Well these are some crazy times we are living in to be sure. Of course this isn’t going to stop us from continuing our mission to help the children of Fiji. As they say, “Adjust, adapt and overcome.”This is what we are doing so we thought we’d provide everyone with a little update.
First lets start with the good news. Thanks to all of our fabulous contributors we not only met but exceeded our goal of $3500 USD. Thank you Captain Lawnboy for jumping in after our last post and making up the difference with your very generous donation! For books $3500 may not sound like a lot of money but our dollar goes a long way here in New Zealand so that’s actually more like $6000 USD and that my friends will get a lot of great books!
Of course in addition to buying them we have our generous book donation partners who stepped up to help. Thanks to Dave at All Marine for coordinating with Irene of Zonta International and the Kokopu Elementary School we picked up close to 700 books a couple of weeks again. Also, Judy Allison of the Lions Club coordinated helped us to acquire another 400-500 books. The community support for this is unreal!
We picked up the first boxes of books from Dave a couple of weeks ago and our first order of business was to get some organization going. To that end we needed to pick up some smaller, more uniform boxes. It’s important for the cruisers who will haul and deliver them to have them in smaller, manageable size boxes that store easily on a boat.
Since Dazzler was still in the yard we took the books we picked up from Dave back to the boatyard and set up a sorting station there. For several hours Jilly went through the books checking for ones with torn or missing pages and organizing them to be boxed. Dan did the boxing and heavy lifting. We filled each box with a variety of books for kids of all ages. In the end we had 12 boxes of books ready to be handed over to the Cruiser Angels who will be the making deliveries.
Of course we don’t have the ability to get them to everyone just yet so we needed a place to store them. Our dear friend Allan Gray at Wynn Fraser Paints offered to store them in a storage area at their store. Thanks Allan!!!
Just this week we picked up 7 more boxes of books from Judy Allison, the District Governor for the New Zealand Lions Club. While the books from the school were fun reading books, the books from the Lions Club included a couple hundred reading journals for teachers to use in addition to a couple hundred other reading books. Looks like we probably have somewhere around 1200-1400 donated books. This was completely unexpected but certainly a blessing.
So what are we doing with your donations? Well, Jilly spent days and days on the computer researching and reading about children’s books. We ordered a couple of hundred brand new books and some large, wall maps of the world. Maps are big for these kids as they like to see where they are in the world.
Since we have tons of great reading books including everything from Charlotte’s Web to Br’er Rabbit (one of Jilly’s favorites), we decided to spend the donated funds on good, educational books including Children’s World Atlases, books on animals and some really great ones that talk about people and cultures across the globe. There’s some science books and other fun learning material on it’s way to us as well AND we still have more money to spend on new books.
We figure by the time we are done we should have somewhere around 2000 books to deliver to the deserving children of Fiji and you are part of this great accomplishment. Thank you!
Of course as we’ve said, given the state of the world at this moment, we have to adjust, adapt and overcome. So what is the current status of delivering to the islands?
Well, honestly all of us cruisers are in a state of suspension right now due to the coronavirus. Borders are closed all over the globe and Fiji is no exception. Right now we are not even sure we will be permitted to sail to Fiji this year. It all depends on when the borders are reopened. For those of you who are not sailors, it’s not just of matter of them opening the border and us taking off. We have weather and seasons to think about.
Being in the southern hemisphere Spring starts at the end of September. With Spring and then Summer comes the potential for cyclones. Cruisers with any sense of sanity don’t sail north between November 1st and the end of April. So, if the borders do not open up for six months or more we may be required to stay in New Zealand until next cruising season. If this is the case then we will find a small storage unit and store the books for the year. We have every intention of delivering these books personally to the children. If the worse case scenario occurred, we could ship them but due to the weight of this number of books it could be a very costly proposition. As much as we’d like to get them over there this year it may have to wait. Obviously the health and safety of everyone involved is our top priority.
So, at the moment, we are hovering about in a holding pattern. We will keep everyone updated as the days and weeks pass but don’t worry we will get the books to the children one way or another!
In the meantime, stay safe, be healthy and keep smiling!
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 GoFundMecampaign 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.
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.
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!
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.