• Marshall Islands Recap

    Well, Confederate is nearly ready for her next adventure – bring it on Solomon Islands! But before we leave this is a good opportunity to recap on the highs and the lows of our 3 months here in the Marshalls, most of the time spent in the outer atolls of Aur and Maloelap.

    The Highs

    * The outer islands of the Marshalls are spectacular, serene, perfect atolls just made for exploring




    *Kiting – We’ve had so many good days on the water in Aur and Maloelap with abudant sea life passing under the board – sharks, stingrays, fish of all colours.



    * The crusing community – there are a whole lot of boats up these ways and while most stay around Majuro they’re all super friendly and we’ve met some great people. Especially these guys on Cava!


    * Marshalese people are super welcoming with a nice aura.


    *Christmas day celebrations on Aur atoll were truely unforgettable.




    * Fishing – the best we’ve had so far in any country, both inside and outside the lagoons. Rainbow runners were common within the lagoons as well as mackeral. Outside the lagoon we caught mahi-mahi, wahoo, and tuna.


    The Lows

    * Losing our dingy while on another boat for dinner (not stolen, it was our bad)

    * Confederate being broken into while we were away (although on a more positive note arriving back and realising nothing had been taken except some alcohol!)

    * Majuro isn’t our favourite hub and we have tried to steer clear of it, however it is a nice place if you want to be social and have the convenience of shops, supermarkets etc.

    * The range of fresh vegies and fruit haven’t been quite the same as in the south pacific. Unfortunately the atolls are somewhat limited in terms of land area for agriculture and arable soils.

    The lows are miniscule compared to the highs and we’d totally recommend the route that we’ve taken. Overall we’ve loved the experience and we’d definitely love to come back for another kite surfing season in the Marshalls, but for now, while the trade winds have disappeared in the north pacific we’re excited to head to the Solomons. We’re stoked with our decision to head north of the equator for the cyclone season experiencing Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshalls – countries we would have never dreamed of visiting prior to owning Confederate. Next update will be via satellite phone on our passage to the Solomons. We’re heading to Lata in the eastern Santa Cruz islands to track down Oceanswatch. So excited to be getting back out on the big blue!


  • 20 reasons why you should just go sailing

    If you’re wondering whether to embark on a high seas voyage.. Here’s 20 reasons why we think that ya should. 2 weeks and we’re back to the Marshall Islands and back to Confederate! Yeowwww.

    1) Your house has a giant swimming pool around it called the ocean.


    2) You’re too far away from shops to spend money buying pointless crap, so you enjoy the things that are free.


    3)   You get by on around $400US/per person/month in the Pacific, or at least that’s been our budget for the last year and its worked. Wind, waves, coral gazing, star gazing, beach, sun, sea – all free. The best things in life – free.




    Marshall Islands

    4)   An initial cost of $40,000NZ for the boat puts house prices in Auckland and most cities to shame. Besides marinas mean you can live in a city too if you want.


    Confederate at Westhaven before we left

    5)   Your house moves – I’ll never forget the first morning I woke up after our first passage and realised our house was in Tonga. Or the morning we went through this reef passage into Tuvalu.


    6)   You are more sustainable; your footprint is small. If you want to move, you use the wind and a minimal amount of fuel. If you catch fish you are sourcing your food from directly underneath you – not miles away.


    7)   Catching fish is also rad.


    Spanish mackeral from Fiji

    8)   Fish tastes good and is good for you.

    9)   Eventually you’ll get sick of fish but you can trade it for vegies if you meet the right people.


    Vegie market Tuvalu


    Homemade breadfruit chips by host family in Nanumea, Tuvalu

    10)  You have time to meet the right people.



    11)  Having a smaller footprint feels good, you feel in tune the world around you – not disconnected from it.


    Southern anchorage Funafuti Lagoon, Tuvalu

    12)  If you need to fix something you do it yourself.


    13)  If you can’t fix it yourself you have a support network of other boats who have time to help you. You can pay them with baked goods.

    IMG_2022 2

    Boats anchored in Minerva reef on the way to Tonga

    14)  You have time to cook, read, kitesurf, play guitar and follow your passions. Time for all those things you’ve wanted to do for ages.


    Kiting Tonga


    Sunset at Musket Cove, Fiji


    Robins cinnamon scrolls

    15)  You can see dolphins, sharks, turtles, manta rays, fish, coral regularly. You dream about coral reefs. You feel in awe of the world every day.


    Dolphins as we left Fiji


    Dolphins greeting us in Nanumea, Tuvalu

    16)  You feel healthy and your stress levels are low. Until you head into 40 knots of wind n rain, and and your stress is high, but it is physical stress, not mental.


    Robin facing a hard night on passage to the Marshalls

    17)  Physical stress is fast recovering, quickly forgotten and at the end of it you get an incredible sleep. Mental stress is sleep depriving and wears you down.


    The day after we arrived in Fiji, well rested after a fairly hard 4 day passage

    18)  You bend, jump, duck, twist, lie, stand, walk, swim, row, climb in, climb out, pull, push and sit, as opposed to sit, sit, sit, sit, gym, run, sit, lie.


    Handstands on our favourite island in Fiji


    Ok so this wasn’t us but kids in Tuvalu, but we could all learn a thing or two

    19)  You start to really love the ocean even more than you ever thought possible, and feel a connection to the ocean.


    Our first reef pass in Tonga Ha’apai group – one to be respected

    20) “I think first and foremost, people only protect the things they love. And you can’t love something unless you inherently identify with it.” – Kris Thomkins, PatagoniaIMG_2037 2



    Ye ha can’t wait to get back into it. For our itinerary for the next leg… http://windsquirrel.com/the-revised-route-sailing-2014/


  • Watch this if you care about the world a bit.. tis nice

  • Our impact on the Pacific and Micronesia – it’s not as far away as you think

    Being back on land and reflecting on close to a year cruising the pacific islands and Micronesia I realise how much I’ve gained from the experience – Fiji, Tonga, Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands. Before just names on a map, dots in a vast blue ocean. So what is different now?

    The reality of life in these places has been experienced. Ties have been made with people, faces aligned to a country, and an understanding of the land that they live on. My latest assignment for my development studies course is on development induced migration. You might think about the three gorges dam, or other high profile mass re-locations.  But there are countless stories like this on smaller scales around the pacific.

    Right now I’m thinking of what we’ve seen along the way, not necessarily experienced directly, but through the stories of people we’ve met…

    * Displacement from Bikini island for nuclear testing for “the good of mankind”

    * The impact of world war two on the Marshall islands and Kiribati.

    * Displacement from French nuclear testing in polynesia

    * Banaba island resettlement to Rabi island Fiji. And while we can say the above didn’t have a direct link to New Zealand – this last one did.

    Phosphate spraying in Northern NZ from 'Our sea of phosphate' by Katerina Teaiwa

    Phosphate spraying in Northern NZ from ‘Our sea of phosphate’ by Katerina Teaiwa

    For a low price the British Phosphate commission (BPC – including NZ and Aus) stripped Banaba of it’s phosphate by the ship load. Much of this was used in New Zealand for fertilizer turning hill country soil into arable and lucrative land. So we are connected to the people of Banaba as the phosphate from their island helped us increase agricultural fertility in the 50s and 60s. And we are connected to the people of Banaba in the sense that in gaining our fertile land, they lost theirs.

    This connection isn’t just true for people of the pacific. We are connected to people in China who make some of the products we consume, the factories that serve us derive their power from the three gorges. We also may even be connected to the people in Congo who work in Coltan mines so we can have phone batteries, and other electronics. We live in a world where we have no idea who makes our products. We don’t see who, or what environments are affected by our purchases.

  • A segment of the rainbow which I have clutched

    Missing this

    Missing this world in a way that only Henry Thoreau could describe. Trying to keep things simple, but its tricky. Food, water, friendship, health, I think that’s all we need?

    “If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal – that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality. Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated man to man. The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched”

    - an excerpt from Walden, Henry Thoreau


  • Farewell to the Marshalls, for now

    Arggg it is excruciatingly hard to part with this life, to leave Confederate, to go back to the “real” world – but exciting times ahead and two weddings to attend – one of which is our own. Whoop! Whilst sailing is definitely the nicer way to get around, we did get a pretty cool view from the plane as we left one of the atolls we have come to love.

    Our last fish meal caught two days before departure.

    Our last fish meal caught two days before departure and shared with 5 other boats and some locals.

    Leaving Majuro

    Leaving Majuro to head back to the “real” world

  • Marshall Islands Kitesurf Report II

    Maloelap and Aur atolls have brought some of the best kiting of our trip. If you have a boat and you kite then you gotta go to the Marshalls. Seriously! From Dec-April winds blow consistently from the NE-NNE combined with sand banks scattered around the atoll and coral reefs full of life.

    In Maloelap we kited between Taroa and the island to the north. While skimming across the water we looked down on fish, stingrays, and the odd black tip reef shark. The transparent aqua shallows make you forget about attempting tricks and focus you in on the beauty of the spot. Leaning back and sliding over the glassy turquoise puts you in that space where every ounce of you feels lucky to be alive.

    Anchorage 1 – 08 deg 42.4 N, 171 deg 13.4 E (for Taroa island kite spot)

    Anchorage 2 – 08 deg 44.4 N, 171 deg 11.6 E (for kiting to the north of Taroa off Biget island where the Japanese power station is).

    Note that the Maloelap kite spots were better the further round to the N the wind came, whereas Aur seemed  to do better in Easterly winds. Maloelap wins for marine life and room to move!

    We can’t speak for the other atolls in the Marshalls but we know there would be plenty of gems to be discovered and hope to have the opportunity to return some day!

    Kiting Marshalls

  • The Revised Route – Sailing 2014

    After a few hold ups, as well as a desire to explore the outer atolls of the Marshalls we decided to stay here for the South Pacific cyclone season instead of sailing across Micronesia to the Philippines. This has changed our plans for 2014 – although talking to other yachts such route changes are relatively common practice. In fact they are really what it’s all about – with no flights to book and the sense of freedom that this life brings such a flexible itinerary becomes possible.

    So with this in mind our plan for 2014-
    * Confederate will stay in the Marshalls until June (while we travel to the Philippines and New Zealand for our wedding celebrations in April and May)
    * When we arrive back to the boat we will provision and head back to the South Pacific – direct to either Vanuatu or the Solomon Islands.
    * Here we’d like to link up to a group called Oceanswatch who do work to protect the coral reefs in the area, as well as a few other community projects.
    * From the Solomons we’ll either head through PNG or Aus/Indo to the Philippines. Although given the timing the former is more likely.

    Of course as always the above plan is subject to changes but this is the best we can come up with at the moment. We’re excited about the prospect of more time on the water and new experiences in the countries mentioned. Ever day we can’t believe how lucky we are to be living like this. Each morning swim invigorates not only body but soul. When what was once a dream, turns into a reality, life is sweet, and we are savouring every minute of this sweetness.

    Update – June 2014

    Looks like we’re sticking with the plan – in July we’ll meet with Oceans watch in the Tetemotu province, Solomon Islands. After 1-2 months volunteering with Oceanswatch we’ll head to the Louisiade archipelago in PNG, popular with Australian boats, and rumoured to be an amazing place to kite surf. Very much excited.

    Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 6.27.36 pm

  • A turtle, sharks, a cake and some WWII history

    A week in Maloelap has brought an odd assortment of experiences from snorkeling with a white tip reef shark on the Japanese munitions wreck, to receiving a cake from a local lady conveniently timed for Valentines day.

    We’ve trooped through the Taroa island greenery to find abandoned planes (there are 41 in total on the island), as well as cannons, bunkers and the Japanese HQ. If you look closely, as Robin did, it is also possible to come across the bullet shells that were fired between the Japanese and the Americans during the war. It is hard to imagine such events unfolding on this seemingly eternally peaceful slice of paradise.

    This week has also pulled in three mackerals who have fallen prey to our new super lure. We can’t seem to eat the fish we are catching fast enough and as I write this the fridge houses our next two fish meals. Luckily there is always someone from the village happy to share the load.

    We have walked to the windward side of a couple of the uninhabited islands, and similar to the other atolls we have stumbled upon a plethora of floatsam and jetsam. There’s literally thousands of plastic buoys and bottles, not to mention the pairless jandals, rope and other miscellaneous items. It is interesting to conjure up histories for these random articles, all of which have obviously traveled over vast lengths of ocean before finally finding a resting spot in the Marshalls. Unlike their Mexican counterpart – Jose Ivan, a fisherman who allegedly drifted all the way from Mexico to the Marshalls, who has recently flown home -
    these items will never return home. It is both amazing and scary how such remote places can be infiltrated with such items. In comparison on the lagoon side of these islands there is minimal litter, and we’ve seen baby black tip sharks and fish playing in the shallows from the beach as we walk. On both sides the coral is abundant.

    It is 6pm and the sun is slowly slinking towards the horizon, indicating another week has passed aboard Confederate. We are fresh out of the salt with wet hair and happy bodies. Our evening snorkel rustled up an unashamed turtle who cruised by to say hello before disappearing behind a coral head. Life is good.

  • Anchored safely in Maloelap atoll, fridge full of fusssshhh.

    Superb day on the water for the 30 mile passage between Aur and Maloelap. We had two lines out for the short passage and managed to get 6 strikes on one of the lines. Early morning leaving Tabal we caught a good-sized rainbow runner. Next was a 1.5m barracuda that is probably leaping around the lagoon with new vigour after it’s near death experience. We couldn’t quite fathom battling with the teeth, nor eating such a big, not so nice tasting, fish. In fact Robin looked quite disgusted as he hauled it out of the water.

    After that came a tuna, and another rainbow runner. Then there were the two that got away. Finally we pulled in our second line finding some huge chomper had chomped through the steel trace. The fridge and our stomachs are groaning – but then again there’s nothing like from ocean to stomach in sub 2 hours. We’ll take the second rainbow runner ashore tomorrow and try to trade it for some fruit and vegies.

    We are now anchored in Taroa island, next to the remains of a sunken Japanese freighter ship that was bombed by the Americans in WWII. The ship came to grief firstly by a US submarine, and then finally by an air attack in the early 1940s. The two masts of the ship protrude approximately 15m in the air – an interesting sight, and apparently a great place to snorkel. We’ll check out the 100m long ship tomorrow.

    Picture of the sun setting over our fish dinner avec new dingy in the foreground!