Evi in Wonderland

New Zealand, South Pacific Sailing, Tonga — By on May 15, 2011 4:34 AM

In my last post FEMALE CREW ONLY,  I spoke to the challenges we had in our search for a boat to sail to the South Pacific. We are happy to announce that we found our boat and have a cool lady captain!


But before I tell you all about Wonderland (the 40 ft sloop yacht we will be sailing to Tonga) I want to tell you the story of how we met her owner, Evi and why we decided to sail on her yacht.

I told you about Koncerto, the 50 ft catamaran owned by the lovely English couple who invited us to crew for them on their passage to Vanuatu. We really liked the boat and owners but didn’t like that they could not set sail until early June because of engine repairs. There were also logistical challenges in sailing to Vanuatu first. Due to the direction the trade winds blow (from the southeast) most yachts sail in a circuit from Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Calendoia and then back to New Zealand. By sailing to Vanuatu first, we would run the risk of having to fly to the other islands as no one would be sailing against the wind to east toward Fiji. This went against our goal of trying to sail as much as possible to gain experience and live on a shoestring budget.

In a last ditch effort to find another boat option, we drove back to the Bay of Islands spending a day roaming the dock and knocking on boats asking their owners if they need crew. We heard about a female captain looking for crew. Her boat’s name is Wonderland we were told, and since no one knew her name we decided to call her Alice.

We found Alice (Evi) and she invited us aboard Wonderland to have a chat. She caught us off guard immediately asking us to tell her four good and two bad about ourselves. She told us modesty does not work on her boat as there is no room for privacy. This was indeed true as I noted how much smaller the inside was in comparison to the much wider catamaran.

Evi was very open about what to expect on board, it became clear to us that life on a boat is not as glamourous as some may think! She assured me I would not want to use the toilet as you will surely get seasick in such a small confined space. Thomas says he would have paid good money to have been inside my headwhen Evi next showed me the large glass mason jar she pees inside and dumps overboard, suggesting I should do the same. And I know what you all are wondering and I don’t know! I plan to avoid coffee, eat heaps of cheese and pray for a severe case of constipation so I don’t have to find out!

Evi is very mindful of water and energy conservation equipped with solar panels and wind generators. We can forget showering at all during the 10 days we are on passage, a huge box of baby wipes will be our shower. Once we dock at the islands you shower in the sea by using dish washing soap as regular soaps and shampoos just don’t work in salt water. After you take your dip and wash yourself in Palmolive you climb back on the boat where you can use an old weed sprayer filled with fresh water to lightly rinse off the salt (my modest self will be showering in a bikini and I honestly hope the others do the same!) I forsee dreadlocks in my near future!

Like I said, not as glorious of a lifestyle as some might think!

Most importantly she told us of her sailing experience that is very extensive beginning in 2003 and includes a crossing of the Atlantic. Prior to retiring and becoming a sailor, Evi taught computer science at the University of Colorado and is author of a book about computer operating systems. We knew straight away that she is highly intelligent, a skilled sailor, and could teach us alot about sailing.

Her hope is that we can learn to completely man the boat on our own, which would be crucial to saving her life if she were to fall overboard. To prevent such a catastrophe, everyone must wear a harness that is attached to a line that runs from the mast to the front of the boat if you ever leave the cockpit.

Evi on Wonderland

The inside of a sloop is quite narrow and smaller compared to the catamaran we had considered. We certainly would prefer to be on a bigger boat but learned from our search that we can’t be too picky and feel lucky to have a boat. There will be five of us on board so it is going to be a very crowded ride! Also crewing is Maurius from Switzerland who has much experience and has sailed with Evi before and Cyril a backpacker from France who like us has very little experience. Each day four people will be scheduled on watch duty rotating every 3 hours and the fifth person will be cook for the day. There are not enough beds for all of us during the passage as the front cabin cannot be used for sleep because the front of the boat will bounce the most. So we will be hot bunking (rotating beds), waking up the next person scheduled for watch duty taking there bed.

Looking Forward


Chart Table

Cleaning Dingy

We are currently living on the boat in Opua, helping with boat chores and waiting for our “wind window”. We expect to set sail for Tonga in the next few days. In preparation for our voyage we did “provisioning” which was stocking up on enough food for one month “in case shit happens” says Evi. We bought “Sea Legs” medication and ginger snacks to help with seasickness which can be expected the first three days of the journey. A new deep sea anchor had to be tested as did all batteries and navigation equipment. Today we scraped barnacles off the dingy (very hard work!), cleaned the deck, and filled up on water and fuel.

I am very excited to join the Wonderland crew and for my big sailing adventure! I am also nervous about being out in the open sea in such a small boat without sight of land for ten or more days. I realize this journey will be very challenging and I suspect there will be moments I vow to never get on a boat again. Or perhaps I will love sailing so much that I have a new motivation to work … save up to buy my own yacht to sail around the world! Either way it is sure to be a great adventure and unforgettable experience!

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  1. Diver Dan says:

    Rain shower 🙂 Dont miss it.

  2. Lisa says:

    “Alice” sounds wonderful. The bathroom story sounds like a comedy in the making with you! Just dont wait to long to decide what you will do when nature calls…I’d hate to hear a repeat of a story I seem to remember reading on your blog a while back. Gross, Gross but halarious!!!

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