Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My Girl's In Print!
By Michael

For what it's worth, this is one
of my favorite Cruising World
covers ever.
My girls enjoy a comparatively large amount of free time and eagerly spend every minute of that time reading, writing, or drawing. Half of Del Viento’s 28,000-pound laden weight is from notebooks they’ve filled or will soon fill—it’s easier to pull teeth than to cull.

Eager to see her work published, Eleanor submitted some of her poems to Highlights magazine a couple years back. It was her first lesson in rejection (though kudos to the Highlights editor for a thoughtful, personalized response). More recently, she pitched a biographical, feature-length story to a girls’ magazine she likes, New Moon Girls. The editor loved Eleanor’s story and plans to run it later this year. Then, this spring, I saw Eleanor reading a book she got for Christmas.

“You know, that’s a sailing book and Cruising World magazine sometimes uses freelance writers to write book reviews. When you’re done reading, you ought to pitch a review to them…they pay money.”

“How much?”

“I don’t know, you’ve got to convince them to buy it first and then they’ll make you an offer.”

I got the ball rolling, but Eleanor ran with it. She wrote a succinct, professional pitch for a book review and emailed it to Cruising World. We all waited eagerly for a response. It was less than a week before Eleanor casually mentioned she’d heard back from a Cruising World editor.

“Awesome, what did they say?”

“They want to buy my review and they’re gonna pay me $40.” She beamed.

Well, we are always way behind in getting our physical mail forwarded to us, but we just arrived in American Samoa and waiting for us at the post office was the May 2016 issue of Cruising World and on page 20, there is Eleanor Robertson’s review of Melanie Neale’s Boat Kid: How I survived swimming with sharks, being homeschooled, and growing up on a sailboat.

That’s my girl.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Goodbye Ha'apai
By Michael

Del Viento anchored in the inner harbor of
Pangai. For all you Baja cruisers, it reminded
Windy of Santa Rosalia in the Sea of Cortez.
Windy and the girls loading Pudgy.
So we’re leaving Tonga, probably tomorrow-ish. The irony of our Tonga sojourn is that we’ve been here just about all the months of the year that most people don’t come here. By far the biggest draw of Tonga—Vava’u and Ha’apai in particular—is the annual arrival of humpback whales from Antarctica. They come here to calve in Tonga’s warm, protected waters, from mid-July through the end of September. Tonga is the only place in the world that allows tourists (aboard the boats of licensed operators) to swim with the whales. (It makes for some amazing photos.) But alas, we experienced a different side of Tonga—definitely a quieter side.

The funny thing about this departure is that we’re not sure where we’ll end up. The winds are kind of mercurial—we just finished waiting for a doozy of a system to pass and now we see the south-easterly trades wanting to reform, but not doing so eagerly. So we’re going to depart and see what we can make out of what the winds do.

Ideally we’ll be able to make some south-easterly headway which will leave us in a good position to tack up to Niue. But that’s unlikely. And if that doesn’t work, and if our window is long enough—or rapidly collapsing—we’ll go north and duck into Vava’u. Ultimately, the point of leaving is to get to American Samoa (where packages await) and we may get a straight shot there and miss Niue and Vava’u altogether. That would kind of be a shame. We’ll see, stay tuned.

In the meantime, here are a few shots from Ha’apai, a smaller and less-populated island group than Vava’u.

Do you see the irony?

Ha'apai reminds all of us of the Tuamotus from back in French Polynesia.

Trust me, no network covers the entire Kingdom. I'm embarrassed
to say how long it took me to post this blog.

Both the library and museum appear closed.

Note the omnipresent pigs in the foreground. Harder to see the volcano
on the horizon.

Guard goat?

Camouflaged goat.

Boat names and hubris, never a good combo.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Kid Boats
By Michael

Frances being pulled on a paddleboard
behind Exodus's dinghy in Port Maurelle.
Some parents eager to cast off cruising with their kids (as well as the kids they plan to bring) are concerned about the likelihood they will encounter other kid boats. In Voyaging with Kids, Behan, Sara and I wrote about this:

"…there are plenty of kids on boats cruising the world’s oceans, and the amount of time you spend with them is up to you. How flexible are you with your cruising plans? If you’re hell-bent on following Alvah Simon’s example and wintering over in the Canadian Arctic, you may indeed be the only kid boat—the only boat—for hundreds of miles. But if your sights are set on a trade-wind circumnavigation or a winter in the Caribbean or time in any of the common cruising grounds, you’ll encounter lots of cruising families out there. Wherever cruising boats gather or resupply, blogs and the coconut telegraph will lead to kid boats. The rest is up to you."
--excerpt from Chapter 8, Voyaging with Kids: A guide to family life afloat (2015, L&L Pardey Publications).

So, we parents aboard Del Viento haven’t been hell-bent on following Alvah’s wake, but neither have we assimilated into the school of trade wind circumnavigators. We’ve been pretty contrarian. Who heads north from Mexico, to Alaska? Who spends the summer in the northern Sea of Cortez? Who end up being the last boat in the fleet to cross the Pacific in 2015? Who spends the cyclone season in Tonga?

Accordingly, we’ve not crossed paths with a whole lot of kid boats. (But the times we’ve spent with the ones we have met, have been pretty nice.) So it was a real treat when the Exodus crew dropped by Vava’u following their season in the Marshall Islands, nice parents, nice boys. Just don’t let them rope you into late-night, blind rum tastings while playing their favorite card game—the one that pits everyone against each other and rewards lying and deception. This family is hardcore.

Frances waiting on the surfboard.

I told Eleanor she reminded me of the waterskiing
squirrels. "What are you talking about?"
"Never mind."

So Barry, left, who skillfully delivers the weather each day on the VHF net in Vava'u, lost his mountain-stepped mast in Cyclone Winston this past season. Because he lives in remote Hunga Haven and needs his mast for communications antennae, he's spent the past couple months rigging a gin pole and otherwise prepping the site for the arrival of the first willing and able cruisers to lend a hand. That's Tim of Exodus in the middle and me off to the right. This raising was the climax, preceded by preparation and problem solving. (courtesy of Brendan on Exodus)

Barry's cutting branches and vines that had grown over the
standing rigging. Tim's holding the ladder. I appear to be doing
nothing, but I'm actually weighing down a block of concrete
the rigging is attached to.
(courtesy of Brendan on Exodus)

While Barry and I lift the mast vertically, Alex looks on
while his dad kicks the base over the step.
(courtesy of Brendan on Exodus)

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