Lindisfarne – Forgus 37 – 7,5t (more than 9t equipped)
From Chile Patagonia to New Zeeland
Finally the day came for leaving Sweden. But even that was a little bit of a problem. We thought our problem was our overweight, but it turned out to be our one way ticket to Santiago. For the excuse that Chile eventually would not let us in without a return ticket the air company wouldn’t let us fly without buying a return ticket. We argued that we are not flying out, on the contrary we are flying back and have our “house”/boat in Chile and that’s a proof as good as anything of our founds for taking care of our selves.
The boss who could read Spanish was called and when she had red our paper from the Aduana (Custom in Chile) allowing us to have our boat in Chile without paying tax, they no longer argued that Chile eventually should stop us at the border and we got our boarding cards for the whole trip without buying a return ticket.
It was a little bit funny that our worst formal problem so far since we left Sweden three years ago appeared here in the airport of Stockholm. We, who always complain about the bureaucracy in South America!
Finally we took of with our heavy luggage tagged all the way to Santiago. In Madrid we boarded a jumbo jet after a few hours of scheduled waiting. But at the gate we were asked to step aside. Not speaking Spanish it’s always a little scary when something out of routine happens. It turned out that we had only been given new seat numbers and after that we were allowed to board the plan. Of some reason we were upgraded to Businesses Plus Class! We had meals and drinks as if we were Kings and we slept well almost all of the 12 hours night flight.
Now we only had to pass the customs in Santiago with all our boat gear. We planned to show them our Aduana paper if we got caught (which was the purpose for bringing that paper which come to use in Stockholm instead) Nothing happened, we think they didn’t even look at the X-ray monitor when our luggage was scanned!
No flights was available to Puerto Montt, being high season and relatively late in the morning, so a taxi to the bus terminal was the best option. 7 hours of waiting for the night bus to Puerto Montt and another 14 hours later we where in Puerto Montt and Lindisfarne, 45 hours after leaving Stockholm. Luckily Lindisfarne was in a shape as if we had left here there for only a week or so. The long trip made us take a time out for the next 24 hours.
Once recovered from the trip we started to plan all we had to do with the boat before leaving for the Pacific crossing. The list became impressingly long and we found that our earlier estimated departure by the end of February wasn’t overestimated!
We will not bore you with all details, but here are some cornerstones.
First we dried out on the wall, using the spring tide, fixing the play in the propeller (after more than 3000 hours). We had in Sweden prepared three, 0,5 mm thicker, shafts for the foldable blades, and the new holes fore these were now reamed with a reamer, also brought from Sweden. The propeller is (after 10 hours of motoring) now silent and without vibrations. Hopefully the temporary repair will last all the way to New Zealand where we will have a more permanent solution. (Probably a new propeller)
An internal-external galvanic protection system was installed on the propeller shaft together with the rudder shaft and the surrounding through hull fittings.
From Sweden we also brought an AIS B transponder, which took some time to install. The AIS had separate VHF and GPS antenna not to mention all its cabling.
A new main fuse system was quite time consuming, working with heavy cabling and large terminals to be pressed.
New house bank batteries was bought and installed (the old one only two years old!).
All equipment that was dismantled in July had to be put in place again.
The rigging re tuned because it had been slacked before we left in July.
A saltwater tap with its pump was installed in the galley.
A leaking part of the water heating in the shower had to be bypassed and removed. We have to install a new one before the next coldwater passage. One more item for New Zealand.
A lot of inspection, greasing and other maintenance items where taken care of.
Upon all these examples we bought and transported a lot of food to the boat for the Pacific crossing, all which of course filled up a lot of space, not to mention that we had to live in the boat during this time. Sometimes it looked impossible only minutes before dinner!
During this time Annika spent a lot of time in other boats, helping the crew with their computer related problems. It’s time consuming, but it pays back. Wine, car hire and best of all; Scott in the motorboat Egret “paid back” buffing the whole superstructure and upper part of the hull. Lindisfarne is really sticking out among other fibre glass sailing boats after that treatment. The only downside is that we have to try to keep her that way.
27 February To marina Quinched
Finally we were ready to go to sea. We started the last day of February with a Zarpe (the allowance from the Armada to navigate in Chilean waters) for the waters east of Chiloé and the Pacific to Juan Fernandez where we intended to check out from Chile.
We got two very nice days sailing down to Marina Quinched, just south of Castro, where we spent a week meeting friends and doing the last preparations before the Pacific.
5 March Ready for the Pacific crossing
Just one anchorage and we where on Gulfo de Ancud ready to pass through Canal Chacao to the Pacific.
But now our new SLR camera decided to give up. Suddenly it just went dead and all our efforts to get it working again were in vain. Sailing out in Pacific without our best camera was not an option. The only possible solution was to continue north, back to Puerto Montt and make contact through the Internet with the camera supplier.
This is actually the process going on right now. The camera has to be shipped to Sweden for repair and can earliest be sent back in five weeks. Knowing about the delays and costs trying to get goods through customs we don’t even think of having the camera send back to us in Chile. It has to stay in Sweden until we have friends coming sailing with us in Tonga. So much for warranty.
It all ends up buying a new camera, which of course is easier said than done in southern Chile not to mention the price. Luckily we have an option to by it in US and have it transported to Puerto Montt with part of the crew from another boat. We hope all these matters are solved by the mid of March and that we shortly after that, when the weather conditions are ok, can continue our trip.
Never the less, we are still not in a hurry. The cyclone season ends in April/May in Polynesia and we have not more than five to six weeks of sailing to get there.
At last we were ready for the crossing of South Pacific.
19 March Ready 2:nd time for the Pacific crossing
Initially we should have done Canal Chacao under nip conditions, but two weeks later it was of course spring! giving us a fast and adventures run thru the sound. The tide was 8-9 kn but we manage to avoid the worst tidal rips by turning north along the coast to a relatively protected anchorage waiting for the wind to change to southerly.
Once again the first hours of sailing was calm and almost without wind, but in the afternoon the new wind came from the south and by night we had gale force, almost at the borderline where we have to slow down to be able to steer safely.
Now it became a very fast passage to Robinson Crusoe with 24 hours progress 180 nm.
We stayed only two nights and had some nice walks up to Alexander Selkirks lookout (the model for Daniel Defou´s famous book “Robinson Crusoe”). The anchorage became very uncomfortable late the second day so we decided to leave just before sunset and sail straight to Gambier. Straight was actually not the correct word for this passage. Because of the more or less stationary high pressure north east of Easter Island we had to go north for a couple of days, trying to reach the prevailing south east winds avoiding areas of calm.
26 March – 26 April Robinson Crusoe to Rikitea, Gambier French Polynesia
The whole trip became a chasing after wind and preferably tailwind. The first two weeks we had good conditions but then low-pressure in the south effected the situation. The prevailing south east was suddenly far north and we had to go south to get some wind. For 20 hours we just drifted with the current and during the night we drifted 4 nm with only a flashing anchor light and the AIS transponder working. (In total 1 Amp consumption).
Finally we got new wind from southeast and could start sailing again after a week with very weak winds, and mostly headwinds! The forth and last week was quite ok with good to strong winds from southeast.
During the forth week we saw some LAND. We looked closely at the small island Ducie, four days before landfall Gambier. It’s a small island with no passage through the reef.
The next night we saw Hendersen, the limestone island, northeast of Pitcairn in the moonlight two miles to the north. Finally one night before arrival we had Oeno on the radar in the dark four miles to the north and then, “suddenly”, we where in the Gambier atoll. The last two days of strong winds made the landfall a bit too early to use the south east passage. We continued to the southwest passage to make a safe entry in full daylight.
The strong easterly wind calmed down when we entered the reef and we could motor against 10 kn wind topping up our water tanks before the anchorage.
How to describe a month passage over an ocean with unbroken horizon and only one cargo ship?
The weather is already done, although we haven’t mentioned weather information. We use our HF radio and grib files, but on top of that we have had two friends in Gothenburg emailing us the “overall weather”, suggesting where to turn to get wind. We have also helped Six Pack with Rex and Louise relaying weather information over the SSB during the trip (they have no modem to their HF radio).
What else to do during long and “boring” days. It’s funny, it seems that this is a problem only on shore before take of. On the boat under sail this is not a problem! There are always something to attend and if not you should rest. There is often a lack of sleep, remember that we sail 24 hours a day keeping watch during a whole month. “Normally” this is called “5 shift” and we are only the two of us. Sleeping is important of course, but to be prepared to do extra pass due to shifting conditions you are not supposed to get “overtired”, so don’t sleep only when you are tired. Sleep when planned and whenever you have the opportunity.
Our days are occupied with a lot of things except keeping watch. How many times have we gybed? a time-consuming business when we have to furl the two headsails, shift the whisky pool to the other side, shift the preventer on the main, gybe the main and finally unfurl the headsails. Preparing meals and eating becomes highlights, especially as we are doing this together, not while the other crew member is sleeping! Baking bread is also very nice, the smell of the almost ready bread…
Fishing is occasionally very intensive! but sorry to say very long time elapse between the catch. Our first Mahi- Mahi (Dolphin fish) we got already after some days, but the next and last one came three weeks later.
Luckily we had a lot of home made canned food, prepared in Puerto Montt in our high pressure cooker, so lack of food was never an issue.
Of course the night pass is not always funny, but the moon and the stars are fantastic. You never see that many stars back home because of all background light. We have used MP3 players with recorded books, quite entertaining and sometimes so exiting that you don’t want to leave your watch!
Still after this long passage we agree that long passages only are a problem onshore.
27 April Checking in
When we arrived in Gambier we didn’t went onshore until midday the next day. It felt completely normal to wait until our “minds had made landfall”, actually we were almost sad that the passage was done, a good sign and proof of our impressions from the trip.
Checking in in French Polynesia is quite laid back compared to South America.
They have a simple routine with a formulary prepared for pleasure boats which is posted to the only formal port of entry in Papeete on Tahiti where later the procedure have to be confirmed and crews from outside EU have to pay a bond.
Have we had any problems?
Actually not, but the already known problem with charging the battery using a regulator designed for cars have been there all the time. Reading Nigel Calders books about charging batteries we now know how to solve it, but doing this in Chile was almost impossible and very expensive. This is now postponed to New Zeeland. In the mean time we charge the batteries every 30-40 hours, depending on the consumption. Our water maker is belt driven, thus giving us electricity when making water…
Now we are living a nice and comfortable life in remote anchorages around the archipelago of Gambier waiting for favourable weather conditions for the 450 miles passage to Hao atoll.
We have in Gambier celebrated our three years of sailing since we left Gothenburg the first of May 2005.
8 May Gambier to Tahiti French Polynesia
After nearly two weeks of lovely South Pacific life among the Mutos in the Gambier group we got tired of waiting for wind for the passage to the Hao atoll. We left Gambier together with three boats. This was actually the first time ever we sailed together with other boats. Six Pack from Australia whom we met in Piriapolis in September 06, Accord a singe hander from New Zealand and Iris from Portland USA. Together we formed a Radio net, mostly to spread the weather information among the boats. Every morning and evening Annika was the net controller and informed about the latest grib-files.
All the way to Hao, 5 days and 446nm, was almost without wind so there was not much to report. It was almost like sailing on a lake, no swell and very calm sea.
Due to the lack of wind we newer spread over the ocean. In spite of the different sizes, we had VHF contact the whole passage. The different positions were merely depending on motoring for water or electricity production. We motored 50 hours during these five days. Some time for electricity and water (our belt driven water maker needs 1450 rpm = 5kn) but most of the time because lack of wind.
There was no luck in our fishing. Four boats and five days and only three fishes in total, two small skipjacks and a 10 kg yellow fined tuna, which Iris caught the last evening. We wonder if we are bad fishermen or if South Pacific is empty??
One very unique episode happened the third evening.
Annika had two nice loafs of bread ready out of the oven when the wind died. We were making water and doing our 5 kn, but Iris 2nm to the north east of us were still sailing.
We called them and asked if they wanted fresh bread.
But of course was the surprised answer.
One hour later, just at sunset, we handed over half a loaf, some bananas and a coconut. Probably the first fresh bread delivery in the middle of an ocean between sailors
13 May Hao atoll
There where a lot of discussion over the radio about the current in the pass into Hao and the right time to do the passage. Pilots seams always to talk about worst conditions. In this case it was 20 kn!!
It might be possible with spring low and a southerly storm, but during “normal bad” conditions it seldom over run 5-6kn. We were lucky and arrived at daybreak with 2-3kn current with us into the atoll. A lot of talk and worries about something that turned out to be a complete anti climax. We should later discover how lucky we had been this time.
We were all, after some hours, anchored among the coral heads at the village in Hao.
This was our first test of “coral anchoring”. We buoy our chain to prevent it from sliding on the bottom and catching the heads. Worked just perfect. Our three friends hadn’t seen this before and their chains were immediately caught around the coral. They re-anchored with some small buoys and were more successful.
We think it is important to have a few meter of the chain close to the anchor on the bottom and after that have the chain in loops, clear from the bottom. It’s even more important than ever to test the holding by reverse 80% of full power with the buoys attached to the chain to check that the lifting power from the buoys doesn’t effect the holding. When you really need your anchor, the chain (or rope) is in a straight line to the anchor, buoyed or not.
There are a lot of episodes were boats had to leave in a hurry because of changing conditions and discover that their chain is caught under corals and they can’t leave, creating a sometimes very dangerous situation.
We visited the Gendarme to announce our presents. There are some rules that you should report in every new island/village in French Polynesian, but later on we discovered that this is something they really are relaxed about.
Hao is a big atoll which under the time when France did their nuclear testing at the Mururoa atoll, this was the base camp. The runway at the airfield is the longest in South Pacific. Even the Concord landed here when the atoll had its prime time. Today the base have only a small supply battalion of 50 men, all what is left of a hundred times larger force.
The village had of course some traces of this declining, but still it was a nice working village with lots of friendly people, not the slightest tired of tourists. We found out that the normal number of visiting boats per season where not many and four boats at the same time were a sensation.
We met the English teacher who invited us to his home for beer and free internet and the next day a French family who lived in a house on the beach did the same. Very friendly and of course very convenient for us as Internet was not available in any other way in the village.
The harbour was quite new and it was possible to get diesel by a truck directly at the wharf, which we of course had to use unanimous. The price was higher if we bought less than 200 l, so we bought “one for four” just above five hundred litres. The wharf was to high for yachts so we had to double fender Lindisfarne and use her as a pontoon for the others. When we filled the last boat, the wife of the “truck man” asked if we wanted Heineken or local beer!
That’s a nice way to treat customers, especially since the beer is very expensive in French Polynesia. We got six beers, one each! The diesel isn’t cheap, just above two US$/L, similar to the price in Europe.
Back at the anchorage we only had to pick up the chain which we had left tied to the dingy, a procedure of five minutes, compared to a “normal” anchoring which takes at least the double if you succeed at the first attempt.
Garbage, especially of course disposals containing oil, is a problem when cruising in remote areas where there are no “litter boxes”. Hao was probably one of the few places where we could get rid of things like used oil and other difficult disposals. We took the opportunity and changed oil and all the filters in the engine. Even if we had sailed most of the time since Chile, three month sums up to a lot of engine hours, so it was a reasonable time to do this maintenance work.
20 May To Amanu atoll
After a week in Hao we were ready to continue and sail the short trip to the neighbouring atoll Amanu. This time we discovered that passes into atolls looks quite different in different conditions.
Our flat water passage into Hao was not to be recognised.
The current was going out of the atoll, against the swell. This is not a favourable situation, but in Hao not seldom seen. We did a test attempt going half way out to determine the speed of the current, turned back and secured all lose things and then we hit the pass.
A rollercoaster ride later we turned around out in the open sea and had some nice photos of Six Pack and Iris doing the pass.
We have to admit that our training in Scottish waters were a big help.
Passing out Hoy sound in the Orkneys is something to remember, experience of green water behind the mast a few times helps you to determine when the boat is in trouble in the future.
Hao was nothing like that, even if it was another extreme experience.
Amanu is a small atoll with a small pass, which one should pass only by slack water and following sea. To make it a bit more complicated, the pass makes a turn in the inner part! But in right conditions it’s easy and safe and a piece of cake compared with Hao.
We had once again use of our coral anchoring method to reduce the chances to get trapped or damage the coral.
Here the clean area between the corals where so close that we had to use two anchors to reduce our swinging radius. (Bahamian type we think it’s called.)
Here we got the first close contact with sharks. Every time we snorkelled they came and looked, but never to close. They kept at least 10 meter distance, probably afraid of us…. Diving alone, at night and in murky water is not a good idea when sharks are in the neighbourhood.
One problem with these atolls is the shelter. There is excellent shelter from one “half circle” but from the other half there is nothing. In some big atolls there can be more than 10nm to the other side of the atoll, imagine anchoring on a lee shore with an ocean to windward. This means that continuing keeping a sharp look out on the weather forecasts is a must even at anchor. You have even to be prepared to leave in a hurry, making the coral anchoring method even more important. There is no time to go diving or circling around pulling your anchor. Not few boats have been severely damaged under these conditions. But apart from that, the atolls are a great place to be in.
24 May to Tahanea
From Amanu we sailed to the uninhabited atoll Tahanea 220 nm to north west. A perfect trip with 10 to 15 knots of wind from south east. We actually had to reef the second night, not to arrive before sunrise in Tahanea. Because of slack water in Amanu we had to leave to early in the morning giving us to much time for the passage to Tahanea. A 220 nm trip is possible to time very accurate and have the passage into the next atoll without “hitting the brake” if the departure time is free. Preferable one should do the entrance and navigation in an atoll with the sun from behind, and after the sun has got a sufficient angle to light up the bottom. Tahanea have three passes, and we chose the middle wider one and made the entrance just after daybreak with a light current against. We anchored just north of the pass among coral heads on 7m over sand. Do we have to tell you about the buoys on the chain?
When we got the morning email (we use the SSB every evening and morning to get and send our email) we had one telling us about three Swedish boats anchored in Makemo atoll, which we had passed during last night. They had read our blog and knew about our arrival in Tahanea.
They came the next day and that was the first Swedish boats we met since Patagonia March 07. There where now four Swedish boats out of total eight boats anchored in this part of Tahanea. – A busy time together with all Swedes.
After a few days they left for Papeete and we sailed across the atoll to get protection from the new wind direction. In the southeast corner of the atoll we found the Paradise in Paradise. Long white coral sand beach, crystal clear water and no coral heads at the anchorage. Close to the pass we had numerous of sharks but here there were almost none. We were told that Ciguatera was not a problem in this atoll so we had some delicious meals right out of the water.
We stayed almost another week in this Paradise. Six Pack and Theleme, a French boat that had spend several years in the area, were our companions during beach barbecue.
We cooked one Coconut crab, the taste is something like smoked salmon, yum-yum.
We forgot to tell you, there are no mosquitoes in this Paradise.
Finally we had to leave. There are many places to be visited and the cyclone season is coming in November…
We sailed back to the pass for one night to be able to sail the 50 nm to Fakarava during daylight.
11 June To Fakarava
We left Tahanea by daybreak and managed to reach south pass of Fakarava before the current after slack water was to strong.
Everything went according to our plan. We reach the pass at 14.15, having had a super sailing. The southeast trade wind was just perfect. At Fakarava we got rain and wind from north, not a preferred direction for the south anchorage.
Instead of the normal anchorage north of the pass, we turned south and anchored behind a local reef giving us a better protection from northwest. After two days we could move to the anchorage north of the pass. The reason for that is the fantastic diving in the pass. You take the dingy to the pass and snorkel back to the anchorage drifting with the current under the dingy. Marvellous scenery and many different fishes. And at least three different types of sharks, not all of them as harmless as the Black tipped reef shark we had got used to. We spent three days diving in this crystal clear water. The pass is famous for its clear water, coral covered bottom and numerous of spices, both fishes and corals. One of the best sites in the Tuamotus.
16 June to Tahiti
We got email from Swedish boats anchored in Papeete, wanting us to come to Papeete for the celebration of “Midsummer evening”.
We left Fakarava late in the afternoon, not to reach Tahiti in the middle of the night. We got some squalls during the whole trip and the sea was quite rough the first night. The wind was stronger than expected, 20-30kn, and of course we made landfall in complete darkness as usual.
The pass to Marina Taina is well marked and lighted. We had no trouble and could anchor within the marina just after sunrise.
We were three boats from Fakarava, Six Pack and a new friend Imagen, a nice HR 49. We had weather radio during the passage morning and evening and of course some chats in between. Imagen was the fastest and anchored at Vénus Point early the second night waiting for daybreak before entering Papeete where they arrived by lunch time. Six Pack arrived three hours after Lindisfarne.
Having done the anchoring we got breakfast in Egret, our friends from way back in Ushuaia, whom we hadn’t seen since Puerto Montt in March. Mary and Scott then guided us, Louise and Rex from Six Pack to town and the authorities. Sweden being a member of EU was exempted from paying the bond, but the others were not. Our clearance was thanks to that a fast and easy matter.
Back in the boat we were invited for sundowners in Roxy, which after two hours were extended to include dinner.
The next day was midsummer evening. Starting at two o’clock with all Swedish mariners gathered in Roxy. Blue Marlin, Lindisfarne and Karl who sailed as skipper on Tilda and Julia who was part of the crew on Shenandoah. Later even Imagen joined the party which kept on to the late hours. Emma liked the ice-cream with strawberries better than her parents choice of aquavit.
Julia invited us to visit Shenandoah the next day. Quite a ship!
Back in the marina, after a trip to Gauguin museum, we were invited to a party at Imagine for the rest of the evening. It’s sometimes very busy with all these friendly nice people.
We had planned to do the town together with Six Pack, but the wind picked up from the south and the anchorage became a bit rough. We where not worried for our anchor, but it’s not fun having boats dragging around when you are in town. So we stayed and got a lot of useful things done during this “boat day”.
Tuesday we rent a car together with Six Pack and toured the island.
The time is flying and with all these activities and all these people you just have to meet, we will probably not leave Tahiti until beginning of July.
The anchorage inside the reef, outside Taina Marina is under normal conditions very good. There are no costs involved, even if you use the dingy pontoon, garbage disposal and more. There is diesel and water in the Marina and a small chandlery, two restaurants and of course a bar. Internet is available for a fee. Busses run very frequently into town to a cost just below 2$.
Our near future plans include the rest of the Society Islands with Bora-Bora being the westernmost where we have to leave French Polynesia latest 26 of July.
30 June – 23 July Tahiti – Bora Bora French Polynesia
Monday the 30:th and we were done with Tahiti. We were supposed to sail away during the weekend, but everybody bought diesel to gain almost one $ because the tax increase the 1 of July. We were a little bit worried about how this should work. But Monday morning there were new diesel to the old price! We have heard rumours (hopefully) of a price around 11$ a gallon in the Cook Islands.
The short trip to Moorea, 10nm, was excellent with 15kn on the quarter. In the Avaroa pass to Cooks bay we met Tilda on their way to the neighbouring Opunohu bay. We turned around and joined them for lunch in Tildas cockpit.
We moved a bit deeper into the anchorage the next day and in the afternoon, Blue Marlin came from Cooks bay and we had lamb steak for the four of us in Lindisfarne together with Chilean wine. (Specially imported in our own bilge…) Wine is terrible expensive in French Polynesia.
The next day we moved some hundred meters again to be closer to the place where Sting Rays where feed. We used the dingy for the final 700 meter to near the Hotel Continental, which was the place for the event. It’s fantastic to see these big rays “hovering” over the bottom and then almost turn themselves upside down to reach the food. They have their mouth on the “downside” and to get hold of the food they have to press their body against the feeder. The skin is very smooth, not at all like the skin of a shark.
Among all the rays there were ten black tipped reef sharks. To our surprise they were content with small leftovers from the feeding.
Our respect and fear for sharks is almost gone. But we are fully aware that there are other very dangerous spices, and even these reef sharks can have dangerous behaviour in other atolls. You should in fact always ask the locals before diving.
After this quite different experience we had to plan for the evening. Polynesian dance was on the menu. Bali Hai Hotel in Cooks bay have dance show every Wednesday evening, so anchor up and three nm later we were anchored just outside Bali Hai close to Egret with Mary and Scott. We got a long table for three boats, Six Pack with their guests Robbie and Bob joined us. After dinner we were served Polynesian dance. Later when they started to bring all guests to the dancing ground, we escaped to Egret for a night cap.
The next day we rented a car and toured Moorea in and out, up and down together with Mary and Scott. Moorea is a more beautiful and not so busy island compared with Tahiti.
Friday, again we changed anchorage, more or less depending of the better, not so crowded anchorage inside the reef west of Opunohu.
Iris had returned from Tahiti, where John had picked up his wife Janet. Iris was one of the four boats in our “Rally” from Gambier. When Six Pack and Egret on top of that anchored around us, we were soon ten people in the cockpit of Lindisfarne, admiring the sunset together with some snacks and a lot of talking…
Next day Janet and John invited us six to dinner. Egret went back in Tahiti to collect friends, and the next day even Six Pack left for Tahiti to leave their guests. Iris moved to the eastern anchorage and we got the anchorage to our selves for two days before we left for Huahine 80nm to the north west. We have now succeeded in getting our wind vane to work in all wind directions. In spite confused sea it worked perfect the whole night. Lucky for us as the new batteries we bought in Chile doesn’t have more than 50% capacity left.
We made landfall in Huahine by daybreak in a drizzling rain. We chose Avapehi Pass and anchored in front of the village Fare. Blue Marlin who had been here for a few days served us breakfast before they left for Raitea. After breakfast we slept for some hours during heavy rain, before we took the dingy into the village for some stocking up. We found a surprisingly big and well equipped supermarket. Loaded with vegetables, lamb, fresh tuna and more we came back to Lindisfarne and used the rest of the daylight to sail inside the reef to the southernmost anchorage at Huahine, Pointe Tiva, where we spent the night and had a feast eating sushi made of our fresh tuna.
Next morning, after a long walk ashore, we sailed back behind the reef and left Huahine for Raitea and Tahaa. These two islands are actually within the same reef and have a large sailing area protected by reefs.
We caught a Mahi-Mahi on the trip to Tahaa, a 7 kg big fish which soon after we anchored northeast of Tahaa was put into salt, sugar, white pepper and dill. This is the recipe for making “gravad” fish, ready after two-three days in the fridge. After that the lamb we bought in Huahine was put in the oven. The lamb together with a good wine was perfect in the cockpit overlooking the sunset behind Bora-Bora some 20nm away.
The next day we sailed inshore on flat water for several hours, a very unusual experience in this ocean, before we reach the pass to the west for going to Bora-Bora.
There were several Swedish boats in Bora-Bora and we told them over the VHF about our arrival and the Mahi-Mahi dinner in Lindisfarne.
The trip from Tahaa to Bora-Bora is a little bit special. First some miles close to and protected by the Tahaa reef and then 10-12 nm in open water, finally along Bora -Bora reef some miles to reach the Teavanui pass. There are a lot of good anchorages in the atoll but unfortunately a lot of them close to the main island are 20-30 m deep. We found several good anchorages with less depth, 5-15m, one even with good access to the road on the main island. The latter one we used to bring our foldable bikes ashore to get some exercise, biking around the island.
The fish meal was postponed one evening thanks to the yearly dance competition which everybody of course had to watch, but the next evening we had three boats for “gravad” Mahi-Mahi. Everybody agreed that this was not the last time for this Scandinavian dish.
Then we had the 14:th of July and the parade.
It seamed that everybody on the island was taking part in the parade!
But that was all, no fireworks and other forms for celebrating, quite a difference from this day in France.
One day we went on Roxy together with Blue Marlin and Six Pack across the bay and moored at the main wharf so everybody could do their shopping before we all had lunch at Bloody Mary’s, the famous restaurant.
Back at the anchorage we found that Iris had arrived, and there was a big gathering at sundown on Roxy together with sushi and some wine.
Now we learned that the weather is not only sunshine. We were sheltered by the island from the wind, but rain and gusts were coming around the island, sometime from an open sky, for two days. This made everybody postpone their departure some days for the weather to settle. We spend most of this time indoors and played different games with other boats. Mexican Train is a domino game.
Monday came with clear sky and a lot of boats headed west leaving us almost alone in our favourite anchorage close to Bora-Bora hotel.
When we anchored really close, we could have free WiFi in the boat. We spend two days updating our website and a lot of other Internet stuff.
After this intensive time with many boats close around we start to se a pattern.
Around 10 boats are possible to keep in the “inner circle”. More boats are quite difficult to manage to keep in touch with and have the time and interest to meet.
This makes it important to change some of this 10 from time to time to be able to meet new people.
We are now looking forward to sail alone westbound to meet new and old friends.
23 July – 14 September Bora Bora French Polynesia – Vava’u group Tonga
After almost exactly the allowed three months stay in French Polynesia we cleared custom and immigration in Bora-Bora 24 July and sailed towards Mopelia. It’s a small atoll south west from Bora-Bora, belonging to French Polynesia. A very slow sailing with the wind on our nose, which finally died and we had to motor the remaining 50nm.
Early morning we motored through the narrow pass, which almost looked like a blasted channel. Louise and Rex from Six Pack where standing on the edge of the channel and filmed our entrance.
In the atoll we found Blue Marlin, Roxy, Six Pack, Traveller and some other French boats anchored. Potluck on the beach (without the French boats) the first evening and then it was bird watching on the menu for the rest of our three days in Mopelia.
The last day we were on our own, since Roxy left for Suwarrow and the rest for Southern Cook Islands.
We had a really nice day with lots of Frigate birds, Boobies, different Terns and others.
Mopelia is a “true” atoll with only a surrounding reef and no remaining island in the centre, like the atolls in the Tuamotus we liked so much.
Only one family living there with a lot of pigs.
28 July To Suwarrow
The 28 we got a favourable grib file for going to Suwarrow, and around 10 we motored through the pass for the 500 nm to Suwarrow.
On the way we once again lost a big Mahi-Mahi. It seams that it’s 50% change to get them up on deck! But we think that we now know the trick, hopefully.
Early morning 1 of August we arrived to the National park of Suwarrow, governed by the Northern Cooks Island. 15 yachts were anchored behind the island, not precisely what you expect in a tranquil paradise. Before evening we were 18.
OK, once you have turned into the highway of the South Pacific, you probably have to expect this. After a week with relatively strong winds from the east, we were only four yachts left. So it’s a matter of timing.
Suwarrow have, compared to other atolls we visited, not much to offer. You are not allowed to move around in the atoll by yourself, outside the main island where the nice family live who take care of the administration of the Park. This means that you are very stationary and if the wind change to southerly or worse westerly, the anchorage is not protected. The fetch across the atoll makes the anchorage uncomfortable in moderate wind and dangerous during stronger wind conditions.
The colonies of birds one can visit together with the guards are quite good but out of that, the memory of Tom Neals years on the island is probably what brings people here.
We stayed some days extra after most boats had left for American Samoa.
The reason was the arrival of Satumaa from Stockholm. We hadn’t seen them since Patagonia March 2007, so it was definitely worth waiting for them. Especially as this was the last chance to meet with them because they, due to their dogs, were heading for Malaysia. We had three pleasant days together before we took of for Niue.
11 August To Niue
On the afternoon the 11:th we left for the 500 nm to Niue. The first 24 hours were windy on a beam reach in confused sea. After that we could pool out the genoa and sheet the self tacking jib behind the main and conditions then became just perfect.
The last day the wind dropped dead, but the evening came with a light wind on the beam, just enough to make us do 6 knots in almost no swell. This lasted the whole night, and by moonset at 6 am we grabbed a mooring outside town in Nuie. There are 16 mooring buoys, anchoring is not something one want to consider due to the chasms in the coral bottom, 100 feet down below.
Niue is a nice experience, except the very rolly anchorage and the sometimes adventures dingy landings.
The island has lot of caves, chasms and other nature specialities to show the visitors, and for two days we biked around and saw most of them. Quite a special island completely made of coral in spite it is 60m high.
No lakes because the rainwater goes immediately through the “cliff” down to the ground water level and gives Niue a perfect reservoir of fresh water.
The green mass is constant! It grows everywhere. Biking around you see nothing from the road except trees.
One of the sites, the Arch in the north of the island was advertised as only the arch, nothing was mentioned about the amazing limestone cave we had to pass with a lot of stalactites and stalagmites. The Arch/rock bridge was actually secondary, if that is possible for a former bridge builder.
After another rolly night we left for Tonga and the Vava’u islands. The wind had been coming from the south west for a couple of days and this plus the loss of one day, passing the datum line, made many boats leave Niue for Tonga this day. Another reason was the checking in procedure in Nuiefu.
Don’t arrive later than 4 pm on Friday, otherwise you were supposed to anchor and not go ashore. We were the last boat out of 8 to leave in the afternoon and during the rest of the day and the first night we caught up with the rest. Although the early and big ones sailed slow, not to arrive in the dark on Friday morning.
The reason for our better speed was our out pooled genoa and flat sheeted self tacking jib.
The conditions were extremely favourable for us. The wind shifted from 90 to 150 degrees over the boat several times, making the rest of the fleet putting their whisker pools up and down, the sea state made their sails losing wind due to their rolling.
Our sail setting made it possible to carry the out pooled genoa the whole time and the jib prevented almost any rolling keeping our sail under constant wind pressure.
Not to mention the comfortable sailing without rolling!
We were ahead of Cat Coquette, a Danish Malö 116 with Lone and Steffen, the first evening and the rest of the trip we were in VHF distance. When we the next morning caught a Mahi-Mahi we immediately invited them for “gravad” Mahi-Mahi as soon as we were moored in Niefu.
It later became a nice evening with of course some Danish Aqvavite.
The second evening on the trip, in total darkness just before moonrise, we had a frightening experience. We thought we saw a green navigation light on the stern to starboard. Looking carefully it was “once again” just a star. Half an hour later it was definitely a green navigation light. But it changed colour between green and white several times, and another whirred thing, it was almost as steady as a star. There had been a catamaran among the eight boats and this was now tacking downwind across the field of mono hull boats.
We were now only making five knots due to reefed sails not to make an too early arrival, and the catamaran was of course during this conditions much faster. They came closer and closer. We hailed on the VHF and used a torch. Finally they answered, was sorry and gibed away from the course right to our stern, only 30m away! Of course this was a quite scary experience, but it was also quite fantastic. Imagine if you do the calculation of the possibilities of two boats hitting each other in the Pacific… It’s probably impossible!
19 August Tonga
As we moored at the customs wharf the guys from the catamaran came and apologised. What really had happened in that boat last night will be a question for us, but a remainder to keep as good outlook over the stern as over the bow! Another thought was about this masthead lights. When you are that close a light 18m above the water probably isn’t much help. Thinking about all these anchoring light in the mast top. Coming in a dingy among anchored or moored boats isn’t easy.
After clearance and grabbing a mooring buoy with free WiFi we could start to get ourselves organised in Neiafu. First we had to find the immigration and the health clearance because they were not at the wharf. The health guy we haven’t found yet after almost two weeks!
Neiafu is definitely another experience. Of course very effected from tourism, but in another way than “normal” hotel tourism. In Neiafu are charter yachters and cruisers dominant. Actually, back packer’s seams more frequent than hotel guests. This together makes a flowering little city/village with a lot of services that we haven’t seen for long time. We even found a small Austrian bakery, yummy.
It feels like coming to a much more living community than in most islands in French Polynesia. Here whaling, sailing and diving are what comes first. Every day information via the VHF! Very effective and very little of bureaucracy, wonder how long time before somebody in the administration interfere?
The harbour bay is very protected and supposed to be cyclone safe.
We spend the weekend and Monday morning in town before we left for the VaVáu archipelago which is from east and south protected by coral reefs making the area a play ground for charter companies. There are more than 25 more or less protected anchorages, some with moorings.
In spite of all that, we have been the only boat in some places! The narrowness to boats isn’t a great problem, but of course it helps if one is prepared in advance to the situation. Another reason for this great number of boats is of course all cruisers. Tonga is on the “High way” to New Zealand and Australia. Before Tonga there are many choices, but most yachts have Tonga on their route.
On top of that, many yachts spend a lot of time here, waiting for perfect conditions for the passage to New Zealand. So no wonder there are some boats in the area!
We will spend about two months in Tonga’s three southerly groups of islands, before we are ready for NZ in late October or early November depending on the weather.
14 September -13 November Tonga – New Zealand
Our conscience about upgrading our website have got a severe hit!
It’s more than four month since we last published a log book. Although there are plentiful of reasons for that, it’s still embarrassing. Our intension was to write as soon as we arrived in New Zealand, but one week of welcoming partys, meeting a lot of old and new friends and then we suddenly were deep down in the boat, working with upgrading and maintenance. But more about that in next log. Last time we wrote we were in Tonga, waiting for a friend from Sweden to arrive.
16 September Vava’a group, Tonga
We are moored in Neiafu harbour at “our” mooring (the one we have succeeded to get every time we return to Neiafu) and have managed to get a car to the little airstrip north of town to meet a friend flying in from Sweden. It’s really important to be able to speak the language. The negotiation about the price for the trip, including waiting for the flight, was less than half the price asked at the taxi station. It’s quite a relief, after having spent two years in places not knowing the local language, to be able to communicate with the locals, not only with the cruisers and some English spoken locals here and there.
After a quick installation of Mimmi in the boat we set sail to Falewi Tahi where Mary and Scott had anchored with Egret, their Nord Haven. Next morning there was no wind. A perfect day for offshore fishing. We, Jan and Kerry from Vision and Rodger and Kimberly from New Paige were invited to Egret for a full day fishing tour.
We didn’t catch much fish, only one Skip Jack tuna took the bait and a Blue Marlin showed us it’s capability under a minute before it spit out the hook.
But we were entertained by humpbacks several times during the day, quite another camera angle from fly bridge compared to Lindisfarnes deck. Although we sometimes climb the mast…
Back at the anchorage we all were invited to New Paige for dinner. Iris and Aries Tour, who had arrived to the anchorage, were invited too. We were 14 people! Luckily New Paige, a Nord Haven 55, has a large dining table. A very nice evening, but Mimmi was quite exhausted when we came back to Lindisfarne and almost fell asleep sitting on her bed. 36 hours flight, time change, a lot of air and sun and on top of that almost only English spoken people around her the whole day took its tribute.
The rest of the week we did a lot of sailing around in the archipelago of Vava’u, searching for humpbacks and nice anchorages. Friday the 19th we where back in Neiafu, stocking up for Ha’apai, the next group of Tonga islands 70 nm south of Vava’u. You are obliged to clear Custom and Immigration between the four groups of islands in Tonga, and after that, in the last daylight we left Neiafu and anchored in Lotuma “around the corner” to be able to leave early next morning. Neiafu is crowded with moorings and boats which makes it quite dangerous to leave in the dark, especially at this time with clouds and no moon.
We started at four in the morning for Ha’apai with a relatively ok weather prediction. The wind was supposed to stay northerly until late afternoon.
Halfway we met a front with heavy rain and strong southerly wind. We struggled some miles but we soon understood that we would reach Ha’apai after dark, something we definitive had to avoid. Ha’apai has a lot of reefs and shallow areas and are not very well chartered. We turned back to Vava’u in time to reach a protected anchorage before dark.
It’s amazing how the surroundings change. Exactly the same ocean, wind and waves, but another course against the wind. Surfing north we talked about all the discussions we have heard about wind and weather. Very seldom people involve the actually course compared to the wind, the apparent wind, when the strength of the predicted wind was discussed. We love 20-30 knots downwind, but more than 20 knots headwind is a pain!
The rain stopped just before we anchored in Port Maurelle, well before darkness.
The next day, Sunday, Mimmi and Annika went to one of the churches in the little village, not so much to pray for fair winds as to listen to the songs and admire the local traditional clothes. In the afternoon we moved further south to Vaka’eitu to be closer to open water when the wind turns to north again.
We did a lot of island excursions during Monday, waiting for the wind to change. We even tried to snorkel at the “Coral Garden”, but the tide and the waves were to tuff.
Tuesday morning in darkness we left a second time for Ha’apai. A reach 60° to the wind, 20-25 knots made the trip a little bit tuff. But Mimmi is used to rough conditions in the North Sea so the only worries was the coming darkness. We reached Haano in Ha’apai 13 hours and 60 nm later, just before darkness, quite relieved. We saw some Humpbacks during the trip but no boats.
The next day we motored a few miles to Pangia, were we cleared custom. No immigration was available…
We moored with the stern to the pier for the first time since Chile! Annika and Mimmi “did the town”. One hour later they were back, and during that time they even had lunch at Mariners Café.
A nice little “Town” but very quickly done. We cleared papers one hour later and left for Tongatapu (officially), but of course we anchored at Voelvá, a few miles to the south, which has a nice protected beach.
Mimmi had to fly out from Nukuálofa next Saturday, four days ahead, so a lay day was no longer on the menu. Once again we started early, but this time we had to wait for the light due to the more difficult navigation in Ha’apai. Full speed, 60°wind and 20-30 knots gave us a fast but a little wet trip down to Numuka where we anchored between to islands. Surprisingly this was supposed to be a god anchorage according to the pilot. Quite a distance between the islands and only a not visible reef to protect us from the easterly swell. After our first worries, the anchorage turned out ok, but a little bit uncomfortable. But in Ha’apai there aren’t many to choose between.
Next afternoon, Friday, after a nice open reach we arrived in Nukuálofa just after custom closed. As Mimmi was flying out next day we understood that there would be some comments on Monday. To try to prevent any major trouble we visit the main police station Saturday morning, trying to have any of the officials to note Mimmis presence in Nukuálofa on our clearance paper. Finally we managed to get one of the police officers to sign our papers, which turned out to be our “salvation” at the customs on Monday morning. Immigration was no problem, they were computerised and at the town office they could see that Mimmi flew out on Saturday, quite impressing!
After visiting the police station we rented a car and did Tongatapu together with Mimmi before we left her at the airport in the afternoon flying to Fiji and Europe.
Alone back in the boat we were somewhat exhausted. Now we remember all our previous vacation sailing tours when we had a schedule to keep up to almost no matter what the weather was up to. We had almost forgotten what a relief it is to always be able to wait for preferable wind conditions. We will definitive try to arrange our guest tours with no fixed dates in conjunction with places. The Grib files are almost perfect, but we have not yet been able to “order” weather!
After seeing the customs and shopping on Monday we left Nukuálofa for some days anchoring among the surrounding islands while we were waiting for the wind to turn to south. We wanted to go back north to Ha’apai which we only had rushed through.
Already on Wednesday we were back in Nukuálofa, shopping and cleared the papers for Ha’apai when our next guest arrived… Three o’clock in the night Björn met a rat in the cockpit! We were moored with long ropes to shore and obviously this little chap had walked the line all the way.
In the light of the torch we tried to capture the rat, but it escaped, hopefully ashore along one of the ropes. Next morning we bought some mouse/rat traps in town for safety if the rat still was in the boat.
We left Nukuálofa and anchored some miles east on the north coast to make the trip to Ha’apai possible to be done over one daylight.
One hour after we went to bed we heard the trap close, only to find it empty. Not even the cheese was there. Now we knew that we still had the rat on board!
Another type of mousetrap was a hard paper with a very sticky glue. Some small pieces of tomato in the middle and only minutes later the rat was completely stuck to the paper. The instructions on the paper was to fold it and press it together… We throw it upside down into the water, no rat anymore… After that we had a quiet sleep before we in the early morning started for Telekivavau, 50 nm to the north. An open reach and 20 knots of wind made it possible to navigate through all the reefs and we anchor just before dark.
The protecting reef on the west side of Telekivavau is small and the passage is very narrow and S-shaped, not an easy task in breaking sea. Luckily we had the sun behind us, the wind on the bow over the island and a very good waypoint position of the pass. Only 100 m from the 15 m wide pass it was visible in the foaming sea.
Inside the reef we had to use two anchors. The space inside the reef was not big enough for swinging on one anchor, but with two and the reef 20 m behind us we felt comfortable after a while when our heartbeats had come to normal! Sometimes cruising is very exciting!
We stayed on this little lovely island for three days, completely on our own. Even the VHF was silent. There was plenty of coco-nuts, papaya and bananas to eat, and walking around the island was perfect and enjoyable exercise. Barbecue on the beach was the perfect dinner, watching the sunset to leeward as a desert. Another Paradise, close to the one we found in Tahanea in the Tuamotus.
But everything must have an end, so we retrieved our anchors and continued north. We still hadn’t cleared our papers in Ha’apai! On route to Pangia we anchored west of the beach of Uhia protected from the south west wind, half way to Pangia. This time the anchoring was quite simple, no corals, no reef and most important, no breaking waves.
Next morning on our trip to Pangia we came close to a couple of humpbacks with one very playful calf, trying to do “the jump”. Most of the time it was only a good attempt, but sometime he/she succeeded to bring most of the body out of the water.
Pangia was this time not the empty place we visited a week earlier. Now the “crowds” going south had started coming, and the VHF was quite occupied. Most of the cruisers stayed on anchor outside the harbour, but we repeated our anchoring stern to. Two hours later we were four cruisers moored stern to, three European, used to stern mooring from the Med and Iris from Portland. We spent the evening together with Janet, John from Iris and their two guests Sue and Craig. Craig asked if he could have a “tour” of Lindisfarne (and four years later he bought Lindisfarne!)
We had dinner at Mariners Café and of course a lot of mutual memories and experiences from our trips so far were on the menu.
Iris had to sail south next day due to guest flying out from Nukuálofa. We unfolded our bikes and biked to the north tip of the island, a nice 15 km ride one way. After another night on the wharf we did the southern tip, luckily a much shorter one, cleared the papers and took off going back south.
North of Limu we got a big Jackfish on the hook passing close to a reef and in the same time we saw a boat with a blue hull anchored at Limu. When we came closer we could determine that it was Iris. To the question about having fish barbecue on the beach, and to the answer “how old is the fish”, we could reply “only 10 minutes”.
Of course we had barbecue on the beach. Luckily there was a full moon, because by darkness some rats came out to our dying fire to search for left over. Some coral stones skilfully thrown solved that problem. The water snakes were worse. They came out from the vegetation and wriggled over the sand to the water. One came from behind very close before we noticed it and John and Björn had to jump out of its way sitting in the sand!
The next day when we cleaned the beach we noticed lots of tracks after the wriggling snakes. Not an island to be on the beach in the dark without a moon!
Iris left early, the flight was still to be reached. We moved more slowly, it was only 7 nm north to Uonukuhihifo, where we anchored west of the island protected from the wind and the swell. A nice refreshing walk around the island and later some parts from the fish yesterday barbecued on the stern grill made the day.
Now we thought that we had done the eastern part of Ha’apai and sailed west to Haafeva, a quite big island, where we anchored much protected and with good holding. Walking across the island were very different compared to the other islands we visited in Ha’apai. Tall trees and small muddy lakes here and there. A lot of Mango trees with its just matured fruits lying on the small road, very smelly. The children in the village were very interested and asking us a lot of questions about names and were we came from. They told us that they know where Sweden is, but we aren’t sure they really did that.
We were now in VHF reach from Pangia and we could here a number of known boats arriving from Vava’u. The second day at Haafeva came a Danish HR, “Chriann” and anchored close to Lindisfarne. Of course there was a Scandinavian meeting. We had dinner together and they wanted to here and see our photos from Antarctica, so we had a slide show as desert.
Knowing about all the boats heading south, we felt the time was running out for Ha’apai and move to Tongatapu, waiting for a weather window for New Zealand.
The trip down to Kelefesia, half way to Tongatapu, was fast and comfortable. We arrived well before dark and the reef is quite bigger and easier than the reef at Telekivavau. The anchorage have room for several boats, compared to the small one at Telekivavau that hardly can accommodate more than one boat, at least under the circumstances we had when we anchored there.
We used an extra stern anchor to keep Lindisfarne at a right angle to the swell. We had a calm night in spite the swell thanks to that.
We spent the next day exploring the little island. On the east side was some houses were fishermen from the next island lived for a week when they were fishing. They had just slaughtered a big pig in the heat and were preparing that. Because of the smell we were happy they didn’t invite us for a meal!
Later Moonduster and New Paige came to the anchorage and the next day we sailed together to Nukuálofa. Well, together is a question of definition. New Paige is a powerboat and Moonduster is a 45f Sparkman&Stevens old Admiral cup boat. But we were only one hour behind at the anchorage at Pangiamutu, just a dinghy ride to town. This is where Big Mama has her restaurant/bar, famous among cruisers.
The anchorage opposite the restaurant became slowly quite crowded with cruisers waiting for the right opportunity to leave for New Zealand. Of course most of the conversation among cruisers was about the weather, and whether one should rely on a “weatherman” or just read the grib-files. This year the weatherman was not very successful. Four boats were guided and left only to be back 24 hours later. When they left we couldn’t see a suitable weather pattern on our grib-files…
During this period of waiting we borrowed an airpump, hose and a regulator set to be able to clean the bottom. NZ is quite fussy about growth on the bottom, and if they judge it’s too much, you have to haul out and clean the boat at your expens.
27 October To Minerva Reef
Finally the right time to leave had come and we sailed to Minerva reef some 200 mils to the south. The second night Iris, who was 15 miles ahead of us, called us on VHF reporting a heavy squall from the south and recommended us to start going further east to gain height.
After the squall we were only some miles west of our rumb line to Minerva thanks to that call over VHF. We arrived around 9 am to Minerva and motored almost two miles across the lagoon to the leeward side of the reef. Here was already several boats anchored, among them Iris.
They had a leaking backstay tensioner and couldn’t get the stay pre-stressed – a quite dangerous situation with strong headwind and rough sea. With a big rigging screw, a piece of high strength chain and some shackles we could manage to help them getting a temporary backstay tensioner, strong enough for the trip to Opua.
30 October To NZ
All boats left before noon next day. Of course some of the really fast ones disappeared out of VHF range, but we had VHF contact all the 700 nm down to Opua with 4-5 boats in spite the range of size was 37-55 feet. The trip took 6,5 days and the weather was next to perfect the whole way down. The final day was predicted to be gale from northwest, but the wind came later when we were south of cape Reinga, the north tip of NZ, and we got a fast run down the coast in sometime heavy rain. We didn’t see much of the famous Bay of Island, passing in the dark and heavy rain. Coming up the fairway guided by leading beacons we caught up with Iris and moored at the Quarantine dock an hour before midnight. Five relatively wet cruisers had a warm rum punch in Iris, quite pleased to have manage to come this far without having had any major difficulties.
4 November Opua in New Zealand
Next morning the officials came to the isolated dock (actually the floating breakwater to the marina) and before noon we were cleared in and had got a berth in the marina. Now we had a few days to settle down before the Rally “Opua from anywhere” started. A fantastic week with lots of fringes, food and most of the time things that are related to that were on the menu at different establishments in Opua to welcome the community of cruisers. Many old friends from the Pacific met and we met even a lot of new friends whom we either heard of or had only seen the boat, not meeting the crew.
After this exhausting week we had to start preparing Lindisfarne to be ready to accommodate guests in mid December starting with lifting the mast and hauling out in Opua.
November / December: Mostly in Opua.
Almost every night when we were on the hard and painted the bottom, we were invited to other boats for dinner, a very pleasant and practical arrangement. Some probably due to Annikas computer assistance, but mostly because our friends probably thought we should not need to cook in a disorganised boat on the hard. We could, in other words, work late, have a shower and then sit at an already spread table. What a service! Thanks to all of you.
We were back in the water after a week on the hard. It is a blessing when all boat systems are possible to use in a normal way again. A few days later we had the mast back in place.
Just in time for the mast, Ingela and Björn from Gothenburg came to visit on their 50-anniversary trip around the globe. They sail a Forgus 37 “The Dream” and it was probably interesting for them to see how a Forgus 37 looks after the adventure Lindisfarne been carrying out since the departure from Gothenburg 2005. We got the impression that they thought the boat looked like “normal”. That tells something about the boat’s quality and maybe our maintenance …
Ingela and Björn visited us a few days earlier when we were in the marina and we did then a trip by car to Russell, the city that in ancient times was the meeting place for whalers, pirates and gold miners. Lawlessness in Russell is said to have been the main reason why local people, mainly Maori asked the British for help to restore some kind of order, which some time later contributed to the Treaty between all Maori chieftains and the English, the so-called Waitangi Treaty, which is one of the cornerstones of the State of New Zealand creation. The Treaty was signed in Waitangi, just north of Opua, across the water from Russell, so we are really on historic ground here in the Bay of Island.
With the mast in place, we had again a pleasant dinner in the cockpit with Ingela and Björn, who brought delicious meat and wine from Paihia, our nearest urban area. It is touching how nice it is to have friends who give priority to meet us here on the other side of the globe.
After this, we had a few hectic days before Åsa and Jan-Erik, our first sailing guests would come.
We managed to shorten the life line and manufactured two stainless steel pipes (in the place for the shorted life line) for the new solar panels, before it was time to walk up to the main road and meet the bus from Auckland.
But first we launched the new dingy with aluminium bottom. Our old Quicksilver dingy lay on the pontoon and looked sad with its many orange patches, a memory after a very close-up with a leopard seal in Antarctica. It was sad to carry it to the container after 10 intense years in which it served us excellent and passed three “escapes”. Two times in high sea west of Portugal, -02 and -05, and a wild rush in 50 knot of wind north of Ålesund (Norway), where we almost didn’t catch up before it came into shallow water and rocks. The new dinghy is a little longer and a little heavier, a little “mini-rib”, so it may spend more time on deck than the old one.
Åsa and Jan-Erik came by bus from Auckland December 9, where they left the rental car which had taken them around the South and North Island for more than a month.
Now it was sailing in the Bay of Island on the agenda. Our guests first went shopping to Paihia with our car buddies, and after lunch we left for the surrounding archipelago.
Because of our dark and wet arrival in NZ, more than a month earlier, and our intensive weeks working with the boat, we had not seen a glimpse of the archipelago, so it was as much pleasant new sight for as to our guests. We were warned about the amount of boats during the high season, and were very surprised, often being alone in nice anchorages. High season begins apparently not until after Christmas!
It’s really difficult having Christmas in the middle of the summer heat. Did you know that it is tradition to eat cherries for Christmas? They are early fruit at that time, and of course there is a tremendous price. It is the same everywhere, supply and demand govern.
After a few days of fine sailing, nice anchorages and tough walks on the hilly islands we met Lorna with Vivi and Bo from Malmö (Sweden) who have had their boat, an Amal, here in NZ for several years. They suggested that Åsa and Jan-Erik would move over to Lorna when Agneta and Anders (our next guests) came. Said and done, three days later, December 18, they moved and we got a few hours to clear the boat before it was time to once again go up to the bus.
Agneta and Anders came more or less directly from the Galapagos. They had made an 11-day cruise with disembarkation on virtually all the islands. We all had a lot to talk about which made the first evening very short. The following day we borrowed friends’ car and all four went to Paihia shopping for four-five days of sailing. Back in Lindisfarne, we only had to stow before sailing out in the archipelago. Lorna was at anchor at Honeymoon bay (Motuarohia) about 10 miles out into the Bay of Island and looked for us on the AIS. A bit tricky when someone calls on VHF and tells us that we have a slow speed … But it is a fantastic system.
Just in time for the sun downer we anchored, and all eight were gathered in the large cockpit of Lorna for some glasses of wine.
Åsa and Jan-Erik had found themselves well in Lorna with their own cabin with its own bathroom, etc. … 55 feet is slightly larger than 37 …
Top hiking, with captivating view over large parts of the Bay of Island, the next day in anticipation of the wind rotation for sailing north to Whangaroa Harbour. Harbour means either a port or a large natural protected “port”, that in reality is a protected archipelago. In Swedish, it will be a little weird because we have “harbours” almost everywhere along our coasts.
Whangaroa Harbour is a fantastic protected archipelago with barely 100m wide inlet from the sea and with lots of anchorages. It’s actually possible to anchor anywhere because the depth rarely exceeds 15 m. It is just the wind you need to take into account for a comfortable anchoring.
One area that should naturally attracts boats during the season, but it is a bit north of the Bay of Island and further north there is really only one good sheltered anchorage, so it is probably normal for Auckland residents to be satisfied with the Bay of Island and leave this place un crowded.
We arrived in Whangaroa at noon 22 of December after a nice close haul from Bay of Island and an anchorage overnight in Whangahie, a protected idyllic cove a few miles south of Whangaroa. We did a nice hike up the grass hills in Whangahie, a bit like Brösarps hills in Skåne (Sweden), with captivating views over the countryside with all the Christmas trees, covered with red flowers before we raised the anchor. But it was set in a sunken large tree. It was possible to raise the anchor a few meters from the bottom, because the tree followed by a bit, partly standing on the bottom. The windlass could not lift the tree to the surface. By freefalling the anchor to the bottom a few times we managed to get the anchor to change the location in the tree and then coax it off. A bit strange, you are usually able to get the things that stuck to the surface, fix the foul and then lower the anchor free. The depth were not more than 8m – 25 feet, so we had of course been able to dive, but it is not something you want, especially with an anchor stuck in a partly lifted branches where you can get hurt.
After motoring behind rocks and islands along a long beach with summer houses, the coast changed character and became steep and rocky.
The gap into the Whangaroa is not easy to find without GPS or local knowledge. The pilot describes this right verbose. But in calm weather, it is of course easy. The actual opening is visible only in a short distance, and then only in the right bearing.
In strong onshore condition the pilot warns for berthing and describes several accidents as a result of attempts under such conditions. The only thing we needed to consider was the tide. The inland water has a considerable surface making the tidal current very strong. Now we had two knots with us in nip, so it was quite un dramatic.
We began our stay here with anchoring outside the village, went for a walk, check out the store, which was said to contain the necessary elements (“the essentials” consisted mainly of souvenirs), and finally, we visited the local pub before we moved to a nice anchorage at Milford Island where we stayed the whole next day in rain. On Christmas Eve, we moved to the village again to get rid of garbage and top up water. Because the sea is a little “muddy” we did not run the water maker if it was not absolutely necessary (unnecessary pre-filter consumption). Before we got to any water in the marina another boat owner told us about the “waterboy”. Our English is not bad, but now it was still. What was the man telling us? Was a guy who was particularly dedicated for water better than the tubing on the pontoon? Finally, we understood that it was a buoy (not a boy) with a hose from a spring in the mountains and it was anchored in the vicinity of our previous anchoring. We went over to the buoy and discovered that the well’s name was “Viagra Falls”, some hopes were put upon that, Christmas Eve and all…
Perfect water directly from the source of hundreds of meters from the beach. It was just to moor at the buoy, take the hose and open the tap. Coarse hose and great pressure made the filling very quick. With the hose back in place, we made a short motor trip to the next beautiful bay, surrounded with high mountains and a little waterfall. A dingy excursion to pick oysters fixed the appetizer before dinner. We are not used to eat raw oysters, so we steam cooked them first. Delicious, but we were a little worried, both Viagra and oysters…
Christmas Eve was probably a bit unusual for Anders and Agneta who are used to have children and now grandchildren around them. Here we had no real “celebration” at all, only a normal weekend anchorage in a beautiful bay with high mountains around.
On Christmas Day we left Whangaroa and sailed south. East of the Bay of Island, we decided to continue south and explore the coast down to Auckland. After a good look at the “Hole in the Rock” at Cape Brett Bay of Islands’ southern corner, we continued a few miles to Whangamumu. A nice bay where it long ago was a whaling station.
Once again a walk on the nice nature trails before dinner. The following day we sailed along the coast to Tutukaka. A double cove with a marina in one cove and a good anchorage in the other. We anchored and took the dingy ashore. NZ is a mountainous country and the road between the two bays did not follow the beach, on the contrary, it went on a huge detour up the mountain and after that we definitely deserved a great beer when we came to the marina village. Several hotels, shops and restaurants were in the area in addition to the purely boat related companies. Unfortunately, the walk back to the boat was as long and hilly!
One is very exposed to wind and sea when sailing along the coast. To the east the nearest land is South America. So there is nothing called protection from the swell to think about when the easterlies blows. We felt a little disturbed when we woke up to a southeast, as we were heading south towards Whangarei for the next stage. After breakfast the wind decreased. It obviously was some kind of fast-front passage. The swell disappeared and a weak west wind began to blow. It was a little rainy journey and partly we needed support from the engine. We anchor in the bay outside the long entrance to Whangarei, waiting for the tide. At two o’clock the tide turned and we could under a clear sun and north-easterly wind sail almost all the 15 nm to the marina. It’s quite shallow in parts of the final miles and really deep sailboats should not enter other than around high tide.
We got the only vacant slip in “Town Basin”, the innermost marina, just in front of Revas restaurant. The plan was to do the town and then continue sailing to Auckland. But the weather decided differently. The following day was wet and the wind had turned to the south, headwind if you are on the way to Auckland. After some discussions we decided to explore North Island by car and leave Lindisfarne in Whangarei for a few days. We walked to the tourist information, which in all NZ are extremely well organized with lots of free brochures. We booked some B&B and a car for three days. A test drive in the afternoon took us to Whangarei events, waterfall and Kaoripark, before we the following morning, 30th January, started for Rotoroa, centre for geothermal activity. (500 km to the south)
We got a first look at the bubbling mud in the city park before it was time to check in at the motel. In Rotoroa and its surroundings all overnight facilities seems include a whirlpool with geothermal water, so before dinner we had a whirlpool with bubbling water. One has to practice bubbling before the New Year!
Up early to get to the real thermal park in time for the Geyser. Ten o’clock the Geyser was to “exhibit”. We were a little confused about how they could set the time that precisely and only once a day. Probably they started by means of “artificial means”, and indeed, just before ten they inserted some soap, a well-known way to bring a sleeping geyser alive.
After a few minutes of squirt, a dozen feet in the air, the whole show was over, but ok – we got some nice pictures. The Geothermal Park is well worth a visit even if you don’t have a special interest in geology.
Before lunch we left for Tauranga and then further on to Coromandel where we should stay in Coromandel Town, a small historic village and have our New Year dinner. There were many miles to be driven and the roads become as we approach Coromandel peninsula narrow and full of curves. In the end we had to take a shortcut from the east coast of the peninsula over the mountains to the west coast and the Coromandel Town, not to miss the timing for New Years Dinner! The shortcut was just one mil long, but was a narrow, curved, steep dirt road. We arrived in time and after a quick shower it was time to go to the restaurant. We had an excellent dinner with some green Coromandel mussels as an appetizer, a main course of duck, both accompanied by two good NZ wines.
Back at the motel, we only had to wait for twelve o’clock, a toast and suddenly remember that we only had one day remaining, together with Agneta and Anders.
Total for 2008:
8800 nm – 7,5 months
Year 1998-2008 = 43 670 nm
See – Album – some pictures from 2008
Annika & Björn