Pacific Hwy

10 January 2017 | Lechinioch
15 March 2016 | Sydney Australia
23 April 2015 | Majuro, Marshall Islands
08 November 2014 | Tarawa, Kiribati, Middle of the Pacific Ocean
04 October 2014 | Fiji
19 February 2014
20 August 2013
28 July 2013
20 May 2013 | French Polynesia
19 May 2013
11 May 2013
11 April 2013
10 April 2013 | Latitude 00.00
07 March 2013 | Banderas Bay
02 February 2013 | Nuevo Vallarta
21 January 2013 | Mexican Riviera
09 January 2013 | Chamela Bay

Greetings from Micronesia

10 January 2017 | Lechinioch
Attended the Catholic church in Micronesia where the 'Joe Dirt' mullet is alive and well and the girls are rockin' the mumu.

Any Given Sunday in Sydney

15 March 2016 | Sydney Australia
Bruce Masterson
Any Given Sunday in Sydney

When most of us think of surfing, sailing, and water sports Sydney, Australia, comes to mind. With its expansive beaches, constant ocean swells, and Tasmanian sea breezes. The real question is which came first - the Australian surf or the Australian surfer. A perfect match - the gutsy Aussie and no-worries attitude matched against rip-tides that sometimes spit back the captives and sharks that seem to be seeking revenge for all those years of shark'n'taters. So with word of the Australian Open of Surfing contest being held on Sunday, we thought to add to our Australian experience and take in Surf City (Manly Beach).

As well, a few others decided to join us (rock up) complete with every complement of food, skin screen test, Maui Jim sunglasses, and maybe a spot to park your frame on the expansive beach. We were taken aback by the sheer numbers of people and, in our minds, it looked more like a rock concert than a surf contest. Now, at the beach in Australia, 90% of everyone looks fit and trim. One might think there could easily be distractions from the surfing, but Australians are such dedicated sports enthusiasts that when a surf contestant pulls a smart move, everyone notices and hoots and howls (yeew!).

As you can see, Laura has picked her board prior to ripping it up. We managed some pretty good shots of living-legends surfers, representing our generation with lots of gray hair and some easy-living muscle tone. Truth of the matter, they just call us 'oldies'.

So it's a quick jump on the ferry from Manly to downtown Sydney, then off to Taronga Zoo. When we first sailed into Sydney we quickly became aware that ferries have the right of way. In other words, you had better stay out of their way! They move fast and are so numerous (heaps) that there always seems to be one bearing down on you. Now paint that picture with about 200 sailboats participating in various sailing regattas, booze cruises and general cooler (esky) diving. So here it is, flat out, boats everywhere! We counted at least four different regattas with probably twice as many courses, with the main tactical skill being avoiding other floating objects.

Probably the most impressive sailing fleet here is the Sydney 18 (ft) skiffs. These boat are likely the most athletic and difficult boat to sail in the world. Only here in Sydney. Like any skiff sailing, any maneuver is generally a hair's breath away from disaster or at least a good dunking.

Off our port stern is Gretel II. Build in 1970 for the America's Cup Challenge in Newport, RI. Now gracing Sydney Harbour as a reminder of a bygone era.

As the ferry drops us off at the zoo entrance, we decided to trek 6km along the edge of Sydney Harbour's shoreline through a nature reserve and park.

As we take a final bus to Cammeray Bay (where our boat is moored) we reflect on how Aussies have made so much of their watery environment. As I see it, their outgoing, easy manner is perfect fit for what nature has to offer. Why worry about all the nasties indigenous to Australia that can kill you (like snakes and sharks) when it is a beautiful day.

We love Sydney. We've been here for almost six weeks and still don't feel the need to move on. It' been a cracker stay!

PS On Sunday, one can travel anywhere in the greater Sydney area by bus, ferry and/or train for $2.50 (maximum for the entire day!).

The Bad Good Bad Good Day

23 April 2015 | Majuro, Marshall Islands
Pacific Hwy has been in the Marshall Islands since Thanksgiving. We are now preparing for the annual spring migration - for us, we'll sail to Fiji. Our to-do list for today:

1. Get haircuts from the Phillipine lady that gave Bruce a good $5 haircut before.
2. Get teeth cleaned ($20 at the hospital).
3. Go to the third (and final) hardware store on the island in our quest to find a plumbing part. We don't expect to find it, a 3/4 inch elbow with a threaded female end and a hose barb on the other end, but maybe we'll be able to piece something together that will work. Here's how our Bad Good Bad Good day progressed:

BAD The hair salon was closed even though the sign said they would be open that day from 9:00 - 5:00. No answer when calling the cell phone number posted on the door.

GOOD We stopped at the craft shop next door. I had been there the week before looking for a gift item that was only made at that shop, and to my surprise, today they had them. I bought seven.

BAD We left the shop to discover that our good shoes, which we had taken off as is customary when entering the shop, had been stolen! Most likely by the cute boys who had waved to us and shouted "HI" from across the street when we arrived.

GOOD We got into a cab and went to the shop where we had bought the shoes last December. They had our sizes.

BAD After buying the shoes, we no longer had enough cash to get our teeth cleaned.

GOOD We went to the bank and the cash machine, which had been out of order the week before, was working.

BAD At the hospital we were told that the equipment for cleaning teeth wasn't working and they did not know when teeth cleaning services would resume.

GOOD Next stop was the hardware store and, miraculously, they had the exact part we needed ($1.59).

BAD We found another place for haircuts but the stylist didn't speak much English. One side of Laura's hair is now shorter than the other but we got out of there before the girl noticed because you know how that goes. Later we found out she was not the hair stylist, but the manicurist.

GOOD Laura has lots of hats

BAD Bruce's hair is now shorter than it's been since his elementary school buzz cut.

GOOD Bruce's hair grows fast.

So that was our Bad Good Bad Good day. I realize you should never get a haircut on a day when things aren't going well. But we were just so giddy about that plumbing part! Next on the list is Bruce going up the mast. Better wait for something bad to happen before we attempt that.

(This post is dedicated to anyone who has ever lived in a t'ird world paradise.)

Passage from Fiji to Tarawa

08 November 2014 | Tarawa, Kiribati, Middle of the Pacific Ocean
Bruce and I have just completed the 1200 mile passage from Fiji to Tarawa. During the passage we celebrated my birthday at sea. The first time I had a birthday at sea was in 1978 in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It was my first offshore passage so , like most 'firsts', I remember it well.

On this trip we crossed the equator for the second time. The first time was going north to south on our way to the Marquesas in April 2013. This time we are traveling south to north to escape the cyclone season in the southern hemisphere. I'm looking forward to seeing the Big Dipper and the North Star again.

We left Fiji with intentions to sail to Tuvalu - an estimated 3 1/2 day passage. We began the trip with brisk winds and moderate seas and our nice clean boat was quickly covered with salt spray, as was the crew. Time to serve up the canned soup, peanut butter and crackers and stay out of the galley! Then it began to rain as we moved through the squally 'squash zone' where a weather system from the north collides with a weather system from the south. We were constantly wet but at least we were warm. Most of our cruising friends are heading to New Zealand for the cyclone season and sailing into the cold. I much prefer wet and warm in a t-shirt and shorts to wet and cold in long-johns, full foulies, boots, hat and gloves.

If the beginning of our trip was uncomfortable, at least it would be short. Then the wind shifted and we had to adjust our course. Instead of sailing one more day to reach Tuvalu, we would sail seven more days and go to Tarawa. Our biggest concern was the wind dying at the equator and whether or not we would have enough fuel.

The skies cleared, the wind dropped, and the seas become calm and intensely blue. At night we were escorted by dolphins under a waxing moon. We set the spinnaker pole and reached with our asymmetrical chute. When the wind shifted again we doused the spinnaker, took down our 90% working jib, and hoisted the sail that came with the boat and was designed for light air, Southern California sailing. The sail has "US 101" embossed on it and we felt the presence of previous owners, Richard and Victoria Mobley, who had lovingly cared for PACIFIC HWY for 22 years. We crossed the equator and gave Neptune his shot of rum. We washed our salty clothes and hung them on the lifelines to dry. We read Troost's "Sex Lives of Cannibals" and Michener's "Tales of the South Pacific". We kept a close eye on the wind indicator and only motor-sailed when winds fell below 7 knots.

Usually on a passage I am eager to make landfall. But with languid days and balmy, moonlit nights I knew that this passage was better than anything Tarawa would have to offer. Perhaps we should have kept going. Another four days would get us to the Marshall Islands where we plan to spend the cyclone season. But we'd read so much about Kiribati and Tarawa that we never considered NOT stopping. And our first day ashore did not disappoint - Tarawa takes tropical squalor in a stunning setting to a whole new level! But that deserves it's own blog entry. More later...

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Figgity in Fiji - OR - How we get ready to go offshore

27 October 2014 | Lautoka, Fiji
We are at Lautoka, Fiji to finalize our preparations for the 1700 mile trip north to the Marshall Islands. We plan to stop in Kiribati (a mere 1300 miles away) for 3-4 weeks. So our next supermarket opportunity might not be until January.

Here's how we get ready to leave Fiji, where most food items are available and the exchange rate is favorable. We have refrigeration, but no freezer and we hope to catch fish along the way.

Here's the list:

2 loaves of bread for our first 5 days, then 20 lbs of flour to make our own
10 lbs basmati rice (the only kind I can get in Fiji)
24 tins of tomatoes
24 tins of beans (black, kidney, chick pea)
5 lbs coffee beans (this situation could get critical but not much was available)
Assorted tins of soup, cup-o-soup, and ramen for any rough days when no one wants to cook
Lots of 8 oz. packets of cheese - feta, mozza and sharp cheddar
Stick salami which keeps forever and really jazzes up a homemade pizza
Assorted canned fruit which, chilled and paired with ginger snaps, makes a nice dessert.
Lots of dried split peas and lentils for making dal - our new favorite dish.
Alfalfa seeds and mung beans for making fresh sprouts
20 green tomatoes wrapped in newspaper which I hope will last 3 weeks
2 butternut squash
20 lbs potatoes (regular and sweet)
50 onions
30 heads garlic
5 dozen eggs
20 bananas (that will most likely ripen at the same time!)
Pineapples, Papaya, oranges and apples
Lots of carrots, green peppers, green beans, eggplant, cabbage, ripe tomato, lettuce and cucumber
1 whole chicken to cook on the day we leave
10 packets of roti (flour tortilla) because who really wants to make bread while sailing? And we love breakfast burritos.
Lots of hot sauces and spices
Best (aka Hellmans) Mayonnaise
Cookies, crackers, peanut butter, and Vegemite to get Bruce through his night watches. The vegemite is something new, but 20 millions Australians can't be wrong!
And, for a treat on week 2 in Kiribati when we realize that we can't get anything more interesting than tinned mackerel, 2 jars of marinated artichoke hearts, 4 jars of kalamata olives, 1 jar sun-dried tomatoes, and 12 bottles of red wine.

The only thing missing from the list is CHOCOLATE but we decided we need to go on a diet.

Oh, and we've also stocked up on diesel fuel, water, and engine oil. We've done a rig check, scrubbed the bottom, packed ditch bags, updated our medical kit and loaded up our Kindles. Tomorrow we'll look at the weather forecast, toss a coin, and....


The Children of Fiji

04 October 2014 | Fiji
We walked the trail from the dinghy landing to the village. The pathway was ten feet wide and maintained as if it were leading to a richly private estate. Approaching the village of Fulanga, our trail bordered a long white, crescent shaped sand beach, complete, as you guessed, with tall swaying palm trees casting shadows over the most turquoise water you have ever seen.

As in most Fijian villages, the first greeters one should expect are bounding, smiling children with a constant "Bula, Bula! (hello-hello). The 6-8 year olds take command and offer their names and handshake. The younger children aged 3-5 are timid at first, then are also eager to say their names and shake hands.

The village is spread across maybe five acres of land with family homes dotted throughout. No streets per se but with obvious walkways between homes of various sizes (by Anglo standards, from small to smaller). Furnishings are easy as there are no beds, chairs or tables. Woven mats are central in one-room houses as all meals and sitting are done the floor. All space between the homes are carpeted with finely trimmed green grass. Who needs shoes? The grandest building, located in the center of the village, is the church. So you can imagine it's all one big playground for the children.

Village life in Fiji is almost a constant din of laughter, smiles and running. It's hard to imagine a more happy childhood experience with their playful demeanor and garden-of-eden backdrop. Boys at age five are given a cane knife (machete) and are expected to become expert coconut harvesters, climbing the tallest trees and husking their harvest. While it was disconcerting to see 5 year olds playing with large knifes, we noticed that all villagers had all 10 fingers and toes. Girls are expected to take on the traditional roles of cooking, cleaning fish, weaving mats and, surprisingly, fishing with nets. This is like 'girls day out' as they laugh and splash in the water and chase fish into their gill net. And, while it appears to be a party, they seem to bring in more fish than the men who are fishing with spears.

Almost every village in the Lau Group (Eastern Fijian island chain) has a primary school for children ages 5-14. Beyond that, children are sent to 'the mainland' (i.e. the two largest islands of Fiji), usually to Suva, Nadi, or Labasa to complete their schooling. The children will either board or stay with family members for the 3-4 year duration.

In spite of the carefree appearances of the children, the adults keep a watchful eye and there are strict boundaries for behavior. We never saw children fighting or bickering with each other. Adults are respected and any adult has authority over any child. We never really saw anyone discipline a child as they all seemed to know their place. We also saw that children were welcome in anyone's home and adult laps were always available. Seemingly a near perfect balance of playfulness and regard for others.

It's apparent from the tone of parental guidance that children are given strict guidelines and respect for adults seems prevalent. How does the magic of respect and playfulness prevail? Possibly what our observations lead us to believe was strict ground rules but combined with an available lap and a caress for every child.
Vessel Name: Pacific Hwy
Vessel Make/Model: Davidson 44
Hailing Port: St. John, USVI
Crew: Bruce and Laura Masterson
About: After 30 years sailing the Caribbean and the Atlantic, we are checking out the 'Left Coast" and the Pacific.
Extra: Our boat was previous named Pacific Coast Hwy. We have renamed her Pacific Hwy and plan to leave the coast behind.
Pacific Hwy's Photos - Main
24 Photos
Created 15 March 2016
6 Photos
Created 9 November 2014
8 Photos
Created 8 October 2014
Bruce and I spent 17 days car-camping throughout NZ. Here are some photos from the trip.
56 Photos
Created 19 February 2014
6 Photos
Created 20 August 2013
4 Photos
Created 13 May 2013