Thursday, December 31, 2015

By Michael

UPDATE: Del Viento all good.

Stripped bare and waiting.
As I wrote November 20, we planned to be back in the USA by Christmas to spend time with family (and to work--lots of home improvement projects for Windy's folks). Well, we made it happen. We're here, it's New Years Eve, and our uninsured home is there, afloat on a hurricane mooring in Tonga, January 1. The separation and the distance are more nerve wracking than I anticipated--and there is a hurricane bearing down on Tonga.

We made a calculated decision to do this. However, all calculations involve variables. In this case, we risk-managed against those variables by preparing our boat as best we could. Before leaving we released our primary anchor and all 300 feet of chain onto the bottom and attached them to the two massive concrete blocks and coral anchor down there now. Windy spliced 1.5-inch polypro extensions onto the leads and added as much chafe gear as possible. We attached 300 feet of our 3/4 three-strand rode to separate points on the mooring block and floated those with buoys and secured them to a length of chain dropped a foot off the bow roller. The dodger, bimini, solar panels, halyards, and sails are all removed and stowed. We befriended the best boat minders in the business.

But good preparation can only protect a boat from so much. Luck or misfortune are the other players in this game. We'll find out tomorrow who we're playing against.

Because by tomorrow, cyclone Ula should have passed right over Neiafu (where Del Viento is moored). Her winds are currently 90 knots sustained, and building.


This image was captured 8 hours before this post. The storm is still
on-track to pass right over Vava'u.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Saturday Market Video
By Michael

A short video of what the Neiafu, Tonga market looks like on a boisterous Saturday. The church singers are entertaining.


Monday, December 14, 2015

On the Bench
By Michael

I love the slogan on the Tongan beer.
And wrap your head around this:
If I stay up until 12:00:01 a.m. (easy) and
take a swig of any beer here in Tonga
(just on this side of the date line), I'm
probably among the first few humans
on Earth--maybe the first--to drink a beer
that day....duuude.  
“Excuse me…”

The Neiafu, Tonga shopkeeper, whom I judged to be Chinese based on her appearance and based on repeated references to the “Chinese stores,” was hunched behind the counter, intent on not missing a single pixel of whatever was displayed on her smartphone. She’d not responded to my cheery mālō e lelei greeting when I’d entered her store. That wasn’t a problem, but now I’d uncovered something on her crowded, dusty shelves that piqued my curiosity.

“Hi, I have a quick question.”

She rolled her head up and I could read nothing in her expression.

“I was just wondering about,” I turned and pointed to an endcap filled with hundreds of dark, dust-free bottles labeled Vaikita. “What are those?”

“Tongan medicine.”

“What for?”


“But for what? What sickness does it treat?”


She stared at me for another beat before deciding our conversation had run its course and then she returned to her phone.



I’ve heard and read repeatedly since we arrived that Tonga is a wholly independent nation that’s never been colonized, making Tongans fairly unique among South Pacific island populations. That’s true and it’s interesting. But is Tonga being colonized in another sense?

During the six weeks we’ve spent exploring in and around Neiafu, I’ve been struck by one thing in particular: It’s not Tongans who are meeting the needs and sating the desires of the very small number of tourists who visit each year--nor, to an extent, of the Tongans themselves and their own burgeoning need for goods.

A few Tongan carvers and weavers market their goods at the open-air vegetable market. But two blocks away, Kiwis have set up boutique displays of the same goods for retail. Tongans work in the few local restaurants and bars that cater to foreigners, but few of these establishments are owned or managed by Tongans. The strong demand for a 4-machine clothes washing business was met by two former cruisers. There are dozens of tiny, tiny stores attached to Tongans’ homes, but nearly all of the large food stores catering to cruisers and charterers are owned and run by Chinese. Do you want to take advantage of Tonga’s non-restrictive laws that permit tourists to swim with the visiting whales? The tour boats are owned by non-Tongans. The few planes operated by the single national airline are flown by Kiwi pilots.

The ingredients are eucalyptus oil
and camphor suspension.
It seems like Tongans are largely sitting on the bench while the game being played on their home turf goes on. I’m not sure why. Granted that ex-pats have ready access to more capital than the average Tongan. but there is a Tongan development bank in town. I’ve heard government corruption is a problem; is that limiting access to capital by entrepreneurial Tongans? Tongan life has evolved in a setting in which food and land are plentiful and the climate is friendly. Free time and attention are given to the church, to the family, to the kava bowl, and to a revered king. Have there been no cultural drivers or impetus to build business? And should there be?

Maybe there should be. Tongan land is not for sale to foreigners, but at least this part of the country is being settled ex-pats who acquire lifetime leases. A direct result of this settlement is that Tongan society is under increasing influence of tourism and technology. Accordingly, Tongans are beset with increasing rates of obesity and other health problems as a result of the introduction of processed foods and a decline in activity formerly associated with acquiring food. More plastic and disposable goods are being imported and creating more trash. Health care is poor.

We arrived at the same time this year as friends who were last here 17 years ago, who lived here for 2 years. They are seeing a very different Tonga. And change in Vava’u seems to be coming fast, now. This season, Neiafu is buzzing over the new foreign-owned haul-out yard that may change the cruising dynamic, making Vava’u a rare, viable South Pacific option for getting work done on boats and hauling out for the season. Additionally, a crew of contractors just returned to their home country after living here for weeks, installing equipment at the single-runway airport that will make it IFR-capable and open Vava’u to direct, international flights.

Unfortunately for the people who have lived here simply and for so long, I don’t think they will have the option to continue with lives largely undisturbed and unaffected. My Western mindset is inclined to see change as progress and as opportunity for Tongans. But based on what I’ve seen, it’s not gonna happen that way. And stockpiles of Vaikita in the Chinese stores will not help what’s ailing the Tongans.

The produce markets are
excellent, more on these in a later post.
The girls did face painting aboard Vagrant, the boat of our
good friends, Shane and Tina. I don't know why I ended up
with a blue nose and beard. A cool thing in this photo (click
to enlarge it) are Windy's lips. They form the head of a
whale shark, swimming right at you, courtesy Eleanor.
But it's scary when she shows her teeth.

Shane and Tina.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Let's Do It Again
By Michael

So we had the Wondertime crew aboard for some playtime in Tonga the other day. One of us realized we had aboard all four of the girls who graced the cover of the Voyaging With Kids book; time to recreate the photo. Of course, the models are more than four years older, they're on the bow of Del Viento instead of Wondertime, we're motoring instead of sailing, and we're in Tonga instead of Mexico. Still.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Hell in a Handbasket
By Michael

It seems every group of Pacific islanders
employs their own local boat. With so
much protected waters, this is what the
Tongans use. Almost no freeboard and
always seeming top-heavy. You're seeing
a sliver of a tiny island and I was
captivated by this home--doesn't show
up so well in this pic.
On Thanksgiving, we Skyped family and enjoyed some long chats. It was wonderful to hear everyone’s voices and to anticipate our pending visit, just a month away.
But also on the line was fear and a world’s-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket kind of dejection.

I read the news, I know what’s going on in the world, but I don’t feel the same way. The attacks in Paris were horrific, police race relations are troubling, more gunfire in classrooms is agonizing. Yet these events and all the rest of the turmoil do not seem like a departure from the norm.

I was born in 1968. King, riots, Vietnam, Khmer Rouge, Kent State, Manson. I grew up during the Cold War, during the Iran hostage crisis, during bloodshed in Northern Ireland, hatred in South Africa, and Lockerbie. My generation of Salvadorans and Guatemalans and Nicaraguans came of age in a war zone. The Soviets tore up Afghanistan for a decade, the Iraqi oil fields burned like something out of the apocalypse following the first Gulf War, then Columbine, then 9/11, then we tore up Iraq and Afghanistan.
I’m writing from a country of barely 100K people. I don’t have a phone or television. I have vastly different inputs as a cruiser, fortunate to be living a peaceful daily life so far from it all. It must influence my perspective more than I can appreciate. Maybe it’s like the disparate impressions of the televised debates between Nixon and Kennedy.
I like how Obama put it the other day, about being careful not to overreact, about how the Paris attackers are simply social media savvy murderers wielding guns. Granted they are symptoms of larger social problems, ones we must tackle on our terms.

There is fear at home and it highlights not just how removed we are from that fear, but how different our perspectives are as a result. Our biggest threat is from Mother Nature, brewing a storm just to the north of us.
As I write this morning, birds and cicadas are singing loudly ashore. The girls are ashore too, by themselves, buying bread in Neiafu. From this side of the International Dateline, tomorrow has already happened, and I can assure you that it wasn’t as bad as it might seem from today. 
This is the supremely protected harbor of Neiafu. Most of the
cats in this photo belong to the charter company. Most of
the other boats in this picture are hauled out or gone now. We
literally have Tonga to ourselves. Anyone ever been the only
boat in Port Maurelle? It's our norm.
We walk by the pretty front yard of this Neiafu home everyday.
Sunset from Tapana Bay.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Video Only
By Michael

The Voyaging With Kids book experience highlighted for me how little video we capture. The eBook editor compiled hours of outstanding video for the book and regrettably, very little of it came from the Del Viento crew. And yet, the few videos we have taken during the past few years are great, I really enjoy watching them as they take me back in a way that photos do not. So, I’m determined to take more video and to share it here, bandwidth permitting. Following is a short clip shot recently from the bus in Pago Pago. We miss American Samoa.



Friday, November 20, 2015

It's Who You Know
By Michael

Our Torqeedo outboard is displaying
an error message I can't resolve. Until it's
fixed, we row or sail everywhere.
Windy is unfurling for the trip to Del Viento,
in the upper left corner of the photo, a
half-mile away.
And fortunately, I know Sara Johnson.

Quickly, for those of you who don’t follow the Wondertime blog, Sara and Michael and their two daughters are weaving an interesting life. They sailed from the PNW to Mexico in 2011, crossed the Pacific in 2012, cruised and settled for a spell in New Zealand, got residency, moved back to the PNW to try the house life for the second time in their married lives (they’ve lived aboard and cruised three different boats), abandoned said house life this year, and moved back to New Zealand to travel and explore the country in an RV.

All of which put them in the perfect position to be ready and available when an old cruising friend asked them to oversee the lux resort they own on a small private island in the Kingdom of Tonga…for almost three months.

All of which put the Del Viento crew, hanging in Tonga for most of this cyclone season, in a perfect position to hang out with the Wondertime crew late into the evening for their daughter’s birthday party a few nights ago.

We’ll be back in time for Thanksgiving dinner, cooking in a large, open kitchen in paradise.

In the meantime, we are preparing Del Viento to ride out a major storm (or storms) on a mooring in the relatively protected waters of the Vava’u group of islands. It’s unnerving. There is no discrete, perfect list of things we can do to guarantee a good outcome if Mother Nature unleashes on Tonga and Del Viento. It’s a matter of doing your absolute best with all the knowledge you have and can get from others, and then hoping for luck.

We’re prepping to attach two independent mooring lines to the boat via the anchor rollers, attaching both our anchors to the leads where they attach to the mooring blocks, and running last-resort, back-up lines through the bow chocks, around the mast, and down to the mooring.

And now for the rest of the story: We’re all headed back to the States in a few weeks to stay Christmas through Easter with our families. We’re leaving Del Viento unattended for a chunk of the season. Unattended for the first time since we began cruising.

Before we depart we need to remove the sails, the dodger, the solar panels, some running rigging, the kayaks, the dinghy, and everything normally attached to the rails. The spinnaker pole deck chock could chafe some of the lines we plan to run, so that’s coming off too.

We’ve got to prep our water tanks—If they’re filled with rainwater, how much chlorine bleach do we add to stave off yuck and yet not damage the stainless?—and make sure every locker is ventilated. We’ve got to eat all our food and open the fridge up. That's just a taste; Windy's making lists.

Then we can start being anxious about our uninsured home floating alone, thousands of miles from us.


Holly turning 7 at the Mandala Resort on Fetoko Island.
It could be worse.
A splendid place to hang with old friends.
And it's pleasant enough at night to enjoy a fire--though
it's supposed to get warmer as the summer months come.

This was our approach to the Vava'u group. The geographic
comparisons to the San Juan and Gulf Islands came immediately.
This little speck of a each is on the end of a small island that
I snorkel circumnavigated. I saw some things I've ever seen
and unfortunately didn't have the wet camera with me. We've got months
here though and I think we'll spend a lot more time exactly here.
These clothes are for sale. Someone hangs them here daily, in
Neiafu. Haven't seen the salesperson, but I think these are her kids.

Walking past a couple high school girls. That's the big Catholic
church in the background.

School kids catching a ride back out of Neiafu to home.

One of the highlights of my week was receiving a copy of
the book I wrote, brought to me by one of my co-authors. This
thing's been selling for a couple months and I've heard nice things
from so many folks who've all seen it before me. Weird.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Timing is Everything
By Michael

Watching American Samoa go by from
a bus window.
Poor Eleanor.

As our stay in American Samoa was extended by Dengue Fever, waiting for a weather window, and our being totally charmed by the place and reluctant to leave, Eleanor grew increasingly anxious.

“Are we going to be at sea for my birthday? What about Halloween?”

Windy, our weather guru and route planning officer, hesitated, “I don’t know, we’re going to have to wait and see—but it’s possible Eleanor.”

Eleanor was scheduled to turn 12 on the 29th, two days before Halloween. It would be a two-and-a-half-day passage from American Samoa to the Kingdom of Tonga. She watched the calendar carefully.

A weather window appeared, we were all healthy, and our business in American Samoa was over. It was Wednesday the 28th. Windy declared it time to go.

“Worst birthday ever.” I joked.

“DAD! Seriously, my birthday’s going to suck.”

Windy leaned in to assure. “We’ll still celebrate.”

“But Tina and Shane won’t be there—and we’re going to be at sea for Halloween…”

I saw an opening, “Being at sea will be better than being in Tonga, they don’t celebrate Halloween there.”

Underway to Tonga, Frances
writing in one of her journals,
wearing Halloween cat ears.
“What? Dad, stop.”

So the first 24 hours, force four on the beam, passage heaven. The next day, we woke Eleanor with a couple gifts and I made a special birthday breakfast with eggs and the veggie sausage we were able to buy in American Samoa. Windy chopped up a fresh Papaya. Then things went downhill.

In the middle of making the lemon tart that Eleanor requested, we ran out of propane. I’d gambled that we’d have enough to get us to Tonga.


“It’s okay, your birthday’s over anyway.”


“We just crossed the International Date Line; it’s now the 30th.”

“Mom, seriously?”

“Uh, yeah. Tomorrow’s Halloween.”

“Uhn…my birthday’s gone…and how are we going to trick-or-treat?”

“We have candy.” Windy said.

“But there are no other boats.”

“Just keep coming back to us,” I suggested, “‘Trick or treat! Trick or treat! Trick or treat!’”

“Oh my god—worst birthday ever, and worst Halloween.”

I’ve got to say that Eleanor’s a trooper, that most of her sentiment is tongue and cheek. In fact, I think she thinks it’s kind of cool that she got to celebrate her birthday under such exotic circumstances.

“Next year can we at least sail the other direction so I can have two birthdays—or two Halloweens?”


Frances walking along a pretty stretch of coastline
near Pago Pago.

Viewing Leone from remnants of an abandoned home.
This will be the last year Windy is taller than her oldest child.

A rugged stretch of coastline.
So far, the only photo of me I public wearing one of my
lava lavas.

The girls discovering a puddle with thousands of pollywogs
on a hike with Britney and Matt of Tipsea.
Underway to Tonga, Frances looking for hidden candy. We
did an onboard Easter-Halloween mash-up in lieu of
The birthday girl underway, enjoying fresh papaya from a

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Big Guys In Skirts
By Michael

Windy and the girls bathing in rainwater
collected in the Pudgy. We've had several
extended deluges that make this possible.
It's heaven for dirty cruisers.
We’ve been hanging out and exploring the island of Tutuila in American Samoa for a month. The capital is Pago Pago (pronounced “pango pango”), but we’ve not spent much of our time there, but in the larger, surrounding communities. It’s rained almost constantly, we’ve hardly seen the sun, the wind has blown relentlessly, and the harbor water is too dirty to swim in. We have been absolutely charmed by American Samoa.

I’m not being facetious. The steep sides of the remnants of a volcano crater that form the protected harbor in which we’re moored and the serendipitous encounters we’ve had with the American Samoans, have made it clear how misinformed we were prior to arriving. Based on all we heard, we anticipated a cesspool of Americana in the South Pacific. This place is beautiful and the people are warm and utterly foreign to us.

“Excuse me…”

I got up from the bus stop bench and approached the car window.

“I just saw you guys sitting here twenty minutes ago, you still haven’t caught a bus. Where are you going?”


“Ahh,” she nodded. “Okay, you’re gonna have trouble catching a bus at this time, get in, all of you.” She waved and motioned to Windy and the girls behind me. “I’ll take you.”

“You sure? We could pay for your gas, thank you very much.”

She opened the back and I began loading some of our bags. It was getting dark and we’d pushed the bus schedule too close and lost. We were gonna do our time here on the bench to be absolutely certain though, before we paid $20 for a 20-minute cab ride back to Pago Pago.

White caps in the anchorage. For most
of our time here, it's been blowing hard and
there's been lots of rain. The nearby peak is
called The Rainmaker.
On the way, she tried repeatedly to get ahold of her sister on the phone, to let her know she’d be home late, going 40 minutes out of her way to help some random palogis (foreigner, pronounced “palongi”). En route she answered all of our questions about Samoan culture, helping us make sense of so much we’d observed and didn’t understand. Despite the name of this place and that everyone speaks American English and the two McDonalds restaurants and U.S. post office, it had become obvious to us that this clearly wasn’t an extension of the U.S., not even close. The men here wear skirts (lava lavas), Samoan music and ‘80s ballads pound from the speakers in the colorful homemade buses, the teenagers are disarmingly friendly, and nearly every home features a grave next to the front door.

When we arrived in Pago where we’d left the dinghy, we thanked our new friend profusely and I insisted she take $5 for gas money and the girls turned over a small bag of homemade cookies we’d packaged up to give someone else who’d been kind to us, but whom we’d not run across.

Then, without missing a beat, she reciprocated—as if she’d not already—by giving Windy the lava lava she’d been wearing that Windy had casually admired. Just another piece of the Pacific Island culture we learned, that people are very quick to gift when they’ve been gifted and there is a tendency to give those things that have been admired by others.

In short, we got a ride from a stranger who went significantly out of her way, and then she drove off leaving us the clothes off her back.

I could share three other such stories from American Samoa, of strangers extending warmth and kindness beyond what I’d ever expect. It’s been a treat—not simply to have been a beneficiary of this kindness, but to travel through places like this with my girls and to have them experience this kindness in a more natural way. For them this is normal, it’s largely what they’ve come to know over the past five years living as a traveling family. Because while I know the American Samoa culture (not distinct from the Samoan culture, from what we’ve learned, or from Pacific Island culture in general) is kind and open in a way we are not used to,* I also know that as travelers, we are often vulnerable to acts of kindness, because we are always the outsider, always on the street and looking out, asking outsider questions. For five years, my kids have been immersed in a world that is perhaps more kind than they could have known in a more conventional context. They expect kindness from strangers and they offer kindness without reservation. It’s shaping who they are. I can see it.


* I also know these cultures have serious problems, I don’t want to idealize them, they’re not all peaches and cream. But as travelers, those are not the aspects we are exposed to.
Windy and the girls walking ahead along the waterfront. Samoans are
big people. Note the high school kids in front of me. Note the guy is
wearing a lava lava--totally normal. I bought one, almost wore it
out and about. My nerve was intact, but I went back to shorts at the last
minute because I panicked that I'd wrapped it around me the
feminine way. Pics to come. Note the regular house-type
pane widows that make up the bus windshield. This is normal too.
No, not the same water--it's a new day. Despite the crowded
harbor and homes and businesses all around, some of us
still bathe au natural.

Our arrival. The port captain had us side-tie to this tug and wait for
these lava lava-clad health inspectors to board. Then it was off to see
the port captain, customs, immigration, and another harbor

Friday, October 23, 2015

Dengue Woman Blues
By Michael

Windy's 45th birthday cake, October 14 in Pago Pago.
About all I could do was hold this camera. Frances made
the cake. 24 hours after this shot, Frances was down.
Any sickness with the word Fever in the name sounds especially ominous to my ear. Scarlet Fever, Cat Scratch Fever, Fever Seizures, and…Dengue Fever.

We got the latter. It was bound to happen. We were warned in Mexico. There were warning signs up everywhere in French Polynesia. We saw them when we arrived in Pago Pago, America Samoa.

I was wiped out for days—prostrate is the medical term. My brain didn’t want to function. The muscles in my legs and around my eyes ached so badly that sleep was difficult.

Then Frances got it. Her case was textbook—all of my symptoms plus a rash over her entire body. She got the fever, had 24 hours of remission, then descended back into it. Windy checked off all the diagnostic boxes in the Merck Manual we keep aboard.

“She’s definitely got Dengue.”

“Do we take her in?”

“There really isn’t anything they can do for her unless it turns into a hemorrhagic fever, then we have to get her in immediately.”

“How will we know?”

“Any bleeding or bruising.”

We watched Frances for a couple anxious days. We put off our departure to Tonga. Today is the day Windy finally gave her a clean bill of health, and Frances is finally ashore hunting frogs (no, not in the killing them sense) like she’s been pining to do.

The good thing about acquiring a tropical, mosquito-borne illness in a place where they are common, is that the local medical infrastructure is totally prepared for dealing with it. Had Frances deteriorated and acquired the hemorrhagic fever version that can present in Dengue patients, we’d have been in a good place to seek care.

So how was your week? Still eager to go cruising in the tropics?

I want to make light of it. We are so lucky health-wise. We’re all well and we rarely get sick. Above all else, our good health is the reason we are able to choose and pursue this cruising life. We do not take it for granted.


Michael at Ditching Suburbia sent this to us when he heard we were under the weather, perfect. This is Stevie Ray's brother, by the way.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Suwarrow, Force 10
By Michael

And no internet.
Suwarrow is a remote atoll in the northern Cook Islands. It’s where Tom Neale, author of the classic An Island to Oneself, lived alone, off and on, for twenty-five years before his death in 1977. Since 1986, Suwarrow’s been a protected area, Suwarrow National Park. About 60 cruising boats stopped at Suwarrow this year; I don’t think anyone else visits. A caretaking couple, Harry and Huahine, lives on the atoll from May-November. During the cyclone season, Suwarrow is deserted. Upon checking in, Harry (officially the warden, and also in charge of customs and immigration) told us we could not land on any island (motu) other than Anchorage Island, we couldn’t fish, we couldn’t burn or dispose of trash ashore, and we mustn’t throw any food scraps overboard.

“So where are the remains of Neale’s home?”

“You were standing on what’s left of his front porch, now the book exchange.” Harry said in his kiwi-accented English.

I turned to look back at where Windy and the girls were still browsing the mostly-French and Dutch titles left by other cruisers. I could see the old clapboard siding that defined the boundaries of the original building.

“Here, I’ll show you.”

Except for the caretakers, we were always
the only ones ashore on Anchorage Island,
measuring about a mile by a few hundred feet.
Harry and I walked from his two-story residence down to the book exchange where he pulled the bolt from the hasp that secured a door signed, DO NOT ENTER.

Inside the tiny room were Tom Neale’s quarters. A small, wood-framed bed occupied the far corner and in the near corner was a shiny, late-model Force 10 marine range. It was just like our ailing stove, but newer. Right away I noticed the grill was not broken like ours was. The burner caps looked new, not like our cast-iron caps that are corroding away at a rapid rate. I forgot all about Tom Neale.

“What’s with the stove?”

“Ah, yes. A cruiser donated that to us, for cooking. We don’t use it much, the wife prefers the half-barrel out back.”

“Hmm. We would sure love to swap some parts off that—ours is just like it.”

“Mmm-hmm. So that’s where Mr. Neale lived. His family maintains the memorial outside.”
             * * * * * *

“We’ve been here a week, I don’t think he’s interested in letting you cannibalize it.”

It says, "1952-1977 Tom Neale lived his
dream on this island"
“Maybe he didn’t understand, wouldn’t hurt to ask.” I paused, “Would you mind calling him?”

“What? We’re leaving, we’ve already checked out. Why me?”

“I just think we’ll regret not asking, and you just did the checkout, I think he’d be more receptive to you asking.”

Windy gave me a look as she picked up the radio mic. She asked Harry directly whether he was interested in allowing us to swap out some stove parts—we were willing to pay.

“We don’t want to sell parts off the stove, we’d like to see the whole thing gone.”

“How much do you want for it?”

“What are you willing to pay?”

“One hundred dollars, US? I know it’s not much, but…”


I waved to Windy, “Tell him I’m going to come ashore real quick to measure it, just to be sure it’s the same—and see if he’ll let us bring it out here in his boat.”

An hour later, we were waving goodbye to Harry, an entire second range now sitting in our cockpit.

I don't care if you're Julia Childs, nobody needs two of
these on a 40-foot boat.
“This is awesome. We just saved a bundle spending this $100.”

“Will it fit through our companionway? Where are we going to stow it for the passage to Samoa?”

“I think so, I’ll lash it underneath the v-berth.”

Now we’re in Pago Pago and I’m trying to find a way to get rid of this thing we sailed with for four days. It’s a newer version of our ailing stove—it’s even got a window on the oven door and the snazzy bowed handle is varnished nicely. But only one single piece could be swapped out (the burner grate—and even that required some hacking). Everything else is unusable, either because it is just completely different, or because it’s riveted. Even the plastic knobs—in much better shape than ours—can’t be swapped because the flat side of the shaft it rides on is positioned 180 degrees opposite. Why in the world?

I would swap the entire thing out, but the oven is configured differently on this newer model. It’s smaller and the burner is less shrouded.

Sometimes fortune mocks the bold.


Windy took this from our deck. He's about 2 feet underwater
and those bommies are at 75 feet.

Cruising kids look for any opportunity to make
This coral-based landing was heavily damaged in a recent hurricane.

Checking into the Cook Islands in Del Viento's cockpit.

An island to themselves.

The two-story building is where the caretakers live. The white-
painted clapboard siding above the bush on the left, is a sliver
of the remnants of Neale's home.

Oh the time I spent lying here to get this shot.

Neale's bed frame. This space is smaller than it appears.

The girls and I cooling off.

Heading ashore with Harry.
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