round we go!!

Vessel Name: Bubbles
Vessel Make/Model: Fast Passage 39
Hailing Port: Seymour IN
17 September 2012 | Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVIs
22 July 2012
10 June 2012 | St. Martin
04 June 2012 | St. Martin
31 May 2012 | Saba Rock
19 May 2012 | english harbour, antigua
07 May 2012 | Bridgetown, Barbados
27 April 2012 | Georgetown, Guyana
22 April 2012 | Paramaribo, Suriname
19 April 2012 | French Guyana
13 April 2012 | Atlantic Ocean somewhere off of South America
08 April 2012 | Amazon River, Macapa, Brazil
01 April 2012 | Amazon River, Brazil
30 March 2012 | Tapajos River, Brazil
28 March 2012 | Amazon River, Brazil
21 March 2012 | Xingu River, Brazil
20 March 2012 | Amazonia, Brazil
18 March 2012 | Para River, Brazil
18 March 2012 | Belem, Brazil
13 March 2012 | Capim River, Brazil
Recent Blog Posts
17 September 2012 | Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVIs

The final blog, Bubbles sold yesterday

First lets go back to that week in May in the British Virgin Islands… we had over 20 sparkling crew on board Bubbles (all wearing the coral crew shirts) approaching the round-the-world finish line at Nanny Cay. With only a few hundred feet to go the propeller fell off. Not being able to raise sail [...]

22 July 2012

the last leg sail

We had good wind on the morning we set sail to complete the 90 mile last leg (from St. Martin to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands) of Bubble’s circumnavigation. With a full boat, I was on deck explaining some navigational markers to some of the more virgin crew when Trevor at the helm yelled [...]

10 June 2012 | St. Martin

Magic Aboard Bubbles

That night in St. Martin the party aboard Bubbles can only be described as magical. With Christmas lights strung up both in the rigging to light the deck, and in the interior to light below, a special glow illuminated the boat that had carried us around the world. Paddy King lead a conga line of Bubbles [...]

04 June 2012 | St. Martin

The Round the World Pre Party Begins!!

The seven of us woke well before sunup to the Indiana Jones theme song cranked over the Bubbles sound system. Sails were up by sunrise with Paddy King at the helm and brother Joe standing by as we watched the morning light illuminate mountainous Saba's cliffs rising from the sea. With 20 knots of wind [...]

31 May 2012 | Saba Rock

the Sea Hawk 4 takes flight

The day sail to Barbuda was sunny with good wind and buzzing excitement from both new crew and old. Arriving in the poorly charted waters we ran aground, but jumping into a shallow sea full of starfish isn't a bad place to get stuck. Ashore the six of us strolled on an endless beach of pink sand with [...]

19 May 2012 | english harbour, antigua

Adding more Bubbles

Bubbles and crew ran completely broke of funds after Carine flew back to Amsterdam. Having neither cash nor credit via any type of card, Diego and I resorted to trading. For a couple dive tanks we got the jib sail repaired, for a regulator we got fresh produce out of a local garden. We were able [...]

Tour de Fiji (Rally Car Style)

03 September 2010 | Fiji
After being at sea for so long we planned a weekend road trip up into the Fijian Highlands. After reading up on it we decided we wanted to climb Mt. Victoria (the largest mountain in Fiji) and see the waterfalls of Koroyanitu National Heritage Park. We looked at a map and figured out that the best way to go would be to drive along the south coast to Suva and then head into the mountains to Mt. Victoria. If I can quote the Lonely Planet (which Alex highlighted) they claim this road is "barely passable and best avoided." In total, our trip was basically a large loop heading along the south coast, cutting through the middle of the island, and then back around the north coast back to Nandi. We were stoked.
We looked up many car rental shops and decided to just go cheap with a Toyota Rav 4 from a local rental place. We rented the car at 3 PM (the time will matter later in the story) on Friday and were planning to return it at 3 PM on Monday. Off we went, picking up two cruising friends along the way.
We headed south and made our first stop at Natadola Beach for sunset. Right as we arrived we were greeted by a local cowboy. Alex hopped on the horse and we all ran out onto the beach with a splurge of energy. The beach was ideal for body surfing, so as the sun was going down we all jumped in and tried to catch some waves.
Now that it was dark we decided to head towards Suva. We debating whether to stop at the Sigatoka Sand Dunes or not and finally decided that it would be awesome to see them at night. We pulled up to the office (which was closed), parked along the street, and snuck around the fenced section to meet up with the trail head. The hike to the dunes was quite short (only a 1 or 2 km) but it was harder to see since the moon had not yet come up. We raced to the top of the start of the sand dunes and got an awesome view. The breeze was blowing so we kept cool, but I can only imagine how hot I'd get during the day.
As we started on our path down the dunes we started to hear someone yelling "Excuse me" from behind us. Alex and Marion started running down the dunes but Cathy and I decided we might as well just talk to the guy.
"Hey who's there?" I called out.
As we came within arm's length of each other he replied "I'm the night watchman, how did you find this place?"
"Uh, I think it was on the map" I answered trying to play dumb. I knew what he meant was "how did you find your way around the barbed wire fence to the trail head."
We chatted a bit more and the result was that he'd head back up and we'd go down to find our friends to turn around. The Fijian people are so kind, even when they try to kick you out they are polite. We headed down the dunes to check them out and "try" to find our friends. After about 20 minutes of running around in the sand we decided it'd be best to head back up. On our way back we noticed the moon began to rise. It was a cool site over the dunes.
Even though I was expecting to see the guy again, he still spooked me when we met up with him. He was just standing there like a tower in the dark. We chatted some more and he confessed that he was happy we were real people because he thought he was seeing ghosts. The Fijian people are so cool.

Once we were all back in the car we were off to Suva. After a 100 km drive we arrived in Suva, just in time to get a glimpse of the Hibiscus festival. I'm not sure why it's called the Hibiscus festival but it's basically a huge carnival (we counted 8 ferris wheels), tons of food, and the people spill out onto the streets and into the clubs and bars throughout the night. Later in the night we would experience our first flat tire (1 of 5).

We spent the night at the Royal Suva Yacht Club and in the early morning we headed out. We dropped our buddy "Joe" off at his house ("just go straight" were his directions to his house; 4 turns later we arrived) and picked up his brother "Steve" to take him to work. Steve showed us a good tire shop and we were off on our way. It turns out we just blew some air out of the tire and there was no puncture (must have been that curb that came outta nowhere the night before).
The road into the mountains started off fairly well maintained but as we got deeper into the mountains it started getting rough. It was also a pretty hot day so we were baking in the car. Eventually we made it to a small village called Udu. Most of the drive we had been following this river and Udu ended up being the perfect place to take a swim. The water was so refreshing and it tasted great (Fiji water right at the source). A local guy we met when we came in was sitting along the edge of the river bank drying out his waka root.
We got back to the car and realized we had flat tire number 2. This time we figured it was either the fish-tail spin out (Marion!) or the huge rocks we plowed though. Either way, we dove right in and got it switched back out with the tire we fixed at the shop. By the end of the tire changing exercise, we had a crowd of children and locals chatting with us. This is typical in the villages we passed through. I guess it makes sense that they are interested in a car full of people shouting "Bula!" with thick beards, mohawks, and huge smiles on their faces.
Up the mountain we went. It seemed like around every turn we'd see a couple wild horses grazing or cattle crossing the road. Our map was like a tour guide brochure map so every fork in the road we had to stop and ask a passing local. This made it very fun and interactive.
We passed a power station (hydro-electric) and then a small town nearby. One local guy we passed was waving us down so we stopped to chat. He asked us to come in for some cava. We agreed to one round and then, by traditional Fiji fashion, it changed to 3 rounds. We asked them about an air compressor for our tires and one of the guys agreed to go with Alex and find one. Turns out, the people we were drinking cava with own all of the land that the power station is on (it's a huge complex), so they are like the local millionaires. No wonder when I asked them what they did all day they said "Eat, drink cava, sleep..." It all made sense now.
We were again on our way and made it to the ridge of the mountain range. We did some off-roading through the tall grass and were really pushing our rally car talent to make it to our landing point by dark. Before getting there, we'd experience flat tire number 3. This time, however, we were well rehearsed and snapped into action. We got our tire change time down to (unofficially) 6 minutes :-)
We arrived in Navai just as church was coming to an end. Everyone was in a sulu so Alex and I quickly changed into ours (we went Sulu shopping in Nandi the day before and scored some awesome outfits for like $30 USD). After asking the locals about the chief we were taken to the chief's daughter's house. The daughter, Maribelle, cooked up a big meal for dinner and we played some tunes on their piano keyboard. The husband, Issy, chatted with us about life and later agreed to be our guide for Mt. Victoria. Eventually it was time for bed and we got right to it. The mosquito nets worked wonders!
In the morning we discovered flat tire number 4. It must have been a slow leak over night but the back right tire was completely flat. This left us with a flat spare and a flat rear tire. We did some negotiating (it was Sunday so people don't travel much) and arranged to have both tires fixed while we were hiking.
After a big breakfast we headed up the trail to Mt. Victoria. The trail was well defined but also had some really cool technical parts (monkey swing?). It took us around 1.5 hours to reach the top. All along the way were birds of every variety singing and, on two occasions, swooping down at my head. At the top of the mountain we played a hat toss game and I think Alex and I broke the world record for longest throw of a hat onto someone's head (it was like 30 feet, no joke).

We tried to get moving quickly after our hike. We had another big drive ahead of us with many anticipated flat tires to fix. As we prepared to leave, all of the children were going nuts. We took lots of photos, exchanged hundreds of high-fives, and got some good videos of them chasing us down the path when we left. What a great place.
We caught a streak of luck on our trek down the north side of the mountain - no flat tires. We did manage to find a huge sugar cane fire and made a cool fire trail video. Our next stop was Abaca (pronounced "Abatha") and we needed to move fast to get there. For dinner we found an Indian pizzeria in the town of Ba. They also had milkshakes which really hit the spot.
Abaca is just an hour inland from the town of Latoka, but the maps are not clear. We asked the local people how to get there and got all sorts of responses. My favorite was "it is dark, why you go there?" or "just go straight". We traded ice cream for high fives and directions and were eventually on our way up the trail to Abaca. At the beginning of this pass there was a river we had to ford. The Rav 4 again was proving worthy.

We reached Abaca at 11 PM and the office looked closed. There was also a village there and as we passed we started to hear some yelling. We really couldn't tell if it was a bird or a person (the birds are really loud here). Eventually we realized we had the whole village chasing us down and we stopped. It ended up working out better than we could have imagined. The lodge is usually closed on Sundays so there were no other guests. They offered us the whole place to ourselves and gave us trail maps to all of the water falls. The sleep that night was the best I had gotten in Fiji.

The next morning we hiked to a big waterfall and went in for a dip. At one point we decided I would baptize Alex in "the spring of eternal life." We got it on video and it's pretty rad. Alex thinks I tried to drown him but it was only to get in touch with his inner spirit.
After the hikes we headed into the village and presented our waka to the chief. He blessed the waka with an elaborate song of claps and chants. We just watched his hands and clapped whenever he looked like he was going to clap. It was pretty cool.
We talked with the village people and just as we were getting ready to leave, a guide offered to show us Castle Rock. We were on a tight schedule but he promised he could get us there and back by 1 PM (our car was due back at 3 PM). We threw on our gear and shot over to the trail. Our guide was awesome and the hike up Castle Rock is not defined at all. Most of the time we were just grabbing vines and sliding backwards until we'd hit roots. At one point our guide took off his flip flops and just bare footed the jungle. I don't know the numbers, but this hike was essentially straight up like 1 or 2000 feet. We'll let the pictures do the talking. At the top we stood on a sheer cliff overlooking the entire valley. We yelled out and listened for our echoes. I did a cockle-doodle-doo and heard a rooster respond to it - we all shared a good laugh at that. We all made it down safely and made a quick stop at the mandarin tree. Our time in Abaca was over.

The remainder of the rally car race was exciting as we pushed to make it back to the rental car lot by 3 PM. The map and guide said it would take 1 ½ hours but Alex got us there in 50 minutes. We stopped for roti just before returning the car (10 minutes left) and saw we had flat tire number 5. We sprang into action, fixed the tire, and pulled into the rental car lot at 3:04 PM. Not bad for a Rav 4 in Fiji :-)

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