Our Life

The Adventures of Mike and Kelly At Sea

Monday, September 13, 2010

We Made It!


After 46 days of travel by sea stopping briefly 3 times, Mike and I finally made it to Ensenada, Mexico! It was a great journey and we got so lucky with the weather. A trip that was forecasted to take at least three months was done in only two which was a great accomplishment for us. I got my first ocean crossing under my belt and Mike has just added a few more miles to the many thousands he already has.

Upon arrival to Ensenada, we were eagerly anticipating a quiet arrival which provided us the opportunity to rest up and clean up the boat before Jim, the owner, arrived. As we pulled into the harbor, however, we were met with the complete opposite. Many of the cruisers that are stationed here greeted us as we pulled in. Mike and I felt like celebrities as they told us how they eagerly anticipated our arrival. Jim’s boat uses Ensenada as a home port, so Lara and Jim both have spent ample amounts of time here in the past well involved in the community. Everyone was so friendly offering us help and tips for getting acquainted with the area. Mike and I must have seemed like aliens feeling a bit overwhelmed and unaccustomed to the human contact. It was a warm welcome indeed.

Now that Jim has arrived, it looks like we will be leaving Ensenada rather quickly once the boat is hauled out and he gets his personal belongings removed. We anticipate arriving in San Diego on the 15th where we will stay with our friends from Seattle, Octavia and Peter, aboard their 44’ sailboat. We can’t wait to see San Diego. As great as the journey has been, we are excited to move on for yet another adventure. For now, we plan on keeping our feet on solid ground for a few months…and greatly enjoying that!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On the Swells Again...

This is just a quick little update for those of you who follow are whereabouts on here. After one week in Cabo, Mike and I have had our fill of touristy Mexico. It has been nice to stretch our legs on solid ground and to indulge in the tasty Mexican cuisine. Plus having the internet has been quite a luxury.

We feel that the worst of the hurricane has moved past us and we can safely begin our journey up to Ensenada doing the "Baja Bash". Our estimated time of arrival is the 13th of September as that is when the owner is planning on meeting us there for the haul out. Then we will States bound thereafter. For now, this is hasta lluego amigos as we'll be out of touch until Ensenada!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Journey Across the Pacific


DSC05134I’m happy to report that it was an uneventful journey for us which means things went very smoothly. We were at sea for 26 days and have finally landed in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. While I imagined I would have lots to write about on this journey, it has been pretty simple. We DSC05137watched lots of DVDs, read tons of books,  and slept whenever we could. Since there were three of us, the watch schedule was quite decent. Each person took a 4 hour watch every 12 hours. I was doing the 4:30 to 8:30 watches both morning and night, which I quite enjoyed because I got to see the sun rise and set every day.

IMG_3261 We fished plenty and were lucky to catch many Mahi, IMG_3275Tuna, and one Wahoo. Having fish every night  for dinner is something I never tire of; I’ve learned so many different ways to cook it on this journey.

At times I found the passage to be quite boring and slow. On a sailboat, there is the constant concern about sails, which usually means there is more to do. While I was craving excitement at times, it was also nice to relax on watches and not worry about going on deck for a sail change when the weather turned sour. I did find, however, that some of the drawbacks to a power boat stem from the engine. The constant drone of the engine can become IMG_3267irritating. I quite enjoy the hearing the hull of a sailboat slash through the waves without the mechanical hum which is something we didn’t experience on this vessel. Additionally, the engine creates an immense amount of heat that radiates into the cabin where we sleep. Sleeping in 100+ degree heat is never pleasant. Finally, the motion on this boat is not what I expected in the least. There are no stabilizers so we were frequently rocked back and forth in a rather violent manner that had us all white knuckled to the hand holds and praying our stomachs wouldn’t reveal their contents. We all experienced a twinge of sea sickness on this vessel, but fortunately, no one got to the point of vomiting, so all was well.

All in all, the journey was quite pleasant. We encountered a few squalls, but nothing of concern, which was a blessing. Being tropical storm season, our biggest concern was the weather, and we fortunately got lucky enough to follow one of the quickest courses possible without getting slammed by adverse weather.

DSC05006 Once we made a bit of headway into our journey and realized how the weather was holding out for us, we decided to try and aim for an atoll called Clipperton Island which was a good stopping off point en route to Mexico.  After 18 days at sea, we arrived to Clipperton an hour too late. The sun had disappeared into the black clouds above and we couldn’t safely anchor with the darkness setting in and the poor visibility due to the cloudy weather. We drifted offshore throughout the night until daylight broke and we were able to see what we were doing. IMG_0255 With reefs surrounding the island and virtually no protection from weather, even being in the lee of the island was a bit rough.   To top it off, numerous stories of shipwrecks lost on the reef upped our cautionary measures and when we were able to see the evidence of the boats stranded on the beach, we knew not to mess around.

We were fortunate not to be one of those boats that Clipperton got the best of and we quite enjoyed the little reprieve once we safely set anchor.DSC05003 It was nice to turn off the engine and hear the waves crashing into the beach. It was our first sighting of land in 18 days and, furthermore, there was a large tuna fishing boat floating around a bit more offshore that made radio contact with us. There is other life out there! It was a delight to hear other voices after the weeks of solitude we had been experiencing aboard Antipodes. Its amazing how even in the company of three people, we spent most of our time not talking to each other and ducking out into the private little spaces we could find on board.

After the anchor was safely set, the boys both crashed out as they weren’t used to the early mornings like I was given the hours of the watch schedule. Furthermore, we decided to change the time to Pacific time so jumping three hours ahead didn’t help the body clocks. DSC05126They spent the majority of the day sleeping while I cleaned up the boat and admired the little bird friend hanging out on the deck of the boat . It was nice to be in calmer seas so I could have a chance to tidy up and cook without being thrown around the boat. I made all sorts of goodies with the dwindling food supplies we had including cookies and fresh bread to name a few. When the boys finally woke up, they seemed quite surprised at my Suzie homemaker antics and were pleased as I greeted them with a delicious lunch. Feeling revived after a good snooze and feeding, we put the dinghy in the water and prepared to make a landing.

“LAND HO!” we exclaimed as Mike sped up the dinghy while aiming straight for the beach. We hoped to ride in on the surf in what seemed to be the calmest part along the shore. Stumbling out of the dinghy with waves crashing over us, we tried toDSC05028 heave her up onto the beach while screaming as the pieces of sharp coral cut into our feet. Just as we were about to make another heaving motion, a huge wave crashed into the dinghy filling her up . I panicked as I thought of my camera in the bow hoping that the double zip lock bags I stowed it in were staying dry. Mike decided to take the dinghy back out to sea and drain her and try the landing all over again. I didn’t want to have any part of it and I started to slowly meander up the beach as I watched Andy and Mike turn the dinghy around and try to push her over the breakers. Just when everything appeared to be going well, a huge wave lifted the dinghy into the air and made it perpendicular to the ground, just short of completely flipping her over.DSC05064 I hid my eyes and grimaced as I heard Mike cursing and running up the beach so as not to get trapped by the dinghy if she did in fact flip. He was lucky, the dinghy did not flip and he was able to hop in and get her safely offshore. His next landing attempt was much more successful and we were able to get the dinghy safely secured on the sand.

DSC05034 We gingerly walked up the slope of the beach between the rusted ship parts that were jutting out from the sand. As we eagerly approached the peak and were able to see the island, we were greeted by thousands of birds and heaps of rubbish, a lot of which was from the ship wrDSC05090ecks, but also much was from the crap people throw into the sea. I was in disbelief as I looked at all the plastic and glass that littered the pristine white beaches of the atoll. While  awestruck by the beauty of the island, I was horrified at the pollution.

We spent the next few hours roaming around the island partly searching for treasure DSC05096 amongst all the flotsam and dodging the squawking birds who were protectingDSC05106 their incubating eggs. Tufts of palm trees poked out in random spots and a flowery green shrub surrounded the neon lime colored waterDSC05101 of the lagoon.  Although DSC05105 once inhabited, Clipperton has spent most of its years quite desolate. The people that did once live here established a small community, but the rough weather conditions made long term survival here IMG_0251impossible and they eventually were rescued after living on the island for a year. Evidence of their shacks as well as a generator were still in tact, but  that was about all that remained of their existence here.

The highest point of the atoll was a giant 98ft rock that was riddled with caves.DSC05108 In our opinion, this looked to be the safest spot when the weather would get hairy. The  island was exquisite and it was fun to play explorer and think about what life must have been like for the people that once lived here.

Back on the boat, further excitement teemed below the hull of Antipodes. Flashing bodies gleamed on the surface and we knew that the fish were abundant here. Andy had already caught a skipjack on the first DSC05032 night while drifting offshore, and leaving her hanging in the water invited a few visitors. White tip sharks devoured the body while it was still attached to the fishing rod. They looked like little puppies playing with a toy as they violently sunk their teeth into the body and voraciously shook their heads trying to free the fish from the lure. We eventually helped them out and watched them happily feast as the skipjack sunk.

Later that evening, the water surrounding the boat was filled with giant big eye tuna, IMG_3440 which excited  Mike to no end. He heard the fish splashing and quickly threw out a line in hopes to land a big one. He, in fact, did land one immediately, brought the fish aboard and instantly put on a new lure and cast it back into the sea with hopes of catching more. The fish were biting that night! The second he wouldIMG_3438 throw a line in, he would get a bite. He couldn’t contain his excitement and woke up Andy to join in the fun. They spent a couple hours throwing in lines and fighting the large tuna. They lost a lot of lures, IMG_3446but in the end, we had three giant big eye tunas about 30lbs a piece. Mike was desperate for a night of fishing like this and he stayed up until midnight casting lines happy as could be. What a treat to have fresh tuna Sashimi!

The next day involved a bit more exploring and relaxing. Not feeling the best, I opted out of the snorkeling that day and let the boys go wild. Still feeling captivated by the deserted island, I decided to put on the film Castaway that evening just as the boys got back to the boat. Andy had IMG_3454 caught two lobsters earlier while snorkeling, so we feasted on the delectable creatures of the sea while watching Tom Hanks lose his mind talking to a volleyball. Given the circumstances of our location, I had a new found respect for the movie and admired his willingness to survive. I was happy that we had shelter in the comfort of Antipodes.

Two and a half days of rest, relaxation, and exploration were just the what we needed to carry on with the next leg of our journey. The weather was still holding out for us so we opted to head straight to the Socorro islands which were 250nm off the coast of Cabo San Lucas. Eager for more adventure snorkeling and island exploration, the DSC05124 3 1/2 day journey was a breeze and we pulled into Isla Socorro just as the sun was rising. We were, however, greeted with bad news. The island was a naval base and  not exactly keen on having us as visitors. They immediately called us as soon as they saw our ship and wanted to know our business. They said we could stay for one night on anchor, but before we could do so they had to inspect the vessel. Looking at the prison-like facilities and no sign of a town to get supplies, we decided to forego the hassles of a naval inspection and carry on straight to Cabo San Lucas.

It was a disappointment to miss out on the islands as they looked beautiful as we cruised by. But just as soon as we made our decision to carry on, we got news that a hurricane was brewing south of us and it would be best for us to get to Cabo and get the boat secure. The timing could not have been better and we made it just before the storm struck. In the end it all worked out for the best. We had been feeling pressure from Andy to hurry up and make landfall on the mainland so he could fly back home to Canada. While he claims he had to make an immediate return to work, we knew he was quite worn out from the journey and in need of a vacation with his wife before heading off back to work. We couldn’t blame him there. It had been a long passage.

Now Mike and I are in Cabo and saddling up for our next adventure, “The Baja Bash”  up the coast to Ensenada. We are planning on taking it slow and trying to enjoy the trip up as we can’t arrive until after the 13th and know that when this journey ends we have a bunch of headaches awaiting us in Napa, CA with our boat Isabella. I’ve made it through my first long offshore passage and I’m so happy I had the experience. While slow and dull at times, I am still in awe of the great ocean and eager to get more sea time under my belt. But for now, I’m craving guacamole and cerveza and am off to enjoy the sweet little treasures of Mexico.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Few Hiccups

As we all know, life has a funny way of throwing in a few surprises to keep us all on our toes. We’ve learned to expect the unexpected in our travels, which usually keeps the stress levels low when the shit hits the fan. That being said, we aren’t exactly immune to being surprised by the little obstacles that life so casually presents us at the most inopportune moments.
Unfortunately, we experienced more than one of those moments in preparing for our journey across the Pacific from Nuku Hiva. For starters, the delay in getting the fuel was the issue that nagged at us the most. Although the delay provided us an opportunity to further explore Nuku Hiva, we were concerned about being able to actually get the sufficient amount of fuel that we needed for the long journey. IMG_2999 Furthermore, we had cleared out of customs already since they were not going to be open the original day we were to take on fuel, so we were already overstaying our welcome by a few days. Obstacles kept getting in the way and preventing us from being able to physically pull up to the fuel dock.
After four days of waiting we decided to take a stand and motor in to the fuel dock no matter what was in the way.  Unsurprisingly, we were greeted with yet another obstacle preventing us from tying up at the fuel dock. The dredging barge was busyIMG_3127 at work first thing in the morning, which was a rare occurrence as it hadn’t moved during our entire stay. This particular morning, it had moved to block the entire fuel dock, not even providing a little sliver of dock to attempt to squeeze into. The odds were against us once again, but we were determined to get our fuel. Enraged, Mike went ashore on the dinghy and told the people enough was enough. Eventually, the barge moved over ever so slightly providing us with a narrow window to squeeze in and get our fuel. We never felt like more of an inconvenience.
The calmness of the slow stirring morning at anchor was instantly replaced with adrenaline fueled calamity that no one enjoys experiencing any time of day, let alone IMG_3124first thing in the morning. It was a blur squeezing in between the barge and the concrete dock in a cloud of dust coming from the recently dredged earth. The loud machines muted the screaming men who were trying to tell us where to go and what to do; they looked like frantic mimes as they made grand gestures trying to instruct us. On board Antipodes, we were having our own comic display of charades. We didn’t feel comfortable side tying to this particular dock, but we had to follow protocol if we wanted any cooperation in getting our long overdue fuel. It must have looked like a bad circus act to any outsider who saw our sad attempt at docking. Lines flying through the air, red faces fuming, hands gesturing wildly, and faint shouts over the loud machines charged the environment as Andy and I worked fast  trying to keep the 55’ steel boat from smashing into the concrete. Mike was doing an excellent job at the helm, but he was no match for the untamed seas. To make matters worse, the barge moved out of the protection zone of the swell thus exposing the boat to the rough surge that we had hoped to avoid.
As I was preparing to toss a line to one of the men on shore, the boat violently crashed into the concrete dock squeezing the life out of the fenders and launching me across the beam of the boat. Astonished, I stood up trying to gain my composure but ended up looking more like a bird with ruffled tail feathers that had just crashed into a windshield. I immediately tried to get back amongst the madness to get the boat secured but Antipodes had other plans for me.
Upon assuming my previous position I was instructed to move a fender to a better position, but was immediately halted by a large surge that made a toy out of IMG_3129Antipodes and jammed me into a much more precarious position. I screamed in pain as my left arm became trapped and compressed between the steel boat and the concrete dock. I wasn’t sure what had happened and my brain was numb to rational thought given the anxiety of the adrenaline pumping events. As soon as the surge from the sea backed down I was able to pry my arm free and commenced to hop around in an “owie dance” while holding my swollen, throbbing arm. I know one should never attempt to be a human fender, but I guess amidst all the excitement I forgot the first and most important rule: never put any part of your body between the boat and the dock. While in some circumstances, taking the limelight is something I quite enjoy, this was certainly not one of those moments. I was useless and in shock as I screamed and danced around the boat, completely oblivious to the external ruckus around me. I had foiled our plans and as I noticed the boat pull away from the dock, I was worried my antics had ruined our possibility of getting fuel.
Fortunately, I was wrong, and Mike and Andy were able to come up with an alternative idea to med tie the boat which was better suited to the conditions, but they were far from getting a break in the excitement just yet. Just as they were able to secure the fuel hose, they noticed a pair of pink crocs and oars floating in the water around the boat. I remembered a conversation with some of our cruiser friendsIMG_3143 about pink crocs a few days back and instantly knew who’s  shoes they were. I was shouting to the boys that they shoes belonged to our friends on Comfort Zone and that their dinghy had been side tied to the dock while the owner had gone ashore. The boys went to look for the dinghy, but it had disappeared. Finally, when the swells moved out for a second, they spotted the dinghy under the concrete dock. During our little circus act, the surge had managed to pull the dinghy under while emptying it of its contents. Without further delay, Mike and Andy decided to go on a rescue mission, eager for more excitement while I called the respective owner of the pink crocs on the VHF to let her know of the current situation. The boys were successful in their rescue attempt, and managed to salvage the dinghy and its contents without any damage. When they finally got back to Antipodes, we eagerly rushed to get out of there so as to avoid any more hectic events that were thrown our way.  
IMG_3133 After we got our fuel and safely departed the fuel dock, the boys decided I needed to go to the hospital. Drained from the previous events, I was reluctant to even leave the boat given my state, but I knew it was for the best. I was in quite a bit of pain and my arm was swelling really fast. Disappointed in myself for acting soIMG_3134 poorly under heightened circumstances, I decided it was wise to listen to their orders as they helped me get to shore. Fortunately, the experience was uneventful and after x-rays, I was lucky to get away with a tiny fracture in my joint that would only require me wearing little sling until I felt better. I  was very lucky given the nature of the accident and I humbly took the abuse that I rightly deserved from the other crew members.  
IMG_3144Finally fueled up, we spent one last night in the company with our cruiser friends and made an early departure the following morning. We were heading to an island NW called Eiao to wait for a clear in the weather to begin our long passage. It was a fair motor across taking us roughly 18 hours and arriving at the unfavorable hour of midnight. Still trying to get  used to the rocky motion of the un-stabilized boat, we had yet another little hiccup in our travels. While cooking dinner, a knife flew off the counter top and sliced open Mike’s leg just adjacent to his Achilles tendon. While gushing blood and trying to hold on for dear life, I got to see Mike’s rendition of the “owie dance” that evening. We patched him up and carried on with our trip preparing to anchor only with the faint light of the moon. The anchorage was tricky to maneuver in the dark, but Mike did a great job. Tuckered out, we crawled into our beds that evening and slept soundly.
DSC04916 We spent another day in Eiao waiting on a weather window which gave us a chance IMG_3163to explore a little. There was not much to offer on the desolate, uninhabited island, but at least we had  a chance to check it out. On July 30th, we finally pulled up anchor and began our passage across the Pacific. Our route remained unknown at the moment, but we knew we at least were headed NE. The next few days would give us a better idea of where we were headed and roughly how long it would take. DSC04928With adjustment, we all fell into our routine of 4 hour watches and hoped for an uneventful passage across. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Star Fruit Pasties


IMG_2670 It was a painless journey getting to M/V Antipodes in the Taihoai Bay in Nuku Hiva. There were so many opportunities for something to go wrong with the timing of the flights, the night in a motel in Tahiti, the hour long off road trek around the island to the bay from theIMG_2702 Nuku Hiva airport, and getting to the boat via dinghy with two 60 lb inverters and all of our gear. The boat, left unattended for a month at anchor, was in surprisingly excellent condition and everything was working well, which was a huge sigh of relief for us all. We’re in paradise my friends and all our worries have melted away!

The scenery is just incredible here and we are all in awe of the beauty. On one side of the island the landscape is arid, dry, and volcanic, while the other side boasts aIMG_2704   IMG_2722 luscious, dramatic, green landscape with jagged mountains accented by fog in key spots as if it were man made by fog machine. The water is clear, but the visibility is not the best in the bay due to the surge of the ocean. The sea beckons us to come swimming, although reports of hammerhead sharks make us a bit apprehensive. As we settle into the boat and Mike begins his crash course of learning the systems with Jim, Andy and I forget our fears and throw ourselves off the back of the  boat into the delightful green sea. Instantly, I am happy. The grime from our travels that once encompassed my body is long gone and I feel like a new woman.

As we all settle into boat life once again, the dynamic mix of personalities starts to come out.IMG_2768 We are entertained by Andy’s (AKA The Naked Canadian) antics in particular; one of his shining moments being a little song and dance around the galley with cut star fruit slices as pasties. Giggles and jokes fill the air as the adventure starts to creep out of our bones and we delve into the world of Nuku Hiva. Mike and Jim still tinker away on board Antipodes with a promising end in sight, while Andy takes me around the bay in the dinghy where I am first exposed to his fearless sense of exploration. He seeks out a spot where he thinks the snorkeling will be alright, throws the anchor overboard, and flips off the dinghy eager to get amongst the marine life. I try to follow suit as quickly as possible starving for the excitement that awaits me.  IMG_2805

The visibility might not be the best, but I don’t care.  There are fish, millions of beautiful exotic fish swarming me in a tropical bliss. The marine life is exquisite and the times are thrilling. We’re in a very rough spot where the waves are crashing into a point and I am exhilarated by the experience of it all. I decide at that moment that the type of snorkeling Andy does could safely be called “extreme snorkeling”. This isn’t your gentle putter on the surface admiring all the pretty fishies kind of snorkeling (although that is mostly what I did thanks to the plugged ears from my head cold). Andy dives down deep below scouring every surface and crevice constantly searching for treasures of any sort whether it be a lobster or fish for dinner or a beautiful shell to take home to his wife. He pokes and prods anything IMG_0240he desires and gets up close and personal with fish whether they like it or not. Sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, eels, lion fish, parrot fish, scallops, you name it! Nothing intimidates this man! The sea is certainly his playground. I found myself fascinated more by Andy than I was by the snorkeling. Funny enough, I later found out that Mike is exactly the same, which means when the two of them were together you were certainly in for a good time.

The little bit of playtime that Andy and I shared in the beginning quickly defined the remainder of our time in Nuku Hiva. IMG_2840 Mike finished learning everything on the boat and was feeling confident in being able to Captain her across the Pacific. Jim tied up loose ends and then quickly headed back to be with his wife as he heard her condition had worsened. Everything was ready for us to go aside from the shipment of fuel that we had ordered in from Papeete, Tahiti. With a few days to spare while waiting on the fuel, we raised the anchor and took off in search of other bays around the island.

IMG_2822 Bay hopping was a delightful and educational process, which we were thankful for having. Initially, as we were getting a feel for the boat under rough seas everything seemed ok because we had a decent angle which the boat preferred. On one passage, however, we had very unfavorable seas which sent Antipodes into a bit of a fury as she launched her drawers, chairs, and anything else that wasn’t seriously battened down. It became a war zone as we dodged flying utensils, storage bins, and even a giant rocking chair! I was so worried about the massive TV in the settee flying across the room and taking me out. We all learned that even though it is a power boat and does not heel like the sailboatsIMG_3111 we are used to, there is still no excuse for leaving things unsecured. 

Aside from the fact that the boat had looked like it had either been robbed or trashed from a serious party, the boat handled really well during our bout of coastal hopping. It gave us great confidence for the longer IMG_3094passage that we will soon be getting around to one of these days! It has been nice to cruise around Nuku Hiva and see all that this beautiful slice of heaven has to offer.

The bays that we explored vary greatly in what they have to offer. On the side closest to the main harbor, we visited a few bays that were very popular with other cruisers, thus providing a bit of a social scene where everyone gathered together at a bonfire. IMG_0176 One IMG_0172 bay in particular, led us on a long walk through the jungle to what once used to be a small village, but now was barely inhabited. We meandered through the jungle finding fruit trees (star fruit, mango, limes, bananas, coconuts, and guava) amidst the old foundations of houses and sacred maraes (or religious sanctuary). Beautiful little colts appeared out of no where, but were too skittish to come close.IMG_0220 There was one family that we saw with two children riding a bike with the rubber on   the tires completely burnt out and falling off. We wished we had a bicycle with us to give to them! It didn’t stop them from having any fun. We were told by the other cruisers  that this was the place where we could trade for fruit with the family. Unfortunately, we hadn’t prepared ahead of time and didn’t have anything to offer. It would have been nice to have bundles of fruit to take back to the boat rather than buying a single piece of fruit for $1.50 at the market. Food here isn’t cheap unless you barter.

We ventured to another bay where we were the only people around, which is what we prefer. We decided to take the dinghy to IMG_0182shore first then dabble with snorkeling a bit later. Shore looked desolate and we were told this beach was uninhabited. Well it was certainly uninhabited by humans, however, pigs had decided to set up shop here. Thousands of pigs populated this little beach, and we later discovered that it was a pig farm/butcher. I fell in love with the tiny black piglets and tried to chase them around to catch one and pet it. Those little suckers are fast!! I never did get to pet one. Instead we meandered about picking up beautiful shells on the beach and IMG_2978stocking up on limes from the trees. We did run into a couple locals, but given that none of us speak French, it was hard to figure out what they were telling us. We decided to leave and see what the reefs had to offer.

Once again I found myself extreme snorkeling with Mike and Andy. This time they were armed with their gloves, spear gun, and knifes in dire need of finding the lobsters. We hit the reef, which was beautiful, but quite washed up due to the wind that funneled through the bay. Next, we decided to trek a bit further out to the high cliffs that seemed to miraculously be illuminated by choice sunrays. Andy found a IMG_0229 spot by the side of one cliff and did his usual back somersault into the water to check it out. He was instantly stung by a jellyfish upon touching the sea, but that didn’t stop him as he scoped out the scene in hopes to find the “bugs” or lobster. “No bugs here, let’s move on” he said as he hopped back onto the dinghy just as fast as he left. We puttered to another spot, where the waves were crashing harder and the current was stronger. I was certainly a bit timid to  hop in as these extreme snorkelers did, but I didn’t want to show any fear and followed suit. My visual world had once again been impressed. While swimming along the cliff edge I was in awe of the instant serenity of the underwater scene. Waves were harshly crashing into the jagged rocks above, yet below the fish were peacefully swimming amongst the spiky sea urchin oblivious to the power of the sea. I felt ambivalent, on one hand I was greatly in fear of the waves slamming me into the rocks, yet when I dove down below I felt asIMG_3073 calm as the sea creatures unaware of the fury above. This was one of the highlights of my trip. The snorkel adventure only got better as we encountered an eagle ray, many white and black tipped reef sharks, manta rays gliding beside us and along the cliff wall, and caves filled with sleeping sharks. Extreme snorkeling is my new favorite hobby!

It was hard to top the experiences we had in those two bays alone. While the rest of the bays were equally as beautiful and pristine and had just as much to offer, they were no match IMG_3047for our earlier encounters. We got to experience the great diversity on this island as we circumnavigated and hiked around it. The lush, green dramatic mountains slowly toppled off into rolling rocky, desert-like hills with parched shrubbery as we approached the opposite side of the island. The surging ocean in the bays calmed down to a gentle lull with better protected reefs. The varied landscape determined our mood; where there was dramatic, exciting views, there IMG_2778was great adventure, and likewise where the landscape softened, so did our moods. The last bay we visited was a nice relaxing reprieve where we were able to get a bit of sun and rest up for our long passage. 

IMG_3035 Today is our final day in Nuku Hiva as the fuel has finally arrived. We may not be able to post blogs while underway,so may be the last for awhile. It will take us anywhere from 20-30 days to get to land again, and our final is route is still yet to be determined due to the weather. Wish us luck!

*Many photos courtesy of Andy