Still Slogging to New Zealand

Burnt Pine Islands-1
Where, of where are you Alvei?

You might be wondering why you haven’t heard from me lately when, supposedly, I’m on the biggest adventure of my life–to date.  Well, unsure of how to put this, the Alvei is still making her way, to New Zealand, from Vanuatu.  Her position was last reported as 27.56S 167.28E putting her just north of Norfolk Island or the Burnt Pine Islands, about halfway between New Caledonia and New Zealand. Vanuatu, not pictured here, is just northeast of New Cal.  So, poor girl. She was first pushed back about 150 miles by Cyclone Ula winds. Most recently, she hit the doldrums and drifted backwards, on the current, losing about two days of effort.

Why doesn’t a 115′ tall ship just motor through these slow moving areas, you ask?  Her engine is a two cylinder Perkins.  As Captain Evan tells it, when he bought the boat in Norway, he was advised that this particular Perkins would last forever as long as it didn’t overheat.  So, in keeping with this advice, Evan protects the engine by holding her at a whopping–wait for it–two knots per hour.  One thing I will say for the captain is that nobody knows this boat like he does.

What are the implications of this decision?  One, we have an engine that has lasted for decades.  Two, crew tend to be lured by boats that make the same trip in, get this, two weeks as opposed to five.  Then there’s the sound of this two cylinder antique that I am told can be heard for miles before Alvei reaches port with its boom BOOM, boom BOOM, boom BOOM sound.  Even better is being at the helm, in the middle of the night, seeing nothing, but hearing this mesmerizing drum beat, over and over.  I use mental exercises to distract myself like finding navigation stars, and learning to steer accordingly.  But, I am considering jazzercise.

Meanwhile, I am here in New Zealand waiting for Alvei’s arrival, which we now estimate at February 20th +/-.  I’m hoping to hear her coming this time because when first arrived in Vanuatu to join the crew, I managed to sleep through her famous/infamous drum beat arrival at 1:30 a.m.

With nothing much else to do, it’s been a good time to get some work done by setting up the Alvei on airbnb, all six cabins and four common-area bunks, which we’ll open up once we dock at Port Tarakohe, in the Tasman Bay.  But first, and to welcome the Alvei back

A bit of a nod to the burlesque, a hint of slapstick, the twins have the ultimate trust in each other when it comes to the slick moves that make them sometimes drop seven feet before being caught.

to New Zealand, by way of Port Nelson, the aerial wonders and committers of death defying feats, the Twisty Twinz, will  perform their famous pirate show from the Alvei’s rigg.  The twins are only too eager to perform on a real ship rather than from their usual crane set up.  We’re only happy to accommodate their dreams. However, Before we watch this beautiful show, on red silk, we must run the gauntlet of red tape, and be approved by “health and safety”, then the Nelson City Council–as powerful as any state legislature, after which we must secure a permit from the harbor master.  Wish us luck that this doesn’t turn into a pirate themed potluck.

Well, that’s it for now.  I love and miss you all.  Remember to please keep Colin close.


New Years’ Eve, Nelson, New Zealand–After an evening of concerts and an eye catching aerial acrobatic show, by the Twisty Twinz, followed by fireworks and confetti shot from a canon, it was my first ever New Years in the summer–despite the sweater.



Published by: So the World Goes

What began as a data collection endeavor, following Cyclone Pam, has become an adventure that has taken me from Vanuatu's central islands on to the north, and back, spending time in remote island villages and cosmopolitan cities, all while living on boats. Since I arrived in August, Vanuatu has experienced a 7.3 magnitude earthquake and the jailing of 14 government officials, for corruption, the last of which brought a UN warning of riots. Luckily the latter didn't happen. But, from flying fish to the red glow of volcanoes, I wish this waking dream could last forever. Frequency of Posts While the intention was to blog almost daily, either being at sea or experiencing limited internet access, has put me way behind on posting. The upside is that there are still many stories to share, the lack of internet access being a story all its own. That said, life in a developing nation that toggles between old the world and the new, is both romantic and frustrating. So, please be patient as I must also be. Contact me at


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