rob and bri sailing adventure travel blog tonga vavau beaches

Entering A Waking Dream

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Reflections on Life, Sailing

rob and bri sailing adventure travel blog tonga vavau beachesWe have yet another new home.  Her name is Waking Dream, a 42-foot Cooper monohull owned by Ben and Lisa Newton here in Vava’u.  They sailed her from Oakland, California and spent three years cruising before deciding to stay in Tonga.  Now that they live on Fetoko Island and are building Mandala Resort, Waking Dream has been vacant for a while.  And we know what happens to vacant sailboats: they start to crumble under the relentless tropical sun and saltwater.

rob and bri sailing adventure travel blog tonga vavau beaches Rob and I offered to help get her all fixed up in return for a free place to live.  It’s a good deal for everyone.  We get to learn more about maintaining a sailboat and build our own little nest.  Ben and Lisa get a working sailboat.  What are some of the problems with it, you ask?  I’ll just list the top few for now: #1 termites #2 the coral reef living on the bottom #3 disintegrating dodger and algae-covered lines.  It’s nice to have a purpose again.

rob and bri sailing adventure travel blog tonga vavau beachesIt also feels good to be living on the water again.  And it feels really good to be all by ourselves on a sailboat again.  We haven’t felt like the capitans of our own space for over 8 months now, since we’ve been sharing living quarters on boats and in others’ homes.  It actually felt slightly eerie to make dinner for just the two of us last night.  For three-quarters of a year, we’ve shared meals with at least one other person, and lately it’s been more like 6-10 others.  Neither of us could remember the last night we’d spent with no one else around.

rob and bri sailing adventure travel blog tonga vavau beachesTransitioning from communal living to independent living is probably more of a change than moving back to the sea from the shore.  We are both quite comfortable cohabiting with others — we enjoy the social dynamics of sharing space, food, ideas, chores, music and ourselves with more than just each other.  Yet we’re both quite comfortable alone, too.  I, in particular, crave my alone time almost as much as I crave social interaction.

rob and bri sailing adventure travel blog tonga vavau beachesWhat a strange and beautiful paradox, this human pull to be so close to others in tandem with the pull to have our own individual corners to retreat into.  A yin and yang of co-dependence and independence, where finding the balance is the magic ingredient to a fulfilling life.  Here aboard Waking Dream, we hope to strike that balance, to build our own little nest where we can retreat, while still keeping close to the flock of new friends who support us.

sail south pacific ocean crossing travel brianna rob

Third Watch

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Ocean Tales, Sailing

sail south pacific ocean crossing travel brianna rob

So, this is “fair winds and a following sea:” pitch-poling like a drunk college kid as we surf down dark frothy waves. What the hell would it feel like in rough winds and a big beam sea? Terrifying.

I have third watch tonight, the pre-dawn shift from 3am to whenever someone else wakes up in the morning. It usually takes my mind and body several minutes to get used to night sailing when I start my watch. For some reason, it always feels like we’re going a million miles an hour at night. I check the heading, and make sure the sail plan is still the same: wing-to-wing with the wind dead behind us, careening down 10-foot swells as we sail due west. Even though we had the same gig happening all day, something about the moonless dark makes the boat feel faster, and slightly more out of control than during daylight.

sail south pacific ocean crossing travel brianna rob

I furl in the genoa a bit to see if it eases the motion. “We gotta slow her down!” I think to myself as I winch away at the sheet. Next, I hook up our state-of-the-art navigation systems (my iPhone paired with our Delorme spot tracker) to check our speed. 4.5 knots. Oh. Right. Maybe we weren’t going as fast as I thought. I let the sail back out and settle into a corner of the cockpit to brace against the rocking.

Third watch is my favorite. You know the dark will end. You get to stare at Orion as he ushers in the rising sun. You can watch the water change from black to charcoal to grey to silver to blue. And, best of all, you can drink coffee without worrying about whether you’ll be able to get back to sleep after your shift is over. I love coffee, and brewing a perfect little cup is my reward as the sky starts to lighten at 5:30am. Sadly, my perfect little cup flew across the galley during a big wave, and I ended up with coffee grounds in my hair, eyes, teeth, sleeves. Sigh. I went with instant coffee for round two, admitting defeat in this squirrely sea.

I plot our position and calculate how long it will take before we reach our next destination at an average speed of 5.5 knots. 3 days, 12 hours. I ignore the rattling in the lazarette behind me, the dishes slamming to and fro below, and the occasional flap of the main when it back-winds. Instead, I turn the iPhone to my favorite mix and sing along, write in my journal using the red light on my headlamp, and practice finding southern constellations. I read a bit on the Kindle.

sunset at sea sailing ocean on the horizon line blog

I hand steer the boat for a full hour when the autopilot gives up under the weight of turning the rudder through the swells, pretending I’m Captain Cook steering a tall ship in unknown waters. It is fun to be in control of the boat for a bit, to feel her surf the waves and to use stars as my navigation. But hand steering is not nearly as romantic as one would think, and my shoulders tire quickly.

I’m grateful when the autopilot sputters back to life at sunrise, and the bright light signals the end of my watch. Time for another attempt at the perfect cup of coffee.


sailing pacific sunset

Yup, we still hate passages.

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Ocean Tales, Sailing

sailboats at sunset south pacific travel

We were scheduled to make landfall in Palmerston at sun-up. But that was when we were averaging 6.5 knots. The wind, as usual, had her own ideas.

Rob and I sat in the cockpit on the last night, watching the crescent moon sink slowly after the sun that just left us. We were making 4 knots in the light air, the genoa flogging and the boat lurching more sharply side to side without the speed to cut through the swells.

“Crack of noon arrival,” I joked. “An exact 5 day passage from anchor to anchor.” I had thought that the 5-night passage from Bora Bora to Palmerston would feel like peanuts compared to 33 days at sea on our Panama to Marquesas leg. But two months of bopping around French Polynesian islands on short jaunts made me weak. I forgot the monotony, the endless frustrating rocking, the noise, the sleeplessness.

sailing pacific sunset
Yup. Passages are just as un-fun as ever. Rob and I tried to be positive while we watched the moon careen back and forth overhead. We listed what we liked about passages:
1) The beauty of the sea, the sun, the night sky. The solitude of this wilderness ocean.
2) The fact that two hunks of canvas can cart us across hundreds of miles.
3) Our increasing ability to manage our bodies and the boat at sea. (No one got seasick this time.)

And that’s about it. We didn’t bother listing our dislikes, as we exhausted that discussion a couple passages back. All this is with fair winds and a following sea! Imagine storms and 30-foot seas (or don’t).

So, if we hate passages so much, why the hell are we smack in the middle of the largest ocean on earth, with plenty more crossings still to come? Because we love everything in between.

bora bora beaches travel

To me, passage-making is like flying or driving long distances. I hate sitting still, being cramped in small spaces and tight seats, breathing stale recycled air, filling the monotonous hours and minutes as best I’m able. Yucky. But I absolutely love arriving at the destination. The excitement about what awaits after the long transit is what gets us through the discomfort. Same with sailing — every time we see a new island on the horizon, it feels like Christmas Day. What will we discover on shore? What presents await beneath the surface?

Maybe Rob and I aren’t real sailors at heart. We are, however, water people, through and through. And to get to the best water, you gotta pay the price of passage. Thus far on our journey, the price is still a bargain for the bounty we’ve received.

bora bora beaches travel blog

BYO Everything

Posted on Posted in Community and Culture, Sailing

bora bora beaches travel blogI pick up the VHF. It’s set to channel 67, the “private” channel we’re using to chat with our friends at this anchorage in Bora Bora. In reality, no radio channel is private. Eavesdropping is a way of life while cruising, especially when you know the people talking over the VHF. But having our own station means we can avoid the protocols associated with using the international maritime channel 16. VHF is awesome: it’s like a telephone that calls all your friends at once.

I key the mic to call our neighboring boats. “Kiapa, Caribe, Nyon, Red Sky, Vision: this is Compass R

rob roberts brianna randall travel sailing blog on the horizon line

On Seasickness

Posted on 5 CommentsPosted in Sailing

rob roberts brianna randall travel sailing blog on the horizon line

“No one tells you about these moments. No one writes about this. This is not about palm trees and clear blue water. This is about misery and just being exposed, torn open. It’s colder than I imagined out here. My butt is pruned from sitting on soggy cushions and I’m wedged between a table and the companionway to keep from getting thrown about in this turbulent sea. Can I get this hood cinched tighter around my face? ,All I can see in the inky darkness is the dull glow of the mast lighthead. I’ve never choked back my own vomit before. This sucks. My stomach hates me. I never pictured this in my daydreams of this sailing adventure, huddling against the cockpit to block the driving rain, wondering where in the dark the next wave will come from, while trying to keep from throwing up. Just two more hours to go to finish this nightwatch….”

Such were my thoughts one night, after a few days of building seasickness. Before departing on this multi year voyage upon the ocean, I had some reservations about how I would handle the motion of a boat being tossed around in rough or rolling seas. For good reason: twice before I had been seasick during outings off the florida coast. The first time we were crossing the Gulf Stream in a powerboat headed for the Bahamas. The second time I was on a fishing boat some mile offshore. However, both times were in my college years and involved copious amounts of booze and revelry the evenings before. In other words, I probably deserved it.

But this is different. We will be out here for a long time. And thanks largely to this blog, much of my world now knows that I have continued to have some problems with seasickness, or mal de mer, as its called in French. But there’s more to the story than you probably envision. The following insights are gained largely from a 33 day field test across the Pacific Ocean, as well as other more recent passages.

rob roberts brianna randall travel sailing blog on the horizon line

First of all, seasickness is a result of the imbalance between what your eyes are seeing and the motion felt by your inner ear. Essentially, the world around you is not supposed to be hurtling about in all directions, so your brain things something is wrong when it senses the major inconsistency of not being on solid, stable ground. The scientific/medical community seems not totally sure about why people vomit in response, but I theorize that your body just plain things something is wrong and throwing up is usually a good way to get rid of the bad stuff (think: too much alcohol, get dizzy, throw up the alcohol). But seasickness more than just puking overboard or heaving into a bucket. Seasickness is quite complicated. It can be as simple as a dull nausea or it can be serious enough to incapacitate a person. Sometimes people get so sick and weak that anti-nausea suppositories are the last resort (Bri is glad I didn’t get that bad), and they may require hospitalization.

But here’s how it happens to me. First of all, to set the record straight, I have actually not vomited once since we left Panama. I’ll admit though that I have been very, very close and there were times that I probably would have been better of just letting go. But I fought it, probably because of some weird sense of stubborn pride.. On the initial crossing to the Galapagos, I did not feel very well for much of the time. A friend of ours described seasickness as “being attacked by an energy vampire” and that’s a good description.

I slept often during that first week because I felt lethargic and had a dull moan in my upper stomach. I had a hard time being anywhere but on deck feeling the breeze and looking at the horizon. I didn’t eat much. I also lost my sense of curiosity and had trouble caring enough to have a conversation. I didn’t feel like reading or writing I had some of my roughest moments as a sentient being during this part of the trip. These were very slow days. So with little else to do on the boat, I spent most of my time in a slow state of meditation. Thus began my introduction to the art of Zen that Bri and I have learned is so useful on this trip (more on that someday). But despite my troubles and evolving adaption, I never missed my turn on nightwatch and I never backed out of any task on deck that was asked of me.

I started using anti-nausea medications at this point and experimented with several to figure out which worked best for me. I’ll describe the different options more fully below, but basically, I responded fairly well to medications. After the Galapagos and those blessed 48 hours on land, things slowly got better for me and I have learned how to cope with the motion of the sea and have found tricks that work for me. I thought that information might be useful to some of you out there. So try this…


There are a number of things which kick-start seasickness for most people. I’ve found that reading and writing in the beginning of a trip is not the best for me. I also try to minimize my time below if possible and am careful about how long I spend getting things in the galley. Many people, myself included, do better with something in their stomach, so a light breakfast before a morning departure is part of good prevention. Obviously, alchohol the night before is a no no. Good sleep and hydration also help. In general, fresh air and a broad horizon are my friends at this point in a trip.


When the first pangs of nausea hit, it feels like a have an upset stomach, and I find that my heartbeat gets slightly elevated and I get a bit rushed in whatever I’m doing. If I can bring myself to slow down and focus, I find that letting my eyes adjust on the horizon and slowly breathing through my nose and out my mouth with deep breaths helps calm me. Sometimes I close my eyes for a moment as well to center myself. I try not to dwell on what I know may come next.

Lay down

There are some days when I feel mostly fine, and the motion is manageable. But sometimes all it takes is a change in the wind direction or wave height and things get worse. I have found that – for me – the magical cure is laying down, closing my eyes and breathing. I don’t know why laying down is so helpful but I can do it in the midst of almost any chaos or motion and it helps almost instantly. If I have let the sickness progress to far and can feels the first lurches in my stomach, I can actually choke it back, enter a deep meditation/concentration. Its not fun to feel your stomach convulsing or to think about the consequences if I don’t get my body under control, but it has worked. I randomly learned this trick on a dive trip in Belize many years ago and had this 33 day jaunt to refine it. Sometimes, depending on conditions, I can be up and about in 15 minutes or so and be back to relatively normal.


If conditions are rough or I’m just having a bad day, I’ve found a few medications that work. I have over the counter meds like Dramamine but I have not actually used it on the trip. Its a backup, because I have found in the past that it makes me real drowsy (even the non drowsy stuff). Bonine is another similar medication that people seem to prefer. In Panama were able to buy Stugeron directly from the pharmacy. Its not available in the US but it is used pretty widely by world cruisers. Its strong, works relatively fast (about an hour) and lasts for half a day or more. It can make you feel slightly foggy and some people don’t like those effects. I’ve used this just a couple of times to get myself back to normal quickly.

If we’re on a multi day passage, I will follow up Stugeron with “the patch” if needed. This is a small anti nausea patch that sticks behind your ear that slowly releases Scopolamine into the body. Its generally used for surgery and post surgical recovery and also works for all types of motion sickness. The patch last several days, but takes anywhere from 4 to 6 hours to begin working. I used the patch a few times on our Pacific crossing and it worked well. While some people have major side effects like blurry vision, I got away with only minor side effects like a dry mouth that were much more pleasurable than seasickness. It allowed me to function at a normal level for several days. When things were bad, the patch allowed me to function like a human again, instead of sailing zombie. You can get the patch in the U.S. with a prescription or just order online from a Canadian pharmacy.

The Bucket

If all else fails, vomiting often provides a feeling of relief for most people with mild cases of seasickness. Its best, if you have to, to puke in a bucket and then toss it over the side. Puking overboard can be dangerous in rough seas and puking in the toilet or sink is generally frowned upon. It will just get all over the place or clog up pipes in an already complicated marine plumbing system. If you are with someone who is at the point of vomiting, you have to watch them carefully to make sure the symptoms either ease or become stable. Seasickness can rapidly progress to a severe condition because of dehydration, and the last thing you want is a medical emergency while out at sea. Thankfully, I’ve never had this problem nor have been with anyone who has.

Anyone who tells you the seasickness is just for landlubbers and that its all in your head is just plain full of crap. Yes, there are people out here who just don’t get sick no matter how rough things are. But we’ve met hundreds of people out here, some who have been sailing for years and decades, and most of them will admit to getting nauseous at one time or another. Some professional sailors and circumnavigators deal with it on a consistent basis. I can attest to the face that it is no fun, but with some forethought and plan for dealing with it, it doesn’t have to ruin a trip. There are times on a long passage when I’m hating life, but the other 95% of this experience has been well worth the trouble.



sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

The Glamour of Toilets in Paradise

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sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

“It’s not quite as glamorous as I’d thought, this lifestyle,” said our new friend, Lionel of Kiapa. “There’s a lot more sitting around, reading, fixing things. I’d pictured surfing or kite boarding every day, and swimming with big fish off the bow.” He was shuttling us back to Compass Rose(y), since our dinghy was under repair on deck. All of us were hunkered down to stay dry as 30-knot gusts whipped chop and seaspray across the anchorage in Huahine Iti.

I laughed to myself, because I both agreed and disagreed with Lionel. At first glance, the “yachtie” lifestyle is totally glamorous. After all, we’d just come from a two-hour yoga session that I’d led on a grassy field overlooking turquoise water. Rob had popped open a few coconuts to share with the seven cruisers on shore, and we had a stalk of free ripe bananas to bring back to the boat. No one was wearing shoes, since we beached the dingy on white sand, and only half of us had shirts. Post-yoga, Lionel and his wife, Irene, invited us to Kiapa for coffee and cake, where we’d chatted about places we’ve been and places we plan to visit. We made plans to have “sundowners” (happy hour cocktails) with them later on. A fabulous life, right?

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

But check out what the rest of the afternoon held in store: a chore list as long as my arm. I cleaned the layers of hair, silt, and unidentifiable muck from the cockpit floor, and “dressed” the toilet pipes with vinegar and oil to clear out saltwater scum. Rob patched the hole in the dinghy and tightened the lifeline bolts. Mark changed the alternator belt on the engine, and tried to diagnose the leak in our water pump. And all of these somewhat simple fixes for the sailboat led to more problems: the cockpit drain was clogged and I had to find a new hose to connect the lazarette to the bilge pump. The patch on the dinghy didn’t hold. Scraping the rust off the water pump accidentally made another hole in it. Sounds icky, right?

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

Just like all life, cruising has its ups and downs. It’s a shitload of work to maintain a boat, and not very comfortable to sail one for a long time, either. You get sick of your crewmates and the cramped spaces, of carting water and fuel in 20-gallon jerry cans, of always having to coordinate how to get to solid ground. The glamour comes from what sailing provides: access to coconuts, outdoor yoga sessions, impromptu social gatherings, and all the beauty and wonder in the blue-green world that stretches toward the horizon. There might not be surfing, diving, kite boarding or fishing every day. But there’s a helluva lot more of it than we’d get working 9 to 5 in landlocked Montana.

sailing blog travel south pacific on the horizon line brianna randall rob roberts

This lifestyle is certainly not for everybody. In fact, that’s why the three of us are aboard Compass Rosey. The owner didn’t enjoy the long Pacific Ocean crossings and the neverending sailboat maintenance, and hired Mark to get his boat back to Australia. The vast majority of cruisers only sail for a few years before heading home to land. Rob and I are still on the fence about how long we’ll stay in the ranks of yachties, and whether we’ll buy our own boat. One thing’s for sure — we certainly respect the people who make sailboats their home for the long term.

travel blog sailing polynesia

A Tough Blow

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Sailing, Traveling

travel blog sailing polynesiaWe’re back in paradise. It disappeared for a week, swept away in fierce winds and soggy clouds. Now it feels like French Polynesia again: warm, silky, easy. As I write, the handle of the Big Dipper dives straight into the horizon. Venus illuminates a bright path on the water above the glow from the set sun. And the Southern Cross, pushed by her two bright pointer stars, arcs over the still marina here in Raiatea.

The last week was pretty rough. We had 30 knots of sustained wind, chop, rain, dark clouds, driving gusts. It’s the kind of rough that flips dinghies upside-down, makes the mast squeal like a banshee, sends people diving for cover, and traps boats in semi-protected lagoons.

You can’t sleep through that, with halyards banging, straps flapping, the hull groaning. Or swim through the murky water and ripping current. Or sail away to a new spot. Or go visit the nearby boats. You wonder if the anchor will hold, and if the anchor on the boat in front of you will hold. You wonder why the hell you’re stuck on a tiny boat in a big blow, relying on a long chain and lead weight to keep you from careening off into the ocean or into sharp reef rocks.

Then the sky clears. One night, the winds suddenly calm. Everyone looks around, wondering what the new noise is — it’s the forgotten sound of quiet. Today, we’re enjoying the reprieve. The storm receded and the fresh clean sulight baptized everything in a glory veil. These green mountains are blindingly sharp. The fish seem happier. The afternoon heat is a blessing. Speeding across the lagoon to visit neighbors makes you laugh aloud.

Today was my version of a perfect day in the cruising life. Ironically, it wasn’t so different from many past, but the end of the big blow made everything shinier. How simple it is, my perception of perfection. A morning yoga circle with new friends. Dancing alone, free, spinning to my own choreography. Clean hair. A swim to say hi to the parrotfish. Fresh-baked carrot bread. Singing songs at sunset. Coffee on one boat, cocktails on another. My husband’s hand on my back. My laughter loud. The men cooking. Stars again.

travel blog sailing polynesia

Just like all life, there’s good days and bad while cruising. Stormy ones and sunny. Monotonous hours interspersed with magical moments. The difference out here, though, is that the cycle is so damn fast. The pendulum between good and tough rocks rapid-fire, marking time in minutes rather than months. Maybe the swing between good and tough just feels so fast, so bipolar, because our lives depend daily on the wind, the currents, the rain, the sun. We feel their shifts more vicerally.

It’s like that first day of spring in Montana. I learned to appreciate the bitter northern winters for the spring they usher in. Tonight, I’m thanking the gods for the calm that comes in like an exhale on the coattails of the departing winds. I revel in the quiet and the still, the sharp and bright stars, appreciating them all the more after their absence. And I suppose I’ll appreciate the next blow, too, since it makes paradise that much more vibrant in the end.


sailing polynesia blog travel on the horizon line brianna randall and rob roberts

Heading West on Compass Rose(y)

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sailing polynesia blog travel on the horizon line brianna randall and rob roberts

And…we’re on another new boat! Are you dizzy yet, keeping up with our moves? We are.

That’s why we plan to stay put for a bit, right here on Compass Rose(y). Why the parenthesis, you wonder? Because in many countries, especially British-related ones, no two boats can be registered with the same name. When the previous owner bought Compass Rose, a 43-foot Polaris, he registered her in England where a Compass Rose was already plying the world’s oceans…so he just added a “y” and called it good. Our sail cover still says Compass Rose, but the name painted on the side has a faded “y” hanging out as an afterthought. It gives her character. (To be clear, I’m the only one that adds the parenthesis.)

We first laid eyes on Rose(y) in Taiohae Bay in the Marquesas. The owners have since decided to head home by air, and hired our friend, Mark, to sail the boat to Australia. In the small world of Pacific sailing, we met Mark in Taiohae, as well, when he was still crewing on Wizard, the sailboat we spent a few weeks on in the Tuamotus and Tahiti. When Mark learned he had a few thousand more miles to sail aboard Rose(y), he emailed us from Raiatea to ask for some help.

sailing in polynesia on the horizon line travel blog brianna randall and rob roberts

Back in Papeete, we promptly said “hell, yes” and bid fond adieu to Wizard. Two hours later, we’d packed up and hitched a ride with our friend Paul aboard Thankful for the 100 mile, 24-hour sail from Tahiti to Huahine to meet up with Rose(y). Paul was conveniently anchored 50 feet from Wizard. He was also the first person we met in Shelter Bay, and we crossed the Panama Canal with him aboard Maunie. Told you it was a small world.

sailing in polynesia on the horizon line travel blog brianna randall and rob roberts

Fast forward to the present: Mark, Rob and I are sailing Compass Rose(y) into the rose-colored sunset without any owners aboard. It kinda feels like when your parents left you alone for the weekend in high school (minus the beer kegs). We plan to hit up a few more of the Society Islands in the next couple of weeks, and then slowly hop our way the 1,300 miles to Tonga. The goal is to stop in at Palmerston in the Cook Islands, and Niue, an island all alone in the middle of nowhere.

Rob and I are pretty excited to settle into our berths for a couple of months, and stow the giant bags rather than live out of them. Rose(y) is super comfy, meeting all our requirements for a stellar sailboat: she has wide, flat teak decks that are perfect for yoga, lots of cockpit cushions for our bony butts, and enough headroom in the cockpit to keep Rob’s scalp scar-free. Oh, and she can sail, too!

sailing polynesia blog travel on the horizon line brianna randall and rob roberts

sailing the south pacific on the horizon line travel blog brianna randall

Off To See The Wizard

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sailing the south pacific on the horizon line travel blog brianna randall

The blue-green waters surrounding French Polynesia just turned into a yellow brick road. Rob gets to be the Scarecrow, and I’m gonna try my hand at Dorothy. We’ve nominated a blacktip shark to be Toto, and the thousands of coral heads lurking just beneath the surface play the Wicked Witches and flying monkey things.

I know. You’re asking if I’m writing this while on some weird island mushroom, right? Or assuming I got a tad too much sun, maybe? Nope. I’m just letting you know that Rob and I have joined a new sailboat. It’s motto? “Off to see the Wizard.” Check out the boat’s blog if you don’t believe me. John and Sue Campbell, a semi-retired couple from Sonoma County, California, have generously offered to share their floating home with us for a bit.

sailing the south pacific on the horizon line travel blog brianna randall

Wizard is a Choate 40 racer-cruiser, very similar in layout (and speed!) to Kayanos, our last ride. We like her, and we really like John and Sue. The four of us all have a similar sense of humor, which is basically the most important ingredient for successfully sailing around in the largest ocean on earth. Sue’s learning to play the ukelele, and doesn’t mind that Rob and I belt out tunes at all hours. John is a laid-back, mostly-Buddhist captain (unless someone tries to anchor too close) who misses microbrews as much as I do.

We met Wizard and her crew our first day on land in Nuku Hiva after the big passage, and hit it off immediately. A month later, John and Sue offered to take us on a day sail to north Fakarava so we could “look for another ride” when Kayanos sailed to Tahiti. Well, we didn’t look very long … the day sail turned into many days as we sailed north to Toau. We’ll likely make the 2-day passage to Tahiti aboard Wizard, as well. In fact, John keeps mentioning that we should just go ahead and buy Wizard when they finish their sailing adventure this November.

Guess we’ll see where our yellow brick road ends up. Meanwhile, Rob and I will make sure to keep our bare feet from clicking together, since we’re not definitely not ready to go home.

sailing the south pacific on the horizon line travel blog brianna randall

sailing through waves in tuamotus on the horizon line bri and rob travel and sailing adventure

The Dreamy Tradewind Passage to the Tuamotus

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sailing through waves in tuamotus on the horizon line bri and rob travel and sailing adventure

Ok. I take back everything I wrote about tough sailing passages. Was that me moaning over rough seas and flogging sails? And did I really write a tongue-in-cheek remix to the lyrics of Crosby Stills & Nash’s “Southern Cross?” (See below for the remix written about 3,000 miles into the Pacific crossing.) Sorry, David Crosby, for dissing your happy sailing song — we finally discovered the joy of “sailing a reach before a following sea” during our 4-day crossing from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus. Turns out that tradewind sailing is awesome.

We had a blast with Ben and Sarah cruising west and south. It helped that Kayanos, a 40-foot C&C, is a fast racing boat, and that Ben is a stellar sailor who loves flying the spinnaker (and, like us, hates running the engine). We flew along at 6 to 7 knots, even when the winds were a mere 7 to 10 knots. And it really helped that the seas were almost flat for the entire 550 mile journey.

sailing through waves in tuamotus on the horizon line bri and rob travel and sailing adventure tuamotus

But the main reason this crossing felt like such smooth sailing is because it was only FOUR DAYS. Yup. Since Rob and I decided to make our first ocean passage the longest one on the planet, everything from here on out feels like a cakewalk. In fact, the Marquesas to the Tuamotus is the second-longest crossing we’ll make this season. After this, we should be able to hop between islands in just a few days.

A few highlights: dolphins off the bow for a full 30 minutes, including plenty of babies flying along next to their mamas. Only having to cook for 4 people instead of 7. Catching (and eating!) a yellowfin tuna. Sailing right up to the bottom of a rainbow. Racing along at 8 knots on the last night in 20 knots of wind with a triple-reefed mainsail and a tiny staysail as we dodged coral atolls. Entering our first motu, Kauehi, through a narrow channel with an 8-knot opposing current and standing waves — kind of like paddling upstream in a Class IV river rapid but in a sailboat.

sailing through waves in tuamotus on the horizon line bri and rob travel and sailing adventure

Kayanos is the exact opposite of Llyr in many ways. It’s been great to learn different systems for sailing, boat maintenance and passage-making. Although Llyr was a wonderful comfy boat for the long passage, Kayanos feels like a familiar friend. She’s more like Spindrift, the 26-foot Paceship that Rob and I sailed for 6 summers on Flathead Lake.

In fact, after our recent brush with tradewind bliss, Rob and I are once again talking about buying out own boat down the line. For a while there, sweating under peeling deck paint on sloshing swells, we were dreaming only of land-based mountain treks through Nepal (which still sounds awesome). Nothing like consistent winds and calm seas to reignite the romance with sailing. Oh, and arriving in one of the most beautiful lagoons on earth after the passage probably helped seal the deal on why having a sailboat would be rad.

Left the mountains on a boat bound to southern islands
Expecting a reach and an easy sail
We searched for the trades with a motor
Flogging sails and a 10 foot seas
1,000 miles before we reach the Galapagos
We had 50 feet on the waterline, windward all the way
48 hours in port to worship hard ground
And after 2 weeks sailing west, there was no turning back

Think about how many waves we have rolled over
Slingshot beam seas send our asses flyin’
Don’t believe that shit you read about the coconut milk run
We are sailing cross the Pacific Ocean
Wonderin’ what we were thinkin’
And if we’d ever do it again…
And you know we won’t. And you know we won’t.

When we saw the Southern Cross for the first time
It didn’t look quite as big as we’d hoped
And the cross waves off the beam, they were not small
And winds were fickle, as fickle as spring day
So we’re sailing for tomorrow ’cause there’s no choice
Fighting down the seasick, and fending off boredom
We have a nice steel ketch, but her flags are tattered
Only 8 more days left, until we can kiss land


So we sat, and we napped and we bounced
We ate oatmeal and rice, and longed for cheese and fruit
We will survive this ocean crossing
But we’ll remember there are more ways than sailing for 32 days
To see the Southern Cross.

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