this video came instantly to me as I watched them.  I set their movements to this music while still in the water (Enigma Variations: Variation IX. Nimrod-Adagio—one of my favorite classical scores) before I even set it to video.

My second thought was, "God is in the details."  I think this same thought every time I see a new fish that I haven't seen before.  Each fish, unique with their own shape and color patterns.  But this time, after seeing the Manta Rays in the water for my very first time, I became emotionally overwhelmed just watching such beauty created by a greater hand.  He is there.  He is in the details.  I am grateful for these little moments that remind me of a greater power and I am humbled.

This is just a 4 minute video of the music that played through my head as I watched these magnificent performers.  Also, there is a little octopus treat at the end that I also included.  (Thanks to Martin for shooting the video.) Enjoy!

We leave for Suwarrow in less than two hours.  I can't wait to see what beauty waits for me there.


PS.  I also updated the "Video" page on our upper header bar and compiled all the videos that I have made to date.  As always, enjoy!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Leaving Bora Bora

It's always hard for me to say, "goodbye."  Especially when it's saying "goodbye" to family.  We plan to pull up anchor tomorrow morning and head to the Cook Islands (mainly to Suwarrow) and hang out there for a week and snorkel.  We have been told that it is some of the most amazing snorkeling around.  So, of course, we have to go and see for ourselves.  I am just sad to leave my sister and her family.  They plan to stay through the remainder of the week and then head for home to San Antonio, Texas.  I just can't believe how quickly time flies when family is around.  I am sure I will shed some tears when it's time for us to part ways.
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After Suwarrow we will head to Tonga and stay there for the remainder of August.  The worst part of the whole itinerary is that I will be without internet for about 3 of those four weeks.  We still have our satellite so I will still be able to post, but it just makes it a little more difficult… and a little lonelier for me.  Sometimes, in bed at night before I go to sleep, I'll whisper to Martin, "You're my best friend. You are all I got."  Then he says the same back to me.  Thank heavens that I do have my best friend on board, but having said that, I still love to stay in the circle of my large family and friend population through social media (I'm addicted to Instagram… especially when living on a boat).  So I will have to suck it up for a few weeks and learn to entertain myself through other mediums other than technology.

Suwarrow consists of a population of two.  Two park rangers that are stationed on the island for six months at a time.  This will prove to be a little difficult for me because I love "civilization" and although a deserted island sounds heavenly to some, for me, not so much.  I love people.  I love being around them, getting to know them and hearing their stories.  I love the idea of being a part of their lives if only for a little while.  If it wasn't for the snorkeling in Suwarrow, I would have to give it a pass.  However, Martin has me convinced that this is something that we can't miss just because there aren't any people!  Plus it's right on the way and it will be a nice pit stop.

After our stay in Surwarrow, we will head to Tonga.  Both passages will be around 5-6 days to get to each location.  From Tonga, we will head to Fiji and stay in Fiji for the month of September.  From Fiji, we will set sail for Vanuatu and New Caledonia, and then on to Brisbane.  From Brisbane, we will make our way down the coast into Sydney harbor.
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It all sounds so easy when I type out our itinerary on this post, but I know it entails a lot of sailing and, quite frankly, the sailing part is a little difficult on me because it requires me taking my 3-4 hour shifts at the helm (and we all know how much I love being at the helm—not so much).

When not at the helm, all hands are on Lily.  Literally.  I probably don't discuss Lily enough on this blog because I feel like I have on my last blog about her, but because of Lily's delays, she doesn't play really well on her own.  She doesn't follow a movie for more than 2 minutes and she always seems to be reaching for some object that shouldn't be reached for meaning; we have to stay on our toes keeping this girl entertained or she gets into troubleFAST.  Which entails an iPad falling off the table or a cup flying to the ground.

It's okay, I wanted it this way.  I wanted Lily to have her mom and dad's constant attention, but in the reality of things, it gets to be a little taxing on both Martin and me.  Sitting on the ground playing with toys after a long shift at the helm is less than ideal.  I so want to start her back on a nap time during my time on the flybridge to relieve Martin a little, but naps have proved to be fruitless because then she refuses to go to sleep at her 7:30pm bedtime.  I know that I am preaching to the choir right now and how dare I say that "playing" with my daughter is tiresome, but it is.  I love my time to read books, to blog and to just get caught up in my thoughts.  However, I find that to be difficult with a little pair of four-year-old eyes looking up at me as if to say, "Wanna play?" with an undeniable intensity.  So I do… or Martin does… or sometimes we sit her between us on the bed and throw her toys while I type out a new post with one hand and using the other to hold on to her to make sure she doesn't go over the bed.  Same with Martin.  He has gotten to be quite skilled at reading a book and playing with Lily simultaneously.

Okay, enough of this silly little problem.  We'll work it out, we always do, and Lily most certainly doesn't feel abandoned by her loving parents.  It's just the guilt that sets in on me and I always think that I could do more.  The truth is, I probably already am doing more… and so is Martin.  We love this little girl to the moon and back, and would do anything to see a constant smile on that cherubic little face.

Enough said.
REMINDER:  Remember to check back on our blog and check our location on the map during our next passage (right hand side bar).  I love having the GPS follow our trip and map out our locations.  Probably mine and Martin's mothers love it especially.

Since I won't have internet for awhile, here are a few more pictures of our stay here in Bora Bora.
Friday night, we went to a mini-Heiva festival put on be the Bora Bora LDS (Mormon) Stake.  It was magnificent to see all the members performing.  I especially loved watching the children.  They were all so beautiful and boy, did they have the moves in those little hips.  One word-ADORABLE!
Our friend, Gael getting her hair done before the performance.
I stole Gael's headdress for just a moment...
Gael is the one second from the right in the first row.  This was a beautiful number of all the members singing a song native to their culture.
Apple is alive and well in Bora Bora.
After an evening of dancing, we joined the members on a motu (island) the next day as they headed for Hilton hotel's private island for a day of entertainment for not only the members of the church, but also for their guests.  It was their way of doing missionary work while getting the members involved.
Here, the members and people from the town would stack up on the barge that would take them to the private island for the stake's all day activity.  It was so fun.  So fun, in fact, that our family joined in and participated in the races.
Martin doing the banana race.
Bailey pretending to be in this leg of the race...
As well as cute Leah...
But not Courtney.  She was a contender!
Bailey and Trent participating in the sack race.
Gael was also a participant.  I think we cheered the loudest for her.
…and Martin following up the end of the relay.
Of course, we couldn't pass up the tug-o-war.
…and, of course, we won!  (Not without the help of some pretty strong Tahitians.)
Lexi taking it easy with me on the mats.
As well as Bailey and Lily.
After a full day of fun, my sister and her family went for another scuba dive.  I loved these pictures so much that I thought I would share some of my sister's photos of her family diving.
Colton and Bailey showing some sibling love… or at least trying.

Also, I wanted to post a few pictures of the place my sister and her family stayed at while on Bora Bora.  They had their own little island all to themselves.  I loved the place they stayed at and wanted to share a few photos of their house.
The living room.
The kitchen.
Outside dining.
One of the bedrooms.
The outside shower.  (Don't worry, there were some modern ones also available in the rooms).
It's all in the details.
Here are some other random shots of our last days in Bora Bora.
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Sue and David with a picturesque view of Bora Bora behind them.
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Enjoying a little relaxation with our fancy juices at the Bora Bora Yacht Club.
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What a beautiful sunset.

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Lily loves her Happy Hour.
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Lily ready for church.
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My sister and her family arriving to church on their new little dinghy provided by their rental.  We loved having them join us and they will definitely be missed we leave tomorrow.
Sue would like me to properly display the true beauty of a Pavalova that she makes and to not think that the one that she made for Island Night is how it should be properly presented.  So in order to keep the chef happy, I am going to do just what she asks.  Behold, her masterpiece!



PS.  We love hearing from you on my FB page and through emails.  Martin isn't convinced how big of a following we really have (which is really quite busy!).  Not too shabby for just being starters with this and with little to no advertising.  Would you mind taking a moment and wishing us fair winds and safe seas directly on our blog? It would mean the world to us to read your comments and help us to know we aren't so alone on this next leg to Suwarrow.

As always, thanks for following our adventures at sea.  I'm afraid to pinch myself in fear that this is all a dream.  We are doing this!