Tag Archives: boat fitness

6 weeks in Tonga: part one- Vava’u September 2018

img_1785img_1789Upon our arrival into Tonga, we felt a mixture if great relief and anticipation. We were relieved to be somewhere that we knew we would be at for about 6 weeks and were  anticipating the next step… were we going to get Josie to work in US as a travel nurse again for a 3 month assignment or wait for work in New Zealand.  We had to get both lined up a some point.  Josie’s work in New Zealand  should probably start sometime late December or early January.  Lots to think about and lots of fun to be had at the same time. Finding the balance of continuing the enjoyment of cruising and being responsible to keep the kitty fund coming can be a challenge.

Lets first have fun and worry about the other stuff as it comes up.

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Check into the country: check. Get Pa’anga (Tongan Money) from the ATM: check. Fresh produce from the local produce market: check. Walk around to town to get the general feel for things, check. Find our cruising friends, some of which we hadn’t seen since Tahiti, check check.  Neiafu is a small, but popular port of entry for Tonga in the northern group of islands called the Vava’u Island Group. It lies in the upper group of Tonga.fbd5ce09-0e7f-4b3c-90bd-c455a94a98d3

Checking in was pretty easy, the docking, not so much. The industrial dock is not super small sailing yacht friendly. It’s weather dependent,  has limited space, and tidal dependant.  We happen to have it to ourselves, but it isn’t uncommon for there to be 2-3 boats side tied to each other waiting for many hours for the check-in or check-out process.  This is also the only supposed place to get duty free fuel, which by the sounds of the radio chatter wasn’t quite that easy of a process and was not to be relied on.  Anchoring is also very limited. Most of the waters were at least 70 feet-120 deep up right near to shore and known for some rocky bottoms.  Basically, you crossed your fingers that there was a mooring available. We lucked out, someone had just left one.img_1597Mango Bar and Grill was where most of the cruisers would take their dinghies into shore and tie up.

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Taj driving the dinghy back out to the boat.

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A little boys club time at the Mango bar and grill

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We spent a few days on the mooring just off of Neiafu, exploring the town, visiting friends, meeting new friends, accessing wi-fi, finding the local butcher shop, and pondering what anchorages we should visit over the next 6 weeks.  Tonga has this weird, and thought to be rude by some, anchorage naming phenomenon.  Instead of the proper Tongan names for the anchorages, they have assigned numbers associated to them. This all started with the Moorings charter company. It was easier to provide anchorage numbers to the charter boats than for the people to read and pronounce the names of each anchorage.  I have to admit, as much as we tried to avoid using the #’s and be respectful to the Tongan people, it was a lot easier to use the #’s to let people know where we were at or heading to.  It just became what people did with the exception of a few more popular places.  Hopefully, at some point, the # names will be lost and the traditional Tongan names will be used again.

There were over 40 different anchorages in the Vava’u Island group of Tonga. You can see Moorings Tongan Cruising Guide in the link above or here.

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Noonsite also has some useful information on the latest Tonga info.  It’s all about the “latest” as it is ALWAYS changing season to season. Most of the anchorages are fair weather anchorages only, but there a few good ones that a really protected from specific wind directions. We happened to be in Tonga during one of the most windy 6 week stretches of the year, so we were a bit limited on where we went. But we made the best of it and we were with great people, so all was good.

I’m not sure what happened to my anchorage/ farkwar tracking abilities during our time in Tonga. I’m pretty sure I was just trying to enjoy every bit of it that I could in that moment before I had to leave for work and then move to New Zealand for more work. I’ll try my best to re-hash some memories of our time in the Vava’u group (part 1 of our 6 weeks in Tonga).

August 30th: Maurelle bay (anchorage 7), Tonga. After 5 days of “big city” Neiafu life, we ventured out to our first anchorage in Tonga. Maurelle Bay. This lovely spot would end up being where we frequented the most,  with the exception of trips to Neiafu town to re-stock.  Maurelle was just a quick few hours out of town and a beautiful little bay that can fit a good number of your friend’s boats. There was 4 mooring balls that were available and then probably room for about 7 more boats to anchor.  A local would come by to collect a “donation”, I forget how much it was, but it wasn’t too much and  you could stay 5 days with it, but if you left and came back you would have to pay again. A bit funny, but we got over it.  The bay offered swimming, snorkelling, beach walking and easy(ish) access to the caves that are well known in Tonga. Mariners Cave and Swallows Cave.  Swallows Cave offered bats and clear water with many bait fish swimming around in formation. Super cool and easy for the kids. We did see a sea snake in there though…eeek.  Mariners is one of the more popular caves for having to dive down through and up into the open, dark cave. There is a swim through that’s anywhere from 6 feet to 12 feet deep depending on the tide and another one much deeper at  13-15 meters (44-50 feet).  S/V Muskoka took a bunch of us out to Mariner’s Cave and has a bit of footage of me diving down and through the deep tunnel. Here’s the link to their youtube video. The dive can be found at ~5min 10sec of the 14 min video.  (There is also a clip of Taj during one of his many frequent visits to S/v Muskoka : at 7min).

S/V Soggypaws has some good info on the dive sites and many other useful information for Tonga.

September 3rd: Kenutu (anchorage 30), Tonga.  This anchorage was out on the outskirts a bit, but worth the trip. One must follow the chart closely through a bit of a zigzag channel and go with good lighting to avoid running aground or on a reef.  This sweet spot held a good number of boats and offered more beach activities as well as dinghy sailing and kite surfing.  Kenutu was where we made cookies for the anchorage and had all the kids come paddle by the boat to pick them up.  Watch the short video below.

We shared many anchorages with many lovely cruisers. We had a dinghy raft up pot-luck, beach bon-fires, many sun-downers rotating between the different boats, pizza parties, birthday parties, and the occasional quiet evenings alone on our own boat.

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Calazone making aboard SV Anilaimg_1724

The video above was taken on one of my swims in Tapana Bay (anchorage #11). Zen life underwater.img_1788

The video below is when we had a impromtu boatfitness session aboard SV Muskoka.  I gave a little TRX demo / instruction and Laurie Ritchie added her professional Physio tips.

While we were there, we did get to experience a few cultural events. Sunday church is a HUGE thing in Tonga. In fact, most everything is closed on Sundays and the only thing to do is go to church. We are not church goers ourselves, but Nina and I went with a few other cruising families to get that experience. “Wow!”, is about all I can say. The attire that some of the locals wear and the songs they sing are amazing!. We went to the Catholic mass, but a few other cruisers went to the other sermans as well.   The experience is worth every bit of the effort.

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St. Joseph’s Cathedral

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As for the “traditional Tongan feast”, we hopped onto a luncheon at Ene’io Botanical Garden that a few other cruisers signed up for. It’s organised through one of the ex-pat tourist coffee shops in town.  A van picked us up and drove us out and over to the feast location. Apparently its this family farm that goes back many generations. Tours can be arranged for the full farm, but we just did the meal. I believe the meal alone was $40/person. I could be mistaken though, as it was a while ago. Again, just Nina and I went for this event. The roasted pig was as anticipated. I would say the rest of the food was so so. I think the best part was more about the whole experience, the attmoshphere and the people we were with more than food itself.  End result, we probably wouldn’t do this particular one again, but if we met a family and they invited us over for a traditional dinner, we would indeed be extatic to participate.08166056-ae0b-4cc6-8e32-e526641d9564

As time was ticking, it was time to start thinking about work.  There was play time and then there was a little thinking about “should I get a travel nurse assignment in The States or try to start work ASAP in New Zealand?”  First step was to look further into New Zealand Immigration  for what I’ll need to do to get a work visa and move to the next step from there.  As we looked into it further it became clear that the best way to go would be to apply for a job and get the job offer first and then apply for the visa.  If all went well with that, the visa would probably take a few months to go through. With that in mind, we decided it would be best for me to pick up a travel assignment back in San Francisco as long as the hospital  in New Zealand was willing to wait for a start date in January 2019.

Sure enough, everything happened to fall right into place. I was able to apply for NICU position at the level 3 NICU in Wellington, New Zealand, get in contact with them to set up an interview all the while setting up a travel assignment in the United States.  I was able to do all of this thanks to the affordable sim cards in Tonga and an APP called MagicJack to call internationally along with a few iridiumGo calls when there was no service available.  As I was organizing my travel assignment, Wellington Hospital offered to do a phone/skype interview. I loaded up my SIM card, had fellow cruisers watch the kids, and Christian motored our boat to an anchorage that we knew would be quiet and had cell coverage in order for me to have the clear call. I dressed up for the part, Christian went for a standup paddleboard tour around the island while I rang in for the interview. Wow, what a cool experience. I doubt many people could say that they had a phone interview off a remote island in Tonga. The interview went well. They were willing to wait until January if they offered the job, I just needed to wait a few days for their response. I rang up the travel nurse recruiter to confirm “a go” for 13 week assignment starting mid October to early January. Then a few days later I was offerend the New Zealand job!!! INCREDIBLE!

With all that excitement, we celebrated of course. But we also had to change gears for getting me to Tongatapu to fly out by October 9th.  We had more places to go, more time to play, but on more of a time schedule. We also had to arrange for our friend, Nic, from S/V Cielo Grande, to fly out to Tonga to help sail Shawnigan down to New Zealand.

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Maurelle Bay

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Play dates with other boat kids! (Representing Counting Stars, Magic and La Cigale)

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Playtime aboard Shawnigan

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Taj trying to explain how to play “chest” (as he calls it).

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Tall Ship Picton Castle

Taj had to have this cottonball in his ear due to a really bad ear infection. It started as just an ear ache and a fever that turned into many days later still having it with a sudden continuous drainage of gunk. We ended up giving him antibiotic and thankfully within a week it was mostly clear up. Our friends on Anila had an Otoscope that they loaned us and from what we could tell, the eardrum was ruptured, and pretty severely. For the remaining time in Tonga, the poor kid had to be really careful about not going underwater or making sure that he had waxy ear plugs in if he did.  I cant help but wonder if the germs from Christian’s staph infections were hanging out on the boat and got into Taj’s ear. I think that’s the nurse in me, but we’ll never know and it all turned out ok.

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A little boat making project with dad.

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Giving the boat a go…

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Facebook video call with Ellamae, who was in Florida. Thay aren’t real tears, but sometimes I sure felt that they could be.

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Fish and Chips out on the water- I just realised that it actually says “fish and chip”… you do get more than one chip with your order.

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Mo’orea – Society Islands – French Polynesia 🇵🇫

While I was away with Ellamae in the USA, Christian, Nina and Taj made their way over to Mo’orea, the beautiful island about 10 miles west of Tahiti. It was a great break from the busy Tahiti experience. They met a few new boats and few more great people. S/V Today was there with a active Kiwi family visiting that quickly became great friends. S/V Green Coconut Run from Santa Barbara was there and Tusi 2, with their teen grand kids visiting. Nina was in heaven with older kids around.

Hanging with our new Kiwi friends off of SV Today

Jeremy (StarboardSupNZ)

After about ten days there, Christian came back to pick me up from my return flight into Tahiti. We spent a few more days in the Marina Taina are, provisioning and exploring Heiva events.

We then returned to Mo’orea so that I can see the beauty for myself as well as meet with our friends on La Cigale, Kea, Bajka, Heritage and Tranquilo. With only a few day allotted for Mo’orea, we packed our “tourist” experience in before heading northwest to Huahine.

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Coming into our anchorage in Mo’orea.

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Taj

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Nina

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Josie

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Nina

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Tiki

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NIna and the Tahitian Stingray

SUP Yoga off the back of La Cigale with El (SV Tranquilo), Josie (Shawnigan) & Lucy (La Cigale).

Josie at the alter with the underwater Tiki gods

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Mazatlan: round dos

First, our sail from Isla Isabela to Mazatlan: May 5th-6th, 2017.
We sailed off the hook from the east anchorage on Isla Isabel and headed 330 * North toward Mazatlan. With about 90 miles to travel we planned an overnight passage. We drifted the first 3 hours. Then the wind barely filled in, but enough to commit to sailing on. Early afternoon, the wind picked up to a more steady 4-8 knots out of the NW. We saw tons of sea turtles. By nightfall we’d barely gone 25 miles, but the wind kept up. Over the night there were a few drifting moments, but for the most part we had enough wind to cover 40 miles. The wind slowly switched out of the west and even the south for a little bit. We saw more sea turtles the next day, probably a total count of over 40. On the way in to Mazatlan we were cruising with winds up to 12-15 over our port beam. We dropped the hook on the East Side of Deer Island @ 1600 on May 6th. 2314.238 N , -10627.679 WSV Easy off of Isla Venados (Deer Island)

The next morning we timed our entry to the mouth of the harbor to arrive at 07:30 am for a good reason.  The SW swell was rolling in at 3 feet, 0800 was high tide and the bar at the entrance to marina Mazatlan and El Cid is shallow enough to break all the way across, so we needed that peak incoming high tide. We motored close to the entrance and timed our entry between the sets. SV Easy waited just behind us.  We made it through without any problems, but if we had not been careful we could of had breaking waves! 

We came into Marina Mazatlan and we’re immediately greeted by the dock guards, who lead us to a slip. We had been to Marina Mazatlan before and liked it, but man does it burn through the pocket book fast! We’re not use to this daily fee. The funny thing about Marina Mazatlan is that it’s cheaper to pay for 8 days than it is to pay for 4 to 7. We had a few things we wanted to do on the boat while docked, we would be there a few days anyway, to pick up Ellamae from her stay with her Papa, so we paid for 8. OUCH, but we made every bit of it count.  Taj found his new #1 seat on our Mantus Anchor.

Both times that we’ve been to Mazatlan, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. This time was a little different than our last visit here around the same time of year last year. We only went to the “old-town” in the city once. We went bowling twice, swimming with our friends at El Cid Marina once, we met up with some very long ago family friends that live in Mazatlan, and spent the rest of the time on boat-schooling and boat projects. Catch and release cat fishing.Taj’s new friend at the tienda (snack shop) at the head of the dock.

The trip to the city was more to stretch our legs and get outside. We ended up walking at least 6 miles along the malecón and through town. Nina and Taj skateboarded, which made the trip a little more tolerable. Everyone was a little sore the next day. It felt great! 

Bowling was fun. Not affordable by any means ($20-30 per family for an hour), but fun nonetheless. The bowling alley is in the Liverpool mall, which is walking distance from the marina. The first time, SV Raireva took us. The second time we went with SV Easy and the family on SV Riki Tiki Tavi. What a blast!

Swimming at the El Cid was fun, but the water was not very warm and the place is a wind tunnel. Oh and they don’t let kids under 12 in the hot tub, boo 😒. Our time spent there was short. 

I mentioned meeting with family friends from long ago. The Lonsdale’s, were friends with my parents when they lived near Mammoth Mountain. This was before and maybe a little after I was born; wait for it ….. 36 years ago.  They are also world travelers and have done quite a bit of relief work all over the world. They ended up moving to Mazatlan over 8 years ago and starting up 2 Looney Bean coffee shops; one in Downtown Mazatlan and the other one in Cerritos, a town on the very north end of Mazatlan.  Looney Bean originally came out of Mammoth Mountain, so when we saw it in Mazatlan, we were super excited. They roast their own coffee down here and it is sourced responsibly. They even donate 10% of the whole bean coffee sales to families in need in local areas. Before we led the coffee shop, we left our boat card with our number and email and sure enough, a few days later, Heidi, the owner called me. She was so excited, as was I, to make the contact after so many years had passed. Long story short, they invited us for dinner and we had a great time with very good people reminiscing and talking about traveling life. We are hoping to stop by on our way back south to spend more time with them, including surfing the local spots together! In front of the Cerritos Looney Bean with one of Heidi and Tom’s daughters. Ellamae and I Sporting the Looney Bean shirts.Heidi zipped off on her scooter. Love this lady! Tom and Heidi with myself. Can’t wait to see them again next fall!

Fondue dinner on SV Easy.

  My dock yoga shipshape time on the dock. Getting “grounded” after so much water time. 

Ship Shape on YouTube 

My last few Ship Shape posts have either been on our instagram or YouTube channel. Here’s the last two videos that I’ve done for Ship Shape: staying fit and healthy while sailing the world with kids. 

Doing yoga with our kids. Sara Wood from Riki Tiki Tavi and her daughter and Ellamae and myself.

“I’m here to pump you up!”

As some of our followers might know, I , Josie, mother and wife on S/V Shawnigan, post a #shipshape blurb on occasion on our blog and more frequently post exercise poses on our instagram. I do this in hopes to inspire other sailors, not just women, to exercise on their boats as well.

The other week, I was invited to speak at a Women Who Sail event in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico, in regards to fitness for sailors. I was one of 4 speakers in front of 40+ women. Diane and her daughter Maia spoke as recent circumnavigators! Our daughter Nina spoke about life changes as a kid going from city life to cruising to regards to friendships. And I had the pleasure for the opportunity to share my thoughts on boat fitness and for the potential to inspire this fantastic group of sailing women. My focus was on my background, the importance of staying fit for sailing and an example of a few poses.  
I’m not sure how many of you were excited about P.E. when you were growing up, but I have to be honest here, I hated it! No offense Mr. Eryr if you’re reading this. It wasn’t the teacher. I just could not stand someone telling me to do 20 push-ups, 50 sit-ups, 8 laps around the field. In fact, I disliked it so much that I would sometimes fake being sick and (sorry Mom and Dad) even ditched a few classes. I was an active kid though. I was very competitive on the swim team, hiked, karate, skied/snowboarded, skateboard, and was always riding bikes around the neighborhoods. 

It wasn’t until I broke my arm when I was 15 that I realized the importance of exercise in my life. That broken arm put me out from doing so many of the things I loved for over 3 months. No playing piano, no swimming, snowboarding, drumming in band, nothing. As a normal hormonal teenager and recent injured and inactive teenager, I saw my mood decline. That was when I first signed up for a weight training class with my parents. I hopped on board with the gym scene since there were so many options to get exercise and rebuild mobility in my arm. It was then that I saw my improvement in my overall mood and physical stamina. I even started working out before school, especially on test days in order to stay focused throughout the day. In college, you could find me with me flash cards on the elliptical studying for my nursing exams. I found something that worked and kept with it.

My physically active life went on and I found myself and Ellamae moving out of the “normal” house life and onto a 35′ boat with Christian and Nina. I maintained exercise off the boat by riding my bike to work each day and swimming, yoga, or occasional surf on my days off. We moved onto our current bigger 40′ monohull, had Taj and found our way to cutting the dock lines and sailing down to Mexico. 

One of my biggest concerns about sailing around the world with my family was how I was going to maintain my fitness and the for the family. I know I’m not alone on that thought. Our Stevens 40 doesn’t offer much in regards to extra space for exercise, so we had to get creative on board. Our friend bought us a TRX, so that was helpful.  I found places throughout the boat to do core exercises, but I had to get creative about it. Actually, I really enjoy doing some of my exercises on night watch. It helps me stay awake and keeps me alert. For our cardio based exercise, that usually comes in the form of surfing, swimming, and power yoga when we are anchored somewhere and not underway.

Christian and I both value the importance of exercise. So we make sure that we both fit it in to our days. It helps with our parenting, our marital relationship and our sailing longevity. If either of us slack of, our mood becomes a little short, parenting and homeschooling becomes harder and life just isn’t as smooth. Not only that, but our physical strength is important to us, especially our core. We’ve noticed after 32(ish) that as soon as we let our core strength go, we run in to back problems. The last thing you want while out sailing is a hurt back. 

It is extremely important to be able to act quick and with agility on your boat. Whether you need to make short tacks up the windy channel, hoisting sails, pulling up anchors, to, knock on wood, performing a “man overboard”, your core strength matters most. All the other strength comes with “the job”. 

I am not a certified trainer, or certified TRX trainer. I get most of my ideas from my family’s Crossfit Gym in Bishop, so I am happy to give credit and gratitude to them. I hope my #shipshape gives you ideas and inspiration. If you are a cruiser and in my area I can come show you some exercise specific to your boat, “trade for coconuts “. Here are a few poses that I demonstrated during the Women Who Sail speech and a short video from last year. 

For more Click links below:

Boat pose 

Side Plank

Plank pose