Annual Summary of 2002

Here is a summary of our travels in 2002, which covered more than 5500 miles.

In Sydney, Australia Jan 1 - April 22: We enjoyed New Year's, Chinese New Year and Mardi Gras celebrations despite bush fires near the city. Daughter Dorothy & friend Dan visited for two weeks. We got new batteries and a new autopilot for the boat. We had good times with Aussie cruisers and others. We took several walks to see Aboriginal art in beautiful Broken Bay.

Sydney to Port Vila Apr 22 - May 6: We had light winds for the first few days and passed within sight of Lord Howe Island. Then we encountered strong winds for the next nine days. Those winds were over 25 knots almost all the time, but only a few gusts reached 40 knots so it wasn't dangerous. The waves got fairly large and the boat's forepeak support boards got cracked. (We have since strengthened those areas.) It was wonderful to return to the tropics and enjoy warm water, bathing suits, coconut palms & flying fish once again.

May 6 - Sept 5 in Vanuatu: We had much interaction with the native Melanesians aboard our boat and in their palm-thatch houses, trading for coconut crabs and the foods they grow, helping school children, delivering letters, learning the Bislama language and local customs, walking to ancient village sites, eating the national dish "laplap", drinking kava, avoiding malaria, understanding the significance of the circular tusks of "tooth blong pig", and taking a family aboard for 15 days to the Melanesian Arts Festival. They are proud to be an independent country, although their communication, transportation, educational and medical services seem rudimentary to us. We sailed to many islands, often in 20-30 knot winds and rain. Our roller-furling jib delaminated and destroyed itself. We used on-board email for the first time and really enjoyed it.

Sept 9 - Nov 18 in New Caledonia: We enjoyed several quiet anchorages near the Isle of Pines and had good experiences with local Kanaks in the Loyalty Islands. We took a chief's family on a pilgrimage from Ouvea to the little atoll of Beautemps Beaupre where they made offerings to the spirits of their ancestors. We shared coconut crab & good fishing with them. We enjoyed a three-day dance festival on Lifou. The French government provides modern technologies, so these Melanesians have more electricity, autos, education and medical care than the ni-Vanuatu.

Noumea to Opua, New Zealand Nov 19 - Dec 2: Our boat lost its daggerboard and we blew out an old borrowed jib in just 20 knots of breeze. This was not an exciting passage, and our progress was slow. We had no strong winds but consistent headwinds. We saw sperm whales, storm petrels and albatross, and caught a couple small tuna.

Kerikeri & Auckland, New Zealand in December: We returned to cool temperatures, long clothes, penguins, killer whales, gannets, green-lipped mussels, blossoming pohutukawa and giant kauri trees. We followed the America's Cup races on TV, and sailed through the racecourse before one race. We fraternized with fellow cruisers, and started buying everything needed to get the boat ready for the next few years of cruising through the islands. It seemed incongruous to hear the usual songs about sleigh bells while planning to spend Christmas on the beach.