Boat Life, It’s Getting Complicated

Boat Life, It’s Getting Complicated

It’s been a very loooong week here aboard Curiosity. At first, we thought about forging ahead despite our pounding heads and piles of paperwork. “Just go for an adventure and post something fun” we said. But, that would be a disservice.

We are struggling with a few issues and we feel it’s important to remain transparent with the reality of this lifestyle. If we didn’t, we’d feel like a couple of frauds serving up a hallmark fiction when you signed up for the independent documentary.

So here it is.

Cyclone season is coming to an end soon here in Tonga and we’re trying desperately to plan our next move.  But it’s getting complicated.

Our ever-growing list of boat projects is slowly moving from minor to major to mandatory.  We NEED to get to a mainland.  Ya know, somewhere with a decent stock of marine supplies, tools, and industry experts.

But between insurance issues, COVID restrictions, and the weather…we’re feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place.

We’re also sick and tired.  Literally.  A few days after the last ukulele lesson in the village, Jason came down with a terrible cold, and now this flu-like monster is trying to drag me down too.  Which isn’t helping with our motivation or our attitudes towards solving any of it.


This is becoming a serious point of contention.  Boat insurance is complicated, expensive, and gets increasingly worse every year.

This week, we received a “Notice of Non-Renewal”.  Our current insurance company, Novamar, will no longer be insuring boats in this region.  The further we get away from the USA the more challenging it has become to insure our US-flagged vessel.

Contacting and getting quotes from at least a dozen agencies has become our annual routine.  Hodgens Marine, Lloyd’s of London, Global Marine, Pantaenius, Novamar, Jackline…you name it, we’ve gotten quotes (but if you know of a company that is insuring US boats in the S. Pacific, please let us know).

Luckily, we found a new agency but they’re requesting a haul-out and full survey.  Here in Tonga, there is no accredited marine surveyor.  So, the only option is to get to Australia or New Zealand before our insurance expires.  Which may not be possible.

Our insurance won’t cover us if we set sail before April 1st and our coverage ends April 23rd.


What countries in the South Pacific are open right now?  None!

That said, we can apply for an exemption if we have a compelling reason for entry.  It’s not a guarantee but worth a shot.

We’re looking into our two closest countries: New Zealand and Australia.  Neither presents a perfect scenario.  But as the saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers.

Australia is at least 2100 nautical miles away, approximately a 20-day sail. It is an option we’re looking into but they don’t count time at sea, and they’d make us do a full 14-day hotel quarantine.  Aside from taking a serious chunk out of our cruising kitty, it’s impossible to sail there, quarantine, and check into the country before our insurance expires.

That leaves New Zealand. The 1100 nautical mile sail would take approximately 10 days, but we would need to creep in on day 12.  Because they will count our time at sea towards quarantine, but only if we are at sea for 12 days or more.

The exact compelling need language for boat refit says “Boat Repairs More Than Minor”.   We’ve spoken with a yacht agent in NZ and what they said is “the magic number is $50,000 because anything less gets denied”.  WTF?!?!  It should be judged on the work needed, not the dollar amount.  But hey, nobody asked me to define what is fair.


We can sail to NZ in unsettled weather and turn our annual budget blood-red by promising to pay $50k in boat repairs.  OR we request permission to sail to Australia, have our insurance lapse mid-transit, and pray mother nature plays nice while we put our home & life savings on the line.

None of this leaves me with the warm and fuzzies.  But we’re running out of time and soon, a decision will have to be made.  Which way we will go…I still don’t know.


We Donated 4 Uke’s to the Vava’u Public Library!

We also have some cash donations that were sent in that we will donate to help keep the library going and fund other programs and educational materials.

You can learn more about the libraries needs and make a donation here:

Some Extra Good News: Turns out one of the guys from Gibson Gives is a fellow traveler and fan.  He reached out and said Gibson Gives wants to donate some ukes and a guitar!  How cool is that!?!  Our little community never ceases to amaze me.

So yea, this week’s been full of challenges but it also raised our spirits seeing the Vava’u Library get some love and the local kids expand their musical opportunities.

The most beautiful part of all this is:  we didn’t even ask.  You all just showed up and said, “how can we help”.   Warms me up even more than my hot toddy!




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