Category Archives: South Pacific

Diving with giants: A peak into Tonga’s underwater wonderland

September 2016 I wiggle my toes into the sand, wedging my feet into the course granules of earth. If I don’t, I’ll topple over! I’m squatting beneath the branches of palms and scrub—spending a penny, if you will. On the evening breeze drifts the harmony of a sun-kissed, booze-primed chorus of sailors somewhere down the […]
Read More »

Blue sea, blue sky, blue spirit

August–September 2016 Anchor by numberWe said goodbye to David, Hika, their daughter, and their now-operational outboard and motored away from Vaka’eitu through the picturesque mosaic of islands that is Vava’u. The anchorages are known by numbers, rather than their Tongan names, probably to make it less laborious for westerners to make sense of the place, […]
Read More »

Just how friendly are the “Friendly Islands”?

August 2016 “Sure, we have a piece of line you can have for your cow. No problem!” We had just finished a breezy clearance process into Tonga after a 2-day sail from Niue, and we smiled as we obliged the random request and pushed off the cement wharf. Ahead was a mooring field where, for […]
Read More »

Two fish and one existential crisis

August 2016 This whole voyage has been a leap of faith, a calculated leap in many regards, but a monumental jump, no less. Aside from resting our trust in each other and Red Thread, we’ve also placed immense faith in our individual capacity to land on our feet professionally on the other side of the […]
Read More »

Sea serpents and engine gremlins

August 2016 My fists are clenched tighter than the strands of a monkey fist, as I march upright through the water column like a toy soldier shrink-wrapped in neoprene. I always feel a twinge of nervousness when I dive, and when I’m particularly anxious—like now—I revert to this awkward, inefficient posture that belies the fact […]
Read More »

Whittled by Mother Nature: The ancient sea tracks of Niue

August 2016 “The Conduct and aspect of these islanders occasioned my giving it the Name of Savage Island.” It was 1774 when James Cook inscribed those word in Resolution’s logbook. The Niueans had managed to intimidate the explorers onward from their tiny island. And it would not be the last time they would succeed in […]
Read More »

Two days “to treasure whales” in Niue

August 2016 It’s dawn on our first wake up in Niue. I clamber to the cockpit, wrapped in a Turkish towel for a blanket and feeling the after-effects of just a bit too much “hooray-we-made-it” celebratory rum. I’m hoping to spot a whale or two, and I do, far in the distance. –Jessie When we […]
Read More »

He’s one helluva catch: Getting naked ‘n lucky en route to Niue

August 2016 My handsome captain is naked; well, almost. I insisted on it. I want to get this photo right. I’ve been waiting for this moment, for this pelagic fish. Since sometime before we embarked on our voyage, I have wanted to recreate the image that covers The Cruisers Handbook of Fishing, the authority on […]
Read More »

Small atoll, big community

August 2016 Splashing alongside Red Thread’s hull raises my attention, and I pop up to investigate. A most colorful fish swims alongside our boat, a grin spread across its face. “Hi there! I’m Betty-Ann. You can call me B-A, as in bad ass.” “I like her already,” I thought to myself. Every morning, B-A climbed […]
Read More »

Mighty claws and pointy teeth: Getting acquainted with Suwarrow’s wildlife

August 2016 Prowling for behemoth crustaceans Torches in hand, half a dozen of us followed Harry and Pae through the palm trees. The moon shone fondly over the sea, but the paths beneath the canopy were a web of shadows and tripping hazards. Neil and I were sharing a flashlight, and I stuck close behind […]
Read More »

Suwarrow: An island almost to ourselves

July – August 2016 A disheartening start Our sojourn in Suwarrow did not start as we expected. Tired from our passage from French Polynesia, we set our anchor, keen to get some rest but knowing the first order of business was to clear into the country. Rangers Harry and Pae, a friendly father-son duo dressed […]
Read More »

In search of our very first coral ring

July 2016 Nine-foot breaking waves clawed at the reef and mammoth swell surged on either side of the disconcertingly narrow pass through the reef—the only way in or out of the lagoon. My fists were clenched tightly around the helm, and I was trying my best to steer Red Thread along the line we marked […]
Read More »

A sweat to the summit: The best hike in Polynesia

July 2016 The near-full moon casts an eerie shadow over Maupiti’s stately backbone tonight, and I can hear the roar of surf pounding against the reef. Although lights blink red and green to mark the channel through the narrow reef pass, the beacons are hardly an invitation for vessels to enter or exit this dicey […]
Read More »

Mischief rewarded in Maupiti

July 2016 It’s black out, pitch black, aside from a delicate, sparkling necklace strung along Bora Bora’s shoreline and a single incandescent pearl set in the heavens. It’s 1 am, and it’s raining. Behind a duvet of heavy clouds, a sea of stars is obscured, but the full moon refuses be disguised tonight. Ping, ting, […]
Read More »

33 years young: Birthday bliss in Bora Bora

July 2016 “Today is my 33rd birthday, and my greatest gift is a wildly good sail with my love. We are absolutely racing between these islands!” -Jessie, logbook, 12 July 2016 We raced across the stretch of water that separates the Taha’a and Raiatea, tickled to fly full sails in 12 knots of breeze beneath […]
Read More »