are the Grafs, Sharon and Michael, of Springfield, Illinois, proud owners
of the Larabeck, a 42-foot yacht. Sharon is an ethnomusicologist
at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Michael is an engineer who
can build or fix just about anything and who caught the sailing bug at
a very young age.
more about us --More about
got its name
the South Pacific is a big adventure and we spent years planning for it.
Read an in-depth
interview of Michael and Sharon about how our dream became a
left Florida in early May, 2010, sailing to the Panama Canal, the Galapagos
Islands, and our longest trek--3000 miles--to the Marquesas Islands! We
have meandered through French Polynesia, Niue, the Cook Islands, Tonga,
and the eastern shore of the north island New Zealand. We toured NZ's south
island by car with friends, then stayed in Auckland where Sharon researched
south pacific music and culture at the University of Auckland. In
late April, we returned to Tonga, spending the summer exploring it and
the islands of Fiji.
We flew back
to Springfield August 4, Sharon to resume teaching and Michael to consult
for his former employer. Michael returned to Fiji in September, sailing
with crew member Mari to Vanuatu.
From there, he and two new crew members, Megan and Tom, sailed to Ile
Huon, a small isle in northern New
Caledonia. We just left the Chesterfield
Reef en route to Bundaberg,
where Michael will sell the boat. Stay tuned for more adventures.
We send daily
updates (via SailMail) and photos
when we find internet. We hope you enjoy following our journey.
This is Michael's
last email from the "open water."
We are 57 miles
away from Bundaberg
Australia. With the current wind we should arrive sometime tomorrow morning.
Today was smooth
sailing: the wind was around 8 to 12 knots and the waves were small.
M & M & T
Michael on the phone last night. He said he was getting everything
on the boat ready to check in with Customs when the Larabeck arrives in
Australia. We had an interuption when a pod of orcas
swam by and Michael had to hang up to go watch and make sure there was
no collision. The whales did not stick around; they were headed somewhere
and simply crossed Larabeck's path. This was about 4:00 in
the afternoon, while it was 12:00 midnight here in Springfield. So
it was funny for me to think of them watching whales when it was completely
dark out here!
we talked so late is because I went to the evening concert of the Springfield
at the Crowne Plaza hotel, and asked Michael to call late so I would be
back home. My favorite group was the Boxcars.
I'm a bit biased, though--they have two great fiddlers, who both also happended
to be banjo players. When one played fiddle, the other played banjo.
It was a particularly musical week for me, as I also attended the Jake
Shimabukuro concert on the UIS campus. Jake is a Hawaiian, Japanese-American
and can play anything on the ukulele--a real virtuoso. We heard lots
of ukuleles on our our South Pacific trip, so I had to take the opportunity
to hear it again right here in my hometown. While Jake did not perform
much traditional Hawaiian music, he did play many of his own compositions,
all creative, thoughtful, virtuosic, and entertaining. To view the YouTube
video that made him famous see George
Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps".
on the topic of music, I'll announce that the annual UIS
Fall Music Showcase will be this Friday at 7:30 PM (CST) in the Sangamon
Auditorium. This free concert showcases the semester's work of our
Chorus, Chamber Ensemble, and Band. If you can't make it to the live
concert, you can view the live webcast by going to www.uis.edu
and clicking on the link directing you to the concert. All the various
details that have gone into this upcoming performance have been a major
part of my work at UIS since I returned from the South Pacific (as they
had been for previous semester concerts before I left).