Everyday blog (hverdagsblogg)

Sep 2-12, 2019: Cocos Keeling – Paradise Island Highlights!

So we finally found the spot that defined the concept «Paradise Island»: Direction Island, one of the Cocos Keeling Islands. Crystal clear water, white sandy beaches, coconut palm trees, healthy corals and exotic fish in abundance. This atoll – and especially the anchorage at Direction Island – is known as The sailor’s paradise. We fell in love with it –  surfing down “The Rip” with sharks & and schools of colorful fish of all sizes, spending time with old and new sailing friends, meeting the friendly people on Home Island and West island, and even discovering some unexpected pleasures, such as finding the coolest baker who makes the best freshbaked bread we’ve encountered so far in our 2 year travel around the world. And even getting it home delivered on board Vilja!

You’ve gotta love Cocos Keeling!

Ankerdram (anchor schnaps) for good luck – ‘Cos you can’t be any luckier than this!

The picture perfect anchorage.

DIRECTION ISLAND –  “The Sailor’s Paradise Island”

The first week we were many sailors here -as we had hoped for.

While Direction Island belongs to anyone who takes the trip out here during daytime – After dark it turns into the Sailor’s Island. Nobody here but sailors and hermit crabs. 🙂

Trips to town: West Island and Home Island

There are two settlements in Cocos Keeling; West Island where somewhere between 50-100 people live, mostly Australians. And Home Island, where a bit more than 500 people live, mostly Malays. We «went to town» and visited them both a couple of times.

We paid Home Island a couple of visits. It gave us the chance to stock up on fresh produce, and to learn a bit about the island’s history and culture. Also we especially appreciated the unexpected gift of a batch of home baked rolls from Hayati at the Kafe Ku, who also served us yummy Malay style snacks.

Some Tropical Island time on our own

Then the sailors sailed – or flew; our third-time-returning Vilja crew member Brynhild caught a flight home to Norway.

And us 3 – we stayed! For another week. It’s hard to leave this place! And hey, after all – this is our circumnavigation, and we’re on a perfect tropical island. Why not just ENJOY!?

 

Designated driver, homebound.

Who said size matters? If only you’ve got style. We took our New Zealand schooner model boat out for a sail and did some nice tacking. 😊

So now we’re heading West. 1500 nautical miles NW we’ll look to find another tropical paradise, however with a tragic history. Next stop: Chagos, the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT)!

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July 11th to August 18th, 2019: Photo update from Indonesia!

As we’re getting ready to cross the Indian Ocean, leaving from Lombok,  we just want to post «an avalanche» of pictures showing some of the many good moments from our more than five weeks here in Indonesia.

August 11th-15th: First stop: Tual, The Kei Islands

Vilja’s crew from Papua New Guinea to Indonesia: Our son Even, friend Andreas Øverlie Svela, Karen Marie, Ingrid and Jon Petter.
Having a dip in crystal clear water in the cave of Lian Hawang, only half an hour drive from Tual.
Together. And grateful. By coincidence, and besides relevance, but possibly of more interest: On one of the finest beaches of Indonesia; Ngurbloat Beach on Kei Kecil Island (same island as the town of Tual).
Sun sets over Ngurbloat beach, Kei Islands, Indonesia.
Jhon in Tual – the man to meet if you’re a sailor. He makes things happen; translates, finds mechanics, drives us to sites and does all he can to assist us from morning till evening.
Even & Andreas – Not exactly “not enjoying” the ride. ;.)

We actually did some diving in Indonesia. Finally our brand new compressor has been put to use. We found many good sites for both diving and snorkelling throughout Indonesia, many with crystal clear water and the feeling of being in an aquarium full of tropical fish.

Andreas and Even were the first ones in the water. They made some cool sightings, a “stargazer fish” being the coolest one.

Shopping in new countries can be a cultural study and interesting in itself. Indonesia is no exception.
Shopping at the market in Tual – an intense, but fun experience. Ingrid loves her new skirt in batik, that made her feel not only proper according to muslim traditions, but also beautiful! 😊
Karen Marie gets literally “carried away” at any market we visit in Indonesia. Our first experience of this was here in Tual. Being little, sweet and blond is quite an attraction. It gives her opportunities and lots of positive attention, although sometimes it’s a bit too much for a little girl to handle and she pleads for time-out. We try to find the balance.

Our brand new SailingVilja stamp, hand-carved in Tual and given to us as a thank-you present from Andreas. Now how cool is that!? We’ve put it to use many times while in Indonesia, where having a stamp makes everything much more official. So to our future visiting crew: from now on expect to be officially stamped in&out upon entry and departure from our little S/Y Vilja territory.

August 15th-18th: 3 days sailing from Tual to Wakatobi

I love those refreshing, but comfortably warm, saltwater baths during passage. Makes me realize I’m sailing in distant waters far away from the North Sea.

August 18th-21st: Hoga and Sampela Islands, Wakatobi

Visiting the sea gypsies of the Bajau tribe in Sampela, Wakatobi.
Sampela, Wakatobi
Hitching a ride with a sea gypsy in Sampela. An awesome experience.
A true selfie moment.
Pundang (in this picture) and his brother Kundang of the Bajau tribe in Sampela (Wakatobi) invited us to their home for a meal, arranged for us to see their village on stilts from the water using local canoes (see previous pictures), helped us find the best dive sites, and as you see in this picture; even shared their catch of fish with us and prepared sushi on the boat. So much appreciated!
Karen Marie even had her wish come true; to have a live chicken visit us on board. She would of course loved to keep it, and actually had the offer to do so from Pundang, but we had to say no. One more little chic on board would simply make Vilja TOO wild. 😊
Self-made sun lotion from coconut cream. And of course, what matters is that it actually protects. However, I must admit that there’s a little voice inside sending thankful thoughts to Nivea for providing me with a transparent formula. 😉

August 23rd-25th: Labuan Bajo, Flores

We arrived in Labuan Bajo, Flores on July 23rd, just in time to pick up our new crew who arrived on the same day: Ingrid’s big sister Karen and her husband Sozaburo, and our caring&cool nieces and nephew Cecilie Mariko, Dag Takura and Liv Emiko. We had so long and so much looked forward to this much appreciated visit. Sharing the SailingVilja everyday life and adventures means so much to us all. We had two weeks to look forward to, and it turned out simply unforgettably GREAT!

Tante Karen (Aunt Karen) and Karen Marie. Truly a dream come true for both Karens. 😊
True joy in life is being loved. In that sense our little Karen Marie has a lot to be happy about! She is so lucky to experience that many loving people have kept a special place in their hearts just for her. This rainbow dress is knitted by her very special Bestemor Mette in Ingrid’s hometown Meråker in Norway. And not only did she get this beautiful dress, just wait to see more (see next picture)!
Bestemor Mette back home in Norway has spent hours, days, weeks and even months on knitting a whole new wardrobe for Karen Marie’s dolls Nina and Bella Slott. More than twenty beautiful tops, dresses, jackets, hats, skirts, pants and socks. Truly amazing! It warms our hearts to think about all the time and love put into this huge and beautiful gift for our little daughter.
After a week away from tourism, we quickly realize that Flores definitely has a place on the tourism map. The port of Labuan Bajo is busy with charter boats. Still exotic to us though, with their unique Indonesian “Phinisi” boatbuilding style. http://www.kastenmarine.com/phinisi_history.htm
There are always repairs to be done on a sailboat. Dad Jon Petter surely appreciated sharing the job & time with son Even.
This time it was the electric anchor winch that needed fixing.
Happy 25th birthday, Even!
Dag following the rainbow dress code of the SailingVilja crew.
New crew, new impulses: Karen and Sozaburo invited us to spend a day with spa and swimming pool at a hotel in Labuan bajo. An exotic and appreciated luxury for us sailing nomads.

August 25th-28th: Komodo National Park

Another lovely sunset in Indonesia – this one admired by Cecilie and Liv in the Komodo National Park.
OMG! Dragons are actually for real! You can find them in Komodo National Park. Make sure they don’t find you first! 😉
The dock in Komodo Village.
The volcano Sangeang Api letting out some steam. View from the Komodo National Park.
Cool dudes sailing.
Tante Karen & Karen Marie had a joint crafts project on the passage from Komodo heading West. They recycled used plastic containers and made them into a sweet tea cup set. Perfect for tea parties on passages, unbreakable and environmentally friendly (recycled). Nina is of course dressed up in one of her new outfits made by Bestemor Mette in Norway. 😊

July 30th-31st: Kananga village on Sumbawa

We met Arif in Kananga, and were invited to his home. The hospitality we are met with when we as sailors come to new places never seizes to amaze, and again we are truly grateful.
Jon Petter connecting with Arif’s parents and brother-in-law. Smiles are shared, regardless of language.
Arif is one of those guys who does all he can to help sailors, and can be trusted. He invited us to his home, and the day after took Ingrid and Liv to the market half an hour drive away to stock up on fresh produce. The transport made provisioning a bit of an adventure for the gals!
Shopping sure is more interesting when you’re sailing in distant waters than at home. You never know what you’ll get or when/ where you’ll get it. Here we got lots!
Getting a ride back from the market.
The local gas station.

July 31st – August 1st: Palau Moyo

We paid the reknown Amanwana Resort a visit to have a look at where celebrities such as Princess Diana and others like to recharge their batteries. No doubt it was nice. And we enjoyed our Coladas and Honeycomb ice cream. But actually – in our opinion – we’d rather recharge our batteries on Vilja!

Happy girls; Karen Marie & cousin Cecilie.
Chilling at Amanwana Resort, Palau Moyo.
Karen & Sozaburo at the Amanwana Resort, Palau Moyo.

At anchor off the west coast of Palau Moyo.

We gave Liv a PADI Open Water scuba diving certificate for her confirmation one year ago, and godfather Jon Petter promised her a dive with sharks. So here they go! No sharks on this dive though. Liv did snorkel with sharks in Komodo though. And her Mom got the shark encounter when she was diving in Lombok a couple of days later.
An everyday moment during passage on board Vilja. Karen Marie alias «Bamse Verdens sterkeste bjørn» in action. Brother Even not in action.

Cheers! «Ankerdram» (anchor schnaps) upon arrival at Marina Del Ray at Gili Gede.

Thank you to the all the friendly, helpful and interesting people we’ve met on our way. A special thank you to Jhon in Tual, Pundang and Kundang in Sampela (Wakatobi), Arif in Kananga (Sumbawa Island), teacher Sarah at Miftahul Ulum school in Lombok, interpreter Jumanim and husband Ainun in Lombok,  headmaster Indah and the teachers and children at TK Muyassaroh Kindergarten in Lombok, and to the friendly staff at Marina Del Ray on Gili Gede (Lombok). Our trip would have been so much less without you.

SO nice to meet up with our long distance sailing friends: Pam & Eric on Pied-a-Mer III, Rob, Cannell & Fabian on Yonder, Warren on Iliana, Tim on Intrepid and Christian. You’re our sailing family at Sea and our floating neighborhood. See you again somewhere in the World!

BIG hug and lots of love to our friends & family  who’ve joined us sailing Vilja in Indonesia. Not only do you take part in and make the experience; you are also our precious history keepers whom carry the SailingVilja stories with you in your hearts for sharing with us in the future. Our amazing crew in Indonesia have been: our son Even, his (and now our) friend Andreas Øverlie Svela, Ingrid’s big sister Karen and her husband Sozaburo, our cool&kind nieces and nephew Cecilie Mariko, Dag Takuro & Liv Emiko and now (Karen Marie’s «big sister» & «honorary crew member» of Vilja) Brynhild Reitan. Brynhild shared the last week in Indonesia with us and will continue writing SailingVilja history as we now venture with Vilja together across the Indian Ocean.

We’ve just gotta say it out LOUD again: WE’RE THE LUCKY ONES! …and even more so because we know we are!  🙂

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14/7-19 Tual, Indonesia: The coolest gift! And taking in the scents and bustling life of an Indonesian Market

We’ve enjoyed another hectic, but good day in Tual, Indonesia. Saturday was spent diving & enjoying the last hours of having our friend Andreas Øverlie Svela on board: He disembarked before the break of dawn on Sunday morning. And the remaining crew went on land to get some fresh food and try out the market of Tual.

The coolest gift!

Latest news on boat equipment: We now have our very own & one-of-a-kind Vilja logo stamp on board! Hand carved in Tual, Indonesia, where having a stamp is of essence as it makes things “serious”. Thanks to Andreas, who gave us this eminent gift along with a genuine bottle of champagne. We guarantee that both will be thoroughly enjoyed! 😊

Andreas surprised us on our last evening before he left, when he gave us this most awesome gift: Our very own & one-of-a-kind Vilja logo stamp!
From now on Vilja’s crew members will get the official Vilja stamp upon disembarkment. 😊

Shopping in Tual

Shopping at the “festival market” of Tual is quite a different experience than shopping at home. Far more intense, many more people, heaps of more attention and MUCH more interesting. About the attention part of it: “Everybody” wants to take pics and touch Karen Marie’s fair hair, not to mention carry her away. 🙂 Karen Marie’s a trooper, and is handling the intensity & attention with a mix of enjoying the VIP status as well as sometimes longing for a more incognito travel. 😊

You’re able to get hold of “most things” here in Tual. It helps being a “Mr Fixit” though.
Ingrid found a favorite new skirt made of fabric with a traditional Indonesian batik print, and was glowingly happy about it. Even wasn’t too unhappy about his new shirt either!
And little Miss Myklebust found herself a new dream dress. Considering all the attention she’s getting for her blond features, she sure hasn’t come to the point of feeling the need to dress down to shy it yet.
At the local fish market: Looks like we’re having shellfish for dinner – the cook’s uncertain of what kind though…
Tual is on Dullah Island, which is one of the Kei Islands in the Maluka region. Maluka is famous for its spices. So of course Jon took us spice tasting at the market. Here: Even discovered that cinnamon sticks are sweet and tasty, and make quite a good snack for nibbling on in small portions!
We grabbed some street food and took a short time-out from the hectic market life. Did not add the spices available…

Kid contact

Hop scotch is a universal game. As soon as you take out the chalk, the kids – whether it be in New Zealand, Galapagos or Indonesia – instantly start drawing the hop scotch squares on the ground. A perfect starting point for fun.

Hop scotch – a universal game!
Karen Marie’s getting the hang of it!
Taking selfies – Another universal activity.
And then there is fishing, of course. This guy from the coast guard had himself a fine catch of sardines in his spare time. And quite a big audience to witness it also. 😊

New tastes!

We’ve now given the Tual cassava waffles a try. We’re intrigued by the resemblance to the Norwegian waffle hearts we know & love from our own home country. But the taste is quite different: Almost tasteless, but with a «hard to pinpoint» blended scent of lard, potato chips and a note of fermented tuna. To be dipped in tea or coffee. Not our favorite, we must admit. But points given for the design!
Yummy dinner ala «Indonesia-Lofoten fusion» awaits!

Now we sail West to find Coral gardens

So now Andreas has left us. We look forward till next time we have him on board!

And then we were 4…

So now we’re 4 sailing Vilja; Ingrid, Jon Petter, Karen Marie & Even. Photo: Andreas Ø. Svela

It’s July 15th now and we’re sailing West, expecting a 600 nm/ 4 days sail. The aim is to get some awesome dives in the reknown coral gardens of Wakatobi. After some intense days on land, we look forward to the peace and serenity of life at sea. That is, if staying clear of fishing boats and FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices) won’t keep us too busy…

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To sailors cruising Indonesia: Jon Pasumain is the Man to Meet in Tual!

If you’re cruising to Tual, then we highly recommend contacting Jon Pasumain! (tel. +628 22 4871 3457, email pasumaijoni@gmail.com). He helped us find the places and people we would have used aged to find otherwise, or probably missed out on altogether. Jon is a person you can trust. Besides he’s a really nice guy to get to know!

Three good Jo(h)ns (from left to right): Jon (our #1 guide & helping hand), “John the Mechanic” (in the middle, in red t-shirt) and JP. It actually seems like John the Mechanic has been able to fix our pump! It hasn’t been tested yet, but we have high hopes it may work!

Jon fixes “anything” you need, it be transport, (clean!) diesel, laundry, driving to sights or finding the right people, such as an Official outside working hours or an accredited local mechanic. He speaks good English, making things so much easier, also giving us the opportunity to get insight in the places and people we see and meet.

We’re so happy to have had Jon as our helping hand and guide throughout our stay here in Tual. Thanks for an excellent job done & also the good times together, Jon!

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July 11th-12th, 2019:  Hello Asia!

So now we’ve reached a new country, and this time even a new continent for our SailingVilja voyage.

On July 11th, Vilja dropped anchor off the city of Tual in the Kei Islands in Indonesia. Our crew at the moment count five in total: Our son Even (sooooon 25) and his (and now our) friend Andreas Øverlie Svela + of course the core SailingVilja team Karen Marie, Ingrid & Jon Petter. Here are some pics from our first day in this (to us) new part of the World.

“Ankerdram” (anchor schnaps) upon arrival in Indonesia, after 7 days at sea from Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea via the Torres Strait to Tual in Indonesia. (Clockwise from Karen Marie: Karen Marie, Jon Petter, Even, Andreas Svela and Ingrid.)

First the formalities

The check-in procedure at the Immigration office was swift and efficient.
Customs came out to our boat, and proceeded with a thorough check of Vilja’s interior. Here; a review of all the medication in our extensive medicine chest. Most cabinets and closed spaces were opened and examined. Luckily – all was good and accepted.
The last formalities are taken care of. And finally – we’re good to go and can stay in Indonesia for months if we choose.

Now we have 5 weeks ahead of us in the same country. Wow, it seems a lot, doesn’t it? Well, Indonesia has more than 17 500 islands. Five weeks will probably seem like a split second. But hey, we’re gonna enjoy that split second to the fullest!

Then another standard procedure

The standard question is: So what broke down on this passage?!

The standard procedure is finding solutions…

Jon Petter is constantly in the process of trying to keep Vilja technically in ship-shape. On this last passage the cooling water pump to our Panda Fischer generator broke down. A new one has already been ordered for shipment to Norway. But in the meantime, we’re hoping that John, a local mechanic in Tual can help us out with a temporary solution. Keeping fingers crossed! Without the Fischer Panda, a lot of the appreciated comfort on board – such as fresh water showers and home baked bread – are put on hold. We sure do appreciate those luxurious perks…

Sightseeing the Kei Islands

So we’re in the Kei Islands, famous for their beautiful beaches and hospitable people. For the Norwegian readers: Note the waffle heart here on this picture! So much for thinking that waffle hearts are something uniquely Norwegian… Here in the Kei Islands they actually make waffle hearts made from cassava (a root vegetable), which they dip in tea. This peculiar version of waffle hearts will definitely be on our menu soon.
A new country means new food: Here “goda goda” for lunch. Peanut sauce may not look too good, but no worries; it actually tastes delicious!
No doubt, we’re in a new country, which means new “rules” and ways to get accustomed to. That’s part of the experience, and we let go of some of our absolutes, while of course also keeping some… 😊
We didn’t have much expectations as we walking down towards the cave of Lian Hawang…
…we were all the more astonished to find this deep down. Beautiful crystal clear water to swim in…
…in the most awesome surroundings.
All we can say about the unique «swimming pool» of Lian Kawang is: Wow!
Finally we had a saltwater dip in the Ocean at the white beach of Ngur Bloat.
We walked back to the dinghy dock in the dark, to the sound of the chanting prayers from the many mosques of Tual.

Wow, what a day!

Good night from the SailingVilja voyagers, finding our way in new waters.

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June 12th-13th, 2019: Feeling welcome and having fun with new friends in Sola (the Banks Islands of Vanuatu)

We will write more of the places and people that has put Vanuatu possibly on the top of our list as a favorite cruising ground of our voyage so far. But now just a short, but heartfelt update:

We reached Sola on the island of Vanua Lava in Vanuatu on Wednesday morning (June 12th). Right away we felt so welcome here. And we just want to thank two families for including us in their everyday life and making our stay here in Sola very special. We feel like we have friends here that we hope to stay in touch with and meet again one fine day in the future.

We met Bob and Sandrine and their children Ashton, Ashtina and Ashlinda in the village. A good conversation started right away. We truly savor such moments of connection when they happen.
The Pantutun family visited us at home on board Vilja. A special visit for both them and for us. And it was good  to have some more time to get to know eachother.
Our friends, and a special couple: Sandrine and Bob.
The Sola Yacht Club – a meeting point for yachties sailing in the Banks Islands.
Serah and Bob own and run the yacht club and instantly made us feel welcome and introduced us to the traditions and ways in Sola. Karen Marie watched while Serah was preparing dinner for us, to enjoy later that evening.
Heavenly delicious traditional Vanuatu style prepared to us by Serah and her family. Coconut crab, fish, yam, coconut heart, namambe… YUM!
On Thursday we had Robert, Serah and their daughter Zygina on board Vilja for some waffles and sailing. Even after having rund the yacht club for 15 years, this was the first time they had been on board a sailing yacht. Certainly about time, and so nice for us to have the honor of making Vilja their first lady at sea.
Grandpa Kietion was captain for the day!
What a gift it is to meet and make friends! Thank you to Robert and your family.

Thank you for making our stay in Sola special. We hope to see you again in the future!

March 4th – 10th, 2019: Touching our Aitutaki rescuers’ home base in Masterton. (Road trip New Zealand – Part 6)

Bernard & Bianca. Superman & Wonderwoman. Vilja’s Rescuers from Chaos. Also known as Louise & Scott. Remember the couple who made the impossible possible in Aitutaki?

We found them at their home base on land in Masterton.

Rewind to Aitutaki in the Cook Islands, October 10, 2018: Remember our broken shroud drama? Well, take a good look at the couple in the top middle; Louise & Scott on the catamaran “Chaos”, from Masterton, New Zealand. We were really hoping to meet up with them now that we were in their neighborhood. So we sent them a text…

5 months ago: Vilja’s port side shroud broke as we were sailing in to Aitutaki, a tiny atoll in the middle of the Pacific. It would normally take weeks and even months to get a part like this replaced, being in the middle of nowhere. Louise and Scott on board Chaos made it happen in less than 24 hours. You can read more about this incredible story in the Everyday blog if you scroll down to the headline “October 17th, 2018: Aututaki in the Cook Islands. Day #7 – Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. (And it sure is a heck of a lot better than any plan I could ever have set up!)”.

Meeting up with this family that had helped us and amazed us through the course of only a couple of intense days in Aitutaki was definitely on our bucket list now that we were in their neighborhood. So we texted them, and they returned an invitation to stop by. Our intended 1-2 nights stay turned into almost a week. And we discovered that not only are these guys our SailingVilja voyage’s Bernhard & Bianca; They are an incredibly generous, cool & nice family and friends!

Life is surprising in so many ways. Imagine sitting at the Chaos’ crew’s dinner table in Masterton, thousands of miles and nearly half a year after we first met them in Aitutaki. It’s so great! In this picture; William (8), Louise & Scott. Alex (11) was off at boarding school the first couple of days we were there.

The work & skill of producing New Zealand’s sweet gold; Manuka Honey

Scott & Louise run a family business where they produce LOTS of honey, or more specifically their brand “Royal Manuka Honey”. Scott took JP along to check up on and move some beehives.

Morning glory: Beehives at sunrise.
Jon Petter got to brush up on his bee keeping skills from 20+ years ago, when he lived on the Norwegian island of Hitra and kept some beehives of his own.

In the afternoon Karen Marie and Ingrid joined to visit the Hillcrest Honey factory, where the Royal Manuka Honey was being tapped that very day. Interesting & yum!

Karen Marie is a BIG honey consumer. Fun to learn about the process from beehive to honey in a jar.

Waiohine Gorge – across high up & a shower down below

Nature can make people seem pretty small. Here: The suspension bridge across the Waiohine Gorge and JP & Scott down below put things in perspective.
We found our personal waterfall/ shower in Waiohine Gorge, below the suspension bridge. We’re assuming you don’t mind that we save the pictures with people “in the shower” for our personal photo album… 😉

The vegetation in New Zealand’s forests are exotic to Norwegians. Here is an example to why; the Tree Fern.

PATUNA CHASM

Louise said “Forget about Wellington. You should go visit my mother’s and stepfather’s farm in Patuna; walk the Patuna Chasm and spend time at their beautiful New Zealand farm. So we did. And of course, she was so right. The chasm was awesome. And so were Alison & Alan. The hospitality they showed us three Norwegian vagabonds was heartwarming, and new friendships were made.

Alison & Alan run a company; Patuna Farm Adventures. Check this out: https://www.patunafarm.co.nz Walking the chasm up- and downstream is a self-guided walk through stunning landscape and also a bit rough and adventurous. To put it this way: you’re gonna get wet & and you have to leave any fear of heights at home… It’s fun and it’s beautiful.

Walking the awesome limestone rocks upstream, along the side of the Patuna chasm.
On the edge of the Patuna Chasm.

Downstream and “in the stream” of the Patuna Chasm.
Walking the Patuna Chasm

We enjoyed our stay at Alison & Alan’s Patuna Farm to the fullest: In the evening Karen Marie and Ingrid enjoyed the indoor luxury of a “bubble bath spa experience” followed by Alison’s delicious cooking of roasted lamb, vegetables and homebaked bread for dinner. In the meantime, Jon Petter “went into the wild” hunting for red deer with Scott & William – and they actually made a clean kill and brought home food for a feast!

So nice to get to know Alison & Alan. What they’re doing with keeping the beautiful farm, organizing the Patuna Chasm Adventure and being the energetic but relaxed people they are is pretty amazing! But then again; We’ve seen firsthand what their daughter Louise can make happen, so we’re not surprised, just impressed!

Simply “chilling” at the beach house

Louise & Scott “sent us off” to stay at their beach house at Cape Palliser. A lovely spot on Earth. We simply enjoyed having a day to ourselves in “our very own” house, with TV, good food & wine and each other.

Rough seas at Cook Strait, seen from Cape Palliser. The seal colony don’t seem to mind though.
One of the inhabitants of the seal colony at Cape Palliser.

Blueberry & apple pizzas – YUM!  

The Watermill Bakery – open only for a few hours every Friday evening – serves pizzas exceeding our greatest fantasy, in ingredients and even in taste; Nutty Blue Pizza, Purple Thistle Pizza, Apple Pizza and Blueberry & Custard Pizza – all using the same pizza dough base – was not only fun, but DELICIOUS!

Oh btw: Ingrid’s new favorite beer. Dangerously delicious! (But not so dangerous after all – to the wits at least – since it’s only 2% alcohol. Perfect!)

Good times at home – in a house!

It was good to have some downtime at home with our friends. And hey, when you’re on a 3,5 years long journey by sailboat, staying at home in a house (!) feels pretty exotic in itself!

Karen Marie declared that Alex’s room is her “Dream-come-true-room”. Alex let her use all her toys. Oh my, did our little girl embrace the opportunity to the fullest!
Evening fun & looking incredibly smart! 😊
No doubt that bed time stories get that extra special touch when read by Alex or William.

Castlepoint Beach Races

Louise & Alex are “horse people” and keen riders. They convinced us to go and experience the annual Castlepoint Beach Races. It turned out to be a really good family event, with all kinds of races; horses, ponies, kids, and even men & women (in underwear!) giving it their all. Fun at the beach. And yes, even our totally untrained eyes can see that horses are pretty magnificent creatures.

After the races we had a walk up to the picturesque Castlepoint Lighthouse.

Castlepoint Lighthouse.
Looking at the sea from Castlepoint Lighthouse. Perhaps subconsciously taking in that soon it’s time to venture out to sea again? But first some more miles on the road…

South Island next!

After six fun-filled days we said goodbye  and thank you to our friends in Masterton.

It’s Sunday the 10th of March, and we have ferry tickets from Wellington to Picton (on the South Island). We’d better get going!

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March 2nd-4th, 2019: Wow, what one person can make in a lifetime! (in other words: the Tawhiti Museum in Hawera.) Karen Marie runs in the XRACE. A walk on  the historical grounds of Turuturu Mokai Pa. (Road trip New Zealand – Part 5)

It’s amazing what one man can make in a lifetime! Visiting the Tawhiti Museum is a testimony of such, and it’s the result of only “half a lifetime”.

The Tawhiti Museum is a private museum which is founded, owned and created by (the still going strong) history and art teacher Nigel Ogle.

Nigel has himself created this vast collection of life-size displays and intricate small-scale dioramas that combine history and art with a skill that fascinates and amazes in equal measure.

There are thousands of individually created and handmade lifelike figures, not to mention the many more thousand old artefacts neatly sorted and displayed.

We were so enthralled by the place that we decided to stay in Hawera an extra day so we could visit again. And it was absolutely worth it. We enjoyed our second visit maybe even more than the first, which was also thanks to the staff of the Museum whom must be hand-picked for their jobs, and obviously truly loving what they do.

Thumbs up for the Tawhiti Musum in Hawera!

Karen Marie participates in her first race; the NZHL XRACE

The NZHL XRACE is an annual race and family event held nationwide in about a dozen towns in New Zealand, and also in Australia, UK and the Netherlands. By sheer coincidence we happened to be in Hawera on the day of the big event happening there. More than 1000 kids & parents signed up for the race. So did we – in the Nipper’s Challenge for the 3-6 year olds – with Karen Marie heading the Vilja team.

Super fun for all of us! 😊

A walk amongst the remnants of a once mighty maori fortification

March 3rd turned out to be another day of great variety. After the XRACE and the Tawhiti Museum we stopped by the remnants of the Turuturu Mokai Pa, which is one of the oldest and largest pa sites in Aotearoa.

A bit sad to see how the site is overgrown and not taken care of. But still it made for a nice little walk for us. And we bore in mind that on these grounds many dramatic events have taken place here. One of which was that here the Maori, through cunning tactics, defeated British troops in the land wars of the late 19th century.

Where to next?

So now we’ve experienced Hawera, another of those unplanned and pleasant stops. We wonder what’s up next?! We’re getting near Masterton, where our friends Louise & Scott whom we met in Aitutaki live. Hmmm, wonder if they’re home & up for some Vikings?!

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February 28th – March 2nd, 2019: Taking in Aotearoa’s (somewhat quirky) wildlife (kiwis, tuataras,…), stunning beaches (Northland’s Southwest coast), cool architecture (New Plymouth) and natural beauty (Mt Taranaki). (Road trip New Zealand – Part 4)

Imagine a bird that cannot fly, with skin as tough as leather, feathers like hair, cat-like whiskers in its face and nostrils at the tip of its very long beak. Well, that’s the description of a kiwi. Since the kiwis are both nocturnal and rare it’s hard to spot them in the wild. We were curious of this national icon of Aotearoa, and wanted to see them and learn more. We found what we were looking for in Otorohanga Kiwi House.

Seeing kiwis (not only this stuffed one – live ones also!), tuataras, eels and many more birds and animals at the Otorohanga Kiwi House. Feeding the eels with sausage on a fork gave Karen Marie quite a thrill!

There were many more animals and birds to see at the Kiwi House. We were particularly fascinated by the tuataras and the eels. Tuataras are known as New Zealand’s living dinosaurs; they’ve been found in New Zealand for more than 225 million years. They are long-lived (100+ years) and have three eyes! The eels of New Zealand swim all the way to Tonga to mate and have their offspring. That’s a long swim, not to mention quite an impressive navigational achievement!

A beautiful beach all to ourselves

Taking in the beautiful view of the Southwest coast from Waitoetoe Campsite.

We found the most amazing spot to put up our tent along the West coast; Waitoetoe freecamping site. We had the place – and the whole beach – all to ourselves. Aaaah, beautiful!

Sunset at Waitoetoe beach and campsite.
Breakfast in what must be one of Aotearoa’s most beautiful “dining rooms”; Waitoetoe Campsite.
Karen Marie at the beach of Waitoetoe.
Dipping our toes in the Tasman Sea at Waitoetoe.
Tree pairs of footprints in the sand. The SailingVilja crew was here…

A quick stop in New Plymouth

We only stopped for a few hours in New Plymouth, since we decided to rather enjoy the beautiful weather by going tramping in the Mt. Taranaki National Park. We spent some time in the Puke Ariki Centre Museum and then had a look and walk across the Te Rewa Rewa bridge.

The Te Rewa Rewa bridge in New Plymouth, also known as the whale bone bridge, perfectly frames Mt Taranaki/ Mt Egmont in the background.

An evening walk, sleepover and morning bush walk in the Mt. Taranaki (Mt. Egmont) Natural Park.

New Zealanders love the natural beauty of their country, and we feel at home in the way they “live and use it”. By that we mean that as Norwegians we enjoy sharing the culture with the Kiwis (New Zealanders) of enjoying the outdoors; whether it be camping, tramping or other.

We’re hoping to go tramping in the mountains and stay at several of the DOC huts of Aotearoa. Our first one was Mt. Taranaki (2,518 metres) and the Maketawa Hut.

Looking out across the valley below and the shadow of Mt Taranaki.

We walked a 4 km loop at the foot of the volcano with only a few hundred metres of ascent and descent. An excellent first-time experience in how the DOC tracks and huts are laid out. We had a great time. And as expected, but all the more enjoyable to experience; the stand-alone volcanic cone of Mt Taranaki is stunning!

 

The SailingVilja family, with Mt Taranaki in the background.
The SailingVilja family with the SHADOW of Mt Taranaki in the background.
After a 45 minute climb there’s half an hour descent to the Maketawa hut.
Late candlelit dinner in the Maketawa Hut at the foot of Mt. Taranaki.
Sleeping in on Saturday morning at the Maketawa Hut.

After a late breakfast we tramped the return 2 km track through the bush back to the Mt. Egmont Visitor’s Centre. We sure do look forward to experiencing more mountains and tramping in the South!

But first there are some more adventures on the North Island await…

 

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February 27th, 2019: Does size matter? Visiting the shortest (in Hobbiton) & the tallest (Wairere Falls) of the North Island. (Road trip New Zealand – Part 3)

“Famous last words” as we pushed the “Buy” button to confirm the NZD 168 (NOK 1000) purchase of tickets for a 2 hour tour of Hobbiton: “This one’s for the boys”, meaning that our four son’s would probably strongly question our priorities if we didn’t visit the Hobbit’s homestead while we were in their neighborhood.

The first glimpse of Hobbiton – enough to make us all emotional.

It took us 5 minutes into the tour and a mere glimpse of the double-arched bridge crossing over to the Hobbiton mill and the Green Dragon Inn, and we were all emotional and shear enthusiasm. Karen Marie was questioning what in the World was going on?! Well, so much for thinking that our interest in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books and movies was primarily part of parenting…

Ingrid caught in a moment of going nuts with the camera(s), trying to capture some of the million neat little details.
In front of Bilbo Baggins home and its characteristic green door.
The Shire – also known as Hobbiton – is a village of no less than 44 hobbit holes dug into the hillside, surrounded by hobbit gardens and orchards with real produce.
Anybody home?!

The tour consists of a 10 minute drive by bus to the location, a bit more than an hour guided walk among the many hobbit holes of the Shire, a 20 minute stop at the Green Dragon Inn for a refreshing pint, and finally the bus drive back to the starting point at The Shire’s Rest. Thanks to limiting the number of visitors per tour and distributing them evenly throughout the day, the Shire never seemed TOO crowded by Men (e.g. humankind).

Bilbo Baggins seems to have done his washing today, as had many of the other hobbits.

They say the devil’s in the details. Well, the impressive level of details put into the making of the Shire certainly seduced us; the clothes hanging from the lines, the woodwork of the houses, the individually decorated mailboxes, the different tools and equipment, the individual gardens and flowerbeds, food and artifacts outside each hobbit hole. We truly enjoyed it!

An example of the details; a look into what appears to be the Shire’s blacksmith’s workshop.
Checking mail.
The Old Mill.
Gone fishing.
Hobbiton – fun for all ages; even those who haven’t read the Hobbit – yet…

Of course we had to pick up an illustrated version of “The Hobbit” at the gift shop before we left. It’s proven perfect for reading aloud on our drive since then. Too bad the film is rated PG16. I guess we’ll have to wait with that one for a wee bit…

Walking the Wairere Falls Track

In the afternoon we went for a walk (5 km return) along the Wairere Falls Track to the lookout platform with a view from the base of the falls. We’ve many times been impressed by how well made and maintained the DOC (NZ’s Department of Conservation) tracks are, this one being no exception; bridges assist with river crossings and several sets of steps lead to the top of the gorge.

The Wairere Falls is with its 153 metres one of the tallest waterfalls of the North Island.

The walk proved to be a perfect way to spend the afternoon, not to mention finally use our bodies a bit after many days of lazy living.

Does size matter?

So to sum up the day and answer the initial question; Does size matter? Following today’s experience the answer is no. Or if anything; the “littleness” of Hobbiton won our hearts today.

Camping life

Brocks Place turned out to be a nice place to camp. 24 NZD per night, the location (only 2 km from Hobbiton), ok facilities and a stunning view of the hills and valley of Matamata made it a good deal.

Enjoying breakfast Thursday morning . We’re ready to pack up and go. At this point we haven’t decided where to go next though.

Where are we going next? Well that remains to see. We’ll have to stop the car before the intersection below the farm and make up our minds. There are so many tempting options and opportunities…

 

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February 25th-26th, 2019: Personal delivery of mail from Galapagos to an Auckland home. A visit to the maori Kingitanga’s “marae”. A closer look at National Geographic’s 50 most awesome photographs. (Road trip New Zealand – Part 2 – Auckland to Matamata)

So we’re off! First stop was a very special delivery of mail to an address in Massey, Auckland. We visited Floreana Island in Galapagos on July 2nd, 2018. Following the tradition of the island’s postal system (see fact sheet below), we picked up a postcard there that was addressed to a certain Sam & Mike in Auckland. ‘Cos hey, we were heading for New Zealand, though by sailboat…

Now – nearly 8 months and more than 6000 nautical miles later, we were finally in Auckland, ready to deliver the card in person.

So there was nobody home. A bit of a bummer… Oh well, we’ll try stopping by on the way back North. We left the postcard in their mailbox, though, so: Mission accomplished!

Camping in New Zealand – lesson 1

 We left Auckland in late afternoon, so our aim for the evening was to get out of town and find a place to put up our tent before dark.

The first thing we had to figure out though were the rules for tenting in New Zealand. In Norway you’re allowed to put up a tent pretty much anywhere, at least if you’re “in the wild”. Here it’s prohibited to tent outside designated camping grounds with toilet facilities. Considering the large amount of tourists –many of them backpackers – that travel around in New Zealand, it’s an understandable rule. So we’ve downloadad some excellent Apps; “CamperMate” and “Rankers Camping NZ”, which have so far proven to be excellent tools in helping us find camping areas.

CamperMate showed the way to freedom camping at Te Kauwhata Domain. Simple, but good. We enjoyed the simplicity of tenting life again. Favourite moments; snuggling up with Karen Marie in the sleeping bag before ready for a night’s rest. And the sound and scent of brewing coffee in the early morning hours on the gas cooker. Mmmmm….

A visit to the Maori Kingitanga’s «Turangawaewae Marea»

I’m totally encaptured by the history of the very special woman Te Puea Herangi; her person, life, and work for the maori rights, as written in her biography written by Michael King. (See fact sheet below.) She initiated the establishment of a marae (a communal or sacred place that serves religious and social purposes according to Maori culture and traditions) at Turangawaewae in the Waikato district.

We were driving very near this location. The marae is not open to tourists. Ingrid’s wish was to simply stop and see if there was anything to be seen? And there was! We met a friendly woman named Vinny Kingi who works with administration at the marae. She let us in and told us more of the history and use of the marae and the story of Te Puea and the Kingitanga.

From our visit at the Turangawaewae Marea, established by Te Puea Herangi, or Princess Te Peua as she was also called. Vinny, who was so kind as to take the time to tell us about the marae did not wish to have her picture published. Nor could we take pictures of the sacred buildings. So a family portrait of us inside the marae with a view away from the meeting house and the King’s residence will have to do…

Ingrid was so happy to see the marae and be at the actual place of events that are described in the book “Te Peua” by Michael King. The history of Aotearoa/ New Zealand and its people continues to interest and fascinate us. Thank you, Vinny, for letting us in to the marae and taking the time to show us around and tell us some of the many stories. It was truly interesting and meant a lot to us.

Fantastic photos, learning and fun at the Waikato Museum

Next stop was the Waikato Museum. An excellent museum, with a diversity of things to see & learn.

The exhibition “50 Greatest Photographs by National Geographic” was enticing. Fun to discover a Norwegian photographer represented among the 50; Børge Ousland and his awesome photography of the view from his tent, looking directly into the eyes of a polar bear.
Looking at the original drawings and the making of Lynley Dodd’s newest children’s book “Scarface Claw” was fun for SailingVilja’s bookworms Ingrid & Karen Marie. Taking a closer look at the majestic Te Winika, a 200-year-old carved waka tune (Maaori war canoe) was interesting. And the “Exscite Science Gallery for Kids” was perfect for Karen Marie. We especially loved the garden with a bunch of knitted vegetables and fruits for the children to plant and harvest. So fun for our 4-year-old. 😊

Tenting with a view of the landscape of the hobbits

Feb 26th: We’ve put up our tent at the camping ground Brocks Place in Matamata. Hey, haven’t we seen this view before?! Well, we’re only 2 kms away from a certain Hobbiton… we may just pay the neighbors a visit tomorrow…

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February 21st-25th, 2019:  First stop Auckland. Our roadtrip begins! (Roadtrip New Zealand – Part 1)

The Sailingvilja crew has hit the road! We’ve started out on a roadtrip by car, aiming to explore the North and South Island, and maybe even the southernmost Stewart Island, if we get that far? Meanwhile Vilja is safely on a mooring in Opua having a well-deserved time-out from her SailingVilja family.

First; here are some facts & numbers of the country itself; New Zealand, or Aotearoa which is its name in Maori. We include the equivalent facts about Norway, just to put it in “our perspective”.

So as you can see, there are obvious similarities, but also some obvious differences. From our Norwegian perspective being in New Zealand sometimes gives us a feeling of being home, e.g. the informal “down to earth” way of being, the convenience of “Western standard”, the culture of being outdoors tramping in the forest or mountains and doing outdoor activities, etc. Other times this country feels truly exotic, like the “odd” trees and huge ferns that grow in the forests, the wildlife with unfamiliar bird sounds and the eternal sound of cicadas, the maori history and culture, the volcanic landscape and soil. We can’t wait to explore this country further!

So we started off by taking the bus to Auckland. We instantly went into “going on holiday” mode. Here Karen Marie’s enjoying her lunch “New Zealand style” (a tradition that we picked up while she went to Te Waenganui childcare centre). Every little room holds its own little treat. Fun & yum!

4 days of getting absolutely spoilt in Auckland

So what’s in Auckland? Never mind the city; the single most important answer to us is: FRIENDS! We made friends with a family on the H-pier in the Bay of Islands Marina over Christmas and New Years; Pip, Russ & Dan. We shared some very interesting talks and real good laughs over the weeks we were “neighbors” there. 😊 Anyway, this family are not only nice people, they’re incredibly generous. Of course we felt lucky when big chunks of fresh and smoked blue marlin came to our table thanks to our neighbors’ fishing skills. And being invited to visit them in Auckland was something we looked forward to. The way they made us feel like we were at home when we arrived – even though they themselves were away on business – is not something “normal”; it’s special, and we know it. Not to mention – and this says it all really – they gave us the INCREDIBLY generous gift to lend us their car for our whole roadtrip!!!

So this is where we were heading now; to Auckland to pick up our very nice Mazda 3. And at the same time meet Dan (19) and Russ’ Uncle Rob, who were at home in Auckland.

Dan and Uncle Rob made us feel so at home, and at the same time treating us like special guests making delicious 3-course gourmet meals and spending time with us. We felt lucky & loved it!

Uncle Rob (or Robert) picked us up at the bus stop, and we headed home.  We were happy to find that Robert is just as nice as the rest of the family we already knew. And an unexpected gift for us was his skills as a chef. We enjoyed gourmet dinners every single evening.  All we can say is Wow! and Thank you!

Friday 22/2: Fun & learning at the Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium

We arrived on a Thursday. On Friday Dan and Robert took us to the Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium. Great fun & fascinating.

A fun and educational visit to the Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium.

Saturday 23/2: Catching up with Meeghan, our mermaid friend from Aitutaki

On Saturday we met up with our mermaid friend from Aitutaki; Meeghan, who is home in Aoteroa to visit friends and family. SO nice to meet this warmhearted cool mermaid again, whom was one of the people who made our stay in Aitutaki so special. Meeghan was staying at a friend’s house, which gave us the unexpected opportunity for Karen Marie to play with a little playmate and her dream barbie house.

Meeting up with Meeghan in Auckland. Meeghan is our mermaid friend from Aitutaki. A bonus was the intimate little concert she gave us. Groovy.

Now we’re crossing our fingers that we’ll see her again on Vilja for a sail and some diving before we leave New Zealand. By the way, Meeghan’s heading back to Aitutaki in a while to work with a project on planting new corals to preserve the coral reefs. Interesting to hear about how they make the coral growth accelerate by using special techniques. We wish her good luck with that important job to save the coral reefs of Aitutaki.

Sunday Feb 24th: A visit to the Honorary Norwegian Consul of Auckland

On Sunday Feb 24th we met the Honorary Norwegian Consul for Auckland, Captain John Robinson, to apply for renewal of Karen Marie’s passport. Seldom have we met a person who manages to combine in such an excellent way professionality and respect for the office he holds, with friendliness and helpfulness. Thanks to his solution-oriented approach, we found answers to a number of small and not-so-small issues regarding all three of the family’s passports, e.g. Jon Petter’s milk-soaked passport to mention one of them…

On Sunday Feb 24th we met the Honorary Norwegian Consul for Auckland, Captain John Robinson, to apply for renewal of Karen Marie’s passport. Note Karen Marie’s somewhat “stiff” smile, due to a profound reluctance to let go of her old beloved one.

Monday Feb 25th: Off we go, heading South!

Monday arrived, and we were finally ready to start our roadtrip. We’re leaving the comfort of Pip, Russ & Dan’s lovely home and Uncle Robs delicious cooking. But we’re also looking forward to the camping and tent life ahead of us, not to mention exploring the North and South Islands. And we already really like our very nice Mazda 3. No offence, Vilja! 😉

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January 7th, 2019: Happy New Year 2019! Celebrating with new friends in Bay of Islands, New Zealand.

Happy New Year to our family and friends in Norway and around the World!

Our New Year’s celebration was unplanned, and all the more full of unexpected and good events. We even made new friends. What a gift. It reminds us of how lucky and happy we are to be on this journey, and how reality is so much better than our imagination can comprehend!

Happy New Year from Ingrid, Jon Petter & Karen Marie!

We are in the Bay of Islands, in the NE of New Zealand. Our only initial idea for New Years was to find a good spot to drop our anchor and look at the fireworks on land from the waterside.

So first we found the people…

Sandra & Jonny, new friends who joined us for some sailing and island hopping in the Bay of Islands, and whom we ended the old year and began the new year together with. Great fun!

Then we met a very nice couple; Sandra and Jonny at the Yacht Club right before Christmas here in Opua. Sandra is originally from Germany and Jonny from England, but have lived in NZ the past 6 years. When we sent them an sms asking if they wanted to join us for the sail, they phoned us back instantly and said YES! Our gut feeling about the two was correct; we had a really good time together and 3 days turned into 5 before they had to return to their home near Auckland.

—then we found the place…

Sunrise on the last day of the year 2018 in the peaceful and beautiful Wairoa Bay in the Bay of Islands.

…then we found a whole party of people!…

And would you believe it? Of the very few people we know here in the district of BOI it turned out that we actually knew the couples on two of the only handful of boats that were anchored in the Wairoa Bay. Well, truth be told we didn’t really “know” them; We had just briefly met them before at the market in Russell, when Kerri had face painted Karen Marie and told us about being a liveaboard, and then introduced us to another sailing couple; Babs and Jon. We liked them all instantly, but parted with no plan. Until now, when we by coincidence bumped into each other here.

Being as you know “The lucky ones”, we were invited to join them in their New Year’s celebration on the beach. Isn’t it amazing how things just seem to always work out!? Perfect!

New Year’s Barbeque Party on one of the Te Paki Islands in the Wairoa Bay with (clockwise from left) Jon, Babs, Kerri, Phil, Jonny, Sandra, Karen Marie & Jon Petter.
Jonny & Karen Marie; buddies & adventurers.
Sandra & Ingrid, enjoying a Summer New Year’s celebration with newfound friendship and the peace of mind that sailing life and taking things as they come allow for.

…and then we put 2018 behind and welcomed 2019!

The sun goes down for the last time in 2018. Jon Petter took a time-out to take it in.
Sharing the turn of the year with good people on a peaceful beach in the light of a bonfire. Karen Marie dozed off in the kayak, wrapped up in blankets. Ingrid & Jon Petter served an undecently strong, warm and spicy cup of homebrewed gløgg to round off the old year. Life is different than at home, but it’s a good different.

2019’s looking good so far!

So now we’re into 2019. We look foreward to discovering what it will hold!?

True to tradition, Karen Marie started the year off with unsentimentally smashing the gingerbread house! 😉
On January 2nd we sailed to the beautiful, though busier Otaio Bay on Urupukapuka. There are trails there to walk with beautiful scenery over the Bay of Islands. (Ps. Vilja is safely at anchor a bit “to the right of the middle” in this picture).
Picnic in the green.
Every morning Jonny B made his own freshly made and very warm espresso for us. Aaahh. Wonderful!
Babs and Jon out kayaking. Their self-built sailboat «New Zealand Maid» is in the background. What a wonderfully nice and interesting couple to meet and get to know better.
Jon’s book “Snow Petrel – A Father-Son voyage to the windiest place in the world” is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.fr/Snow-Petrel-Father-voyage-windiest/dp/1723728101

Babs and Jon invited us over for a movie night on board. We watched the movie about when their son Ben Tucker sailed on his sailboat “Snow Petrel” from Tasmania to Antarctica with his youngest brother Matt and dad Jon as crew. An amazing journey to learn more about, and such a special experience for us to watch it together with Jon and Babs, who are both so much part of this story. (Ps. Jon wrote a book about the journey; “Snow Petrel – A Father-Son voyage to the windiest place in the world”, available on Amazon)

Babs and Jon are the kind of people we just long to have more time with. We feel so much in common, and so interested in getting to know them and their stories better. We’ve already met up with them once again since we returned to the marina, and are looking foreward till next time!

Jon & Karen Marie “telling each other” a goodnight story when Jon and Babs came over for dinner the other day. 😊

 2 new crew members qualified for our (very green) crew t-shirts!

So they made it, no doubt: Sandra & Jonny qualified for our (very cool & green!) crew t-shirts after having sailed with Vilja for 4 days in the Bay of Islands. Hoping to see these guys on board and on land many more times!

Thank you for sailing with us, Sandra & Jonny, and for all the good talks, fun, food and hot coffee!

Vilja’s out of the water, and ready for some “spa treatment”

Jon Petter ready for 2019, looking a little bit older but less wiser than last year… 😉

So now we’re back in the marina, and our lazy days are over for a while. Vilja was hauled out of the water today. She’ll stay on the hard for a week getting her regular and well deserved “spa treatment” with rubbing, anti-fowling, polishing, etc. plus some “specials”, like changing the rigging and strengthening the sails.

Her we go again! 8 months since last time Vilja was hauled out in Martinique. We’re ready to give her some more well deserved love & care her in the Bay of Islands Marina and Boat Yard in Opua, New Zealand. 😉

 

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November 21st, 2018: Bye for now & see you again soon, Opua! A taste of island hopping (Roberton Island) in the Bay of Islands on our way to work(!).

Some “seaworthy” words of wisdom found on the wall in “The Old Store Fish & Chips” in the Marina.

We stayed 6 days in Opua after arriving in New Zealand. OMG, how simple life seems here; Getting to land simply by stepping down onto the pontoon, connecting to electricity and water on land (meaning warm water and long showers, to mention one of many perks), having decent internet, chandleries (boat shops) and a boatyard offering most any equipment or assistance we need for the boat, a food store with familiar food, everything spoken and written in English, just to name some examples. We loved life on the Pacific Islands, but can’t deny that having access to most everything feels very ok for a change. 😉

Opua Marina in the Bay of Islands, where we stayed for 5 days. We may come back for Christmas!

We are by the way frrreeezing cold! 14ᵒC at night made us get out our winter down duvets. Spending nearly a year in a tropical climate has temporarily screwed up our inner thermostat. Good that summer’s just around the corner!

Another shroud broke

Another shroud snapped after we arrived in Opua. This worries us, since this is the second one that gives in in a month (the first one snapped in Aitutaki of the Cook Islands). We’ve now decided to have the whole rigging (in Norwegian: “den stående riggen”) renewed, and have booked time to take the boat up on the hard in Opua in January. Possibly we’ll spend Christmas here(?).

Audun at work up the mast – again.

But until then, the one broken shroud had to be replaced. This delayed our departure, but we’re glad to have it done. And the extra time gave us the opportunity to get to know some more fantastic long-distance sailing families. We hope to see them again – in New Zealand or somewhere out on the Seven Seas.

Now we’re on our way to work!

On Tuesday we finally were on our way to work(!). Work?! Yes, we’re heading for the Great Barrier Island, where a family is expecting us to come this week to start a 3 week “Workaway” commitment we’ve signed up for. We’ve really looked forward to this ever since we contacted them half a year ago, so now we are anxious to get there and begin!

A taste of island hopping in the Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands is known to be one of the absolute best cruising grounds in New Zealand. We’re taking the time to get a taste of it on our way South. We left on Wednesday, and only sailed a few nautical miles out to Roberton Island (Motuarohia) before we dropped the anchor.  It turned out to be a great spot to spend the night!

The island has an interesting history; Captain Cook was the first European who set his foot here in 1769, and the encounter with the 300 Maori that lived on the island at the time was dramatic but without bloodshed. The same can unfortunately not be said of what happened seventysomething years later, when the widow and children of John Roberton, the first European owner of the island, were tragically killed with an axe by a Maori chief’s son who sought revenge for having been abused by a farm worker (whom he also killed). The murderer was hanged. This was the first hanging in New Zealand, and made a clear statement that British law had replaced the Maori tradition of utu.

View from and of the Roberton Island, one of the interesting and beautiful islands in The Bay of Islands.

Apart from the island’s dark and dramatic story from the past, the Roberton Island is a beautiful little island with a lagoon, and rock formations and caves that make you want to explore. So explore we did, although following the tracks…

Audun, Karen Marie and Jon Petter exploring Roberton Island. (PS. Our winter apparel reflects our confused physical «thermostat» more than it does the actual climate. We’re freezing cold in temperatures of 14-20ᵒC, after having spent a year in a tropical climate…)

Sailing South

Today (Wednesday 21st) we sailed South along the East coast of the Northern Island. Our destination for the night: Tutukaka Bay. Audun was in charge of the sailing (and some motoring) all the way, allowing the rest of us to do other things we had set our minds to. It’s good to be lazy!

We rounded Cape Brett, thereby saying goodbye to the Bay of Islands for now. The lighthouse at Cape Brett was by the way the first light and sign of New Zealand that we spotted at 01:00 am one week ago when we came sailing from Tonga.
Karen Marie & Jon Petter – not exactly focusing on the sailing nor the surroundings, but having fun all the same!
We had a good sail. There were several oddly shaped rocks sticking up from the water along the way. Here: Audun points towards what appears to be an elephant or elk(?) coming out of the water.

We’ve now dropped our anchor in Tutukaka Bay. It feels a bit surreal that we are only one day’s sail away from our destination for the upcoming 3,5 weeks; the Great Barrier Island. It seemed so incredibly far away and long till when we first applied for a job there 6 months back. But now we are practically there. Awesome! 😊

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November 14th, 2018: WE’VE REACHED NEW ZEALAND!!!

On Wednesday November 14th, 2018 at 00:30 pm Vilja arrived in Port Opua, New Zealand. There were four happy sailors who put their feet on solid Kiwi ground: Karen Marie, Jon Petter, Audun Sødal and myself (Ingrid). A milestone has been achieved. To us this is a BIG one.

Just to give you an idea of the lengths and time that have been put into this, we give you some numbers.

OUR SAILING VOYAGE IN NUMBERS

We’ve sailed for 16 months now, covering a total distance of 18,039 nautical miles. It turns out that we were halfway from Norway to New Zealand (in distance) when we transited the Panama Canal. But we used more than twice the time to sail the first half.

On June 14th we left Balbao in Panama, thereby starting our Pacific Ocean passage. In exactly 5 months we have sailed 9,124 nautical miles. This has taken us 1,481 hours in pure sailing, i.e. the equivalent to 62 full 24-hour days. So to put it this way; 2/5 of the time that Vilja has had her hull in the Pacific Ocean (so far) she’s been “free” and doing what she does best: sailing! The other 3/5 she’s had her anchor dug into the seabed (or actually 6 of the nights she was moored to a buoy and 5 nights in a marina berthing). That’s if you count hours. But of course, we haven’t spent “62 days straight” at sea. We’ve split our sail into 17 stretches. On average we’ve been “night sailing” half of all nights (80 nights) and been “at land” the other half (73 nights).

For me (Ingrid) personally it was San Cristóbal (Galapagos), Mo’orea (French Polynesia) and Aitutaki (Cook Islands) that put the deepest imprint in my mind and memory. I will tell more of these tales if I find inspiration and time to write AND the internet connection that allows me to post it while I’m here in NZ.

THE VALUE OF SHARING VILJA AND OUR LIFE WITH FRIENDS

We’ve shared our sailing passage across the Pacific Ocean with special friends and family. Otto Inge Molvær shared with us the milestone of “crossing continents” transiting the Panama Canal. He sailed with us (from Martinique) to Galapagos. Our son Anders and friends Ingrid Bouwer Utne and her son Jonas Utne Skogdalen spent adventurous days with us in Galapagos. Brynhild Reitan shared the unexpected adventures of “the lost motor” and all that came with it in San Cristóbal (Galapagos), and then sailed with us over the longest single stretch so far: 3,000 nautical miles from Galapagos to Marquesas. Then we spent 2,5 weeks from the Marquesas islands to Mo’orea with a new friend in our lives; Sophie from Berlin. And finally, there’s Audun:

These last two months and 3,000 nautical miles from Tahiti we’ve sailed together with our friend Audun from Trondheim. We’ve enjoyed and are impressed by how he’s gone wholeheartedly into our SailingVilja life, whether it be; the adventure of travelling to and in distant and exotic places; the long-distance sailing life including the unexpected challenges and turn of events that tend to occur; and most of all the everyday life and all the ups and downs of three individuals aged 4-52 years old who are themselves exploring the World and Life itself. One thing’s for sure: Audun’s made sure that there’s been more music and play than ever on board Vilja these last couple of months. We feel lucky to get to know him the way this voyage has made possible, and thereby having it confirmed tenfold that he is an incredible person and a very good friend!

THE VALUE OF LONG-DISTANCE SAILING

Long-distance sailing is in our blood now. We love the long stretches. We feel they give us the time we really need to digest the flow of impressions from all that we experience on land. These impressions and all the thoughts that follow in their wake need time to sink in and find their natural place in our consciousness and memory. And also, the sailing gives us time alone to each other and ourselves. Not to mention, it gives us time to enjoy the fun and adventure of sailing on the big ocean!

I DIDN’T SEE THIS COMING

If anybody 10 years back had suggested to me (Ingrid) that I would be spending years of my life sailing in the future, I think my response would’ve been simply: “Why?!”  Let me remind you (and myself): I spent the first 40 years of my life without feeling the least bit of interest for sailing. I lived in the harbor town of Trondheim for more than 20 years before I actually set my foot in the harbor for the first time. Why? Because then I couldn’t care less about the sea. Urban life was my everyday life. If I needed to find peace of mind, I looked away from the water, and towards the mountains.

Well, that’s history. I’m a long-distance sailor now. Life is full of unexpected turns. For me this is definitely one of them. And hey, considering that the oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, my World has extensively increased over the last few years. That feels pretty cool!

STILL ONE MORE YEAR IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN

And back to our Pacific Ocean passage: We wish we had more time to explore life on land on the hundreds of islands we’ve passed and the few places we’ve been. But we’re so thankful for the time and experiences we actually have had. Also, we intend to sail back up to the Oceanic islands next Spring (2019) and spend a few months there before we head on westwards.

And hey, let’s not forget that we ARE on a Pacific island as we speak: New Zealand. We’re more than excited about actually having 5 months ahead of us to explore one of the countries we’ve been wanting to visit all our lives. So here we are & here we go!

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October 17th, 2018: Aututaki in the Cook Islands. Day #7 – Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. (And it sure is a heck of a lot better than any plan I could ever have set up!)

Our sailing plan said: One (1) night in Aitutaki.

Reality said: Yeah right…

We’ve been here 7 nights now, and won’t be leaving anytime soon.

Why? What happened?

The Universal answer is of course: LIFE. “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.”

The more non-philosophical facts are: The shroud on Vilja’s port side broke (in Norwegian: “vantet” som holder opp masta på babord side røk nærmest tvert av). There was no drama, other than the unavoidable moment of despair: OMG – what happens now? We’re in the middle of no-where. Aututaki – we probably would never even have heard of this island if it hadn’t been the nearest check-in point for visiting the island Palmerston, which was our actual goal of all of the Cook Islands.

The shroud on our port side suddenly snapped (in Norwegian: vantet på babord side røk). This is NOT good. Suddenly we could go nowhere until this was fixed.

So there we were last Wednesday (the 10th) at the break of day, outside the reef of an island of 1200 inhabitants in the middle of the Pacific (read: in the middle of nowhere) with a broken shroud. On top of it all our pilot warned us that the pass in through the reef is only 1.6 meters deep. Our draught is 1.9 meters. A local fisherman passed by. He assured us that the pass is 2 meters deep. We decided to make a go for it.

The pass IS only 1.6 meters deep. For a moment we were stuck on a sand bank. Our bow thruster was put to the test. A slight swell lifts the keel up from the sand bank for a moment, enough to let Vilja glide on into the lagoon. We’re in! (Will we get out again?!)

Then we met this family (see picture below):

Our heroes and rescuers; The family on board Chaos.

Long story short: Thanks entirely to this uniquely SUPER family on board the catamaran Chaos we had 2 new shrouds custom made in Auckland, New Zealand and delivered to us in person within 36 hours after we sailed into the Vaipae harbor of Aitutaki!!! In theory this should not be possible – but they made it happen!

Audun and Jon Petter replacing the broken shroud with a brand new and perfect one.

Audun & Jon Petter went right to work, and by Saturday Vilja was ready to sail again. But alas – the moon is a harsh mistress… and now we are our further sail is in her hands. We can not get out through the pass until full moon (and hopefully the also the weather and surge) “max’es up” the high tide.

But you know what? It turns out that Aitutaki is one of the most beautiful spots on Earth, with also the friendliest people possible. We have come to terms with our fate, and embraced the idea of being tourists and making the most out of our time here on Aitutaki.

Karen Marie is enrolled in pre-school at Araura Primary School, and is the proud owner of her life’s first and very own school note book and actual homework.  We’ve also been guests at the 90th birthday celebration of the Cook Island Girl Guides (girl scouts). We’ve toured the island with wonderful Maria at the Boat Shed. And every morning we walk the few steps over to Dive Aitutaki, where Brooke, Meegan and the entire staff make us feel that Aitutaki is the best place to be right now. (Not to mention, they make GREAT coffee that kick-starts our days.)

So now we DON’T WANT to go anywhere just yet.

We’ll put out more pictures if the internet connection allows it (which it may not… It’s reaaallly slow…).  But for now, you’ll just have to take our word for it: Aitutaki must be one of the best places in the World to be stuck!

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FRIDAY OCTOBER 5th 2018: HIGHLIGHTS from our 5 WEEKS in FRENCH POLYNESIA (posted in Bora Bora before departure for the Cook Islands)

So we ended up staying 5 weeks in French Polynesia. 5 weeks here is like rushing through Heaven! We could’ve spent a lifetime here, and still had incomprehensably much to explore. 118 inhabited islands and many many more small, uninhabited or deserted ones. Some volcanic, some simply made up of corals and sand. Only 3.500 sq.km of solid ground sprinkled out as islands across the SW Pacific across an area of 2,5 million sq km.

To simplify it a bit, the islands can be grouped into the following: The Marquesas Islands (of which we visited two: Fatu Hiva and Nuku Hiva), the Tuamoto Atolls (of which we visited two: Tahanea and Fakarava), Tahiti and the Society Islands (of which we visited Tahiti, Mo’orea, Ra’iatea, Taha’a and Bora Bora), The Australs and the Gambier Archipelago (none of which we even came close to). We loved all the places we visited. We want more time here. But at the same time sense tells ut that we’ll never be «finished» here anyway. Instead we hope to return one day.

Some favorites from the last 5 weeks:

The Polynesian People. The hospitality and giving nature of the Polynesian people that surprised us, warmed our hearts and inspired us time and time again.

The sense of pride and the hospitality of the villagers in Hakatea Bay on Nuku Hiva (Marquesas) warmed us and was perhaps the first experience that opened up our hearts to French Polynesia. This picture shows a moment along our walk, when we happened to pass by a man picking fruit. As soon as he saw Karen Marie, he stopped what he was doing and went to fetch a horse that was grazing nearby. He then lifted her up on its bare back and let her have a ride. Totally unexpected, and all the more unforgettable and appreciated.
Another of the generous villagers in Hakatea Bay (Nuku Hiva) gave us bananas, mangos, avocados and coconuts to bring to the boat, and even made some coconut water refreshments right on the spot.

The beauty of the Polynesian islands. Exploring uninhabited atolls, coral beaches, picking coconuts right off the tree, snorkeling among corals full of countless colorful small and big fish and even some pretty big (though harmless) sharks, feeding large sting rays from our bare hands, swimming with dolphins, whales and turtles.

Bay of Virgins on Fatu Hiva. This is the first sight of land that met us after 3 weeks at sea. Needless to say it took our breath away.
Haitiheu Bay on Nuku Hiva (Marquesas).
Taking our dinghy out from the inner (nearly enclosed) bay and village of Hakatea Bay, Nuku Hiva (Marquesas).
Crystal clear water and an atoll all to ourselves – in the lagoon of the uninhabited Tahanea Atoll in the Tuamotos.
Vaitepiha waterfall at the outskirts of the village Tautira on Tahiti.
Audun and Jon Petter having a good walk and talk at sunset on Mo’orea.
Swimming with the rays of Mo’orea – an awesome experience.
The view from Taha’a towards Bora Bora in the distance.

The ancient culture, and the old and newer history of French Polynesia. Awe-inspiring, dramatic, proud (eg. The history of Polynesian voyaging at sea, parallell but still different from our own history of the Viking era in Norway), and unfortunately also at some points sad and repulsive (eg. France’s nuclear test bombing in the Tuamotos that went on in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s).

There are remnants of the past wherever you go on the Marquesian islands. Here: A glimpse of the archeological site in the forests of Hikokua on Nuku Hiva.
A tiki (sacred statue) from the past, placed in Taiohae Bay on Nuku Hiva. No need to wonder whether this one’s a male or female…

The art and culture of Polynesian tattoos. So different than the European style. And so dense in symbolism and meaning. This was a topic for many a talk both among Vilja’s crew and with Polynesian tattoo artists and locals we met who were «covered in art». The Slungaard Myklebust Family takes their personal piece of this art with them in their lives forever (just wait and see!).

Our encounter with the tattooist Teikivahiani Puhetini (alias Ludo) on Nuku Hiva (Marquesas) started a process, that led to this (see next picture…)
Icon among tattooists; Purotu from Mo’orea – was allowed to interpret and etch Ingrid’s life story and values into Ingrid’s skin forever. (Purotu to the left, skin stretcher and translator Dom to the right.)

Meeting the other long-distance sailors – both young and old – that tend to gather here at this time of year. Some will sail on like us to New Zealand or Australia for the tropical storm season, but most of those we met plan to spend the coming half year exploring the most northern or southern islands of this country, safely outside the tropical storm belt.

Rick, captain on the American sailboat Oceans, let Jon Petter blow his (conch shell) horn. He and his wife were a really nice couple we may meet again next year in Fiji. Time will tell.
The World is so small: Imagine meeting this family in three different countries totally by coincidence! We crossed the Panama Canal with the French catamaran Azyu. Then they came sailing into Shipwreck Harbour on San Cristôbal in Galapagos a couple of days after we arrived. An waddayouknow – now we met them in Nuku Hiva! Finally we had time to sit down and get to know big and small in this very nice family.
Thiago and Kristyna on Good Run – we love your energy & attitude. And thank you for being so good about letting us «steal» the wonderful Sophie from you. 😉
Meeting cruising families feels like a gift; and this awesome one in particular: Luc (French), Sarah (Irish), Kaï (4,5 yrs) and Liam (1,5 yrs).
Karen Marie & Kaï found eachother instantly. Good to have equal buddies to both play a lot and fight a little with.

Our visiting crew:

Brynhild – our friend from Trondheim who crossed the Pacific with us and whom we got to share the joy of accomplishment after three weeks of continuous sail across the Pacific and the first taste of (to us) «new land» during a week together in the Marquesas.

Ingrid & Brynhild share a friendship cheers & «ankerdram» (in English: anchor shot) in celebration of the safe sail.
Brynhild and Karen Marie – or big sister and little sister as we call them!
  • Audun – also our friend from Trondheim who arrived in Tahiti and is joining us all the way to New Zealand. Since he arrived the boat has been transformed into a mix of giggles, philosophy, play, live music and much more.
With Audun’s arrival we have three playful individuals on board; Karen Marie & Jon Petter being the two others.
Two cockadoos!

Sophie a very special young woman whom we briefly met in Galapagos and by the unexpected turn of events ended up sailing with us for 2,5 weeks from the Marquesas to Mo’orea. She made an imprint in our hearts – and on Ingrid’s skin(!) – forever.

Sophie became part of the family the minute she boarded Vilja.
Karen Marie and Sophie enjoying a time-out in the Tuamotos.

And last, but not least: the time and precious moments the three of us – the «core crew members» of Vilja – share on our voyage.

Ingrid, Jon Petter and Karen Marie enjoying the calm and beauty of the Tuamotos.
Ingrid & Karen Marie: We love sailing! Here on our way through the pass leaving the lagoon of the Tahanea Atoll in the Tuamotos.
Karen Marie is getting the hang of handling the dinghy. It’s good to have a proud and patient mentor in Pappa Jon Petter, and a Mommy Ingrid whose motto is «It’s the detours, delays and sidetracks that enrich life.» Karen Marie sees no reason to take the dinghy to shore following a straight line, to put it that way….
Taking in a moment to ourselves on Fakarava in the Tuamotos.
Roaming around on Tahiti.

And now what?!

We are currently 4 crew members on board: Jon Petter, Ingrid & Karen Marie (of course), and also Audun Sødal our friend from Trondheim. Audun arrived in Pape’ete on Tahiti on September 21st, and will sail with us all the way to New Zealand. Our boat is filled with lots of laughter, play, everyday philosophy, live music (piano and guitar) and mere curiosity and appreciation of both the little and big things in life.

So here we go! Next planned stops are two of the Cook Islands; first the island of Aitutaki (360 nm westwards) and then Palmerston Island (another 200 nm northwest). We’ve been granted special permission to stop at the latter, and we hope that weather allows us to drop our anchor there. Time will tell. Now we look forward to the sail that will take us there.

Bon voyage!

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Tuesday September 11th, 2018. A quick update from the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

We’ve arrived in French Polynesia, after 22 days at sea and 3,043 nautical miles from Galapagos.

The sail was unforgettable – in a good way! And we’re Grateful.

We’ve now spent 11 days on the Marquesian Islands of Fatu Hiva and Nuku Hiva. Truth be told, we’ve fallen in love with the islands with their beautiful landscape and warm-hearted people. We’d love to stay longer, but must sail on in order to reach New Zealand before the tropical storm season sets in in November.

The Tuamoto Atolls are 5 days sail away, and we plan to stay a few days there before we head on to Tahiti.

See you!

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WEDNESDAY 08.08.2018: SAN CRISTÓBAL, GALAPAGOS

Vilja and crew have gone sailing!

Departure from San Cristóbal, Galapagos on August 8th at 3 pm

Destination: The Marquesas Islands

Distance: 3000 nautical miles

Current position: Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean…

Team Pacific! From left to right: Ingrid Slungaard Myklebust, Brynhild Reitan, Karen Marie and Jon Petter Li S. Myklebust.

Our last swim around Vilja before departure from Galapagos gave us this:

Our stay here in Galapagos has been unforgettable, in so many ways. No doubt these last 6 and half weeks will be a highly valued chapter in our Sailingvilja voyage.

Thank you, Galapagos!

MONDAY 06.08.2018: SAN CRISTÓBAL, GALAPAGOS

Key words: Final preparations before departure. Saying goodbye to friends.

We’re soon ready to sail, hopefully already tomorrow. We’re anxious to go, but – as strange as it may sound – we’re also feeling a bit sad to leave San Cristóbal. I guess it’s human nature; growing roots when you stay somewhere for a long time. We’ve been in Galapagos for 6 weeks now, and in San Cristobal for more than 4 of these. We’re starting to feel at home. We’ve gotten friends for life. We appreciate having sea lions for company when we swim by the boat. We’re gonna miss this place!

Our friend Don came over to say goodbye. He joined us for lunch. Good to see him again and hope to stay in touch!
Jon Petter uses all the chances he gets to do practical work now.
Nearly ready to sail. It’s time for shopping the fresh produce!
We’ve carried many loads of food down to the boat these last couple of weeks. Ingrid has a slight fobia againt running out of food in the middle of the sea. Brynhild’s a bit shocked, and claims we have enough food to last a full soccer team for a whole year… She’s probably right… 😉
We met up with Cecilia and Patricio for the last time during our stay – this time around. I feel certain we’ll see our friends again somewhere in the world, hopefully both during our circumnavigation and when we’re back home in Norway. And for the first time I’m starting to think; maybe we’ll come back to San Cristóbal one beautiful day in the future?

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SUNDAY 05.08.2018: SAN CRISTÓBAL, GALAPAGOS

Key words: Manual furling system installed. New generator on board – where the h… do we put it?! But the genuine highlight of the day: Spending the day with the Savalla family at their farm “Finca Don Eudoro” in El Progreso.

The morning on board started with the technical stuff – two achievements & one new headache:

Achievement #1: The mechanical roller furling system is installed and (nearly) ready to use! We can hardly believe it, but the fact is that WE ARE NEARLY READY TO SAIL!!!

Our new mechanical roller furling system. Handcrafted on San Cristóbal.

Achievement #2: We’ve bought a new generator. It FINALLY arrived yesterday by ship from the mainland. Why a new one, you ask? Well, our Fischer Panda broke down at Isabela three weeks ago. No spare parts are to be found here. Without a generator we wouldn’t have enough electricity for the fridge, electric stove nor using the autopilot 24-7. Meaning; it would have a great impact on our 3 weeks and 3000 nm Pacific crossing. So: We have bought a 2,5 kW portable generator as a temporary solution until we get to New Zealand. To save some money we chose the “local brand” KISA. We hope it’ll be ticking for at least the remaining sail across the Pacific.

We have a new portable generator on board. But where the heck do we put it?!

New headache: BUT – where the heck do we stow this monster? It has to be outside, but can’t take salt water spray. And it’s heavy – 45 kg! Jon Petter faces a new phase of problem solving… ;-p

Now enough about that. Today was actually another wonderful day! Yes, we know wonderful is a big word, but it’s the right one. Wonderful and full of wonders!

We spent the day at the Zapalla family’s farm Finca Don Eudoro in El Progreso. Words can’t begin to describe the experience and atmosphere. We are aware every minute of the time we spend with this family that what we’re experiencing right now is unique.

Here are some of the many memorable moments from our day.

Thank you!

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SATURDAY 04.08.2018: SAN CRISTÓBAL, GALAPAGOS

Key words: Friends & play! Because: It’s time to get ready to sail! All the more important to treasure the last moments building friendship and memories, to take with us into the future.

It’s Saturday. We’re hoping to sail on Tuesday at the latest. We probably OUGHT TO be doing the last practical preparations like tidying up the boat, stocking up the last goods, etc. But life on board Vilja right now is much more than that: We’ve been here so long we’re starting to “settle”. We’ve met friends. We enjoy San Cristóbal. We’re going to make sure we appreciate the last days we have here to build friendship and value the possibilities that we are lucky enough to get. Some preparations before departure are musts, but many “shoulds” and “coulds” can wait. Whatever isn’t ready by Tuesday can probably be done during the Pacific crossing or in the next port.

We started our Saturday morning with our friends and sleepover guests; Cecilia, Patricio and Alice. It was SO nice. You can’t NOT take this invaluable time. 🙂

Enjoying the perks of living at sea: Taking a morning dip! The very best and most effective way to wake up and clear your mind!
Karen Marie and Alice enjoyed each other’s Company.
Long and good breakfasttime with friends.
Patricio, Cecilia and Alica.

Who said boat maintenance is only work and no play?! Nonsense! This is just as omportant: Introducing the kids to “rig control” and using safety lines! 😉
We had a very nice surprise visit by Australian Jill and her friend Karla. Jill works as a missionary here. She came to Ecuador 11 (or more?) years ago, without knowing any Spanish. She’s worked in the rain forest, the mountains and the cities along the coast of Ecuador. Now she’s spent 1,5 years here in Galapagos. It was truly interesting to meet this woman who is following her heart and mission in life, which has many times taken her completely into the unknown.
Our American friend, Don, also came over for a surprise visit again. The talks we’ve had with him about all sorts of things, such as working in the school system in Ecuador and Galapagos, living here, and not to mention getting more insight and some laughs from hearing about Donald Trumps many unbelievable doings.
Finally we went on land to check off some of the practical preparations before departure. Such as finally taking the step from window shopping to making some actual important choices and Investments. 😉 Karen Marie is now ready to go!

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FRIDAY 03.08.2018: SAN CRISTÓBAL, GALAPAGOS

Key words: Galapagos birds in our “home & garden”. The manual roller furling system is installed. The highlight of today; having sleepover guests!

First a short update on the technical side: The manual roller furling system is nearly finished installed, and looking good so far!

Then to everyday life in San Cristóbal, which is getting SO good these days:

We’re not allowed to use our own dinghy here on San Cristóbal. The local taxi boats take us to and from land. They start at 6 am in the morning, and stop at 7 pm. This system works fine, with a copule of exceptions: The first is that we can’t visit neighbor boats unless we swim over to them (which we do!). The second is that it limits the evening activities on land. The good thing about it though outweighs this, because: If we want to socialize with friends in the evening, either they or we have to sleep over! This has given us very special experiences; Our American friend Don slept over on July 25th. On July 31st we spent the night at the Zapalla’s home in El Progreso (see Everyday blog). Today Cecilia, Patricio and their granddaughter Alice came and spent the night at our home, on board Vilja.  We really appreciated their company.

To the left: A little, yellow Galapagos flycatcher often pays us a visit, and even has a look inside Vilja every so often. We choose to think it’s the same one every time, and think of him as our very own Galapagos pet. To the right: When we came to land today, we spotted this bluefotted booby on a rock by the docks. Have a look at those bright blue feet and beak. Neat!
A trip on land, to buy som groceries and of course ICE CREAM!
Cecilia & Patricia Zapalla and their granddaughter Alice stayed the night. Extra nice that their son Matteo and his friend David stopped by to see Vilja & meet us at home, too.

Ps. We had invited the Zapallas over for dinner at somewhere around 6 pm. Ingrid TOTALLY miscalculated dinner preparation time, and had the food ready at 9:30 pm…. And this miscalculation happened regardless of the fact that she’d prepared the very same meal before! The last time was during the 10 day sail over from Panama. She hadn’t thought at all of the food preparation being time consuming then. Which gave us a good reminder of how time has no significance when you long distance sail. 😉 (Thank God we have patient friends…)

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THURSDAY 02.08.2018: SAN CRISTOBAL, GALAPAGOS

Ingrid spent the whole day (9 am to 7 pm!) on land at cafés, drinking coffee… Her mission: To edit and finish an article that will be published in the magazine “RS Magasinet” in September. RS Magasinet is the member magazine of the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (Redningselskapet).  Mission completed: The article was finished and sent by midnight. In good time before the deadline of August 20th, by which time we’re hopefully sailing across the Pacific. Time for more piña colada?! 😉

Meanwhile Brynhild, Karen Marie and Jon Petter stayed on board for most of the day. Jon Petter was busy adjusting the locally made mechanical roller furling system. It needs further adjustment and paint. We expect it will be installed on Friday. Keeping our fingers crossed!

Brynhild and Karen Marie were “the kid sisters» on board today, keeping themselves entertained. Brynhild did some “boatwork” (meaning: “housework” on board) in between.

Finally, we all met in town and had a cup of coffee (cup #7 or 8 in Ingrid’s case…) & ice cream.

A good everyday in Galapagos.

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WEDNESDAY 01.08.2018: SAN CRISTOBAL, GALAPAGOS

Key words: A day with the Zapalla family at their home and farm at El Progreso. A chicken hunt. A ride home. And people, talks, stories and an atmosphere that we’ll take with us in our minds and hearts for a long time.

We met a man 2 days ago. His name is Julio Patricio Zapalla. Not only did he help us repair the boat so we can continue our sail across the Pacific. He and his wife opened up their home to us and made us feel at home. We’ve shared stories of our life experiences, we’ve lived the present, found interest in sharing stories from the past and thoughts about the future.

Patricio and Cecilia have shared with us their story of…

…life change

…family history

…warmth and hospitality

…openheartedness

…love and respect – for your partner, your children, family, people, your surroundings

…appreciating NOW, and valuing what WAS to take you better equipped into what WILL BE

…life wisdom, and (still) learning…

We are forever grateful! These last 24 hours have been one of the most unforgettable days of our journey. We came back home to the boat and all 4 of us were simply a bit mind blown. Maybe we’ll share some of the stories and experiences from today in a “Message in a bottle” in the future. But for now we simply share some pictures, knowing that there isn’t any way we could fully describe the experience we’ve had anyway. You’d have to be there in person!

The Zapalla familiy’s home is enclosed by a big garden. Cecilia and Patricio themselves have their bedroom in a little house in the backyard. An excellent idea, when you have grown-up kids (19 and 21) in the house.
A morning walk in the garden, where Cecilia grows some fruits and vegetables for their own use. The guavas tasted delicious. We’ve “earmarked” one of the big bunches of bananas hanging from a tree that we’ll be bringing along on the voyage across the Pacific.
Patricio and Jon Petter came home pleased with the morning’s catch. On command the dog had caught one of the neighbor’s chickens. No reason to wonder what’s for lunch then!?
Plucking, cooking and eating the chicken. It sure was a short way from wandering in the neighbor’s garden in the morning to being the base for a delicious chicken soup for lunch!
A walk to the Zapalla family’s farm; Finca don Eudovo. Below right: Enjoying an ice cold bear and oranges picked from the tree right outside.

The peaceful walk back home. By the way, the animals are fascinatingly well trained. The horse doesn’t even give a wink of an eye at passing vans or barking dogs. The cat obeys the dog(!), and ended its wandering with us to sit down obediently outside the farm gate – and stayed there! – as soon as the dog gave it a firm nudge. The dog itself wanders freely about, and apparently couldn’t care less about other barking dogs or wandering chickens on the road. Still we bear in mind the immediate response and pursuant hunt and kill this morning, when the owner told him to catch a chicken…
Granddaughter Alice was home from school when we came back to the house. Karen Marie is so completely relaxed here, showing no shyness at all, neither for the grown-ups nor the children. Maybe no wonder; kids pick up the same vibes as grown-ups. We all felt at home while we were here.
“Chocolate and Milk” – Grandpa Patricio’s immediate response when he saw this picture of Alice and Karen Marie. 😉

TUESDAY 31.07.2018: SAN CRISTOBAL, GALAPAGOS

Key words: Breakthrough on the electric motor: Ditch it! We’re going for Plan D: Mechanical furling. Stocking up food for the long sail. We experience the incredible hospitality of a Galapagos family: We left Vilja for the night and spent it in El Progreso at our new friends’ home!

We’ve spent the last 3 weeks waiting, thinking, guessing, hoping and turning our minds inside out to find a solution that will take us further on our journey across the Pacific. Up until yesterday we walked up one dead-end after the other, banging our heads into the wall over and over again. But that was until yesterday…

Yesterday we met Julio Patricio Zapalla. In the last 24 hours things have turned from questioning whether “this is it?” for our crossing the Pacific this year, to suddenly being in a rush to actually get ready to go! ‘Cos Jon Petter and Patricio say that the mechanical furling system for the genoa will be ready on Wednesday!!!

We’ve been stocking up on food for the Pacific crossing this last week. From the smile on the local grocer’s face when we come to his shop, we are VIP customers. They’ve actually run out of granola, wholemeal flour and some other goods after our raids! 😉
The guys were busy and enthusiastic on the boat when we returned from town. The forestay is re-attached and new parts for the furling system are being fitted.

We can hardly believe the sudden «ketchup effect» in our progress. And not only that; It turns out that Patricio is an extraordinary person, and so is his whole family. Right now we are in El Progreso, and are staying in Patricio’s and his wife Cecilia’s home. We had a wonderful dinner and evening here this evening, and tomorrow (Tuesday) they have invited us to stay and get to know El Progreso better. What an incredible hospitality, not to mention what a wonderfully nice and interesting family. Again we realize we’re incredibly Lucky!

A very special couple we are lucky to get to know; Staying the night at Patricio and Cecilia Zapalla’s home in El Progreso
Spending the evening and enjoying tasty tuna at the Zapalla’s family home in El Progreso. From left: Brynhild, Jon Petter, Karen Marie, Nieta, Cecilia and Patricio.
Our charming friend and excellent cook, Patricio…
…and his warm and welcoming wife Cecilia and grandchild Alice (6).
We feel at home.

MONDAY 30.07.2018: SAN CRISTOBAL, GALAPAGOS

Key Words (and questions): Plan A, B and C are discarded. Still no solution to our broken motor. Now what?! Can this be the end to our sail westwards?! We invent a new Plan D. And hey, it may work out!?!

Remember our Plan A, Plan B and Plan C? (See Everyday blog from July 27th).

Brynhild and JP had another go at Plan A and visited LATAM Airline’s helpdesk at the airport in search of the lost luggage (containing the new motor). Still no luck…

Plan A was trashed many days ago. On Sunday we gave up on Plan B. Today Plan C also went down the drain when we were told that even express packages from the States (with new spare parts) will take 3 weeks to get here…

The situation is: We have to be in New Zealand in 3,5 months before the tropical storm season sets in. We have at least 7000 nautical miles left to sail to get there. Brynhild has her work back home to consider and can’t stay on board forever. We’re REALLY set on her being part of the team that sails the 3000 nm long stretch over to the Marquesas islands.

S.O.S.!!! WE’RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME!

So we have made up a plan D: Jon Petter will make parts himself and here on San Cristóbal for rebuilding to a mechanical furling system for the genoa sail.

Yesterday afternoon Jon Petter spotted a guy working on a car engine outside a “workshop” and went to talk with him. An hour later he came back, all enthusiastic. It turns out that the guy he met is a self-taught mechanic. Jon Petter trusts him. They’ve agreed to team up and work on this project together. Tuesday will be THE day.

The guy to the left is our new partner in crisis. JP and he went around asking other local workshops if they have any material we can use?
The “workshop” where Jon Petter will be working together with his new partner to make a mechanical furling system for the genoa.
They found what they were looking for. (Really?!) Maybe this is the part that’s gonna save us? Hey, we’re not kidding!

WISH US LUCK. WE NEED IT!

We’re not drinking away our sorrows. We have something to celebrate: Ingrid’s article about sailing across the Atlantic with a 3-year-old is published in Våganavisa (www.vaganavisa.no) this week. Cheers!

 

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SUNDAY 29.07.2018: SAN CRISTOBAL, GALAPAGOS


Key Words: Opening up the defect electric motor, to see what’s wrong. Maintenance day. Snorkeling with dolls & seals. Don, our American friend stops by for a visit. A volcano eruption on board S/Y Vilja!

Jon Petter has dislocated the defect furling motor from the forestay. Hopes were up for a while that the fault would be an easy fix.
Unfortunately NO easy fix… One of the cogwheel teeth seems to be broken. We don’t have the tools to fix this here. We’ll have to move to Plan C: Getting hold of parts from Seldén in USA in order to rebuild the furling system from electric to manual. It’s a temporary but functional solution. And sufficient for us to sail across the Pacific.

Brynhild made a short trip on land to get some exercise and a well deserved time-out after having patched up wear and tear on the steering wheel’s suede cover. She took a walk along the path to the nature reserve Cerro de las Tijeretas and back again along Love Beach + read a book at a café.

Meanwhile, the rest of us stayed on the boat. JP & Ingrid had a dip in the ocean to scrub algae off the boat. (It’s amazing how fast it grows in these waters!) Then we took the rest of the day off.

Karen Marie, her doll Bella Castle and Ingrid did some snorkeling. A couple of curious sea lions swam by to have a look at us.
Don, our American friend and English teacher at the San Cristobal University, stopped by with cold beers. How can you say no to such an offer?! Or why should you, for that matter?! 😉 Don stayed for a cup of coffee and Norwegian waffles. Good to see him again, and look forward to (and hope for) more spontaneous visits from him and other “locals” while we’re here.
Volcano handcraft project – step 1.
Result: Vilja’s very own Volcano!

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FRIDAY 27.07.2018: SAN CRISTOBAL, GALAPAGOS

Key Words: The motor is STILL lost in transit. We must move on to Plan B or C. An unexpected and nice visit by a local family on kayak. Breaking news: We have a TV on Board Vilja! And finally: the genoa was taken down at midnight.  

Ok, let’s face it: The electric motor for furling/unfurling the genoa (headsail) is lost!

It’s been 16 days since Brynhild arrived in Galapagos, whilst one of her checked-in luggages didn’t… Inside the missing box is a new electric motor for furling and unfurling the genoa. We’ve spent the last couple of weeks clinging on to plan A (see below). Daily we’ve spent hours at our agents’ offices – first James Hinkle on Isla Isabela and now Bolivar Pesantes in San Cristobal – doing our best to keep the pressure up on trying all channels there are at finding the lost luggage. Our superb agents have put in a lot of effort to help us, but they can’t work wonders. LATAM Airlines has no clue as to where they’ve put our box! After 16 days we realize it’s time to give up plan A, and move on to Plan B or C.

  • Plan A: Waiting for the lost luggage with the motor to turn up.
  • Plan B: Fixing the old, broken one. Seldén Mast in Sweden do not advise us to do so (which is why we initially bought a new one). We have practically no access to customized tools or spare parts here on the island.
  • Plan C: Rebuilding the system to a manual system for furling and unfurling the genoa. Probably our best bet.

We’re in dialogue with Seldén Mast in Sweden and USA to order the necessary parts for rebuilding the system and have them shipped here. In the meantime we’ll be exploring Plan B.

I guess one could say that the main achievement these past weeks has been to keep our spirits up in Team Vilja. We’ve had to reset our minds from focusing on the Pacific crossing, to seeing the value in spending everyday life in Galapagos. We’ve actually managed to have a lot of fun, too!

(And yeah yeah, we know: There could’ve been a lot of worse places to be stranded than on the Galapagos islands! No complaining from our end.)

Here are some glimpses from our everyday life today:

A family was paddling by in their kayak, and we invited them to come on board for a cup of coffee. So then we met Carlos, Vicky and Misha (3). They stayed for snacks while we had late (as always) breakfast. Vicky is from Santa Cruz and Carlos from the mainland of Ecuador. The family lives here on San Cristobal. Really nice to get to know this very nice family. The fact that they’re locals is extra nice for us, as it gives us the chance to get to learn more than just the touristy stuff about Glapagos. Maybe they’ll come back to visit again before we leave? We hope so.

Unexpected & very welcome guests for breakfast: Carlos, Vicky and Misha.
Even sending mail can be an interesting happening in the everyday life of a sailor. Visiting the post office here in San Cristobal is like going back in time: Ok, they DO have a computer. But other than that everything seems to be manual. The guys that work there are helpful and put the few English words they know into use. Our letters are now on their way to Norway. Excellent!
Lazy Cook Day today. We ended up going out for dinner at Rustica Restaurant in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. The Lazy Cook herself feels inspired to keep up her laziness!
We’ve lived 3 years on board Vilja without a TV. But now we’ve «given in”: We’ve bought a TV, and it’s mounted in the forepeak The grand premiere was held today, showing the documentary “The Galapagos Affair – Satan came to Eden” . Accompanied by the compulsory popcorn, chocolate and drinks of course. 😉
Nearly wind still at midnight. Finally we dared take down and dismantle the genoa. We’ve been waiting for this possibility for weeks, as it’s simply been too windy to have the big sail out and «hanging loose». It’s a relief to have the job done.

So now it’s time to start Plan B and/or C. Wish us luck!

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SUNDAY 15.07.2018: ISLA ISABELA, GALAPAGOS

Key words: Good news on the genoa motor, cleaning up after nightly visit by our flippered friends, bon voyage to the Red Pearl crossing the Pacific, enjoying a good visit and Norwegian waffles with newfound Isabela friends, an unexpected visit from Norway.

Good morning! Hope’s up on board Vilja. Supposedly the motor for the genoa is stuck in customs, and they have requested for an address here on Galapagos. This means the motor isn’t completely lost! Now we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we won’t have to pay import taxes here. We’ve already paid €1000 in VAT in Norway…

Other than that, here’s what’s happening in our everyday life on Isla Isabela:

Ingrid’s knee is still swollen and not good after yesterday’s crash. She spent the day on board, while Jon Petter and Karen Marie went on land to explore & run some errands.

Everyday morning chores in Galapagos: Scooping sea lion shit out of the dinghy…

You know you’re in Galapagos when you wake up in the morning and discover that you’ve had overnight visitors in your dinghy – leaving it full of sea lion shit…

Waving goodbye to the Red Pearl (the second-last boat crossing the Pacific?)

Waving the Red Pearl goodbye, wishing them the very best of sails! This may be the second-last boat to cross the Pacific this year. Guess who’ll be the last…

Even though a part of us wishes it was us who were setting sail, we’re really happy for these guys that they’re finally on their way now. God knows they really deserve it! You see, this is their second time around; More than a month ago they were on their way to Marquesas and had sailed nearly 200 nm from the coast of Galapagos when suddenly they LOST their rudder! With no pre-warning, it all of a sudden simply detached and disappeared into the deep blue… Without a rudder, you’re like a message in a bottle, not knowing where or even IF you’ll ever reach a shore. They sent out emergency signals, and were out there bobbing in the vast Pacific Ocean for nearly a day. Finally they were rescued, and their sailboat tugged back to Isabela. The tug back took them 4 days. And since then they’ve been stuck in Isabela, waiting for a new rudder to be made and shipped. It finally arrived this week, and now they’re on their way. We admire their ability to stay motivated and not give up.

The crew on board the Red Pearl stopped by for a cup of coffee and a last chat before they sailed off to the Marquesas. From left: Susi, Felix (1,5yrs old), Thomas and Sophie.

So now we’re the last boat in the harbor of Isla Isabela… Looks like we’re going to be the last boat crossing the Pacific this year?! I wonder when we’ll actually sail?

A lovely and fun visit

We had our favorite Galapagos couple over for a visit: Our agent James Hinkle and his wife Marlene. The couple runs the Booby Trap Bar, which we’ve visited frequently during our stay here on Isla Isabela. Not only has James given us priceless help in our struggle to get spare parts for the boat; it just so happens that the Booby Trap serves great food and the best mojitos and piña coladas we’ve tasted in a looong time!

A good visit, sharing stories and some real good laughs with our newfound friends from Isabela; James and Marlene Hinkle.

Well anyway – today Marlene and James came on board for Norwegian waffles, and we ended up having a really interesting and fun conversation. I’m telling you: These are extraordinarily nice people!

Unexpected visit from Norway

Towards the end of the day we had unexpected visitors from Norway!

Kim and Dag from Bergen had spotted the Norwegian flag, and stopped by to say hello. Nice! 

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SATURDAY 14.07.2018: ISLA ISABELA, GALAPAGOS

Key words: Motor “lost in transit”. Stuck in Galapagos. TheSailingvilja- team is functioning. Meeting a good helper and new friend; agent James Hinkle. Crashing on the scooter, and battering up my knee. All-in-all: A day of ups and downs…

The box at the bottom of the stack is missing. WE NEED IT – NOW!!!

We started rough; Today’s first DOWN: Message from Brynhild, our new crew mumber who arrived on Santa Cruz (the neighbor island) 3 days ago: Her luggage is still lost. And hey, we’re not talking about some lost t-shirts and a toothbrush here. No, the box holding the electric motor for hauling the genoa (front sail) in and out is lost. Without it, we can sail nowhere. Not to mention the monetary value of this “precious metallic gem”… The old motor broke down as we sailed into the harbor of Galapagos. We HAVE TO have a new one in order to be able to sail on.

Obviously, both Jon Petter and I are stressed about the whole thing. The thought struck me: “Oh my God, maybe we’re not going to be able to sail on from here?! We have 8000 nautical miles to New Zealand and 4 months to sail them. WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!!!”

Today’s first UP: Being able to talk about it! The dark clouds from fear of the situation with technical problems and uncertainty were filling up my mind. Instead of keeping it to myself, I sat down opposite Jon Petter in the cockpit and said: “I’m worried. And afraid that “this is it” for our circumnavigation.”. That gave a kick start to a good talk between us, and a sharing of the situation. Being a team means everything. We’re in the same boat on this one, literally spoken.

Then another UP: We went over to the Booby Trap Bar to meet the owner and our agent James Hinkle and discuss the missing motor and all the other technical issues on the boat that we’re struggling with. This guy is the best! He contacts people, makes things happen, translates all our messages and is our “right hand” and life saver. It means SO much when we’re in a Spanish speaking country where our English is worth virtually nothing.

Jon Petter and our very good agent and helper in Isla Isabela: James Hinkle

After the technical talk, he took us for a walk in his kitchen garden, showing us how he’s nursed all kinds of fruits and vegetables to grow in this volcanic sand. Ha picked a bunch of tomatoes, chilis (HOT HOT!) and lemon grass for us to take home.

After the garden tour we enjoyed a drink in the bar; mojito for the guys and a piña colada/ virgin colada for the girls over a good talk.

Karen Marie – 3,5 years old and already lovin’ virgin coladas.

James shared some fascinating stories from his years as an American gringo on Galapagos. Meeting people like this makes all the difference for our trip. We feel truly grateful.

And then another DOWN, literally: Ingrid crashed with her scooter on the way home! We were racing our scooters towards the harbor in the dark. I completely forgot to pay attention to the fact that we were racing on a dirt road. Suddenly the front wheel got caught in the dirt, and off I went in a half summersault, completely ungracious. I must have been clutching on to the handlebars, because the only limbs I landed on were my left knee and my forehead! OUCH! (Note to myself: I’ve been so careful and cautious all my life not to put myself in situations where I get hurt, that I completely missed out on the useful lesson that experience gives you in how to fall without killing yourself!) My head is ok, just a bump and a scratch. But my knee is battered and hurts like hell! We took a taxi to the harbor and the dinghy back home to Vilja. There Dr. Karen Marie and Nurse Jon Petter cleansed my boo-boos and gave me lots of care. So after all – I realize I’m lucky in the middle of my transient state of misery. 😉