Endings and beginnings

So 2016 is coming to an end and what a year it’s been.

We are delighted that this was the year we finally got Illusion up to British Columbia, were able to live-aboard as a family for a while, started exploring the amazing Salish sea, and shared some great sailing and boat-based social times with friends, old and new. Summer feels a long time ago now, but wow, we had some brilliant local trips and started to get the hang of sailing with a little one. We didn’t do a great job of updating the blog, but our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages are usually fairly current, and perhaps over Christmas we’ll add some videos or posts about our time in Desolation Sound and other beautiful places round here!DCIM100MEDIA We’re excited to gradually get to know more boat-people in this area and are especially impressed by the hardy liveaboards who brave the winter here, despite a lack of official support for long-term anchoring in False Creek and nearby beaches, and manage to keep cheerful too. Everyone should have a few (friendly) pirates in their lives! Continue reading “Endings and beginnings”

Us and the boat and the sky and the sea

img_20160714_193503.jpgThere were numerous moments over the last three years when we wondered whether we should just give up on trying to get Illusion to Vancouver. It was so complicated and expensive and time-consuming. And then on top of that wanting to visit our families for weddings and births and funerals, the addition to our own family-crew, the ongoing pressure of trying to complete my PhD, Doug’s surgery and recovery from his shoulder injury, and all the other ups and downs of life…. Yawn, I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about all the bad stuff. Every few months we would have a serious talk about whether we should give up on trying to get the boat here. Maybe sell her. Maybe sail her back to the Marquesas. Maybe go and live on her in Hawaii. img_20160804_114739.jpgBut none of it quite made sense and each time we re-evaluated, our conclusion was to keep pushing on. We couldn’t easily sell her without a working engine, but if she had a working engine, we could get her here and in that case we didn’t want to sell her. So we just stuck at it and waited for all the circumstances to make sense and come together and…. eventually, they did!

Continue reading “Us and the boat and the sky and the sea”

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”

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”

Quick visit to Hawaii

It’s kind of nice having a second home, especially one that’s in warm, sunny Hawaii – even if it has moldy carpets and leaky windows! The surprise was that when my friend Martin and I arrived at the boat (Sara had to stay home for work), our neighbor informed us that we had just missed four days of clouds and rain – but all of our time there was great, especially considering the bitter cold for Vancouver last week. We had a fun, relaxing few days (joined for some of it by another good friend) and managed some jobs around the boat, too, in between beers in the cockpit and exploring the island’s beaches. Almost too relaxing, as we nearly failed to do the main job: mailing the fuel injector pump off to be rebuilt!  After the difficulties of the last voyage (from New Zealand to Hawaii), it felt great to have some time on the boat to chill out and not have any imminent stresses.  No sailing (without a usable engine, I can’t easily get out of the marina), but plenty of exploring and socializing.  Too busy having fun to take many pictures, but here are a few: Continue reading “Quick visit to Hawaii”

Raivavae

IMG_20130809_063608After the drama of the anchor dragging we settled into an amazing week on the island of Raivavae, a place I’d never even heard of which suddenly became home to us. Mostly we were working on the engine or trying to do other boat jobs to prepare to set sail so we didn’t see the stuff tourists go for – beautiful beaches off out by the reef, mountain walks with incredible views, diving, snorkelling, canoeing. Apparently that’s what tourists do anyway, when tourists visit. Chez Linda, the attractive pension run by the lovely Linda and John, where John and Deb were staying, organized all that kind of thing, along with lending bikes and cooking delicious meals. In the time we were there, though, I think only two other couples arrived. Interestingly there was a lot of local opposition to the airport being built thirteen years ago and you still get the feeling that, despite being welcoming and friendly, this is an island that is quite happy to not be inundated with visitors.

Continue reading “Raivavae”

Exploring the Hauraki Gulf – post by Deb

WildlifeWe’ve spent the last three weeks sailing around the Hauraki Gulf, just off the coast from Auckland.  We visited several islands, doing day hikes and enjoying the diverse birdlife (from little blue penguins to songbirds).  One of the islands, Tiritiri, was reverted to its natural state through years of volunteer effort eradicating non-native species and replanting over 280,000 indigenous trees. Continue reading “Exploring the Hauraki Gulf – post by Deb”

Remembering to talk about the birds

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Just before Doug and the Illusion crew left the boatyard, we discovered Google Talk. Skype had been letting us down, and we’d been relying on WhatsApp messages. While that’s great for speedy interactions and sharing photos*, nothing beats a (free!) voice call, or even better a video call. It didn’t always work, but if he went to just the right spot in the yard, and managed to time it so the lawnmower or some other engine wasn’t running, and nobody was stopping to talk to him, we could just about manage a proper conversation. Yay! Continue reading “Remembering to talk about the birds”

“That’s a big boat.” – post by Janice

The folks at the boatyard really like to remind us of this fact. Yup. We know. It’s a big boat. We know it intimately, now that we have sanded its 65-foot hull repeatedly for nearly a week. Those of us with back problems really felt it. Those of us without back problems no longer exist. But even the pain and tedium of sanding came to an end at some point, and that point was when Doug said “Okay, that’s enough sanding.” If our arms were not already frozen in overhead positions, we would have thrown them up in jubilation. Denied our gesticular glee, we celebrated instead with a bit of bubbly later that evening. Continue reading ““That’s a big boat.” – post by Janice”

Sea changes: the first month!

I need a haircut!
I need a haircut!

Wow! It’s a month today since I arrived in New Zealand. The cunning plan to document the process of getting Illusion ready to sail again has been somewhat foiled by the fact that by the time we finish work each day I’m ready to sleep. That combined with our internet connections being fairly unreliable has made contact a little irregular. And did I mention that our days consist of basically working for hours, eating, sleeping, then starting all over again? It’s been busy! I’ve managed the odd Facebook and Twitter update, but nothing on here. However, as our plan in having a website was not only to share with friends and family what’s going on, but also to document the experience for ourselves and to keep some kind of journal of the expedition, I’m going to do a catch up post here. Maybe when (if?) things calm down a bit, I’ll be able to go into some more details, but for now here’s a bit of a summary of the past month….. Continue reading “Sea changes: the first month!”