Remote Island Life & Ukulele With The Locals

I bought a ukulele over 10 years ago and have never learned to play it…until now. So it’s official, I’m in a band and they said I could bring you to band practice.

These are just a few of the Vava’u Ukulele Orchestra band members.  But, as you can tell, we’re pretty hardcore.

tongan kid learning to playing ukulele

My love affair with the ukulele started with my first trip to Hawaii.  I was a makeup artist in my early twenties, on one of my first big jobs and about to leave the mainland for the first time.

I was born and raised in West Texas, never traveled growing up and wasn’t culturally educated.  So, this trip was kind of a big deal and I was sooo that person, an American abroad (yet still on US soil).

Everything was exotic and new but it was the aroma of the Frangipani and the sound of the Ukulele that left me intoxicated.  I could still smell those sweet notes and hear those island beats even though I was back in the land of cow patties and Willie Nelson.

Years later, just before we sold everything and hit the road, I decided to buy the ukulele you see me with today.  I have since carried it with me all around North America and Oceana.  Only once have I really attempted to learn how to play it.

We had a lovely patron and fellow ukulele lover by the name of Julie join us for the sail from Tahiti to the Cook Islands.  She brought her ukulele and favorite songbook with her for the passage.  It was the first time I managed to pluck all the way through twinkle twinkle.  It felt like real progress!

But, when we made landfall the need to explore, work, repair and move-on took over.  Then, a few months later, we arrived in Tonga and hauled out for cyclone season (thinking we would only be gone a few months, Ha!)

Now here we are, back home, in our groove again (sort of) and stuck until cyclone season ends and borders open.  And you know what they say, when stuck on a remote island with a ukulele you’ve carried around for over a decade, LEARN HOW TO PLAY THE DAMNED THING!

nikki wynn playing ukulele in vava'u library with island kids


Giving Back

We get so much from each of the places we visit and it feels good when we have the opportunity to give back.  The Vava’u Public Library makes a big impact on this tiny island.  They have a range of programs that cultivate curiosity and inspire the kids to learn new things.  And that is something we can get behind!

Right now, the library only has a handful of ukuleles and a lot of students.  So, we’re going to take all the YouTube ad revenue we make from this video to purchase more ukuleles for the library.  This will allow even more students to join in and be a part of the ever-growing Vava’u Ukulele Orchestra.

How You Can Help

So thrilled to see so many people want to help with the library!  They only need a few more Ukuleles which we will donate.  But, they do need general funding for their many, many other programs to help keep the library open.  You can learn more about their needs and make a donation here:



The e-bikes in this video are NOT perfect and you must know I only recommend them with reservations.  We also have an e-bike we DO recommend.  Here is the scoop on both.

Our Ok Jetson e-bikes: We’re thrilled to have them and better than nothing.  They are the smallest, lightest (34 lbs), most compact folding e-bikes we could find.

  • The Bad – The bike is not ideal for taller or heavier individuals. It struggles to maintain speed when climbing hills and depending on your weight, slows to almost a stop if it’s really steep. It has a responsive but not reliable on a steep downhill rear brake. The seat is uncomfortable for long rides. It has a limited range of 17 miles (because of no pedals).
  • The Good – The E-Bike doesn’t have pedals, a chain, or cassette (less to rust and maintain). The bike can fold down and fit in almost any of our large storage lockers (main deciding factor) and easy to load up in the dinghy.  They are really affordable for an e-bike…but you get what you pay for.
  • Buy Jetson Bolt –

Great e-bikes: If we had a bigger dry storage locker that could have fit our Blix E-Bikes…we would have loaded those up in our crates.  We absolutely love those bikes and miss not having them.  If you have the room, go for a Blix or similar quality.  You will never need to rent another island car and they are a helluva good time!

Full Blix Review:





Ups, downs and all arounds, we share it all. We’re able to do so because people like you show up each week, read, watch, comment, share, shop our gear store, and toss a tip in our production jar. If you like what you see, there are lots of FREE ways you can show your support.

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (34)

  • Tim Murtha

    Great video! Glad you showed us your progress on the ukulele! I’m about two years into ukulele lessons – WAY LATER than you Niki! Have you tried “The Daily Ukulele “? – 365 songs arranged for the ukulele. I use it for my lessons – a lot of popular songs as well as classics….

    Keep living your inspiring lives!


  • Dennis

    Thanks for another great video. I have a friend in Canada who makes ukuleles kits. One of his markets is schools with a simple to assemble instrument that can be decorated by the children. He might be interested is a batch run with reasonable pricing. Here is a link “”. I am sure the logistics would be difficult, but it might be a fun challenge. Thanks again. Dennis Brown

  • Michael

    There are plenty of royalty free songs. How about “Jesus love me”? 😉

    Thanks for another great video. What wonderful fun you had with the locals. We sure enjoyed it. Keep up the good work.

  • Marc Montero

    Al Pacino doppleganger fosho!

  • Karen

    I am so excited to see a library ukulele program where you are. I participated and taught in our local library ukulele program in Albuquerque, NM for three years until last March. I’m passing on your video to our ukulele program leader who has donated ukes to our libraries here.

  • Alan Solomon

    Great video. As boaters with time on your hands besides everything else what else would you be doing but helping the local community. I would do the same. I am happy for the lot o’ you.
    When you guys came back to your dinghy after the uke lesson and grocery shopping. Nikki hopped in, Jason got in and took off.
    I could see the ripples in the water from the dinghy engine, the background of the island as you sailed away, the depth of the clear water. I don’t know maybe also the satisfied smile on Jason’s face of having a full day in tropical paradise. Its just an amazing life you are living. Anyone of us can do it but, for deep down reasons that we only know, some of us do not do it. What a great life. Congrats on taking the bull by the horns and turning it into an extraordinary life. Even though it is just another day. Best…


    Another example of what makes “Gone with the Wynns” stand out in YouTube and Patreon land: meeting local people and helping others.

    P.S. I don’t think that Bob Marley (and his descendents) would mind you using his music to show off John and the Neiafu Library Uke Band.

  • Amy Riggan

    I am an elementary librarian and this video touched my heart so deeply. I want to donate to the library as soon as you get the donation page set-up. Thank you for sharing how amazing the library is to their community! Love it!!!

  • Joe in California

    Just sent some moneys via PayPal for the libary.
    This is to make up for having my Ad-block on all the time. 🙂

  • Bill Karoly

    Post a PayPal link or Venmo. We’d be glad to donate.

  • Bob W

    John looks extraordinarily like Al Pacino! I will gladly make a contribution to support the library.

  • Fan from MI

    Also count me in on helping library. Happy to help.

  • Jeff C

    What’s the money exchange rate and do they take credit cards ? Jc. Corpus Christi , tx

    • SandraGosnell

      Cash ap?

  • Jim

    Great stuff! Amazing Kiddos and the interest inArt and Music.

  • Marjorie Nehlsen

    Another interesting video. Love Sunday because of them. Enjoyed your music.

  • cinda johnson

    How can we donate towards the ukuleles?

  • Lisa Cantrell

    Hey guys another great video and making me homesick for my home (St Croix) when I was young. Back then (1950s) it was very much like this and I really miss those days.
    I have watched the YouTube video all the way through but if you come up with any other way to donate to the library and the uke program I will be willing to send money too. While I LOVED my home and had access to the “outside/stateside” world through my parents who were from the states, our local library was my favorite place. It’s where I found out about the rest of the world.

  • Fan from MI

    Is there any info on the electric bikes?

    • Fan From MI

      Thanks very much for info. You both are awesome.

    • Curious Minion

      There’s a link in this blog post where they made their debut and Nikki talks about their advantages & disadvantages: Don’t forget that shopping through the links provided won’t cost you anything extra but it will throw a few pennies into the sailing kitty, so shop away! :o)
      Curious Minion

  • Tricia

    Hi! I would like to buy a uke or two for the kids in the village. Any way you can provide a way to do that?

    • Tricia

      I also just started playing uke after wanting to learn for many years. I love it!

    • Wendy

      I would love to do that as well! Just love you two and all the good you are doing along the way in your incredible journey.

  • Pat

    What a great video and thanks for doing wonderful things for the island and the kids. Really enjoyed it and had a good time watching you ride those bikes…great idea for boaters…

    Take care and have a wonderful week.

  • Shirley Gautreau

    I would be willing to donate some money towards buying the Ukelele’s as well. If you come up with a plan please let us know. I have sent the video to a lot of my friends to watch so hope that helps.

    Shirley Gautreau

  • About Creativity

    Very good.

  • William Trumbull

    Keep up the great job you two. Hugs from Northern CA

  • Thomas

    John looks like Al Pacino!

  • Keith Vauquelin

    Hey, sweet video, really enjoyed the kindness on display. In a world beset by all sorts of daunting, seemingly impossible challenges, a little kindness will shed light sorely needed. I enjoyed seeing the kids smiling and laughing, their cute librarian, and meeting your new found ukulele coach. I am looking forward to hearing his story. Be safe, friends, it is snowing in north Texas as I write this note.

  • CDR Mike

    Is there a good way for us out here to buy and send ukuleles to the kids? Of course, if there is, they will probably get 100+!
    I looked on Amazon and most of the ones for kids are soprano ones and cost under $50.

    And as far as the rain goes, at least your freshwater tanks will be topped up. 🤓

    • Curious Minion

      Shipping of non-essentials to Tonga has all but stopped, and even essentials like cheese are pretty sporadic at the moment. Thanks, Covid! At the moment the best thing you can do is to watch all the YT ads all the way through, because that revenue this week is what’s being used to buy ukes. Let Nikki & Jason see what they can do first & if they need more help I’m sure they’ll put a shout out. Thanks for looking into it though!
      Curious Minion

      • Mary

        So we ALL need to share this video so more will watch it all the way through? Love that the kids are exposed to music! ❤️


Post a Comment