Weather at sea!

With all the crazy weather happening recently in the North Pacific (hurricanes, tsunami warnings, storms in Vancouver, etc), we’ve been reminiscing about some of the mad weather related moments on Illusion’s journey from New Zealand to Hawaii. Here are a few of the memories that stand out, for varying reasons… Continue reading “Weather at sea!”

Stormy seas and safe harbours – lessons in community

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Storms in the Pacific. August 2015
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Three hurricanes in the North Pacific!

Back in 2013 when Doug was solo-sailing from the Marquesas to Hawaii, and wondering whether to just carry straight on up to Vancouver, he heard radio check-ins from a couple of boats doing that journey who were having a pretty rough time of it. Rough enough for him to realize that he should call it a day for that season’s sailing, leave the boat on Oahu, and get himself up to Vancouver for some much needed rest and shoulder surgery. He’s mentioned those boats a few times while we were working out whether he could sail to Vancouver this summer, not wanting to leave any later than the end of August if at all possible. The last few months have been all about trying to get the engine fixed, while simultaneously prepping the boat to be ready to set off. As the end of August approached, and with the engine really close to working properly, things were still up in the air about whether Illusion was going to be leaving the harbour. Continue reading “Stormy seas and safe harbours – lessons in community”

Going bananas – easy cookie recipe

Bananas at sea - August 2013 (Leaving Raivavae)
Bananas at sea – August 2013 – en route from Raivavae to Tahiti.

While Doug works away on the boat, Toby and I are back in Vancouver. Given that Toby is sick every time we go on a bus, I’m starting to see the (unconventional) wisdom of Jean-Marie , the broker for our harbour neighbour’s boat, who took one look at Toby splashing around in a bucket in the cockpit, asked his age, and said, with a smile but in all seriousness, “Ah, he’s too young to be on land.” Brilliant, eh?

Anyway, here we are on land, looking for ways to enjoy the summer without Doug, van or boat. It’s going pretty well, considering (you know, minus the odd moment of ‘aaaagh, I’ve run out of diapers and it’s bedtime’) and when we do brave the bus we get rewarded with sights like this: Continue reading “Going bananas – easy cookie recipe”

Engine excitement

11029513_733115730167127_5507250782570436044_nI (Sara) don’t know a whole lot about diesel engines. But I do know a whole lot more now than I did two years ago. And I’m actually fascinated watching and hearing about Doug’s work on rebuilding Illusion‘s. In fact, I recently found myself reading, with interest, this great post which explains some of the basics of a diesel engine – and was (almost) amused by this bit:

  “The whole process – pistons going up and down, the crankshaft going round and round, valves opening and closing, and tiny squirts of fuel being sprayed into the cylinders – happens dozens of times a second, but we really don’t need to bother about it here. If these parts fail, there is nothing a DIY mechanic can do about it on board.”

One of the approximately million of pictures I've sent to Doug while we've been apart
One of the approximately million pictures I’ve sent to Doug while we’ve been apart

Yup. There wasn’t much we could do about it on board – in fact, by trying to fix it with limited equipment on Rapa and at anchor on Raivavae, we managed to mess it up even more. But now things are happening and the engine starts and stops as it should, doesn’t cause a smoky cloud around the boat, and runs more or less as it ought to. It’s not quite ready to be deemed fixed. Every day Doug sends me WhatsApp messages along the lines of “Found another leak”, “Fixed another leak”, “It got too dark to see the leaks, will have to continue tomorrow” and other such sweet nothings. (I mainly send him photos of Toby – things have changed a little since two years ago, but WhatsApp is still keeping our relationship alive and well.)

Continue reading “Engine excitement”

Cruisers’ Guide to Kewalo Basin Harbor – Part 2: Being tourists..

View from one of the nearby showers
View from one of the nearby showers

Illusion has been in Kewalo Basin Harbor since November 2014 and although Doug’s made a few trips down to work on the engine, he’s hardly been out of the engine room! So when Toby and I went down to join him for a while recently, it was up to us to go and check out what Honolulu has to offer the visiting cruiser. In Part 1 I talked about the practical stuff – bear in mind that we’re on a budget and not looking for the fanciest restaurants and bars, so it’s all pretty basic. But we had some fun times, and managed a little bit of exploring too in between hose-showers, galley cleaning, and swimming in the sea!

Obviously ideally you’d want to get away from Honolulu and explore the quieter parts of Oahu, (and even more ideally, take off to the other islands!), but even without a car and keeping local there are some fun and interesting times to be had. Diamond Head and Pearl Harbor are two of the most obvious nearby ‘attractions’, but although Doug explored both (and thought they were worth a visit), I decided to use my free time to check out the art galleries. Continue reading “Cruisers’ Guide to Kewalo Basin Harbor – Part 2: Being tourists..”

Cruisers’ Guide to Kewalo Basin Harbor (Honolulu, Hawai’i) – Part 1

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Illusion at dock in Kewalo Basin Harbor

After Illusion sat in Ko Olina Marina for over a year we were pretty keen to work out somewhere else for her to be. We’d gone there originally because they were the only place to get back to my emails confirming Doug could arrive there and the paperwork seemed manageable. It worked out fine as a place to arrive to from the Marquesas, but overall we had a slightly disappointing time there – it’s right by a resort and is basically a really impractical spot unless you have a car, and even if you do, it’s not that ideal. The restaurants, shops and bars at the resort were crazy expensive and to get to other stores required a longish walk and bus-ride. There were a couple of friendly people on other boats, but it wasn’t a great vibe in general and it wasn’t cheap either – though we had some fun times wandering through the hotels and hanging out at the beaches. Maybe as a live-aboard place with a car it would be better, and admittedly it coincided with not being able to get our engine mended, Doug’s shoulder preventing him from sailing, Doug having a bad back, and me visiting while pregnant and really struggling with the heat – so it’s not surprising it has some bad associations for us! Anyway, last November when Doug went down with his friend Petra (while I was too pregnant to travel!) they managed to get a tow out of the marina and sailed to Honolulu. It should have been an afternoon sail, though they were unlucky with the winds and it took a while longer than hoped, but they eventually got into the harbour and that’s where Illusion‘s been for the last few months.

I figured it might be useful for others to know what’s around so here’s my little guide to being there. Then have a look at part 2 for some fun things to do in Honolulu if you get time to be tourists, too… Continue reading “Cruisers’ Guide to Kewalo Basin Harbor (Honolulu, Hawai’i) – Part 1”

Baby on board!

Two years ago on Raivavae we would never have predicted we'd be in Hawaii, still, with a baby!
Two years ago on Raivavae we would never have predicted the boat would still be in Hawaii – and we’d be visiting with a baby!

Toby finally met the boat! We wanted to introduce him to his English and American family first, so it took us 7.5 months to get him there, but now that we’ve tried family life aboard we don’t want to stop. It was just a short trip this time, but it’s keeping us motivated for longer term plans. From the first moments he seemed mesmerized and totally at home and having him there with us made it feel even more like home to us. Continue reading “Baby on board!”

It’s a wild life… sort of…

IMG_20140701_191350So a whole summer has passed and we haven’t managed to sail Illusion at all. Oh dear. This is turning into a very slow journey from New Zealand to Vancouver, but life comes at you with all its unexpectedness and hey ho, you do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.

What we could do: Continue reading “It’s a wild life… sort of…”

Boat building and shoulder healing

IMG_20140323_140049As you might have noticed, things have been pretty quiet round here – mainly because Doug had surgery on his shoulder after injuring himself during the (so-horrible-we-try-not-to-talk-about-it) day-we-finally-gave-up-on-the-engine, back in August. Here’s a link if you don’t know what that’s referring to. I still feel sick every time I think about it – that and the moment I nearly killed him with an accidental gybe, but that’s another story…

Doug’s speedy jump down into the engine room resulted, we later discovered, in three torn rotator cuff muscles (two of them almost 100% ripped) and a 90% torn bicep. We should have guessed it was serious when his whole upper arm turned a particularly disgusting shade of purple. Looking back it is kind of unbelievable that he then continued the voyage from Raivavae up to Hawaii, including a 15 day solo sail, mostly without use of the autopilot, and two trips up the mast while alone on the boat. Anyway, in about November, realizing the pain wasn’t going away, he finally figured he should get it seen to by a doctor and within weeks he was having scans and appointments and surgery was booked for mid-February. Continue reading “Boat building and shoulder healing”

So… what’s the plan?

1382810533947Well… get Illusion to Canada obviously! Eventually. That part of the plan hasn’t changed, although the timing has. I think at one stage we were even talking about having her here by the end of July so we could spend August sailing around the islands of British Columbia. We just didn’t realize that it would be 2014, not 2013!

The big lesson of this whole boating thing for me has been to learn to expect everything to change and not rely too much on plans. It’s a great lesson. Even though I was warned that everything would take a load longer than predicted it was actually pretty interesting to realize that Doug was spot on with his sailing prediction times for the most part. Aiming for two weeks from New Zealand, but might be up to three. Even with awful storms and no engine, it was twenty two days. Five days tops to get from Raivavae to Tahiti, he said. It took about three. About a week to get from Tahiti to Nuku Hiva, five days if we’re lucky with the winds. We weren’t lucky, but it was still only seven days. Aiming for two weeks from Nuku Hiva to Hawaii, but don’t worry if it’s more like three – it was fifteen days. So it’s good to know we can have a reasonable idea of travel times. It’s just all the other stuff that gets in the way…. Continue reading “So… what’s the plan?”