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We are at this moment in beautiful Idaho sitting in our small living room watching the sun set behind the hills to the west while the thermometer drops like it was broken. As we struggle into multiple layers of clothing to ward off the near zero (that's F not C) cold it is hard to believe that a mere month ago flip flops and shorts were de rigueur as we prepared to leave Kailani tied to a dock in South Africa for three months.

Sometimes we wonder whether our peripatetic behavior is merely a search for the endless winter, although winter endured between the equator and the southern tropic line is at the other end of the spectrum from one spent snow-shoeing, tubing, skiing and playing ice hockey in our white wonderland of Idaho.

We are fortunate to balance high altitude mountain time, with adventurous travels at sea level ....

Which brings us to where we have been this past year, our fifth sailing as a family aboard Kailani. After taking more than a year break from sailing in order to build a house in Idaho, we came down out of the mountains last May to return to the boat in SE Asia. Since then we have seen more than 7,000 miles roll under Kailani's keel as we zigzagged across the southern Indian Ocean from Malaysia to South Africa. The sailing was epic, and the adventures life-enriching: sailing through the famed Malacca straits while avoiding all manner of water hazards, from errant fishing vessels and gigantic container ships to all sorts of rubbish including logs and a dead steer; embracing the “high” life in crowded Singapore with all things flashy, crowded and tall; navigating the generally tranquil Indonesian waters while relishing beautiful sunsets and anchorages and marveling at the creative techniques of the local fishermen; anchoring in the famed Krakatoa volcano caldera; reaching exotic and remote destinations of the Indian Ocean like the Cocos Keeling islands (over 1,200 nm off of Australia's west coast), the Chagos Archipelago (at 250,000 sq mi, the world's largest marine reserve), and the island of Mauritius with its fantastic cultural diversity (500 nm to the east of Madagascar).

Along the way we were tossed about by big storms and softly cradled in the warm waters of exotic and remote atoll lagoons, alone for days and even weeks at a time. We sailed among dolphins in pods more than 100 strong and dodged breaching humpbacks in their mass migration south. The sailing tested our limits: Kailani hit a top sailing speed on a surf of 23.5 knots, we weathered a storm at sea that took out the port of Durban, and we hit a whale at night while sailing at 12 knots along the South African coast. We were feted by locals who brought us delicious home cooked meals, and we were extolled in the foreign press as perhaps a slightly daffy sailing family. (We are told the article was flattering, but it was in French so we are not quite positive on that score.) Sophia's circle of friends continued to expand as we shared anchorages with a myriad of kid boats all heading vaguely in the same direction (really, how many play-dates end with “see you in Africa!”? ) As is always the case, this special community of blue-water sailors was enriching in its own right – deriving inspiration and sharing laughter, stories and camaraderie with this unique band of adventurous spirits who dare to call the world's oceans home.

And where are we going? We say that our plans are drawn in the sand at low tide, so take this as a guideline … by mid February we will be back aboard Kailani, readying her for a 6,000 nm sail across the Atlantic. May should find us on Kailani somewhere along the US east coast for the summer, and probably slinking off to warmer waters for the winter, although just where and when, we are not sure.

We want to take this chance to wish all of you much happiness for the coming year. Perhaps this is the year we get to catch up with some of you we have not seen in ages. We hope so. You never know where the wind will take us. Follow us on our website, check out our previous travels, drop us a line – we'd love to hear from you!

Harley, Jennifer and Sophia Earl
Anchor Ranch, McCall, Idaho 


Happy New Year 2017!!

Who's checking that it is almost the end of MAY and we are finally getting out our “annual” holiday greeting! Oh well, what can we say? Living on land for the last 13 months has been a major adjustment for us sailors, time seemed to tick by at an incredible pace …

We were sort of “mainstream” for a bit with our life suddenly full with all the landlubber distractions we don't really have when living abroad on our sail boat: road trips to visit family, eating all the foods we miss so dearly, back-country plane trips, TV series to catch up on, lots and lots of shopping on Amazon, dinner dates, movies, “real” school, parades, fireworks, festivals, county fairs, music lessons, museums, play dates, fishing, camping, sledding, tubing, ice skating, singing pageants, skiing, sleigh rides, snowshoeing, ice hockey, rodeos, horses, dogs, pigs, oh my!! Oh, did I mention we also built a house?

I get ahead of myself!! Let's start in the beginning … we started 2016 in Thailand, sitting in an anchorage off a lovely beach restaurant, contemplating our situation. Kailani had been sailed hard for the last 6 years, taking us through many beautiful anchorages throughout Tonga, New Zealand, Fiji, New Caledonia, Chesterfield Reef, Minerva Reef, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and finally Thailand … over 29,500 miles of sailing since we bought her in Turkey, and she was in need of some serious TLC (the kind we have to get the paid experts in for!!). So looking down the road (so to speak) we realized that in order to fix Kailani's most pressing issues (a leaking diesel fuel tank and a failing genset) we would need months of time … meaning we would miss the window to leave SE Asia. We had decided we wanted to sail further west, across the Indian Ocean, and for this journey Kailani's systems need to be in top performing mode.

So, that first week in January, one day Jen said: “Let's just take 6 months off and go build a small carriage house on that land we bought in Idaho a few years back...”. To which Harley's eyes lit up (relief!!!) and he quickly agreed this was a good “work-around”. We found a workable house design online, emailed some contacts back in Idaho to hire a contractor, and off we started on our “escape from SE Asia” plan …. But first, we had to fully take in the sights …

We took trains, planes and tuk-tuks up into Thailand's northern most regions bordering Burma. Chiang Mai, with all of its temples and culture was fabulous, but the highlights for us were definitely our side trip up through Thailand's northland. We hired a car, and proceeded to encounter a “freak” cold snap – temperatures in the 30s and 40s (F not C!).  Let me remind you that we are cruisers, completely ill equipped in our flip-flops for such weather!! But the plus side is we bought some FUN Thai hats.  Because such cold weather is an anomaly, the cars in SE Asia don't have heat!  So off we drove in a raging rainstorm, running full air-con in the car to keep the humidity at bay, wearing every piece of clothing we had with us, and wondering what strange luck we have …

As we have experienced so often, the journey was ultimately worth it.  We drove far into the northern hill regions near Thailand's border with Burma, took a boat ride across a river, and spent a day wondering through a Kayan hill tribe village, where we visited with the "long-neck" women with brass rings coiled around their necks.  We had tea at roadside cafes, meeting locals and watching the clouds wax and wane through the valleys.  Once the weather cleared we spent a day with elephants, riding, bathing, feeding and engaging in a wonderful way with these amazing creatures.

Some time in Bangkok – CRAZY busy city!!! – rounded out our Thai experience, and then Jen went to Phuket and had knee surgery (not your typical tourist adventure...).  In an attempt to delay the need for total knee replacement, Jen had her 8th knee surgery in Thailand, staying in the hospital for 3 days, while Harl and Sophia negotiated the 45 minute each way drive from the marina to the hospital to visit each day. This was Sophia's first time being “chief navigator” – holding the tablet with our Google Maps navigating, she would call out upcoming turns so Harl could focus on driving in the crazy streets!!

Anyway, after almost 8 weeks of recovery for Jen, we sailed back down to Malaysia. Harley worked with the help of the local Malay workers and some generous cruisers to get Kailani put to “bed” in her slip: sails off, systems shut down, down below cleaned and stowed for the various pending repairs, and various mold prevention / insect & rodent protection devices launched, dock lines secured … And off we flew to the US!

We landed at SFO, where Harley hopped a flight down to San Diego to get our car …. Jen and Sophia took a bus north to Marin. We realized how much the the last 18 months had taken a toll on us – it was the first time in countless months that we saw a brilliant blue sky! We had been in third world or emerging economy countries so long that Sophia got very quiet as she looked out the window of the bus for a long long while as we made our way north along 19th Avenue in San Francisco. Then she quietly reflected out loud: “everything here is so beautiful … everyone here is so wealthy...” Our time abroad definitely has made an indelible impression us all.

Well, we did not know that our plan for 6 months in the US would turn into 13 months. It was all very fun, and very very busy, and yes, probably also very very stressful. A friend of ours commented: “Only you guys would think building a house would be a restful break from sailing” … and it was stressful!! But it got done, we moved in just before Thanksgiving, the snow began the next day and literally it snowed up until the week we left to return to the boat in May 2017.

Besides building a house, we busied ourselves to take full advantage of land life. We drove over 32,000 miles on road trips to spend time with family throughout the western US as well as for Harley and Sophia to participate in hockey tournaments. We visited cool museums and stood next to a troll, took a sleigh ride in the snow, watched rodeos and participated in local parades.  Sophia went to the local elementary school for “dual enrollment”, volunteered at the library once a week, fell in love with every kind of ranch animal imaginable, started wearing glasses, and even started orthodontia! So mainstream indeed!!

And then the New Year came, which we rang in by having a fabulously robust and fancy “dinner out” in Boise (we were in town for Sophia's ice hockey tournament) then returning to our camper in an RV park ... hmmm. Minus 12F outside, but we could see three sets of fireworks go off around us thorugh the windows. We could not have imagined how different our life would be from when we celebrated the start of 2016 watching fireworks from atop Kailani's deck anchored off a beach in Thailand!

With 2017 started, we made plans for returning to Kailani. Turns out Jen's surgery in Thailand did not do the trick, so she had a total knee replacement in March. Harley took advantage of turning 65 and had hernia surgery courtesy of the US government (nothing makes him happier!!) … we recovered, organized, and started the packing and stowing required to move back aboard Kailani.

And off we went – after 18 hours of driving and 18 hours of flying, we made it from McCall, Idaho all the way to Pangkor Marina, Malaysia, where our faithful steed, Kailani, gently swayed in her slip greeting our return. And so the sailing adventures of 2017 begin!!

The Annual (Almost Always Late) Holiday Letter :)

First off, where are we and how the heck did we get here?  We’ll give you a hint: it’s 6,659.18 sailing miles from New Zealand and it’s hot…darn hot. If you have been staying up with our infrequent posts or if you pulled out your ocean charts, parallel rule and dividers and just plain got lucky you figured out we are somewhere in Thailand. They say the journey itself is half the fun in which case we must be having a ball. Since New Zealand Kailani has taken us to New Caledonia, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and now Thailand, and by air we managed a three week trip back to the US stopping in Hong Kong which since 1 July 1997 has been part of China. That is eight different countries although strictly speaking New Caledonia is a French territory. Our passports have nary a blank page.

We risk boring you to tears if we chronicle our travels in detail so herewith a few highlights:

Leaving New Zealand for the islands is always a crap shoot with the weather, and this year was no different.  This was the second time we did the 1,000 nm trip as a family but to make it interesting (and to cut down on the watch duty time) we invited our friends Tom and Di along. The wind was on the beam at 25-30 kts virtually the whole way but Kailani is so fast that she dragged the wind forward so we spent four days essentially going to weather on our ear in a cross sea.  Sophia was the only one who seemed nonplussed by the passage as she got to watch a movie every afternoon, a major break from home school.  And Di, to her credit, battled through seasickness to the point that right after arriving in New Caledonia she and Tom flew back to New Zealand and bought a boat.  

A little less than halfway between New Caledonia and the Queensland coast of Australia lies Chesterfield Reef. The charts all say it is part of Australia, the weather beaten signs on the small sand cays claim it as French territory but in reality it belongs to the thousands of nesting sea birds that make their home there. We saw only two other boats during the weeks we hung out there and pretty much had the place to ourselves. We hiked all the islands, got dive bombed by terns, frigates and boobys, found many much-coveted nautilus shells and shared the calm inner lagoon with a bunch of small reef sharks.

It is a long way from Townsville, Australia up through the islands of the Great Barrier Reef and then across the Arafura Sea to Darwin. Sophia saw her first circus in Townsville and has now listed circus performer as a likely career choice. (Animal protector, whatever that is, is a good possibility as well.) There was also a water park in Townsville where she spent a lot of afternoons oblivious to the fact the locals stayed away because it was winter. We had some of the best sailing wind on these 1,412 miles of coastal cruising but the heavy shipping traffic combined with frequent course changes to avoid the scattered islands inside the Reef created some stressful moments. We were actually following in the wake of Captain Cook so as stressful as it was for us we cannot even imagine what it must have been like for him to thread his way through these hazards with no charts and no engine.

Darwin hadn’t changed all that much since Jen and I were here the last time we sailed these waters in 2005 although the city now has a single sail maker and traffic cameras; we needed a bit of help from the former and got tagged for 3 clicks over the limit by the latter. We managed a side trip to Kakadu National Park to take in the wildlife and aboriginal rock art, but the main reason to go to Darwin was to hook up with the Sail Indonesia Rally, essentially 50 boats trying to push off the notorious Indonesian bureaucratic morass on to the rally organizers. We ran into some old friends and made some new ones in the fleet.

Once we hit Indonesia we essentially lost the wind.  We managed a few hundred miles here and there under sail and occasionally, because we were not in any hurry, put up the Code 0 and drifted along at 2-3 kts, but in the main this was just one long drawn out motor.   We found the people to be nice, the food passable and inexpensive and the culture to be interesting. The country is primarily Muslim and the call to prayer was our constant companion during the three months we were there. Unfortunately with the exception of Komodo National Park the water was littered with plastic and the seas devoid of any real significant life. This does not stop the local fishermen from stringing their nets everywhere so that navigation, particularly at night, becomes a bob and weave just to go in a straight line.  Be that as it may, it would be hard to imagine a harder working group of people than these fishermen. Often miles from land in the most precarious of craft they fish all night. They are very poor and are often able to show only the simplest of lights. On one of our night passages the only thing that kept us from running one down was a flicking Bic lighter.  

As if a trash strewn ocean wasn’t depressing enough, much of the archipelago was on fire, with virtually all of the fires purposely set.  The locals would burn the brush on the smaller islands, and they seemed to wait until we had dropped anchor to strike the match.  The commercial logging companies and palm oil producers on Borneo were the worst culprits and the thick acrid smoke from these fires spread over 500 miles all the way to Singapore which is ironic since most of the logging and palm oil companies are Singaporean.  At times we had a hard time seeing the bow of the boat.

We took a six day side trip to Bali, specifically the city of Ubud. We stayed in a delightful little hotel with only six rooms surrounded by a peaceful garden. Our hostess, Murni, has been in Ubud for so long that she lays claim to the oldest restaurant in town. We toured many temples throughout the area and Sophia and Jen went to the spa for a day. Sophia regards this as the highlight of the season. Although there are Muslim enclaves, the island of Bali is primarily Indo Hindu with a touch of Buddhism giving the island a unique identity in the archipelago.

The wildlife highlights of the past year have to be the orangutans of Borneo and the Komodo dragons of, you guessed it, Komodo.   We were fortunate to witness from less than 25 feet several of the latter tearing into a goat carcass. When a couple of them lost interest in the goat and started eying us we made a deliberate exit. The orangutan were suffering a bit from the aforementioned smoke but they provided quite a show as they ate their way through a pile of bananas on the feeding platforms in the jungle. Our guided trip into the orangutan sanctuary was aboard a klotok, a double decker wooden boat where we lived on the covered top deck and the three crew took great care of us for two days.

We cleared into Malaysia in early October and decided to take a quick trip back to the US to escape the smoke and heat. (The heat was so intense that a pair of my flip flops delaminated when I left them on the dock unattended over the lunch hour.) Upon our return we joined the Sail Malaysia Rally (the same 50 boats plus a few more) mostly for the swag (cool t-shirts, a flag, reduced marina fees and a couple of free dinners with beer) and made our way up the west coast of the Malay Peninsula. Along the way we managed a couple of land trips including a fabulous three days in Georgetown on Penang. The town is a complete mish mash of all the cultures of this part of the world.  There was a huge Chinese influence throughout the history of the city and they are still a significant slice of the population. It was not uncommon to find Malays, Chinese, Indians and descendents of the English colonists working and living cheek by jowl.  One of the great outgrowths of this cultural smorgasbord is incredible and varied cuisine. It was the first time we felt we were truly in SE Asia.

Off and on since Darwin we have been in the company of kid boats. Sophia has made quite a few friends among these cruising kids and managed to have her eighth birthday party here in Thailand with several invited guests that were not either over 40 or stuffed, a first for her since 2011. And once again Santa managed to find Kailani and squeeze through a dorade to leave Sophia something under our 18 inch tall Christmas tree. The Thais do up New Year’s Eve in a big way.  Everybody in every bay along every beach launches fireworks, everything from little fizzlers to Sydney Harbour behemoths.  The show went on and on for hours.

Finally, in the category of opening and closing doors, Constance T. Earl, wife, mother, aunt, grandmother, great grandmother, horsewoman, commercial pilot and flight instructor, bridge master, dog lover, friend and so much more peacefully departed this mortal veil this past Christmas Eve. She is sorely missed. But as that door closed on a remarkable life, through an open door came Maxwell and Violet, the latest additions to the Earl family. While they will never know their great grandmother, they may take comfort in the fact that some of her runs through them. It will no doubt serve them well.

So that was our year. We’ll spare you the saga of the many repairs we have had to make, the exhaustion we suffered having to hand steer through a couple of days of rough seas without an autopilot, the absurdity of being rear ended by an unlicensed French lady when we were a half block from turning in our rental car and the irony of escaping the South Pacific cyclone season by sailing to New Zealand only to be hit by a cyclone in New Zealand. But this is our life, and regardless of its ups and downs, we experience it all as a family, and for that we consider ourselves to be the luckiest three people on the planet.

Have a safe, happy and rewarding 2016.

Harley, Jennifer and Sophia Earl

SY Kailani

Panwa Beach, Phuket


This is absolutely the last year that I am going to let my parents write this letter using me as their foil. In fact I made it very clear to them that to pass off their ramblings as my own is basically a lie, but it seems like they are determined to deceive, so here goes.

We just wound up our third year of sailing around the South Pacific, and once again our boat is back in New Zealand hiding from cyclones. Dad calls this sailing up and back every year ”circling the drain” and he and Mom are keen to break out of the pattern and have thus decided that we are sailing to southeast Asia next season. I don’t get a vote but if I did it would be limit our sailing to three hours a day or less so I wouldn’t get seasick, but of course we wouldn’t get very far, probably not to southeast Asia anyway.

Last year we finally got to spend some time cruising around New Zealand rather than working on the boat. I got my own fishing rod (it’s pink) and have yet to figure out what all the fuss is about since every time we went out snapper fishing, I caught fish and my Dad didn’t. He says it is beginner’s luck, but I think he is just jealous of my superior skills. We headed off to Fiji in May on the first long passage as a family.  I can’t say it was much fun since I was sick for four days but we stopped over at Minerva Reef and that was pretty neat, at least once the storm stopped bouncing us around at anchor after five days. We kayaked around the inside of the reef and walked all the way across it a low tide.

Fiji was a lot of fun although we had to spend a long time waiting for a part for the boat in a place called Vanua Balavu. We met a lot of cruisers there and made some new friends in the villages.  Later on in the season Dad got a bad infection in his leg so we left Fiji and Mom sailed us the 750 miles to New Caledonia to get medical attention. Along the way she had to give Dad a shot every day in his backside. It hurt a lot but I held his hand and gave him a jelly bean afterward. Just before we left we found two banded coral sea snakes on the boat. One came crawling out of my cabin, and I thought Mom was going to cry.  Supposedly they have a very deadly bite, but luckily we got them off the boat without being bitten.  New Caledonia was different mostly because I had to learn some French since everyone speaks it there. They have really great bakeries so we ate a lot of croissants and there was a huge fish market that made up for Dad’s inability to catch any.

We wound up celebrating  Halloween at anchor. Mom and Dad took me trick or treating around the anchorage in my unicorn costume. Most of the boats were taken by surprise so the treats were a bit odd: a package of nuts, a half gone pack of licorice, a couple of granola bars and a mandarin. The next day the SSB radio net said there had been a unicorn sighting in New Caledonia and I got my moment of fame in the South Pacific cruising community.

Mom and I flew back to the States in November and Dad and a crew sailed Kailani to New Zealand before he flew  to meet us. We celebrated my 7th birthday and Christmas with my grandma in San Diego and right now are on a long road trip seeing family and friends. Boat school has let out for the time being but I’ll be starting third grade next week. In addition to my book learning I have learned to row the dinghy, tie a bowline and check the oil on both the generator and the main engine.  No telling what’s next, but if you want to follow us, check out our family website at www.LaughterJourney.com, and have a very Happy New Year.

May your 2015 bring all you hope for!!
Sophia, Jen & Harley Earl

SY Kailani  

Durango, CO


January 2015

For those of you getting this for the first time, my name is Sophia, I am six years old, my parents are Harley and Jen, and I get to write the annual letter each year. Those of you who actually keep track of these things probably realize that I missed writing our annual letter last year because we were pretty busy.  Of course some of you probably breathed a sigh of relief at the thought that my Mom and Dad might have wiped you from our distribution list and that you would thus be spared from this literary onslaught describing what we have done with our lives over the past months.  Sorry, no such luck.

To digress a bit, I guess I should have realized something was up when Dad brought our new boat, Kailani, back to Sausalito from Turkey in 2011, but after all, who would completely turn their lives upside down right after moving into a new house? I had a new room, a yard to play in, a steep driveway for my scoot bike and I was only half way through pre-school.  And then, bam, come June of 2012 there I am living on the boat in Tonga. At least I didn’t have to sail the whole way there.  It’s probably a thousand or maybe a million miles from California, plus I’m not all that thrilled with passage making although Mom and Dad say I’ll grow into it. Not that I have any choice.

The boat’s not so bad. I have my own room (I used to call it a cabinet until my parents told me the word was actually cabin, but size wise, cabinet pretty much describes it).  I share my bunk (sailor speak for bed) with about fifty of my stuffed animal friends and a bunch of books, and I have my own head (bathroom, more nautical talk) next door.  Some things are the same as back on land. We eat pretty much the same (except powdered milk tastes yucky);  I wear mostly the same clothes (except I don’t wear any shoes unless you count  flip flops); I don’t get to watch television except for football (and there isn’t much of that out here; come to think of it we don’t even have a television); and I have my toys to play with (at least those that will fit into two 18 inch cubes).  Also neither Santa nor the Easter Bunny was deterred by me living on a boat although Santa had to squeeze through a dorade vent since we don’t have a chimney.

Probably the best thing about living on the boat is that we get to see a lot of cool places and never have to leave our home.  I’ve been to Tonga (twice), Fiji (twice) and now we are back in New Zealand for the second time.  We move around a lot but we sleep in our bunks every night.  My favorite things to do are snorkeling and collecting shells.  I collect a lot of shells, so many that every once in a while Dad makes Mom and me sort through them and toss some out. He says that if we don’t, the boat will sink from the weight, but I think he is kidding. When we sort shells, we throw the ones we don’t like anymore overboard, and as each one sinks to the bottom, we dance and sing a song : ”Hallelujah, It’s raining shells...!”   Sometimes Mom sings, “Hallelujah, It’s raining men…!”  Grownups are weird like that.

We snorkel a lot. I like looking for clownfish. One time in Fiji Dad and I found a whole bunch of them living in a large anemone. (I finally got so I can pronounce anemone, but I pronounce enemy the same way). We named it Clownfish Town and it was there when we went back a year later. Another thing I like to do is lie on the deck at night and use the star chart to try to figure out the constellations.  Out here where there aren’t many people it is so dark that on a clear night I can almost reach up and touch the stars.

My favorite place so far is a remote island in Fiji called Fulaga (pronounced foo long a). The mosquitoes are pretty bad there but the snorkeling is really amazing. Mom drove us out the pass in the dinghy and Dad and I floated into the lagoon right over the top of all these sharks. One time I got scared and crawled up on Dad’s back so they wouldn’t see me. We went to the village on Fulaga a lot, and I made friends with a bunch of the island kids.  We went to church a couple of times and ate Sunday dinner with our friends sitting on the floor in their house (they don’t have any tables or chairs). I got to help cook over the fire, and we all had coconuts to drink. I even helped make straws from a plant stem that grew right outside their hut.  Coconuts are way better than powdered milk.

We make a lot of friends out here.  I have met kids from all over the world, but since they don’t all speak English, playing together requires sign language or sometimes an interpreter like their parents.  I also have a lot of adult friends because there just are not that many kids living like I do.  Last year we attended Regatta Week at Musket Cove in Fiji which Mom and Dad refer to as serious partying interrupted by not so serious sailing.  I got to dress as a pirate and throw water balloons at other boats during the Pirates Day race – the amazing thing was that the grownups were crazier dressed and acting than kids!  I also got to dress up as an angel with my adult friends, Jamie the devil and Lucy the other angel, and enter the figurehead competition.  And we won! The prize wasn’t great, a box full of cleaning supplies, but it was fun anyway.

I have jobs aboard the boat. Dad says that as a crew member I have to pull my weight. I told him I only weigh 43 pounds so I shouldn’t have much to do.  I have to turn off the anchor light when I get up in the morning, I run the windlass when we are setting or retrieving our anchor, and I am usually the first one out of the dinghy at the dock and have to secure the painter (that is the rope that keeps the dinghy attached to something so it doesn’t float away).   I also help Mom bake and hand Dad his tools when he is having one of his fights with something in the engine room.  Dad spends a lot of time in the engine room, and sometimes Mom and I joke that he should set up a hammock and live in there.  I always bring him cookies and drinks when he works on his projects, and it seems to make him happier.  So far I can tie a cleat hitch, and most of the time I can tie a bowline, but I still get confused on which way that rabbit should run around the tree once he pops out of his hole.

Last year I went to the Opua School here in New Zealand for a time while Mom and Dad worked on the boat every day.  I got to be like the Kiwi kids and not wear shoes at school. I also picked up an accent.  But Mummy and Deddy didn’t think I learned much, so it was back to Kailani Boat School where I am now in second grade.  My parents are my teachers which is pretty great, although until they have had their morning coffee school tends to move slowly.  It’s funny but sometimes I think they never learned any of this stuff when they were kids.  Like the other day when Dad asked me who the Greeks beat at Salamis (he was reading a book called “Too Big to Fail” and apparently if the Greeks had lost, the Western World would not be as it is today, whatever that means). Considering that he and I had read about the Battle of Salamis a couple of weeks before, I thought he was kidding but I told him anyway.  (It was the Persians.)

As much as I like living on the boat, I really like going back to the States and seeing my relatives. We stay with my Grandma in San Diego, but we take a lot of road trips to see my grandparents and relatives in Colorado and my brother and sister in Oregon and some of our friends that are scattered all over.  This year my brother, Harley, got married to Maureen and we went to the wedding in Phoenix. I danced for three straight hours.  My sister Kate and her husband Alan were there with their new baby girl, Sunday Katherine, making me a niece at six years old. Mom says it is just a modern family. Dad says he doesn’t feel old enough to be a Grandpa.  And this year I sang “Grandma got run over by a reindeer!” at Christmastime, and Mom didn’t really like it so much.  We always take a couple of field trips when we are driving around.  (Dad tries to tell me that going to the marine chandlery is a field trip, but I think he is just trying to get out of teaching school.) This year we went to the Butterfly World in Phoenix, the symphony in San Francisco, the Natural History museum in San Diego and the Getty Villa in Los Angeles where a couple of nice ladies asked if I could be their guide. They had eavesdropped on me telling Mom the story of Odysseus and the Cyclops that we saw painted on an urn (which is like a big pot). Mom didn’t know who Polyphemus was so I had to explain.

My parents say I have to wind this up now and go to bed even though it is summer here, and it doesn’t get dark until really late. They want me to pass along their best wishes for the New Year and to remind you to stay in touch. If you have not already, check out our website – there are lots of pictures, and Mom and Dad write “updates” to tell everyone what’s going on.  So far they only let me do the annual letter – oh well.    Remember - our days are a bit brighter when we get an email from you!! 

May your 2014 be the happiest of days …
Sophia, Jen & Harley Earl
SY Kailani  
Whangaroa Harbour
New Zealand
January 2014

P.S. Some of you may like to know how my rules are coming along … we have added a couple since leaving California.  For those of you keeping track here is the current list:
1 – Don’t fall off the boat
2 – Always hang onto the boat
3 – Always look good
4 – Always solve your own problems
5 – Watch where you’re going, and remember where you’ve been
6 – Choose wisely and live with your choices
7 – Clean up the mess if you made it