Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Return to Nuka Hiva and Christmas Dec 2013

After being away 4 months we were excited to return to Nuka Hiva, our new friends and our home, KaijaSong.  Stepping aboard was like we had never left.  Kevin and Annabella and their two wonderful children Esmeralda and Tehau had done an amazing job of boat sitting and KS was just as we left her. 
The days between our return and Christmas flew by with work projects and the daily celebrations and festivities that are such a part of the island life during this special season.  We enjoyed it all and the days flew by.  Then it was finally Christmas Eve.
Having come from the ‘land o’ stuff’ we were laden with Christmas gifts for all and we were excited to see their reactions.  It is true what they say that it is better to give than to receive, the joy and watching the little ones open things so completely unexpected.  Albeit the humble offerings we brought seemed trite by comparison to the warm hospitality and love this family had shown us during our time on their beautiful island.  The spirit of Giving is alive and well on Nuka Hiva and it was a very Merry Christmas for all.
Christmas Nuka Hive 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Easter Island Dec 4 - 10 2013

Easter Island Dec 4 – 10 2013


Easter Island (Rapa Nui) has been on Kaija’s bucket list for ever.  It is those magical, mystical row of Moai that you have seen in classic photos of the South Pacific. 

It is believed that the first islanders arrived either from the Marquesas, the Mangarevas, the Cooks or Pitcairn between the 4th & 8th centuries.  In our experience we definitely saw the similarities to the Marquesans.

It was exciting to see the statues and our native tour guide was great and it is worthwhile taking the guided tour, albeit one gets the idea that each tour guide has their own script as there is no definitive answer as to how these huge carvings came to be.  Rapa Nui people are fiercely proud of their history and culture, and strive to keep their traditions alive. 

We spent 4 days on the island, en-route from our Road Trip of North America back to the Marquesas.   This was more than enough time to see the sights and experience the culture of this island.  If you plan to visit keep in mind there are no showy resorts, just a smattering of family-run pensions and the accommodations reflect the easy going atmosphere. 

Here are the highlight photos of our Easter Island Adventure.




We are ready to catch our late night flight to Papeete where we will connect at 6:30am to the Marquesas and back to the boat.
See you there!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Road Trip Aug 11 - Dec 1 2013

Road Trip Aug 11 – Dec 1 2013


After enjoying the 90 days allowed as Canadians entering French Polynesia we returned to Canada the long way round, via New Zealand (don’t recommend this routing unless you are travelling on points). Total flying time was 25hrs and we arrived the same day we left :o) (you figure it out).

We had arranged with our good ex-neighbour JJ to purchase his 1989 21ft Ford Sterling Motorhome, which he owned since new.  This was to be our first ‘Bus’ (sorry but being an old Gospel singer I’ve always had a hankerin for a bus). 
 It took two days to licence and air care and we were on the road thru the Majestic Rockies heading to Ontario.

Our first stop was overnight in Kelowna then on the road early to Calgary to meet up with old dear friends I had not seen in 26 yrs and Kaija had never met.  Brian and Roxy made it seem like we had never been apart and we enjoyed a wonderful visit with them getting to know there three wonderful children, Phil, Jeff and Brianne (via Facetime).  We departed with an invite to return and headed on down the road. 

We hadn’t gone too far, just into Saskatchewan when The Bus decided to take a break…literally…it just quit…and thankfully Kaija had arranged with BCAA/CAA coverage which we paid for with this breakdown.  A quick phone call and lickety split…out in the middle of no-where arrives a welcome Tow Truck who carried us into Al’s Service Centre in Maple Creek.  24 hrs. later we were on the road again with our new mascot Sterling who we saw in the window of the Salvation Army Thrift store.


Thankfully the trip across the prairies into Ontario was uneventful and pleasant in our new home on wheels.  We looked forward to spending time with friends and family before heading south.

We hope you enjoy some of the hundreds of pictures we took along the way.

We would be remiss if we didn’t say how much we enjoyed being reunited with dear friends Jack & Pearl who made us so welcome

Paul and Jan and sharing fond remembrances of our misspent youth.  We enjoying a wonderful weekend with Raul and Lea at their Lakeside Villa.  A fun evening with John and Debbie and John and Cathy who along with Arnie and Sue joined us at the NQC. 

Cousin Steve and wife Jane and the many of the Bell Clan, Aunt Pat,  Cousin Patsi and Ralph and Amy and Sarah, Bruce and Bev, Laura and oh man...can these folks a good tonic for the spirit...lucky to call  them family.


  Kaija's first trip to Niagara...spectacular...but home of the Monster Burger???? who knew?

Our First RV Park...absolutely First Class!

 Washington Landmarks, The Smithsonian




The Duke, Morgan, Larry and Johnny and my visit to the Oval Office (ok hahaha permit me a wee bit o fun),
Seeing Kathleen looking so well in her new home in Knoxville
Attending the National Quartet Convention during it’s last year in Louisville before changing venues next year in Dolly Wood and remembering the years when our group the KJV sang at the NQC  back when it was held in Nashville.  It was fun to walk down memory lane with fellow quartet member John and spend time with members from different groups we have known over the years.  A special time for me was spent with the Couriers Dave, Duane and Neil still singing strong after 50 years.  It was an honor to witness them humbly receiving their well-deserved Life Time Achievement awards.  Then on to Branson as guests of the OakRidge Boys, Joe, Duane, Richard and William Lee at their 40yr Reunion Celebration.  These guys were gracious enough to remember this old Gospel singer/piano picker and so engaging in meeting Kaija.  And a special thanks to Ronnie Blackwood for arranging a meet and greet with three preachers kids who made it big in Country, the Gatlin Boys, Larry, Rudy & Steve. Despite their fame in Country they still have a heart for good ol Gospel singin and it was great to see them participating at the NQC with the Gaither Vocal Band and the Booth Bros…what a treat…these guys are singing machines!

spending time with cruising friends Diane, Aaron and Lyla

The Badlands, Rushmore…


Custer and Sitting Bull...

Deadwood...not exactly like the TV show....Devils Tower...exactly like the Movie

The Unique sights of Montana

 Cosmos and Donna in Lethbridge...Seeing Kaija’s niece Carrie and nephew Todd and their families in Kelowna 


and finally, back in Vancouver with my childhood friend Wayne, Kaija’s good friends Joan and Jan & Ross who fed us Thanksgiving Turkey a plenty.  JJ & Anna, Lorry and Robert, Tony & Jane, Barry & Katherine, a lovely meal with long-time friend and tennis buddy Ivan and a quick trip to Vancouver Island to see Tom and Jane in their beautiful Country home…it was great to see them all.   

.... It was a whirlwind and we missed a few, but we will make up for it on the next visit.
What a wonderful Road Trip. In three months we covered 19 states, 5 provinces, and spent more on fuel than we have in 10 yrs. sailing.  

As our dream of the sailing/cruising life was born years ago during our first sailing charter in the Virgin Islands, so now has a dream to buy a bigger bus and land tour many of the places we haven’t been…in the immortal words of that great songster, Willy,  “can’t wait to get on the Road Again”…

However, for now…it’s back to the airport where a plane is waiting to take us to Easter Island…see you there!






Sunday, August 11, 2013

Welcome to Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marqueses. - May 23 - Aug 11 2013

We are well and safe with our ‘honey do’ list a mile long...and we are in Marquesas ..where the bad news is there any parts have to come from a long way away.  The good news is there is Kevin and WE ARE IN THE MARQUESSES ..this anchorage is breathtaking...the cauldron of a Volcano, dramatic steep jagged sheer mountain sides all round but the entrance way, green and lush, oasis in the middle of the ocean, a respite from the heavy Ocean swell, (not always) however it is a safe harbor.

Taihoe Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marqueses

A note regarding our SPOT ADVENTURE GPS ...we did send signals every day...however, based on the number of messages I personally received via email being 6 out of does not appear that it worked all that well and is not something we would recommend to those following our path. was Passage Making you ask?...I reply...typical...about 99 % boredom and 1 % it's SHEER TERROR! ...and if you can live with that...give it a try!

For you who say...stop your wining...I remind you that I am not
complainin...just reportin...and realize that no one ever heard Columbus say..."What no GPS"??.what do you mean the autopilot isn't working!....I don’t care if the chart-plotter says we are in the Bahamas!...we sailors recognize the awesome abilities it took for these early explorers to do what they did and survive to tell their stories...incredible men all of them!

We are thankful to the Master of the Seas and Maker of the Wind for providing us safe passage. Mr. Murphy for compassion when we were exhausted and near broken and reminding us that we are only human.  I'm still not certain what message/lesson I was being taught on day 25...but no worries mate...I have the rest of my life to ponder that.

Since arriving in Nuku Hiva, we have enjoyed many healthy hikes around the Taiohae Bay. 

The neatly restored Tohua Koueba, a sacred place venerated by the ancient Marquesans is about 1.5 km of up the city. 

Tohua Koueba Traditional Cerimonial Site

Then there are the Sentinels ..a well marked trail going from town to the entrance of the bay.  It is an amazing vista of the entire bay looking down from the rim of this ancient volcano

Taiohae Bay from the Sentinels

...a full day motor coach ride around the island.  There is actually a hummer on this island...go figure and maybe a total of 10 miles of concrete roads...hahahah ever heard the expression...more money than brains...oh well...the owner said it was too good a deal to pass up. 

Traditional Marquesas Tiki Ceremonial Site

We also enjoyed a wide variety of festivals and banquets...these folks enjoy their food!.   The highlights so far have been mother’s day, father’s day,

Father’s Day Festival 2013

the June music festival in which Steve (sv Liward) and myself participated with the locals...jammin and havin a ball...

Fete de Mus 2013

The month of July is the Marquesan festival of dance and local music...every weekend is another spectacular show of the various islands dance troupes.

St. Bastille Day Nuku Hiva

The Beautiful Girls of Nuku Hiva

The Manly Men of Nuku Hiva

This little princess stole the show!

Now almost two months after arriving, we have just received our transmission parts and discovered that the key part is more DHL and more waiting...but all other repairs are completed so we keep a happy face and hope that when the final part arrives we will be able to move the boat.

During the last week of July our good friends Bob and Annette Sv Tempest sailed into Nuku Hiva.  It was a happy day for all as we had not seen each other since our days in Shelter Bay Marina, Panama, months earlier.  Tempest had been in the marina for over a year and B & A worked hard on rig repairs and interior upgrades including beautiful new bamboo cabin soles.

We decided that an evening of celebration was in order and so attended the final night of the July Festivities of music and dance.

Kaija with her head Lay, Bob and Annette Sv Tempest & Stars of the Show

Finally with only days remaining before our departure for Canada, our transmission parts arrived and with the help of Kevin (Nuku Hiva Yacht Services) and friend Terry we worked feverishly to re-assemble our transmission without all them new fangled tools so commonly found back in the ‘land of stuff’.  No hydraulic press to re-assemble the new bearings…I discovered that as the old saying goes…necessity is the mother of invention…the Marquesean version of a hydraulic press is three guys…one holding the transmission shaft with the new bearing sitting on top, the second holding a large steel pipe in place over the bearing and the third, a 13 pound sledge hammer…you get the idea…it was a verrrry scary moment when Terry dropped the hammer….I was busy counting fingers but after repeated efforts we managed to get all the bearings back on the input, output, and intermediate shafts.  We finally got it all in the casing and ready to put back in the boat.

We had to wait overnite for the seals to set.  Early Sunday morning I poured in the transmission fluid and with fingers crossed and held breath, Kaija started up the engine that had not run for almost two months and everything seemed perfect…that is except for a slight whining sound…we shut everything down…inspected everything in site…found nothing out of place so started up again…and for about 5 minutes everything when all of a sudden we heard a loud snapping sound…something akin to taking a 4 foot elastic band and snapping it…we quickly shut down…again inspected everything in sight…nothing was out of place…I could still turn the shaft by hand…so we started up a third time and for approx. 5 minutes…it all sounded great…then we heard a loud noise, something like throwing a bucket of nuts and bolts into the engine…then everything stopped…and I mean everything…it looked like we had seized up the transmission and the engine…my heart stopped! much time…so much effort…so much disappointment.

We removed the transmission, and discovered that the new bearing on the input shaft had exploded…NO WAY!!!...YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS!!!....but yes…it was so.  Over the next few days, we managed to find a replacement bearing in Papeete at about 10 times the cost we had paid…flew it in, rented a car and picked it up and got it installed (the Marquesan way).  This time we were a little more carefully with something called the ‘Axial play’.  You can only guess how hard it is to make minute adjustments of .05 mm with a sledge hammer…but…after repeated efforts…we got er done…re-assembled the transmission, re-installed it in the boat…waited overnight for the new seals to set…and finally, the next morning started up the engine again.

This time, everything was perfect…Hooray  and yippieIAA…we were ecstatic…we motored around the bay…and decided that a trip to Daniels Bay was required to give the tranny and motor a ‘road test’.

Daniel’s Bay is home to the third highest waterfall on the planet.  With Bob and Annette sailing beside us as we motored along…we made our way into this beautiful anchorage.  During the following days, we hiked and swam and shared a wonderful meal with host Tiki and his wife.

Daniels Bay Hike 

Vaipo - World's third tallest waterfall (1148 ft) in Hakaui Valley home to elusive Tropical Bird

Traditional Marquesan Lunch with Tike and wife (note the face tattoo's...done the traditinal way....OUCH!

It was finally time to prepare KS for our departure which seemed a much larger task than we thought.  However, finally the Sunday morning of our flight arrived and knowing that our new friend Kevin would keep a watchful eye on KS during our absence we said our farewells to our new ‘family’ and boarded the small plane for Papeete en-route Auckland NZ, losing a day as we crossed the international date line, overnight then flight to Los Angeles, again crossing the international dateline, gaining back a day and arriving before we left??? How does that work again???

We are looking forward to a trip back to Canada to visit family and friends in August where we are planning on purchasing a small Motor-home RV for our land touring adventure across Canada and down to Washington to play tourist and visit as many sites as possible, foremost the Smithsonian Museums including my favorite...the Air and Space Museum.  We are also looking forward to attending the National Quartet convention in Louisville Ky to visit with old friends.  It is the 20 yr that the NQC is being held there and also the final year.  Next year it will be taking place at Pigeon Forge, home of Dolly Parton’s Dollywood.  We will keep y'all posted on our land touring as time permits.