Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bella Star is for sale

By Nicole and Aaron

35-Pacific crossingAfter seven fantastic years together, it's time to say fair winds and following seas to our beloved Bella Star. Over the last three years, she's allowed us to visit some of the most beautiful places on the planet and meet some of the most wonderful and interesting people. We’re going to miss her for sure, but with any luck, she'll find new owners who will take her on exciting, new adventures. She's always wanted to visit Fiji!

It’s been an amazing, wild, gratifying, life-changing ride, and this, we’ve decided, is the ideal moment to step off. When we cut the dock lines that chilly April day in Seattle three years ago, we only had dreams of sailing to Mexico and the sunshine, but look how far we’ve come! Eleven countries, 15,000 nautical miles and countless incredible memories (plus a few terrifying ones).

Our goal was to cruise for 2–4 years, so we feel satisfied with what we’ve accomplished and grateful that we’ve been able to have this profound experience. If money were no object, we’d cruise until it wasn’t fun anymore. But financial realities can’t be ignored, and it’s time for us to get back to work – and to figure out a way to retire permanently!

A special thanks to our family, friends and everyone who followed along and supported us on this crazy journey. Your encouragement meant the world to us, and we’ll miss sharing our adventures with you. Until next time!


1983 Hans Christian 33, Auckland, New Zealand – NZ$139,000 (all duty and taxes paid)

BELLA STAR is an outstanding example of the respected Hans Christian 33 cutter-rigged sailing yacht. Launched in 1983, this well-built double-ended cruising vessel radiates traditional beauty and charm and is turn-key ready to take you on any blue-water cruising adventure in safety and comfort. New electronics and navigation equipment 2012, premium offshore sails from Carol Hasse & Company 2011, and the rare, full-sized nav station layout are just a few of her impressive features. Comfortable liveaboard interior with spacious Pullman berth, separate shower stall and ample galley with accommodation for 4. Designed for offshore passagemaking with plentiful storage, seaworthy layout and solid, GRP construction. Vessel comes fully outfitted with cruising gear, making her the complete ocean-voyaging package. The current owners have completed their cruise, and now BELLA STAR is ready for her new adventures.

CONTACT: Howard Patterson at Gulf Group Marine Brokers
PHONE: 021 242 4446

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Heroic cruiser injured in Mexico

By Nicole

Coming to the aid of someone in need is exactly what we would’ve expected from our cruising friend John on s/v Time Piece. But hearing about the aftermath of his life-changing injury shocked and saddened us. Please take a moment to read about John’s courageous story – and about the strength and solidarity of the cruising community – on s/v Eagle’s blog. And remember to always use the kill switch on your outboard!

We’re sending you lots of love from New Zealand, John! Hope to see pictures of you back aboard Time Piece (drink in hand) in sunny La Paz soon.

From Tom and Jeanne on Eagle: If you'd like to help us help John with his medical bills and expenses, you can make a donation to his PayPal account at, or contact Tom at for directions to make a direct deposit.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A birthday road trip

By Nicole

It was a big weekend. We were celebrating Aaron’s birthday! So we packed up the car and headed a few hours southeast of Auckland to one of New Zealand’s favorite summertime destinations … the Coromandel Peninsula. This bit of land juts into the South Pacific Ocean and is known for giant green-lipped mussels, beautiful white beaches, lush forests and dramatic vistas. Check, check, check and check.

DSC_7195 (1024x681)The Coromandel Peninsula. It’s kinda pretty, I guess.

We got sidetracked by multiple scenic overlooks and a microbrewery on our way to the Wairua Lodge, which we’d booked for a few days of birthday R & R. Nestled on the edge of the sprawling Coromandel Forest Park, the Lodge was most definitely remote and peaceful (read: no internet, phone or TV … gulp).


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANew Zealand loves its craft beers almost as much as its wine. Mmmm … Hot Water Brewing Co. does good work.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACrossing the raging (not-so-raging) river to get to the Wairua Lodge. There is no other way in! Good thing it didn’t rain while we were there, since the river rises in a hurry, and we didn’t get the snorkel option for the Legend.


DSC_7120 (681x1024)Made it!

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DSC_7128 (1024x683)The resident kitty demanded lots of love

DSC_7136 (681x1024)The Treetop Bathhouse

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So the owner of the lodge told us about the trails snaking through the property and about the swimming hole that we just had to check out. It was a hot day, and taking a little swim in the refreshingly chilly river sounded mighty good. Plus there was a rope swing! The water temperature didn’t meet Aaron’s 80-degree minimum, but I was totally in … I even did my best Tarzan impression.

DCIM\100GOPROTesting the water at the swimmin’ hole

Nicole does the rope swing …

The next day, we drove into the town of Whitianga where we caught a tiny passenger ferry across Mercury Bay. We did a little hiking, relaxed on a white sand beach and decided the Coromandel was a pretty sweet spot to celebrate a birthday.

P1231295 (684x1024)The birthday boy goes tramping

DSC_7162 (681x1024)The town of Whitianga and Buffalo Beach

DSC_7164 (1024x681)Wish we were there … on a boat, that is.

DSC_7166 (1024x681)I am a lizard.

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We celebrated Aaron’s birthday with a yummy dinner back at the Hot Water Brewing Co. He was bold enough to try one of my humongous, plump green-lipped mussels, although he about barfed. The sliders, chips, beer and birthday dessert went down a little easier, however.

We headed home the next day by way of the scenic 309 Road (so named because back when it was a horse-and-carriage route, it took 3 hours 9 minutes to get from one end to the other). Not a lot has changed since those days – the 21km-long road is still dirt! Along the way, we stopped to hike to a stand of 600-year-old kauri trees. While these trees are just 600 years old, the oldest tree in New Zealand is a big daddy named Te Matua Ngahere (Father of the Forest) who is thought to be more than 2,000 years old. Wow.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“If I could just get to the top, I could build a sweet tree fort.”

I think the birthday boy would agree that it was a great summertime road trip. In fact, being born in January, this is the first time he’s had a “summer” birthday! To top it off, I even baked a yellow cake with chocolate frosting when we got home – no birthday of Aaron’s is complete without that. Yay for birthdays! Yay for summer!