Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tao's 2012 Cruising Plans

Cruise Track Overview:

Several people with whom we’ve spoken have asked how far it is to Australia and where we will be stopping between Hawaii and there. When we provide the names of the islands we hope to stop at we often meet blank stares. In an attempt to share our plans with everyone interested, we’ve made the above basic map outline of our planned cruise track, which will inevitably be reworked as we go. Our longest mileage passage will be right out of the gates (Hawaii really is all by itself in the middle of the Pacific Ocean) between Kona and Fanning Atoll of the Republic of Kiribati (pronounced kiribas). We hope to spend a couple weeks there catching some surf, meeting the community, and then watching for a weather window to head south to the Northern Cook Islands. If it is not too far up wind, we hope to make Pehnryn Atoll and then sail SW toward Suvarrov Atoll. Approximately 2 months after setting sail from Hawaii, we hope to reach the US Territory of American Samoa to re-provision. Shortly after, we will continue west in the archipelago to enjoy the independent nation of Western Samoa. From there, it will be on to Tonga, a Kingdom of 170 islands, followed to the west by Fiji, an independent republic consisting of 332 island and islets. Having heard stories of the multitude of beautiful protected anchorages only a day sail from each other, it is in Tonga and Fiji that we hope to do the bulk of this season’s cruising. Finally, around October we plan to make our way to New Calendonia and hopefully visit the Isle de Pines in time to await a safe weather window to make our final (and second longest) passage to Brisbane, Australia. In total, this proposed cruise track is nearly 4,500-nm of sailing over a 7-month period. We estimate that we will be sailing approximately 1/3 of this time and at anchor or exploring ashore for the remaining 2/3s.

Background to our decision:

Always attempting to keep open to whatever comes up, we’ve been steadily working toward several options since we landed in Hawaii last June. We have tossed around several ideas, including:
  1. putting Tao on the hard in Hawaii and starting a yoga studio/land life on the Big Island,
  2. sailing or shipping Tao back to the mainland and then Mexico where we could reasonably keep her on the hard while we transition back to a land life, and
  3. selling Tao (which pains me to even write let alone think about seriously) in Hawaii, or California, or Mexico and move on to our next adventures.
What kept coming up is that neither of us is ready to let go of the sailing dream and lifestyle just yet. We've put so much into it and are so close to that lingering dream of the idyllic “gentle” South Pacific... There are many challenges that we face daily in this lifestyle that will not work for us in the long term (i.e., daily fear of survival, limited refrigeration, no showers, no income). But, it is easy enough for us to put up with those things for the opportunity to enjoy one more beautiful season of unparalleled cruising through otherwise inaccessible Oceania in our well-honed, perfect-for-us, Tao.

The next question is from there to where, New Zealand or Australia? Well, they are both amazing places that we want to see. NZ has been our “dream destination” since before we bought the boat. However, the reality is that even northern NZ is far enough south to greatly increase the possibiliy of encountering unfavorable heavy weather conditions. On the other hand, Brisbane is still far enough north to be located within the tradewind dominated region. Of course, the description of our planned cruise track never seems to be enough, as most people follow up with the question, “So, what then?” Well, we have realized that we are downwind, fair weather cruisers, and like to linger in areas once we get there. Therefore, we do not want to sail against winds or through typhoons to get Tao back around the Pacific to where we started. Nor do either of us want to continue to sail west through pirate infested waters or push through long passages rushing by exotic lands for a “quick” circumnavigation. In addition, we both have other hopes and dreams to pursue that require land based lives in the not-too-distant future. So, our current answer is that there is no better place for Tao to find her next adventure than Australia. The market is good and the sailors are adventurous. We have not quite come to terms with that eventuality yet; instead we are focusing on the borrowed season of cruising before us that having that end will allow. Or maybe we'll have her shipped back from Australia to Mexico. Though, we have always promised to do our best not to own a boat that just sits and grows old, unused…

Another difficult cruising reality is that traveling with pets, though completely worth it, is not easy. If you can imagine, it is even more difficult to get a pet into Australia or NZ than Hawaii- to the tune of 6-months required kitty jail time no matter how much preparatory paper work is done. The combination of the front end work and quarantine time on the back end are unacceptable to all of us. For a short while we discussed having Grizzly stay with a friend in Hawaii while we journey down to Australia, and then having her shipped directly (from rabies-free area to rabies-free area) with only a 30-day quarantine upon arrival in Australia. But, that didn't settle well with us. Although nearly ready to throw in the sailing towel if our feline crew couldn't come along, the idea of a finite limit to the trip made it nearly palatable, as we can chalk it up as merely “being away from Griz for a few months.” With her Gramum's offer of Shangrila-de-Judy care, Grizzly will likely be much more comfortable in a non-moving home.

These are the sacrifices we make to live this charmed lifestyle. All of that and more thought went into our current season's cruising plans. Hopefully, the above map will satiate some curiosity and give you all an idea of what we're thinking. As always, we have no date for throwing off the docklines (because that's the way we roll), but we hope to start our sail south sometime between April 15 and May 15, 2012. Before we can go, several looming projects must be completed, and we will fill you in on those as they happen.


  1. Your many thoughts are appreciated. I know you'll keep us all posted during this amzing adventure. Grizzly is sitting in my lap as I type this comment -- I know she misses you as much as you miss her.

    Hugs and purrs,
    Mum and Griz

  2. Thanks Mum! We definitely miss her her aboard Tao. Enjoy her snuggles for us. xoxo Shawn

  3. What an exciting adventure. It thrills me to see when others ...carpe diem, carpe noctem, carpe vitam. Dan and I took a seven week hike up the continental divide trail through Colorado. There is something so special about that "i.e., daily fear of survival, limited refrigeration, no showers, no income" when you rely on only each other. But of course our adventure was like a walk in the park compared to the one you have planned.

    Will look forward to reading about it all.


  4. Sounds like a wonderful plan. Looking forward to reading about your adventures in the south pacific!

  5. @ Shirley: Thanks for saying hello! Each adventure is unique with its own challenges and magnificent moments. We look forward to hearing about yours as well, best of luck at TT!!

    @ Moondance: Won't we see you down there? Or are you eddying out in paradise for the upcoming season? Keep in touch!

  6. Hey guys, super exciting plans! We stopped through many of these spots, and our most favorite of all our journey across the Pacific was Suwarrow. I love seeing it on your path. We will be in Brisbane when you get here- we don't take off again until 2013. If we can help with any intel re Oz / Brissie / other stops on the way please email!

    1. Wonderful, we'll look forward to seeing you in Brisbane! and I'll make sure we have your e-mail in our shipboard account for when inevitable questions come up. Aloha!

  7. We'll be sailing north to Fiji about the time you guys take off. Although your schedule sounds ambitious (we spent two months in Tonga), I hope you make it so we can hang out again. Maybe in New Cal before the jump to Oz?

    Thinking of you, and as always wishing you fair winds!
    Amanda & Krister
    S/V Britannia

    1. Aye ambitious... yes, we usually take the slow track, but this is what we're starting with, we'll see where we actually end up. If we keep to it, we'd absolutely love to catch up with you in New Cal before the jump to Oz. Let's be in touch via HF once we're both underway. Best of luck provisioning. Happy Sails!

  8. aloha you salty yoga kids!
    love the new plan and psyched for you guys to go for it!
    hope all the prep is going well and let us know if we can help support u 2 at all in the coming days. hope u got the new-2-u camera clicking away. :)

    would still keep an open mind about NZ vs. Aus. think you guys would love the kiwi lifestyle down there and, really, think you will be fine crossing south from Tonga as long as you are smart and patient for the right window. just something to ponder as you sail westward across the big blue.

    much love and hugs to you both from springtime in Montana!
    Gar and Nic
    SV DreamKeeper

    1. Aloha Gar and Nic!!

      Our AWESOME new-to-us-from-you camera is clicking away, we love it. The prep is coming along slowly but surely- updates to come soon... Yes, we will keep an open mind and know that we will love NZ whenever we do make it there. Thanks for the thoughts!

      Much Love,