Saturday, December 31, 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

We've just experienced the fireworks in Sydney Harbour, Australia.  What a show!!  Just awesome to be able to experience this!  Happy New Year, everybody!


Lyn Savage and Bjorn Borg...oh, no...sorry, that's Dave Hibberd ;-)...and oh, Benjamin photo bombing our picture!!




Happy New Year and all the best for 2017!!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Friday, December 23, 2016

Remembering Tonga

What defines our days in Tonga?  Good food, beautiful water, mushroom rocks, friendly people and good friends!  We had a really magical time in Tonga.  It was short, but it was also here that we were able to reflect on our journey so far, and allowed us the time to look forward and ultimately make the decision to come to Australia instead of New Zealand.

Good Food:
In Neiafua, the capital of the Va'va'u group, we found one of the best Fruit and Vegetable markets we'd seen to date.  There was a lot of variety, and the fruits and veggies were fresh and very reasonable.  It was a luck of the draw as to what you could get.  I had bought some nice cucumbers on one day, and when we went back about a week later, there were none to be found.  But there was always something fresh and delicious on hand!
Dave enjoying a delicious Paw-Paw (Papaya)
 
We didn't catch these guys, they were purchased from a local fisherman - yummy!

Gaby negotiated the price of this watermelon with a local at the fruit and veggie market.  She got this fella for 5 Tongan dollars (known as TOP - Tongan Pa'anga), which is roughly $2.50 US!  The personalisation was done by Gaby - I'm surprised she ended up eating it!

Beautiful Water:
We enjoyed some crystal clear water and good snorkeling in the many caves and coral heads scattered around the islands.
Approaching the anchorage at Mala

Benjamin enjoying some SUP in the calm anchorage at Port Maurelle

Entrance to Swallow's cave.
Dave has previously posted some short video clips of us inside the caves and the huge schools of fish that we swam with

A traditional outrigger canoe

A typical Tongan landscape

Some of the coral heads we snorkeled over
Friendly People:
One day we anchored in a secluded bay and after securing the boat, we dinghied ashore.  We found a sign asking us to pay mooring fees at the local school.  So off we went in search of the school, and discovered the neatest little village we'd seen in Tonga.  The grass was neatly trimmed, houses were prettily landscaped, and there was no litter to be seen anywhere.  We found the school and one of the two teachers that teach the 15 or so kids in the village.  She proudly gave us a tour of the school and we were very impressed by what we saw!

$10 (Tongan) is collected by the school for the use of the moorings in the bay

The neat pathways in the village of Matamaka 


Ben and Gaby at the Matamaka school library

Gaby catching up on some reading!  Many of the books are donated by passing cruisers

Dave chats to the teacher in the schoolroom

The children start learning English at a very young age.  Everything is posted in both languages


Good Friends:
Tonga was the last time we spent time with our group of cruising friends, as they all headed to New Zealand while we took the other path to Australia.  It was here that the kids enjoyed Maya's 13th birthday party (if you have not yet seen the video of the party that we previously shared on this blog, it is well worth a watch!), and also where we enjoyed a Tongan Feast prepared by the family living on the island where we were anchored.

 
Gaby and Ben are dressed up and ready for Maya's 13th birthday party

Ben and Gaby with Alex and Felix from "Vida" head over to the party

The piggie on the spit under the beautiful Banyan tree at the Tongan Feast

Cruisers mingling at the feast:  Gudrun, Nicole (Invictus), Gaby, Nicolas (Excalibur), Maya (Fata Morgana) and Jemma (Excalibur)

The kids had a ball climbing the big Banyan Tree

Pigs are very common in Tonga.  This one was the family pet:  Gaby, Alex (Vida), Paul and Eleanor (Excalibur) pet it

Local friends were also made: this is Rosemary, the youngest daughter of our Tongan feast hosts


 And so our time in Tonga came to a close.  We bid farewell to our friends as they headed south, and new adventures awaited us in New Caledonia, an 8 day sail away.

This may be our last post before Christmas as we are sailing down to Sydney on Boxing Day.  We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas...enjoy with your families as we will enjoy it with our Australian family here on the beautiful Gold Coast!  Thanks so much to the Smith and Taylor families for having us and treating us so well over this Christmas period.  It's been wonderful to spend this time with you all!

All the best from the Cool Runnings crew!



Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Hello from Australia

My first order of business is to apologize for the lack of posts.  With the limited internet access we had Dave was able to upload the (very) short video clips, just to keep you somewhat updated, but I know a blog post is way overdue!!

We arrived in Australia on December 1st, and it has taken us this long to get a decent internet connection!!  I won't bore you with the details, but it has been a long and painful process, and we finally ended up having to buy a hotspot and should now have some decent access for the next couple of months.
Raising the Q Flag and our big Australia courtesy flag!

To try and keep things in somewhat of a chronological order, I will keep this one short and go back and share some of our experiences and pictures of our travels from Tonga onwards.  I know I briefly wrote about Tonga, but was not able to post any pictures, and they are definitely worth sharing!  Our experiences in New Caledonia will probably require a couple of posts as our time there was so wonderful.

For now we are anchored on the Gold Coast, just south of Brisbane, on the east coast of Australia.  Our arrival into the Land Down Under was in Bunderberg, about 200 miles north of here.  We arrived after a brisk 4 day sail from New Caledonia with our friends Bruce and Lyn Savage on "JoliFou" (more about that later!).

Our dolphin escort into Australia!
Bruce on JoliFou shoots past us on approach to Bunderberg and shouts "Welcome to Australia!". It was very cool, and I just wish I had been able to capture it on video!

We've slowly hopped down the coast, doing day sails through the Great Sandy Straits and the waterways from Brisbane to here.
Cool Runnings anchored off Fraser Island - Great Sandy Straits, Australia

Enjoying an ice cream!  Fraser Island, Australia

Yay!  We caught a Yellow Fin Tuna!  En route from Woody Island to Mooloolaba
Our first view of the Gold Coast skyline....a shock to our system to see all these high rise buildings after relative isolation for the last 8 months!

Dave's family (aunt, uncle and cousins) live here and we will be spending Christmas with them.  Benjamin and Gaby have already escaped the boat and gone to stay with Brian and Gaylor (Dave's aunt and uncle), because they were so excited to stay in "a real house"!  Dave and I are securing the boat and taking care of administrative stuff that needs to be done before leaving Cool Runnings for a week or so to enjoy our time with family as well.

Yesterday I pulled out the Christmas decorations...

Santa has to share his stage with a carton of eggs!  

Our elf on the shelf, Alex, must have a good GPS, because he found us all the way here in Australia!!  So far he's been pretty good and not played any silly jokes on the kids.  Gaby is concerned though, that we don't have any marshmallows, as she knows that Alex really loves them!
Thank you as always for all the comments and well wishes we've received along the way, and the support we've received on our endevours!  It is always so good to hear from you, and we read every single comment, even if we can't always respond.  They mean a great deal to us, so thank you all!!

So for now, this is our view from our anchorage in "Bum's Bay".  I promise that more posts are coming soon!

All the best from the Cool Runnings crew!

Dusk in Marine Stadium anchorage, also known as "Bum's Bay"