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 September 1. He and the
newest crew member, Mari, are now in Vanuatu,
and will sail to New
Caledonia and 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.
Port of Anelghowhat,
I arrived safely back in Springfield this afternoon. Jeannie took
a little nap and continued to Lafayette, Indiana. Mom left
Yankton today and is on the road to Laramie.
Below is the
report from M&M on the Larabeck--all's well. We're feeling
bad for them that they have to slog through another day in paradise...
today was just
another day in Paradise. After pancakes for breakfast we went back to Mystery
Island to do some snorkeling, taking pictures and some walking on the trail
along the shore.
Have a great
and Sharon played in the Twin Fiddle competition. We came in
fourth place and received lots of compliments. Sharon then played
her final round in the South
Dakota Oldtime Fiddle National Invitational. There were eight
contestants including representatives from Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska,
and of course Sharon representing Illinois. The competition
was stiff, but each of the contestants earned prize and travel money.
Many of the participants were of Scandinavian heritage and we enjoyed hearing
them tell "Ole and
Lena" jokes and stories : ) Tip
Bagstad from Wisconsin played a violin with beautiful Norwegian "rosemaling"
paintings on it [see
photo], and he taught Sharon a Norwegian Polka during the lunch hour
music sessions, Sharon had fun visiting with her Mom Alyce, whom she had
not seen since before the Larabeck trip. Mom will stay in
Yankton and head back to Laramie, Wyoming tomorrow. And now we'll
have to finish up our update, because Jeannie and Sharon are setting sail
on an overnight passage back to Illinois and Indiana.
We have been
taking it easy since we arrived to Vanuatu, no busy schedule. On Friday
we went for a walk through the village of Anelcauhat and on the way we
saw some cows and goats munching grass happily, a small grocery store with
some basic supplies, a bank that is open three days a week, two churches
and some friendly villagers. After enjoying the village we walked back
to the dinghy on the beach. On the way back we saw some holes cut into
stone with fresh water running from one hole to other. Our best guess
is that these are used in a multi stage washing process.
we did some snorkeling around the nearby Mystery
Island. The island is uninhabited because the Aneitym people believe
that ghosts live there. Cruise ships come there every now and then and
there is also a grass landing strip for airplanes. Tourists can stay at
Island Guesthouse. The island is beautiful with garden paths and since
the area is a marine sanctuary snorkeling was great too. We saw for example
[sea] turtle, huge amount of Christmas
tree worms, a stingray
and a big porcupine
fish. On the island we didn't see any ghosts though but there were
spiders in almost every tree and plant, so we actually thought renaming
the island as Spider island.
Sunday today we decided to attend the church ceremony at the missionary
Geddie's memorial church. The villagers welcomed us warmly and we sat on
the different sides of the church because women are supposed to sit on
the left side and men on the right. In the beginning there was lots of
singing accompanied by guitar and then the priests were talking in Bislama
which is the national language. Bislama
is a form of pidgin English and when you listen to it you can understand
some words but not all the meaning. After the ceremony we were surprised
that everybody wanted to shake hands with us and smilingly they thanked
us for coming to see them. After the ceremony and back on the boat we managed
to make some delicious frying pan pizza which we think from now on we are
going to make at least once every week...