Time in Tahiti

I’m on a mission. We’ve anchored quite close to shore near the town of Fare on Huahini and stupidly forgot to put the Mozzie screens in. There was a stiff breeze when we went to bed but alas no longer. I was woken an hour ago by the familiar buzzing of these vermin and am now up, composing this extremely overdue blog post and eradicating mosquitos in the same moment! I’m using myself as bait should there be any others lurking in the shadows. I’ve killed more than we’ve ever had on the boat before and poor Seb has been the target…until now. Every ten minutes or so I patrol the boat, torch in hand to check the walls and cabins. I know I’m winning, (I know I sound like a crazy lady too but you do what you have to do!) Needless to say, the screens are in, repellant has been applied to my slumbering family and I’ve slapped, squashed and sprayed until I’m reasonably confident these blighters are no more (any sneaky stragglers will not be here for much longer!!!!)

The last few weeks have been incredibly full, although the pace has changed somewhat. The time constraints we’ve previously had, (that is the need to get somewhere ‘secure’ while Mike is away working) are no longer dictating where we need to be or for how long. The flipside is, he’s returned from his last lot of work for the foreseeable future so at some point, other constraints will start to kick in. I am happy to say that the J-class boat he sails on, Lionheart, had a very successful season, winning both the Bermuda event in July and the ‘World Championship’event in Newport Rhode Island. Six J-class boats lined up together- the pictures below, demonstrating what a spectacle that was!

So here we are in Huahini…

I literally feel like I’ve fallen into the blue and green palette of my Derwent Pencil set. The surrounding waters are every conceivable hue of blue while the islands bordered by these hues are fertile and lush in various shades of green. It is beautiful beyond belief, a phrase I keep repeating, but I am constantly in awe of what Mother Nature’s got going on in this part of the world!

Our first stop out of Tahiti was the island of Moorea, just 12NM away from the ‘big smoke’- my kind of passage! We arrived in Cooks Bay and spent a few days there, hiking up hills and enjoying the company of our friends on Bear, Laurata. and Starlet. We moved around to Opunohu Bay opting to anchor between the beach and the reef rather than deep in the bay like we’d done in Cooks. All the children got on board Starlet- a 46 foot Nordhaven- translation- a bloody nice powerboat, and had a blast! Age range of the kids- 8 to 20 years old!!!! We had a BBQ on the beach the next day to celebrate ‘Labour Day’ and despite some crazy weather, had a wonderful time.

The following morning the water was so clear I could see every link in our anchor chain until it hit the bottom and ran away from the boat. There were stingrays clearly visible underneath us, the ripple free surface acting like a huge magnifying glass.

The sun was just starting to illuminate some of the higher peaks of the surrounding mountains. It hadn’t hit us yet so the decks were still dewy from the cooler evening. The moon was putting itself to bed to the west and remained a beautiful big ball in the sky. Everyone else was slumbering peacefully, all cuddled into their polar fleece blankets thanks to the crisp morning.

I was up early and heading out for a walk- have I mentioned that I like to walk?

Well, the day was shaping up to be an absolute pearler and it didn’t disappoint.

Very shortly after returning to the boat, a largish group of us headed to an area where stingrays and sharks are fed. We took Slice of Life with us as far as we could safely navigate in the reef, completing the journey in the dinghy. The plan was to beat the hoards that also visit this spot and while there were a few smaller boats in the area, we managed to achieve this. As soon as we arrived a very large stingray swam past the boat followed by a few Black Tip Reef Sharks. So of course out we got and swam with them. It’s almost funny to read those words based on the fear of both of these creatures I’ve had for years but there you go, progress is being made. When I looked around at one point I think I was surrounded by 6 sharks and several stingrays. It was amazing. I could go on and on but I think the pictures will tell that story better than I can. Once the boat loads started arriving, we were off!

That same day we saw turtles, Spotted Eagle Rays and wait for it… Whales. Finally, there they were breaching just off the reef, still some way away but we could actually see them. After over a year on the boat and many many miles, we can finally say that yes, we’ve seen whales! We spent the rest of the afternoon with a wonderful array of people on the boat moving back to our original anchorage later in the day.

Moorea would definitely rate as one of my favourite places so far.

We left for Huahini the next evening where we still are and were we’ve had the absolute pleasure of spending most of our time with a family from the US on a boat called Sapphire. Our adventures here deserve their own post so I won’t say much more about that for now.

I’ve hardly talked about Tahiti, despite being there for just over three weeks and it being the intended subject of this post. There is so much I want to share with anyone that reads this blog, not just the big experiences but some of the smaller details too. I tend to go on a bit so I’ll just mention some of the highlights of our time there.

We hired a car with our Danish friends and visited Teahupo the site of the Billabong Pro Surf tournament, stopping at some beautiful sites on our way back.

The kids and I had a few Ukelele lessons with a beautiful man named Gene. We learned a few tunes and had a lot of fun.

Lilly and I also went to a Tahitian dance class together. Turns out, our teacher is one of the best dancers in Tahiti and that month was gracing the cover of a magazine found in many shops- shame her skills weren’t transferred by osmosis! Still we had a blast and it was quite the workout! You have no idea what some people’s hips can do!!!!!

The museum of Street Art was a fantastic place to visit and had some very interesting installations… for want of a better word.

I hired a car and we toured the island, visiting The Belvedere on Tahiti Iti, (the little island). This was a magnificent view-point looking back over the large island and we could have been anywhere- England, France, the Southern Highlands of Australia. There were horses and cows and it was so not tropical- except you were looking down on a reef-fringed island. We visited Botanical Gardens and Water Gardens and beaches.

Staying in the marina was a nice change. The kids could get off the boat whenever they liked- except during school time- when they would have really liked! There was always a ‘kid boat’ or two in the Marina for our entire stay there, making it fun and giving the kids a good break from me and visa versa!

I picked up some bug again which was pretty boring but a wonderful family on a boat called Bear- (Yvette the Mum just happens to be an Emergency Room doctor) sorted me out. I lost my voice for over a week- a definite highlight for the kids! I loved Tahiti- once you get out of Papeete, it’s a beautiful place and besides having access to a ‘biggish’ city is fun every now and then.

It’s grey and dreary this morning but no complaints. It makes a nice change. As usual I’ve written this over quite a few days- the mozzie episode long behind us- thankfully! It’s breaky time on Slice of Life so I’ll leave it there for now.

Sending everyone much love, thanks for reading and bye for now,

From paradise, this is SOL standing by!

Time in the Tuamotos

I sat down to write a post and got distracted writing out French and Tahitian phrases…almost three weeks ago! It’s all good until someone actually answers you…hmmm what do I do now? I look at it as a lead in, make an effort, try my best- they’ll work out pretty quickly it’s easier to speak to me in English, (or not at all) than to hear their language murdered on my lips. Despite some decent time in France over the last 12 years I always feel muzzled. Can’t… quite… get…past…bon jour, merci and un croissant aux Amande si vous plait. Someone else has always done the talking, but as I’m solo here, the time has come!

Here, is Tahiti and Mike’s already been away well over a week. Time seems to have taken on a new rhythm and is flying by at an alarming rate.

Our time in Fakarava was beyond brief. I’m still reeling, (in a good way) from our experience there. I think Mike and I would both agree that this was the Pacific we’ve been dreaming of, (at least the one he’s been dreaming of and trying to convince me exists!)

The transition to being four hasn’t been without its moments, (Muz, if you’re reading this you’d be forgiven for thinking I was trying to sabotage our fine vessel). Literally the day Murray left I somehow managed to slightly bend the furling gear bringing up the anchor. Never happened before, could have happened to anyone, but it didn’t. I got the “Creasy” award, a trophy so named after a disastrous crew member on a friends boat kept breaking things. Next came the mother of all overrides bringing the dinghy up onto the davits. I’ve done this job quite a lot, I’d checked I had the correct number of wraps around the winch, yet somehow the rope got caught around itself increasing the pressure to the point of bending the gear out of shape and distorting the top part of the winch. If none of this makes sense the simple terms are, ‘oh dear, not good, you’ve got to be kidding and various expletives by both adults under their breath. There’s a scary calmness to my husband during these moments. Sometimes I wish he’d just yell at me so I could yell back but I know that this doesn’t really get you anywhere in the long run, suffice to say it releases a bit of pent up frustration. There’s always a risk you’ll say something you don’t mean and always a risk you’ll say something you do!

Hey ho, there’s always something going on!

We left the Marquesas late in the afternoon, escorted out into the open ocean by a pod of dolphins. They stayed with us for ages, starting with 11, swapping the lead, pealing off and returning until gradually there were 9, 7,5, 3, then a lone friend who stayed a while longer.

The trip took three days, which should have been a chinch after the 16 days it took us to cross the Pacific but I disliked it for the most part and that’s all I got to say about that!        “tell me what’s on your mind”

“What am I thinking? I’m thinking I don’t want to sail from NZ to Australia!”


“Are there airports on the Tuamotos?”

“Well, yes”


Hmmmm, but then we arrived, making our way through the North pass entrance before continuing down to the town of Rotoava. You have to time your entrance into an atoll with an incoming or slack tide. The force of the water flowing between the open sea and the lagoon within the reef can be so strong that it can seriously create a problem if you’re trying to sail against it. Think reef either side, nasty waves and significant force pushing you backwards or sideways or any way but the direction you’re heading. Our passage inside was uneventful, (apart from the internal celebration of arriving) and we anchored off the main town in perfectly calm, flat ‘gin’ clear aquamarine water!

We hired bikes and cruised along the single wide white road that extends the length of the township. It’s been a while since we were on bikes! Within 30 metres you can make your way down a coral lined pathway and be standing on the edge of the Pacific Ocean-wild and windswept, the vastness never more apparent. As you make your way back to the road it’s hard not to be overcome by the view of the lagoon through the palm trees. All my favourite blue hues blended into one spectacular vision.

finding a little clam!

We ordered baguettes and Pain au Chocolate for the next morning and enjoyed a salted caramel crepe and coffee in the only open café we could find. A local man cleaned some enormous Mahi-Mahi on the little dinghy wharf and the sharks moved in to enjoy the spoils.

A few days later we used the incoming tide to our advantage, doing something called a Drift dive, or in our case a drift snorkel. It has to be one of the most amazing experiences so far and so far there have been a few. You basically take your dinghy to the entrance of a pass, attaching it to yourself with a rope, everyone jumps out equipped with snorkeling gear and you simply let the current carry you through- like a piece of flotsam with eyes! It’s effortless for the most part and you get to be a spectator of the underwater world for the time it takes you to move through. The depth in the middle is significant, maybe 20 metres but you can see all the way to the bottom. Sharks line the sea floor, while either side the coral reef houses an incredible array of sea life all going about their daily business completely oblivious to the strange, mask clad bits of ‘rubbish’ floating by. You get to the end of the pass, eyes wide, wonder coursing through your body and the only words are, ‘again, please let me do that again’, If you time it right you can probably do it 2 or 3 times, we didn’t, so once had to suffice. I was glad the dinghy was close by when a curious black tip reef shark started heading our way to investigate. Seb and Lilly were either side of me and they both grabbed my hands saying, “it’s ok Mum, we’ll just make ourselves look bigger”. It swam away and my breathing returned to normal, yet again amazed by my kids and the way they see the world.

We sailed across to a bay called Hirifa where the sand is pink, sharks and rays swim in the shallows and the kids had a blast playing on the beach with new and old friends.

I was hit by a realization that’s been lurking for some time as we sailed away from the atoll. Here are people, living on a spit of sand literally in the middle of nowhere. They seem happy, (you’d have to live amongst them for some time to really know). They have to get in a boat and travel 30 miles to get supplies, which generally come once a week. They still seem happy. They don’t have it all and nor do they seem to be trying to have it all. It seems that trying to have it all is what makes us unhappy. It’s an interesting realization and it needs to be demonstrated to really sink in. The irony is the amount of time, effort and money it takes to ‘learn’ that lesson for people who have grown up in a world where having ‘everything’ is the norm. Easy for me to say now, I wonder if I’ll remember that when we’re land-lubbers again…

There’s lots more to write but I’ll leave it there for now. It’s almost breaky time and I can hear the soft snores of Seb coming from the cabin behind me. If I’m not mistaken, Lilly will already be reading and will have been doing so for some time.

Sending love to everyone as always,

Slice of Life standing by.

Meanderings in the Marquesas

Ahhh yes, where I left off- the front head making ‘the noise’.

Turns out it was a false alarm much to everyone’s relief, especially Mikes- the chief repair-man and me, the last user!

We are now in the Tuamotos, well one of the Tuamotos, an atoll called Fakarava. Bet you can guess who LOVES saying that name over and over and over again…

I’m not sure I can describe the beauty of this place but I’ll pull out the mini thesaurus and have a crack…next post.

I need to back track to the Marquesas- a place about as geographically and visually contrasting to where we are now. Spectacular doesn’t even begin to cover these vertical land masses that literally and most welcomingly spring out of the Pacific ‘all of a sudden.’

As previously mentioned we landed in Hanavave, Fatu Hiva, also known as the Baie de Vierges or Bay of Virgens. Legend has it that the original French name was the Baie de Verges meaning the Bay of Phally or Penis, based on and I’m guessing, the numerous and large upward rock protrusions that border this area- it’s amazing how often people name places after themselves on ‘discovery’ of a new place! Apparently this offended the subsequent missionaries so they added an i changing it from Penis Bay to Virgin Bay- quite amusing really, in a Monty Pythonesque kind of way.

It was stunning and we would have loved to stay but we headed over to Hiva Oa where we had to check in, or so we thought. Turns out we arrived a day before Bastille Day, so everything was closed, then it was the weekend and check in happened a little later, on a different Island.

All turned out well as we were reunited with our friend Marco, a Brazilian who is on his 2nd solo circumnavigation. We originally met him in Portobello, Panama and spent quite a bit of time with him in the Galapagos. We also met a fantastic Greek couple, Jorgos and Karina, (who we’d crossed paths with in Galapagos but never actually met) and spent Bastille Day with them in Atuona. We watched the local dance groups and enjoyed a wonderful local lunch then wandered up the hill to the cemetery where the residents really can rest in peace. Frangipani trees are scattered throughout and the view is nothing short of spectacular- only rivaled by the cemetery between Clovelly and Bronte in Sydney’s Eastern Beaches- well that I know of, it’s not like I spend a lot of time in these places.

Paul Gauguin (the Painter) is buried here.

A day or so later we left for the island of Tahuata and enjoyed an amazing breakfast with Stephen who lives in the bay where we anchored. He made us coconut milk coffees and attending boats all took something to share. That same evening we got together again for dinner however this time we were significantly greater in number and nations. There were 26 people in attendance comprising of 6 Americans, 1 Brazilian, 5 French, 3 Australians, 2 Spanish, 1 Polish, 1 Israeli, 4 Portuguese, 1 Polynesian and 2 Greeks! One of the Americans was half Brazilian and his wife was half French, our kids were the Spaniards and we could throw in a Brit too if we were looking at passports!

I took my Triple Chocolate Brownies, which went down very well and very quickly I might add! Kids toasted marshmallows, the boys played with sticks and fire, Seb burnt his hand on a stick, you know how it goes!

We moved to a bay a few miles along the next day and walked up a big hill with a breathtaking view of the anchorage. Hibiscus, Frangipani and Gardenias lined the road we walked along, the later two scenting the air so sweetly I wished I could have bottled it, saving some for later, (and for my clothes locker!)

We had many other special moments during our time in these islands. After another brief stop in Hiva Oa, (where we were welcomed onto the private property of a family and given a tour by the girls, guava jam and bread, papaya, bananas and some big smiles) we headed to Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva. This was a ‘possibility’ for hanging out during Mike’s next stint of work in August but wasn’t really suitable, (our anchor dragged and it was quite rolly, not wonderful on my own with the kids for 2+ weeks). Here we were reunited with Freya, the Danish boat, (and family) we hung out with in the Galapagos. The kids were so excited to see their 3 children again. We shared a lovely impromptu meal with them on our boat one evening and then a great lunch the next day before they headed off to another bay.

It was also here that we said goodbye to Murray. Yes Murray the Magnificent, Magic Murray, Murray the Moderator, (as I have now come to call him) had served his 4 month sentence and was finally released on good behaviour! There are no words to describe just how helpful Murray has been to this endeavour of ours, although I tried to find some, amusing myself on the passage by composing an ode to him. For anyone that knows Murray personally I hope this makes you smile. For those of you who don’t, he really is a stellar individual! A true gentleman, kind, considerate and as dry as they come!

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The One the Only Murray Spence

No man of greater Countenance

Could willingly join the Slice of Life

With Mike, his kids and reluctant wife!


You joined the SOL way back in March

And now it’s over 4 months past

You’ve helped us all beyond belief

T’was from ourselves we craved relief


You’ve lived with me, you’ve lived with Lilly

Our hormones making us awfully silly

You’ve lived with Mike, Mr Do-it-this-way

You’ve lived with Seb, who just wants to play


To play, to wrestle and play some more

He seems to like it on the floor

“That’s two” you cry, he shouts “again.

Now wind me up if you think you can!”


“Your manners Sebastian, say please” we cry

and then we give a longish sigh,

Thank goodness Murray’s here to play

And get us through another day!


Yes Spence Moo-ray as you’ve been known

You came aboard our floating home

You gave us things worth more than GOLD

You filled our Kindles, till they bulged!


You gave us music, you gave us film,

Murray’s Movie Monday was just the thing

Wallace and Grommet and Mr Bean

And Johnny English have all been seen.


A Courageous Captain was amongst the viewing

I didn’t see that one, I was probably spewing!

The Life Aquatic left questions asked

“Do you really think there are Jaguar Sharks?”


You sat with Lilly and made boat cards

Then taught her knots that are quite hard

You don’t do games, but that’s OK

You do the dishes EVERY day


You’ve spliced, you’ve patched, you’ve fixed some things

And even bought the fishes in

Your photos leave us all agape

Leave only footprints and photos take


You wake a lot at Sparrows Fart

Enjoying your coffee before we start

Your cool and calm and quiet manner

The perfect antidote to all the chatter


A bee down your throat

A bug in your tum

Both left you feeling slightly glum

But only slightly glum I say

You did your watches all the same!


With heartfelt thanks for all you’ve done

We hope you too have had some fun

It’s hard to do the family thing

But somehow you’ve just fit right in


You’ll miss us Muzz we know you will

But not as much as we’ll miss you!

May your thongs stay strong, camera bag endure

May they share your many future tours


In life the certainties are few

But I see steak in your menu

A tart Framboise, choc cream of ice

And anything but more white rice!!!!!!


I guess you had to be there but it was fun to write and it will provide us with some memories. Oh just FYI, if you are not Australian, thongs are actually footwear known as flip flops, jandles or chanclas in other parts of the world. Murrays were sturdy, tried and tested and took him and will take him, everywhere!

I know this one is getting really long but I just have to mention Hakatea or Daniels Bay where we met Paul. His family have lived here for generations. A bigger smile I’ve not seen for some time. There are 2 forks to the bay and you anchor in the more protected of the two, then dinghy across to the other and up a river to get to the property. It’s stunning but alive with ‘noseeums’ or ‘nonos’ as they are known locally. Nasty, vicious sandflies, that you never see but whose presence can be felt and seen for days, even weeks afterwards! Here we joined the Danes on a walk to an impressive waterfall and sadly met with the Nonos!!! Argh!

We did share another pretty special meal organized by Paul, then bid Freya au revoir as they headed to the Tuamotos and we headed off to Anaho Bay on the other side of Nuku Hiva. This was the calmest anchorage we had during our whole stay in the Marquesas and was again, visually stunning. We did another fantastic walk across the hill to a very special little village, then moved on to Ua Pou where we had a funny encounter trying to obtain provisions in the form of fruit. There’s so much of it in peoples gardens, it doesn’t seem to be sold in stores. Anyway we obtained some bananas from a couple whose niece we’d asked in the town. Turns out Keith is a fair dinkum Aussie married to Margarete, a Marquesan, who’d lived South of Brisbane for 20 years! Funny old place this world sometimes.

It’s on that note that I’ll leave it- hopefully you’ve not lost interest yet. Today was the first real chance I’ve had to use the internet properly. I’m not complaining about the internet, it’s actually quite nice not having it on tap BUT I will say I was able to collect some Whatsapp messages that I haven’t been able to get for weeks and some emails. It’s really hard to get any time to reply,(I know that must sound ludicrous to most) but please don’t think we’ve forgotten any of our friends. Your messages mean so much to us. We love hearing about what people are up to. Even if you think it’s same old same old, it’s news to us.

Fingers crossed this gets sent out in the morning,

Slice of Life off to bed.

Ticking off the miles

Well, the world is still round and we haven’t fallen off the edge of it…yet. In fact we’ve just done our second longest ocean passage to date, crossing the mighty Pacific in 16 days and about 3 hours- do you think I was counting…ha ha ha, maybe just a little.

This trip is harder to write about for some reason. We’re still getting our bearings on land and have been on the go quite a bit since we first made landfall. I think there’s always a bit of lag time after a journey. I write a few notes along the way but reading and writing in general are still an issue for me on passage so a bit of time is needed to piece together what’s gone on.

I’m happy to say there were no major disasters on this trip, which is always to do with Mike’s meticulous preparation, Murray’s constant support and some luck.

The head ‘broke’ again and had to be repaired twice in succession, poor Seb using it both times before it malfunctioned. I say poor as he’d had a stomach bug along with seasickness and hadn’t been to the loo for 4 or 5 days. When he did finally go, he was met with that awful ‘noise’ that indicates something isn’t quite right- poor little thing, white as a ghost, a stricken look on his face and those fateful words, “Daaad, there’s something wrong with the toilet” Constipation seems to happen to some of us spontaneously during a crossing and I reckon it’s helped along by the ‘fear’ of that infernal noise!

No skullduggery this time, no stray bits of dental floss mysteriously finding their way into the toilet- no, this time it was a good old case of cal or scale buildup that seems to affect most boat heads and a blockage was cleared… on the second go!

There was illness and for once it wasn’t mine- I wouldn’t wish anyone else to be ill in my place but unfortunately Murray and then Seb seemed to suffer some kind of intestinal complaint. Bad stomach pains and all that goes with those kinds of things was experienced. I’d had a discussion with a doctor before our passage and was absolutely paranoid about Seb having appendicitis or bacterial dysentery or some other horrible thing. I had the medical books out and the information sheets for all the antibiotics we have on the boat, along with the box of sterile rubber gloves… lets just say it wasn’t great. They both bounced back brilliantly and the upshot was, with them eating nothing for a few days and me very little, our provisions lasted that little bit longer!

Our stove fell off its hinges, well one hinge, one morning giving me a hell of a fright. The gimble pin had simply worn through over time. Luckily there was just an empty frying pan sitting on top rather than a huge pot of boiling water like usual. The gimble is what allows the oven and stovetop to move or swing with the movement of the boat, keeping the surface even and flat even if the boat is heeling over. The M and M’s got to work and had it sorted the next day.

Long passages and routine go hand in hand and after the initial acclimatization period, (generally 3 days) you all fall into your daily, (and nightly) pattern. Of course things like illness or breakdowns modify that pattern but generally once established, things run relatively smoothly. Every boat organises their watch system differently, but while Murray’s been with us we’ve worked to our strengths. Mike and Murray sharing the night watches, alternating each night between 20.00-23.00, 23.00-2.00 and 2.00-5.00, then every morning, (well almost every morning this trip), I was on from 5.00 till 8.00 or 9.00am. I felt very lucky to do this shift- I like the morning time, (our wedding guests know this!). I experienced star studded skies extending from horizon to horizon, a full moon for several nights running that made it feel like daytime and of course the transition from nighttime to dawn. Sunrises were spectacular and for me the start of each day meant we were that bit closer to terra firma! It was fun to put our previous days mileage into the chart plotter each morning. Our record was 202NM in 24 hours.


Kamikaze squid replaced the flying fish for a few days, Seb and Murray counting 18 one morning.

Lilly read like a demon and learnt some fantastic knots including a Turks hat and a Monkey Fist.

Sailing wise our conditions were reasonably good. We had wind the entire way and used its power to take us across that vast expanse of water for the entire passage. We never used the motor at all. 14-15 knot winds are a bit like how Goldilocks felt about Baby Bears porridge, chair and bed- not too strong, not too light but just right! We certainly had stronger winds but nothing too crazy ever. A few squalls passed through, but again, they were minimal. There was no tacking or gybing except once to make our entrance into Fatu Hiva. Champagne sailing was a term used a few times…

This passage was probably the best to date. I didn’t actually vomit once, which has to be a record but I felt slightly nauseas and light headed the entire time. I really tried to enjoy things more, listening to music, practicing breathing exercises when I felt sick and doing meal prep up on deck, however I have to be honest and say it’s just not my thing. The boat movement frustrates and irritates me. I feel discombobulated and spend a lot of time looking at birds enviously. We’re over a year into this now and the boat movement still really gets on my nerves. As I rapidly approach my exactly mid 40’s, I realize the futility of wishing away periods of time, but there we were, crossing the Pacific and that’s exactly what I found myself doing. “Please let it be over, please let this part of the journey be over”… and then it was!

We sailed into Hanavave, Fatu Hiva, the Southern most island of the Marquesas archipelago on Thursday July 13th after the most unpleasant night we’d had the entire trip. We’d shortened sail and dropped the main, slowing us down and rolled the last 60 miles or so to make landfall in the daylight- necessary but torturous. Fatu Hiva literally rose out of the darkness and never a more welcome sight there was, well except for Martinique, Panama and The Galapagos I guess!

Hanavave, is spectacular and Lilly and I set about making crepes as a celebration for arriving- simple pleasures become a really big deal after a passage. There was a slight miscommunication between Mike and I, which I think was driven by updated weather information but it meant only staying in the bay for 2 hours before upping anchor and sailing another 5 hours to Hiva Oa- I was nearly crying into my crepes let me tell you. As always, there’s a positive side and leaving when we did meant bumping into an old friend, meeting new friends and a very special few days.

More on that later- It’s now 2 weeks since we arrived, all of the above has been and gone, including dear Murray. I’ll leave it here for now and hopefully be able to post this tomorrow- (fingers crossed for working internet) We are about to leave for the Tuamotos, about 3 days away- yes, only 3 days- yippee, another crossing…

For now, Slice of Life provisioning and standing by!

Oh and the front head just made that noise…

And so begins the Endless Blue…

Our time in the Galapagos is all but at an end.

Mike returned to the boat Thursday after two and a half weeks away and two successful regatta results.

It’s a bittersweet feeling to be leaving this area. New adventures await, new locations require exploration and there will be new people to meet, (and hopefully old friends to reunite with).

I’m slightly emotional at the thought of leaving and there’s far more to it than the imminent 3 week passage ahead.

The opportunity to have been here and seen so much, possibly for the only time in my life makes me ponder mortality and the notion of seizing the day!

All rather deep but there you go!

Like the content of our last post, there have been many, many more moments, mostly good, a few less so.

There’s the usual fun involving compliance, (to pretty simple requests), schoolwork, (what can we do to avoid it today) small spaces, (LEAVE ME ALONE!!) and garbage bags, (yes Seb stood on one again but thankfully only a small cut this time requiring the removal of sand and a bandaid!).

Precious interactions and observation of wildlife have not only continued, but been frequent and numerous- the Sea Lions are still the favourite!

While Mike was away we had grand plans to revisit all the previous islands, staying 6 or so days in San Cristobal, Isabela and then Santa Cruz. The anchorage in Puerto Ayora became extremely uncomfortable and that combined with a bout of food poisoning, (or a stomach bug- yes MORE vomiting!!!!) made me very happy to leave the island of Santa Cruz and head back to San Cristobal. We ended up staying there for 10 days or so and I have to say it was lovely to just stop, enjoy, and find a bit more of a routine to our daily life.

The 2.5 weeks that Mike was away seemed to pass very quickly and before we knew it we were setting sail to return to Puerto Ayora, just one day before he returned. A huge thank you must go to Murray, who got us from A to B safely and made sure we stayed in A or B safely!

We’ve only been here four days and we’re setting off tomorrow across the ‘Endless Blue’ but I’m very glad we came back. This place has really grown on me. There’s been the usual pre-passage preparations- provisions, provisions and ‘oh god we need more….whatever’ but for the last two days we’ve explored the two places we missed last time- Las Grietas and Bahia Tortuga- both stunningly beautiful and well worth the visit. You don’t know what you don’t know but I feel all the richer for having seen and swum in these places.

We’ve seen the premier of a film called Galapagos Evolution about free diving in the Archipelago, involving Jacque Cousteau’s son and visited a feria with the most incredible array of fruits, veggies, meat and fish we’ve seen since we left Spain.

Tonight our friends off the boat Bear arrived back here and we shared a meal together on shore- the kids were ecstatic to see their friends again and as there’s plenty of cooking to be done over the next few weeks, I was ecstatic at not having to do any!

There’s so much more to share, so many more experiences I’d like to write about but the hour is late and as usual I’m writing this not long before we go.

We’ll be out of contact now for quite some time and once we arrive in the Marquesas the likelihood of internet connection could be rather slim. The link below should enable you to follow where we are for the duration of the passage.

Where are we now?

Thank you again for following Slice of Life and this journey of ours. We love reading your comments, (when we can) and hearing news of what’s going on for you in your world.

Until next time, this is Slice of Life going to bed, then I guess we’re standing by!

PS- we have a new crew member named Mauritzio- he doesn’t do or say much but he makes us smile and doesn’t eat anything…


Galapagos Glee!

I’ve been looking forward to writing this post ever since we arrived. If ever there was a time for envy regarding our travels, then this is it!!!

But how?????- How can I convey faithfully what we are living right now?

I guess it’s all about the moments.

Thus far, there’s been quite a few, so you might like to grab yourself a hot drink before you scroll on.

I have a confession to make before I begin. I’m sure I’ve alluded to it in prior posts but the fact is I am quite the scaredy cat! Perhaps more positively you could say I have a ‘vivid’ imagination- whatever you want to call it, it’s been quite limiting this past little while.

A few days ago however, on the island of Isabella, (and more incredibly) in it’s surrounding waters, I had an extraordinary adventure where that four-letter F word hardly featured a jot!

There might have been a slight heart flutter and sharp intake of breath as a shark swam underneath me, then another little start as a Green Sea Turtle took me by surprise, but essentially that was about it.

Ha ha FEAR, take that!

Again I return to the difficulty in describing all of this…

There’s the simple black and white tally of species viewed- I’ve already told you about the first day!!! Then there are the subtle and not so subtle moments, like “Sally” squeezing past Murray’s legs and exploring our cockpit.

There’s the lying in our bunks and hearing the sea lions blowing bubbles underneath or just beside the boat. You can hear their intake of breath, a snort or in the distance them barking at one another. Before our adventure the other day I watched a juvenile male play chase the crabs. He would sneak up on them and almost make a ‘boo’ sound before swimming off with what I’m sure was a chuckle.

There’s sitting beside the Blue-Footed Boobies doing their mating dance- and it goes, lift one leg, put it down, lift the other, put it down, point tail in the air, outstretch wings and whistle! Do it all again and again to find, ‘the one’- at least for the season.

It’s seeing Giant Tortoise at all stages of growth, from around the size of my palm to the size of the table in our saloon. As humans, we’ll never actually see this process in its entirety, (a newborn to a full sized adult) because they live so much longer than we do. Almost slaughtered into extinction, (a few subspecies were) several islands now have a breeding protection program to help reinstate them to their former habitats. The tortoise we saw initially were inside these protection zones but as I walked along a trail to a place called El Muro de las Lagrimas-The Wall of Tears, I saw 5 of these wondrous beasts roaming, albeit it slowly but freely and in the wild.

Then there’s the Sea Turtles- seriously bigger than I ever realized existed, chewing the algae off rocks as I floated beside them. Not bothered, not actually interested in me at all. Their amazing heads, their exquisitely patterned shells, those flippers that float them along with almost imperceptible movement but with one flick can take them further away from you than you can imagine in an eye blink!

Imagine if you will, speeding along, (ha ha ha not on Slice of Life) but on a boat with “THREE 200 horse power engines”, (Seb was in heaven!!!!!) circling, then slowing right down and idling beside a 5 metre Manta Ray. Later, on the trip back in, we watched one launch itself right out of the water. That same trip we saw a fever of Golden Rays, (yes that is the collective noun for a group of rays) almost swimming as one, in perfect synchrony. They are apparently quite shy so we felt very lucky to see them.


We’ve seen penguins that I know should generally be found amongst the cold white stuff, yet here they are, sitting on the lava rocks white front presented to the sun rather than their black backs so they don’t get too hot!

It’s all been rather incredible to put it very mildly.

We’ve taken a few tours as previously mentioned but you don’t have to go far to see a pretty wide array of wildlife. Whilst visiting Isabella we saw iguanas, a penguin, sea lions, several Spotted Eagle Rays and White Tipped Reef Sharks and that was on the dinghy trip back to the boat! This wasn’t going far, just a few 100 metres.

We’ve just spent the last week in Santa Cruz in Puerto Ayora. This is the busiest and most populated Port in the Archipelago. The Iguanas here are like the Sea Lions in San Cristobal- they are EVERYWHERE!

As you walk along the main street there is a ‘fish market’ or fish stall where the local fishermen sell their catch. It’s basically a concrete platform with an awning over the top. Check out the picture below because you should be able to see- pelicans, frigatebirds, a Great Blue Heron, iguanas, sea lions and lava gulls.

We caught up with a Danish Boat we met in Panama who are friends with the Danish family we spent so much time with in the Caribbean. It’s been really wonderful to connect with other children again- and when I say really wonderful I really mean it!!!! We also met another family who’ve taken 6 months off to travel the world. A friend in Valencia put us in contact via Facebook and we met them in the local coffee shop- thank you Anja for thinking of us!

I could go on and on but I fear you may grow tired of my wildlife ramblings. It’s expensive to visit these islands and it’s an effort to get here but all that said, it really is quite remarkable. Mike left for Bermuda 5 days ago and Murray the Magnificent, as the kids like to call him, is with us until we get to the Marquesas. He has been and is an absolute pleasure to have onboard and I daresay we’d be quite lost without him-either that or back on land by now!!! Any really good photos should be credited to Murray too!

We’ve arrived back in San Cristobal after leaving the very rolly anchorage of Puerto Ayora. There’s a competition going on between the seal sleeping on the back and Seb snoring! Mike returns on the 22nd of June which gives us just over 2 weeks until we start the Pacific Crossing. I’m not going to say much more about that at this stage.

It’s market day here tomorrow and I need to be up early to purchase some good fruit and veggies so I’ll leave it there. I have to say it’s been so much fun recounting some very wonderful moments we’ve had in this incredibly unique part of the world.

For now, Slice of Life out!

Just the first day…

So the internet is pretty bad but I have to at least describe some of what we’ve been experiencing for the last week. Our first day was pretty mind- blowing.

As we hoped, a Sea Lion found her way onto the back of the boat and into our cockpit. She pushed past the fender we’d rigged up and Murray’s legs to find herself a spot onboard where she proceeded to get comfortable and fall asleep, after a little explore. She’s been returning all week, (we think it’s the same one) despite some competition for her new resting place by some somewhat larger, smellier and more aggressive versions. We’ve given her the incredibly original name of Sally, and the splash of her arrival heralds a rush on deck to say hello. We give her her space, she doesn’t come into the cockpit and we don’t touch or feed her. She just stays for the night and then she’s off in the morning. It really is quite amazing!

Sally and Mike discussing the boat rules!

Our first day saw us swim with Sea Lions, Turtles, we saw some big golden stingrays, a huge parrot fish, Blue footed Boobies, Pelicans, Orcas, Marine Iguanas, various finches, Sally Lightfoot Crabs, Lava lizards, lots of fish and Pencil Sea Urchins. That was just the first day!

A few days later we saw the Giant Tortoise and a GIANT TREE. I’ll try my best to get some pics included because they really do tell the story so far better than I can.

We are off to the island of Isabella this evening and look forward to some more spectacular wildlife!



I wonder if Darwin ever felt this bad…

There are times when you should probably wait a few days, think about what you want to say and then edit or delete… before hitting send. Time and flat seas always change my perspective and this time was no exception- more on that later.

The good news is we’ve reached the Galapagos. We are currently anchored in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on the island of San Cristobal after arriving early this morning- this post was started a week ago.

The view out the galley window

Lilly celebrated her 10th birthday by crossing the equator and we’re now officially in the Southern Hemisphere.

There are Sea Lions splashing and playing around the boat, in fact we’ve had to rig up a barrier to stop them from getting into the cockpit but the kids and I are still hoping one will find it’s way onto our back step.

We had three Red-footed Boobies hitch a ride with us during the last few days of the crossing- “Barry” arriving first, sitting on our davits at the back of the boat, before settling in on the pulpit, (on the bow) for the night. He came back twice before heading off, then “Bingo” and “Beatriz” joined us simultaneously on the bow- Bingo happy on the pulpit and Beatriz settling for the anchor. Both left substantial ‘birthday messages’ for Lilly on the morning of the 21st!

King Neptune also joined us for our equatorial crossing- a tradition of initiation for “Rookie” or first-time crossers, orchestrated by the Sea-faring Monarch. There was a startling resemblance between our King Neptune and his father, cementing my resolve that Aviator sunglasses and/or a beard will be avoided at all costs!


The kids were great along the way- both of them amusing themselves with various art projects or constructions- Seb at one point had the vacuum cleaner tube, (yes we do have one on board) rigged up with electrical tape out his hatch, (window), running marbles down into a cup onto his bunk. We were into calmer waters by that stage!

Despite my willing it and wishing for it and hoping with all my being, we were never going to make landfall before dark, so the last part of the journey saw us shortening sail and drifting silently and very pleasantly, towards San Cristobal so we could see the coast in the early morning and enter the harbour by daylight.

And so onto the actual crossing itself- well a week has passed and as is the pattern, the ‘trauma’ of that for me has lessened. Despite trying to gloss over the hard parts and focus on the humerous and positives, some days the negatives are way too top heavy! Yes I know, poor me, blah blah blah- hard to relate for most, especially when you see our pictures, however this sea-sickness BS is still a major problem. Oh that and the noise! Imagine if you will a heavy wooden door- spring-loaded. Then place your ear right beside the door and release the spring. If you don’t have a spring just get someone to slam it as hard as they can, over and over and over again, making sure your head is beside it the entire time!!!!! The trip took us 7.5 days, (that’s 24 hour days) and I was bad for about 5. I lay in my bunk wishing I was dead and actually saying it out loud a few times. The first day and a half I’d convinced myself I had Dengue Fever due to the backache that accompanied the other symptoms,(ha ha just due to lying down for so long), then I thought it was an ear infection due to the head splitting ache that covered my entire cranium,( ha ha ha just lying on the back of my head for so long). Turns out it was my old nemesis! I’m working my way through various sea- sickness medications and I’m hoping that the final one I took, which seemed to calm things down, will be my saviour. There’s a lot more to it than just feeling awful. I can’t help with anything, I can’t interact with the kids and I become a burden on anyone trying to keep the boat going in the right direction!

Perhaps the 3000 odd mile crossing from here to the Marquesas will sort it out…

Onward and upward as they say, Slice of Life standing by!

Panama- A place of contrast!

Yesterday we wandered through the “ Zona Libre” or “Free Trade Zone.” Imagine a large outlet mall then double or triple it in size, add food venders selling full meals of meat/seafood, rice and beans a multitude of cabs- some legit, some not, beeping at you or shouting out the window- “TAXI”???. Include in your vision people wandering around with suitcases full of their purchases, latino music of various volumes, store fronts advertising any and all of the major brands you can think of and you might get an idea of where we’ve been. Oh, don’t forget the BIG security guys at the entrance point all sporting very big and very flashy watches as the slum outside the zone goes about the daily business of survival.

Back up a bit and consider how we got there- a bus from Panama City to Colon, the express version taking approximately 75 minutes and costing about $3.50 each. The seats were comfortable, the air-conditioning not too arctic and each seat had its own ornate head cover. There were pink silky curtains, a pleated pelmet, (in the same fabric) and the driver had the most plush red feather boa complete with huge red fluffy dice hanging from the roof. A large TV was mounted at the front, screening Guardians of the Galaxy and every seat was taken!

On disembarking the bus in Colon we were warned several times to be extremely careful, from a woman we’d offered a seat along the journey. We walked the short distance to the Mall entrance, only stopping once to let the kids go to the toilet in the supermarket, both of which had been busting before we’d even got on the bus. Seb was sulking due to his “almost exploding penis,” his words, not mine and the HANGRIES were starting to threaten!

We found ourselves a food vender and carbohydrate loaded for our busy afternoon! There were quite a few bees buzzing around where we were sitting…but more on that later.

Our purpose that day wasn’t to jump on the consumerist bandwagon but rather to catch the iconic Panama Canal Railway train. The Free Trade Zone was just a last minute stop to pick up a few things impossible to find from now on- some we found, some we can live without!

The Railway was built between 1850 and 1855, costing more than $8 000,000 and 10 000 lives. Today, the train is used by commuters travelling between Panama City and Colon and tourists. It takes a fabulous route through the jungle beside the Canal and over the Gatun Lake. The train is beautifully maintained with a glass topped dining carriage and plush comfortable seats and tables. Murray saw a crocodile on a bank and we all think we saw one in the lake, (“ logs don’t have spiky bits like that!”). We stood outside while we whizzed through the jungle and I was reminded of times spent long ago on Puffing Billy in the Dandenongs, (a mountain range about 45 minutes from where I grew up).

It was a fabulous trip but unfortunately Murray sustained a bit of an injury. I’m happy to say it wasn’t wandering the streets of Colon but rather whilst dining in the Free Trade Zone. He thought he had a fish bone caught in his throat and despite his best efforts, he hadn’t been able to shift it. We decided he needed to see a Dr, as our plan was to leave Panama for Las Perlas Islands the following day and we’d be further away from medical help if needed. He and I jumped in a cab requesting to be taken to a medical centre and Mike and the kids jumped in a cab back to the boat. I’ll cut a long story short, but we were dropped right downtown, (amongst the skyscrapers) in a pretty flash medical facility. I was able to help a bit with Spanish and the long and the short of it- Murray needed an X-ray then to see an ENT specialist, (Otorrinolaringologo). It turns out the specialists English was perfect and she was very nice. Murray had to have an endoscope to see down his throat, then one up his nose and down his throat. Sebastian during the canal transit liked to get Murray to open up his mouth as wide as he could and take a photo- he had nothing on what I’d seen.

The verdict? No visible foreign body but a lot of swelling on one side. Several hours and a hefty bill later we were heading back to the boat, Murray scheduled to see the specialist again the following day. If the swelling hadn’t responded to the treatment it was the OR for a clearer view of things- EEEEKKK!

And so I return to the bees. I was/am convinced Muz has swallowed one and it had stung him on the way down. When I was a kid and European Wasps invaded Australia I’ll never forget the warning posters of wasps on the inside edge of soft drink cans and the like. Anyway, we’ll never know 100% but the next day he was given the all clear, swelling subsided and no further pain on swallowing.

The two cab trips were pretty funny- the first one to the medical centre involved the driver and his wife/partner having a slightly heated but controlled discussion about a vaccination, in relation to their child I think but I’m still not 100% sure, after which he put on his Bruno Mars play-mix and sang along to 24K Magic and Uptown Funk, (quite well I might add). The trip back was funnier for me- we used an ‘Uber’ car and the guy driving was well into classic hits of the 80’s- in order and I kid you not, Air Supply- All Out of Love, Alphaville-Forever Young, Berlin- Take My Breath Away, Bonny Tyler- Total Eclipse of the Heart, Bryan Adams- Heaven and Celine Dion singing Alone by Heart! Ha ha ha, I wanted to stay in the car just to see what the next song was going to be!

We took the extra day to visit the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute again, (this time with Mike as he’d missed out on our previous visits) then enjoyed a fantastic Taco lunch in Casco Viejo, a wonderful part of Panama City going through a rebirth- the buildings being restored to their former glory and the streets being, (mostly safe) and interesting for tourists.

We visited Parque Metropol, the Biodiversity Museum and yes you guessed it, our fair share of supermarkets!

We’ve now been in Las Perlas for the last week. These islands are only about 40 miles from Panama City. It’s very different from the San Blas and we’re well into the wet season. Jellyfish and lice haven’t made swimming all that enticing but we’ve had some wonderful beach exploration and a very random encounter with some participants in a reality TV show program in the mode of Survivor. Can’t say more than that right now but it was pretty funny.

So where to next? Slice of Life is packed up and ready to take on the 8 or so day passage to the Galapagos. This is a dream for all of us and we are looking forward to arriving and seeing all that this wildlife mecca has to offer. We’ll be there for some time but I’m not sure when the opportunity will arise to post again. I hope I’ll be able to attach some photos to the previous posts but we’ll see… Till then, thinking of all our friends and family and sending much love.

Slice of Life standing by.


Panama Canal- Lilly’s account

Lil was very keen to post something about her experience of the Panama Canal, so here it is: No photos for now- hoping I can add them in later.


It’s been a big day. Mum, Murray and Dad got up at 4:00am to pick up our line handlers Paquita and Omar.

I woke up at 5:00 and did some reading whilst Mum made 8 breakfast burritos for the 8 people on board, including Ricaurte (or Rick, as I called him) our advisor, who we picked up at 5:30.

Either way we didn’t get to the locks until 7:00 but that gave me a lot of time to read. When we got in the locks we were positioned in the center with a power boat on our STARBOARD side (right side fore those who are not familiar with sailing terms PORT is left ) and a sailing boat on our PORT.


                         Sailing boat     US       power boat

                                       ______ _______ _______

                                   _______lock doors_________


We had a massive car carrier in front of us, so for the first three locks all we could see was its stern (back end). Once in the lock the doors were sealed and the water began coming in we rose to the next lock. We did the same process two more times until finally we were on the lake. This process took almost two hoers so it was good to be at the next stage. Once on the lake we began seeing some of the tankers that had come in a week or two days ago but still not traversed (Seb was in awe). I was very excited we were about to cross the second largest man mad lake in HISTORY!. We were hoping to see crocs but sadly we didn’t. One our way we had to moor for 30 minutes whilst we waited for a tanker to come by. After about two hours we arrived at the Pedro Miguel locks were we had to wait for another hoer and a half for the big car carrier that had been in front for the first three locks. When that came we took another two hours to get threw these locks but finally we were in the