Thursday, December 24, 2015

From Sea to Snow and loving it in Mt. Shasta!

Hello Everyone,

       We had an amazing week with our friends in Lafayette.  What an amazing warm reception and it is SOOOOOOOO nice to be home for a short visit.  Like I had mentioned before we loved all the hugs and catching up visits that we got and I want to thank everyone for making time and space for The Family Circus in all of your homes and hearts.  I know we popped in at the busiest time of year and it was truly special for us to see everyone.  Thank you to the Andy and Katia and The Darins for making space for us to crash in your homes and opening your revolving doors to friends and family to come and see us.  You guys are so sweet and I know you wouldn't have it any other way but we are a big family especially when you combine our families and we fill every nook and cranny!  :@)

      We just arrived up to Mt. Shasta few days ago and have been outside playing in the snow ever since!  I can't believe that the kids aren't freezing to death... but with all the snow sledding, snow boarding, zip line snow ball fights, and regular snow ball blasting they haven't hardly wanted to be inside this beautifully decorated house.   Oma has spent a tremendous amount of time and energy making this christmas extra special for all of us.  Just decorating the 16' christmas tree that she selected out of her yard and brought indoors... pinecones still attached and all is just amazing.  There are candles on every branch that with tradition will be lit tonight and all the lights turned out (including the electric lights)... don't worry we have replaced the bucket of water with a new fire extinguisher for the occasional stray flame.

With the 2 acre property and a gentle slope down the kids have been able to build a nice long snow board/sled run down the property... we were out there until it got dark last night and then Chris and Josh had a brilliant idea to run outdoor lights along the run so the kids can do night sledding (not sure about the snowboarding at night) but I am sure they will attempt everything.  Not only illuminating the sled run but it serves as a perfect landing strip for Santa tonight!  I know he won't be able to miss it!  We are anxiously waiting for all the Christmas festivities to begin tonight and for tomorrow.  Then the rest of the family will come and join us.  We are so excited to see and spend time with all of them... I can see a family photo in the making.

Alina's Snowman

Fiona... Amaia wanted to donate the base of the gingerbread house to the birds but made sure she picked off and ate everything else!

Oma and little Amelia

Oma's beautiful tree

Amaia thought that if she opened wide so would Amelia... we all know how well that works (hee hee)

Uncle Josh and Amelia

Oma ripping up the slope!

Ethan on the zip line as Tristan pelts with snow balls... Brave

Tristan snow boarding down the run... he added a little jump to help.

Amelia fell asleep while I was holding... so I put her in the little sled... and pushed down to make sure it wouldn't suddenly go down the hill.

Alina, Emerson and me....

Beautiful Morning

Hope everyone has a happy holiday season, be safe and peace in the new year!
Hugs and Love to all!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Home for the Holidays!

Hello Everyone,

I just wanted to give a quick blip that we are back at home and staying with friends and family for about a month.  We booked these tickets back in the summer and have been dreaming of our arrival at home and seeing everyone again on a daily basis.  After we reached New Zealand we knew we only had a few weeks before we would be getting on the plane.  I can tell you that the anticipation and anxiety of coming home and seeing everyone was overwhelming.  All of us were so excited, the kids were all making plans with their friends to maximize time, Chris and I trying to organize our time with our friends and family and the kids schedules... and now that we are here even more schedules and time sharing with friends....  boy I can tell you that I am out of practice on having to be at two places at once and it is a little stressful in all the BEST ways.  It is just really weird for me to have to be somewhere by a clock, instead of the weather or tides.  Usually for us we look outside and if the sun is up we are up and if the sun goes down we are getting ready for bed, those are our cues and it has been really nice!

Our reentry in coming home has been more welcoming, warm and supportive that I could have ever imagined.  The big hugs that we are all receiving are the biggest holiday gift we could ever ask for. Not to mention all the questions... at first it was a little overwhelming, I am amazed at all the questions, but I realized how much I loved them because they begin to jog little wonderful memories that I had completely forgotten... It is so fun to share some of the little adventures we have been having and be reminded again how our life right now is not the norm and that these sea creatures, beaches, villages, countries, jungles, etc... that we are exploring really are amazing and colorful.  It is unfortunate how you start to become spoiled in a way to the wonders that are out there and it starts to become another white sandy beach... or from the kids mouths... "I don't want to do snorkeling today... I have already seen that fish!"  Then Chris and I get frustrated both with ourselves and the kids because we know our time is running out and we are really trying to appreciate and explore everything that we can but for me there truly are days when you don't feel like getting sand in your toes or salt water in your hair.

It is funny when you are out in the sailing community everything you are doing everyone has already done and may even have a better tale.  Our life is the norm for everyone we associate with, they are all on the same route and having the same adventures, boat issues, passages, and so forth.

I just wanted to thank everyone for the amazing homecoming from being met at the airport by Chris' brother and family (tears flowed to see them) to all the parties and dinner with friends (tears flowed) and the quiet times just sitting and catching up with friends and sharing pictures, videos and stories (tears flowed)... I am so touched and reminded how much I miss and love you guys!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart and I look forward to our return to our little village of lafayette in 8 months!

Happy Holidays to everyone and have a wonderful New Year.. (in case I don't get back to the blog till then)

Hugs and love to all,

XOXOXO and a ho ho ho


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Going home for Christmas.....

Hello Everyone,

We all are so excited to go home for a month for Christmas.  We are leaving tomorrow and will be home for the holidays.  We are in the process of finishing the repairs, packing up the boat, cleaning it and getting it ready to be left for a mont... (crossing our fingers we don't get to much mold on the inside and to much growth on the outside).  We have been trying really hard to get caught up on school work.. I know Tristan thinks I am a drill sergeant but we are slowly making progress and checking to do items off of his school work list!

On the really bright side we bought a van which has helped tremendously with all of our errands that we needing to do.  It has been a lot of fun refamiliarizing ourselves on how to drive on the wrong side of the road again and also driving in the rain... and just remembering that everything in the car is on the opposite side, the gear shift, the blinkers, blah, blah, blah.  The kids are loving it we went to dinner last night and really couldn't agree on what everyone wanted to eat so we ended up with our fail safe of eating pizza... but to make it more fun we turned the seats in the van so they faced each other and had a picnic in the car with the pizza.  The kids thought it was the coolest.

The cars down here are a super great deal and many of the cruisers find it easier to purchase and resell than to rent, if you are going to be here for the cyclone season.  We will try to sell it in Auckland before we leave New Zealand and start making our passage up to Vanuatu.

In the mean time we will be home for the holidays.. (oh did I say that already :@)... and then when we get back just a few more boat maintenance and then we will cruise the Bay of Islands for 2 weeks and then head down to explore Auckland and all it has to offer down there.  Then around the beginning of February we begin our month of road trip around North Island and the South Island.. white water rafting, bungee jumping (not for me thank you) Lord of the rings set visits, waterfalls, nature hikes, caves, glow worms... OMG.. there is so much to see and then on top of that we still need to keep up on school.  I swear when we get back I think Tristan will think that he will have all the time in the world to complete assignments because he won't be scrambling to find WIFI, rushing to do errands, babysitting, fixing boats, and traveling... not to mention being sick on passages...

Hugs and love to everyone... and hope to see you soon..


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Glow Worm Caves, Hiking and Picnicing with the Lil' Explorer crowd...

Hello Everyone,

We have been frantically working at getting situated here in New Zealand, getting the boat ready for us to leave it for a month and hoping to have it all set so that when we get back we can go exploring up at the bay of islands and back down to Aukland and then some backpacking... we haven't figured out our timing as of yet... trying to make it work for family visits, the off season for New Zealand's summer vacation and then also the best time for weather and WARMTH both in the water and out.  While we were here we met up with Lil' Explorers and have had a great time hanging with them.  Lots of park time for the kids and one night of mad Uno and cookies... deadly combination.. I think the marina was wondering what all the shouting was all about.  They offered to take us up to the local glow worm caves for a little exploration.  They have a car so with 2 trips we were all there... our 4 kids and their 5... Such a blast to get back into nature and do some hiking, little bit of rock climbing and then the caves.  The only two requirements that they said to explore the caves were surf shorts and torches (flashlights) because 5 feet into the cave there is ZERO visibility.  So excited these caves have little worms that glow green when they are hungry to attract the bugs into their silk strings.  The hungrier they are the brighter they glow.  So we pack our lunch for our picnic in the meadow... get our shorts on in 50 degree weather... grab our angry small girls because they are already freezing and not wanting to walk through frozen river water in dark caves... but that is what parenting is all about.  Forcing your children to be miserable their entire childhood right?  Courage picks us up with their oldest daughter Cassidy and we are to hike in and meet the rest of the clan in the first cave, Mom Shannon, then Integrity, Vitality, Valiant, Innocence and Intrepid has really bad asthma so he decided to sit this one out.. he had already gone the day before.  We get to the cave and start going in and OMG... the Fricking Torches... of course the circus forgot our torches and Courage (dad) wasn't kidding when he said it is darker than dark... Well we had at least one flashlight to share for the 8 of us until we caught up with the rest of the group deeper into the cave...

Well it is always a small adventure when you go with the Tzortzis clan and the kids had even more fun trying to share the flashlights.  It was so fun being in the caves and then when you turn the lights out the ceiling glows with green dots like the night sky or the peter pan ride in Disneyland.  It is a little cold (you can see your breath in the light) and the water was extremely refreshing shall we say..
After climbing through the first two caves it was time for a little lunch and field play.


Chris, Courage and Cassidy decided to brave the last cave... it was rumored to be the deepest and would be up to your chest to wade through... UGH no thanks and carrying all the little kids through that freezing water or making them swim... Okay for that one I would even consider calling CPS on me... Hee hee...  Anyway Shannon and the kids and I were having a nice chat when I looked up and saw two big white bears heading our way... Oh wait that is Chris and Courage with their shirts off looking a little lost.  They had gone through the cave and ended up coming out on the other side of the hill so they were a little turned around but eventually heard the children and figured it must be our clan.  In the cave they had encountered an eel... that they say was REALLY large.. of course it was dark but.... Yuck!  Definitely glad I skipped that one, no regrets.

Today is Sunday.. We are going to focus on school, possibility of buying a car, and still more boat tune ups this week.  Hopefully in the mix we can have a day or two to go out and explore more of what this beautiful town has to offer.  I pinch myself every morning thinking that my life is a dream and I will have to wake up soon... For now I will keep enjoying the dream.

Hugs and love to all,


Friday, December 4, 2015

Yes- we made it! and we're already immersed in NZ Land Life!

South South Pacific Sunset

Hello!  I cant believe its been a week already since our arrival in New Zealand in Opua.  We had a great passage finale, pulling in to the Opua quarantine dock at 7:15am in the morning. Alina won the closest guess on the passage crossing, as we went faster than all of us expected, and actually sailed in at under 6 days for 1142 miles:  5 days, 22 hours and and average of 8.05 knots The "Q" dock is very long (600ft) and is connected to nothing, but is tantalizingly close to land and all its enticements.  It was great to be able to tie up and hop on the dock, and compare notes with the 16 other boats that were on the dock.    New Zealand Customs and BioSecurity were wonderfully efficient and pleasant, especially given the anxiety of what you can and cant bring in to NZ, but aside from some very old black beans, ginger and salami, and a few other small items we kept the rest of our stores. By 1030 we were done and were allowed to go on land.

Stepping on to land in a developed country was a pretty surreal experience.  There were paved roads, and street signs, and new buildings with abundant marine stores and services, and importantly, a wonderful cafe and general store.  We enjoyed lingering in each of these, and having our first New Zealand lunch and beers, followed by ice cream.  The other notable change was the weather, where the cold lingered and New Zealand's summer still hasn't kicked in, but that also left the surrounding islands and countryside a brilliant shade of green.  It reminded us a lot of the San Juan Islands with beautiful islands and bays, and farms and pastures dotting the hillsides.  We quickly found our "dreamhouse" which had a great old Colonial building at the water level, complete with a dock and beach, and behind it was a  farmstead that stretched up the hill.

Over the next few days we enjoyed being stationary, catching up with other boats we knew from across the Pacific, and getting our bearings on NZ.  On our second day we got a cab to take us 15 minutes up the road to Pahia, and then took a small ferry across the bay to Russell, which is a great little town that used to be the "Hell Hole of the South Pacific" when it was the southern hemisphere's largest whaling port many moons ago.

 There is still quite a bit of history there including, New Zealand's oldest surviving church and hotel and the Montpellier mission.  We enjoyed playing tourist and took the tour of the Mission and its gardens, which was started by the first Catholic contingent from France. To spread the word they created a Maori translation of the bible that they printed themselves with a press from France, and they also operated a Tannery to get the leather to bind the books.  It was fun to see how interested the kids were in the short tour, and the hands on part of the press.  We counted it as homeschooling for the day.

the kids got to use the press

Conveniently, Russell also has a nice looking tattoo studio on the main street, called Bay of Islands Ink, and Sailing Heather (as she is now known) got a more permanent memory applied to signify the crossing of the Pacific (and sailing over 10,000 miles).  Its a Manta Ray (good luck) with Family motifs and even something signifying the husband, so I finally made it on a tattoo!

After spending a few more days in Opua, we headed down to Whangerei, which is where we will leave the boat for a few months as we travel home.  Its usually a two day trip, but we were restless at 2:30am, so Heather and I decided to head out on a friendly outgoing current, and thankful for first world navigation buoys with working lights, and no hidden coral reefs.  Whangerei is a working 53,000 person town two hours up a river from the coast, and getting there reminded me a bit of sailing up the Delta back home.  The Whangerei Marina is right in the middle of the Town Basin, at the center of town and is an awesome spot for us.  The town has put a lot of improvements in over the last 10 years, and we are right next to a huge brand new playground (score!), walking and jogging path (pointless :-)) and a gigantic grocery store right across the parking lot.  Within walking distance are tons of marine services, and the town has a great library. movie theatre and collections of shops and restaurants.  We've thoroughly enjoyed exploring it every day, and have already watched two movies, eaten sushi and shopped for warm clothes!  Mornings are still quite crisp here, but the sun does come out enough to wear shorts later in the day.

Cool clouds over the Cape at Marsden Cove and the entrance to the river to Whangerei
"Dont leave us George!"
Sadly, we also had to let "Super Crew" George leave us and start his exciting work in Auckland, so we packed him up one morning and put him on the two hour bus down to the "Big City".  From his facebook posts we know he is doing well, but we certainly miss him up here.  He was an amazing crew and is a more amazing friend and companion to everyone on the boat

In between we still get to see boats we have met before somewhere in the Pacific and also get to meet new ones, like ones we have been tracking for a long time.  We had heard about Lil' Explorers when we bought our boat, as the previous owners had met them in Panama, and we had checked out their blog, and communicated a few times through email.  When we pulled up in Whangerei, we realized we were right across the way from them, as they are quite recognizable with their 58 foot cat complete with two swings on the foredeck, complete with children endlessly climbing all over the boat.  Like us they are a large family out here cruising and in their case they have their 6 kids (5 under 10) with them, which finally makes us not the "big family" in the vicinity.  They came over to introduce themselves and we have already visited their boat for an aggressive game of Uno and some great cookies.

We're trying to catch up on homeschooling, and are making some progress, and we're lining up all the boat work we need to do, or get done.  We are now less than a week away from our return home, which is awfully exciting and also a little overwhelming as we try and tackle planning, packing and prepping the boat.

Time will fly by this week, but we'll hope to post some where and get away for a few local adventures! CHRIS

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Of Elves, Spy Planes, Jeans and Passage Endings....

We're almost there!!! Its hard to believe but we are only 72 miles away from the entrance to the Bay of Islands, and Opua 14 miles farther inside it. Its actually a little surreal as this seems to mark a really significant step. The end of a season of South Pacific cruising, a deep South destination with a reputation for a challenging crossing and all of us crossing the 10,000 nautical miles traveled mark! We are all quite excited to get there, but everyone is patiently hanging out and enjoying a relaxing final day.

Late last night our wind luck ran out, and as predicted, the winds lightened further and moved further north, which was the bigger issue. At that point we would have dramatically dropped our pace, and so we started up one of our engines and let it help us move along. The wind has now lightened further and so we are practically under motor alone, although we keep our mainsail up for some propulsion help, and more importantly for stylistic reasons... we just look better with some sail up, just in case someone in the thousands of square miles of southern Pacific ocean wanted to swing on by to take a picture of us.

And wouldnt you know it..... we got a strange VHF call on Channel 16, the channel we normally monitor on passage "Family Circus, Family Circus this is New Zealand Orion, do you copy???". Now the strange thing is that VHF signals only travel a max of 25 miles, and we couldnt see anyone on the Radar, AIS or on the horizon. It turns out that it was one of New Zealand's Orion search and rescue planes out on patrol, and they were just checking in with us, and probably picked us up on AIS, or had our approximate location from the different radio nets we log in to! It was very cool, but the plane was so high we couldnt see it.

Its also gotten a bit more chilly though the sun still comes out which allows to wear shorts in the day. When the sun goes down, it gets cold enough that I can wear jeans! Yes, I own a pair of jeans that were stuck in the back of the closet, and they arent even moldy! It certainly feels weird to wear long pants, and I hear the spring/summers in New Zealand are highly variable- from sunny shorts to rainy galoshes!

Finally, with Thanksgiving past, Peter the Christmas Elf magically appeared on our boat again after a year long absence. He left us last in Mexico and must have had a good year as he looks quite healthy, but still has this unnerving smiling stare. Either way, it was a great surprise, and I suppose gets us more in the Christmas spirit, which has been hard to do in board shorts and palm tree lined beaches. We are all incredibly excited to be able to go back home for Christmas and visit family and friends!

Well we're in to our final passage dinner, and we're cleaning out the boat progressively. New Zealand has a very intense biosecurity protocol, of which we are well forewarned, and we have to give up any produce, meat, honey and a list of other items. So we're making our way through things, and it almost helps that our fridge broke two days ago as we are streamlining what we have left.

Its our final passage sunset for the year, so I will sign off and go enjoy it. There is something so cool about your entire universe being all in front of you and around you with no one else in sight, and the magic of sunrises and sunsets gets magnified on such a huge canvas.

Hope your thanksgiving was great and thanks for all of the well wishes. We are so thankful for all of the support, the opportunity that we have as a family, and the magic all around us. Talk to you all from Terra Firma soon- CHRIS

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING... AND .... Are we there yet?

Hello Everyone,


We are about 280 miles away from NZ and should land there Saturday AM if all stays good. I can't believe how amazing this passage has been. Of course it was a little rocky in the beginning but the last few days we have been flying under blue skies and flatish seas... We have been cruising in light winds at about 9 knots and for me this is a dream. I was so afraid of this passage that I think my hair instantly turned gray and I lost about 15 pounds but it was all for nothing... So far they are predicting light winds and decent swells for the rest of the trip... YAY! We haven't needed to turn the engines on once and even if we did we couldn't go this fast so I am very thankful for the weather we are getting.

It is Thanksgiving and of course we are doing the best with what we have to celebrate. Chris' glazed carrots are a must, along with baked chicken, mashed potatoes, broccoli and stuffing. We are very thankful for so many things but for me I am thankful for all the time that we have been able to spend as a family. I can really see how the kids have changed and how appreciative, flexible, fun, helpful, and supportive of each other they are. We have been trapped on the boat for the last 5 days and I can honestly say that they haven't fought once and all we hear are giggles and comments on how good a drawing is or when a game is over, "nice game, lets play again". It is really refreshing and I hope that this atmosphere continues... I just love these guys!

I hope you all have a great day and are able to spend time with family, rest, eat lots, laugh lots and get lots of hugs...

I am very thankful that we get to come home for Christmas and see everyone. I really miss family and friends, especially on holidays when we are usually altogether hanging out, playing games, cooking and going for walks together.. Can't wait to see everyone.

Love and hugs to everyone,


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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Crepes traveling at 9 knots!

Well we're still rolling down here in the Southern South Pacific Ocean! All is well, and we are really making great progress. Day three was 197 miles and as of this evening, 6pm Wednesday, we are at 670 miles down on a 1150 mile approximate journey. The seas came up last night, but have settled down again and we have a full main and jib up in a consistent 14-16 knots of wind, and we are flying along comfortably. We usually plan our trips with 150 nautical mile day averages, and for the Pacific crossing we averaged 6.9 knots for the entire distance, but now we are trucking along at 8-9 knots easily (192+ mile days) and even making crepes for the kids! So far so good, and we think the wind will hold favorably for at least another 24 hours, at which point will get lighter and come farther aft.

Ahead of us, there still is a small weather front forecasted to come in on Saturday evening in Opua, and with it some increased winds and rain. We are trying to do what we can to make it in to port before it, possibly changing our landfall to Opua instead of Whangerei, as our marina spot wont open up until December 1st anyway. We join two radio roll calls each day, the Pacific Seafarers Net and the Gulf Harbor net, and both give us something to do, other voices to hear and a nice comfort that someone is taking down our location and can be of help if need be. There are quite a few boats that are headed to NZ in this window from Tonga, Fiji and New Caledonia. The Gulf Harbor Net is especially useful as David gives fantastic weather information and can give you advice localized to where you currently are. In their opinion, this has been the best weather window for NZ crossings all season- which is a cool relief. I know behind us Fiji is getting hammered by some wind and rain and I hope Shine is tucked away somewhere safe with a nice cup of tea and a movie.

Socks! Hats! What weird inventions from cold weather people! We have dug out socks for this first time in 13 months and are refamiliarizing ourselves with their usefulness as we head more to the South Pole and it certainly is getting colder as well. Its not bad at all, but you definitely notice this isnt the tropics anymore. Inside the boat it stays nice and warm so far, but the watches are getting chilly.

Otherwise we are just going about our passage lounging. Its too bouncy for schooling, so movies, music, games, light reading, drawing, crafting are all on the agenda. George continues to amaze me with his patience for the young girls, as he's regularly involved in games of Speed and others. Our various laptops are putting the hard drive movie collections to work and we also catch up on sleep whenever we're tired so that we can manage the night watches.

There isnt much to watch for, as there hasnt been a boat on any part of the horizon since we left Fiji, but we keep an eye on wind and weather changes, and boat behavior. We hit a new swell last night and the converging ocean swells had us ploughing through a washing machine. We eventually made it through enough of it that it calmed down and today you can really sea the power and vastness of a REAL ocean swell. These swells come up from deep depressions in the Southern Arctic Ocean and they consume the whole horizon, making it pulsate up and down every 10-12 seconds in a slow but incredibly powerful movement of water. Thankfully they are far apart and Family Circus happily rides up and down them like a champ, probably thankful for a change of pace. Its also an awesome reminder of the power of these oceans and nature- you feel really quite small in our little home, cruising along as a thankful guest.

Well that's probably it for now- we're heating up chili and have made rice for dinner and will bid you adieu until we chat again. Sota Ta-le CHRIS

If you want to see our exact position please check the website, and look for our name either on the lower right or left.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

FAMILY CIRCUS to NZ - Day Three Dawns

On to Day Three! We have just completed our first 48 hours and have covered 389 miles in our first two days. The second day ended up pretty darn bumpy (read uncomfortable) but day three has emerged much nicer. The winds and seas have abated and we have put Family Circus in to "Baby Turbo" mode. We've looked at the weather information and listened to some very good radio nets, and it looks like shooting straight for New Zealand is the plan, with an incentive to get there before Saturday night when a front passes through. Either way, the front shouldnt be a bad one, and shouldnt "have much in it" but its a good incentive for us to make the boat go, as long as its comfortable enough. So we've put up more sail and are sprinting along at 8.5- 9.5 knots with the wind on the beam. Go Circus Go!!!

The kids are doing great, and just seem to think its business as usual. George has been fantastic, standing a stoic watch, and playing card games with the small girls who love their "Georgie-Poo". Heather is feeling under the weather, and unfortunately, or fortunately, its not sea sickness, but she's laying down outside and really wanting us to push the boat hard to go fast. She is an awesome partner, and looks right sexy in her oversized foul weather gear.

We haven't put the fishing lines in as we havent had a flat enough boat to really cook and eat the Dorado that we caught, and we cant bring any fish in to NZ. We'll see if we can pan fry it this afternoon.

Otherwise, all is good. The boat is handling this really well, and a small tear we have in our jib is holding, and we'll tackle a better repair in the next 24 hours. Additionally the winds should get a bit lighter as we get farther south, and more in to this high pressure system, but hopefully not light enough that we can't maintain our pace.

Hope all is well with you and that the Warriors keep winning! CHRIS

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

FAMILY CIRCUS is underway for New Zealand!

After a lot of sad goodbyes with the Shiners, we are underway for New Zealand. We packed George's stuff on board and headed out from Cagalai, and the winds were already picking up. We had an expected rough start for the first three hours making our way around the East side of Fiji, but we finally were able to change course and we're cruising now. The seas are pretty bumpy and too close together, but its manageable now and everyone seems to be feeling better. The Captain already got to take a nap as George stood watch!

We've already made bets on how long the passage will take, given our 9am departure on November 22nd. I hope we aren't jinxing it but we've all picked between 6 and 8 days. I hope I am right, as I picked the shortest passage! (actually Alina just weighed in with a shorter guess!)

I'll document it here so the court of public opinion is well informed:

GEORGE: 8 Days 00H
TRISTAN: 7 Days 9H
HEATHER: 7 Days 00H
ALEXIA: 8 Days 3H
CHRIS: 6 Days 11H
AMAIA: 7 Days 10H
ALINA: 6 Days 8H

We're sliding back in to passage mode, just sort of hanging out and getting our bearings. Some movies are being watched and books read, but mostly just hanging out. Otto is driving well and there isnt much to see, although we're still in Fijian waters and passing between Kandavu and Beqa islands. We've got the fishing line in the water.......NO WAIT! We just caught a 12lb Mahi Mahi on the new pink lure I made this morning! George must have brought his fishing luck with him. I'll pack the fishing lines in for now, until we can work through more of our food!

Anyway, I have fish to clean, and miles of ocean to stare at, so I will say So long for now and Sota Tal-e (Fijian for "until we meet again")

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Departing Fiji, Watch out New Zealand

Hello Everyone,

Well it is with much sorrow that we have to say goodbye to Fiji and make our way to New Zealand.  Although we are extremely excited about our new country and all the wonderful things it has to offer,  we have really enjoyed being here and all of the friendly people that we meet.  We are never disappointed and now are never surprised when and where ever you walk around you get the most amazing brilliant smiles and the energetic BULA shouts of hello and welcome hugs, sniffs and kisses.
If you would like to check in as to where in the world Family Circus is you can go to the website "Yachts in Transit"  Once in the site go to the bottom right side and you will see the category Yachts updates and just look for our boat name in there and click on the link.  We will be updating it as we go through our SSB.  Our window to go is great right now and a lot of boats are leaving today or tomorrow so we will be in the mix with a few other boats.

I must say that I have been in tears the last few days because we are leaving our friends on Shine.  Although we are taking George the eldest son for crew it is so hard to imagine our daily lives without them.  I feel like I am leaving a piece of my heart here and am so sad.  We are ALL sad to be leaving them.  They have been such a big part of our adventure.  We have been so fortunate to have met the boat families that we have a long the way and the two that we have really stayed and traveled with side by side I couldn't imagine our journey without their camaraderie and their support, humor and just being...   Thank you Shiners!  You guys are amazing and we look forward to seeing you in a few months in Australia or New Zealand... WE LOVE YOU!  Okay that'll do pig... Stupid Cows!

Hugs and love to everyone at home,


Makogi, Fiji... Exploring and learning about the old leper colony, turtles, giant clams and last village performance

Hello Everyone,

We had been told by many that this is an island not to miss.  Makogi is the old leper colony for Fiji.  The leper colony was discontinued in 1969 because of the discovery of the cure for Leprosy or Hansens Disease.  At one point they had over 5000 residents with the disease from all over the world.  The colony wasn't just for Fijians but had people from Europe, Asia and The South Pacific Islands.  Fiji has now turned it into a marine reserve park and a historical site.  The government owns the island and pays for the up keep and care for the land and the waters around it.  They have been working on bringing back the giant clams and have been able to grow quite a few.  It was fun to see how they grow the clams from a microscopic eggs to small clams to the largest of them at the base of the dock that was 700 pounds.  They really are beautiful creatures.  The clams are also very important for the health of the reefs because they filter the eggs from the damaging Crown of Throns star fish.  The marine park also is a turtle rescue facility and while we were there they had a large (really large) turtle that they were given to rehabilitate.  Unfortunately the turtle had been speared by a someone through the head but it survived.  The turtle is now completely healthy and has no permanent damage and they are just waiting for the doctor to give the go ahead to release him.

They grow the baby clams on these slabs of concrete and then take the concrete out into the bay and set them slabs down in the water for the clams to grown then after the clams have gotten bigger they move them around to better locations for them to grow and grow and grow....

The workers on the island still use a generator that was given to the leper colony back in 1906...  It is amazing because it is still running like a champ... things were really built well back in the day!

The leper colony had a little jail for 

Old Cemetary.. there are over 1500 people buried here from the leper colony :@(

Alina diving down to some of the small clams in the marine park

School is hard to do with the scenery surrounding you...

Amaia and Chris getting ready to play underwater with the scuba and as Amaia says borrowing the Octopus... She loves hanging out underwater.. Dont worry they are only in 6 feet of water in the shallow bits!

The last night we were there a small cruise ship came into the bay and the one village that is on the island came and performed for the guests on the ship.  It was really cute because the adults in the village sang and played the instruments and then the kids from the school performed the dances in the traditional costumes..

Sweet little Mary is allergic to bees and was stung by one while we were there.  We left her mom a bottle of Childrens Benedryl... There was a doctor on the cruise ship that they spoke to and so he said if we had extra that would be great to leave it with them... Love being able to help when we can.

Amaia was teaching the kids Cops and Robbers... they had a blast running around hiding "the keys (her flip flops) and playing tag.

Again parting is sweet sorrow... 

Hugs and love to everyone at home.