A Happy Tranny!

 "Once in while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right" 
                                                                                                       -Robert Hunter 

It was a long, strange, trip, down the rabbit hole...
but we're out.

Jon did it.

Once our parts finally got out of freight forwarding purgatory and clear of the clutches of far-too-much-time-on their-hands, French Customs officials...

Jon sorted out that super-complicated transmission thingy, in no time.

It wasn't without its mini-nightmares and sleepless nights worrying about what the heck we were gonna do if it didn't come together. 
We don't have a Plan B. 
This is it. 
There's no money, no rescue team, no 'this sucks, get us out of here...".
We're just out here, 6,000 miles away from home, with only us to count on.

As my buddy Yoda says;
"Try not. Do or do not. There is no try".

Game on. 
Fix that shit.
Or you're not going anywhere.

Four weeks of floating in the murky mudflats of Port Phaeton, while waiting for parts, just crystallized our intentions and our will power.

Our way of dealing with the frustration, was to get super-focused and stay busy.

Jon made an epic list of every conceivable boat job that needed doing and went after them day by day. 
He cleaned and rebuilt the carburetors on our portable Honda generator (invaluable piece of equipment), our dingy engine, and our compressor, changed the engine oil on everything, all the fuel filters, rebuilt the water pumps, retooled the ancient fridge motor again, dove the boat and cleaned the bottom, reorganized our sail lockers, tuned the rigging and on and on...

We cleaned and cleaned, when it was sunny we hauled everything on deck and washed it, settee cushions, blankets, towels, (in buckets) of water (that had to be schlepped and hauled aboard in Jerry cans) and hung them over the boom to dry in the sun. 
We provisioned the boat again with long term stores. Loaded up on inexpensive Thai rice and French lentils, home canned thirty pounds of frozen chicken thighs -the cheapest, healthiest meat available here. I cooked them in giant batches in our lobster pot then separated the fat and bones, canned the meat and recooked and skimmed the broth before pressure canning everything four cans at a time. All that will fit in our small cooker. We ended up with 16 pints of chicken meat and 10 pints of homemade stock for 20 bucks. My Scottish mother would be so proud.

The kids home schooled for three hours a day-even though school was not technically back in session.
They worked just as hard as we did and took on piles of chores as well, shlepping jugs of water from shore and fuel from the gas station a mile away.

One of the very, very lucky things that happened to us, was that we broke down where there was an internet signal. 
It made it possible for us to find our spare parts and order them, keep tabs on tracking our stuff, do research for school projects and even download a couple of new movies on iTunes.

As saving graces go, that was a big one.

There is also plenty of water here and a grocery store within walking distance.

Without those luxuries, this would have been a heck of a lot harder-thats for sure.

It was a strange time, though. 
There is literally no one here but us.
It's  the first time since we left California, two years ago, 
that we have been completely alone with no new friends to meet in a foreign port.
Living aboard Pura Vida when she's out of commission, not being able to swim, fish, sail or walk on a beach,
essentially, we are stuck in an estuary-not knowing if the parts were going to work out when they got here, 
if the cause of the problem was what we thought, 
if our engine mounts were so crippled that it was going to make realigning the engine impossible for us- 
Jon had discovered a half broken foot on one side and we don't have a spare-
disconcerting thoughts and the eerie, stillness of this place,
made for some contemplative days.

We also had a tragedy.

Little Pippy, our beloved Tern, met an unfortunate end.
All was going well and hand rearing was work intensive but she seemed to be fairing well.
She grew daily and as she fledged she took to flapping about recklessly. 
We did our best to allow her plenty of room and keep and eye on her but we only have so much room on the boat.
One day, Pippy got out of her bucket and into some tangle of trouble on deck,
The generator was on and over the noise, no one could her her squawking. 
Hunter found her a few minutes later.
The poor creature had panicked and in her distress broke her wing and her little sternum. 
She just closed her eyes and that was it.
Her little heart stopped.
Hunter was inconsolable and we were all very sad. 
Everyone had grown so attached to her.
She was buried on shore, in a lavish and heartfelt ceremony, 
and laid to rest on the mud banks where the other terns play and feed.

The very next day, we met another cruiser who had returned to pick up his boat that he had left here,
while he travelled back to his veterinary practice in England, for a few months work.
He was lovely, kindly, man, who reassured Hunter (somewhat) by explaining to her that it is very common for wild birds
who are being hand reared to befall misfortune while in the hands of their would-be saviors. 
Wild birds are not meant to live inside houses (or boats) and without a proper aviary for them to practice flying, they often get into troubles. He also told us it would have been very unlikely Pippy cold have been successfully released and able to hunt on her own.

He looked into Hunter's tearful, puffy, face and told her she had done a kind thing giving the little creature three weeks of love but in the future, it would probably be easier for all involved, to leave wild things to their own fates.

The next morning, when we woke, the gentle vet and his boat were gone. Hunter seemed comforted and returned to her old self but it was a sad end to this little chapter of our adventures.

The calm did not last long.

No sooner I had put all the freshly laundered linens and bedding back in the boat...
Kai came down with a sudden and violent illness and projectile vomited all over everything.
Yup. Everything.
I stood, staring in disbelief as my darling, (GIANT) eleven-year-old,  dripping from head to toe, the walls of his v-berth and everything in it, books, stuffies, toys, bedding, pillows, all soaked in barf.
It didn't even look real. 
It looked like a scene from a gross-out, frat-boy movie.
"Honey, why didn't you tell me you felt sick?" I asked, not sure where to begin dealing with this horror.
'I'm sorry, mom" Kai said and then threw up on me.

I had sprained my back a few days earlier, hauling buckets of water aboard to swab the decks,
so cleaning that mess up, while in a partially frozen muscle spasm ( Jon happened to be on a store run) was another comedic event.
Performing any maneuver in a V-berth generally requires Cirque De Soliel flexibility and I was moving like I had a body cast.

Back to the buckets.

Poor Kai, meanwhile, was in the throws of something nasty, with fever and pain and very ill and all that ran through our heads that night as we tried to keep his fiery body cool with damp cloths, soaked in vinegar, was "please, don't let this be dengue.

Thank heavens-it wasn't.

By the next morning, it was clear that it was just a bug and then Hunter got it-and then me.

Of course, our parts finally cleared customs, so as Jon hitchhiked two hours into Papeete to get them-
he started to feel woozy.

At long last, after four weeks of waiting, we had our parts...
and everyone was incapacitated.

I think this was, probably the lowest, low on our trip so far.

There were a few desperate moments, as I was laid out on my back, unable to move other than
to limp out to check on a sick child. I felt terrible that Jon was burdened with all the responsibility of fixing us,
that there was so little I could do to remedy the situation and now, here I was, feeling utterly helpless.

There were definitely a few tears.

Before, setting off on adventure, 
you do worry about the "what if's".
Dramatic night terrors, keep you staring at the ceiling all night...
storms, shipwreck, sharks, illness, gear failure...

I had to remind myself that breaking down in Tahiti wasn't the worst thing on that list, after all.

That people put their backs out all the time and that if I wanted to be constructive, 
i better use the time to think, since I sure couldn't do much else.

I made a mental list of everything I am grateful for.
It was  a long list.

I made a vow to let it be, 
accept things where they are,
recognize that Patience is a practice,
and I was out of shape in that department. 

I went on deck and looked up at the stars.
The Tahitian stars.
Lucky stars.

Jon and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary.
Our kids surprised us with breakfast in bed.
We lay in our bunk, and smelled bacon cooking.
"can they do that... by themselves?" I asked.
Jon tiptoed out to make sure it got out of the pan, with no burn victims.

We had an amazing day-even if there were little buckets next to the bunk just in case anyone was sick.

I felt blessed, surrounded by love, 
fortunate to be living my life on an adventure...

We sang and laughed and played songs on the guitar,
watched Iron Man 3 on iTunes...

And the next day,
Jon fixed the boat.

There were a few issues that needed tinkering and it took a few days, but she's up and running again...
and her crew is healthy, too.

We tested her out, drove around the bay,
forward, reverse, neutral...
transmission working, packing nut not over heating...
"Well done, baby", I say to Jon,
who grins back at me.

As I write this, we are still in Port Phaeton-only now we're anchored on our own gear.
and It feels great.

Today, we will stock up on fresh produce for one last time and if the gribs look right...
we'll set sail for the Tuamotos tomorrow.

It's the first time, in two years, we'll be heading towards home.

It will take us a year or so to get there...
but thats just part of the adventure.

I realized in all this,
adventure doesn't have to be sailing across the sea, 
or hiking a mountain in the Marquesas,
or swimming with sharks, 
or dancing the pig dance around the fire...

It's what you make of what you're given,
how you look at it, 
what you choose to feel, on any given day...
that is the true test of our spirit.

We have many people to thank for their help and support over the past few weeks.

John from Trigon, the guy who sold us the used output shaft on ebay, was especially helpful.
He went the extra mile with technical and moral support and included lots of extra little bits and bobs (extra shims) that saved the day.

Cruiser-captain buddies, who helped us out and stayed in touch and worried about us...
(you know who you are)
Thanks and love to Y'all.

And to all our "virtual crew" out there,
Sorry for the delay, but pack your bags and get ready...

Because we're on our way, again!

The plan is to spend six weeks diving and exploring the atolls in the Tuamotos, then, once we feel we're out of danger for hurricanes in the North Pacific, 
we'll set sail for the Hawaian Islands.

Our SECOND big crossing of roughly, 2200 miles-only this time, its not so downwind!

We hope everyone will join us once again, for this leg of the adventure...

Kai and Hunter have a CORAL REEF project planned, while we are in th Tuamotos and will be posting blog updates for all our friends and Honorary Shellbacks about what they discover and what we can do to help protect these incredible natural resources.

We will be out of internet range again and on the SSB, so Emily our Fairy-Blog-Mother has kindly agreed to help us with tech support to keep everyone informed and add to our updates.

Crossed fingers and lots of love, that the next post will be from Sea tomorrow night.

the funeral barge
The long goodbye

Kai puts on a happy face (Hunter  mourning in the bg)

canning chicken while Hunter recovers

Days of this

On the mend...

the kids surprise us with breakfast in bed

15 wonderful years

The kids bust out a Four Seasons worthy fruit plate

and a Sonnet!

Boar tusk hair art

Maybe this is why our package took so long to get here...

ready for anything

sawing down wrenches to make them fit

The hole

rebuilding the tranny

getting the engine alligned to 1/1000ths of an inch...

...using a crowbar to do it!


  1. Okay,okay, you caught me nappin' ... but Ahma ready! And Ah is watching you!!

  2. I was starting to wonder where you all had gone to. You hooked an avid follower, then left me hanging! :-)

    So the north pacific, eh? Hawaii then back to the mainland, or will there be some other detours in there? Or is Hawaii just a work stop, so you all can keep out there?

    I love reading your stories,


  3. Love the Shakespeare on your anniversary. I remember your wedding so well. The dock, flowers, arrival by boat, didgeridoo...golden sunset light on our faces...dancing on the lawn by torchlight. One of the very best family days, and the last, at the summerhouse, and yours is one of the most amazing marriages, sail on well, love, Mare