Sailing South Pacific trip of a lifetime for young trio

Three young men from the Comox Valley went on the trip of their lives, sailing across the Pacific Ocean in a ship called Mojombo. The most recent time we wrote about Mark Stevenson, Chris Balfe and Cory Nelson, they were in French Polynesia last summer.

MARK STEVENSON

MARK STEVENSON

Three young men from the Comox Valley went on the trip of their lives, sailing across the Pacific Ocean in a ship called Mojombo. The most recent time we wrote about Mark Stevenson, Chris Balfe and Cory Nelson, they were in French Polynesia last summer.

They travelled another 6,000 miles through the South Pacific before they arrived in Brisbane, Australia, after sailing a total of more than 11,000 miles. The following abridged account begins with an e-mail from Stevenson, beginning at Suvarov, part of the Cook Islands.

“There are definitely lots of sharks here! Two or three are circling the boat at all times, waiting for scraps maybe? They actually weren’t too bad when we were spear fishing, but there is a place called “shark beach” where they feed them and as soon as you step into the water they rush at you, just black tips, but four or five feet long and in only six inches of water, it’s really cool.”

They spent a few days in Suvarov and then continued onto Tonga, about another week or so crossing. Chris’ mom and sister joined the boys and the boat for 10 days in Tonga. Thoughts on Tonga from Cory:

“It’s pretty sweet here, I must say. Nice town, a little rundown in some places but this is one of the poorer countries that we will be seeing, with no outside support from bigger countries.”

Mark on Tonga (Mark had been sailing in Tonga with his parents in 2002):

“Yesterday we snorkelled around Kapa island and then went to Swallows Cave in the dinghy. It’s definitely as cool as I remember! It goes way back in there, and everyone was able to come and explore all the way in, despite the bats. It’s awesome to be back here! I remember more than I thought I would.”

Cory on Tonga:

“Today we snorkelled at Coral Gardens, which lived up to its name, beautiful. I saw my first shark since the Cooks, it was a white tip, but I didn’t let the girls know. I told them after and they thanked me for not saying anything. When I win the lottery I’m taking you down here and we are going to do a charter. it’s just like the Gulf Islands, or even around Comox, except with coral and palm trees.”

After spending almost two months in Tonga, the boys sailed to Fiji. It was about a five-day passage.

From Fiji, Cory sent a message to his family to pass onto his relatives that says it all:

 

“I’m on a sailboat travelling here and there around the South Pacific. Accompanied by my best buds Chris and Mark, we are currently anchored off of the port town of Lautoka on the West Coast of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu. Most of the places we have visited I’m sure you haven’t heard of. Some of the highlights have been: making it to San Fran in one piece, preparing ourselves for a life of retirement on the Baja, 18 days at sea to find the Marquesas Isles with their majestic peaks and waterfalls, the tranquil lagoons of the Tuamotus, the ginormous waves of Tahiti, pretending to be a guest at the Hilton Bora Bora, spear fishing with the sharks in the Cooks, the caves and humpback whales around Vava’u in Tonga, and a little peek of city life now that we are in Fiji. Along the way the people and hospitality have been amazing, not to mention all our fellow cruisers we have met, 50 per cent of which seem to be from Victoria! Small world. Unfortunately we are running low on time and have to be in Australia by November. We still are looking forward to checking the surf here in Fiji, re-enacting Cast Away on Monuriki, (now commonly known as Tom Hanks Island), the volcanoes of Vanuatu and then finally the crossing to Australia and work … yes work.”

After about a month the boys sailed to the island of Tanna in the Vanuatu Group. Mark’s parents were able to join the boat and sail for a couple of weeks with the boys. Then Chris’ dad joined them for the crossing to New Caledonia and then onto Brisbane.

 

Mark e-mailed from Tanna, Vanuatu:

“Tanna is an incredible place! Like the Marquesas almost, but even more traditional. They live in grass huts and use magic stones, chew their kava, etc. and the volcano was one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen. We went up at night not expecting much only to find jets of lava and hot molten rocks the size of cars being blown hundreds of feet in the air!”

After almost a month in Vanuatu, time was running out and the boys had to get out of the Pacific because cyclone season was about to begin. Three days to New Caledonia, a couple of days there, then a week crossing to Brisbane. They found a marina up the Brisbane River and all got jobs in restaurants on the river. Then the floods came.

Mark’s e-mail after the flood:

“It was a harrowing experience to be in the middle of all the devastation resulting from the Brisbane flood. We just got out of the river at the last minute before the dam broke and the cars, and sidewalks, and boats and whatnot was carried away down the river. No longer able to work at the restaurants, which will be closed for a while, so we are concentrating our efforts into refurbishing the boat and will put her up for sale. We have had the best adventure that anyone could have but we have run out of money with no real way to make more to continue. However, we are happy with what we have done and looking forward to coming home and beginning another adventure, whatever that may be.”

On March 21, the boys sold their Mojombo to a wonderful family who plan to live aboard and cruise the South Pacific. They will travel for another few weeks through Australia and then are coming home to summer jobs on the Island. They may be home by Easter and their families are so happy and proud of them.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Black Creek residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

The Northeast Woods in Comox is a popular area for hikers and mountain bike riders. It's also a protected park and conservation area. Photo by Scott Stanfield
Comox Valley RCMP seeking witnesses to ‘indecent act’ in Northeast Woods

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after a man was seen… Continue reading

Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells is pictured in December 2018 presenting Marla Ayre, and her children Hunter and Marissa, with keys to their new home at the Habitat For Humanity Vancouver Island North’s Lake Trail Road project. File photo
Courtenay council gives green light to next Habitat build

Courtenay council adopted a bylaw to allow Habitat for Humanity to construct… Continue reading

Comox Valley Nature is in search of the community's 2021 Tree of The Year. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
Comox Valley Nature accepting nominations for ‘Tree of the Year’ contest

Submitted to The Record Comox Valley Nature’s (CVN) annual contest, now in… Continue reading

A multi-use bridge proposed at 6th Street would provide a cyclist/pedestrian connection between downtown Courtenay and Simms Park. Graphic supplied
Comox Valley Cycling Coalition advocates wider bridge

If a 6th Street multi-use bridge ever comes into fruition, the Comox… Continue reading

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Seven streets in downtown Duncan, including Station Street, will soon have new native names added to their signage. (Submitted graphic)
New Duncan street signs will be in English and Hul’q’umi’num

Seven streets to get additional names in First Nations language

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Metchosin Coun. Kyara Kahakauwila is stepping down as deputy mayor following controversy over her decision to travel to Mexico in December. (Black Press Media file photo)
Councillor steps down as deputy mayor of Metchosin after controversial trip to Mexico

Mayor hopeful mediation will help council get back to the business of community

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
One in five tests in Fernie area coming back positive: doctor

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

LUSH Valley appealed to Courtenay council to help restart the Good Food Box Program for Vulnerable Citizens. File photo
Comox Valley organization hopes to restart food program

In a Monday presentation to Courtenay council, the LUSH Valley Food Action… Continue reading

Town of Comox council (from left) Alex Bissinger, Ken Grant, Nicole Minions, Mayor Russ Arnott, Stephanie McGowan, Maureen Swift and Pat McKenna. Photo by Kim Stallknecht
Comox to move forward with stormwater management decision

Northeast Comox lands have been a historical flood plain and regularly floods

Most Read