Sailing Milestones.

In the last few months we have celebrated two significant sailing milestones.  In December our arrival into Sydney Harbor marked our first circumnavigation together.  It took fours years, two different yachts and 48 000 Nautical miles in between.

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Celebrating 100 000 Nautical Miles.

In April shortly after our arrival here in Fiji we celebrated 100 000 Nautical Miles sailed together.  If someone would have said to me ten years ago when we left together on little Noa that I would accomplished this I would have probably laugh.  I can remember my first sailing experience like it was yesterday.  I was honestly terrified and never thought in my wildest dreams that I could actually do it.  Ten years on I wonder where the next ten years is going to take us. 

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Celebrating 100 000 Nautical Miles sailed together here in Fiji.

Leg 9 – Heading North.

In my mind this was suppose to be an easy passage.  Reaching north on the Pacific trade winds.  However we were a month earlier than normal.  For weeks prior to our departure from New Zealand Morgan studied the weather.  The trade winds hadn’t really kicked in and the Pacific Cyclone season was still pretty active with Cyclone Pam doing massive damage and destruction to Vanuatu in mid March and even reaching as far South as New Zealand.  We could only hope that this was the last blow of the season.

Our original departure date was suppose to have been with light southerly winds and light conditions.  However with two false starts and a week delay when the time came to leave it wasn’t looking promising at all.  However with a specific date to arrive on the next end we had to leave.  The forecast showed we would have North West winds to start and then a shift to the North, then North East.  Not at all what we wanted when heading North. 

We motored away from Auckland with a flat sea on the morning of Thursday 9th April.  Just before sunset we put up the main sail as the wind was suppose to full in by mid-night.  It was our first night back at sea on passage in nearly three months.  The wind was all over the place and my night watch was a dark one.  The temperature dropped slightly as night fell, but it wasn’t as cold as I had expected.  I guess that was one advantage of not having southerly winds.  Just after mid-night the wind steadied out and we could open up the head sail and finally cut of the engine.  Of cause there was no beam reaching.  The light winds there were was right in the noes.   By the next morning it started to strengthen.  We headed on a easterly course to make the passage a little more comfortable.  It stayed like this for two days. 20 knots of wind right in the noes.  We were heeling a fair amount, and I was not a happy camper.  Trying to do the smallest of tasks was not easy. 

Morgan was studying the weather continuously.  A small Tropical depression had been forming South of the Solomon Islands and West of Vanuatu.  The predictive path had it coming towards us.  There was no time to waste.  Not knowing what route it was going to take, we had to push on. 

The days were grey and overcast with the odd showers.  On the third night it finally started to ease and by the next morning the wind shifted to the North and dropped.  By this point the Tropical Storm was named Solo and it was continuing towards us.  If we kept up our speed and continued on a more Easterly route it looked like it would miss us to the South by a fraction.  The engines came back on and everyone was relieved to be able to do things normally again instead of holding on tight at an angle.  We frantically took proper showers, did laundry and got the boat looking clean and tidy and in order again. 

With the calm came the fishing.  It had been months since we had last caught a fish and we were all looking forward to having some.  By late afternoon the lines began to sing.  A Mahi Mahi was on.   We were all delighted with our catch.  However about an hour later there was a school of Tuna jumping to our Starboard.  It was too much to resist, we quickly altered course and motored through the school of frantic tuna.  The water was white with their excitement.  Instantly the line went of and we knew it was a big one.  Morgan jumped into action.  It took nearly 45 minutes to bring it close, all the time trying not to break the tensioned line.  Whilst this was happening the tuna was still on a feeding frenzy behind us.  Once we got the tuna closer we could see that it was really quite big, bigger than we had expected.  However after all this time we had to continue our fight to the end.  It took three of us to haul the massive beast on to the deck.  It was for sure an impressive catch.  Probably one of the biggest tuna’s we have caught on passage, we estimated that it was about 45-50kg.  We spent the next three hours, cleaning and processing, it was like a mini factory operation everyone was involved.  The freezer was overloaded again.

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A 45-50Kg Yellow Fin Tuna.

On our forth night at sea as the weather forecast predicted the wind started to pick up again from the North.  By early hours the engine was of and we were beating into the sea and wind once again. We were bouncing of waves, the noise inside was horrendous.  Once again it was not very comfortable at all.  Our short respite was over.  The barometer was dropping pretty quickly as Tropical Storm Solo got closer.  At this point we were of course and heading more for Tonga.  At our closest point we were 30 miles west of South Minerva Reef which belongs to Tonga.  This continued for a day and a half before it showed any signs of easing and we could change tack and head more for our destination.  Slowly the conditions started to calm down.

Our last full night and day at sea we spent motoring once again.  The night was lit up with stars and for the first time we could appreciate the night sky.  At day break we could see the first few Islands of to our Port.  It was a sweltering hot day with the occasional rain storm.  A sure sign we were back in the tropics.  As the night fell a head of us we could see small twinkling lights coming from the darkness.  It was a pitch black night but the smell of land hung heavy in the air.  The trip was coming to an end.  The last six hours of navigation was done completely in the darkness as we rounded the reef and made our way up the deep channel to the small town.  As we dropped anchor of the town the sights and smells from ashore greeted us.  The smell of fire so common to these Islands hung in the air and the dogs began to bark.  At 00:30 on the 16th April after a six and a half day passage we had arrived. 

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Our route to Fiji.

BULA (Hello) Fiji.

New Zealand – Aotearoa – The Land of the Long White Cloud.

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Our route around New Zealand.

Although I feel we have moved on from New Zealand physically and by blog, I do feel that it does deserve its own mention.  It is a special place and holds a piece of our hearts.  If we ever lived on land somewhere….this could be it.

However what can i say that I haven’t said already.  Its an amazing country.  It has almost every landscape imaginable and the people are super friendly.

New Zealand’s culture is mainly derived from Maori and early British settlers with recent broadening arising from increased immigration.  Historically the country’s economy was dominated by the export of wool, but today the exports of dairy products, meat, wine, along with tourism play’s a significant role. 

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One of the most known wines.

New Zealand produces some of the best wines in the world and we were fortunate to have the pleasure of visiting some of the fine vineyards.  With the fine wine comes the food which is absolutely exquisite.  From the delicious gourmet restaurants to the most lively food halls. I had some of the best meals in New Zealand. 

New Zealand comprises of two main Islands, the North Island and South Island with a few smaller Islands scattered around. Its believe that because of its remoteness it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. Its long isolation meant it developed a distinctive biodiversity of plant life, fungi and animals.  Its interesting to note that unlike its neighboring Island Australia, New Zealand doesn’t have any venomous or really dangerous animals or insects.  This makes it a brilliant location for interior exploration. 

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Lakes in the South island.

Four years ago when we spent a weekend in Auckland we enjoyed it, but I think it was to brief of a visit to really like it.  This time I can say I almost fell in love with the city of Auckland and the rest of New Zealand. 

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Auckland.

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Albert Park, Auckland City.

Auckland is vibrant, lively, almost too busy at times, being the most populous city of New Zealand.  However the CBD is small enough to dash through.  Several times I would wonder through the streets and enjoy the hustle and bustle, the sights and sounds and the smells.  When it got too much its easy to just walk away.  A street or two and it becomes quiet again. I’ve wondered through Albert Park that sits just of the side of Queen street, the main drag in Auckland.  A beautiful location that takes you miles away whilst looking up at the towering city.  Like any city it has its dodgy parts and characters, but thats what makes it real.  I remember the first time seeing a homeless person I felt kinda shock that there was actually homeless people there.  Was I really that naive.  Its a city. 

Auckland sits on the water with commercial shipping and pleasure sailing in abundance.  Its known as the city of sails, and there isn’t a day when there isn’t a boat out on the water.  New Zealand has one of the best yachting facilities on this side of the world and its for this reason that the summer sees an influx of yachts big and small. 

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Rolling green pastures.

Our first weekend in New Zealand we hired a car and just drove.  We ended up on the Coromandel Peninsular.  We must have said wow a hundred times on route.  The rolling fields and rugged coast line was breath taking. I think you have to live life on a boat surrounded by sea and sky to really appreciated the greenery that comes with life on land.    The views was spectacular.  At that time it was still early in the season so the air was cool and crisp.  I hate to admit it but we did enjoy the cooler climates after months in the sun and heat.  Although the continuous rain at times got a little tiring.

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The view from the Coromandel Peninsular.

However when summer came it was absolutely glorious weather.  We were fortunate to have a stretch of hot sunny days on our South Island trip.  Long summer days where we would go from dry canterbury plains to snow capped mountains within a few hours.  The color’s were magnificent browns and blues.  The amazing varied topography and mountain peaks is owed to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions.  The disadvantage of this is the countries susceptibility to earthquakes. 

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The views on route to Akaroa.

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Mount Cook.

The icy blue rivers and lakes were breath taking and the beautiful beaches were often picture perfect.  Our only complaint for the west coast of the South Island would be the sand flies and mosquitoes.  We had been warned, but really was not prepared for how bad they were.  Although they can’t kill you they did a brilliant job at spoiling some of the most beautiful camping spots.  Like a miniature housefly thats been kept on a hunger strike and fed steroids, these little critters really could bite. 

However you could travel for miles and although you past many people it never once felt like there was lots of people around.  It felt so big yet in reality it is a small country.

The South Island has eighteen mountain peaks reaching over 3000 meters into the sky.   The highest of which is Mount Cook that stands at 3754 meters.  Although we didn’t actually go to the Fjord lands we believe this part of the South Island is absolutely spectacular.

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The Blue Pools.

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Whangarei Heads.

The North Island is less mountainous however has volcanoes and plateau’s.  It is with regret that we didn’t see as much as we had hoped to in the North Island.  However the rugged coastline, beautiful beaches and lush interior we did get to see gave us a little insight into its beauty.  I never associated New Zealand with a beautiful beach scene.  I was wrong, as the beach’s are stunning.  Even I can admit to having a swim.  The North Island is blessed with many close of shore Islands.  Although we saw very little of the sailing grounds, we could tell that it has a beauty that can draw you in.  I would say you could spend months if not years sailing around and still not see every bay and cove there is. 

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The Bay of Islands.

 

Perhaps thats what we’ll do the next time we are on this side of the world….we will get lost in the land of the long white cloud. 

The Last Six Months in brief – New Zealand and Australia.

The last six months have been different.  Although we haven’t moved a lot with Louise, there’s been a lot of hard work, milestones reached, and plenty of beautiful adventures.

We were happy to arrive in Auckland, although it was still a little early in the season, we were looking forward to what the city of sails had to offer.  Although it seemed to rain a lot and was almost always grey and overcast and a tad cold we enjoyed the change. 

From October to the beginning of December our days were long and full of preparing Louise for the Sydney to Hobart race 2014. 

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Morgan with his brother Jonathan and Dad Roger.

We took 2 weeks of in November to go to New Caledonia to spend some time with Morgan’s family.  Our visit to New Caledonia was the first time that Morgan had seen his dad and brother in nearly six years.  It was good to catch up and to spend some quality time with them and to see a little of where they had been calling home for the last few years.

Otherwise our time was consumed on Louise.  We completely stripped her of her interior.  Anything that wasn’t needed, could get damaged and weighed anything was taken of.  The mattresses, cushions, tables, tools, galley equipment, books, clothes and personal belongings….Everything came of.  We estimated that it was a good 4-5 tons of stuff. Once she was completely empty all the vanished interior was protected using thin white fluke boards and tape.  Hours was spent doing this.  I had thought preparing for the big South Adventure the year before was a lot of work.  However preparing Louise for the race took on another dimension, it was crazy.  The rules and regulations for participating in the race was very strict, therefore requiring a few alterations and additional equipment.  Its renowned to be one of the most complicated races to register for.  Needless to say its not something we would rush into doing again.

On the 2nd of December we were finally ready to leave New Zealand.  This was the first trip that we were going to do just the two of us and family.  Morgan’s brother Jonathan and his brother in law Stephen joined us for the 1400 mile trip across the ditch. 

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The passage across the Ditch.

I can’t say I was looking forward to the passages across the ditch. I had heard stories that made me cringe.  However we left on the calmest of days and spent the first 2 days motoring.  We could feel the difference in Louise, she glided through the water being that much lighter.  As the days progressed, the wind slowly began to pick up.   By the fourth day in to the passage we had a steady twenty five knots beam on.  We were flying along.  The days were grey and overcast and the nights were dark, wet and windy.  The ditch was living up to its name.  The wind continued to strengthen and peaked at 35 knots with gusts up to 40.  I was so looking forward to arriving.  Early hours in the morning of our sixth night at sea it slowly started to ease of and by day light the wind and sea started to drop.  By mid morning we were back to flats seas and no wind again.  Ahead of us land slowly started to come into view.  We watched in anticipation as shapes became buildings.

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Arriving in Sydney. The completion of our first circumnavigation together.

We arrived in Sydney Harbour just after lunch on Monday the 8th December.  Our arrival marked another milestone for us.  Our first circumnavigation together.  It only took fours years, two different yachts and 48 000 Nautical miles in between crossing paths in Fernando de Noronha in Brazil and then again there in Sydney. 

Sydney is one of my favorite cities. So to return was fantastic.  Its such a vibrant lively city. It’s where the beach and surf meets the high rise buildings and chic shopping.

Louise going down the coast of Tasmania

Louise in the Sydney to Hobart Race 2014.

The following weeks went by quickly as the race day grew closer.  With the race being on Boxing day we couldn’t even think about Christmas.  Morgan had been working tirelessly to get everything in order.  The days before was rather stressful.  Boxing day came and they were on their way.  I can’t even begin to describe the relief I felt watching them start on live TV from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s lobby.  Not being present I can’t comment on how the race actually went.  However Team Louise did well, Louise performed beautifully topping her boat speed at just over 23 knots.  I flew to Hobart to prepare for the teams arrival. Louise and everyone aboard arrived safely in Hobart in just under three days.  I believe they got lucky as the weather gods were kind to them this year.  We were both extremely happy and relieved to have the event over.  Morgan had an amazing time and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.   

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New Years Celebrations. Us with Morgan’s sister Sarah, his brother Jonathan and his girlfriend Maeva.

Our delivery crew arrived the day after the race.  Once again Morgan’s brother Jonathan joined us along with his girlfriend Maeva and Morgan’s sister Sarah who we hadn’t seen in nearly four years.  So once again it was a family affair.  We spent the New Year celebrations in Hobart and waited patiently for a weather window to cross back over the ditch. 

A week later on the 6th January that weather window came and we left Hobart behind us as we started on our trip back across the ditch.  Once again it started of calm.  By nightfall we were sailing along nicely.  However by the next day the wind had picked up and we were hard on.  It wasn’t going to be a comfortable trip.  We hadn’t done a lot of up wind sailing on Louise, and I can’t begin to describe how much she tends to heel.  Without any furniture inside there was very little for us to hold on to.   For six days this was how it was, with a good wind straight in the noes.  On the seventh afternoon we could see the northern tip of New Zealand come into sight.  It was a good feeling to see land again.   The weather was warmer and summer felt like it had arrived.  Our last day on passage was spent motoring down the coast.  It was welcomed after the last week at sea.  We arrived back in Auckland on the evening of the 13th January after nearly 1600 nautical miles.  We were happy to be back in the City of Sails.

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Snow capped mountains and icy lakes.

Shortly after arriving back we took another two weeks leave and spent our time in the South island.  We flew down to Christchurch and spent the next two weeks in a camper van doing a little circumnavigation of the South Island.  It was amazing.  Absolutely breath taking.  Words can not even begin to describe the beauty of this country.   There was such an amazing contrast of landscapes.  From deserted Canterbury plains to snow capped mountains, icy blue lakes to stunning beaches.  The country seems to have it all.  The mountain scenery is like non I have seen before.  We also found the New Zealanders to be among the friendliest of people. 

Back in Auckland we started a month of warranty work on Louise.  It was good to finally have this time to deal with all the little jobs that had accumulated since we left Holland eighteen months before.   A Dutch team came out to help take care of things.  It was a busy period.  Once again we were docked in Orams Marine.  What a brilliant facility.  We have had the experience of working in a few yards and this one by far is one of the best.  Their work commitment, willingness to help and quality of work is outstanding.

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Auckland City Tower.

Summer was in full swing.  The city was bustling and beautiful.  When ever possible we would take little road trips in order to try to see more of the North Island.  Auckland has since become another one of my top cities.  Its big enough to give you the city thrill and yet  within a few miles you can feel as far away from the hustle and bustle as you want.  The beach, the rolling hills and the rugged beautiful coastline is only a short way away.   I love the Auckland city skyline. 

After the warranty work period we started putting Louise back together again.  Cleaning her up, re-loading and re-organizing her in preparation for the adventures to come.   At the end of March we were finally ready.  We spent a week cruising between Auckland and the notorious Bay of Islands.  Once again the scenery was absolutely stunning.  There is just so much more to see by land and by sea. 

With a heavy heart on Thursday the 9th April we said farewell to Auckland for the last time. I think we have found another one of these places where we will definitely return to.

As the the Land of the Long white Cloud slowly disappear we made that promise.

Leg 8 – The Pacific Crossing – The other half.

After exactly four months in French Polynesia it was time to leave.  Although we both felt a little sad to be leaving such a beautiful location where the sun almost always shines and the sea is the most amazing blue, anticipation and excitement for what lied a head made the departure an easy one.  Plus we definitely know we are going to return to these beautiful distant shores again.

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Our catch of the trip.

We departed the last barrier reef of Raiatea in the Society Islands just before noon on Tuesday 7th October.  It was a beautiful hot sunny day with just the slightest of breeze.  We knew from the forecast that the first 24 hours was going to be a motoring one, but starting the first day out lightly is always better than going out into a raging wind and sea.   The colors as we exited the lagoon was just amazing, the most amazing aquamarine blue.  The sun was fierce and outside in the cockpit it was sweltering in the afternoon heat.  The fishing lines went out just after we left and it was just three hours later that surprisingly enough one of the lines began to sing.  Happily we bought aboard a nice big 15kg Mahi Mahi that was to be dinner and lunch for quite a few days to follow. 

The first night at sea was a memorable one as it was Octobers full moon.  The special thing about this full moon was that we were also going to be privilege to a full eclipse of the moon.  A full eclipse of Octobers Blood Moon the news had mentioned.  A rare occurrence for sure and made even more special when seen from the middle of the ocean.  Just after mid night when the eclipse was in full swing all hands were on deck with a pair of binoculars.  We had a few clouds around but otherwise the total eclipse of the moon was pretty awesome to watch from the darkness of the ocean.

The next day the wind began to full in slowly and by sunset we were sailing along nicely with a good breeze.  Morgan had been watching the weather closely for the last few weeks and it all looked pretty favorable and consistent weeks before.  Now that we were actually out here things were not the same.

Thursday 9th October and we were passing right through the middle of the Cook Islands.  We could see two Islands during the day from just over five miles away. Its strange to be so close to land with no intention on stopping.  Early hours the next morning on Morgan’s watch he passed Rarotonga to our beam just eight miles away.  He could clearly see the silhouette of the Island and the lights from ashore.

By the third night at sea the air had started to cool slightly.  The days were still mostly hot and sunny, but the nights became a little more pleasant as appose to sweltering hot.  Night five the fans went of and the bed sheets were finally in use.  We all felt the drop in the temperature.  Strangely enough it was welcomed. 

Saturday 11th October another beautiful day and we are sailing along nicely.  Today marks our 10th Anniversary since we first sailed away from St Helena on little Noa.  As I sit on the stern of Louise thinking back to that day its amazing to think how much we have done in the last 10 years and yet it seems like we want to still do so much more.  I remember the 11th October 2004 our official departure and my first Atlantic crossing and real sailing experience as if it was yesterday.  I remember the feeling of fear, excitement and anticipation as I watch my little Island fade away as the sun started to set. 

The weather has been all over the place the last few days and the low pressure systems that would normally be much further south was directly in our path further north.  Keeping on the right side of things we were forced back into a patch of no wind again by Sunday the 12th.  Motoring a long with a swell is never much fun but a good excuse for a full on Sunday Lamb roast.  Over the last few days the sunsets have been much later so today it was time to change the clocks back another hour. 

We have been playing the guessing game that men so seem to Love.  Guessing our arrival in Auckland.  Of cause progress is slower than anticipated but we are officially half way there as of early hours on Monday 13th October.  We need wind. 

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Its cooling down.

Our prays were answered and as Monday morning progressed a light breeze started to full in.  The sails were up and out and once again we were moving.  The day was cloudy and overcast and cool.  It was almost too chilly to be outside too long.  The sea temperature was 21 degree’s so a 7 degree drop since we left the Islands less than a week ago.  Also today an Albatross was sighted a sure sign that we have moved further south.  Life on board seems to tick by and everyone is in their comfortable routine. 

Monday evening we crossed the date line from East to West so have jumped forward a day.  Monday evening all of a sudden became Tuesday evening.  Its a little strange to miss a day.  Monday is also night seven and our bed covers are out and welcomed.  Our Yankee decides to go for a dip in the middle of the night, so activity on deck in the middle of the night kept everyone on their toes. 

Thursday 16th October, It feels like days since we have last seen the sun and the dull grey overcast sky has meant the temperature is dropping faster.  Daily we see it go down. The sea temperature is now 19.5.  Everyone is fully dressed during the day and foul weather gear is starting to appear at night.  We have seen very little life out here apart from the odd bird.  No dolphins, no whales and we haven’t really been fishing anymore so no fish.  The upside of things is that we have had a good wind since Monday (which became Tuesday) and have been clocking in the miles once again.   We have just passed the 600 mile mark and amazingly enough still making a bee line for New Zealand.  We’re on the final count down now and I am struggling to contain my excitement.

We have been told that New Zealand has strict regulations about what can be bought into the country.  So when fresh provisioning I have made a conscious effort to just have bare minimum.  I didn’t even buy any more meat for this trip as we were well stocked up from Tahiti.  So stocks are dwindling fast right now and the fridge is starting to look a little empty this is making lunch and dinner ideas a little more challenging. 

Friday 17th October the sun comes out and the wind drops again.  So with a blue sky and the warmth of the sun we motor on slowly.  At least with motoring it gives us a good opportunity to fish and this we did.   By mid afternoon a skipjack tuna was landed.  By far not our favorite fish but I guess at this point we will take what we can get.  This will probably be our last freshly caught fish for a while.  Whilst the fish was being clean and filleted whales started to appear all around.  Spouts could be seen pretty much everywhere.  Quite a few birds have been sighted the last few days as well.  We can feel land is near.  At 9pm on Friday evening we crossed over from the western hemisphere back into the eastern hemisphere. 

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Dolphins.

Saturday 18th October and the wind slowly comes in as the day awakes.  At 10am we are just over 200 miles away.  The day remains dulls and overcast but nothing can shake the excitement of being this close to our next destination.  Mid afternoon and we are greeted by a pod of common dolphins.  They play of Louise’s bow for a while providing quite a spectacular show.  It great to see life out here again.  The wind is slowly starting to build and we are moving along nicely clicking away the miles once more. 

Saturday night, our last night at sea for a while and I can’t sleep.  Excitement has gotten the better of me and it feels like I am constantly watching the milage counter count down.  At mid-night thirty we are twelve miles of shore and officially entering local waters.  Lights were few and far between and the night was dark.  Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for an approach the skies opened up and it really started to pour with rain.  The night seems to drag on as the sails are constantly adjusted to coincide with the constant wind shifts. 

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Our route from French Polynesia to New Zealand.

Sunday morning the 19th October everyone was up early to watch land approach.  It was hard to believe that the second half of our Pacific crossing was coming to an end.  This was by far one of the easiest passages we have done in a while.  The weather had been good with the exception of a few light days and our almost direct route meant that the two thousand two hundred miles were completed in just under eleven days. 

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Arriving in Auckland New Zealand.

Auckland New Zealand ‘The City of Sails’ was a wonderful sight. 

 

The Society Islands.

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The Society Islands.

I believe that we left the best for last.  Even though the Society Islands is much more touristy and populated.  These Islands are without a doubt absolutely beautiful. The easiest way to explain the Islands would be to say If you put the Marquesas’s beautiful mountains and the Tuamotu’s reefs and clear blue waters together you get the Society Islands.

The Society Islands consists of 14 Islands.  Although only 6 of the Islands are commonly visited by yachts.   These Islands all have steep lush interiors with a fringing reef surrounding them.

Our arrival into Tahiti the ‘big smoke’ was late afternoon on Saturday the 9th August.  After the Islands on route across the Pacific, The Gambiers, The Marquesas, The Tuamotu’s life seemed extremely busy there.  The sound of sirens was the most noticeable sound from the marina.  However it was nice to be where you could get all your conveniences again.  A trip to the Carrefour was a treat after the little supermarkets I had been dealing with since leaving Chile. 

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The view from Tahiti of Moorea at Sunset.

There isn’t many beaches in Tahiti and the most common ones that can be accessed is with black sand.  The one main road that runs around the exterior of the Island is fairly monotonous but it does provide some stunning views.  Without a doubt the best view from Tahiti was at sunset from the Marina looking out at Moorea. 

Louise had a 6 week stay in Tahiti and in the middle of that time we took a two week leave to explore a few of the Society Islands by land, which is something we rarely get to do when on the boat.  It was fun to see the islands from a different perspective and to enjoy the laid back lifestyle at a leisurely pace.  We flew from Tahiti to Huahine, Raiatea , Bora Bora and then on to Moorea before returning to Tahiti.  We stayed 3-4 nights in each location, doing most of our exploration by bicycle.  It was a fun two weeks. 

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Moorea.

On Monday the 22nd September we started a cruise around the islands.  We left Tahiti and made the short trip across to beautiful Moorea.  On route we were lucky to have several whale sightings.  Unfortunately they were too far away for a close encounter.  Moorea by far is one of my favorite islands of the Society group. It’s mountains stands tall and a vibrant green.  The bays are the deepest of blues.  Being just a few miles from Tahiti Moorea is probably the most visited of the islands, although this doesn’t seem to affect its charm. 

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Huahine’s beautiful beach.

From there we sailed the full day passage across to Huahine.  Low key Huahine is blessed with a cute little town and a beautiful beach just of it.  Tourism isn’t that plentiful here but this is what makes this gem so unique.  From Huahine all the other Islands in the group could be seen. 

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The view of Bora Bora as seen from the Coral Gardens in Tahaa.

Tahaa provided a spectacular view across the passage to Bora Bora.

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The view of Bora Bora as seen from the air.

Then there was Bora Bora.  Without a doubt one of the most sort after honeymoon destinations in the world.  We have to admit that from the air the magnificent view of the Lagoon and the island makes it pretty special. 

The Island itself doesn’t have a great deal to offer unless you are paying the big bucks at one of the top resorts.  However the azure waters make this a spectacular spot. 

In all of the Islands good beaches are few and far between.  Its the clear blue waters, stunning motu’s and Polynesian charm that makes them shine.

At the end of the two weeks we made our way over to Raiatea and started to prepare Louise for the second half of her Pacific trip. 

We had enjoyed the Society Islands with all they had to offer.

The Tuamotu’s Archipelago.

After a two and a half day sail from the Marquesas we arrived in the Tuamotu’s on Wednesday 30th July. The passage across was fairly uneventful with a good breeze most of the way allowing us to sail the majority of the five hundred plus miles. For the non sailors on board this had to have been the longest two and a half days of their lives.

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The colours of the water and palm fringe reef.

Our early morning arrival was met with thundery rain squalls which made us have to wait outside of the Fakarava South pass reef. Once the sky had cleared enough we motored through the shallow pass navigating our way amongst the pommey heads until we could anchor in the most amazing blue water of the sandy motu.

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The Tuamotu’s Archipelago.

The Tuamotu’s Archipelago consists of 77 atolls scattered over a thousand miles. It is the longest chain of atolls in the world. All of the Islands of the Tuamotu’s are low coral Islands, essentially like high sand bars built upon coral reefs. Its quite a spectacular formation to see. Inside the lagoons are mostly deep water with a shallower shelf around the rim of palm fringed motu’s and exposed reef.

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Lots of sharks.

On dropping the anchor the first black tip shark started to circle the boat and by the time we had settled in to our first anchorage there was several sharks around Louise. This made getting into the water a little daunting. However after the first few times of being completely surrounded by sharks it almost became a natural occurrence. The snorkelling was good and the abundance of fish and sea life was healthy. The water was warm and often super clear and the most beautiful blue.

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One of the simple churches ashore.

Fakarava is the second largest atoll in the Tuamotu’s. Its rectangular in shape with two passes. We spent a few days anchored in the south pass before motoring our way the 30 miles through the deep lagoon to the northern pass and anchored of the main village of Rotoava. The village is simple and sparse. Man made development is minimal and the locals were very friendly.

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Simple life ashore.

From Fakarava we moved on to Apataki another atoll nearly 60 miles north west. It was the calmest hottest day. It was stunning to see the clarity of the atoll that we passed on route. Apataki is an almost square like atoll over 20 miles long. On entering the southern pass of Apataki we found ourselves dodging submerged lines of the pearl farms. The village ashore was geared up for pearl farming and not a lot else. We stayed a night in this location before motoring through the atoll to the northern cut for another night before departing to our third atoll 80 miles further west.

Our arrival in Rangiroa was a pretty memorable one. We had a slight breeze and outgoing rushing tide. The entrance to the lagoon from seaward looked pretty turbulent and filled with tourist boats. With a fading sun we took the plunge and made our way towards the entrance. It was a pretty scary sight. No matter how wide the cut is when there is white water within it feels too small. The tourist boats could see our intentions and gave us the clearance we needed to gun it through the white water. As we did so we were given the most spectacular dolphin performance imaginable. There was six or so dolphins jumping in unison around us. It totally took our minds of the situation and before we knew it we entered the calm of the lagoon. All pretty excited by the performance we received.

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At the Pearl Farm.

Rangiroa is the largest atoll in the Tuamotus and one of the largest in the world. It consists of over 400 motu’s, islets and sandbars and is approximately 40 miles in length east to west.
Pearl farming is carried out in over 30 atolls of French Polynesia and is still many families main income in the Tuamotu archipelago. On Rangiroa a school dedicated to the pearl farming techniques and a research center on pearl oysters makes it a pearl center for this industry.

Rangiroa also host the only atoll vineyard in the world making wines the only ones produced from coral soil. The 20 hectare vineyard is planted on a palm fringed motu ten minutes boat ride from the main village.

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The beautiful Blue Lagoon.

The snorkelling and diving in Rangiroa is pretty spectacular with once again an abundance of sea life, including dolphins, turtles and sharks. During our time there we also motored across the lagoon to the spectacular and famous Blue Lagoon. A smaller lagoon within the lagoon formed on the southwestern edge of Rangiroa thats shallow waters accentuate the bright blue color of the water.

After a few beautiful days in Rangiroa it was time to head on our way. We left the much calmer cut just before lunch on the 8th August with just over 200 miles ahead of us.

By sunset we could see the outline of the atoll fading away behind us.