PAUL & SUSAN MITCHELL
WHITE CLOUD ARCHIVES
Tonga — to show Elenoa to Elenoa — back south to New Zealand again, then north to New Caledonia, Vanuatu and on into Micronesia. " We g o t a l l the way up to Palau when we decided we wanted to see New Zealand again!" recalls Paul with a chuckle. (Roughly, a 4,000-mile passage.) Yeah, it's safe to say this adventurous pair loves blue water sailing. In the year they went up to Palau — which lies north of Indonesia and east of the Philippines — they
One special day in Tonga was when the U.S. Coast Guard training ship 'Eagle' asked 'White Cloud' to guide them into Neiafu, Vava'u.
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• July, 2007
n all, the Mitchells spent 12 years in the Pacific and never tired of it. As Susan explains, "Probably the biggest influence
La Kelly and El Kelly of 'Moorea' will have to change their pronouns in French Tahiti.
Visiting Madagascar was a major highlight. While there, villagers invited Paul and two other cruisers to go for a spin on their dhow. He reports that they're swift, but a bear to tack.
their possessions, Paul and Susan were down, but not out. They went to work doing sail repairs and began searching for a replacement boat. A year and a half later, they were back out cruising aboard a bulletproof, 36-ft steel sloop rechristened Elenoa, after the matriarch of their adoptive Tongan family. They'd had no insurance but, since they'd been doing sail repairs all along their route, by the time they lost White Cloud their cruising kitty had swollen to roughly twice the sum they'd started out with. That was enough to seal the deal on the new boat and they worked off the remainder before setting out again. Although Elenoa has much less room for storage, they were pleasantly surprised at how much less work she was to sail and maintain. "White Cloud was a beautiful boat. She looked nice, she sailed wonderfully, but with just two of us aboard, it took a great deal of our time and energy to keep her going." Elenoa, by contrast, is easy to sail, she can get into smaller anchorages, and Paul and Susan soon found they were getting a lot more enjoyment out of the cruising life. Their new mantra became: "Go small, go simple, go now." Rather than continuing on around the world with wind and current, they sailed east from Australia to visit parts of the South Pacific that they'd missed earlier. If traced on a chart, Elenoa's track during the next few years would look like it had been drawn by a hyperactive twoyear-old: east to Fiji, south to New Zealand, northeast to the Cook Islands and
covered enough open water to sail more than halfway around the world via the equator. "Susan and I like being at sea and we always look forward to the next passage, often more than the next destination. Sailing on a small boat is being very close to nature whether the sea is tranquil or being a tempest. The days are never boring as there is always sail tweaking, reading, writing, navigating, food preparation, maintenance and a multitude of other things to occupy our time — including just sitting watching the waves go by, or the sea birds, or the dolphins playing under our bow or the moonlight reflecting silver flashes off the water, or the colors of the mahi-mahi's skin changing before he becomes filets in the fridge. We stand our solo watches but also cherish the few hours a day we spend together in the cockpit."
The July 2007 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.