G'day! Happy Holidays from Mooloolaba Yacht Club, Queensland, Australia! We are almost half way around the world on our sailing adventure. In 2002 we sailed nearly 3,500 miles visiting four countries: Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and finally Australia after we left New Zealand in May.
For Christmas 2001 we were with Julie, Chris, Nalu (our "grand-dogger"), and Sammie and Manu (our African Greys) at their apartment in Boulder, Colorado. Our visit soon turned into a planning session for Chris and Julie's wedding. We accomplished a lot within a short period of time: picking out an absolutely beautiful dress for Julie, tuxes for all the men, invitations, and flowers. Jason and Eric flew to Maui on January 8 to paint one of our condos at Napili Point. David flew to Florida to see his parents where his father has settled into a home for Alzheimer's patients. Ellen flew to Cincinnati to visit with her father. Ellen and David met in Chicago to fly to Maui on January 14. We extended our time on Maui by a week, but still didn't accomplish everything or see everyone! Jason and Eric finished painting the condo and we placed a deposit to buy an extraordinary four acre parcel in Olowalu, which we closed on in August. We returned to Peace and Aloha, safely berthed and well cared for by the highly competent staff at Tauranga Bridge Marina in Tauranga, New Zealand on February 7.
On February 12 David's heart went into atrial fibrillation, as it did three years earlier in Camden, Maine. We immediately went to the Tauranga Hospital, where he was cardioverted the following day and returned home that evening. David was seen several weeks later by a private cardiologist, who did a complete work-up including a treadmill and echocardiogram, with a resulting diagnosis that David was healthy and, with new medication, could safely continue our adventure. During March and April, we were busy with final boat work which included haul out for bottom painting and cutlass bearing replacement, new batteries, sail repairs, solid floor for the dinghy, purchasing spare parts, provisioning of food and supplies, updates of all our medical/first aid emergency supplies/prescriptions, and numerous other tasks. We had medical appointments for eyes, skin, teeth, and the usual check-ups for preventative maintenance before passages. We were very impressed with the medical care that we received there. On April 30, we were very sad to leave Tauranga where we had met so many wonderful, sincere, and honest people. We will return to see more of New Zealand especially to visit the South Island, but via airplane next time. The only problem with New Zealand is the weather. It is too COLD for us there! Sadly, we said our last alohas to New Zealand on May 15. We then headed to Fiji from Opua in the Bay of Islands with 27 other yachts after waiting for over two weeks for a "weather window."
We spent a week in South Minerva Reef as we traveled the 1200+ miles north to Fiji. The snorkeling was absolutely pristine and we had fresh fish or lobster every night for dinner (thanks to Eric!). It was here that Eric had a very close encounter with a shark while he was spear fishing. We arrived at Savusavu, Fiji on May 30 after a very comfortable three day passage from Minerva Reef. We spent June enjoying Savusavu where we looked seriously into purchasing property since we are always looking for that perfect spot to retire! We cruised the eastern islands, including Taveuni, Gamea, and Matagi, snorkeling among incredibly beautiful soft coral reefs with a myriad of fish in a multitude of colors. We enjoyed swimming, hiking to waterfalls, presenting "sevusevu" (packages of kava root) to the village chiefs, visiting with the villagers, attending church, and drinking kava with local Fijians. The Fijians are a very friendly and happy people but also very poor in material items such as clothes, medical care, school supplies and books.
We sailed to Suva on July 1 to have business documents notarized at the US Embassy. We were completely shocked by the security at the embassy. We arrived at Vuda Point Marina on July 8 in order for Ellen to fly to Boulder on July 11. She had a nightmare trip due to a local strike but, thankfully, all went well for David, Jason, and Eric when they traveled to Boulder on July 23. Julie and Chris were married in a lovely ceremony on the grounds of Apple Valley Farm at 11am on July 27. You may view pictures on the web sites listed below. We all returned to Peace and Aloha on August 5 after tearfully leaving the new couple on August 3. They traveled to Mexico for a short honeymoon on August 9 before starting school again at the University of Colorado. We wish them well and send all our love as they begin their new life together as husband and wife! Ellen was able to visit her father in Cincinnati prior to the wedding. Her brother recently moved him to a nice facility near Peter's home in Philadelphia. We are hoping and praying that with family close by to visit, Dad will be happier.
We had about two weeks to enjoy the Musket Cove Resort in Fiji before checking out and provisioning in Lautoka and sailing to Vanuatu on August 23. Actually, we left on August 22 but the wind and the seas were miserable, so we turned around, returned to Musket Cove and left again the following morning, even though it was a Friday. That was a first! A good sign that we are getting older, but wiser and smarter!
We arrived at Port Resolution on Tanna Island August 26 and spent two weeks on this fascinating island with a very active volcano. We loved hiking through John Fromm villages and interacting with these incredibly beautiful, friendly people, who were cannibals until the 1960's. We sailed to Port Vila on Efate to meet our "house guests," Ed Blumestock, his wife Belle, and Eric's friend, LeAnn Vargo. We sailed with them to the islands of Epi, Malekula, and Santo. Along the way we visited villages where we were able to see custom dances with the men wearing only "nambas" and the women wearing only grass skirts. We enjoyed snorkeling at Million Dollar Point where the US dumped millions of dollars worth of war equipment into the ocean at the end of WWII. Ed and Belle flew out of Luganville on September 24 to continue their travels to New Zealand, Australia, and Southeast Asia. We then sailed to Maewo, Ansavari, Ambryn, and to Port Vila for LeAnn's return flight to the US. We visited almost all of the islands in Vanuatu, experiencing the different customs and languages on each island. We saw many different custom dances, ate laplap, drank the famous intoxicating Vanuatu kava, purchased tamtams and baskets, hiked through rain forests to waterfalls, stood on the brink of a very active volcano, dove on SS President Coolidge (Eric and LeAnn), learned WWII history, enjoyed delicious freshly caught fish, and were thrilled by incredible snorkeling in crystal clear water with many brightly colored fish and corals. Vanuatu, with it's very primitive but friendly inhabitants, remains one of the highlights of our travels. We could have easily spent months there.
We arrived in Noumea, New Caledonia on October 17 after a three day passage from Port Vila. We visited all the museums and the aquarium and spent almost a week at the Isle of Pines, which was one of the most beautiful islands that we have experienced in the Pacific. We also learned history as we researched WWII sites since Ellen's father was stationed there during the war. We ate too much French bread and pastries, since the food in French islands is always the best!
We arrived in Scarborough, Queensland, Australia right before a gale after a five day passage from Noumea. We moved here to the Mooloolaba Yacht Club on December 2. Jason and Ellen drove the car, while Eric and David sailed the boat up the coast. We are now close to the beaches, sun, surf, and girls for the guys! We have a car and a cell phone and it is great to be back in civilization again. We continue to be busy with never-ending boat projects and seeing Australia. We are interested in opals and sapphires which are mined in Queensland. We might even go fossilicking at Lightning Ridge, the source of gem quality black opal. We have seen galah cockatoos on the grass, yellow-tailed black cockatoos in the trees, and rainbow lorikeets feeding in umbrella trees as we take our afternoon walks through the park and along the beach. We petted koalas and kangaroos at Alma Park Zoo near Brisbane but have not seen any in the wild in spite of the road signs. We are planning to visit the Australia Zoo, home of Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Man, whom we all enjoy watching on tv. Ellen and David will be heading south by car to Sydney to attend a conference with their church and to visit the city. Unfortunately, we will not be able to sail pass the beautiful Sydney Opera House and under the Harbour Bridge. We will enjoy Australia until May when we will head north to Darwin then on to Thailand. None of this is caste in stone, and of course, with the present world situation, it is subject to change at a moment's notice. If all goes well, we should be in Thailand next Christmas. We can honestly say, at this juncture of being almost half way around, that it has been a most extraordinary experience. The next half will bring new challenges and adventures as we enter Southeast Asia.
Until May 2003 we may be contacted at the following addresses:
S/V Peace and Aloha Yacht in Transit
Mooloolaba Yacht Club
33-45 Parkyn Parade P.O. Box 90
Mooloolaba, Queensland 4557 AUSTRALIA
c/o Christopher and Julie Johnson
6175 Habitat Drive #1068
Boulder, CO 80301 USA
Phone on board: 61- 405 761 819
Web site: www.peaceandaloha.com
We wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We pray for Peace on Earth, Good Will towards Men! God Bless You All! We love you and miss you! Please keep in touch and please do send us Christmas cards, especially ones with pictures.
With Love, Peace and Aloha, Ellen, David, Jason and Eric Julie and Chris, Nalu, Sammie and Manu
Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia Boulder, Colorado,
USA December 25, 2002