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We left Robinson Crusoe Island on 6th April intending to skip Easter Island and stop at Pitcairn en route for French Polynesia. This was the second and longest leg of our voyage across the Pacific to New Zealand and we were still just creeping out of the higher latitudes.

There was no sign of the “butter starting to melt”, we were still in our Mustos and even wondering whether we should turn off the fridge !!

We were enjoying being back at Sea again and getting used to Basil's puppyish excitement of sleeping in the saloon and going for a pee on a moving “poop deck” at 3 in the morning (and again at 5am)....

Within a couple of days we noticed that our batteries were not charging as they should be... We pulled in our Aquagen (towed power generator) only to discover that one of the blades had been chewed off again. After much hunting for the spare blade we ended up finding it hiding in the first drawer that we had searched - aargh !!!



After about 4 days, we had a lively few hours with wind gusting at 38/40 knots, very squally with accompanying big seas. We were even getting the odd big wave into the cockpit – a very uncomfortable way to spend the night but it was clearly the “storm before the calm” as it was followed by perfect sailing weather.

Overall, the boys were adapting well to the passage and enjoying the never ending supply of biscuits. We were all eating well, had finished all our fresh chicken and were just starting our vacuum packed Sausages etc...

April 12th saw us with less than 2,000 miles to go so we celebrated with our 'lucky dip' bag. This was a bag filled with lovely chocolate goodies that Ian & Maggy had brought back to Chile from the UK – things like Double Deckers, Cadburys Flakes, Bounty Bars, Walnut Whips,Turkish Delight and other wonderful treats that we hadn't seen for years... any excuse to celebrate was a good reason to attack the bag and it didn't take much for us to conjure up a new achievement “best day mileage”etc etc!!

On the 21st April, our 2 year and 10,000 mile detour came to an end as we passed Easter Island to the North and crossed our Eastbound path from March 2010. We celebrated with Roast Beef and Yorkshire Puddings – eaten out of a tupperware dish to stop the gravy from spilling everywhere !!!




This was closely followed by 18 hours of really horrible weather. The seas were very big and lumpy with really squally weather and there was general bedlam below decks as poor little Basil didn't know where to go to be sick or to poo or even to pee as he was so frightened. (This was his first long passage).



The trip was beginning to become a bit painful as the wind had no consistency and was jumping from no wind to 30 knot squalls within minutes. Not relaxing at all and this unsettled weather continued for quite a few days with our reefs being put in and out like nobody's business. We had the staysail out but the sacrificial strip on the Genoa was just tearing itself apart.

Also, one of our steering cables snapped so Roger had to spend a few hours putting a temporary fix in place with plasticine and sticky black tape - this bodge will have to last until we can fix it properly in Tahiti.

We could understand totally why Fletcher Christian had wanted to stop in Pitcairn – sod the Breadfruit !!

By the 2nd May we had been subjected to 30/38 knot winds for 4 days with the forecast showing this continuing for another 2 days. We knew that the anchorage at Pitcairn (Bounty Bay) was exposed and with 40 knot winds forecast we decided to skip Pitcairn and get to the Gambier Islands on the back of the weather.

2 very bedraggled little boys


We were having a pretty unexpectedly hard and lively trip but, eventually, after 6 days the weather cleared and with only 80 miles to go we were really looking forward to getting there...

Almost there...



Land ahead...







We arrived in Mangareva in the sunshine on 5th May after 29 days and 3,238 miles and celebrated with Champagne and chip baguette butties oozing with butter followed by the Bounty bars we had been saving for Pitcairn !!



The Gambier Islands are just North of the Tropic of Capricorn , about 1,000 miles South East of Tahiti. This Southerly location makes a cooler climate but, after the last 2 years in Chile, it felt lovely and warm to us.... we were even starting to get our suntans back at last.




The archipelago consists of 10 rocky islands enclosed on three sides by a semicircular barrier reef 40 miles long. The largest island, Mangareva (floating mountain), is so named because of the 482 metre high Mt. Duff.



A fanatical Priest, Father Honore Laval of the Congregation of Sacred Hearts, upon hearing Whalers' tales of rampant cannibalism and amazing pearls, left his monastery in Chile and travelled to Mangareva in 1834. Upon arrival , he single-handedly imposed a ruthless moral code on the islanders and recruited them as slaves to build a 1,200 seat Cathedral with twin towers of white coral rock and an Altar shining with polished mother-of-pearl.






During his 37 year reign his actions almost decimated the people and the population dropped from 9,000 to 500. In 1871 Laval was removed by a French Warship, tried for murder on Tahiti and declared insane...



The local inhabitants were very friendly towards visiting Yachties and were happy to share whatever they had grown. We had a lovely supply of Bananas, Breadfruit and even a Pumpkin that we were given as we wandered around the village.

Unlimited supply of bananas



Breadfruit tree



The famous Breadfruit - delicious roasted...


It seemed that you could only buy onions and potatoes in the shops although there was a vicious rumour that somebody bought a cabbage when the last Supply Ship was in Town for about £8.... We certainly don't regret a penny we spent on supplies before we left Valdivia – even eggs here were 60 pence each... At these rates, our food supply was probably worth more than the boat !!!

Baguettes, on the other hand, were really cheap and readily available as long as you didn't mind getting up at 7.00am to collect one before they sold out !!!




The cooler weather makes the lagoon of Mangareva ideal for farming Pearl Oysters and it is said that the World's best Black Pearl farms are located here in Rikitea. Obviously, Vicki was keen to visit one so we dinghied over to the nearest Farm which was owned by a lovely Polynesian chap called Eric who had started his own Farm 3 years previously. He showed us how things worked and, of course, we purchased a few of his beautiful Pearls to take home...


The Oyster Shells



Eric- the farmer



Extracting the Pearl is quite a tricky operation



Just a few...


We also caught a local Outrigger Canoe race between the Islands - this is a very popular sport in French Polynesia...



Unfortunately, the boys weren't allowed off the boat until we had seen the Vet in Tahiti so it seemed very strange to be walking along the beach without them...






After about a month of hiking, snorkelling (with small sharks), sunbathing and eating baguettes, we were ready to move on and finally left on 3rd June - 2 weeks later than planned....





We left at 12 noon in perfect conditions for the third leg of our Pacific Crossing. A flat sea, sunshine and 15/20 knots on a broad reach – lovely !! Our Genoa was in a very bad way after the journey from Robinson Crusoe so we were using our Yankee with the Staysail and we looked pretty darn good...


Relaxed crew...


The wind decreased over the next few days and although we had a little rain the trip overall was nice and easy and quite uneventful.







We arrived at Tahanea early in the morning on the 10th June after 704 miles. Tahanea is an Atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago {sometimes called a coral atoll, an atoll is a ring-shaped coral reef including a coral rim that encircles a lagoon partially or completely. There may be coral islands/cays on the rim. The coral of the atoll often sits atop the rim of an extinct seamount or volcano which has eroded or subsided partially beneath the water}.


Arriving at the entrance...


Tahanea is one of the more Eastern Atolls, uninhabited, a nature reserve, very peaceful and not often visited. The Atoll measures 30 miles in length with a maximum width of 9.4 miles. The southern reef fringing the atoll is wider than the northern one, but the largest islands are on the narrower northern rim. The deep lagoon covers 210 square miles and there are three deep, navigable, passes into the lagoon.




It was a pretty anchorage with beautiful clear, blue water and about 5 other yachts all passing through from Mangareva on their way West. 



We enjoyed the snorkelling but, after a few days, we decided to head on over to Tahiti so that we could get the boys sorted with the Vet and get them on land. They had been boat bound since we left Valdivia and we really wanted to see them running around having fun on the beaches.



We left Tahanea at about 9am on the 14th June. Our anchor came up nice and cleanly much to our relief after the previous afternoon's fun and games when we had realised that our anchor chain was really fouled on some coral heads – Luckily, Rowland from “Spirit of Africa” was around with his scuba tanks and he had kindly dived down under the boat and helped us sort it out – phew...


Goodbye Tahanea










We sailed direct to Papeete in Tahiti and arrived  there around midday on 16th June – 302 miles - a nice short fourth Pacific leg to reach the Society Islands.

 



Upon entering the huge bay, we encountered a man in a canoe with his dogs which bode well for our boys.



The anchorage was very big and absolutely choc-a-bloc with yachts. For two people who had spent the last 2 years cruising Patagonia and not seeing anybody for months on end it was a real shock... The good thing was that we saw Malarkey as we were trying to find a spot out of the way and a “hot date” was arranged for 5pm.... what a welcome. In fact, it was our first drinks aboard with them since we had transitted the Panama Canal back in 2009 !!

The following day we stopped on Superted for a quick Beer and we soon started to become social again...

As we had arrived on Saturday, we had to wait until Monday to contact our helpful Government Vet who arranged to come out to the boat to see Monty & Basil and gave them the go ahead to land – yee haw – after 3 months, our boys could finally run again !!

Tahiti itself was a bit of a disappointment. It is the largest of the Society Islands and is the economic, cultural and political centre of French Polynesia. To be honest, when we were sitting on the bus, we could have been anywhere in France – there was even a massive Carrefour in Papeete...

We had entered the Tahiti-Moorea rally for fun which started on 23rd June so Roger was rushing around getting our Steering Cable fixed, buying new batteries, regassing the fridge and generally getting ourselves organised ready to go.



The rally started off in Papeete with an evening introduction to Polynesian dancing and a Skippers Blessing Ceremony.





Skipper getting into the swing of things...


We followed this with a meal out at one of the Roulottes – colouful food vans along the waterfront where you can buy anything from Pizza, waffles, crepes and kebabs to steak & chips...





Unfortunately, we didn't have time to get our Genoa mended so we started the Rally with our Yankee up - not the best sail configuration in light wind...

Monty taking the race very seriously...






In view of the light winds, we didn't progress very quickly and ended up finishing 24th out of 29... Superted came 2nd having been beaten by a 58' catamaran – Matt hadn't understood that it was a “rally not a race”!!



The race was followed by a welcome cocktail on the beach in Opunohu Bay and more dancing.....



Overnight, there was a little scuffle between some of the yachts and we were actually quite relieved to be anchored towards the back of the pack as a number of boats had dragged their anchors and were bouncing off each other...
 
The following morning, it was back on the beach for instructions on how to tie a sarong and how to die a sarong using natural products.










Then it was on to the “fun stuff” including an Outrigger Canoe Race.



We might not know how to win a yacht race but we can “relay race” carrying bananas with the best of them (came 2nd) and beat them all at Coconut peeling - not quite sure what that says about our talents  !!!



Roger catching up...


Showing how it's done...



The Coconut Team...


The day ended with a tug of war and more dancing....








After all the excitement, it was time for a rest. We had to return to Tahiti for a couple of days to sort out a few boat bits and then it was back to Moorea for Roger's Birthday.

In the morning we dinghied around into the next bay with Matt & Jean and went snorkelling with some Stingrays. After the infamous death of Steve Irwin in 2006 (in which the stinger penetrated the thoracic wall causing massive trauma), Vicki didn't get too close...









The Birthday Boy's new hat...



We had a great day doing very little and relaxing before our next trip to Huahine.



On 11th July we were minding our own business at anchor when a Customs Boat came up alongside and we were boarded for inspection. We won't go into details but it wasn't a particularly pleasant experience.

We were quite pleased to leave Moorea and had a nice quiet overnighter to Huahine 94 miles away.






Huahine measures 10 miles in length, with a maximum width of 8 miles It is made up of two main islands surrounded by a fringing coral reef with several islets, or motu. Huahine Nui (Big Huahine) lies to the north and Huahine Iti (Little Huahine) to the south. The two islands are separated by a few hundred yards of water and joined by a sandspit at low tide. There is a small bridge which connects Huahine Nui and Huahine Iti.

We anchored in Avea Bay which was a lovely big bay away from most of the Yachties who had stopped in Fare.



There was a great beach for the boys to play and a little Restaurant – Chez Tara - which served a fantastic Steak with garlic butter.... yummy...

We did quite a bit of snorkelling and saw loads of pretty fish although the coral was a bit patchy. The dogs were running and swimming every morning and sleeping for the rest of the day..































We stayed here for 10 days just watching the kids having fun...

Before we left Huahine, we stopped off at the anchorage in Fare just to pop to the Supermarket for a few bits and visit the local Bar for Happy Hour and then we left on the 28th July - next stop Taha'a. 





It was only 37 miles to Taha'a – this is a small island which is enclosed within the same coral reef as Raiatea. It is also known as the “Vanilla Island” and produces 70 – 80 % of all French Polynesia's vanilla.

We stopped at a small anchorage just North of the Passe Toahotu newar Ile Mahea. There was nothing there but it was nice and peaceful.

The following moning, we explored North around the island towards the NW corner to try to find a Motu for the kids to play on but, unfortunately, where we wanted to go was a bit shallow so we decided to try Baie Vaiorea – oops.... most of the bay was in use by a Pearl Farm with buoys floating about a metre below the surface. We didn't realise until we were in the middle of the bay and managed to get out unscathed closely watching our propeller !!

We ended up in Baie Tapuamau for the night and then left for Raiatea the next day.






It was a short run of 9 miles to Baie Apooiti in Raiatea where we anchored on a sand spit between Marina Apooiti and the Carenage in 9 metres with good holding. There was nobody near us but we were close enough to dinghy in to the Marina, the Carenage and also a small Island so the boys could have their fix of running and swimming...


We managed to finally get our Genoa repaired and stayed 3 nights before leaving for Bora Bora.



Bora Bora





It was only a day sail of 31 miles to Bora Bora and we went straight to the anchorage outside Bloody Mary's as the Restaurant was one of those iconic places that you just have to visit...











Bora Bora was a true holiday island with lots of very expensive hotels with over-the-water bungalows on stilts over the lagoon. Unlike Tahiti where the Hotels seemed to be a little tatty, these resorts were all very upmarket and luxurious – even the ones that had closed down looked impressive....



In the centre of the island are the remnants of an extinct Volcano rising to two peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, the highest point at 2,385 feet.



We found a lovely anchorage spot off Isla Toopua which was about 1/2 mile from an uninhabited Motu (small island) where we took the boys every morning to run. We had to be early as the Hilton Hotel started dropping their guests off at about 10.00am for their day trip on the deserted island and we didn't want to share....

























Just having so much fun...


In the evenings, it was just a short dinghy ride over to the village of Vaitape for Happy Hour at the Bar - Life was good...


After 2 weeks of spoiling ourselves, we decided it was time to move on and leave French Polynesia behind. We had really enjoyed Bora Bora – far more than any of the other FP Islands but the next leg of our Pacific Crossing was long overdue...




We left on 17th August for the fifth leg of our crossing – destination Suwarrow in the Cook Islands.