Top 10 Best of 2017


Last Updated on January 9, 2021 by Amy

Not to brag guys, but our years just keep getting better and better. 2017 was our third calendar year of living aboard Starry Horizons for full-time travel, and hands down it was our best year ever.

Here’s a look at the locations and moments that made it so phenomenal.

Baby Whale in Ha’apai

Definitely a top moment ever for us. So few people have seen a tiny new-born baby humpback whale in the wild, it’s not even well documented by scientists. Bonus, I sold the story of spotting the baby whale to Cruising World Magazine and they published it in the first 2018 issue.

Vanua Balavu in Fiji

One of our favorite stops for the year, the island of Vanua Balavu is full of mushroom rocks and small anchorages in a stunning setting.  While there were often other boats near, sometimes we couldn’t see anyone thanks to the geography.

Starry Horizons from above.

Hiking Tongariro in New Zealand

As crowded as it was, the scenery of the Tongariro Crossing made this hike the best of 2017.  The view of Ngauruhoe, or Mount Doom (that’s just its name in the LOTR movies), was only just the beginning.  Walking past the Emerald Pools and trekking back down into the clouds made the walk hard to forget.

Road Tripping the Big Island of Hawaii

For a three-day road trip, we packed a lot – waterfalls, black and green sand beaches, and a volcano!  The Big Island has such great diversity and is small enough that you can do it all in a short time frame.

Mount Yasar, Tanna Island, Vanuatu

Surely this experience would never be allowed in the states. Standing on the edge of a constantly erupting volcano while being covered in sulfuric clouds and ash was probably not our best idea ever, but the experience of the view over Tanna and the erupting volcano at night made this experience unique.

David and I as the volcano erupts.

Hitchhiking Fijians

We don’t normally take on other crew, but when we were approached by a Fulagan villager who needed a ride for two to Suva, we said sure, why not? Alfreti and Koroi came with traditional Fijian food and helped us navigate into Suva at night and fillet our biggest mahi-mahi. The gifts they left behind, wood carvings traditional to the island of Fulaga, will be a treasured memory.

David, Koroi, and Alifreti.

Landing our Five Biggest Fish

After revamping our fishing gear in New Zealand, we landed more fish this year than ever! We caught one large mahi-mahi in Fiji, plus TWO double hookups of Big Eye tuna – one in Fiji and one in New Caledonia. We’ve been able to share the fish with all of our friends and family that came to visit this year, plus we gave half a fish to the Fijian village of Fulaga and served tuna at my 33rd birthday party. You get some tuna, you get some tuna, EVERYBODY GETS SOME TUNA!!

Sailing Under the Golden Gate Bridge

Our paid crew position aboard Julia not only allowed us the opportunity to earn money and visit family, but we got to sail under one of the most iconic bridges in the world.

Seeing Our Families

We started 2017 back in Texas and spending time in both Houston and Dallas.  We saw David’s family again for his grandpa’s funeral in March, unfortunately, and then again in April when we flew out to crew on Julia.  My family came to visit in Fiji and David’s family is here with us now.  That’s a lot of family time for people who live half a world apart!

My family in Fiji.

Sydney Harbour for New Year’s Eve

And finally, New Year’s Eve in Sydney Harbour saw us sailing with David’s family under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, past the Opera House, and we topped off the day by watching the fireworks in the evening.  We could not have gotten a better spot, with a stunning view of the bridge and Opera House.

The view from the lounge deck, Sydney, NYE 2017

And on to 2018….

The first half of 2018 will be spent in Australia, exploring the country.  The second half will be working our way up through Southeast Asia to Thailand.  We can’t wait to share 2018 with you!


  1. Sounds like you had such a fun 2017 and a very Happy New Year to you. That is amazing that you were able to see a new born baby humpback and that you could sell that story, sounds like it was a perfect start to the year. Good luck for 2018

  2. Wow, those are a lot of places in one year! And you seem to have explored a lot of these small islands in the Pacific. I love the volcano you visited in Vanuatu!

  3. I have been to the Big Island many times and have never attempted the road trip. I need to try this next time! I would love waterfalls, and haven’t had a chance yet to explore a volcano! The Big Island has such great diversity to it, and is small enough that you can do it all in a short time frame. And how cool that you got to see a baby whale 🙂

  4. Wow, you really got to have some great experiences in 2017! Especially that baby whale! NYE right in Sydney Harbour sounds like it would be incredible! I hope you have a great 2018 too 🙂

  5. If there is some secret to snagging that spot in Sydney, keep it close to the vest!!! Amazing, I have never seen another cruiser post a picture without at least one mast in between them and the bridge….We anxiously await the video! (you did get video?)

  6. Happy New Year, Amy & David! It has been a pleasure to watch your progress this past year. You mentioned revamping your fishing gear setup. What did you do to increase your catches? Wishing you two fair winds this year. Allen & Linda Dobbs S/V Catatude

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