Already February? How did that happen?

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Braving the cold at Tynemouth beach, Tyne & Wear, England

Hi! Happy new year! Well, yeah, not exactly new any more, but we’re just settling back into Vancouver after six weeks away (no, not on the boat, come on, you know us better than to think we’d actually go sailing, don’t you? Hoho. More on that later…) so it still feels new to us. And hey, it was still January when I started writing this. Just.

What can I say? It’s 2016, our boat is still not our main form of housing or transport, and all is well. Continue reading “Already February? How did that happen?”

Autumn in Vancouver

wpid-img_20151022_154341.jpgVancouver, consistently near the top of ‘best places to live’ lists, has so much beautiful, spectacular scenery that it can be easy to overlook the gorgeousness of your own neighbourhood. We’re based in Mount Pleasant, East Vancouver, which is a bit of a trek to the beaches and mountains that make this place so famous (and so expensive!), but we’ve been surrounded by amazing colours and stunning sights these last couple of months without having to walk more than a few blocks from our place. Continue reading “Autumn in Vancouver”

Pacific Puddle Jump – Sailing from Mexico to New Zealand in 1999

A friendly little race around the bay at Neiafu, Vava'u, Tonga - 16 years ago this month!
A friendly little race around the bay at Neiafu, Vava’u, Tonga – 16 years ago this month!

With the news about hurricanes in Mexico, especially Patricia’s near miss of Puerto Vallarta, where I was based for months while cruising around Mexico’s Pacific coast, I’ve been reminiscing about Illusion‘s early years and my first cruising experiences.

I found some old photos of a friendly cruiser “rally” around the anchorage in Neiafu, Vava’u, Tonga. Continue reading “Pacific Puddle Jump – Sailing from Mexico to New Zealand in 1999”

Engine recap – overview of jobs, lessons, and resources

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Engine room ahoy

As those of you who’ve followed the blog for a while know all too well, Illusion‘s engine unexpectedly became a main focus over the last couple of years – we’ve written about it here, here, here, here, here, and here! We’ve probably talked and thought more about the engine – a MerCruiser D3.0L – than any other aspect of boat life, even sailing!  But as we have a few new blog followers, and because a few people have asked, here’s an overview of the engine parts I’ve worked on/serviced/replaced since starting the preparations for this journey (not counting basic maintenance, such as filters & fluid changes), a few lessons learned (which might help you avoid a similar nightmare) and sources of information, just in case you too have fuel injector woes:
Continue reading “Engine recap – overview of jobs, lessons, and resources”

Fog, whale and wine: an afternoon sail around English Bay, Vancouver

20150929_152717Some days you just have to drop everything and go sailing. Our friend Kate has a groovy little Riviera Star 24 in a marina in False Creek and has offered to take us out for a sail on numerous occasions, but the timing has never worked out. This week it did! Twice! First Doug and Toby went out with her on a beautiful sunny day and, despite a few engine issues (uhoh, maybe it’s contagious!), had a lovely time for Toby’s first ever sail.
Continue reading “Fog, whale and wine: an afternoon sail around English Bay, Vancouver”

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..”