Monthly Archives: July 2022

Tauna, Gambier

We Vamoose from French Polynesia

There is a lot we need to do before we vamoose from French Polynesia and head to Fiji.  This will be the longest passage Matt and I do solo together.  We sailed 18 days with 2 other people which split the shifts up nicely.  We sailed 11 days with just the two of us (from Easter Island to Gambier), but this passage will be between 13-16 days.

So, you might think…what do you do to prepare to be at seas for up to 16 consecutive days in a row?  Drink heavily?  No, well, not really.  There is lots of paperwork to do to clear out of French Polynesia and to clear into Fiji.  We also have to prepare meals, return items, and ready the boat to vamoose.

Sugar Shack, Matt and I have to legally “clear out” of French Polynesia prior to vamoosing.  We cleared into the country 11 April 2019 (over 3 years ago).  Can you believe we have been here for that long?  We certainly did not anticipate staying here this long, but it has been a wonderful adventure!

Requesting Permission to Enter Fiji

Before we can depart French Polynesia, we have to receive approval to go to Fiji.  Easy enough for us as we hired a local agent to help us with the clearance process.  We technically did not have to hire an agent but since we had engaged with one prior to the “hiring of an agent requirement” was lifted we decided to continue to use her services.

It seems like we have to jump through hoops, but in reality, it is no different than any other country.  We submitted:

  • Copies of passports (all crew)
  • Vaccination cards (all crew)
  • Arrival health declaration form (each crew to complete)
  • Photo of Sugar Shack
  • Arrival Immigration Statement
  • C2C Form (which is 18 pages!)

The clearance approval usually takes 3 days, but since we have an agent it only took 3 hours!  We have friends who did not use an agent and they waited weeks for their approval.  So worth the $350 to use an agent!

We remain in contact with our agent and tell her when we depart.  Then again, we alert her of our impending arrival 72 hours in advance.  She then arranges for all completed paperwork to be sent to the local authorities as we are not clearing in at Denerau where she is located.  We are clearing in at Savusavu on a different island.  Let’s hope that process goes smoothly too.

Clearing out of French Polynesia

Technically, we have to vamoose immediately after we get approval to leave.  The hiccup lies in the weather.  We want to leave on a “good weather window” not because we are being asked to leave the country.  It takes 3 days to clear out, so we take our chances and start the paperwork.

Most boats clear out of Tahiti as that is where the main customs, immigration, and Douane offices are located.  But since covid restrictions have been lifted we can now clear out of Raiatea, Huahine, and Bora Bora.  We decided to clear out of Raiatea.

Documents to Clear Out:

  • Entry paperwork (original clearance documentation)
  • Boat registration
  • Passports for all crew
  • Vaccination for all crew
  • Extension letter (we got a 3-month extension to do some work on Sugar Shack)

We arrive at the gendarmerie, perform some hand signals to tell them what we want and are handed 5 more documents to complete.  30-minutes later we hand in all the paperwork and are told to come back in a few days.

Two days later we inquire about our status and are faced with several confused faces.  Oh dear.  The Gendarmerie search and search and low and behold they finally find our approval email and are able to stamp our passports and documents. 

They hand us one document that has to be mailed to Papeete and one document to hand to Fijian officials.  Then they tell us to vamoose quickly. We are officially a boat without a country!

Up Next

Now that the paperwork has been submitted, we start working on other preparations.  We anticipate bad weather and prepare accordingly.   In bad weather, it makes it challenging to cook.  So, we, well really Matt, prepares a lot of meals and freezes them.

Matt has precooked 2 meals for 2 people of the following dishes:

  • Butter chicken with bow tie pasta
  • Chicken Rotti
  • Pulled Port
  • Tuscany Chicken

Plus we have pork chops and loads of sausage and pasta we can easily prepare.

I made an army of gingerbread men (thanx to my grandma’s recipe) to take care of me and help prevent sea sickness.

We fueled up the boat with diesel and gasoline.  Got to make sure we have fuel in case the wind dies.  We hand off our Polynesian propane tank to our friend Eve on “Auntie.”  Sugar Shack have two American tanks which will keep us going until we get to Fiji and can purchase another local tank.

We have a local Vini (cell phone company) contract with a small router that we purchased 3 years ago.  But in order to cancel the contract to get our deposit we have to live without internet.  Normally not a big deal, but we want to stay connected before departure in case there are any issues with our clearance paperwork.  So, it looks like we will walk away from our $100 deposit (suckage).

The cases of beer come in a plastic 20-bottle case. There is a deposit on the bottles and case of about $40.  We turn in our last 2 cases to get that deposit back and are able to apply that credit to our provisions!  Sweet

Hidden Gems

Fiji does not allow a lot of items into the country.  For example, all meats, cheeses, dairy, fresh produce (fruit and veg), seeds (including popcorn), and honey are forbidden.  So, we have to eat all of this prior to arrival.

In addition, they do not allow sea shells, wood, feathers, and sand/soil.  You probably think that these are not a big deal, but I live on a boat and have collected these items for the past 12 years!  We have sea shells (found on the beach) from the Caribbean, Bonaire, Galapagos, Easter island, and of course French Polynesia.  I have a small feather head band from a Marquesan Heiva, a sand and soil art piece created just for me and lots of wood décor.  Oh dear!

I did manage to bring an entire bag of sea shells to my sister (thank you Kimberly). I do not plan to take any of these remaining items off my boat.  Some of these items are stuck to the boat so they don’t fall over while underway.  Those items that are double sticky taped are still out in the open – too hard to remove them and I am hoping they see they are truly décor with no living creatures.  I then did the unthinkable…I hid a few items.  We are talking about carved oyster shells, carved drift wood that have been painted and shellacked, and other items that clearly have no critters.  Fingers crossed 🙂

Safety First

The last thing that we do is prepare the boat for a long passage.  We install jack lines which are a strong tether that goes from the stern of the boat to the bow.  If we have to go to the bow while we are underway, we tether ourselves to this line so we don’t fall over and get lost at sea (slightly important).

We take out our ditch bag and first aid kit.  These items have emergency items (flashlights, water, some food, batteries, water bottle, mirror, etc…)  We also set out our foul weather gear and PFDs (personal floatation devices).  Everything has to be easily accessible.

We stow any and all items that have the potential to fall or break. Secure all cabins, cabinets, and closets. Create a snack basket that is easy to access during night passages.  Check all EPIRBS, put in fresh batteries in them and the hand held GPS.  We double check our Iridium and sent out texts, emails and a phone call.

Check, Check, Check.  Now we just need a weather window!

Stay tuned for passage details coming up next..

Do you remember Marvin Gaye’s album cover “Sugar Shack?”  It sold for close to $15 million!

Marvin Gaye's Sugar Shack cover

Marvin Gaye’s Sugar Shack cover

Did you read our post on the Liward islands?  Be sure to check it out as we say goodbyes before we vamoose!  This blog occurred in late May. Our blog runs 10-12 weeks behind actual events.

Liward Islands

We splash Sugar Shack a few weeks after we returned from the USA.  She is so pretty and dolled up that I hate to see even a spec of dirt on her.  But it’s a boat and our home and dirt is bound to happen!  We have lots to do to prepare to leave from French Poly!  But first, we decide to head to the liward islands of Huahine, Raiatea, Taha’a.  If we have to do boat chores and paperwork, we mine as well as do it in a picture-perfect setting!


Amazing passage from Mo’orea to Huahine.  We typically make this passage at night because it is 90nm and it is difficult to make during daylight hours.  However, we had the perfect opportunity to make a go of it less than 12 hours after we arrived in Mo’orea. So, we took it.

We got up at 0400 (4:00am) and readied the boat.  Hook was up at 0430, and we rounded the Mo’orea corner at 0530.  We had a perfect beam reach with no swell.  Winds were 12-15kts out of the NE giving us a beautiful boat speed of 7-8kts.  Absolutely spectacular sailing day.

  • Miles to Destination:  91nm
  • Total Miles Sailed:  95.3nm
  • Total duration:  12.5hrs
  • Max Speed: 11.8
  • Average Speed: 7.5

We of course stop in at Izzy’s Burgers where I grab another photo of Isabel and I.  Man alive these are amazing burgers! Matt had the Huahine Burger which had bacon and topped with an egg!

Isabel and I at Izzy's Burgers

Isabel and I at Izzy’s Burgers

My dear friend Eve on sailing vessel “Auntie” and I went on a 7 mile walk to the Fare Pote Museum.  We got up early to avoid the heat and walked as the sun woke up the island.  It was so darn pretty!

Eve and I in Huahine

Eve and I in Huahine

We pass a few beautiful lakes/lagoons and just take in the pure beauty of the stillness.

We passed this super funny looking baguette holder – it is a large barrel. I guess they really like their baguettes.

We pass by a church where the sun lit it from the inside out.

Arriving at the Fare Pote Museum we capture a few photos of the sacred Mare.

Good Times: Good Friends – Huahine

For the past few years, I have been participating in an SSB radio net.  We have 7 volunteers who run this daily net that tracks vessels underway and monitors anchorage and weather conditions.  We have tracked vessels as far as Fiji, New Zealand, Hawaii and Alaska!  It is a rare occurrence when we are in the same anchorage, but it just so happened that 4 of the 7 net controllers were in Huahine.  So, we gathered onboard Sugar Shack for happy hour!

Poly Mag Net Controllers

Poly Mag Net Controllers

We also enjoyed many happy hours at the Huahine Yacht Club.  I captured many beautiful sunset photos here.  The sunsets are truly beautiful in the liward islands (well who am I kidding, they are beautiful everywhere).

Huahine Yacht Club

Huahine Yacht Club

This photo was taken without filters or editing!  Just my amazing iPhone 13 Pro Max doing its thing.

Taha’a – Coral Gardens

Eventually we tear ourselves away from Huahine and our friends.  We head to another liward island called Taha’a which is one of two islands inside the same lagoon.  We anchor near a beautiful resort to “borrow” their wifi and complete some of our necessary paperwork (see next blog on preparing to leave French Poly).

We find a new coral gardens that we dutifully named “the secret coral gardens” because only  locals seem to know about it.  Same drift snorkel but the coral and fish are a lot more healthier.  Wow what a difference man has made to the underwater world (and not in a good way). 

A few of our cruiser friends gathered for a dinghy drift.  We tied our dinghies together, enjoyed some cold drinks and snacks as the sun went down.


Perles d’O

We wanted to hide for a little bit, but it did not work out as planned.  The anchorage was not as comfortable as we had hoped so we ended up returning to Raiatea.  But it was pretty. 

Entering Pearl d'O Anchorage

Entering Pearl d’O Anchorage

There is a little, old pearl farm shack that is no longer in use called “Pear d’O”.

Pretty sunset with Bora in the back ground.


One of our favorite anchorages is in front of a small 8-room pension (hotel) called La Pirog.  We’ve stopped here many times, search our blog for past visits.  It is so pretty and is the perfect place for a sunset cocktail.

La Pirog Resort

La Pirog Resort

Day out on Sugar Shack

Our friends on sailing vessel Domum have been in the Raiatea Carenage yard for well over a month working on their boat so we decided to take them out for a day on Sugar Shack.  We motored (because there was no wind) two hours from the Carenage to the coral gardens in Taha’a.

Domum on Sugar Shack

Domum on Sugar Shack

Bora Bora

We end our time in French Polynesia in Bora Bora.  Not because it is “Bora Bora” but because it is the western most island where we can easily launch on our two week passage.  Plus we wanted to stop by Bloody Mary’s one more time.  Our friends on Grace (Dave and Helen), Rhapsody (John and Aida), and Askari (Carolyn and Andrew) joined us for happy hour, then we moved it to the dining room for an extremely tasty dinner.

And just for giggles…one more visit to the men’s room where their “flush” pull is very unique.

Goodbye Bora Bora….this is Hotel Conrad


During all this fun in the liwards we are dutifully preparing for our two-week passage from French Polynesia to Fiji.  Stay tuned for the next blog post where I explain all of our hard work to get ready for a huge passage.

Sugar Shack gets dolled up for her passage to Fiji.  Check out our experience a Raiatea Carenage.  Events from this blog in early April, 2022.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.

Busy, Busy, Busy in the States

A visit to the States is always challenging as we try to squeeze in errands, chores, friends and family across 3 different states.  But this visit is even more difficult as Matt is returning to the U.S. for the first time in 6 years!

Our priority items for this trip are:

  • Trip to Ohio to clear out house
  • Doctor visits and scans
  • Renew Christine’s driver’s license
  • Renew Matt’s driver’s license (brand new driver as license expired more than 2 years)
  • Repair watermaker clark pump
  • Resize wedding rings
  • Pick up huge order of boat parts


We arrive in LA around 10:30am after traveling (20 hours).  My dad picks us up and we head straight for San Diego to drop off our Spectra Clark pump (for the watermaker).  The distributor is in San Diego and will be repairing it as it is only producing at 50%.  We also pick up a new membrane and end caps for the watermaker.  A pricey visit.  We grab a quick bite to eat and head back to Hermosa Beach.  Just a 8 hour diversion.


The next day we fly to Ohio where we meet Matt’s brother and his family.  We spend the next 4 days cleaning their mom’s 5000′ house (plus the basement and attic).  It was a tough job working 13-15 hours a day, but we were all super productive and got a lot of work done.  The weather surprised us with a few days of snow!  We were ill prepared for this part of our visit to the States!

Matt’s family: Mike, Kim, Preston, Clara, Will and Haddy and cousin Margaret.

I even get an opportunity to visit some of my family in Ohio.  My uncle Mike had a stroke a few years ago and although he could not speak, he had a lovely smile during our entire visit.  Thank you Kathy for making this happen.  It was incredibly special to see you both.

My cousin Devin is pregnant with her first child and we got to meet her husband Skylar. Yep, I am wearing multiple borrowed sweaters.


Our primary focus in Texas is to renew driver licenses and see doctors.  My license was easy as it does not expire until January 2023 (15 minute appointment).  However, for Matt we had to jump through a lot of hoops as his license expired more than 2 years ago and he is considered a brand new driver.  He had to take the written test, an online “Impact Driving Test” and the road test again!  But he passed with flying colors.  We celebrate at Hula Hut one of our favorite eateries.

Our friends the Nelson’s were visiting from the East coast so it was truly a grand reunion.

Jamie flew in from Oklahoma in a surprise visit for our big reunion at Heather and Michael’s house.  I just love this girl!

We gathered a spectacular group of people. It has been many years since we have all been together.  What a special treat to see everyone.  The girls (top: Diana, Barbara, me, Lisa, Missy, Kim, Heather, Marcie, Amy, Jennifer, Heather, Stephanie, Traci, Tiffany) and the boys (Matt, Kevin, Daniel, Matt, John, Larry and Chris)

Love the new iPhone 13 Pro Max which takes amazing photos at night!

Heather and Michael created a Cinco de Mateo theme in honor of Matt’s 55th birthday.  Everyone contributed food, beverages, coozies, and lots of good fun.

I had not seen Brian in well over a decade and I got to meet his new beautiful wife.

We got a little obsessive with the girl pics.

The Austin skyline has changed a lot – but what hasn’t changed in the states?


We spend a week in Los Angeles so I can see my family.  My dad is still battling cancer, but he is strong and fighting every step of the way.  We  visit him and his side of the family (uncle Joe, me, dad, Kelly, Adrian, Day, Kimberly).

My dad is a fighter and I am so proud of him.

Somewhere between all the travels in 8 cities, in the snow and in the pollen infested city of Austin, I catch covid.  Seriously!  Somewhat of a mild case, only 2.5 days of real sickness, body aches, sore throat, coughing, stuffy/runny nose.  But it prevented me from spending more time with family and seeing a lot of friends.  

Matt sees our friends Yanell and Missy.  They moved to El Segundo after they sold their beloved boat Hoodoo.

And Matt gets in several long bike rides (35 miles from Hermosa Beach to Santa Monica).

I’m Out of Isolation

Finally after I receive a negative test, I get out.  We visit with our friends on Hoodoo (Yanell and Missy) and our friends on Sea Jay (Fred and Chris) who were all in California (we met in French Polynesia).  What a small world!

Super tasty dinner at Palmilla on the Hermosa Beach pier.

Another celebration of Matt’s birthday….and it continues on and on…

We go for a small hike around Palos Verdes to see a beautiful light house and come across a lot of goats brought in to mow the grass.

So many baby goats!

Such a beautiful day!

Visiting the states is always hard for me as I want to see everyone and always end up spending a little time with many people vs quality time with a few people.  But what can you do?  It is nice to feel loved that is for sure.

Our good friend Deborah came to visit me.  (We know her from Austin)

My aunt Donna drove up from San Diego and spent the day with us.

We both get to see Cameron (my youngest nephew and a senior in high school) in his volleyball playoffs.  He is a rock star and just kills it!

Traveling Back to French Polynesia

When Matt left he carried back (2) 50lb bags and a 30lb back pack.  When I left I had (2) 50lb bags, (1) 30lb bag and a 20lb backpack.  Talk about a lot of “stuff”

A quick 9 hour flight from the States to Tahiti, a 3 hour layover and a 90-minute flight to Raiatea.  During my layover, my good friend Eve brought me a beautiful floral crown.

Now back to the boat on the  hard.    Hope to splash soon.  

Sugar Shack goes on the hard at Raiatea Carenage to get lots of work done.  Events from this blog in early April, 2022.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind our adventures.