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. Next stop is the Chesterfield
Reef, then Australia
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.
as we sat there and the sun slowly went down and the light of the moon
took over we saw about 9 or 10 turtles slowly make their way to the nesting
area. Just from watching them crawl across the sand you could tell that
movement on land was extremely hard, so we tried to be as quiet and respectful
as possible. Then once we got a window when there weren't any turtles climbing
up the sand bank we made our way back to the dinghy. Then when we got back
we saw that hermit crabs
had cleaned out our food bowls completely (special thanks to them about
the cleanup). Then Michael went to the water with a torch to see if there
was any coral in the way of our launching area he spotted a huge reef
shark. After we scared him off I was set on water watch as the boys
took the boat into the water. Then we safely made it to Larabeck
enjoyed a nice glass of wine and went over the excitement of the day.
I am so glad
I got to experience this island and enjoy the beauty of the nature on these
small spits of land. I have to say thank you Michael and his wife Sharon
for letting me sail on their boat. And hello to my parents LOVE YOU AND
MISS YOU :)
We are sailing,
this morning we set sail to make our way west. If the weather stays good
our next stop is the Chesterfield
Reef, 194 miles to go. We did change our time to the same as
Brisbane, Australia. That means this was Michael's last time change on
details description of our stop at Ile Huon. -Michael
Hi this is
I am getting
the honor of describing the "Island" of Ile Huon and our stay there, soooo
here we go. So we got to the "island" (honestly a strip of sand) around
1700 New Cal time. As soon as we dropped the anchor and we were looking
to see if we were dragging THEN, BAM! a turtle popped its not so little
head up. Then we realized we needed to move out to deeper water just in
case we did drag. So we reset the anchor and settled into our nightly activities
of dinner and cockpit chats. We looked out to the shore of the "island"
and there was a giant turtle working its way out of the water up to shore
to lay its eggs. This is when we devised a plan to go to the island around
mid-day the next day and stay until after sunset to see if we could see
any turtles laying eggs.
So the next
day we went for a short morning snorkel and of course spotted turtles.
Not only did we see them when we were in the water but also when we were
just sitting on the boat and looking around there were turtles poking their
heads up and seeing as how it is mating season for them we spotted two
sets of turtles preparing to preserve the species... if you know what I
mean. After our early lunch Tom went for a dip and had me do "look out
for turtles" so he could swim with them. Then of course I spotted some
and sent him off in the direction. When he returned to the boat he was
raving about his experience. He didn't find the turtles I spotted so decided
to swim down to the bottom to check out a coral bomby (head) and on his
way up saw 3 turtles heading his way. So he went slowly to the surface
and the turtles continued to advance on him. Then before he knew it they
were all around him. Of course I was jealous so I ran below threw on the
suit and jumped in and set out on a turtle hunt. But no luck for poor ol'
me. The only thing I got were birds dive bombing me whenever I was at the
surface. Probably checking to see if I was going to be lunch or not.
we had all our ducks in a row we headed into shore. Once we got the dinghy
ashore we were greeted by what we think were nesting boobys.
Since the birds on this island don't have any predators they were not accustomed
to our presence. So we could walk up really close to their nests and the
most they would do is just squawk at us. Tom did have an experience of
one baby bird getting so freaked out it threw up and pooped. We were not
dive bombed or treated with any hostilities they just wanted to check us
out as much as we wanted to check them out. Michael got some amazing pictures
of the nesting birds and them flying about. The island was packed full
of birds and turtle tracks coming out of the water heading to deep holes
in the ground. Sadly we did spot two turtles that didn't make it back to
the ocean after their long hard journey to land to lay eggs.
So before sunset
we had our dinner on the beach and watched the sun go down and waited for
the turtle activity. As we waited we were bombarded by hermit crabs who
were trying to steal our dinner. As the sun was almost under the horizon
Michael took off down the beach in hunt of turtle activity. As Tom and
I were giving hermit crabs a hard time we spotted Michael waving at us
to join him. So we took off down the beach then when we were about 6 meters
away from Michael we spotted a turtle trying to make its way up the beach.
Trying not to disturb it we tried to walk around but of course it caught
sight of us and booked it back to the water. Then when we reached Michael
and right near him was another turtle making its way across the sand. So
we sat down and tried to stay out of the way. At this point the sky was
aflame with the beautiful colors of a tropical sunset, pinks, yellows and
deep purples exploded the sky. Then we looked to our left and there is
another turtle emerging out of the water, then seconds later one popped
its head out right in front of us and sadly saw us and took off further
down the beach. I could not help but laugh at the situation. I mean honestly
how many times in life can you get the chance to sit on a random spit of
sand in the pacific without any other humans for miles and see a breath
taking sunset and also get to see a giant endangered and slightly prehistoric
creature emerge from the water and lay its eggs (also my favorite animal).
I know I will never forget the beauty and excitement of that moment.