SY Dog Star

A family sailing the Pacific

Author: Iris Marshall (page 1 of 2)


Hi guys!

Recently, we have just been to somewhere called Whaakari or White Island. Whaakari is actually a volcano! Most of it is submerged under water.
We weren’t allowed to land, but we looked at it from the dingy.

Whaakari is actually a pretty dangerous place! There are ruins on the island of a sulfur plant that was hit by a lahar in 1914, killing all of the plant’s workers.  We saw loads of smoke coming out but no lava or magma, but it does have an eruption every so often.

A volcano is caused by a rupture in the earth’s crust, when it breaks or splits. They produce lava, volcanic ash and gas.

There are around 33 active volcanoes in New Zealand and around 1,500 active volcanoes on earth. Isn’t that pretty awesome!

By the way, I’ve just started doing watches! They are actually really fun and I’m really looking forward to progressing to night watches!

Well, thanks for reading our blog!

Iris 🙂

Fishing, Helming and Pizza at Smokehouse Bay

Hi Everyone!

I’m sorry that I haven’t been writing much! Just having to much fun!

Recently, I have been taking my turn at helming (steering), going through narrow gaps between islands, anchoring and navigating through shallow channels (not to brag). Mum is the main person who steers, you know, berthing and stuff.

Yesterday and the day before we were at a nice bay in Port Fitzroy called Smokehouse Bay. There are two baths, one inside and one outside, a shower, awesome rope swings and pizza oven. We had a pizza party with some other boats and Fired up the oven. It was the best Pizza I have ever tasted!

Also, not to brag, I caught a MASSIVE snapper that weighed 2.6 kg. He will probably last us two nights, including a sashimi éntree!

Well, everything is going great here and I hope it is for everyone else as well!

Iris 🙂

Ps. I recently went back to Carterton and stayed at my Grandparents for two weeks. It was really interesting seeing everybody again! Thank you for having me!

Having fun in Vanuatu!

Hello everybody!

We are in Vanuatu!

We arrived around a week ago in Port Resolution, Tanna, Vanuatu and we put up a yellow flag which means that we want to check in to the country (Vanuatu). 

A boat that we are now sailing with, called Gonyonda, arrived the day before us and had explored the village.

In Port Resolution, the place where we checked in, the people live off the land and don’t use very many artificial household appliances. Most of the houses have no running water and the only electricity comes from solar panels, the size of a square foot. Their houses are made of straw, flax and wood including bamboo and the roots of the banyan tree.

The banyan tree has lots of roots and villagers take roots and tie them to the ground so they grow straight and into poles so they can make their houses.

When we went for a tour of their village, Willie, Sheila, Sarah and Jack (some very nice villagers from Port Resolution)  took us up the hill and we ate sugarcane, coconuts and corn and bananas, which were roasted over a fire that Jack made by rubbing a stick into a log and making smoke and embers. One of the things I really admire about Vanuatu, is that they have banned plastic bags, which is pretty cool!

We went up a volcano which some of the locals believe houses a god called John Frum and they think that one day he will come out and give the people washing machines, dishwashers, clothes and furniture among many other things. 

We got up there in the back of a truck, which was very bumpy, especially considering we driving up dirt roads.

The volcano was magnificent. We were up there for a few hours and all through that time, I was freaking out and relaxed at the same time. Every five to fifteen minutes, it would erupt and we would be coated with volcanic dust. When it got dark, the eruptions were even more thrilling. Blobs of lava double the size of Dad would fly up and we would all step back and cover our heads.

A few days later we went to a party with some Vanuatuan locals invited us to there restaurant (a house with a thatched roof, concrete floor, no walls on one half and a kitchen) and we had taro, fried rice, chilli stew, coconut rice and some chocolate cake that a kid called Freya from Gonyonda and I made. At the end, Freya and I were gifted choco each, which is a very nice fruit (or vegetable?) that they grow.

Yesterday, we left Tanna and sailed to an island called Erromango. On the way, our main sail ripped and we had to motor. We are probably going to fix it when we get to Port Villa.

Well, that’s what’s been going on on Dog Star! Please leave a comment about how it is at home! 

Thanks for reading!

Iris 🙂

The baby in this picture is called Sabai and she lives in the village with her family. She’s so cute!

Mum and I at the market in Lenakel. We went their on the back of a ute and it was very exciting, whizzing along the dirt roads, right next to an active volcano.



Working on the boat with Dad!

I put a through hull in the boat with Dad yesterday! Is was pretty awesome! But before I tell you how I did it, I’ll explain what a through hull is.

A through hull is a hole in the boat that lets water go in and out of the boat. Don’t worry, most of them only let water go out, we’re not going to sink.

We also use them to let the toilet waste go out and let salt water in to use as flushing water.

First, we went to the boat-yard shop and bought something called a ball valve and a through hull or skin fitting.Image result for ball valve

A ball valve is a valve that has ball with a hole inside of it. The handle turns the the ball inside. So, for instance, if I turned the handle 45 degrees the valve would be half open, so it lets some water through but not much. If I turned it another 45 degrees (which adds up to 90 degrees), then it would be fully open. If I turned it back 90 degrees, the valve would be closed and nothing could go in or out. The ball valve can only let water go in and out, not just one way, which sometimes isn’t the best to use for some through hulls.

Image result for through hull trudesign

A through hull or skin fitting is a fairly simple piece of technology. At the top there is a flat piece of metal or plastic that makes sure that it doesn’t fall off. The same is used for the nut on the other side. The only thing different from screws and through hulls, is that through hulls have a hole on both sides.

First, we drilled a hole with a 35 mm diameter with a special type of drill part called a hole saw. We had to drill the hole from one side to about half way then drill from the other side until it met the first drill hole. If we had done it from one side only, it would have exploded the paint work in that area when it reached the other side.

Then Dad got something called an angle grinder to sand the paint off where we had drilled the hole, so we could stick the through hull in with epoxy. We did that because it wouldn’t stick to paint.

Soon, Dad and I were wearing gloves and masks and mixing slow hardener (because we are in a warm climate),  epoxy resin and colloidal silica (to thicken it) to make epoxy.

We mixed the epoxy, then used it to stick the through hull in the hole that we had drilled earlier. The next day, we screwed the ball valve in and now we have a perfect working through hull with a strong, reliable valve for our bilge pump!

Thanks for reading,

Iris 🙂


Nautilus Shells

Hey everybody!

On Friday Dad and I went for a walk along the beach and had a surprise waiting for us. Two Nautilus shells!

We took them back to the boat and showed them to Mum.

These are photos of one of the the shells.

Nautiluses are animals that have been here for over 500,000,000 (five hundred million) years, a long time before humans arrived, which was 1,500,000 (one million and five hundred thousand) years ago. Unlike humans and other living organisms, they haven’t changed or evolved since they arrived.

The word “nautilus” comes from the Latin form of Ancient Greek word “vaut”.

Nautiluses are molluscs from the cephalopod family, Nautilidae.

They have a parrot like beak for ripping apart crustaceans. Nautiluses have blue blood, when it is oxygenated, unlike ours, which is red because of our haemoglobin cells.

They have a large shell which has a hole the shape of a bucket were the body and head of the Nautilus is kept. The actual shell is lined with mother-of-pearl (oyster) and is pressure resistant up to 800 meters below sea level!

Did you know that nautilus’s have eyes? Weird right? They use them to see if a predator is coming and how well their camouflage is working.

By © Hans Hillewaert, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Nautiluses also have tentacles which they use for feeling and grabbing their prey.

Nautiluses can live up to twenty years old, fifteen in captivity. They feed mainly on lobsters, hermit crabs and carrion (dead animals) of any kind.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment down below!

Iris 🙂

Coral at Ilot Maitre

Hey everybody!

We have arrived in New Caledonia! Woohoo!

Yesterday we decided to go to an island called Ilot Maitre that was surrounded by coral.

We all went snorkelling and swam around the coral.
I made a short clip of what it was like and here it is!

Lisa Blair, A Woman With Confidence

Last night, at seven o’clock, we went to a talk. Lisa Blair was talking.
Lisa Blair was the first woman to sail solo around Antarctica.
On her way round, she was demasted and had a collision with a container ship that was trying to give her fuel, but instead was bashing up her hull.
It was an extremely exciting and interesting talk and showed all the people in the room just how hard it can be.
She is also doing a talk in Auckland tonight, so if you are free, head up and enjoy. I seriously
recommend it!
Not very much is happening here. We are still stuck in Opua, though a few nights ago, we did go to Russell which was fun!
I hope that everyone is enjoying themselves!

Iris 🙂


Yesterday we went to Waitangi, where the treaty of Waitangi was signed. When we were there, we learnt about the history of the treaty.
Apparently, there were two versions of the treaty, one in English and one in Maori. The Maori version said that the people from the United Kingdom coming to settle in New Zealand would act under ‘governor ship’, while the English version said that they would act under ‘sovereignty’. Governorship means that the English help with the community but not control it. Sovereignty means that the English would control New Zealand, the community and the indigenous (Maori). Major differences! There were any protests and a big scandal.

For more detailed information, visit .

I hope you liked this blog!

Iris 🙂

In Opua

Hey everybody!

Happy Mothers Day!
At the moment, we are in Opua and I have just finished doing the washing.
It is raining off and on and it is very hard to just relax and have a nice, sunny day.
The visitors facilities revery expensive and we might run out of cash soon.
I hope that everybody is having a good mothers day!
Next week Brian is going come to Opua and we are boing to sail to New Caledonia! I promise I will update from there.

Iris 🙂

Midwife Protest March

Today we went on a march to protest midwifes getting paid better and to change their work conditions. It was really awesome and as we walked we carried balloons and signs like “In a world of Davids, be a Helen”. As we walked up we chanted and shouted. It was so cool. Afterwards we went for brunch and I gave my balloons to this cute red headed baby.
We are going to sail to Great Barrier Island soon and I promise I will update soon.

Best wishes,

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