Tropical Sailing Adventures

Vessel Name: Maestro
Vessel Make/Model: 72' Custum Irwin Ketch
Hailing Port: Dover, Delaware
About:
"I am a citizen of the most beautiful nation on earth. A nation whose laws are harsh yet simple, a nation that never cheats, which is immense and wihtout borders, where life is lived in the present. [...]
18 February 2016 | Mexico - Puerto Vallarta
08 February 2014
23 October 2013 | Phuket, Thailand
02 October 2013
22 August 2013 | Raiatea, French Polynesia
22 July 2013 | Island of Huahine - least commercial island in French Poly
26 June 2013 | French Polynesia
01 June 2013
25 May 2013
13 May 2013
11 April 2013 | Marquesas
02 April 2013
30 March 2013
21 March 2013
19 March 2013
15 March 2013 | Galapagos
03 March 2013 | Galapagos
24 February 2013 | Galapagos Islands
07 February 2013 | Ecuador
Recent Blog Posts
18 February 2016 | Mexico - Puerto Vallarta

19 months & counting

Trenten Reef Paul turned 19 months yesterday and I can hardly believe how quickly the time has past since his birth in Papeete, Tahiti. We have been on quite an adventure, as always.

08 February 2014

Thailand/Malaysia

Severely behind in my blog update but we've been busy!

23 October 2013 | Phuket, Thailand

Up on dry land

(Above photo flying into Sydney, AUS on our way to Phuket, Thailand)

02 October 2013

Bora Bora

10/2/13

22 August 2013 | Raiatea, French Polynesia

GOOD FORTUNE IN RAIATEA

8/22/13

22 July 2013 | Island of Huahine - least commercial island in French Poly

Huahine

7/18/13

26 June 2013 | French Polynesia

Moorea

We have, (sadly), just dropped Christina and Nicola off at the airport in Tahiti after a week out anchored off the island of Moorea. What a wonderful week full of fun. The ladies hit the spa!, hiking and swimming with Sting Rays and Sharks. The water in Moorea is really clear blue hues. We had a [...]

01 June 2013

Surfs Up Tahiti

http://www.surfertoday.com/surfing/8812-big-wave-madness-continues-in-teahupoo (10 days ago we had another big southern swell)

25 May 2013

Papeete, Tahiti

We are anchored off marina Taina in Papeete, the main city on the island of Tahiti. This is the only 'big city' (250,000) we have seen in several months. It is a mix of European French & casual islander. The large verdant island soars into the sky and is mostly surrounded by a coral barrier reef. [...]

19 months & counting

18 February 2016 | Mexico - Puerto Vallarta
Erin - Perfect Weather
Trenten Reef Paul turned 19 months yesterday and I can hardly believe how quickly the time has past since his birth in Papeete, Tahiti. We have been on quite an adventure, as always.

Once we returned from Asia we settled in on the boat at the marina for the remaining 4 months of my pregnancy. His birth was 100% natural in a clinic downtown Tahiti. It was quite quick being only 7 hours of hard labor. I had a great midwife, doula & Len to help in the process. It was an unforgettable experience.

Shannon, my sister, arrived in Tahiti 10 days later where we sailed out to Moorea. Trent's colic kicked in right around that time and lasted about 3.5 months. Yes, folks... around the clock crying. We pushed through and anchored off of Bora Bora for about 6 weeks. It wasnt easy being on the boat 24/7 with a crying baby but we did a lot of dinghy rides & bouncing in the rocker for hours on end - the only thing that would help! It was too much to move on to Tonga and we had to leave French Poly due to immigration status so we opted to put the boat back in the marina in Tahiti and wait out the storm on land while in Mexico. We stopped for business in San Diego, a trip to Canada to meet the grandparents, a retreat up to Tahoe and then packed up the truck and drove to our beloved Puerto Vallarta. By this time Trent's colic was subsiding. (a little) In come teething.... Having a baby is like making the longest passage of our lives... intermittent sleep patterns, uncontrollable circumstances and mother nature combined into a very long challenging storm of events. And not unlike cruising the highs are as extreme as the lows... totally addicting.

We flew back to Tahiti at the start of the cruising season 2015, I made a trip to meet my sister's new little girl in New Zealand. We enjoyed another season in the leewards of French Polynesia - the place is really wonderful. The new law allows your boat 3 years in territory waters so we have taken full advantage... this year the boat must move on. It is going to KILL us to move past the Tahitian islands but we have been here before... the toughest part of the cruising life is making friends in beautiful places and then having to leave those places too soon. As hard as leaving is, it is also very exciting to enter a new chapter. In April Len will take crew and make passage to Fiji where Trent and I will fly in for the cruising season 2016.

Our family is currently back in Puerto Vallarta since Dec 1, 2015 for the 'land' based cyclone pacific season. It has been wonderful being surrounded by good friends here in PV, the mexican people are so wonderful to children and families. We always feel 'at home' when we arrive here.

Hope everyone is well - we are blessed, enjoying our new life with Trenten and doing great. xxoo

Thailand/Malaysia

08 February 2014
Severely behind in my blog update but we've been busy!

First things first... WE ARE EXPECTING! Expecting what? (you may ask?) Yep.. we have a little boy on the way with an expected arrival mid July 2014. After several years of trying our dream has come true. We couldnt be more excited!

So now what? (you may ask?) The plan is to have the baby in Tahiti barring any bureaucratic complications. We will be returning to French Polynesia late March and will sort out paperwork upon arrival. After the birth (assuming all is perfect) we plan to continue on to Tonga for the remaining of the cruising season. Thats about all the detail we should give at this point as all plans are loose and very flexible. Wish us luck! Its going to be a wonderful change.

Early in my pregnancy we didnt move around Phuket very much but relaxed at the local beaches, shopping malls, temples and markets. We had a great Christmas season as i had started to feel much more energy.

PHOTOS HERE
We were invited to sail to Malaysia (Island of Langkawi) after Christmas on a friends 90ft motor sailor. Great! Off we went with two stops at pristine Thai Islands and the Island of Langkawi in Maylasia was gorgeous. The officials are very welcoming in Langkawi, a duty free island. All the yachties fly duty free parts into the island and liquor buys weigh the bilges. As soon as you step off the dock you can see the different culture - Langkawi is 75% Muslim. This means lots of Burkas, great food, but really strange restrooms?! I still havent figure out how the hole in the ground works and i try to avoid the situation at all costs. No easily done for a pregnant lady!

ISLAND OF PENANG PHOTOS
After we left the boat in Langkawi we flew to the Island of Penang. Penang in the food capital of Malaysia. We tried a few local dishes which were perfectly spiced. A blend of India meets Chinese = Malaysian. Very fresh. The people we very gracious where ever we went. They really seemed to like foreigners travelling in Malaysia. And i liked that there are Buddists, Christians and Hindu mixed in the culture without much issue. Obviously there are problem areas and we did seem to feel a bit uncomfortable at times. Expecially when we flew into Kuala Lumpur and more traditional long black full Burkas with the women walking 5 ft behind the man appeared. Very different culture.

BANGKOK
To our surprise - we loved Bangkok. There were no tourists! We had to make a trip to the American Embassy and our appointment ended up being in the middle of the protestors anti government campaign. We were a little nervous but after research we felt we would be fine. And we were. We ended up two blocks from one of the shutdown gathering spots and had to cross over the street a couple times to get through the area. Traffic was a bit crazy at times but nothing the skytrain or walking couldnt fix. The humidity was down and the action was up all over Bangkok. We had a great visit.

KOH SAMUI PHOTOS
The island of Koh Samui is a resort island - everyone said you must see Koh Samui! It was a Jr. Phuket.... not really the laid back feel we were looking for but we stayed at a great resort and spoiled ourselves for the weekend.



Up on dry land

23 October 2013 | Phuket, Thailand
(Above photo flying into Sydney, AUS on our way to Phuket, Thailand)

We departed Tahiti, after dragging our butts out of Bora Bora, on Oct 5 headed for Thailand, (by air), with a family stopover visit in New Zealand. The boat will stay in Papeete until April 2014, the start of next years cruising season.

New Zealand was great. Seeing family and being in a western society for a short time was refreshing. We were able to tour around the Tauranga area, relax and enjoy family.

We flew through Sydney, AUS bound for Phuket. We got a great view of Sydney harbor. We have always wanted to visit Thailand because we have never heard anyone say anything bad about the country. We needed to get out of French Polynesia due to our visa requirements. From what we have seen so far, i can see why people rave over Thailand. The people treat you like royalty. Very polite and always smiling. Driving on the left has been exciting at times but we are managing to laugh at our mistakes - so far so good. The beaches are great up north of the island. Quiet, clean and i am taking as many $13 beach massages as one can fit in! Thats my goal anyway! We have found ourselves a nice condo at the Phuket Marina - couldnt go to far from the boats! The area is central and a great spot for visiting the islands off of Phuket by ferry or speedboats leave direct from this marina each day. The condo comes with a 3 floor state of the art gym facility all with trainers/yoga classes/social tennis - its gorgeous. We have been taking advantage of the movie theaters in the gigantic modern malls here and getting a little dose of civilization after being out in the islands these past 6 months. Traffic seems strange but we are taking it all a day at a time and enjoying.

MORE THAI PHOTOS

Bora Bora

02 October 2013
10/2/13

More Photos Here

We are back in Papeete, Tahiti, the main hub of the Society Islands, after a blissful month anchored in Bora Bora. The first two weeks the weather was calm as one could possibly imagine in these islands, not a breath of wind. The lagoon was glass and you could see down into the crystal waters at least 60 ft. Mornings were spent doing yoga with cruiser friends on a deserted white sand beach island looking up at the glorious Mountain of Bora Bora. Afternoons we took the dinghy around to explore, eat lunches at several of the nice restaurants available, snorkeling and even had a spa day to top it all off! I enjoyed paddleboarding in the mornings and liked to count the sting rays and eagle rays along the way. We were unfortunate to hit a shallow coral reef and knocked out forward gear on our outboard. No parts & no repair in Bora Bora so repair had to wait until Tahiti. (Just had her fixed) Our smaller dinghy did the job until the wind came up and produced some sizeable waves inside the lagoon. We managed for a couple weeks but it wasn't dry transportation!

Getting to Bora was the pinnacle of our dreams in the South Pacific and she did not disappoint. We had heard cruiser whispers through the travel vine that she was commercial and a bit run down. Over the years we have learned to take advice and perspectives with a grain of salt and each day can be a different experience. It is true that the town of Bora was not paved with gold as one might imagine after years of planning to come to this oasis in the middle of the Pacific but we enjoyed her rustic charm and if you get off the beaten path it's not hard to find a lot of local flair. We met a family on one of the beautiful islands inside the lagoon of Bora who invited us many times for day long BBQ's and Tahitian fare. It was a truly special friendship and we appreciated their welcoming hospitality - something we have been looking for quite some time now. It was the perfect cap to a great first season in the South Pacific. The snorkeling, food options, hospitality of the people and sheer beauty of the islands truly made the entire trip. Please enjoy the photos which I hope speak volumes.

GOOD FORTUNE IN RAIATEA

22 August 2013 | Raiatea, French Polynesia
Erin
8/22/13
Raiatea, French Polynesia

A few weeks ago we had a short 30 mile sail from the Island of Huahine to Raiatea, French Polynesia's Leeward administrative capital. There was 30 knots of wind with a following 4 meter sea, business as usual. The difference on this passage was when we entered the lagoon pass Maestro's steering jammed for a short few seconds and would not go to starboard? The autopilot finally pushed her through. It was only 2 more miles to the anchorage and steering seemed to return to normal. As we approached the mooring field, (Maestro is too large to tie up to an unknown mooring), we wanted to quickly get our anchor down so we could address any potential steering issues. In Raiatea the anchorage is 100 ft depth and it was blowing 30 knots with gusts to 40 knots. While hand steering she was jamming amidships at port to starboard. We dropped the hook to take a look at the quickly deteriorating steering. Action set in and Len pulled the steering cable plate in the cockpit, to look at the cable, and threw the aft stateroom bed into the air to look at the quadrant located under the berth. Meanwhile - I noticed, "We've got a problem". Len's head was buried deep in the console and I was looking at Maestro sail into a large 100 ft rusty steel abandoned vessel. "FENDERS!" (that's not ALL that was said?!?) Len maneuvered forward in time so that we gently pushed off and we realized that we were not holding in the 100 ft depth. At some point in here we put the vessel in reverse and she squeeeeeeeled LOUDLY at us. We both looked at each other for a long second and thought, "no way". Reverse gear is out, not working, NADA. MURPHY LIVES ON BOATS! STAY CALM. So.... Its blowing 30 knots, we have little steering, no reverse and we cant set the hook easily in the 100 ft depth. We raised the anchor enough to clear the sea floor and with only forward we tried to move into a shallow area clear of vessels. The wind was too strong and Maestro was caught in a gust and without starboard rudder blew us back down onto the starboard side of a moored catamaran. No one was onboard. The bow thrusters wouldn't' control the vessel, in over 25 knots it seemed useless. We lightly touched s/v Vision and blew off her and tried to maintain some control. At that point we called for vessel assistance over the radio. We were quite reluctant to radio for help before this as we thought we would be able to manage anchoring and fixing our problem. Lesson learned on many levels here. So - When you think things can't get worse -they can. Maestro was struggling in the wind without steering and I tried to manage her and brought her up to the starboard side of Vision. I looked behind us and we were now trailing a vessel! Our anchor or chain had picked up a mooring line with a vessel attached to it! OH-MY-GOD? SERIOUSLY? When I thought I couldn't take any more, Maestro decided to side tie to the Port side of s/v Vision. The wind direction let us rest against her, safely, ceased our movement around the anchorage and now two vessels, with Frenchmen, had come to help us sort out the fiasco. Language = Communication? Or is it the other way around? We were stressed and tried to convey our situation to each of the parties arriving. The French have a way of telling you how bothersome you are without actually saying it, lol. They were quite irritated we were having issues - it must have been lunch or something? Enter: GABE to the rescue. French Canadian sailor aboard s/v Cariba -had dinner with him and his beautiful wife Issy just the other night. THE BEST THING about cruising is the support you receive from fellow sailors. Gabe speeds up in his dinghy and says, "So sorry I wasn't here sooner!! Don't worry - ive been in way worse situations!". He gets a quick update from Len on the situation and proceeds to help translate, fend off our vessel from the "one behind us caught on the mooring line". Good thing because the local Frenchmen wanted us to drop our entire ground tackle/chain - Len was not having any part of it. The yard manager had recently told us they have picked off 106 boats from the reef - we didn't want to be another one! And the vessels they had could not even come close to towing Maestro, especially in the wind condition. Next thing you know Gabe's got his dive gear on and another Canadian from VICTORIA! who is a shipwright mechanic onboard. They were cool, calm and collected - just what we needed. The locals released the moored vessel behind us and moved it to another buoy. This actually freed us from our side tie to s/v Vision but we needed to act quickly and again try to anchor. We dropped every bit of chain we could muster and then attached another 150ft of chain to equal a 500 ft chain. Finally, we were set and the wind wasn't letting up. It had been blowing 30 knots for 15 days. Gabe dives the boat and finds the ½ inch stainless steel rudder strap, which holds the rudder in place, completely broken. Good news is that we are anchored right in front of a boat yard. One of the only places you can get repairs, other than Tahiti, out here. All good - Gabe removed it and ready for repair in the morning. The owner of s/v Vision now comes back to his boat and quickly over to our - there was some small cosmetic damage. He's got insurance papers. I said, "Want a beer?"

Day two: Its 8am - We are at the shipyard looking to fabricate a new rudder strap. Gabe and Len have a plan - Gabe can translate = perfect. Just one thing - the yard manager needs to see us about his moorings. Okay - no problem, how can we help? He says - here is a bill for $1600 USA to put my moorings back since you dragged that boat it will cost me that much to put them back. ($%$^^*) Now, keep in mind we desperately need to work with these people to fix our issues, we are still a little dumbfounded and its 8:15am. I could see Len's face and I was just trying not to breakdown. We told "Jock" - (You know, Jack in French) - we'd dive it ourselves and inspect the situation. Anyway - Gabe took the GoPro camera down to 105 Ft and the mooring was wrapped around a GIANT coral head -we didn't even move the chain? "Jock" didn't have a problem when we told him we had video of the seafloor. "Errr, Umm, ok, no problem, then".

Fabrication of the rudder strap was quite easy - but we couldn't have done it as quickly without the help of Gabe and his ability to communicate. THANK YOU everyone who helped us through these initial days with support. We were so glad to have several of our friend's boats in the area. Always, Thanks for the laughs. Two days later we had steering and moved the boat over to a secure Marina where we could address the transmission. It has been a gorgeous spot - wish this was a safe location for cyclone season. We have been watching the sunsets over Bora Bora every night!

TRANSMISSION:
Reverse Clutch plates were shattered. Not sure why - misalignment or whatever? French Terry (he smokes and works for Jock) pulled the transmission here two weeks ago and we sent the parts to New Zealand for fabrication. Today they arrived back and Terry is installing now. Crossing fingers all will go well. It has been a 3 week process of decision making and shipping to get this sorted. The saga continues... Let's hope we don't see another bill from "Jock".

In the meantime, we have been exploring Raiatea and Len's birthday was on Aug 14 so we jumped aboard friends s/v Double Diamonds Lagoon catamaran and sailed with them over to Bora Bora. All of our buddy boats were congregating over there before the big push to Tonga, Fiji and/or New Zealand for cyclone season. We had a GREAT four days with everyone, sad to see them go but will cherish the fond memories we shared with this years cruising group. What a wonderful bunch of friends. Hope to see many of you out cruising next year!

Good fortune that this didnt happen at sea, in a more remote location, we had friends to help, noone was hurt and the list goes on. I think we had a guardian angel for this one!

Huahine

22 July 2013 | Island of Huahine - least commercial island in French Poly
7/18/13
HUAHINE, FRENCH POLYNESIA (more photos here: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/sailmaestro/?show=gallery&aid=24865 )

We have anchored off the island of Huahine and the natives seem to be restless! Upon early morning arrival after an overnight sail from Moorea we anchored close to a lovely white sand beach. This is great! Another perfect French Poly anchorage.... could this be to good to be true? Yep. To our alarm we heard a loud voice coming from the shore. Looking at eachother...Is he talking to us? We took a closer listen and noticed the older Polynesia man, who was now yelling in Tahitian, that he owns the area that we were anchored in. Apparently he also owned the area where another french boat was, as he was getting a lashing too. This was all semi-translated by giggling French sailors passing by in a dinghy. Let me preface this with the fact that Huahine is supposed to be the last remaining polynesian style local island. Most of F.P is quite westernized by all things French including the loss of their Tahitian language. Our idea of local island is tiki huts, fishermen, dirt roads and lots of fruit to barter near by. You wont find that here anymore. Anyway - back to the story. After feeling dumbfounded as to why this guy is so protective of the waters in front of his, very western large house, we figured he must be a lunatic, right? The anchorage is filled with about 15 other boats but we and the other french boat were the closest to the beach. He was yelling at him too? So this cant be an anti-american thing? Then another guy runs out onto the beach yelling in plain english to MOVE YOUR F-ING BOAT OR ILL COME OUT THERE AND SHOOT YOU WITH A GUN AND KICK YOUR ASS. Now... initially this was kind of funny until the thought actually sunk in and he continued to repeat other profanities in plain english. It was way to early in the day for this kind of conduct and we were quite shocked, very tired from the nights passage so we picked up and moved the boat to another anchorage which was nearby across the bay. I am pretty sure they hit us with a pellet gun as we were picking up anchor - welcome to Huahine, we thought! We reported the problem to the Gendarme and of course they told us it hasn't been the first complaint. We have since met people who have had the same encounter so the police didn't do much to help the situation.

French Poly has been a mix of paradise, partial welcoming vibes and dissapointment. In my opinion; simply put, the water, sailing and scenery are some of the best we have seen but the lack of beaches, hospitality, (which the polynesias are apparently known for), are a dissapointment. I wont say anymore on the subject because we are having the time of our lives and wouldn't change our decision to make the crossing. It is well worth the small inconveniences that you will get anywhere you travel. It is just that it is different than the pastime stories you hear from sailors even 15 years ago. The political problems here are difficult for the Tahitian people to overcome. They are educated by the French, paid by the French and policed by the French. It feels like modern day colonializm. If you think that modernizing people into tax paying citizens, at the loss of their own culture, is a great idea then you would disagree with my perspective. I have felt sad for the polynesians since I arrived in Marquesas. The last 150 years out here has almost all but wiped the polynesian culture from the world. So... the moral is that tolerance when getting hit will pellet guns may be required when traveling in F.P. It is a complex cultural transition into western society.

Tuamotos Shark Encounter

18 July 2013


This was a great day trip with our friends on s/v Reel Time to the Blue Lagoon in Rangiroa, Tuamotos, French Polynesia. BBQ on the white sand motu, swimming with sharks and a very adventurous speed boat trip across the lagoon in rough swell. Lots of laughs ~

Moorea

26 June 2013 | French Polynesia
We have, (sadly), just dropped Christina and Nicola off at the airport in Tahiti after a week out anchored off the island of Moorea. What a wonderful week full of fun. The ladies hit the spa!, hiking and swimming with Sting Rays and Sharks. The water in Moorea is really clear blue hues. We had a full moon all week so the evenings were beautiful as well. The island is very laid back and has a nice atmousphere about it. It is my favorite spot yet - although... everywhere we go seems to be my favorite spot yet! Ill get some cooresponding pictures up asap. Im a bit behind in the photos but have a lot to share from the great trips on Tahiti we have taken. The anchorages here are FLAT calm behind the reefs - truly paradise.

Love to all ~

Surfs Up Tahiti

01 June 2013
http://www.surfertoday.com/surfing/8812-big-wave-madness-continues-in-teahupoo (10 days ago we had another big southern swell)

The Link above is a great video of the trip we will take tomorrow. Teahupoo is a world class wave that we will be able to vicariously view in a boat right beside the wave. Wow! The swell is coming up from the SW which makes this surf spot a dream. This swell is also breaking over Tahiti's barrier reef, right into the marina. No so fun for sailors! We are tied up in a beautiful spot on the inside of the marina but it is still a bit bumpy. We are hearing of sailors getting sea-sick in the anchorage outside - stirred up pretty good.

All in all we have been catching up on boat work, business and living the day to day life in Tahiti. There is a great grocery store with gourmet foods a couple blocks away which is a nice treat. They have wonderful breads, pastry, pates, THE CHEESES! (THANK YOU FRENCH PEOPLE). With respect to boat parts this is the hub of activity. You can import duty free for vessels in transit but most items can be found here. We stripped the main sail today for a quick patch from a batten tear. Good price quote and great service so far. Some things are ridiculously expensive and other things you will find priced fare. Nothing is cheap. Its warm and sunny everyday - no rain at all on this side of the island. The french have been warm and welcoming but we have found that the Polynesian Islanders are still not very warm and fussy about us foreigners? Cant blame them i suppose ~

We will chill out here until Christina and Nicola (cant wait!) get here mid month. Then we will sail 13 miles to the Island of Moorea for a week of touring. We were successful in getting an extension on our visas until October - still undecided on where to go for cyclone season? Decisions, decisions?!?! The cognitive process is slow in the heat, lol!

Papeete, Tahiti

25 May 2013
We are anchored off marina Taina in Papeete, the main city on the island of Tahiti. This is the only 'big city' (250,000) we have seen in several months. It is a mix of European French & casual islander. The large verdant island soars into the sky and is mostly surrounded by a coral barrier reef. The civilization is nice to enjoy sidewalk cafes, GOURMET FRENCH FOOD (wow)!, decent provisions & shops. Today we will take the 72 mile Circle road to tour the island.

The 120 mile sail from Rangiroa, Tuamotos was one of our best yet! We had 23 - 35 knots off the beam, 10 ft seas beam-quarter, the entire passage (excluding the 5 hour bash around the atoll). Maestro clipped along at 8.5 - 10 knots perfectly. First 'trade wind' sail yet! AND NO SQUALLS!

On Monday we will move Maestro into the Marina for a much needed wash down, sail repair and rest for her crew!


Maestro's Photos - Creatures
Photos 1 to 10 of 10 | Main
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Birds use the turtles to rest - we spooked them
hundreds of turtles migrating
Toucan at a local restaurant in Ixtapa, Guatemala
Macaw parrot Guatemala
Humpback whales off cabo corrientes - Banderas Bay, Mex.
Bottlenose Dolphins on the bow
 
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