South Korea with Kia Rio

Facebook has been popping "memories" into my feed from a year ago. All the memories have been from our trip to South Korea last year, courtesy of Kia Motors!

We were on charter in Belize last June and we got a message from one of Rufus' friends, Faan, asking if we would be interested in being part of a series of online ads for the "all new 2016 Kia Rio". Of course we said YES (!!!) and soon we were being whisked off to Jeju Island for 10 days of exciting activities.

I will include some behind the scenes photos and more info on our amazing experience in my next post, but for now here's one of the ads produced from the trip. Let us know what you think??!

Another Detour

For the better part of this year so far the plan has been to complete our circumnavigation in 2016, by crossing both the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The Pacific crossing was a peaceful time of reflection with little distraction - 5 weeks of thinking, dreaming and talking at length about what we want out of life, both together and individually, as well as our immediate and long term plans.

One afternoon in the cockpit, during one of these discussions, I asked Rufus “What would you do if, when we arrive in Marquises, we get an email with our dream job offer? Would you take it?” His immediate response was “No. We are committed to completing this circumnavigation this year. Absolutely not.” I then replied “Good, because that was a test and you passed with flying colours!”

To give you a bit of background, it was more my idea to complete the circumnavigation this year and it took months of convincing to get Rufus on board (excuse the pun). As a sailor and master of your own small, older, basic vessel with limited funds it is a daunting task facing a long crossing like the one we just did and then the trans-Indian which is known as the worst, most uncomfortable, leg for 99% of circumnavigators. During the Pacific crossing this changed and Rufus finally came round and started getting really excited about my plan.

Rufus and I had made sure that we had enough in our kitty to complete the trip this year and also time each leg it so that we would be in the right places in the right seasons for the right winds to get us where we need to be.

If you know us at all you will know that there seems to always be a big difference between what we plan and what we end up doing. In the big scheme of things though, we keep going in the same general direction even though there are quite a few detours and, to be honest, we enjoy the surprise turns in the road because it keeps things interesting and we enjoy change.

So to cut a long story short, when we arrived in Marquises we opened our mail boxes to find the email we never thought we would receive at this stage of our journey: our dream job offer. And to our surprise and delight we accepted! We learned a lot from our last working experience on a super yacht and so we would not go lightly into a decision like this. Thankfully this literally ticked pretty much all our boxes for the perfect job:

-       Great owner(s) who we know, have mutual respect and get on well with. Working for and with good people is probably the biggest factor for us.

-       A boat that we can run just the two of us, no other crew dynamics to deal with.

-       An active international itinerary. 

-     A brand new build sailboat, and a design we know and love.

-       And the list goes on!

So with great excitement we accepted the new positions and within a week we had put Melody on the hard in Hiva-Oa, winterised her and booked our tickets back to SA (we wanted to see family and had to get new passports as we had run out of space for visas and literally could not travel anymore!). After a month, mostly with family and doing admin for our next adventure, we flew to Ft Lauderdale and joined our new boat at the start of July, a 2016 58ft Leopard catamaran!

kayaking on our last sailing weekend with Melody

view from the deserted little beach we anchored off

Rufus putting his gymnastic training to good use

coconut water goodness!

our FAVOURITE fruit - pamplemousse (grapefruit) which grows everywhere on the islands

driving to the farm on a winter's weekend, one of our first destinations during our SA trip

the family farm on the West Coast

view from our stoep

packing up all our personal belognings stored in our tiny farm cottage, where we fell in love and where Rufus proposed more than 8yrs ago

family dinner with Rufus' dad, Boris, and Cherie at Myoga Restaurant

our unfaltering ever supportive dream team: Shawn and Karien

coffee break in Woodstock at Tribe

reunited with our old Melody crew :) Photo credit Vivian Botha

Betty's Bay with our dear friends Sonet & Arnold

one of the views from the beautiful new home of our talented friends Evi & Jochem

Evi's outdoor artwork

Rufus and Jochem relaxing in front of the fire, overlooking Yzerfontein beach

our gorgeous room in the guest wing of the house

reunited with  our baby boy Jack for the first time since Zambia!!

delicious traditional Peruvian dishes at Charango Grill and Bar in Cape Town

my best friend Diana's BEAUTIFUL healthy baby boy, Axel

Vivian's article on our team's journey with Melody in the first edition of  Ambassadeur Joernaal (more info in a future post)

family farewell at the airport with Cherie

brand new MAXI passport for all the many countries we will continue to travel to!

Hamad Int Airport in Qatar

flying over the ice lakes of Southern Greenland

testing the massive new sails

finally at our destination: Ft Lauderdale, Florida and our shiny new catamaran!

Rufus and the owner enjoying the view from the flybridge on our first sea trial

Hiking Hiva-Oa

A few days after we arrived in Marquises, our friends Natali and João joined us after making the same passage from Panama on their boat Babilé. They chose a route more north of ours, above Galapagos, and unfortunately had an entirely different experience from us – multiple squalls, auto pilot broke, main sail ripped and the list goes on.

We were so excited to see them in our anchorage and they were obviously extremely relieved to have arrived safely and finally get a chance to properly rest at anchor after thousands of miles hand helming in bad weather.

Once they had caught their breath and rested up, the four of us rented a car and spent a day driving around the island and hiking the hills and beaches. The rental was $100 p/day and a must do to properly see the island!

welcome to the island of Hiva-Oa! (Melody in the background)

overlooking the entrance to the anchorage

dinner on Melody the first night João and Natali arrived

freshly caught fish grilled on the braai!

one of the first bay views on our day trip

goat lookout

these two were quite taken with Rufus

goat central

this guy took a shine to Natali

Tiki ruins

the locals let you pick the fruits from their gardens - no fruit is sold in the shops because of the natural abundance

Rufus scouting a trail

the only white sand beach on the island and quite a mission to get to but well worth it

finally made it to the white beach

the best part of the day - Rufus taking the first dip on the deserted beach

Natali & João

Pacific Crossing: Panama to French Polynesia

FIVE WEEKS AT SEA. More than a month - 33.5 days to be precise - without contact to the outside world, other than our satellite phone and very limited credit to send one sms every few days with our position, to my dad who plotted our progress on google earth (Thank you Daddy!).

On September 21st, 2012, Rufus and I set sail with Melody across our first ocean together - 4 weeks across the Atlantic from South Africa to Brazil, with a half way stop at St Helena Island. Exactly 3 years and 7 months later we left Panama on April 21st this year, for what is most likely the longest passage we have and will ever do.

This was a very daunting trip for us to plan and prepare for, our first really long passage just the two of us. This time there was no half way stop. We didn't go to Galapagos, like many cruisers do. The price is far too high for our limited cruising budget and we are on a deadline this year to complete our circumnavigation.

Nothing about this crossing was as predictable as so many cruising guides promised us. Probably thanks to El Nino, the winds and currents were not what we anticipated or hoped for but, despite all that, we had an unbelievably blessed trip with minimal damage to sails, our autopilot held up superbly the entire way and our “new” second-hand spinnaker literally blew us away with it’s phenomenal performance. Without it we would probably still be bobbing around in the middle of nowhere, despite repeatedly snagging itself on the spreaders and keeping us busy with repairs. We have now appropriately dubbed it “Patches” and love it all the more for it’s new character, every patch a story we will remember for years to come.

Thanks to the uncomfortably turbulent anchorage outside Panama City we already had our “sea legs” well before we left and mercifully sea sickness was not an issue on this trip. We did have to get used to the watches again, 3 hours on / 3 hrs off and the physical aspect of rolling constantly, always countering the movement even during sleep. After the first week our bodies started getting used to the new sleeping routines and fatigue and, by the second week we were happily into our new routines - cooking, fishing, daily tasks (cleaning/maintenance etc), frequent sail changes to get the most out of the wind, reading, watching series & movies and many hours sitting in quiet refection or chatting together and dreaming of what we will eat and do on land when we arrive!

Thank you to everyone who sent us messages to the satellite phone. We could not reply to everyone but we did receive and treasure every single word! Thank you for all your support!

More tropical island photos to follow, as soon as we get a chance ;)

fishing boats along the South American coast

stowaway hitching a ride from Panama

SO GRATEFUL for our spinnaker on this trip!!!

happy skipper, happy boat!

Rufus playing hide and seek...

saw SO many of these guys, the babies were the cutest - always lifts our spirits

Ruf's outdoor nav station

crossing the equator for the second time!

almost every day we enjoyed Ruf's delicious freshly baked breads

plotting our progress the old fashioned way

Ruf's favourite "watch spot" - so he could keep an eye for boats and chat to me while i lay on the couch

proudly South African!

weather updates from our old Melodian team mate Wilhelm :D

topping up my tan before we arrive in the islands

after losing quite a few lures we finally figured out the perfect combo for decent sized Dorado 

its not the size that counts...

passage food isn't too bad ;)

Dorado ceviche and sweet potato

cinnamon doughnut balls

Dorado done "shark 'n bake" style

Pacific swell

spinnaker repairs after a 7m hole ripped along the leading edge

our deck was like a seafood buffet every day, with all the sea creatures that got washed up by the waves

painting the French Polynesian flag

calendar making and route planning

our friends from S/Y Excalibur, who we crossed the Panama Canal with, sailing past us a few days before we arrived in Marquesas

washing on passage: bucket at the back of the boat ;)

Pacific sunsets are unlike any we have seen...

10nm from land we FINALLY got to fly the courtesy and Q flags!

first sight of land - we were so excited we even prepped the tender while we were still at sea so we could launch it IMMEDIATELY when we arrived!

hello, Marquesas!