Sunday 29 October 2017

Fluenta in "Interview with a Cruiser"

When we were getting ready to go cruising, one of the sites we followed with interest was "Interview with a Cruiser".  Now five years later, we too are featured in the famous IWAC.  You can read the interview here.

Our favourite quote is, not surprisingly, from Benjamin on how he gained offshore experience before we left: "I didn't get any. Babies don't get that".

What makes it even more fun of course is that it is written by friends of ours. We crossed paths with the author Livia and her husband Carol before we set out and then again in New Zealand and Fiji.  Carol and I also worked together at 443 (Maritime Helicopter) Squadron when we were both in the RCAF and we did some coastal cruising together in BC.  They have even continued to coach us remotely on kite boarding.

Thursday 19 October 2017

Fluenta in the World Schools Website.

Our friend Shannon on Lil Explorers has started a website on World Schooling (I admit that I did not know that 'World Schooling' is a term and possibly even trendy).

We are highlighted here:

Monday 16 October 2017

Into the calm of the lagoon

Some more photos our trip into the lagoon in the amazing calm.

and the laundry never stops

Busy anchorage ...

Our pet remoras that live under the boat

and the welcoming committee with its own remora

Critters ashore (Johnathan photo)

More snakes.  There are so many snakes on the islands.

Hermit Crab (Johnathan photo)

More Johnathan photos

Lots of turtles too (Johnathan photo)

Of course, we eat some of the creatures here too.  Johnathan filleting one of the three walu we caught that day.

Busy now as two boats in the anchorage.

Tuesday 10 October 2017

Johnathan's Photo Blog

[Here is a blog post written by Johnathan with his photos from his photo shoot ashore at Isle Kouare]

 I took these on my sister's birthday while she and Mom were icing her cake. We were out there for at least 2 hours and probably shot 350 photos, using Dad's "big lens (58-300mm)". Out of those photos I have thirty that I like, my favorite being #4 on this post (It's lookin' at you). It was challenging not to focus on the sky and have a little brown blur that is supposed to be a bird.


It's lookin' at you

Although this isn't spectacular I just liked the light on the wings

This is the most well camouflaged bird I've ever seen (It also might be a stick) 

Monday 9 October 2017

Ilot Amede - Being Tourists

After Mato and Kouare we went back to tourist land for a visit to Ilot Amede:

Amede is famous for its lighthouse - the biggest in New Caledonia.  Sailing in New Caledonia is much different than the rest of the South Pacific as the charts are actually correct and there are many well maintained aids to navigation.

The lighthouse was built and assembled in 1862 in Paris and then disassembled and shipped to New Caledonia.

The view from the top towards the anchorage.

Checking out the fresnel lens

You can just see the stern of our little dingy in front of the ferry
Don't fall off the stairs.  About 202 steps to the top.

Fluenta in the background

Benjamin's favourite part of the island - the playground.  Seeing sea turtles and sharks - that is normal - but playgrounds are pretty rare for him.

New Caledonia - Camping, friends, snakes and kiting, and more (Part 2 of 2)

[This is part 2 of 2 of Liz's most recent letter home]

New Caledonia is well-known as a kiting destination, and we have not been disappointed.  Since Honey left for NZ, we have spent a few days at Ilot Maitre, where the government provides free moorings (to avoid yachts anchoring on the coral) and all we have to do is dinghy ashore, walk the short path to the windward side of the island, and launch from the beach.  The trade winds blow on-shore, so we don't even need a safety boat.  Our friend Philip on SV BLUE BIE had tracked down a new board for Max at one of the local kiting shops, so he was especially happy to no longer be on an undersized board, and we were able to kite together for the first time.  I was very nervous when we arrived on the long kiting beach, with the wind catching my board making it seem heavy and awkward, and expert kiters whizzing by just a few feet away off the waves lapping beside me.  I wondered how I would ever manage to operate my kite without crashing into something or someone, but somehow, by remembering to breathe and just doing 'the next thing' as it needed to be done, I soon found myself on the water.  Unlike Ailuk, where we kited downwind right from the beach, at Maitre, where we were being blown onshore, I walked out into the water  until I felt like I was far enough away to start.  Ilot Maitre is an ideal place to kite because the water is always shallow enough to stand, and at some tides it is hardly waist-high (even for me!)  Several kiting schools operate at Maitre, so it didn't take long (a couple of days) for me to realize that there were students on the water who knew even less than I did!  The 'rules of the road' apply in the same way as they do for sailboats - starboard tack has right of way, upwind kites lift their kites and downwind kites lower them when meeting, etc.  The first day I was out, it trusted my 'learner stance' (and bright yellow flotation vest) to create my cone of protection around me, and rarely had to do much about the rules of the road, but within a few sessions, I found that I had a developing instinct for making way for the other kiters (other than raising my kite to the '12 o'clock' position, cringing, and hoping they avoided me, or crashing into the water and making them turn to avoid me!) 

Photo by Johnathan

Photo by Johnathan
We have now spent a total of four days on the water, and the difference in our skills was noticeable each day.  We were adopted by the more experienced kiters in the anchorage, and they were generous with their time and suggestions.  One of them even spent some time one morning standing near me and giving specific tips and pointers to help me go upwind and to learn to turn, as well as some time with Max teaching him to jump, which he started to do with about two minutes of instruction! Shattered as I was at the end of each day (especially with spending what seemed like most of my time in 'aquafitness mode' walking through the water away from the beach, dragging my kite and my board like a dejected school child) it felt good to be stretching ourselves and learning; by the end of the last day, I had a growing sense of capability and capacity... this might even be fun!

Photo by Johnathan
The end of September brings 'birthday season' aboard Fluenta - mine is the 22nd, Victoria's is the 26th, and Johnathan's is just around the corner in mid-October.  We had an early celebration of all the kids' birthdays while Honey was still in New Cal (complete with cake, of course, decorated by Victoria and Ella, as well as a treasure hunt set up by Jude on their foredeck) but for our actual birthdays we stocked up on cheese and baguettes (but not red wine because they have certain afternoons when the grocery store cannot sell it, and this is when we did our provisioning!) and headed out to anchor.  The wind dropped for the first few days, so we felt like we were anchored in an aquarium at Ilot Mato, where we celebrated my birthday.  On the 22nd, I woke to an absolutely still lagoon, and a brunch of French toast laid out on our saloon table.  Max and the kids had been shopping in Noumea, so I opened a beautiful watch, chocholate  and a cozy 'poncho' to wear after kiting.  Philip and Maggie from Blue Bie dropped by after brunch for a visit before heading south towards Isle des Pins, and we spent the afternoon walking on the beach and walking to the top of the tiny island to take photos of the beautiful view.  The hike was a milestone for Benjamin - for the first time, he made it to the top on his own two feet :)  Max carried him down, as it was steep scrambling in places, but it is neat to see how he is growing up.  Ilot Mato in the calm was unique because Max and I actually went paddle-boarding around the reef; the water was so flat that I made it ashore for yoga without even getting wet (a relief because I was carrying a yoga mat and iPad in a hopefully-waterproof drybag).  We haven't seen many sharks recently, but Ilot Mato made up for that - three of them welcomed us as we anchored, and when we paddled to the beach, we saw 6-7 little black tips swimming in the shallows - they were funny when we startled them, because they would all scatter in a cloud of sand the moment that one of them realized that we were too close. 

Welcoming committee

A bit less crowded than Noumea

Our friend Philip on Blue Bie heading out.

Paddleboard trip to see the turtles and sharks.

The view from the top of the hill. Fluenta visible in the background.

Calm (Blue Bie photo)

Time for a swim
Benjamin practicing his Trump impression

Johnathan photo.

Because we have elected to spend our whole season in New Caledonia in the same lagoon (ie we are not headed off-shore to visit the Loyalty Islands) we have launched Trickle from her snug spot on our davits, and she is readily available for the kids to launch from the foredeck on any day that we have light winds.  The first day she was available, the five kids went for a sail at Ilot Maitre when we were there with Honey.  It was delightful for the grownups to watch the kids sailing around the anchorage and tying up to a mooring for their picnic lunch.  We found out about the funniest moment when they came back - Benjamin 'had to go' so they undid the leg snaps on his dragon suit and Johnathan held him in the air over the side to do his business.  The kids are nothing if not resourceful :)  The rest of our sailing in Trickle has been a little more mundane, and every few days, we have been able to enjoy the little sail journeying around the bay.  Victoria figured out a way to reef the sail by wrapping it around the mast before it is secured to the end of the boom, so this has increased our wind limits to about 12-13 kts.  We were having a lovely afternoon of sailing earlier this week at Ilot Kouare when Victoria and I had a bit of an adventure.  Everyone had had a turn in the dinghy, and as we were heading back to Fluenta for the final time, one of the two rudder pintles (pins) broke off, and the rudder was suddenly held on by only one.  On the helm, Victoria kept her cool, reached back and held onto the pieces, and given that we were only a short distance upwind of Fluenta, we signalled Max to come get us in the dinghy.  Even with a small boat, cruising becomes 'maintenance in exotic locations' :)  Thankfully, we are likely to be able to find the spare piece in Noumea when we return. 

Reefed mainsail

Full boat

Trickle in Noumea

Basic seamanship training.
Johnathan has come into his own on this birthday excursion behind the lens of Max's big SLR camera [photos to follow as a separate blog post Johnathan is drafting].  He especially loves taking pictures of other family members when they are not looking so he can get the most natural expressions on their faces.  On several occasions, he has taken beautiful shots, and on the afternoon of Victoria's birthday, he and Max spent a few hours ashore (on Johnathan's request) photographing the ospreys and rare noddis (audis?) that nest there, as well as the sea snakes that are ubiquitous on these islands.   

Noddi Bird

We spent Victoria's birthday at Ilot Kouare.  We had thought about stopping at a little place called Ilot Ndo, but when we arrived and saw the 'recommended' anchorage (within a channel within the reef, anchored fore and aft; we had hoped we could just hang off the side of the island itself, but it turned out to be far too deep) we headed a few miles west to a place with numerous anchorages that would be suitable every wind direction.  Victoria's preferred brunch was crepes, and thankfully she was willing to make them, as they are time-consuming on one pan.  She and I spent a lovely afternoon together decorating her cake.  She wanted to try out all the different flower-making techniques she had learned (kind of a sampler cake) and I was only too happy to stick to making icing and accepting her offer to form a few flowers.  Even though we are together 24/7, it was an all-too-rare treat for both of us to have an open-ended period of time together.  Our friends on Exodus had left us with one of their favourite games when they moved back into a house, and it has become a favourite for us as well, so Victoria's choice for the evening was a marathon session of Rummikub, during which we kept a running score separate from our usual sheet (which we keep by the season).  It was a low-key but laughter-filled evening celebrating Victoria.  Despite not having had a nap, Benjamin managed to see the evening through to its cake at completion ... but he slept in in the morning!

Work in the galley

Cake detail

We are now moored at Ilot Amadee, and will head to Noumea to restock on Sunday.  It looks like the wind-switch will turn back on next week, and with the return of the trade winds, we will head to Ilot Maitre again for kiting.

Ilot Amede

View from the lighthouse top.

Poisonous sea snake.

With love from our hearts to yours,

At 2017-09-29 10:39 PM (utc) SV Fluenta's position was 22°28.58'S 166°27.83'E