Category Archives: Our Travels

Oceans of plastic trash….. Part 2

A number of years ago I did a post about the plastic trash in the oceans, after seeing a disturbing trailer for a film that was being made about one of the most remote islands in the world, Midway Atoll.Midway Journey movieAs live aboard global cruisers, we have seen a massive increase in the amount of trash that washes up on deserted beaches in our 15 years sailing around the world.

The point of this post is to bring together links to a number of organisations and initiatives and even individuals, who are taking action to change this and work towards cleaning up our planet and in particular, becoming plastic free. PlasticFreeJuly-org logo banner 600ppi
This month is Plastic Free July and whilst any effort to increase awareness and encourage us all to take action, is great, let’s not make it simply JULY. Let’s keep on keeping on through each and every month of each and every year :) Here are some suggestions for living Plastic Free

Please take a moment to read through some of these links and support these initiatives and share them. And let us know if you have other links we can add to this list, as I know there are many, many campaigns taking place, which need to be shared. Thank you!

  • A wonderful story here by a diver who helped to save this turtle’s life
  • Unfortunately that is not the case for huge numbers of turtles
  • Sadly this whale didn’t receive the help it needed
  • The relentless impact of plastic waste on one of the most remote islands in the Pacific….
  • More plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 if we do not take action now!
  • Sea turtles can’t tell the difference
  • Nothing that we use for 5 minutes should pollute our oceans for 500 years
  • Plastic Pollution Coalition: Refuse single use plastic bags

Let’s really consider the impact OUR waste has on our oceans and our world.

The list can and should go on and on until we are ALL not only aware but part of the Plastic Revolution to make our world PLASTIC FREE. Please send us your links so we can add them to this post. Thank you!

Flitting between Fiji and Australia!

After many years away from Australia we have been making up for lost time. We had family visit us in Fiji during April, then Eric went for a quick visit to Australia in May, followed by Lynne  in June!

Healthwise, we’re happy to report all is well with both of us :) Lynne got busy in our container. Big thanks to Jody and Ralph for helping clear out a lot of redundant items like the old radar, sonar and echo sounder that we brought back from Tanzania circa 2000 after selling Eric’s old trawler there! Unfortunately, over the years that we have been away and a few serious storms of late (Cyclone Debbie in particular), the container roof has sprung a few leaks, but fortunately the only major casualties were the boxes of paperwork dating back to the building of Amarula.

Most of the time was spent dealing with business stuff, but we did have chance to pop over to Iluka one Saturday morning to watch Lachie (our grandson) play soccer with his mates, 20170603_094419and I took a walk to the waterfront to see the yachts at anchor there.20170603_084905Although it was rather chilly whilst I was in Australia, the weather for the first 10 days was stunning. We took advantage of the sunshine and went for a 4WD trip through the forest down to Brooms Head beach, where the plan was to have a sausage sizzle, but oops…. someone forgot the frypan 😀 , so we had cold beers & crisps instead and Lachie & Chilli enjoyed a run and play on the beach!

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The 2nd weekend Lynne was in Australia the heavens opened and stayed open from Friday midday until after she flew back to Fiji. She had planned to meet up with a couple of the women from the Women Who Sail Australia FB group, but with the long weekend (Monday was the Queen’s birthday holiday in NSW) the business jobs had to be dealt with and she ran out of time. Next time…… But she did reconnect with some Yamba friends for the occasional coffee, plus a dear friend from her early Tanzania days 20+ years ago. Jenny hopped in her new Mazda Gekko campervan and came down for an overnight stay. As Jenny is one of the band members of the ukele group known as ‘The Loveys’ we had a lot of fun listening to her renditions of some of the songs the band have recorded together. All in all a successful and fun trip back home!

Meanwhile Eric’s friend John flew to Fiji to spend time relaxing & fishing with Eric, whilst Lynne was back in Oz. As you can see, they achieved plenty of both!

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So now we’re both back in Fiji, we’re preparing Amarula to be sold. We’re hoping the broker Anna will be coming for a visit to Fiji next week and get a chance to do a walk through and give us some tips. In the meantime, please share our For Sale page and send good vibes for a quick sale. Thanks & good wishes to all :)


Cyclone Season is OVER!!! Right??

Earlier this week the Captain left his First Mate in charge, whilst he flew back to Australia. Now that we’re into May and officially out of cyclone season here in the South Pacific, we figured this would all be just fine.

No sooner had his plane taken off than the first cyclone warning hit my email inbox! Woah!! And here we all were busily watching TC Donna as she wreaked havoc in Vanuatu and New Caledonia, when sneaky TC Ella started to form with a vengeance heading straight for Fiji! TC Ella

Fortunately, with good friends (with plenty of experience sitting through cyclones) on hand for both assistance and advice, I settled in to follow the weather reports and relocate to a safe position to head into the mangroves, should the need arise. TC Ella #74

Whilst the predictions for TC Ella have improved again this morning (for those of us in Fiji) we cannot be complacent, as anything could still happen over the next 2 or 3 days…..

Meanwhile I am happily enjoying the beautiful weather (calm before the storm?!) and listening in to some wonderfully inspiring conversations on the Hay House World Summit 2017.

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No doubt these conversations are helping me to maintain a positive focus at this time and I can highly recommend selecting any that interest you and listening in whenever you have a chance. All the initial conversations are still available and new ones are being added today with more next week. The Summit runs until May 23rd, so you still have plenty of time to be INSPIRED :)



Family Fun in Fiji (Part 3)! Or Dreams Do Come True :)

Well, family visitors to SV Amarula have been few and far between. Eric’s daughter, Nicole, visited us a few times when we were based in Tanzania, her last visit was in 2009 when we had a lovely mock wedding for her and her partner 2

Eric’s other daughter, Jody, came out on a honeymoon trip with her husband Graeme in 2008 and we had visits from Lynne’s niece (2004, also the year our very first grandson was born in Australia!), Lynne’s brother (early 2005) and nephew (end 2005). But once we set sail from Tanzania in October 2009 until NOW, we’ve had no family visits!


But now that we’re in Fiji, we’re just a short distance (relatively) from Australia and we enjoyed visits during April from both of Eric’s daughters and 4 of our gorgeous grandkids! Nicole, Dave and their 3 daughters Abby, Brooky and Lilly joined us for a week onboard before moving to a resort for another week. During their time at the resort we were able to anchor Amarula in the bay and had chance to spend more time with the family and even enjoyed a delicious meal ashore with them at the resort one evening. RIMG3309

Part 3 of our Family Fun came yesterday when Jody, Graeme and their delightful son Lachie spent the day with us on Amarula, together with Graeme’s brother John and his partner Lin. They were passing through Fiji on a cruise ship to celebrate John’s 60th, so we met them at Lautoka port and sailed off to a nearby island in the Mamanucas to spend the day swimming, snorkelling and kayaking.

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Although it was just one day, it was wonderful to reconnect after almost 6 years! In fact both Lachie (Jody and Graeme’s son) and Lilly (Nicole and Dave’s youngest daughter) were both just days old the last time Lynne was back in Australia. We look forward to seeing the rest of the grandkids, Bayden, Sebastian, Austin and little Evie (not yet a year old) when we visit Australia later this month!

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We are eternally grateful however for social media and the internet, as we have enjoyed seeing photos and videos of the family over the years, not to mention having occasional video skype chats when we’ve had good enough internet :)

What a special APRIL it has been! We hope to have a lot more family visits now we’re back in this part of the world, although Eric’s dream was to have his grandkids onboard before we sold Amarula. We’re half way there, having had 4 of the 8 grandkids visit us now!

And today is Eric’s 71st birthday. We reminisced about his 70th last year when our friends, Sue and John on SV Marilyn put together a lovely surprise birthday party for him.

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And we couldn’t have spent his actual 70th birthday in a more stunning anchorage. The Bay of Virgins at Fatu Hiva, French Polynesia has to be one of the most spectacular backdrops in the world!

Oh, and just a reminder (Dreams do come true) if you want some inspiration to live the life you’re meant to live, here is a link to register for the awesome Hay House World Summit that will be available online FREE to enjoy between 6 – 23 May! Enjoy :)


Family Fun in Fiji! (Part 2)

After a week onboard with us, we dropped the family off at Port Denerau, where they got a taxi down to the Shangri-La Fijian resort on the Coral Coast. They had never experienced a resort holiday and all the various activities and huge buffets that go along with it, so we made a plan to join them there after a few days.RIMG3282

En route, we stopped off at the Robinson Crusoe resort, as we’d heard it is very cruiser friendly and puts on a great fire and knife dance performance. We had hoped to have the family come and join us there for the show, but it was a 30 minute taxi ride away, followed by a 45 minute boat trip making it a late night for the girls, so they decided to make the most of their resort activities instead. We enjoyed the show very much, and we also explored the river systems near to the Robinson Crusoe resort. More photos here

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During the few days back together with the family, we explored the nearby mangrove creek, enjoyed dinner together at the resort and lunch together on the boat. The girls decided they wanted a sleep over with Babu & Bibi on the boat (I think it may have been Mum & Dad’s idea for a peaceful night at the resort really 😉 ) but it was a lot of fun and in the morning we all went to the beach for a swim and to play frisbee with the boys. The girls went off for more activities, SUP, swimming in the pool, making & racing coconut boats at the kids club and making tie-dye shirts. Then on their last day we took the bus to Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park and hiked the trail up and over the dunes, down to the beach and back through the Mahogany forest.

What a great time we all had and we look forward to seeing them all onboard again soon!

And on our way back up to Malolo to catch up with friends, we caught 2 of our biggest yellow fin tuna at the same time! 15+kg each – so it was fresh sushi for the cruiser’s Pot Luck Supper at Musket Cove that night! Photos here

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Oh, and if you want some inspiration to live the life you’re meant to live, here is a link to register for the awesome Hay House World Summit that will be available online FREE to enjoy between 6 – 23 May! Enjoy :)


Family Fun in Fiji! (Part 1)

What an amazing time we had with our FIRST EVER visit from any of the grandkids!!! It’s been something we have been looking forward to for as long as we can remember and we finally had our first family visit here in Fiji :)

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During our time in the Caribbean, fabulous as it was, we felt sooooo far away from our Australian family :( Although it was nice for Lynne to be able to hop on a plane back to UK to visit family and friends there, eventually the time came when we realised that it was time to say goodbye to all our lovely friends and the fun times in the Caribbean and head through the big gate (Panama Canal) and across the Pacific, so we could be closer to our Australian family. And now we are :)

There are lots more photos here on our Lynne’s Facebook page, with captions too. You do not have to have a Facebook account to see the photos :) So, please enjoy them too!

Also, please check out all our photos on our Amarula Sail Facebook page.

Part 2 coming soon….. stay tuned!


Sweltering in Suva

After a few glorious weeks exploring the east coast of Vanua Levu and Taveuni, we decided that it was time to head to Suva to haul the boat out and get some boat jobs done before our family comes out to visit at Easter.

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Despite this being cyclone season, we have mostly had very, very light winds and finding a weather window to actually sail to Suva was quite a challenge. But, despite a slow sail dotted with a few hours of motoring towards the end, it was preferable to our friend’s trip, during which he encountered waterspouts!

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We arrived at the anchorage off the Royal Suva Yacht Club on Australia Day, 26th January, and anchored near to an American cruiser we had met when we arrived in Savusavu in December. Although it was still early his dinghy was not at the boat, so we assumed he had gone ashore. We were surprised when we looked across just before we were planning to head ashore and saw a police boat alongside his yacht. Eric went to ask them what had happened and to our horror we learned that Jim had been boarded and attacked by 2 thieves a couple of nights earlier and he was in hospital. We thought we had left all this behind us and were as saddened and shocked as everyone else to hear of such an incident in Fiji. We found out which hospital Jim was in and, during evening visiting hours, Eric went with a bag of clothes, toiletries and towel to find him. As a single-hander Jim was especially relieved to see a fellow cruiser, although he was surrounded by friendly Fijians :) Thumbs Up for Jim-001 For the next few days we kept an eye on his boat and visited him in hospital until his release on the following Monday, after receiving microsurgery to re-attach his thumb, which had been almost completely severed in the attack. The RSYC kindly made a berth available for Jim, so that once he was discharged from hospital, he was secure within their marina and we’re happy to report that he is recovering well. The police kept a close vigil on his yacht whilst he was in hospital and the perpetrators were both caught.

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Meanwhile, we waited patiently for the boatyard to repair their winch and confirm a date for us to haul Amarula. Unfortunately, after almost a week in Suva, we were informed that a fishing company had to urgently haul a number of their vessels, so we are still waiting…… a familiar story….. ‘Fiji time’…. and, in the Caribbean, ‘Island Time’….. and back in our Africa days, ‘TAB’ (That’s Africa baby)….. ho hum…..

So, rather than wait around in the industrial port area of Suva Bay, we decided to relocate to the anchorage off the Novotel at Lami Bay.

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Anyway, it’s not all bad news. This area is known as the Bay of Islands and we have explored a few of the mangrove creeks, which is always fun.

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Meanwhile, Suva is still only a 15 minute taxi ride away and actually a relatively easy city to navigate your way around in. Taxis are plentiful and cheap, less than US$5 into Suva from here, and the people are very friendly. As Jim said, “In 5 years cruising around Fiji, I have met 2,000 wonderful people and 2 bad guys….”

Suva is the largest city we have been in since Panama City, so it is useful to have access to maintenance and repair facilities, not to mention Australian plugs after 15 years away from Australia!! There are large stores, cinemas and shopping malls downtown, and the waterfront by the old Grand Pacific Hotel and park areas opposite are lovely.

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The biggest treat was a surprise visit last Tuesday from Lynne’s cousin Alan and his wife Allison, who were on holiday in Fiji. They hired a car and drove the 4 hours from their hotel in Denerau to see us! Of course it rained, as it does daily at the moment, but we still enjoyed a lovely lunch of fish and salad onboard, followed by a quick trip across to the beach at Mosquito Island, before they had to say their farewells and head back to Denerau. Their return drive was quite harrowing, as they passed an overturned car, truck and bus, then encountered flooding around the Nadi area and learned that soon after they had left to drive to Suva, the car hire company had cancelled all further rentals until the weekend! Unfortunately they were marooned at their hotel for the rest of their stay, so any hopes of snorkel trips were slashed! We don’t recommend this time of year for a visit to Fiji 😉

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Merry Christmas from Fiji!

Merry Christmas and our very best wishes for 2017!

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Although our original plan for this year was to make our way back to Australia (or New Zealand, as an interim quarantine stop for the boys) we are now in Fiji after a fantastic year of exploring the south Pacific! To see photos and read about our travels, please scroll back through the posts on our website.

After transiting the Panama Canal in January we joined the 2016 Pacific Puddle Jump and met up with a number of other cruisers in Panama and again in Tahiti & Moorea for get together celebrations and parties. This is a great way to connect with other cruisers who are doing the crossing and also to enjoy aspects of the Polynesian culture, as we were treated to various cultural events during the Tahiti-Moorea rendezvous. In Moorea we met Adam from Vuda Point Marina in Fiji who told us he believed we could import our dogs into Fiji after a 7 day quarantine period! Until this point Fiji was off our radar as pets are normally kept onboard for the duration of their stay and the authorities ask for a FJ$1,500 (AUD$1,000) bond per animal, which is returned on your departure from Fiji provided the pets remain onboard the whole time. However on further investigation we discovered that we could, in fact, quarantine the dogs onboard for a 7 day period, after which we could import them provided they satisfied all the import requirements, so this is what we did! We have now been issued with an import permit and are free to reclaim our bond fee and more importantly, our boys are free to go ashore! Yay!!

After Eric returned from Australia late November we waited patiently for a weather window to cross from Tonga to Fiji.

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The conditions weren’t great, but after a week of waiting we decided to go anyway. We sailed a long way south west from Vava’u to find the trade winds, which we hoped would blow us back north west to Savusavu. After the first 2 nights of thunder and lightening squalls, we turned to the north west just south of the Lau group and enjoyed a slow, but comfortable spinnaker run almost the whole way. During the first week in Savusavu the weather forecasts were predicting a potential cyclone heading towards Fiji! Thankfully, this system of low pressure dissipated and moved away before any major harm and, apart from torrential rain and severe flooding in parts of Fiji, we were saved from any serious winds.

Once the dogs’ import permit had been processed we took advantage of the northerly winds and headed east towards the famous Rainbow Reef near Taveuni to do some diving over Christmas. We had an added incentive to make our way to this area, as our friend Elizabeth from St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands just happened to be on a 10 day dive charter for Christmas. We knew the liveaboard vessel was due to head to Taveuni at some point to do some diving, so we were delighted to wake up on our 2nd morning out from Savusavu to see the Fiji Siren anchored just outside the bay where we had spent the night. What a surprise they got when we sailed round the vessel at 8 in the morning to say hello! It was wonderful to catch up with Elizabeth and meet some of her family, who were travelling with her for the holidays. We did some diving at the same sites, where we enjoyed the tremendous array of colourful soft corals for which Fiji is famous and found the dive sites teeming with many varieties of fish and the occasional turtle. We joined Elizabeth and family onboard for lunch and to view some of their amazing photos, then we said our farewells as they sailed off on Christmas Eve to get to Wakaya island for Christmas Day.

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As the weather was so calm we decided to stay at our anchorage just near Rainbow reef and on Christmas morning we decided to go and dive at the Purple Wall. On our way there we met a dive boat from Paradise Taveuni and they very kindly invited us to tie off our dinghy to their boat, so we could tag along on their dive on the Great White Wall. Normally we do drift dives with our dinghy, but this dive is impossible for us to do as a dinghy drift dive as it involves 2 swim throughs! It is considered one of the world’s top dives, so what an opportunity for us and what a great Christmas present! Thanks guys :) At around 15 metres there is a swim through which takes you down to 25 metres and a wall which drops way down. After exiting the swim through you turn left and are greeted with a stunning wall of white soft corals, hence the name. It is a spectacular sight and well worth doing. Unfortunately we no longer have a good underwater camera, but google Great White Wall, Fiji and you’ll find photos and videos. Further along we went through another swim through and slowly drifted along the wall gradually climbing up to 5 metres before surfacing after a great dive.

Luckily for the boys we are anchored a short distance from some beautiful deserted beaches so they didn’t miss out on Christmas day activities, and of course, it is also Scrumpy’s birthday, so he got extra treats today of sausages and the crackling off our Christmas pork roast :) (no worries, Chui didn’t miss out either!)

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Well certainly 2016 has been a fantastic travel year for us. We expect to remain closer to home (Australia) now and are looking forward to visits from the family to us in Fiji. On that note we will once again wish you all the very best for this holiday season and we hope 2017 is a great year.

The last place on earth you would expect to find a vet!

Our search for a vet to administer the annual vaccinations for Chui & Scrumpy took us to the Ha’apai group of islands, about 70 miles south of Vava’u.

We had a great overnight sail down to Pangai, the main island in the Ha’apai group. Once we had checked in there, we relocated around to Uoleva to find Kristen, the vet. By an incredible coincidence, Kristen, the vet we had been in contact with (courtesy of our friends Gaylyn & Thomas on Qi) just happened to be the partner of Craig, a guy we had known 20 years earlier in Dar es Salaam! Craig arrived in Tonga some 9 or 10 years ago and had been running a couple of businesses here over the years, the latest being the lodge, which he & Kristen had just sold! It was great to finally get the dogs’ vaccinations sorted out and to reconnect with Craig and meet Kristen. Small, small world and a BIG thank you to Kristen for braving Chui and updating the boys’ vaccinations!

After a couple of days anchored off Uoleva we decided to explore some of the islands further south. The Ha’apai was beautiful with a long fringing reef stretching all the way down the eastern edge of the group and a variety of small islands and sand banks dotted to the west of the reef.

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During our time in these islands we saw whales every day. Nothing can describe the thrill or privilege of watching these enormous creatures just metres away from the anchorage simply having the time of their lives. Tonga is one of the only places in the world where you can actually swim with whales on an organised tour. Back in Vava’u we had met some researchers who were studying the impact of this tourist activity on the behaviour patterns of the whales. We were reminded of the research charter we did back in 2002 when we were the base station for a pilot study in Zanzibar on whales and dolphins and the scientists onboard collected DNA from the whales in order to identify habitat and behaviour patterns.

Another of Tonga’s treasures is the diving/ snorkelling, especially around the Ha’apai group. The only downside was the weather. For much of the time it was unseasonably COLD and often wet, overcast and windy! The mostly small reef fish there are beautiful and the coral is as pristine as we have seen in a very long time. Even more special is listening to the sounds of whales off in the distance as we enjoyed the diving and snorkelling. It was really quite eerie and we half expected to turn around and look straight into their eyes, but  no such luck.

Unfortunately, again due to the weather, we weren’t able to do much diving, but the highlights were Wickham reef on one of the few calm, sunny days that we had and snorkelling around the wreck off Ha’afeva island’s west coast.

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Further south in the Ha’apai group there are plenty of islands to explore, but again, due to weather we had some challenges with the anchorages, so the best advice for Ha’apai (like the Tuamotus in French Polynesia) is PICK your weather, if at all possible, and go there with plenty of time to enjoy these gorgeous places…… We hope you enjoy the photos of Mango, Ha’afeva and Nomuka islands, plus the general photos that we posted on Facebook and do please let us know if you CANNOT access these pages. I believe they are accessible even if you do not use Facebook??

After 3 weeks in the Ha’apai group, we sailed back to Vava’u to explore more of the anchorages, meet up with other cruising friends and join in with the Blue Water Regatta, which is held in the first week of October, somewhat inconvenient for me, as I was back on my Sober for October challenge again, so I diligently remained teetotal for the whole event, and indeed for the whole of October!! Oh, and on that note,…… you can STILL sponsor me until the end of November! Come on George, cough up. I did it!! 😉 Thanks to everyone who did sponsor me and also to those who chose to support The Good Samaritan Foundation of Haiti (in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew) in support of my efforts. All very much appreciated!

Back to the Treasures of Tonga blog post.