TABU SORO - Never Give Up

12 February 2020
09 January 2020 | Denerau or Nadi Bay
01 January 2020 | Vuda Point Fiji
24 December 2019 | Vuda Marina Lautoka Fiji
04 December 2019 | Vuda Point
01 December 2019 | Mana Island
11 November 2019
29 October 2019 | Viti Levu island , Fiji
19 October 2019
12 October 2019 | Vuda Marina, near Nadi Fiji
08 October 2019
01 October 2019 | Kingdom of Tonga
24 September 2019
18 September 2019
05 September 2019 | Kingdom of Tonga
05 September 2019 | Kingdom of Tonga

Taking a Holiday Home ???

12 February 2020
Diane Brown
Tabu Soro is safely chained and buttoned up in Fiji while we flew home to California for a month's visit. She looked a bit stripped; much as she looked two years ago when we were still refitting with no sails, bimini or canvas to add windage in a cyclone. The first two cyclone threats in Vuda Marina have turned out to be only moderate wind events and we hope the new one brewing for later this week misses our location as well. We still check weather daily on multiple sites despite there being nothing we can do about anything. Our boat neighbors are watching over Tabu Soro and Terry even sent a picture via Messenger. John expanded the picture on his devise to check each detail and felt much better.

Meanwhile we are sitting on an Amtrak Coast StarLight headed toward Salem then Seattle to visit family. It is quite odd to go from the South Pacific to pine trees, snow and frozen foggy creeks. The white caps here are quite different. Fortunately we had two weeks in St. Helena and Richmond to re-set our body thermostats somewhat and get caught up on many of our favorite people and foods. Dick and Nancy had us over for a crab feed which make me feel like we didn't miss all the holiday celebrations. We've made it to Maya Palenque in Novato a couple times to see Carlos and drink good tequila.

Our arrival timing to the bay area was good as JM and Kara just bought a house and the grandchildren were fun to play with and unpack their rooms to hear how life has been this last year. A real high point turned out to be going to their school and talking to the 7th & 8th grade students that have been following our blog. We started out a bit nervy about doing this but totally ended up enjoying their polite and thoughtful questions. The first graders were full of questions after John gave a brief overview and they saw the picture presentation in the back ground. We may have a new pen pal from the visit to Johnny's classroom.

John planned the train trip portion as he had asked me many years ago to take a train ride when we first dated up to Reno but life got in the way. Mom is totally jealous as she adores taking the train and usually adds that to any of her trips when feasible. Sleeping on a moving train is akin to a boat with any odd noises or changes in speed waking you partially. There are few folks in business class so we could stretch out across two seats. The dinner car is elegant but efficient with great visibility to both sides of the train. We will arrive mid day to Salem and meet up with Adam's family and the first time to see my new grand niece. Cassie and family also arriving for a gymnastic meet on Friday so it will be way more hectic that we have experienced in a year. Darn it is cold looking outside. Somehow my tennis shoes and John's flip flops don't look appropriate.

Meanwhile it is 80 plus degrees in Vuda Marina where they are waiting on a cyclone to approach. Already looking forward to returning to warmth.

Sailing thru Cyclone Season

09 January 2020 | Denerau or Nadi Bay
Diane Brown | Partially cloudy
10 January 2020
Sailing Thru Cyclone Season
So many islands and so little time and wind

We've spent an idyllic week out visiting our favorite anchorages and found a new spot as well with bull sharks. The beautiful part of this time of year is the solitude and attention Tabu Soro gets from locals being the only sailboat out here. We did see one other active sailor from afar but mostly just ferry boats or dive boats moving resort guests around. It is still school holiday for local and New Zealand families so resorts are still open.

Went into Mana Island where it is shallow and protected by reef to scrub the bottom. Mana is the Survivor Island and has a large village that supports the three resorts. We are only allowed on the back packer resort side of the island which is the fun side. The dive shop was nice and refilled our dive tanks very reasonably and the restaurant and bar has some tasty seafood items including local lobster which I quite enjoyed one evening along with guitar music We g. wanted to come in the evening there was fire walking on the beach but thought better of it when wind came up as we are surrounded by reefs. It sounded like fun. We met Lucinda a local craft vendor who has four children. She offered a massage at local price so I took her up on it one morning. When John brought me to shore I was surprised to see the table set up in the central patio between the restaurant and hostel areas under a large tree (so glad i somewhat had a swimsuit on)!!

The new spot is Kuata Island which is also a backpacker resort but more of a glamp camp (see Barefoot Kuata Island Resort) than roughing it. We stayed on the back side for wind and wave comfort but several long boats came out to be sure we knew we were welcome in the village and the resort. We thought we'd be alone after the guest boats left with divers that had swum with the bull sharks. I woke about midnight to bright lights in the water just off shore and went up to check thinking it was fishing boats. I woke John as well as so many lights in and under the water began to get anxious about whatever was happening. We watched and they swam back into the beach so went back to sleep. At 5 am I hear a shout 'boat' and it sounded panicky. More lights in the water and spread out further outside the reef in rough rocky areas but this time they had a tender to pick them out of the water. Maybe they were lobster diving or Balolo glowing edible sea worms a local delicacy and celebration that only spawns on a full moon (normally December).

Since I wasn't keen to swim with the bull sharks we pulled anchor for our favorite deserted islands joined by a reef -Vanua Levu and Navadra. This spot has a couple turtles and the reefs actually still have some color left despite the very warm water- probably because it is open to the west and ocean waters. We scuba there last time but easy to snorkel for hours and see many local fish varieties and wall free dives. Between the snorkeling and lack of mosquitos I just call it a piece of paradise. John laughed when I told him it felt like we were being evicted from the Garden of Eden as we had to leave due to brewing cyclone weather.

We are headed back to Vuda under spinnaker to put the boat away for another possible cyclone and our flights home later this month. So far we have sailed each month of cyclone season since November by staying in Fiji rather than making the run to New Zealand or going in the cyclone pits at Vida Marine.

Our first year cruising and on to 2020

01 January 2020 | Vuda Point Fiji
Diane Brown | Perfect again
26 December 2019
First full year cruising ReCap:
So while we sit out Cyclone Sarai safe in a cyclone hole at Vuda Marina it is time to take stock of this first year of adventure.

Garmin stats:
Distance 13,041 mm
Trip time 3719 hours
Max speed 10.8 kn
Speed average 5.24 kn
Max wind at anchor 38 kn
Max wind under sail 44.8 kts.
Max wind in cyclone 44.2 kn. according to our instruments, marina had over 60 kts.

Budget; spent everything we made.

Broken stuff: (mostly fixed )
Inverter at entry to Fakarava in Tuamotus, replaced
Water maker gauge, replaced
Two solar panel controllers, replaced
Snubber for anchor line, replaced
Two SUPs , leaks at seams
Gary's the steering vane, lines from FootLoose (14 years of UV), replaced
Boom bale, will be repaired when we get home, using spectra strap for now
Pin on traveler for for main sheet, replaced
Mysterious clunk in keel on starboard tack only, fixed,
Outboard fuel line, still messing with
Two phones and laptop graphics card, still dealing with issues

Best stuff ever:
Collapsible plastic bowls, measuring cups and strainers (take up less space and don't clank around in weather)
Wireless headsets from Wayne saved our marriage while anchoring in weather
Super absorbent sponges and micro fiber cloths for damage control
Vacuum sealer except when inverter down
Water maker (Spectra) gave us showers in any conditions
Dual Chain Gypsie Muir windlass with combined 500 ft of chain
Navionics charts application to augment paper and radar
Garmin tracker and Iridium Go satellite for weather
Fiji SIM cards and everywhere data
Cruisers that share local knowledge

New stuff:
mosquito covers
Sun shades
Step up/down transformer from 220 to 120
European LP gas adapters
Yoga at sea

Friends and family everywhere
Paddling with Dragon Max Berkeley
Pedicures and manicures
Maya Palenque staff and their food and margaritas
A full sized bed

Didn't miss:
Cars and traffic
House payments and bills thanks to our family taking over land side

New Forever friends in this small cruising clan
A spiritual understanding of different cultures, ourselves and unconditional Love.

May 2020 be the Best Year ever for our entire WORLD!
Diane n John

Cyclone preparation Drama on Christmas

24 December 2019 | Vuda Marina Lautoka Fiji
Diane Brown | Humid and dreadfully still

Christmas excitement-Cyclone prep

20 December: We have enjoyed a couple days in Suva with fine weather in a busy commercial anchorage just off Royal Suva Yacht club. The market and downtown are overwhelming and local Christmas shopping feverish combined with four cruise ships expected before Christmas.

Rumors of a tropical depression have developed to cyclone watch being everyone's conversation at the Royal Suva Yacht Club. We are torn between hiding out here on the far side of the island and making a run for Vuda Marina where we are prepared but may take a full hit. Either way preparations and lashing things down are underway along with fully fueling in case things get bad or not just available afterwards.

22 December: We opted to make a 20 hour run straight through to Vuda with terrific wind in the 20s and speeds in the 8 knot range arriving 0500 to sleep a couple hours before radioing into marina for tie-in assist. This old boat and captain did a great job getting stern in so now we have to wait for the diver to tie the few last minute boats in the day before now named "Cyclone Sarai" hits. Christmas Eve the staff had a cyclone prep briefing on emergency preparedness and possible scenarios. Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, is an official holiday as Fiji is a prior British colony, but critical staff will be in to finish boarding up windows and for last minute boats then to deploy the boom at the mouth of the harbor on low tide just before cyclone hits Friday. At that point we are all pulled off the wall (there are no docks here) secured to a 16 ton pile driven base center buoy by our anchor chain and we are all locked onto the boats for the duration of the storm.

So it is already Christmas Day here and we are still tying our fenders under the boat and pulling down anything with potential for wind shear. The prognosis is worsening in some of the weather models and improving in others. It was mentioned in the prep meeting that a cyclone in December is a 100 year event. Lucky us!

So here we sit on Christmas; but not without drama.
Love you,
(Santa is on his way to you now)

Keep Sailing Despite Holidays

15 December 2019
Diane Brown | Thunderstorms
15 December 2019
Gotta Keep Sailing

It's real easy to get stuck in the marina. Music and dancing on Fridays and Sunday's, pizza night on Tuesday and yoga each morning We wanted to be in harbor to send off to home several of our new friends that were flying out for the holidays and help with securing their boats for the storm season while gone; Ninette was the last of the clan to fly home to Denmark. Time to get out and explore again as a couple of staff are feeling sorry for us and mentioned adopting us for Christmas.

The heat and humidity have been intense in Vuda and we look forward to fresh breeze and motion. Of course the day we leave it turns to rain with lightening and winds in the 20's on our nose. We'd tentatively headed north to new territory and maybe get around to the other side of the island to Suva about 150 n.m. away since weather has been so benign lately. We have to chew off small distances of maybe 25 n.m. a day in order to set anchor early enough each day for good overhead visibility when anchoring behind reefs. The Navionics charts have been fairly accurate in popular areas but less so in more rural spots like the north island. C Map charts are more off and reflect older paper charts but alongside the radar help when visibility is bad from storms.

Today we've decided to hibernate in a secure little bay behind a reef that is keeping the swell minimal in 25 knots of wind and thunderstorms. No reason to go out and get beat up as weather should improve tomorrow. In Fiji weather changes hourly. Eight days until Christmas and thinking of you all but loving the choice we made to get out here and explore.

Movie Islands

04 December 2019 | Vuda Point
Diane Brown | Warm with light rain
4 December 2019
Movie Islands Disillusioned

We've been island hopping in the Mamanuca's, the closest chain to Vuda Marina as there was a tropical storm Rita warning. First you need to know that all these islands are even closer to one another than in the Caribbean; at low tide some have reefs between to walk between islands. We decided to do the touristy ones thinking this time of year would be quieter. Turns out this is high season for summer break in Australia and New Zealand .

So Castaway or Modriki Island is very cute with a little shade hut with a log table for lunch spreads and a bit of a trail up to the famed outlook. However Tom Hanks could have swam to the Sheraton Resort on the next Island and his buddy Wilson would have floated there as well. The first Survival episode was on Mana Island which has three resorts covering 2/3 of the island with an airstrip even. I'm not sure how the cameramen were able to avoid catching some civilization.

The Tabu Soro boat name continues to create attention and great interactions between the locals and children with friendly Bulas . Sadly most of the coral here is bleached out and the water temperature was at 92 in the shallows behind the boat when we checked. It is still great fun to snorkel around and yesterday I met up with a girl fishing from a tiny sea kayak and kids swimming from
the shore. I thought they were alone but John said the adults were watching them from inside the shade of the trees. When the tide went down everyone bundled up belongings and walked around to the occupied hostel side of the island Another small family came around and dad went into the reef with a spear gun and bag while Mom and young son. gathered wood in another bag. About an hour later Dad came out of the water and showed his son his catch and took him into the water to play a bit. Then they lifted all onto their shoulders and walked back around. I'm not clear if they were fishing for subsistence as the economy is really bad here but it also seems they do want to keep the old ways alive.

Headed back to Vuda to reprovision and say goodbye to sailors headed home for the holidays.
Vessel Name: Tabu Soro
Vessel Make/Model: Hans Christian 38T
Hailing Port: San Francisco
Crew: John Dinwiddie &. Diane Brown Dinwiddie
About: John has been in the marine industry and before that construction for 30 years. Diane has been in hospital facility construction. We joined forces about 10 years ago and focused on the refit of Tabu Soro.
Extra: We both belonged to jeep clubs in the Bay Area and did many of the same runs. Diane was warned to stay away from the Santa Rosa 4x4's as they were a little crazy.
Tabu Soro's Photos - Main
End of our 2019 Cruising Season
72 Photos
Created 8 October 2019
33 Photos
Created 18 September 2019
2019 pics
16 Photos
Created 18 September 2019
19 Photos
Created 11 July 2019
24 Photos
Created 25 June 2019
2019 Cruising Upload from Nuku Hiva
41 Photos
Created 20 May 2019
January- March on the outside of Baha and Puerto Vallarta
No Photos
Created 23 February 2019
Pacific Coast Transit
15 Photos
Created 31 December 2018
Preparation. Leading up to actual transit
11 Photos
Created 17 September 2018