Takin' Care O' Business
Lat/Long – Cabbage Tree Creek Marina
Weather - Fresh Australian winter evening in SE Queensland (extremely fresh, we aint in the tropics no more)
Stereo – My Destiny, Lionel Richie
A couple months pass, and I can’t help but be pleased with all of our advancements.
After a brief visit in April, Moana seemed happy in her long term resting place, and I painstakingly had to return to a regular job.
Long days in the Tahitian sun, running the deck of a 170 ft steel hull beast. I would return to the land of endless planning and possible avenues to carry on.
Though French Polynesia has been base for five years now, there was little joy. Work hours took up all daylight hours, and a fair few weekends.
20 minutes a day, watching the sun setting behind the island of Moorea, was my only solace.
With a tired body and a sun-stroked mind, pieces fell into place.
Making the final decision to shut down the charter doors, and focus on clothing was a huge step.
After hearing time and again about how much people liked the logo, and whether they loved or hated the name (one way or another they remember it, HA!) It was clear, we would once again have to take matters into our own hands, if we were to generate an income for The Ocean Ambassadors.
And why not?
No one sponsored the event last year, not one company came to the table. We, as a group of friends, banned together and did it. We took on the Pacific Ocean in all her glory and made it. So what if we had to pull the plug a little early. I wasn’t about to loose friends or my boat after coming so far. The point is we made it to safety in the end.
So with all our adventure and all those good times, a brand was born.
Born from battle, as they say.
Now came the hard part. The mind can wonder easily when figuring out all of the logistics of starting a label.
The biggest thing for us was legitimacy of product.
- Who is producing quality clothing?
- Where is the fabric coming from?
- Can we help ocean clean up by directing plastic supply?
- What do people want to buy?
- Is there anyway to incorporate our team mascot and bring forth the almighty Dolphicorn (Thank you Ben for conceiving and Kathy for birthing her)
- How do we present it?
After many e-mails, endless calls, pouring over websites and checking the sources we have now found the top manufacturer for Eco clothing. Just check the certifications we have for every piece! BOOM.
Then we called the only man capable of multi tasking as much as us.
Glen Bowden, the magic man, the wonder, the mystery, the man behind the lens, the compassionate, the talented, the extremely generous, Glen Bowden (www.glenbowden.com)
Glen has now, not only made a dedicated site and film short for the Ocean Ambassadors. He also came out, shot our clothing, edited another film short and organized two great models to offer their time as well.
And I haven’t even paid him!
He has done all of this to help us, all to see us move forward. And for that Glen, you can have Moana and Dolphicorn’s first born. Not sure what will happen when a 38ft double hull canoe and a mythical creature breed, but I’m sure it will be GLORIOUS.
Getting the right people to show it off was important. Within 12 hours of our Magic man putting out the vibe (they call it a casting call) he had a few models to choose from. All had offered their time for free to help the cause, and all were stunning.
(please note this is not a picture of Glen, that's not allowed)
I guess this is a good time to mention I had my Grandma here helping with Moana. As I was engulfed in a complete interior varnish job of the WHOLE boat! Granny was up at the house scrubbing every pot and pan, washing and re-washing every dish on-board, cleaning the toilet (this was actually easy for her, cause I took it out and brought it to her, so don’t be hating) and even relentlessly bothering me about washing my work clothes every night.
I would get a daily recap of all worldly events, and local news (something I don’t normally get being a hermit) and even whatever else she made up in her head while bleaching out our plumbing.
It was marvelous.
The reason I mention all this, was after Glen had some models picked out for us to choose from. I had an extremely comfortable team meeting with Granny on which one to pick.
This was not awkward at all!
After much consideration, and pouring over photos of Brisbane’s finest, I went with my gut, closed my eyes and threw a dart at the wall.
It landed on Ryan Lissanne Price, after confirmation, I learned Ryan is actually a finalist for this years Miss Earth Australia contest. Though I have no idea about beauty pageants whatsoever and can honestly say I have never even seen one, this interested me. So I let my fingers do the walking and found out what that actually meant.
Whatya know, it turns out Miss Earth is actually “for earth-loving participants who will motivate members of their local communities to take action to protect the Earth from man-made pollution. Our candidates must be cheerful, intelligent, articulate, beautiful, knowledgeable about environmental issues and be committed to doing their best to help make our planet clean and sustainable.”
Hmmm, yup that’ll work.
After having Ryan onboard and learning a little more, we know who our pick is. So get out there if you can and help our cover girl take the title.
Though we have officially offered her the position of deckhand, or “swabby” in our world, we do hope that Ryan claims this title and goes on to conquer Miss Earth of the whole entire world!
That brings us to the sultry man sporting all our leisurely goods. Paul Pizzica. Paul came out of no-where answering Glen’s casting call on taking part.
Paul was early to the shoot, and after some brief chitchat, the hard questions came out.
“So, Paul, do you like unicorns?”
An uncomfortable pause passed and seeing he was already reconsidering the shoot, I handed him his Dolphicorn shirt.
Paul took to her like any normal sane person would, and fell instantly in love.
Extremely professional and super easy to get along with Paul filled out the Leisure Activist Group line with style and ease.
Too bad there wasn’t a Mr. Earth or we’d have the dream team.
Whew! What a relief. We can now see if this is something people will respond to.
So get out there people and spread the word, if you have read through the Indiegogo campaign hopefully you understand what we are about. If you haven’t please take the time to do so.
An immense amount of work has gone into this. And we cannot achieve our goals with either The Ocean Ambassadors or our work with Upcycle the Gyres if we do not generate an income.
It’s up to you now people. Share it around, buy Christmas presents for the family and tell your local shop these are the types of products you want to see on the shelf.
Leisure Activist Group is a brand from the people for the people.
(Last years team in Fiji)
A New Light
Music: The Clash, “Combat Rock”
It’s been a while since I’ve done a blog.
Could be due to our “glorious return to civilization” was more like a Rocky style beating.
Not the one where he wins, but the kind where he gets smacked around round after
round, and just takes it in the chin. But goes on to fight another day.
But hey, in our first blog, we did quote “Eye of the Tiger,” so I guess it’s fitting.
Ohh the cycles of life.
We are now in a new exciting year, have new partners, new projects to work
with and a bright future ahead.
For those that have tracked any of our progress on Facebook (if you haven’t,
you are required to like our page now, or you might as well stop reading) you
may know that we are working with Upcycle the Gyres Society (UGS).
I say we, because, though I have taken the position, my job will not happen
if I do not have a good crew onboard and if Moana does not have the support
she needs, she cannot bring me to the locations.
Being the hands on pacific logistics co-coordinator and proof of concept Capt
for something so huge is an absolute honor.
Just to have these people believe in my ability on the ocean is enough. But
to trust that I can provide the goods with the inter island/country relations makes
me feel funny in good places.
So, since we have never been good at asking for handouts, we have developed
some brand new goodies for you.
We got’s new clothing being made, our complete product line for 2013 is being
produced by Rethink Fabrics.
Rethink is a boutique apparel manufacturer that exclusively focuses on rPET
as a raw material. They have developed t-shirts that are made from 8-17 recycled
plastic bottles. They have a uniquely soft hand feel, currently the best in the market.
Leisure Activist Group is now producing a small but high quality product offering through
Rethink. Our signature line consists of t-shirts, polos and performance athletic tees.
Through Rethink we only use certified and traceable recycled fibers, as we believe
that credibility is as equally important as quality in the recycled market.
We now have a master shaper on the team.
Denny Schwartz contacted us after he saw our feature on Creek to Coast. His enthusiasm
was superb and we all know flattery will get you everywhere.
But then we learned of his accomplishments.
A master shaper, who was actually starting to make a name for himself in the late 90's
and early 2000's, Denny relocated to the mainland to learn Sustainable Building practices.
He is now using these practices he has learned for future board building. Just wait for
his signature Leisure Activist shapes!
Though a recent transplant to the Washington state area, he is already building a fan
base with his race-boards for kiting and is a happy team ambassador for Blade kites.
We are very stoked to have Denny on-board and cant wait to have his happy sticks
put to use on our next voyage.
Genuine Health has renewed me as a “Gold Ambassador” All that goodness that keeps the team and I kicking while we are, well anywhere. I take my transform+ everyday! (about 8 yearsand running now)
It’s extremely comforting knowing that you have all the nutrients you need to go hard everyday.
Even my regular working life is extremely physical, some may say I’ve become co-dependant on this glorious vanilla powder, but I DO NOT CARE!
I just feel healthy and happy when it’s in my system
Then there are the good people at Ozone kites. I guess after crossing half of the Pacific Ocean on their gear, they decided we earned a healthy new care package.
I absolutely love using these kites. Every brand has competitive gear, but when you fly Ozone you feel the difference. No one has this much time and experience with things that fly. In my opinion, Ozone’s history with snow kites from the beginning and paragliding puts their
development team high above the competition.
We may be stepping away from sports as a job, but I cant wait to tear apart some south pacific beauties on my new Ozone Reo when we have some spare time.
Now, this last part might just be the most important. We could clean up every ocean with UGS . We could educate every island nation on how to create local jobs with the GIP model. But who’s going to know about it if no one is telling the story?
So I want everyone to give a big round of applause for our new wonder
man Glen Bowden.
Glen Bowden jumped on-board with a last minute e-mail. I had flown to Australia with the empty promise of a TV series pilot. Damn these Hollywood types. As I had to send embarrassing e-mails to people who assisted in making this trip happen, I was actually relieved. I was about to sell out real hard. Over sensationalizing our endeavors is not something I’m interested in. Getting our point across and spreading the good word is more important
So with a little luck on our side, FINALLY, I was blessed with meeting Glen Bowden, our new producer.
Glen will be working on a documentary style film about our project and journeys. He has an extensive background with professional photography, web design, and marketing and has now moved to film through the past two years. A multi tasker at his best. My kind of man!
Please follow our progress at www.theoceanambassadors.com (in construction)
So as we move into this new year of exciting developments, please keep in touch and be a Leisure Activist whenever possible…
Ben's Article to Kite Mags
Check his gallery
“Cutting through the heavy chop the turquoise sheen of the upper layers of water give way to the deep and dark expanse beneath. Just like the night sky, the more you stare at it the less sure you are what is out there. All of a sudden I race towards a steepening swell laden with ripples and white caps, approaching the wave from behind I reach its crest momentarily pausing, struggling for speed and power, urging my kite over the threshold, diving it searching for the extra power locked in the breeze to propel me over the edge.
Like reaching the top of a mountain you stand at its peak, overlooking the surroundings and just like any other mountain there is always the descent, freefalling down its face barely in control, a seemingly everlasting wave I bounce down it’s face, high above me the kite sits in the sky, stationary as I race towards it blasting down into the trough of the wave. This seems to be a familiar process, one which seems to go on and on, from one hour to the next, one day to the next and even one country to the next”
We have recently undertaken surely one of the largest kiteboarding expeditions known, we have kited across thousands of miles of open ocean, tackled every sort of scenario one my find at sea and in the process kited between four different Pacific nations.
The idea began as a dream, one of those dreams that momentarily pops into ones head in an idle moment, one which you may muse upon briefly before discarding it into the pile of fiction and thought. The notion of the idea was first mentioned to me by Adrian Midwood, expedition leader and founder of the Leisure activist group, it was mentioned in passing seemingly hypothetical, however as the idea began to grow it seemed to gather momentum and show signs of becoming a real possibility.
The Leisure Activist Group is an organisation designed to use the medium of outdoors to provide a platform for educating the youth. It is a two tiered educational program which can teach youth everything from sailing to scuba diving, kiting to surfing while also promoting environmental awareness through its ties to the Non-Profit Eco Soul and its Green Island Project Ocean Ambassador Program.
Eco Soul's primary objective is to demonstrate non-polluting, low-impact, sustainable systems that incorporate appropriate renewable technologies. The aim is to help integrate these new technologies into communities within the Pacific islands.
The idea for the expedition developed into a fundraiser, a mission which would hopefully generate both awareness and funds for the project. Our intention is to use the coverage to gain backing to turn the vessel into a floating model of the various different types of renewable energy which may then tour the Pacific teaching the local peoples the needs and benefits of sustainable energy production.
We departed the Haapai Group of central Tonga on Moana the 38 foot Wharram which was our support vessel for the expedition. The boat is based upon traditional Polynesian designs and was the perfect platform for the trip because of both its practicality and size as well as its relevance to the people of the Pacific and their ties to the ancient Polynesian voyagers.
The first leg consisted of a crew of four with three athletes ; one kiter was in the water the entire time during daylight hours, we each took turns throughout the day on the kite as we progressed through each leg.
The route for the expedition began in Tonga, it crossed 400nm of ocean to Suva Fiji, Another 420nm to the island of Tanna in Vanuatu, from there it headed 180nm South West down to Noumea in New Caledonia before finally finishing 750nm later in Brisbane Australia.
Each leg brought with it different challenges, problems and hazards as well as stories and the sense of achievement. Although most people yearn for the buttery flat lagoons and estuaries or the perfectly formed waves in a steady breeze for kiting, the nature of open ocean kiting is something else altogether. The constant chop on the water is ever-present as well as the rolling swells sometimes reaching up to three metres. As we were kiting westerly in the trade wind belt a lot of the time spent riding was off the wind, therefore a certain adaption of style was developed by each person in order to ride continuously downwind while still allowing for the rolling ocean swells traveling in the same direction.
There were obviously limitations involved when undertaking such a feat and something which we had to take into account was the fact that the person on the kite could achieve a speed three times faster than that of the boat, therefore much of the time spent riding was back and forth around the yacht. Daylight was another restriction and we accounted for it by reasoning that the miles that we kited during the day would in turn make up for those which we couldn’t kite during the night time.
The risks involved are great, since there was nowhere to run out there and often days away from civilisation we are basically always in a precarious position. The ability to launch and land somebody on a kiteboard up to 5 times a day from a boat in large seas does bring a large element of risk to what we were doing and we learnt a lot, eventually developing a fluid technique where each person plays a vital role ensuring that the kiter is safely launched and retrieved each day.
The people of the islands have been amazed by the concept, we have met groups throughout Tonga, in Fiji we spent time in kava sessions with chiefs in various villages where we sat around discussing the benefits of green energy and solar concepts with the villagers.
In Vava’u we teamed up VEPA the Vava’u Environmental Protection Association and took a group of local children out to the reef, we taught them about its significance and how it must be protected, many of them have never used a mask and snorkel or even seen the amazing underwater habitiat.
We spent time in Tanna island in Vanuatu dubbed ‘the happiest place on earth’ the locals were unbelievably friendly, they were fascinated by our boat as it is basically a large scale version of what they fish from. Electricity is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury and the need for solar generation is becoming important. We talked about the availability of it, the way it works and discussed with them how viable the concept was. Their eyes were bright with enthusiasm and the idea of being independent of noisy polluting diesel generators genuinely excited them.
Unfortunately due to highly adverse weather conditions ranging from zero to forty knot winds and Four - Seven metre seas we were unable to complete the entire final leg into Brisbane however we are happy to claim that we have successfully crossed a decent portion of the South West Pacific from Tonga to New Caledonia and in the process raised awareness for the project.
Equipment: 9m Ozone Edge,
12m Ozone Reo,
13m Ozone C4,
Sprocket Boards Falcutta 135x42,
5’10” Quad fin.
Kiters and Crew: Adrian Midwood, Ben Mason, Nicholas Molyneuax, Steph Jacobs, Poema Du Prel
Out, or is it In?
We now pack up, get provisions and check out with immigration and customs for one last time.
The weather is looking good, we hope. But there's not much we can do now. Just move forward and do what we know best.
Two and half years of hard work has put this together, and you cant help but picture in your mind how it would happen.
But in the end it happens how it happens, and it's all about the journey....
Vanuatu to New Caledonia
and be sure to check Steph's blog
With our quick time in Tanna over, we packed up Moana and got set to do our shortest transit of the whole trip.
These can be the most dangerous of all. The low number of miles can give everyone a false sense of security.
The key here is much like when you tie up at a dock, or set the anchor, you have to prepare as if it's for two weeks.
We were all still tired, our time in Vanuatu provided no rest. I'm not sure about the others, but I was pretty ready to flag this section and just sail. Apologize to anyone who felt we cheated, and just express in regards to crew health we couldn't pull it off. That and during our epic soccer match I had gone in too hard and was left with a massive charlie horse in my left leg.
My already weak leg.
Our few days in Port Resolution the wind was up. Every time we looked out to sea there was massive wind chop building. The thought of heading out into it was not inviting, to say the least.
With Moana tidy and fresh lashings on the rudders we upped anchor and made way.
When the time came to put someone in, I was still exhausted. My leg was jelly, and any time I put pressure on that side it would give.
Ben manned up and hoped in first. Our wind was up and down, not settled at all. It was a hard decision on what to use. But we opted for our 9m, since the gusts were over 20 knots, then it would fall out and sit in the low teens.
We had a clean launch, but in fiji had replaced some lines, and they didn't match up. Ben had no control, and we were forced to land instantly.
He climbed aboard and though it was an easy fix, the task at hand felt like climbing everest.
Within 10-15 minutes of drifting we had changed out the lines and were ready again.
Back in the water and another open ocean launch was executed with precision. At least we're good at that!
Steph grabbed the helm, by now she's pretty much an expert, and I crashed in the opposite side of the cockpit.
After a couple hours, I looked around and asked where Ben was. He cruised by quickly after and waved.
Looked like everything was under control. This might have been the first time since we started that I was actually able to relax on passage. No wonder I didn't want to move.
I tried to stand and my leg gave out again. DAMN IT.
A quick radio call to Ben assured me he was fine and in the zone. He was happy to keep on going for a while and just try to make it so we only had one changeover for the day. Thats all fine and good. But I still had to muster strength to put in four hours myself.
The time came, and after massaging my leg and trying to warm it up, I still felt weak. No choice but to get in and see how I go.
We did a quick changeover, and surprisingly kiting wasn't too hard on it. I guess the angle of pressure didn't hit the weak spot and I was able to go along fine. As long as I didn't jump and kept even weight it was good.
Near the end of that day, we were along side the Loyalty group off eastern New Caledonia. Round three down.
As we navigated through the lagoon to Noumea, our thoughts wandered to fresh baguettes, pate, stinky cheese and all that is abundant in French territories. Steph even landed us a tuna as we entered the pass!
We knew there should be time to rest here, and maybe even a chance to just simply enjoy some down time.
For our next leg is big, almost double what we have done on anything so far, time to finish what we started.
Fiji to Vanuatu.... and some Vanuatu action.
Leaving fiji was proving difficult.
There wasn't anywhere near the dramas we incurred in Ha'apai.
There was no crew member with a massive eye infection, one that had no signs of improving and left him weeping ooze from his right eye, physically and mentally exhausted and hugely sensitive to light.
There wasn't any over the top technological breakdowns like in Tonga, I will never forget my trusty Mac Book pro shutting down and giving me the endless spiny ball of death. Leaving us with zero modern navigation systems, no e-mail, word documents, all our photos un-accessable and a lingering fear this might not ever come right.
There was no issue of trying to activate our Iridium phone from an outpost in an already backwards country. No SUP paddle snapping at the neck the night before departure. Nope, we didn't have any of that.
Of course the expected minor problems were arising once in Fiji. Some small boat repairs were needed. Our engines were not idling due to gunked up carbs, normally it wouldn't bother me, but launching and landing kites in the deep is a delicate dance and we needed to be certain we would have them at 100%. Equipment was getting tired and torn. All of our funds were drying up, and a desperate attempt from a friend to organize a local fundraiser turned pointless.
But boats can be repaired, carburators can be blown out, kites can be sown and we can survive on the basics.
Not to say our two issues we were experiencing weren't something we were used to, or even expected.
Just damn frustrating!
We had crew arriving with a limited time frame and the weather wasn't co-operating.
Sounds so small, yet these two things dictate our whole passage.
Ahhhh the dreaded four words every mariner has faced time and again.
"Sailing on a schedule."
For four days a band of low pressure sat off fiji, socking us in with light variable winds and more rain than some countries get in a year.
If we only had to go sailing, it wouldn't be a problem.
There was nothing we could do.
Steph had prepped 12 full meals for passage. Ben and I had re-worked our packing system. We had the kites pre-run. Moana was set for departure, and we waited.
On the eve of sept 29th we saw our first rays of sunshine in what felt like far too long. Alarms were set and we all went to our seprate cabins for an early night in.
I woke up a few times through the night to check the sky, but lingering squalls told me to go back.
At 4:30 a.m the weather finally showed signs for a clear run. Our weather was looking soft, but we had to take it.
Anchor up by 5:00 and we were navigating out to the Tavarua/Namotu pass in the early dawn light.
Once we exited the lagoon, the wind still hadn't come right. loads of south in it and only about 10 knots.
There was not enough to kite, and our point was so high paddling would've taken it out of us in one day.
No choice but to tie a tag line and tow behind the boat on our trusty 9'6" SUP. This might sound easy, but towing behind a boat averaging 5-6 knots in a beam sea is hectic. Luckily the wind started to fill and by mid morning we had a 13m kite up and cruising.
As the day progressed, so did the wind. Though it got up to 20 knots by sunset we kept the 13m in the sky. We were making miles and the boat was cruising. It was best to make hay while the sun was shinning.
The following morning we had another low wind situation to deal with. We struggled with line tangles, having to land, go to towing on the SUP, then back out again for the afternoon on kite.
Day three brought another frustrating window. We attempted to kite, but after working the 13m for a while it was best to land and go back to towing.
With arms exhausted, hands torn and the water cooling down we sat 122 nm from Tanna and watched our windspeed drop steadily through the night.
We had hoped for a quick passage, but the wind would just not co-operate. On day four, sunrise showed we were off the first island we could see in the Vanuatu chain. But still a long way from Tanna. Our team met in the cockpit and decided there would be no choice, but to just go with what we had and drop in the SUP for yet another long day towing.
By the time we had ate, and got prepped, the wind was bumping up in small bursts.
I looked at Ben, and grinned. He was still a little skeptical, but the call had to be made.
"We're launching the 13m."
It was light, damn light. But it was flying and had enough preassure to pull me along. Good enough.
Tanna was in sight and Moana was cruising.
The wind came and went until finally 5 miles off-shore it died. We got the kite on deck and preppared for arrival.
Another 470 nautical miles down!
This leg was completely different from our Tonga to Fiji run. But thats the point. We deal with what we have.
We were all tired, all worn-out. But the best thing about landing in a port with a massive live Volcano, is the hot-springs.
Thank you mother earth for providing a perfect hot spa to repair our bodies and cook our fish.
With getting delayed in Fiji, our time in Tanna was going to be short. Instead of getting bummed out, we all decided to jump right in and do what we could with our short time.
The day after arrival we had a 5:00 a.m. wake up and 6:00 a.m. ride waiting to ferry us up and over the island for customs and some much needed fresh provisions.
Other than getting delayed in Lenakel, waiting for the immigration officer who it sounds like has a history of not showing up to work, our first part of the day was great.
This island is amazing, from super lush garden valleys, ashen mountains, a live Vocano, natural hot, and I mean HOT, springs and all surrounded by the amazing south pacific ocean.
We got back to Port Resolution around 4:00 p.m. and our driver, looking very tired, asked, "You still want to go to the volcano tonight?"
We were all still shattered and a long day riding in the back of a truck didn't help. But, not much time made us answer with a tired, "yes please."
Ohhh wee it was worth it.
As much as hoping in the back of Jon's Hilux didnt sound appealing, our sunset cruise in the jungle was spectacluar.
Then came the magma!
As we drove up and around we could start to see red flashes now and again, steam was wafting out of the mountainside, and we were all getting a little excited.
Jon pulled into the parking area and pointed at a hill.
"Go up and take a right." Was all he said.
It was pitch black, none of us had been there before and all of a sudden BOOM!
Red hot boulders were flying through the sky.
It was mind blowing. We hiked to the top of the crater, and could see the red glow below.
After waiting a while, it sounded like the crater was breathing. Then slowly the groans would increase and red thingies were flying everywhere.
Our second day in Port Resolution started with a sleep in. 6:00 a.m we were up and working on repairs.
Ben and Steph found some fish and opted for the hot baths as the kitchen.
We were short on time, but some friends asked if we would like to join them for some Kava, and the chief had asked us to come over for dinner.
Sure, lets do both!
It was now our last day in Tanna and we had something left to do.
We had to go play.
Starting with a paddle race to shore.
Next we had one of the most epic soccer games in the history of time.
Took some kids paddling.
And gave our buddies a crash course in how kites work.
Time to go to sea........
Tonga to Fiji
(Courtesy of Steph's blog)
The day started off with a comedy of errors, what I liked the most about them happening was Adrian’s attitude after the fact,
‘Well, it was a bunch of good drills’.
And it was, getting as many stuff ups out of the way and practicing them all before lunchtime. Talk about a mood calmer.
Not that anything went horribly wrong but you always envisage the departure upon a huge mission to be flawless, when in reality, for even the most rehearsed missions, they have many stuff ups at the start. We were just another addition to the list of people in the world that start off with a bit of bad luck.
Once underway though, the sun came out and good luck seemed to just roll our way, even if the winds did not. The nerves about our reality calmed a little and we started to confidently work our way from point A to point B.
Adrian had spent the morning dancing to Vengaboys (ok truth be told it was all of us) but he took it that a little bit further by adding in a costume to his ‘routine’. This costume carried him for his first leg, A.K.A the first person on the water for the trip. My did he ‘dazzle’, take that word to describe him as you will. He tagged in, with slightly more appropriately dressed Nick to breathe deeply into his lungs for some clean fresh air and paddle us through our lunch break. A quick stint back in the water for Adrain to show us his costume change to ‘business wear’ also known as a pair of boardies and what looks like a free T-shirt before I took the plunge into the big blue and paddled us through to our anchorage for the night. Yep, that’s right, no nights passage for us first day.
The beauty of the anchorage is not just cosmetic or beautiful because we get our beauty sleep. The beauty of the anchorage boils down to exactly what this trip is about, being a Leisure Activist. Once we pulled up stumps at our most likely empty paradise island, next to no one, seeing no one and watched the sky begin to use every colour in its pallet before painting the night sky we swum in the blue water.
Not just in the blue water by ourselves but within meters of a whale and her calf sleeping. Yep, we finished the day off with Nick and my first ever view of whales, just doing their thing. We glided around looking at the tiny detail, all the fish that just hang on around them, their barnacles, the way Mum swam with him under her belly but would rest with him on the surface, with him on her head so he could still breath, her big brown eye, her tail dark on top but the most amazingly harsh but squishy white on the underside we saw everything.
So I guess I can say with that in mind. That when people say we are crazy with what we are doing, I will take a little bit of crazy and a little bit of bad luck at the start because with all that falling into place, it meant I learnt a little bit more for next time there is a problem and it meant that I got to swim with a whale today. I never would have done that if I was in the office.
assembled, had gone through the obligatory team handshake and pump up
meeting and we were off on our non stop passage to Fijian waters.
Nick was first taking off, taking us out for our final look at the
Tongan islands and as Adrian jumped in to weave us around our last
island I was somewhere in between sea sickness and being bummed about
making lunch in the galley. It did not take long for my non-sea legs to
make an appearance.
We fell short of making it around the top of the last island and
wound our way back down the side to scoot in between some very
impressive volcanoes. As night fell we watched the last bit of land we
would see for a few days fall into the background landed the kite and
got ready for our first night at sea.
at sea reared it’s head and with it came seas of approximately four
meters and not a speck of land in sight. It was mine and Nick’s first
real day at sea and although the sun was shining our luck was and was
Adrian jumped in about half six to a bubbling pot of electric blue
water. The 9 meter kite sailed above his head for the next three hours
until Nick jumped in. Always reminding me I am on the look out for fins I
did my best job while Ben skippered the boat.
A little over an hour later our luck had changed. As we noticed the
kite was down we set about going back to help Nick out. Confused by what
he was doing with the kite Adrian chose some colourful language to
describe his feelings on the events taking place. With a keen eye on the
little man floating around in his white pants we went back to scoop him
up, only to find that one of the lines on his kite has snapped. Adrian
was very quick to admit he owed some coins into the swear jar and as any
good captain would do apologised for his misinterpretation of the
As Nick got his breath back on board and we just bobbed and floated
around my stomach did pretty much the same. We pumped up another kite
and Nick jumped back in the water. All of a sudden…..RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIP.
Kite number two of the day was gone. Stuck on part of the boat it ripped
a nice big hole in the material. It was not our day.
Finally with kite launch and kite three of the day we had success until sunset.
The day had taken its toll on me and I was unable to help with night
watch. I proceed to bed with a promise of double scoop ice creams for
all when we got to dry land. I celebrated my arrival to bed by spending
the night vomiting and listening to the boat sail its way through the
night time waters. The three tired athletes took one for the team and
got us through the night and a little bit closer to Fijian waters.
All Good in the Hood…
With the less than necessary sleep for the athletes there was a drawn and vacant look in everyone’s eyes as the sun rose in the sky. My sea sickness was still kicking around but with the promise of day three at sea being the day you come right, I was feeling hopeful.
However gross we were all feeling, there was light at the end of the rainbow. Ben had a healthier looking eye and was ready to be the first to jump into the more inviting looking waters. The rest of the day played out with little to no drama, as the boys relayed their way across the pacific ocean towards our first land sighting in a few days.
The tiger striped clouds were painted in the sky as the reds, yellows and oranges pierced through behind them. A feeling of excitement was in the air for the arrival into Suva the next day and we celebrated this fact with a wholesome and much loved classic on the dinner table…cheese on toast.
The Wind Falls Short…
The was an air of excitement around unfortunately though the wind was not. We were looking forward to a night fully rested on anchor so the day started with a light that was not even from the sun.
We popped Nick in the water and sailed for Suva as the wind died and died and died. Our goal was slipping out of reach. By 12:30 the kite was landed and we had to come to terms with another night at sea. It was not too long before our reality was just what it was and we did what we could which included blowing as much air as I could from my lungs towards the sails in the hope we would get there.
Alas, the only gold in our afternoon was a close encounter with a whale and the lights of Suva glowing in the distance till the sun would rise enough for us to see our way into anchor.
As Adrian took navigation lessons for me on night watch, Ben spent the time with his student trying to stop him doing 180’s in the boat. Clearly we can see the most successful student teacher relationship here.
LAT: 19 47. 9
LONG 174 21. 2
Weather: Lite showers, patches of sun, many many whales around.
Stereo: Brudah IZ
There’s something liberating about no longer being able to over-analyze every detail. It brings a simple pleasure I haven’t felt for a long time.
I’m not sure how others feel on the subject, but personally, when I set out to accomplish something. I have to see it through. Oh yes, other goals have occupied my thoughts before, but this takes the cake.
Talk about all consuming!
Is it to early to apologize to anyone and everyone who ever had to listen to every small hurdle that was overcome?
Maybe, but here goes.
“I don’t regret a thing. This project overtook my life and I am over the moon that is now a reality. IT WAS WORTH IT.”
With that off my chest…
Times are good. Returning to “Moana” early and getting to spend time with her has been a pleasure. I had been to Vava’u four times before, and never saw more than the entry, exit, Neiafu and the airport.
Talk about a Tongan experience!
Vava’u is such a playground. The best part is you can sail out of town in the morning and cruise through the whole chain and back again in one day.
The out anchorages are pristine, deserted beaches, kite launches, empty waves, tons of coconuts, small cruising community and more whales to play with than you can count.
Good friends, old and new, have been on-scene. But where to start?
Ahhh yes, Jeremy and Rachel.
I grabbed these two off the dock while picking up some friends to sail over to the eastern islands of Vava’u. After a grand day on the water, and three days of “Fetoko” madness with Ben, Lisa and crew, it was as simple as this.
“You guys are moving in right?”
It’s no lie I was feeling a little overwhelmed at the time. These two came on-board and changed my life in an afternoon. Always knowing where to be on the boat, what line to grab, when to trim for course, tidying up lines, doing dishes and even offered to put the sail-bags on when we arrived!
These might sound like menial tasks, but it was so nice to finally have some help with them.
Our wonder weekend in the isles, playing “Battle Hip” on fetoko (where Jeremy took the title of Galactic Man), connecting with amazing like minded people walking away from the mess that the western world has created, Jeremy and I smashed the champions round of Cornhole, Rachel helped the team on our amazing eleven cakes (why this weekend is now referred to as the buttering) we paddled, towed Moana with a kite yadda yadda, this will forever be an important memory.
(Photo credit to Magenta Hyde)
Though, when we returned to town I found it was off to work for me. A delivery had come through, and times were tough. The worst part was I had also been informed all of our equipment coming from French Polynesia had arrived in Samoa early and needed urgent pick-up.
To explain, the last time I was in FP I had the chance to drop some essentials on a passing boat. Things I hadn’t been able to fly with to Moana. Just the small stuff:
- 15 hp outboard
- Air tank fillah
- And three other garbage bags filled of stuff I had from Cassiopee
Judgment call time.
“How do you guys feel about sailing Moana to Pago Pago to pick up some stuff?” I asked our new crew.
Jeremy didn’t look to enthusiastic “I don’t know if I want to take responsibility of your boat like that.”
“You can get stuff shipped from America with no duty.”
“So, since you guys are going, could you go do a massive provisions run for us?”
I don’t think I would’ve trusted many other people with this task on such short notice. But they had the resume and had already sailed our wonderful yacht.
About ten days later, aboard the yacht I was delivering, we limped into Pago Pago harbor. I will now take the time to express that this was not our planned destination.
I had joined a friend who was skippering a yacht back to its home port. We had some large equipment failure and almost lost the rig, so we re-routed and arrived in American Samoa with Moana deep in the bay waiting.
It was glorious.
Jeremy and Rachel had already picked up the equipment and were en-route to get our provisions from the delivery truck.
We had a couple days on Tutuila and set off in 20 -25 knots of easterlies. Three amazing nights at sea later and with 5-10 knots of breeze we sailed in to Neiafu.
A massive thank you was in store, so we set off to southern group after formalities and did what we do.
Next were the transplants, Jason and Lara. We had talked about running some charters in Tonga before our departure, but no clients seemed interested in enjoying their lives, so we came to the decision that it’s probably best to just have them visit for a while. City life had been taking its toll on them and a couple weeks in the islands were what the doctor ordered.
These two have covered some miles, we actually met in Rarotonga two years ago, they had competed in the worlds on smaller yachts. They arrived just in time for our re-naming ceremony, we had amazing wind all to ourselves, swam and paddled with some friendly Humpbacks, sailed all over Vava’u, foraged for coconuts and reflected on the problems of the world during a squally evening.
Life on-board at it’s best.
Then the dream team arrived. Aug 13th 2012 was a sunny afternoon. Every single area of lifeline and all halyards were in use drying laundry.
Ben and Steph showed up to our shore base the Aquarium Café and grabbed our new tender that had just arrived.
It’s pretty hard to miss our yacht in an anchorage, so I wasn’t worried about them finding us.
What has happened since is actually a blur in all honesty. I have no doubt that we have a strong team and are capable of what is to come. But there has been a lot else on the mind.
These two have just spent the last three months close to the source, and the force is strong within.
We now sit in the Ha’apai group awaiting our last crew for departure.
Like I said, life is good. But I feel there’s more to be said. I realize this is getting long, but I haven’t checked in for a while, soooooooooo.
Other than the amazing adventures of life, what’s most fulfilling is actually starting what we hope to achieve with the G.I.P Ocean Ambassador program.
Though I’m blessed with an amazing existence in what I consider paradise, working towards a greater goal is bringing the pleasure.
You’d be surprised how hard it is to actually pull this together, I wont even bother you with the details, it bores me.
Vava’u is lucky enough to have people around who actually care about what is happening to the island chain. Those people ban together and do something. They go by the name VEPA (Vavau Environmental Protection Association).
They have already achieved amazing feats in an island chain that is still independent. No outside income means poverty and lack of education.
They are working wonders in a country that is still in that awkward infant stage of merging with western society.
Other than waste management systems, steady classroom sessions in local schools, implementing various other programs they are also brining in active marine environment education for the local youth.
You’d think that with an island chain based on ocean tourism they’d have access to boats, snorkels, etc and this would be an easy task to get rolling
If it weren’t for our boat being available to assist, these kids who grew up in these islands, would have never scene the underwater environment in their backyard.
Just stop and think about that.
How are these people to understand what they have, if they don’t even know it’s there?
Every kid we brought out had never even been on a sailboat before. Isn’t Tonga in Polynesia? Didn’t they invent this stuff? Why is not part of their everyday life? Well that’s a conversation for another day and forum, but I don’t think missionaries helped on that front.
We enjoyed our time on the water with VEPA so much we decided it was time to spend some time with them and people in charge of the islands future. Welcoming their minister of Health, minister of Environment and a gentleman who is out in Vava’u introducing solar power on a large scale, we set sail for an afternoon of enjoyment and discussion on what we hope to achieve with the GIP Ocean Ambassador program. Other than having a great day on the water, it was a great time to re-fuel our ambition. And the timing couldn’t have been better.
Not to mention all on scene could not express how much the GIP Ocean Ambassador program is needed.
All of us in the western world forget that we are blessed with not just modern amenities, but an emerging global consciousness regarding how we will proceed with our existence. Most importantly we have powerful people who are implementing renewable energy instead of shutting it down. Yes I’m sure we are all sick of the words “eco”, “green” or “sustainable”. But remember that it also goes with another one.
|ˈna ch ərəl|
1 existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind.
So please remember if you are following us on this journey, it is all to bring
"a collaboration to design and promote next-generation, sustainable, municipal-scale utilities." It is our hope to further educate people on a "model that incorporates proven and emerging technologies to reduce fossil fuel dependency, create jobs, close landfills, and anchor renewable energy systems."
A Little Help With Friends
(Courtesy of our deckhand Steph, for more of her poetic ramblings go to
A food hangover was being nursed today but that did not stop us heading out on an adventure to swim with sharks and stingrays. You see not only were we showing Ben’s sister Kiri the sights of Moorea but Ben and I need to get into training, the holiday is now further from being over. In actual fact this year was never supposed to be a holiday but as the days peel off the calendar like post it notes on a stack, things just keep popping up.
When we arrived in French Polynesia, I met Ben’s mate Adrian. A happy go lucky Canadian, of whom I liked upon meeting but appreciated even more when I found out he had gone to the land down under, down under; he had been to Tasmania .Anyone who ventures there always deserves a few Tasmanian apples in my cart, I am yet to find out his standing with Vegemite but I am sure I will have time to because Adrian is an ideas man and the idea he had and offer to jump on board was a little too hard for us to refuse. Also it will give me ample time to find out his thoughts on the thing that most other cultures are glad not to be connected with and see more of the world.
The Leisure Activist Group is about giving the youth of today the opportunity to learn skills in outdoor escapades, such as sailing, scuba diving with tasters of kite boarding and stand up paddle boarding. It offers the chance to put these skills into practice in an environment where you can have a bunch fun and absorb the beauty that is a sustainable future. First mate Ben and Captain Adrian will (I am sure) be impressed with my ability to pick sea from land and tie a reef knot, as I take my deckhand skills on a sailing adventure from Tonga to Samoa and back before we head to Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and finally end the adventure where XXXX Gold flows straight from waterfalls. So, Mum and Dad, yes I am still avoiding life as a slave to the man but I will be home in time for Christmas , so set me a place at the table and don’t be too offended if the best I can give this year, in the spirit of giving ,is a few strands of shells and seeds that I have managed to string to together on the journey and sneak past customs.
Not only are we sailing and spreading the word of sustainable futures but we intend (in all day light hours) to be kite surfing or stand up paddle boarding our way over the waves along with the yacht. So we are in training.
As we popped ourselves into the kayaks and stood proudly on the paddle boards this morning our bellies full of the day before and its bounty blubbered along with us. It was amazingly hard paddling up wind. Digging our way through the waves we were barely moving. It took the best part of the morning to move at all. Finally we found ourselves at our destination and jumping into the blue depths to come face to face with a moray eel, dive and glide with stingrays and dart along with super fish. The views were pretty spectacular but what we were all waiting for was the enjoyment of a downwind paddle.
As we jumped on our boards and went directly into the current we found ourselves going at speeds we did not think were imaginable. Paddling around markers and getting on the current in the right position to propel ourselves along. If the upwind paddle was not so hard I would have done it again. My favourite moment of it all was watching Kiri lay down on her board and float along in the current. Chilling out and enjoying the relaxing ride mother nature had prepared for us.
The stingrays and sharks were plentiful this week. While Kiri was impressed at her ability to cheat death and swim with the 30cm sharks we fed stingrays (feeling their lips vacuum up our hands) and watched Ben be molested by about 7 when they mistook the bag of fish he had to share with all of them as one big fish they could eat themselves. I was surprised at how even the little reef fish were coming up and eating out of your hand.
We jumped back into the current and were whisked away down over the coral reef. While the ride was easy and felt a little less like training than it should, the upwind slog we had done before it had been hard enough work to get to enjoy something. Kiri spent most of her time attempting to get way too close to coral; she marvelled at all the sea cucumbers and attempted to entrench coral into her person, maybe a sneaky way to get some home.
Client = C
Me = M
C – “I’m comfortable with all the sailing, lines, winches and being underway. But it’s the close quarters handling that’s difficult.”
M – “No problem, we can practice that. I’ll have you comfortable doing that sort of stuff on your own.”
C – “As well, I want to take it slow. I’m not interested in rushing anywhere.”
M – “Okay, we have three months to do a passage that normally takes 8 days, that shouldn’t be a problem either.”
C – “And you’re sure you feel comfortable through French Polynesia, the Cook Islands and Tonga?”
M - “Yes.”
C – “Alright, when can you be in Tahiti?”
M – “Well, I just need to sail my boat to Tonga, and I can be on a plane. (re: “Sorry Girls I think I’m Taken.”)
As well, I need some time during our 3 months for training. If it’s alright with you, I’d like to take some personal time each day to prepare for a challenge I have coming up in Aug.”
C – “What kind of training?”
M – “What would be best, is surfing, kiting and paddling as much as possible…. Would you be okay with me doing that?”
C – “Yes.”
M – “I’ll let you know when I arrive in Tonga and have organized flights to meet you.”
C – “See you then.”
I think it might have been that simple. It’s hard to remember, as so much has happened since that conversation. But, I’m pretty sure it went like that.
(honest version of what’s happening)
Coming of age is amazing.
I have a long way to go, but I think this may have been the first time I got to sincerely take on a position where I feel 100 % comfortable with the task at hand.
I’ve always had a knack for going “all in” or “over my head” and “beyond my capability” sometimes “biting off more than I can chew” even at times “out of my comfort zone” or what I call “balls deep.”
I’ve never lied on a resume. I’ve always been quite honest about the fact I “may not be the most qualified person for the job. But I’ll do the best I can.”
This has always worked. Normally I get hired by people too cheap to pay for the “most qualified.”
Then I started realizing “the best man for the job” has gotten lazy with old age.
We aren’t going to dwell on this, but it’s a pretty well known fact.
People become complacent when they’re comfortable and stop putting in the effort.
I finally get to do that!
There’s no stressing about how to deal with awkward situations.
Aint gunna worry about approaching foreign ports of call.
There’ll be no extra hours catching up on equipment I never seen before.
All I plan on doing for the next three months is a little “takin’ care o’ business.” (TCB)
I’m not scared of a little hard work. Far from it, I love a good challenge. But whew weeeeeee! Am I happy to not have one now.
(What I tell my mom)
With only two people aboard a yacht that has space for 10 is a lot of work.
By the time I arrived, my client was sick of being in the major city and ready to make way.
I had a quick nights sleep, and was up early running into town to grab our last spare parts and provisions.
M – “What about the engines, generator, condition of sails, rigging, safety equipment and spares.”
C – “Don’t worry about it, I’ve been here for three weeks now waiting for you (sorry for being late I was getting smashed en-route to Tonga!), everything is ready, I’d like to move.”
M – “Okay, where do you want to go?”
C – “ I don’t know.”
M -“What are you looking to do?”
C – “I don’t know”
Well that was helpful.
And we set off for lands “un-known.”
C – “What’s our watch schedule?”
M – “We have me on for a bit, then you’ll take over when I go down. After that I’ll take over when you’re done.”
This was my first 48 hrs on the job. We re-provisioned the boat, and did 230 nautical miles.
I’ve witnessed Capt’s take 96 hours to adjust to the climate and get over jet leg while charging more than 10 times what I’m taking for this gig!
Maybe that’s why people think there’s an “economic crisis.” They aren’t getting paid to do nothing anymore.
With a name like “Generation X” what would you expect?
and back to our point
The next 14 days were not any easier. We kept up a pace that could make a pubescent rabbit seek for an afternoon nap.
We weren’t “sitting around reading magazines” as some might say.
- kite lessons (Stage 1,2,3,4,5)
- SUP Lessons (Stage 1,2)
- Yacht handling lessons (Stage 1,2,3,1,2,4,5,6,7,8,8,3,5,8,6,9,10)
- 650 nautical miles covered
- 1 down wind kite on a 10m kite and 9’6” SUP as a board
- Visits from friends
- Visiting friends
- Catching up on sleep
- enjoying “sundowners”
- some amazingly good food.
Sometimes, I just get overwhelmed with the workload. But, if you’re going to do something, than I believe, “you should do it right.”
I’m only one 3rd of the way through this contract, and apparently, I’m looking tired. Luckily my client has recognized this and has awarded me a couple days off.
We have more people joining us in 4 days time and my workload will have to increase.
This is not a complaint. I accept the choices I’ve made in life that have brought me here. I recognize that sometimes we have to pull our board shorts up and be responsible.
We all have a time when working towards our “career” is important. Most people commit a certain number of years to this.
They distance themselves from family and friends and make sacrifices no sane person would ever imagine.
But, if you want to succeed in your “field” than the time needs to be put in.
I look now, at the tender young age of 30, and think “holly crap.”
It’s been 13 years!
(looking good never felt sooooo good)
Then I think, “I might well have another 80 years on this planet”, unless I figure out immortality and world domination (on the list of things to do).
Maybe, it’s time to slow down and enjoy yourself.
And I refer you back to:
(honest version of what’s happening)
Take care of yourselves out there.
It’s a scary world, with scary things happening.
Remember to share the love
(super happy fun time)
Sorry girls, I think I'm taken.....
Lat 18 40.0 S
Long 173 59.1 W
Calm, sunny, nice…
Days Events: Final shut down of S.V. Moana and hop on a plane to start my journey back to French Polynesia
Writing about something that has been done a thousand times over is not easy.
So many great sailors, adventurers and writers have penned this story that it seems futile to even try.
I didn’t set out to do this. I’d put myself through this ordeal too many times prior on S.V. Cassiopee.
In my mind, solo sailing was something in my past, something I had proven to myself I was capable of and not something I planned to do on a 38 foot raft for 1,500 nm.
But, any chance to not wear pants for 11 days is worth taking.
Getting out of NZ was harder than expected.
I have never owned a boat in a first world country before. Having all the spares in the world at your disposal is a dangerous way to drain your life savings.
Luckily the previous owners had done an excellent job in fitting out Moana. I only needed a few extras and had to add my equipment that I normally like to have around.
Spear Gun – Check
Kite board – Check
SUP – Check
Quiver of Surfboards – Check
Dive gear – Check
Range of Kites – Check
Yup, that should cover it.
So I set off.
As I cruised out of Opua, a sense of freedom arose. I was now officially leaving, with all the toys you could ask for, on a floating tree house. I was (am) the happiest boy in the world.
I’ve never been one of those people who think a material possession can “define” who you are. Never had a BMW, home entertainment system, cool phone, or any of those things people acquire in the pursuit of happiness.
That said, I now understood what it’s about.
Looking out at the bow of a double canoe and driving along with the power of the wind was my “Shangri-La.”
The first couple days were spent getting to know each other. It’s always awkward in the beginning of a relationship. We were both obviously excited, and we had the honeymoon passion of an adolescent couple.
However, we didn’t really know each other yet. This was going to be our first trial on if we will be able to stand the test of time.
I played with a few sail configurations. Moana showed me what she liked, and how she intended to sit with a variety of wind directions and speeds.
Sailing out of NZ is good for that. You can have 20 degree wind shifts and 25 knot variations in speed every hour… on the hour.
We had an amazing 4-5 days of getting to know each other, and I was even able to get some sleep. We tromped along the great blue expanse of the south pacific and made great miles everyday in our intended direction.
Then night 5 happened.
The wind had been picking up all day. Already dropped the foresail and was now broad reaching on a full main and headsail.
The wind kept rising. I was hoping with nightfall, it would settle. This was wishful thinking.
What’s the old saying?
“Wind before rain, set sail again.”
I can never remember the other half
So I’ve decided it is for now on
“Wind after rain, here come da pain.”
I realized I would need to reduce sail, and with a weather system building around me, I figured I’d drop the main and run out the night on the headsail alone. I’d still be making 7 knots and heading almost due north.
This didn’t go well. Single-handing a gaff-rigged schooner is hard, nuff said. After full preparations and a lot of forethought, I screwed it up. I did eventually bring the main down. But I had torn the head of the sail and nearly lost the gaff. Unless I was going to get calm conditions to do a serious repair at sea. I was now only half way to Tonga and had a fractured rig… crap.
Night had come and I was surfing along at good speed on the headsail. But I couldn’t balance the wind-vane self-steering at this angle. Wind kept rising.
Moana was loving it and playing around in the waves, but I was exhausted. We had a little talk, and I dropped the headsail.
Better safe than sorry and I was not about to use every ounce of energy this early in the game.
“Must sleep, Asses situation in the morning.”
That was one of the best ideas I’d had in days.
Fully rested, and ready to make some miles we set off again.
The wind was still intense, so I grabbed the storm gib. This was actually an accident, I meant to grab the #3. But whew we, was I happy to have the storm gib.
I remember standing there after hoisting that 2 square meters of canvas and thinking. “What the hell is that going to achieve?”
We were flying! Moana is so light, that even with a small sail, if you got a crap load of wind, it’s all gravy.
I still couldn’t balance the wind-vane on this point of sail. So this was my first day of, quickly tying up the helm, running into the galley and grabbing a handful of carrots/peanut butter/crackers/anything in sight and running back to the helm.
This carried on throughout the whole day, after 20 hours of manually steering her, I dropped the sail again.
It was blowing a steady 35 knots and gusting harder. I simply didn’t know if my 38ft of plywood would hold up if I came to and tried to beam-reach, so I could use the wind-vane.
Next morning I wasn’t left with a choice. The wind had backed and broad reaching meant going the wrong way.
Which would have been fine, if I had time to detour through Fiji, but that wasn’t happening.
That is why I hope from now on “I will not sail on a schedule!”
Double, reefed foresail and storm jib I came up a bit, at about 90 degrees apparent wind. Perfect angle for the self-steering.
So with a beam-reach I should see my true wind. “well, what is it” I thought.
“Ohh, that looks like about 45 knots and a crap load of clouds in the sky. Hmmmmmm. Maybe I should have triple reefed that foresail.”
We were HONKING! Moana trucks along like no other! It was like sailing a 38 ft hobbie cat in massive swell.
I’m not sure if I was flying a hull, but there were moments when I would not have been surprised.
The next three days took commitment.
We screamed NE climbing the swells and marching over frothy wind swept seas.
Then a set would come and SNAP!
Between the hulls.
A couple of these were just plane scary. I have never actually thought, “this was a bad idea” at sea before. Well other than when it got dark during the Eclipse Open Ocean Kite of 2010, I had never thought, “this was a bad idea.”
I’m not saying it was, but it got heavy out there. I’m not going to attempt to be heroic about it.
We got smashed.
Moana took all of it in stride, and seemed to gain energy from it. As the intensity rose to a boiling point, it was almost like she found her groove and could smell Tonga.
I didn’t touch the self-steering again. Nor did I do a sail change, or change course.
She brought us home.
The wind would shift at the right time and give us the angle to pass, too close for my comfort, 5 miles to windward of Minerva Reef, at night.
Or when I noticed our cross track was getting too large for my liking; she’d round up a bit and find her stride.
Moana kept on, keeping on until we were nearly 10 miles off the western shores of the Ha’apai group.
Afterwards, was simply finishing the job.
After clearing customs in Neiafu, I tied up to the mooring where she will rest for three months and await my return. 5 full days of emptying every single hatch and compartment to dry out all of the equipment that got swamped over the past 11 days.
It was a lot of work. Not just the voyage, but making it happen, and closing up shop until August as well.
But as I said earlier,
“Looking out at the bow of a double canoe and driving along with the power of the wind was my Shangri-La.”
Moano seemed happy in her temporary resting spot.
I hope she sticks around for me until I get back for our Tonga trips in Aug
April 2, 2012
Lat: 35 17’. 3 S
Long: 174 06’. 4 E
Weather Observation: Storm's a brewing
07:30 (NZ Time)
Days Events: Final check on all supplies needed, hope the wind angle is good enough for an afternoon kite session in Paihia
Stereo: Curtis Mayfield
I'm taking some time now to clarify our actions, some peoples have asked me what the connection is to the causes we support and what we are doing. What happens in my head may be clear to me, but I understand where some may become confused.
As well, let me take the time to appologize for "venting" in the initial Capt's Blog. Soon we will be back in paradise where values are more simple and the frustration that has incured as of late can wash away. Mostly, my time in NZ (this is approx. my 7th visit to this beautiful country) has been wonderful. The country is blessed with some of the most dramatic scenery possible, and it's quite easy to find a lonely stretch of coastline to enjoy the elements on your lonesome, or at least with only a few friendly locals. And friendly they are, on a whole the NZ public are amazing. Generally speaking you can show up anywhere, and meet complete strangers that are open and exciting. Often the few people you run into are there for a variety of reasons. Some are fishing, others diving, you got your blow-carters, hikers, naturalists, hobby photographers, then of course the surfers, kiters and sailors. On my Bayly's Beach mission I didn't see one other kiter, until I doubled back past the car and ran into Matthew Spragg of Sprockett boards. The four times I've headed over to 90 mile beach, there wasn't one other kiter in sight! Every time I had loads of power and the waves were extremely fun to fly around in. Even their most populated city boasts the most sailboats per capita in the world! But what else would you expect from a country that holds a border of the Polynesian triangle, and is in all essence an exposed island in the south pacific. These people know how to have a good time with what's provided.
Moving on, I will now attempt to explain the connection between our 2012 Expedition Tonga-Australia, GIP ocean ambassadors. Take a moment here and understand I often provide waaaaayyyyy to much information and have been told my brain works on overdrive, where often, what I'm trying to say get's lost in communication.
I'm working on that.
I want everyone to actually take a minute and look at this:
I remember the first time I was given this. It was July 4th 2010. I had already been trying to bring this together (GIP Ocean Ambassador)
and was not yet connected to any official institution. By chance, and
with the help of a friend (whom I dont think had any idea of what I was
trying to do) met the founder of Eco Soul at exactly this spot pictured
below, on my previous boat S.V. "Casiopee."
I had just returned from Tonga where on the delivery we had experimented with open ocean kiting (all photo's from our 1st Educational video were taken on this trip)
When he gave me this grid to look at, I dont think I was able to register everything. My head was spinning, all of the ideas that had been floating around in my head were there, in front of me, and they not only worked, they were brought together into a functional grid to completely power a community while even getting rid of the garbage!
"Why don't people use this?" I queried?
Skip (founder of Eco Soul) is well seasoned in this field and has immense experience in implementing these technologies. With his time and experience he was able to give me a simple answer, that at the time, made no sense to me whatsoever.
"Sometimes, people aren't ready. Change takes time."
I repeat. WHAT?
It all seemed so simple. Why not utilize this stuff? Why would people oppose this? Why would you not want to get rid of garbage in a responsible way? Why? Why? Why? Why? WHY?
I am often like a curious child when it comes to these matters. It starts with confusion, than anger sets in, I'll normally throw a little tantrum, tell anyone who will entertain me with their time, than become sleepy and take a nap.
So take some time and actually look at the grid. Once I was able to calm down and asses it rationally, it all made sense.
So back to my point.
How does this relate to our 2012 Expedition Tonga-Australia ?
Well, for a start I will be utilizing modern technologies in action sports to "power" my journey across the ocean.
Secondly, after a lifetime of playing outside, I desperately want to keep these resources. That's right I said "desperate."
In my mind anyone who surf's, snowboard's, kites, SUP's, paddle's, sail's, hike's, dive's, goes fishing or any other activity outside SHOULD feel the same way. We don't all need to be as passionate about it, simply make the conscious choice to move over to the technologies that are available today, provided by brilliant engineers who have taken the time to put it together.
March 19, 2012
Lat: 35 17’. 3 S
Long: 174 06’. 4 E
Weather Observation: Pissing down rain and a butt load of wind
16:29 (NZ Time)
Days Events: Bail out dinghy after 19mm of rain in one 3 hr gap. Found a weather window to go ashore and re-supply. Forgot coffee and milk…..
Stereo: Barringtone Levy
To Whom It May Concern:
I’m leaving, not today, nor on a jet-plane. But soon, and aboard our new flagship bound for the Promised Land. We approach the end of March, and I’ve been in the “civilized” world far too long this time. Some people talk about us voyagers going “tropo.” In my humble opinion, it is the other way around.
This is the first official Blog for us. Few people may remember some that were posted on the old wordpress site, however those days are behind. I never really gave in to those writings. I found it awkward and forced. Never wanting to sound like we were gloating, always claiming or preaching. But once again, those days are behind. I will not be writing all of the “Capt. Blog’s.” I hope to have our guests, friends and crew fill in these blanks on later days. This is to give outer perspectives, and relieve you, our peoples, of my Cabin Fever induced ramblings.
Tomorrow is a big day for me, no, for us. Things didn’t go to plan, but when do they? It has been a long, and sometimes arduous, two years to get here.
Since Jan 1st of this year the heavens opened up and shone a light in our direction. As I awoke to complete clarity after a long night watching my holding in gusty north winds off the coast of Moorea, the sleeping tiger rose up, to get back on the streets. Done his time and took some chances.
Went the distance, now he’s back on his feet. Just a man, with a will to survive.
The journey was mixed with raw emotion, but it all seems pointless now. Then again, it may never have happened if the eyes were taken from the prize.
Now with everything in place we begin.
We now have control of a little gem of a yacht. She’s 38ft of bliss. In true Wharram style the boat is completely lashed together and the hull design derives its lines from ancient Polynesian sea-faring craft. On-board we have all modern safety equipment required for open-ocean voyaging. So that’s E-pirb, VHF, Sat phone, Life Raft, Harness’s, jack lines, life vest, you name it, we are holding. As for creature comforts, there’s two spacious double cabins 1 integrated with the galley, 1 with the head, there’s two singles, 1 per hull. Ohhh she’s a treat, all of our interior and exterior lights are L.E.D., there’s a 75 liter fridge/freezer a two burner stove w/ oven. The entire boat runs off 4 x 90 watt solar panels… It’s the closest I’ve ever came to being a proud father, though technically this would be an interracial adoption, I’m so proud!
She is exactly what we were looking for. “The best combination of old and new.” Everything you need and nothing you don’t.
So now Leisure Activist Group is officially running the GIP Ocean Ambassador program. What does that mean?
- This boat will be used as a floating model for Eco Soul’s Green Island Project.
- This year we are raising funds to do a complete retro fit to have everything, including our auxiliary propulsion, running on renewable energy sources.
- We hope to be able to offer this boat out to youth organizations as we travel through the pacific.
- Being sensitive to the fact these people founded most navigational techniques and construction of modern seafaring craft, we hope to able to have their elders come aboard with us and do the actual teaching of their techniques special to their area.
- We in turn hope they gain an understanding of how modern technology has progressed in the field of harnessing not just wind, sunlight and hydro power, yet how we can use our garbage, local biomass, organic waste and even waste water for a purpose.
- We hope to lead by example. We believe people are starting to realize what is at our disposal. Our yacht will be one model of a small self-sustained unit that is perfectly livable and useful.
Now, I need everyone here to realize something. I am a complete hermit. I don’t know much of what’s happening around in other parts these days. From the time I've spent around "civilization" as of late, I've learned "going green" is seen as a "fad" or a "marketing gimmick" for most.
This may be why it has taken two long years to reach this point. I have learnt some things, that are for sure. But you can’t ever stop learning. Even if it’s about things you never intended to be a part of.
For me that was business. If this were a subject in my school, I would fail. Pure greed is something I will never understand, and I dont believe it can be taught.
Our initiative with the GIP Ocean Ambassador program spawned from a lifetime of playing outside.
I was lucky in the sperm lottery. My parents had me camping at 11 months old, sleeping alongside my 3-year-old brother in a tent on our own.
This is punishable by stoning in North America now!
We were always doing something. On the lake in the warm months, mountains in the cold. That sort of stuff sticks with you.
Things I herd about in “civilization” were grim. There was that whole wall street occupation or something, a nuclear disaster almost destroying the north pacific, huge amounts of oil flooding the gulf, no-one seems to have money and a bunch of people are still fighting about who created our existence.
So, with not wanting to preach, we will practice. We are extremely focused on becoming a self-sustained unit, who enjoy this earth. We will use the elements to power our house and enjoy them above and below water in the warm sun with trade winds and large long period swell’s.
If you feel this is the way forward, and wish to support a company who is focused on change, join our group. You have the choice to put clothes on your back, or equipment provided by the select few who we have personally chosen to be involved with. You can even by part of the journey if you wish! Memberships
Tomorrow I start training. This august I plan to Kite and SUP from Tonga to Australia via Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and land in Brisbane. I believe, in the spirit of utilizing natural resources, I choose to use modern sports that do just that to power my journey. All for our GIP ocean ambassadors program. Tomorrow I will wake up, and start a final inventory of our boat before our impending departure. If you feel this is the way forward, refer to our member’s page and choose which level suits you best.
I leave with a message I hope everyone is listening to:
“We have been fighting a long time, and we have lost so very much. So many loved ones gone, but you are not alone.
There are pockets of the resistance all around the planet. We are at the brink.
The effect of their weapons range is less than 100m, they pack a lot of firepower, but the T-600’s are heavy, slow and are of primitive design.
You cannot out run them. You have one option. The weak point is partially exposed at the back of the neck. A knife to this area will disorient their tracking device but not for long.
Above all stay alive. You have no idea how important you are, and how important you will become.
The machines are advancing even faster than I told you they would. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. They’re inventing new terminators, new ways of killing us.
Skynet is planning something big, but the resistance is planning something bigger.
This is Leisure Activist.
If you are listening to this, you are the resistance….”