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Ready, Set, Go!

WOW! The last couple of months have been absolutely crazy. At the end of January we headed off on 30+ hours of travel to get to Florida. That was a long day of traveling. Auckland to Sydney to Los Angeles to Nashville to Tampa. The best part was arriving there was seeing our dear friends, Connie & Jay who are always so gracious as to pick us up at the airport. It doesn’t seem to matter what time of day or night we arrive or have to leave, they are always there for us. Great friends to be sure. Thanks you two!

Great friends make certain the fridge is well stocked! LOL

We spent the night at their house before going to surprise Jilly’s mama the following morning. We always tell her we are coming one day then show up a different one. This keeps her for going to too much trouble cleaning an already spotless house before our arrival. As always, she was completely shocked! It’s so much fun to see the look on her face and it always seems to make her day.

We spent three weeks in Florida visiting with family and friends. We took a three hour drive to the East Coast to see Jilly’s sister and family and spent the rest of the time at her mom’s house entertaining, going out, shopping, fixing things and doing anything and everything but relaxing. Jilly’s mom absolutely loves Dan! He’s always fixing something or cleaning something or doing things she can’t do anymore. She actually said she was going to keep him and send Jilly back to New Zealand.

Jilly was delighted to spend time with her precious dog, Lyla and her kitty, Ricky who now live with Connie & Jay. Lyla even had a sleep over with us one night. She always loves to go to Grammy’s house where she gets to sleep in the big bed.

Our visit to Florida seemed to literally fly by and before we knew it the time had come to get back on a plane and head to California. Once again we hit the ground running. We went north to Oxnard to visit with some friends of Dan’s on MV Seashack, spent a night in Thousand Oaks visiting another friend, Bob. Then it was off to spend a few days with Dan’s sister, Tina and her family.

We drove to Yuma, Arizona to see some cruising fiends, Terry & Diane, who have given up cruising their beautiful sailboat, SV Harmony, for a life of land cruising in their RV. We spent a wonderful evening with them and our friends, Enno and Wendy. After a fabulous evening with great food and friends we were off again where we stopped to visit with two of the most wonderful people on earth, Bob & Pat. Then it was back to San Diego for a few days of provisioning and boat part hunting. You know, you can’t leave the land of plenty without an extra suitcase or two of boat parts.

We managed to work in a couple of extra days with Dan’s sister before we were back to Los Angeles to see our friends, Jack & Mary. We had a fabulous time there…maybe too good of a time because we ended up missing our flight from LA to Sydney. OOOPS!

What happened you ask? Well you see when we purchased the tickets in New Zealand the dates were five weeks from a Tuesday to Tuesday. We were scheduled to fly out on the 24th of February. Without really considering the time difference I had it in my mind that the 24th was on a Tuesday. Well, it was in New Zealand but in Los Angeles the 24th was a Monday!!! We woke up on Tuesday morning and Dan looked at the calendar and asked again when our flight was scheduled to leave. I told him Tuesday the 24th. We both looked at each other with that sick, sinking feeling. Arghhhh!!!

Dan quickly jumped on the phone and after a good hour we were scheduled to leave that evening on the same flight out of LAX. The cost??? They charged us $760 USD to change the tickets! OUCH! Now here’s the thing. The flights we missed were not even close to being full so us not showing up did not in any way cost them any money. Likewise, the flights we actually took were not full either so it sure seems like price gouging to me to charge us $380 per person to change the flight. To be fair to Virgin Airlines, our favorite transcontinental airline, we don’t know that the fee was their fee or if it was actually from Expedia. I’m betting Expedia but I can’t be sure. And, of course I can complain all I want but the fact is we had to pay it to get home. Oh yes, we also had to pay a $25 late fee plus another day on the rental car and another day of parking for our car in Auckland. All in we were close to $900 in extra expenses on this little oops. Moral of the story…BOTH parties need to be looking at the days and dates and it probably isn’t such a bad thing to shell out $100 for travel insurance when you are spending close to $2000 on airline tickets. Just saying!

We were flying in the midst of this whole coronavirus thing and many have asked how that went. Well, as I said there weren’t nearly as many people flying as we’d normally see so that was actually nice bonus. On both flights from LA to Sydney and Sydney to Auckland we had three seats so we had plenty of room to stretch out. We saw a lot of people wearing masks and some people seemed to be going over the top with the wiping down of things with hand sanitizer. As for us, we did our normal routine of washing our hands regularly and wiping down the tray table and armrests with hand sanitizer. We’ve been back in the country for two weeks now and we’re both as healthy as the day we left. Not sure what’s going to become of this whole thing but I do thing but I know I’m glad we made it back when we did.

Before we close this article I would like to speak to everyone who gets on an airplane about some basic common courtesies you should be employing as you travel.

  1. Take a flipping shower before you get on a plane! People don’t want to sit in a closed up tube for hours and hours beside or near someone with extreme body odor. And wash your hair! No one wants to put their head on a headrest after your oily, nasty head has been resting on it. Come on people!
  2. Don’t forgo the shower in favor of dousing yourself with perfume or cologne either. Many of us out in the world have asthma and/or allergies and while you may love the smell of your favorite “Ode to Flower Body Oder Coverup” some of us get physically ill from having to smell it for hours on end. I spent the better part of four hours with a massive headache and had to use my inhaler several times because the lady in front of me smelled like a French brothel. She must have literally bathed in her perfume. Oh yes…she never stopped talking the entire time either!
  3. In the midst of this whole Covid-19 please use some common sense as to when to travel and when to keep your butt at home. Honestly when people and sneezing and hacking and sound like death you really have to wonder if they use their heads for more than a hat rack. If you have to travel and are sick then please, please, please….put on a mask so you aren’t blowing germs in the air every time you sneeze or cough.
  4. And finally, for God’s sake remember that the airline stewards and stewardesses are not your daddy or mama! They should not have to clean up the unbelievable messes people leave behind. I watched one woman a couple of aisles ahead of me throw each and every piece of paper, tissue, what have you on the floor when she was done with it. When we walked by her seat as we disembarked the plane after 13 ½ hours of flying it looked Pigpen had been sitting there. By contrast when you look at our seats when we leave there is little for them to do but take up the pillows and blankets. That’s how it should be! Have a little respect.

Okay, my rant is complete. Thanks for listening.

All in all our trip back to the states was truly fabulous even though it was completely exhausting. We saw most of the family and friends we wanted to see and ate way to much of the food we can’t get here in the South Pacific. We both gained a good ten pounds that we are now working feverishly to shed. Of course arriving back to Dazzler and having to jump immediately into boat projects and things is helping on that front. It will be better once we are finally back in the water and not eating out every single day though. Coming up we’ve got some great articles on the projects Dan’s been working on. He painted the bottom again and we’ve done some rehabbing to our tender that you just have to see. Saved ourselves several thousands of dollars. Can’t wait to show you the pictures so stay tuned.

Until Next Time…

Jilly

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An Exciting Update

It’s time again to get back to writing and keeping you updated on what has been going on but before we get to the personal stuff we’d like to share an update on our fundraising efforts to buy books for the children of Fiji.

Our Books For The Children of Fiji GoFundMe campaign has raised $1525 online and while we were home in the states visiting family and friends two of our nearest and dearest friends made a substantial donation which brought us up to $3060 USD! We are now just $440 short of our $3500 goal! This is absolutely astounding. The kindness and generosity of everyone is truly humbling.

And this isn’t the only excellent news we have to report on this front. Dave, a friend we know who works at All Marine here in Whangerie along with Irene with Zonta International have procured eight boxes of books from Kokopu Elementary School. These are library books that have already been vetted and are ready to go to the deserving kids of Fiji. Many thanks to Dave and Irene as well as to the Kokopu Elementary School administration.

But wait….it gets even better than all that! Prior to Christmas we reached out to the Lion’s Club of New Zealand. Just after the first of the year we received information from their office stating they do have books and would be interested in joining the cause. It’s absolutely amazing how many people are stepping up to help. We are completely humbled by it all.

Our next step is to begin recruiting other cruisers to assist us in getting the books to Fiji and distributing them to villages and schools once they are there. To this end we will be attending some cruiser events here in Whangerie to meet with and talk to others who are interested in helping. We will also be looking into the possibility of shipping some of the books to a couple of marinas where we can pick them up and distribute them once we’ve emptied our boat of the boxes we are carrying with us to Fiji.

There’s a lot of logistics required to make this happen but we’re super excited to get things moving. This is keeping Jilly really busy while Dan continues to work on getting the bottom of Dazzler painted as well as other routine maintenance that needs to be done while she’s out of the water. Of course we’ll be keeping you updated on our campaign along the way.

As for us, we spent five weeks back in the states visiting family and friends and traveling from coast to coast. Check back in a few days to hear about our journey.

Until next time…

Jilly & Dan

P.S. We are still a little short of our $3500 goal so if you’ve got even a few dollars you can spare we’d love it if jump book cruise and help us to provide as many books and maps as we can to the children of Fiji. You can click on the photo below to link directly to our GoFundMe page.

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2019 Rocked!

Well 2019 was certainly a spectacular year for the crew of Dazzler. It started off with a bang as our dear friends, Jack & Mary flew in from the states to join us on a three week road trip around New Zealand. We covered a whole lot of ground making it all the way down to Queenstown and back to Whangarei and we saw many wonderful sites along the way.

That trip ended and we were off to the states for a month to visit friends and family in California and Florida. Yes, having family on both coasts makes for a lot of traveling but we got it all in and still had time for a little sightseeing along the coast of California where Jilly got to see hundreds of Elephant Seals up close on the beach in San Simeon.

FIRST TO CALIFORNIA

THEN TO FLORIDA

After seven long weeks of traveling we returned to Dazzler who was on the hard. There was no time to rest as Dan got to work immediately preparing and painting the bottom as well as working on some other projects like replacing a thru hull and cutlass bearing.

No sooner had we completed all our work and it was time to start provisioning and preparing for the trip back north as our visas were about to expire. At the end of April we cast off our lines and headed back north on the nine-day passage to Tonga where we spent a month traveling the islands. We learned that we really love the Vava’u group of islands the most. And, we especially love the eastern most island of Kenutu. On one side of the island the Pacific Ocean crashes onto the craggily coast with the fury of God and on the other the bay is as flat as glass. It’s spectacular! The Tongan people are very kind and we thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them.

By the end of May we were headed north to Fiji where we spent the next five months. Fiji is a spectacular place! We fully circumnavigated the northern island of Vanua Levu with our German friends Lutz & Gabi on SV SuAn. We visited islands and villages where they had not seen outsiders in years! One village was so excited to have visitors that practically the entire village came to the shore to greet us. It was fabulous to get a chance to visit these remote places and get to know the people there. Most have little to nothing. They live in tiny box like homes with no windows or doors, just cloths hanging over the openings. Most have no furniture to speak of except maybe a mattress on the floor where they sleep. They have community kitchens that are usually set up in the middle of the village and all cooking is done over open fires.

The villagers live on the fish they catch and eat the hogs, goats and chickens they raise. The have some solar power that is provided by the government and their fresh water is collected from the rain. These people have virtually nothing but we can tell you this…we’ve never met more genuine, honest, hardworking and selfless people in the world. If we’d have asked they would have given us, total strangers, the last of their fruits or vegetables and never once asked for a thing in return. It was quite humbling to get to know these fine people.  Each village we visited we had the same experience. In fact, in one village the Chief had his son, Soniala take us on several hour hike up to Tavora falls while his wife, Elizabeth, fixed us a huge lunch to have when we returned.

We visited the island of Makogai where they grow clams as big as humans! This island was once a Leper Colony where people with Leprosy from all over the world were brought to spend the remainder of their days. It’s now a marine conservation station where they grow coral and giant clams and even sea turtles to release back into the wild. We enjoyed several wonderful days here. We found some electrical items, line, clothes and other things on Dazzler that we donated to the village. We also gave the kids a brand new volleyball. They loved that! Dan played volleyball and soccer with them for several hours while I enjoyed the afternoon chatting with the ladies and learning about their culture. We intend to return here next season to spend a week or two helping in the village.

After a month of traveling Vanua Levu we headed west toward Vitu Levu, the Mamanucas and the Yasawas. WOW! What absolutely stunning islands and waters we experienced here. There were places we could see the bottom 200’ below us!

We spent a significant amount of time at the island of Malololailai also known as Plantation Island. There are three resorts on the island and one, Musket Cove, is particularly popular with cruisers as it has a marina and their famous Island Bar. The bay here is well protected and they have very strong moorings as well. We spent so much time here because Dan had to go back to the states for his youngest daughter’s wedding and I was left on the boat for 16 days. If a girl has to be left alone someplace this isn’t a bad spot at all.

Don’t worry, I wasn’t alone the entire time. I had my friend Donna fly in from New Zealand for ten days. Donna and I enjoyed our “girl time” on the boat. Donna isn’t really a boater so teaching her to get in and out of the dinghy and how to conserve water and power aboard was a bit tricky but all worked out swimmingly.

Once Dan returned from the states we took off for the Yasawa Island Group. These are the northwestern most islands in Fiji and also the most beautiful. We visited several islands and met some incredible villagers. We happened into the village at Noboro Pointe on the only day of the year that they hold their church fundraiser. What a wonderful experience this was for us. All three villages on the island gathered together. The goal for them was to raise $21K FJD. This is equivalent to the salary of two people working at a resort for one year. That’s a lot of cha ching for people who make between $100-$300 FJD per week. ($50-$150 USD)

We were treated to a kava ceremony to celebrate them reaching their goal. It was by far the largest one we’ve ever attended with forty or more people sitting on the woven mat drinking kava. It was an exciting and very enlightening day for us. We were honored to be a part of this special day and can’t wait to return next year.

Before we knew it the time had come for us to leave all of our dear Fijian friends and head back here to New Zealand. This is a passage that neither of us was really looking forward to making. You see this passage is known to be one of the toughest in the world. You pass through an area where the Coral Sea, Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean all meet. This makes for some pretty interesting weather systems and often times turbulent seas. Sailors who have made this passage all say the same thing… “This is not a pleasure cruise. This is a get there safely as quick as you can passage.” Just prior to our departure two sailboats sank making the passage. One was just south of Fiji and the other off the northern cape of New Zealand. In that sinking a man lost his life.  As you can imagine we just wanted to get it done.

Our eleven-day passage was, at times, filled with rough weather and more than half of the trip was fraught with issues including a large wave that crashed over the top of us literally swamping the entire cockpit sending water down the companionway. 

On three different occasions we had to heave to in order to work on the water lift silencer which ended up with several holes and a large crack. The first night we were bobbing in the sea in the middle of the night while Dan tried to diagnose the issue. At one point we lost all power, which really freaked me out. I had visions of the Navy coming to rescue us. As it turns out Dan accidentally hit the kill switch. He thought it was hilarious. Me….not so much. Thanks to an amazing little product called Minute Mend Dan was able to patch up the unit and make it work to get us to New Zealand. 

And let’s not forget the leaking jury can full of diesel fuel that we dealt with in the middle of the night or the leaking chain plate that allowed water intrustion into our lockers. Or, there’s my absolute favorite…the morning I was catapulted off the head with the seat attached to my bum as I slammed face first into the head door. Yes, this was quite a trip.

By day eight we were both exhausted and ready for our passage to end. Seems God must have sensed our exhaustion and blessed our final three days with amazing sailing and beautiful weather. We arrived in Marsden Cove Marina almost exactly eleven days to the minute from when we left Momi Bay in Fiji. I could have kissed the dock and probably would have if it hadn’t had bird poo all over it!

We now have the boat tied up at Whangerie Town Basin Marina. Dan has been working on many projects not the least of which was to replace the exhaust lift silencing unit, fix the leak at the chain plate and rebuild two teak hatches in the cockpit.

Of course we have taken a little time to enjoy being back in New Zealand. Our Thanksgiving was simply spectacular. We made a full Thanksgiving dinner on Dazzler which is quite the feat in a galley that’s only about three foot square. We enjoyed a wonderful day of laughter, family, food, drink and music with our wonderful German friends from SV SuAn and SV Rebell. Dan played his ukulele and I played my Irish tin whistle. If we couldn’t be with our blood relatives this was the next best thing. As we like to say, “ We had an American Thanksgiving in New Zealand with our German family!”

We spent Christmas in Auckland with our Kiwi family there. We had three lovely and relaxing days of family time and even met another wonderful new couple who have become the newest addition to our Kiwi family. Jilly got the new Huawei P30 Pro phone that has a 40 MP camera so you’ll see a lot of really great photos in the future. (Note the difference of the ones below) Dan got a custom made, hand-carved flagpole created for him by Macu, a wonderful Fijian carver from the Lau group of islands. Of course he says it’s too nice to put out in the elements so it’s become a beautiful piece of art that is displayed below deck on Dazzler.

Now that the holidays are about over it’s time to get back to work. Dan’s working feverishly on varnish while I’m working very hard on our Book Buying Fundraiser for the children on the remote islands of Fiji. During our travels to the remote villages of Fiji we were blessed to get to know many of the families and tons of children. On Kia Island when we visited they let the kids out of school early for their afternoon meal to visit with us. Two of the young ladies grabbed me by the hand and rushed me across the lawn to see their new library. It is a wooden building about 20’ x 10’. I could smell the freshly cut lumber and new paint. These girls, about 13 or so, were so excited to show me their new library but as we walked in I immediately noticed that the beautiful wooden bookshelves were virtually empty. I broke my heart!

More and more kids came pouring into the library. Each was as excited as the next to tell me all about it and how everyone in the village participated in building it. Still I kept looking at the empty shelves. Later Dan and I spoke with Epeli, the headmaster, who told us that reading books are what they need most. It seems the Fijian government provides textbooks, paper and pencils but no reading books. Before we left we asked the kids what they would like us to bring back to them when we return next year. Each and every child replied, “BOOKS!” They could have asked us for anything else in the world but all they asked for were books. As we visited more villages along the way we heard this same request over and over from the children. 

This experience touched us both very deeply and we made a pledge that we will  return to these villages next season with as many books as we can buy and carry. As of today we’ve raised $1405 USD which brings us just short of 50% of our goal but we’re not done yet. We will continue to take donations through March 1stand we truly believe we will get there with the help of our fans, friends and families.

If you’d like to help us help the kids of Fiji, please CLICK HERE to make a donation

Well, that’s about all from the Sovereign Nation of Dazzler. If you want to see some photos of our adventures be sure to check out our Dazzler Art Photos & Videos Page by CLICKING HERE We’ve recently posted several hundred photos. We’re also working on a book of our travels, which we hope to have ready this year.

We certainly hope you all have a Fabulous and Propersous New Year!

Cheers,

Jilly & Dan

P.S. Grape Ape also had the time of his life this year. He is growing rather quickly and acts much like a teenager wanting to spend more time exploring on his own than hanging out with us but then that’s kids for ya. He does enjoy riding in the dinghy when we pull it behind the boat though. He loves his Uncle Lutz of SV SuAn and he’s made quite a few new friends this year. He’s looking forward to seeing what 2020 has in store.