Wind Dancer

The Burns Family Voyage of Discovery

06 October 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
04 October 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
03 October 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
01 October 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
30 September 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
29 September 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
28 September 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
26 September 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
26 September 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
25 September 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
23 September 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
21 September 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
21 September 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
19 September 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
19 September 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
18 September 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
17 September 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
16 September 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
15 September 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
13 September 2009 | Musket Cove, Malolo Lailai Island, Fiji

Finis Voyage

06 October 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
30C, Partly Cloudy, Wind Calm
07/10/2009 0001UTC 17 40.828S 177 23.159E Day 849 Up at 0600, 25C, Mostly Cloudy, Wind Calm.

[Above, the crew of Wind Dancer on Pirate's Day at Beachcomber Island, Fiji.]

[To read our book, Family Voyaging - Ak to nZ, receive voyage planning assistance (VIP Service), keep up with our exploits or contact us, go to the Family Voyaging website at]

The Burns family is forging ahead with the exciting subsequent phase of our personal Voyage of Discovery, one holding all the promise and engagement of the journey to date. While postings will no longer be published here, we heartily encourage you to follow our escapades on the Family Voyaging website. Under the banner of Crew's News, we will issue communiqués regarding our present whereabouts and activities. The website,, is now the focus of our endeavors.

This blog, sans new entries, will remain online as a permanent, complete, unedited and unabridged daily record covering the three-year period (September 2006-October 2009) of planning, preparation and implementation of the Burns Family Voyage of Discovery.

We'd like to express our sincere gratitude to all who've been regular readers -- your comments and critiques shaped the blog's course and sailed it safely to port.

"Crew Quarters"

1st Mate: This is not the end but the beginning. We have, over the years, embarked on many exciting adventures. Yet none has compared to what this voyage has brought us as a family. We have learned to work together with a can-do attitude in so many ways.

I have enjoyed bringing you new recipes and ways to prepare a meal without any ingredients except imagination. I myself have learned to do many household chores without a vacuum, mop, dishwasher, crock pot or microwave. I can't remember how any of those actually worked =). If you have any galley questions -- from storage, cooking, provisioning to even cleaning -- please sign up for VIP Service on our website to get the details you need.

I have enjoyed being a teacher to my kids. I loved watching everything they have learned and accomplished from start to finish, right before my eyes. Both of the kids have become more independent, self-reliant and confident during our voyage. Being on the boat has taught all of us how to learn creatively and all without the stale usuals. I've learned more about culture, diversity, people outside of work, and stress and where cuisines began and became another. I feel far more well rounded in mind and soul than during my college years or at any other time. It is amazing what a night alone at sea can bring back in your memory banks from life. A challenge made, followed through and met is like nothing else in discovering your full potential.

I remember back to before we left Alaska and worrying about being the ship's doctor and how big a responsibility I felt. I see now that it is not much different than on land. You just need lots of band-aids and love for most things. I kept Murphy's Law at bay by having many medical supplies available, yet most remain unused. Reading-over most common problems and picturing how I'd handle them really diffused my fears. It really is true that there are more risks driving to work than sailing across the ocean. Do it... don't just dream about it!

2nd Mate: Wildlife seen yesterday and today: frigate bird, least tern, black surgeonfish, blueback jack trevally, rock crab, crowned urchin.

This is our last blog post. It's amazing how much we've experienced in the past three years, and, hopefully, how much you've all learned from this journal. We began posting many months before anyone other than our closest friends knew about our plans. Now, people we only know through blog comments have read posts and become friends.

When we started the blog, we were using the Internet that was hooked up to the computers in our house. Since then, we've updated our blog, often at great effort, using an Internet modem in Mexico, expensive and slow WiFi in the South Pacific and elsewhere, and even through our SSB radio when we were a thousand miles from the nearest land. And yet, we've always been able to keep the public posted. From your suggestions, we added many things, from my foreign words and phrases, to Grace's weather and lunar observations. I've really enjoyed the fact that I've been able to share with you my experience of documenting the wildlife we've seen, and how it relates to where we are.

We all hope that you've enjoyed the blog posts, and that you also enjoy our book, Family Voyaging - Ak to nZ, which tells our story better than we could do with the blog. Thank you for reading our posts, and I hope you can embark on your own family's Voyage of Discovery.

Today's Fijian phrase: ni sa moce = farewell and see you soon.

3rd Mate: The weather today: cloudy, light wind, the high was 33C, the barometer is 1010 and rising, the moon is waning towards third quarter.

I've enjoyed giving you the weather over the past couple of years, and I've learned many things. These include moon phases, clouds (I learned there's a difference between partly cloudy and mostly sunny), barometric pressure, types of temperature, and the tides.

Today is our last blog, and I'm sad that we won't be able to post anymore. I've enjoyed writing my entries and sharing them with you. I feel fortunate to have moved up from Cabin Girl to 3rd Mate with you as a witness. I can run a dinghy, dive deep snorkeling, recognize many different currencies and know all sorts of new foods and friends!

Bon voyage, and I hope to see you sailing!

The Final Chapter

04 October 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
31C, Partly Cloudy, Wind Calm
04-05/10/2009 0634UTC 17 40.828S 177 23.159E Days 846-47 Up at 0555, 22C, Mostly Cloudy, Wind Calm.

The last chapter has been added to Family Voyaging - Ak to nZ, Volume I.

In 'The Wake-up Call,' our family makes a thousand-mile-plus voyage alone from New Zealand to Fiji without the aid of additional crew. The passage is riddled with the thrills of stormy weather, but also conveys the sublime side of the sea and exposes a splash of soul-searching. When the anchor chain at last rattles out of the locker, we discover an honest to goodness paradise beyond our wildest dreams; and there, in that idyllic setting, we implement the subsequent phase of our adventure. What the audacious Burns family plans to do next is charted in these concluding pages of the story.

Volume II of the book is an A to Z glossary of practical information related directly to the family aspects of voyaging: social, dietary, medical, academic, emotional, physical, recreational, cultural and more. It covers everything from Anchoring to Zephyrs. This second volume of Family Voyaging - Ak to nZ will be accessible online in its entirety soon. An announcement of publication will be made on the main page of the Family Voyaging website.

To read our book, and receive voyage planning assistance (VIP Service), go to

Aftermath III

03 October 2009 | Vuda Point, Fiji
26C, Partly Cloudy, Wind Calm
03/10/2009 0634UTC 17 40.828S 177 23.159E Day 845 Up at 0600, 23C, Clear, Wind Calm.

[Above, last October the Fakaosi family from Niuatoputapu Island joins us aboard Wind Dancer for Moto's 13th birthday -- (right to left) Sia, Little Niko, Niko, 3rd Mate, Moto, Sale and 2nd Mate.

[To read our book, Family Voyaging - Ak to nZ, and receive voyage planning assistance (VIP Service), go to the Family Voyaging website at]

Sketchy reports continue to filter in but at this juncture, we do not have the names of the fatalities on Niuatoputapu Island in Tonga. The toll there has not risen in the past day, with nine people confirmed dead following the tsunami which struck the island early on Wednesday morning, 30 September. That's the official word from Lt. Commander Solomone Savelio in a media briefing at Sene, the Tonga Defence Service headquarters.

Solomone said that the TDS patrol boat m/v Voea Neiafu arrived at Niuatoputapu and set up a command bases at Niuatoputapu High School and at the medical centre in the Hihifo Free Wesleyan Church Community Hall. He said that doctors and nurses went up on the Voea Neiafu, but medical supplies were flown to Niuatoputapu on a seven-seat chartered aircraft.

The Director of Health, Dr. Siale 'Akau'ola, said that four critically injured persons who were flown down to Nuku'alofa on the aircraft were admitted to intensive care at Vaiola Hospital, and three of the patients have now recovered and the fourth is in a more stable condition. The four patients included a couple, Paea Kuma 24, and his wife Veteange 'Akau 38, and their four-year-old son Nasio 'Akau. The fourth patient is Sulifa Losalu 65.

We did hear that Laura, owner and operator of the resort on Niuatoputapu, was in Apia, Samoa, at the time of the tsunami so was 'off-island' when the sea gushed in. As for our friends, shown above, we still don't know their fate.

In Pago Pago, American Samoa, we knew of a boat that was stored there on the hard. It's nearly a sister-ship of our Catalina 36; s/v Joint Adventure is a Catalina 38, owned by Rod and Patti Headlee, with whom we'd become friendly during our refit in Pago. They had returned to the States leaving the vessel behind. Today an email from them was forwarded to us:

Hi all,

This is the latest on Pago Pago and Joint Adventure from a cruiser on the scene:

The village of Pago Pago is absolutely devastated. When I rode my bike
around to MYD this morning was the first time I saw the worst of the damage
up close. The good news is that high ground is close by most everywhere
here, therefore the loss of life was relatively low. One cruiser was swept
off the dock, and has not been found. Other than that, though, people on
boats fared well. One Australian family survived the first surge of water
hanging onto a light post on the dock; a girl from California likewise
survived hanging onto another light post. People who stayed on their boats
were all unhurt.

Overall Joint Adventure looks like she fared well in the tsunami. The
only damage I could see externally was the bent aft tip of the keel. The
ruder moves freely and shows no sign of damage. Likewise the prop shaft
turns free, the prop is not bent. All the hatches are closed and intact.

The rig does not look like it hit anything. All the standing rigging is
intact. The wind vane looks fine. I found one winch handle on the ground
under the keel, which I threw into the cockpit. The way Joint Adventure is
laying on her side she can easily be rocked back and forth by hand at the
bow pulpit. By lightly rocking her I was convinced that the hull is not
too badly damaged where it is in contact with the pavement.

I did not pull the tarps back to completely inspect the hull, but what I
saw appeared undamaged. I unsnapped one of the canvas port covers to try
to look inside, but the darkly tinted polycarbonate did not allow me to get
a look.

There may be water inside, but I kind of doubt it. Other boats which
were washed ashore, including ours, did not get water inside. One boat, a
large Irwin did get some water inside, but it fell off a steep bank, mast
towards the water, and was therefore heeled very far over when the water
came back in.

As far as the recovery here the biggest problem appears to be looting.
The contents of people's houses are spread out all over the place.
People walking down the street just pick up whatever they want and carry it
away. In all honesty though it seems to be only us out of town folks who
are concerned with this behavior. The local residents appear to be working
hard and cooperating well in the cleanup. So far that is all that people
are doing, just trying to clean up the mess. It is amazing how fast
citizens and government work crews are getting the debris into piles.

I really know nothing about what aid or help is needed. Water and
electricity are out of service, but the large grocery store I have heard
was not destroyed, nobody appears to be worried about going hungry.

Whether or not you should fly out is something I can't answer. It
looks like there are lots of semi skilled construction workers on the
island. What is probably going to be needed in the weeks and months to
come is materials and people who can run construction projects, but that is
just a guess. Everyone seems to be doing an amazing job of cleaning up
even on this first day after the tsunami.

I am sure that your desire to help would be appreciated by everyone.
When we fled our boat and ran up the hill we did not know if we would have
anything to come back to, it was very comforting to have a woman we met
offer to take us in, in the event that our boat was lost. Luckily we did
not have to take her up on the offer. Likewise I am sure that people here
are comforted to know that you are concerned and willing to help.

Your boat looks OK, I did not talk to anyone at the yard though about
what might be done to stand her back up. If there is no water inside and
she can be stood back up before something runs into the mast, then she will
probably be ready to go when you come back in March. If Peter or Bob has a
key, I could look inside, and bail out water if necessary. Let me know
what I can do to help.


And that'll end our series of reports on the tsunami. Meanwhile, our crew has been busy over the past few days...

"Crew Quarters"

1st Mate: We have been busy the last few days. Thursday we all went in to town, yes, even Captain. We had thick milkshakes and immigration in mind. The Chili Tree Café in Lautoka has great shakes and delicious meals. After we were finished we took Captain to the barber shop for a much-needed grooming. We made it to Fiji Immigration just after the lunch hour. The purpose was to extend our visas. Although they were open they can only collect the fees from 0830 to 1230. The bus usually gets in to town by noon but not always. So we took the needed paperwork and plan to go in on Monday and get our visas extended until December. We will probably take a cab to town into town to ensure we make it to the office on time.

Yesterday I took the kids to Namaka to visit the chiropractor. That all went well and we planned to find a Mexican restaurant called 'The Lazy Cactus.' But, after several attempts via the bus, we discovered in the end that it had closed down about a month ago. We were all very disappointed and ended up at KFC. There are no Mexican food restaurants elsewhere. Namaka is near Nadi and a bit further than Lautoka, making cab fare twice as much. I decided that the kids and I could figure it out and managed to grab a bus to the top of Vuda Point Road. Then it is another 3.5km to the marina and we lucked out by getting a local to give us a lift. It all took longer but we had the time.

Today the kids decided they wanted to decorate for Halloween although there will be no trick or treating. We have begun watching Halloween movies, starting with 'Haunted Mansion' last night so I presume it must be October. The weather has been very nice over these last days with a strong breeze keeping us cooler. Today the wind did die down and we all took off for the pool.

2nd Mate: Wildlife seen in the last few days: least tern, frigate bird, squaretail mullet, convict fish, crowned urchin, rock crab.

We've been very busy for the last few days. As you know from Dad's daily posts, there was a tsunami in the South Pacific that began with an underwater earthquake caused by volcanic activity that was an 8.3 on the Richter Scale. The epicenter was about 185nm from Tonga, and spread throughout the many surrounding island groups, causing destruction in American Samoa, Samoa, and Tonga. Luckily for us, Fiji's barrier reef stopped any wave higher than 0.3 metres to enter. We've been hearing many reports over the last few days, and we hope help gets to the islanders as fast as possible.

Anyway, on to us... On Thursday, we all went into Lautoka to find out about our visa extensions and to do a bit of shopping. We also ate really good food at this nice restaurant, The Chili Tree. Yesterday, Grace, Mom, and I went into Namaka to run some errands. First, Mom and I got adjusted by the chiropractor at the Medical Centre. My neck feels so much better now. Then, we caught a bus that was going towards Nadi so we could eat at the only Mexican restaurant in Fiji: the Lazy Cactus. However, going to Nadi and back to Namaka, we didn't see it. We found out from a local that it was shut down about a month ago, and sold to another owner, who turned it into a Chinese restaurant. So, we ate an okay lunch at KFC. We caught a bus back and relaxed from the long day of walking and searching for buildings.

Today, we got the Halloween decorations out of the Hell-Hole and hung then all up. Even though they don't celebrate Halloween in Fiji, we wanted to keep the tradition alive in our family for this year. We also listened to Halloween music we have on the computer. Grace and I did the dishes and worked on a bit of school. After lunch, we went up to the pool and played with Simon, Edward, and Will, who have arrived recently. We swam around and played volleyball. We just got back and are now resting. We plan to play a couple of games of 'Scene It?' as out family entertainment tonight.

Today's Fijian word: mana = a small crustacean with large claws that lives in Fiji's mangroves and swamps.

3rd Mate: The weather today: clear, light wind, the high was 26C, the barometer is 1010 and rising, the moon is waxing towards full.

Thursday, we all went to Lautoka and ate at The Chili Tree. We went to the Immigrations Department and found out about our visas. Then I bought a new Barbie at the Store. It came with a lot of stuff like a mirror and a bedroom set. Then we went home and I played with the Barbie.

Yesterday, we went to the chiropractor and Mom, Grant, and I got adjusted. Then, we took the bus all the way to Nadi and back looking for The Lazy Cactus, a Mexican restaurant. It turned out that it was closed down a month ago. Then we ate at KFC before going back to Vuda Point.

Today, we decorated for Halloween while listening to a bunch of Halloween music and scary sounds. Then, we did the dishes and school. After school, we read and went to the pool. At the pool, we played volleyball. Then, we got back and I decided to start a RuneScape account.
Vessel Name: Wind Dancer
Vessel Make/Model: Catalina 36 Sloop
Hailing Port: Juneau, Alaska
Crew: Chris Burns
About: 1st Mate Richelle Burns, 2nd Mate Grant Burns & 3rd Mate Grace Burns
Extra: The Burns Family Voyage of Discovery
Wind Dancer's Photos - Phase I - The First 1,000 Miles (Main)
Moving ashore among the Kiwis.
61 Photos
Created 4 January 2010
Photos from our stay in Fiji.
112 Photos
Created 18 June 2009
A photo account of Wind Dancer's refit projects in Whangarei, New Zealand.
76 Photos
Created 1 April 2009
More photos from our month-long land tour of Kiwi land.
105 Photos
Created 24 February 2009
Photos from our month-long land tour of Kiwi land.
118 Photos
Created 8 February 2009
Photos from our summer stay in the land of the Kiwis.
89 Photos
Created 5 December 2008
The second collection of photos as our adventures continue in the South Pacific.
120 Photos
Created 4 July 2008
Our voyage and adventures from Baja California across the Pacific.
120 Photos
Created 18 April 2008
From Juneau, Alaska, to Port Townsend, Washington
169 Photos
Created 9 January 2008
Our 2008 stay in La Paz, and preparing to cross to the South Pacific
111 Photos
Created 7 January 2008
Photos from San Diego to the southern end of Baja, and our winter in Mexico.
120 Photos
Created 20 December 2007
259 Photos
Created 1 November 2007

Wind Dancer

Who: Chris Burns
Port: Juneau, Alaska
Family Voyaging - Ak to nZ
Click here to read our book

Click link above to access Family Voyaging - Ak to nZ