Sunday, October 27, 2013

Discovering the Bay of Prony

Our first stop on our way to the Isle of Pines was at Prony Bay.

The Bay of Prony is a beautiful bay that is five miles long and six miles wide that meanders through a lovely little valley.  It has a hard scrub vegetation with loads of red soil heavily scarred by past mining activities and water erosion.  The Bay of Prony is known for the fact that it was once a nickel-cobalt mine and a place where the French brought their prisoners to mine the land.  For tourists, it's better known for its hot springs and great hiking.

The Bay of Prony with AMARA in the forefront.
Going down the river toward the hot springs.  It got a little shallow, so we had to get out and walk the tender down the river.
Our Little Adventurer
Martin isn't so sure about the "hot springs"
The gang
Lily and I decided to bow out of the hot springs and enjoyed it from the sidelines.
Getting back to our dinghy.
The Mangrove trees
That evening, we spent the night in the bay and had our good friends (Lazy Bones) come over and join us for some hors d'oevure and some fun chatting.

Off to another adventure the following day.

Still having a ball in New Caledonia

These photos are strictly for grandparents--sorry to bore the rest of you.

We saw a little carnival in Noumea, New Caledonia and had to stop and take Lily on some rides.  I have been telling Martin this entire trip that the minute we get home, we are taking Lily to Disneyland since she has been a little trooper these past few months.  However, we weren't sure if she would like rides.  Well, these pictures prove otherwise… the kid is ready for Disneyland.

Grandmother Frey and Nana Collins, enjoy!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New Caledonia

The sun setting just over the water as we get closer to New Caledonia.
Yesterday, we arrived in New Caledonia after four days of sailing.  Two of them were directly into large swells and the last two having essentially almost glassy waters.  It was uneventful other than the fact that we kept dwelling on the matter that we are getting down to the last of our passages.  I still can't believe that we are almost to Brisbane!
Noumea, New Caledonia
We have been in the city Noumea, New Caledonia for only a day and stopped to have dinner with 2 other cruising families that we have become quite close.  We were with the families in Fakarava (in the Tuamotos—back in June) and we have kind of followed each other since.  It was great to see them as we were a good two weeks behind them due to the generator going bust and us having to stop in Port Denarau, Fiji a little longer than we would have liked.  We loved catching up with them, swapping "boat talk" (which happens more often than not when cruisers get together) and just enjoying good company with wonderful people.
Dinner with the gang.
The ambiance left little to be desired by the French food was amazing!
None of us had slept the night before because we were on the last
leg of our passage into New Caledonia.
Sleep caught up with Lily a little sooner than the rest of us.
Poor kid.  We drag her everywhere.
Tomorrow we head to Ile des Pins which has also been named "Paradise" by many other cruisers that cross our path.  It is known for it's untouched, white beaches and turquoise bays.  Initially, we decided to just skip it and make New Caledonia be a quick layover before we headed to Brisbane.  However, after dinner last night, we were told (rather scolded) by the other families that it as a "must see."  So, I go dragging my heels a little bit as I am anxious to get to Brisbane, but I also know it will be worth the excursion once we arrive.
*  *  *
You may have noticed if you have been following our real-time map on the blog that it looks as if we never left Fiji.  We're not sure, but we think that when we plugged into the onshore power in Port Denarau, Fiji that we may have shorted a circuit and lost power to our satellite phone.  Unfortunately, the tracker for our virtual map on the blog is hooked up to that sat phone.  The good news is that we have a back up handheld satellite phone.  The bad news is that our tracker can't be hooked up to it.  So, you'll just have to trust us that we are still moving ahead into the deep blue toward Oz.  The bummer is that I won't be able to do many updates while making our passage, because that too was a capability through our now defunct sat phone.

I will continue to do updates and will post wherever I can get coverage.  

Off to paradise...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Fiji

The family enjoying a little down time at a resort in the Yasawa islands.
Lily hanging on the flybridge watching Finding Nemo and passing time. 
Taking a little time off and enjoying our time at the Blue Lagoon resort in the Yasawa islands.
Lily has become quite the connoisseur of coconut water.  She prefers it above all else.
Any resort that has a giant blow up swan in their pool is my kind of resort!
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Martin on the shore of Monuriki island aka. Tom Hanks island.
Before we arrived in Fiji, Martin and I felt that it was only right that we should watch the film Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks, since we knew that it was filmed in Fiji.  In fact, we even watched the making of the movie so that we knew everything there was to know about the island, Monuriki (where the film was made).  Later we just kept calling it, "Tom Hanks' island" because it was easier to remember than Monuriki island.

When we got to "Tom Hanks' Island" we were running out of time and needed to keep going in the daylight in order to anchor in a safe harbor.  However, Martin couldn't help himself and felt so attached to the movie (after we had talked about it's making a thousand times) that he had David hold the boat in place while he jumped off of AMARA and swam to the shore.

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Martin swimming to the shore of Monuriki island.
When he got to the island, we noticed that some other Cast Away diehard had taken the time to spell out "Help Me" using coconuts on the sand.  Of course, we loved that it was there and Martin quickly found it and ran up to it while I snapped photos of his "rescue."
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Martin flagging down a "pretend" plane in order to get rescued.
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Monuriki Isand.  No sign of Wilson.

*  *  *

While in the Yasawa islands, we would stop in just the most random and picturesque spots and go for a swim.  Here, Martin and Lily took a jump in the water together.  Lily is becoming less and less afraid of the water (finally!) and loves to get in and go for a whirl.
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A beautiful deserted beach only reachable by boat.  Love it!
A giant clam shell.
A typical LDS (Mormon) chapel in Fiji
*  *  * 
After traveling through the Yasawa's we headed back to Port Denarau to do some minor repairs on Amara and just in time for Fiji Day.  So, of course, Sue and I had to participate and went out and bought Fiji shirts and press on tattoos of the Fiji flag.  Lily was a hit with the locals because we did a little tattoo on her face with the press on tattoos of the Fiji flag.  Everywhere we went, a Fijian would walk over to her and kiss her on the cheek where her flag was located and say, "Thank you for loving Fiji."  The truth was, we really did!  We have just loved our stay in Fiji and can't believe that we have been here over a month!  Wow does time fly.
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AMARA celebrating Fiji Day.

This will be my last post for awhile now.  We are leaving the land of wi-fi and entering back into the abyss of darkness (aka. no internet).  We have really enjoyed our time here in Fiji (as well as the internet) and will miss the kindness of the Fijian people.  They are such loving and tender people.  

Now we are headed for New Caledonia where we plan to spend a little time there and then quickly head off to Australia!  Can you believe it... Australia?!  My heart aches a little knowing that this leg of our journey will be coming to an end.  We have so loved the South Pacific and will always remember our days here with fondness.  Once we arrive in Brisbane, Martin and I will be taking off to do some trekking in New Zealand and do more discovering in Australia.  We haven't designated a time that we'll return to the states because frankly, we just haven't even talked about it.  Right now we are in the moment and still enjoying our travels.  

Until New Caledonia... keep following us, it's not over by a long shot.

Fiji—Part Three

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A Picture Worth A Thousand Words.
While in Makogai, we had the opportunity to be entertained by the towns' children.  The children were doing a fundraiser for their school so that they could travel to the main island in Fiji and visit various museums and other historical sights.  The way they do their fundraising is to entertain the local cruisers that come to their island.

DSCN0214 1When we arrived to the island, the entire town was there to greet us for the ceremony.
So, we were lucky enough to join about 20 other cruisers and be entertained by the village and participate in their ceremonies.
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Lily visiting with the children
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Even though we came to be entertained, I think that the children were just as entertained by us.
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At first, Lily made sure that I was in her range of eyesight, but 
soon she forgot and loved sitting with the children.
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The children performing the traditional Kava ceremony.
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Presenting the Kava to the chief.
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I couldn't get enough of the children dancing in
the audience to the beat of the drum.  So cute!
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Ummm... I wanted to stick this little guy in my purse and take him home with me.
He must have been around 4-years-old and performed with all the older boys.
He didn't miss a beat... or a move.  ADORABLE.
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The 5th and 6th grade girls performing.
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At the end, all the children got up and serenaded us and
then came in to the audience and asked us to dance with them.
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Martin in his sulu dress participating in the dance.
It is required that everyone come to these ceremonies dressed modestly.
Women and men are required to wear a sulu (sarong) and shirt with a sleeve.
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Lily loved every second of the festivities. 

Lily sat there the whole evening mesmerized by all the children, singing and dancing.

We loved our time at the village of Makagoi.  When we arrived, we presented the chief with the traditional Kava as well as a 25 lb.  Mahi Mahi that we had barely caught before arriving.  I am so grateful for these types of experiences and will dearly miss the chances that we have to mix with the villagers on the individual islands.  

*  *  *  

The next post will be about the Yasawa islands! The Yasawa island chain is found on the resort end of Fiji. The weather in the Yasawa's is supposed to be better being that it is on the western side.  Most tourists fly into the mainland and then hop on a ferry that takes them to their chosen destination resort.  Most of the Yasawa's are mountainous, green and are lined with reef-fringed beaches and low-key resorts.  Needless to say, I was REALLY looking forward to paradise.