Tanna, Vanuatu to New Caledonia: August 29th –September 24th 2016

After removing the ash from the deck as best we could (it was surprisingly sticky) , we motored against the wind to the south along the east coast of Tanna. The morning surprise was when John saw a very large dolphin that proved on closer inspection to be a breeching whale about 100meters from the boat! It breeched three times to have a look at us and we obliged by slowing down and let it swim across our bows.  It was a dramatic sight but also rather alarming.  We had the usual rough passage with 30 knots of wind and the accompanying increasing swell but we had Bob helping this time so the night was much easier and we reached the atoll of Ouvea in the Loyalty Islands the next morning.  We entered through the Passe Coetlogon but had to wait for a cargo vessel to exit first as it is quite narrow but well-marked as is usual in the French territories. Once in the lagoon the sea was calm but the land is too flat to provide shelter from the wind which continued its 30 knot blow. The sea was a rich turquoise but we could not launch the dinghy or swim comfortably in such a strong wind. The next day was much the same although Bob swam, his outfit exactly matching the colour of the water (see photo! ). The wind continued to howl but cabin fever set in the next day and so we all swam despite the conditions and later launched the dingy and Bob Sandie and John went ashore. The search for bread was fruitless but a few tinned provisions were found.

Bob in matching the sea outfit.

Bob in matching the sea outfit.

Ouvea atoll on a cloudy windy day sadly.

Ouvea atoll on a cloudy windy day sadly.

Next day 3rd September the wind was forecast to be easterly so would allow us a better course towards the mainland of New Caledonia  “ le grand Terre “ . We sailed off early to make the 60 mile passage in daylight. We had the usual 30 kts but at least we could make the course for Passe Thio on the east coast of le grand terre and fully reefed we actually had a good passage. Our first sight of le grand terre was rather exciting and it is easy to see why Captain Cook who was the first European here decided on the name New Caledonia.  We had decided to anchor in Toupeti bay very close to the Passe Thio and we just dropped the anchor as dusk fell. It was a beautiful bay surrounded by mountains covered with forest, deserted and well protected.

New Caledonia east coast

New Caledonia east coast

NC east coast

NC east coast

We were now inside the lagoon so we had calm water despite the strong wind so next morning we headed south along the east coast with the red earth glowing in the sun contrasting dramatically with the green trees, a wonderful colour scheme. The next stop was Yate river estuary and again we were the only yacht which was fortunate as there was not much space between the reefs but the passage was well marked and the holding excellent in mud. It was another beautiful spot where we could swim and enjoy the stillness.

Yate estuary

Yate estuary

reefs leaving Yate

reefs leaving Yate

The next day the hurdle was the Canal de Havannah  passing around the SE end of the island which we needed to do at slack water just before a flooding tide which the admiralty pilot said was 1 hour earlier than in the tide tables. At other times serious eddies formed. We had timed it perfectly and were surprised by  the strong eddies and the   confused sea which still greeted us ,the boat was thrown around as indeed we were but it was short lived and we could see the flat water ahead and we were soon through safely.

We found another beautiful anchorage in Baie de Prony en route to Noumea a very large bay with numerous well protected anchorages so we had a very quiet night there.

Woodin canal (channel)

Woodin canal (channel)

The next day was another early start as the pattern seemed to be emerging that the wind died during the night and gradually strengthened from about mid-morning onwards so sailing was easiest starting at first light. We transited canal Woodin just west of Baie de Prony with a rising tide and we arrived at Port Moselle marina at 12.20 on 5th September and were efficiently helped into a berth alongside. We had quite a thorough biosecurity check but luckily we had eaten almost all the fresh provisions so they only got the remains of the cabbage and some ginger .

We enjoyed the restaurants, wine, patisseries and market of Noumea and decided it was too much of a rush to go to Australia in the next few days. Luckily the marina could keep the boat while we went back to England ( we had already booked the flights thinking we would have been in Australia ) so we went cruising with Bob and Sandie instead of the ocean passage.

Noumea bus stop

Noumea bus stop

We left the marina again on 8th September to try and sail to Isle des Pins about 60 miles to the SE but after leaving the harbour it was clearly impossible as a 35-40 kt SE wind was blowing so we changed course for  Ilot Maitre about 5 miles outside Noumea and sheltered there for the rest of the day. It was impossible to go ashore but we did manage to swim John and Bob reaching the nearby coral reef. We had to abandon the idea of Iles des Pins because the wind was too strong and on the nose so we headed north early in the morning to avoid the strongest winds and we had to find an early anchorage in the Baie St Vincente  to seek shelter. We had 50 kt gusts rounding the headland into the bay ! The next day we moved a few miles further north  to Baie de Moustiques on Isle Ducos to what looked like a very protected anchorage from the raging SE wind and indeed it was as three other yachts had also discovered.  It was a beautiful spot quite wild and remote and there was so little activity from the other yachts we thought they had been left or even abandoned until two of them moved while we were walking on the island a couple of days later when the winds was calmer.  One boat had a dog on board but it did not get much exercise at least while we were there. We climbed up the hill passing a herd of wild horses to be rewarded with a wonderful view of all the islands and bays.

Ile Ducos Baie Moustique

Ile Ducos Baie Moustique

Wild horses

Wild horses

Ile Ducos anchorage

Ile Ducos anchorage

Hill top Ile Ducos

Hill top Ile Ducos- self timer!

On 12 th September we left to go back towards Noumea and anchored off isle Tangue the return journey. The wind continued to blow but we had a quiet night and decided to go ashore very early the next morning, when the wind was less, and explore what looked like a village. Luckily it was perfectly calm but we found a housing development with private pontoons for each house and no boulangerie for morning croissants, so rather disappointing.

Sunset at Tangue

Sunset at Tangue

Our last night was again at Ilot Maitre and this time we did get ashore and had a very nice lunch and walked around the island on the beautiful sandy beach to watch the many kite surfers on the southern side. We swam to the coral reef again with an encouraging amount of live coral and plenty of brightly coloured fish.

Kite surfers Ilot Maitre

Kite surfers Ilot Maitre

Multitude of Kite surfers

Multitude of Kite surfers

Long beach of Ilot Maitre

Long beach of Ilot Maitre

Ilot maitre

Ilot maitre- beautiful soft sand

We went back to Port Moselle to say goodbye to Bob and Sandie who were flying to Sydney to complete their holiday. We then had to decide how to spend the next few days before our own departure. The wind would have the major decision making role in that though.

In the interim we hired a car and visited the Lagon Bleu a national park around an artificial lake created by a dam for a hydroelectric project near Yate where we had anchored earlier. It was beautiful and we saw the national bird the Cagou in the park. The colours were so vivid and everywhere so quiet with very few people.

Yate bay where we had anchored.

Yate bay where we had anchored.

Turbine hall hydroelectric station- fine 50s style

Turbine hall hydroelectric station- fine 50s style

Lac Yate

Lac Yate

Riviere Blue national park

Riviere Blue national park

Cagou bird

Cagou bird-fine wings for a flightless bird

stylish head feathers

stylish head feathers

A big international round-the- island race was coming up in New Caledonia so marina berths were in short supply so we had to leave and as the wind was now much weaker we decided to visit the renowned Isle des Pins. We had seen that Karl Kwok with Beau Geste was entering the race and also Scallywag previously Ragamuffin, both boats from Hong Kong . We were so lucky with the winds over the next few days we had an easy, albeit motor sailing trip to Isle des Pins , such a beautiful island ( sorry Bob and Sandie ) . Amazing water so clear and a spectacular piscine naturelle, a sea water pool surrounded with coral reefs completely  unspoiled, no parasols ,loungers stalls etc. We travelled there in a traditional sailing pirogue across the magical Upi bay with its numerous unusually shaped coral island. Fortunately, the whole island has been protected from development by the local inhabitants and so was  quite unusual and a real treat.

Baie de kanumera

Baie de kanumera

Anchorage of Iles des Pins from top of hill. Very busy for NC

Anchorage of Ile des Pins from top of hill. Very busy for NC

Pirogue Iles des Pins

Pirogue Ile des Pins

A single pine tree and pirogue

A single pine tree and pirogue

en route to piscine naturelle

en route to piscine naturelle showing the characteristic pine trees

piscine naturelle- actually more beautiful than any photo

piscine naturelle- actually more beautiful than any photo

car hired on Iles de Pines-colourful

car hired on Ile des Pins-colourful

Baie de crabes north side of Ile des Pins

Baie de crabes north side of Ile des Pins

We motor sailed back anchoring again in Baie de Prony before arriving in Port Moselle and getting the boat ready for her lone sojourn there.  We flew to Brisbane on 24th September and plan to bring Baringo to Australia in November so watch this space.

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Fiji to Vanuatu 19th August 2016 – 29th August 2016

Finally the weather was suitable to leave Fiji although we wished we had had more time there as it proved so much nicer than our very low expectations  .The inside passage had been a  very pleasant surprise with so many deserted anchorages and such flat water.

But we left Vudu Marina on Friday 19th but only to anchor in just before the Malalo pass as it was heavy rain again and it was Friday.  It was a dawn departure the next day which was much brighter and it was back into the Pacific ocean. The lee of Fiji lasted the morning but by afternoon it was marred by a squall but luckily only short lived.  All continued smoothly with the usual 25 knot wind from the SSE until  Sunday 21st august when Poppy ( the autohelm ) suddenly switched off and we accidentally jibed, luckily no damage but rather unnerving as we are so dependent on her. That evening the squalls started in earnest and lasted for 15 hours so we were up all night and ended up with only a fully reefed main and that only partially as it was really too rough to go to the mast and complete the reefing . We were blown off course and got very wet. As with all storms it passed and the trade wind resumed and we caught up on our sleep and arrived in Port Vila, Vanuatu at 01.40   Wednesday 24th August . We made a night entry very cautiously and were surprised to find about 4 yachts anchored near the quarantine buoy, they were surprisingly difficult to see  until we were rather too close ! Anchoring was tricky because the depth varied  widely within a small area but we managed in the end and had a welcome sheltered night’s sleep. Bob and Sandie Llewellin were already in Port Vila waiting for us when we came through into the inner harbour onto a Yachting World mooring buoy and had cleared quarantine.

Vanuatu 24th August – 29th August 2016 h

We had a joyous meeting the next day and a very long lunch with several cold Tuskers.  Port Vila is not the nicest capital we have sailed into so after checking ourselves in and out and provisioning we set sail on 25th august to do an overnight sail to Erromango and island to the south. We had the usual swell and wind but with the extra crew on board it was much less tiring. We anchored in Dillon’s bay at 09.45 the next morning and had the place to ourselves. We swam, so wonderfully refreshing after a passage.  Later David the commodore of the Erromango yacht club came with bananas and paw paw in exchange for rice and powdered milk and an invitation to the club and a guided tour of the village . So we went ashore after lunch and had a beautiful walk to the swimming pool and visited the Yacht Club. It was a very tranquil rural scene along the river with cattle grazing. David was charming and very enterprising creating the club for visiting yachts.

rural scene in Erromango

rural scene in Erromango

Erromango "swimming pool

Erromango “swimming pool

Banyan tree Erromango

Banyan tree Erromango

david's boat

It was a 05.30 start the next day to reach Tanna the next island in the chain where an erupting volcano   can be visited . The passage was the usual 30kts and a big swell but we anchored in Port Resolution following in Captain Cook’s wake, another picturesque bay on a seemingly deserted island but we could see the smoking volcano and several steam vents around the edge of the bay. The surprise visit that morning in what we thought was a remote pacific island was a man in his dug out canoe asking if we could charge his mobile phone!  We swam, relaxed and had a quiet night anticipating the volcano visit the next day not really knowing what to expect. We went ashore the next morning to find out and found a large village hidden by trees and Stanley there to organise our trip later that afternoon.

approaching Tanna with smoking volcano visible

approaching Tanna with smoking volcano visible

Village house Tanna

Village house Tanna

at anchor in Resolution bay

at anchor in Resolution bay

We had thought it would be just us and the driver to the volcano but no there were at least 80 tourists at the volcano visitor centre and a welcome party who gave us a board with England on it and we joined the group for another drive in several trucks to the crater rim.

welcome dance at volcano

welcome dance at volcano

An Australian in the truck in front of our fell out on an uphill slope when the back gave way !!! He took it in true Australian good spirit and will dine out on it for several months I think. The volcano was roaring as we walked up to the crater and large bits were being thrown into the air and the ground shook with each explosion all quite scary! Once at the top we could see large red hot larva rocks thrown up very high every few minutes accompanied by a primeval roar, a veritable firework display that never ended and quite mesmerising. The red glow became more intense as the light fell and the roar and vibrations more alarming! I think it is the only place in the world where such an active volcano can be viewed so closely, certainly health and safety would not be happy in the UK ! We returned to the boat in the dark all rather stunned by the experience.

volcano erupting

volcano erupting.

volcano erupting.

It was a dawn start the next day 29th August to go to the Loyaute islands off the east coast of New Caledonia but we were delayed because Baringo was covered in volcanic ash!  All part of the volcanic  show !!

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Fiji 5th August – 15th August 2016

Our arrival was perfectly timed with a dawn entry into the Nakama Creek in Savusavu bay, Vanua Levu. Crossing the bay was very calm as the entrance is protected by a reef .The Copra Shed Marina is in the mouth of the creek and we were greeted by a helper who tied us up to a mooring buoy in the river … a wonderful welcome. We were later helped onto a marina berth which we chose so we did not have to mantle our new large dinghy! Next was the usual customs and immigration and also biosecurity but all the officials came to the boat and there were no problems at all.

Namaka creek Savusavu

Namaka creek Savusavu

copra shed marina

copra shed marina

 

Luckily one of John’s old school friends has a house on Vanua Levu which happens to be next door to the marina owner Geoff so we made his acquaintance that morning and the next day took us on a tour to see Richard’s house and his own. Both had wonderful views over the bay even on a gray day. It was rainy and grey but never the less interesting to have the local perspective.

The marina as its name implies is the old Copra Wharf and the oldest building in Savusavu and it has been tastefully restored as a marina and yacht club with a restaurant, café ,chandlery and gift shop and of course a bar where all proceed go to help children learn to sail . A good excuse for having that extra drink!! The marina is 5 minutes walk from Savusavu which has a dilapidated appeal but also an excellent market, many hardware shops and good supermarkets so all yachting needs were very adequately provided for.

Savusavu Chinese restaurant- home from home!

Savusavu Chinese restaurant- home from home!

We hired a car for two days and drove to the north of the island to Lebasa Fiji’s second city which was like a larger version of Savusvau but very much more indian so we enjoyed a delicious roti for lunch .It was unfortunately a cloudy day so we did not see the views driving over the hills between the two towns but we saw the sugar cane factory belching smoke and all the sugar cane lorries queueing up to deliver their loads. It is Fiji’s main industry. On our return we decided to try the coastal route and discovered the delightful Palmlea eco lodge run by ex cruisers so very interesting to talk to.

north vanu levu countryside

north vanu levu countryside

Fijian village

Fijian village

sugar cane en route

sugar cane en route

sugar cane train

sugar cane train

cute railway sign

cute railway sign

sugar train trolleys

sugar train trolleys

sugar cane factory Lambasa

sugar cane factory Lambasa

Time as always was passing quickly so we had to leave on Thursday 11th August so as John snatched a few minutes watching the Olympic rugby I bought provisions in the market which was full of every fruit and vegetable you could want, really excellent .

We set off westwards across Fiji on the route recommended by Geoff and one we certainly would not have undertaken without his guidance and advice knowing he had done it many times before . This saved us many miles and although it had looked very tricky on the  charts with so many reefs it was in fact very easy although a bit rougher than expected as the reefs did not seem to provide as much protection from the swell as we though. However by the end of the first day after crossing Vatu I-ra channel between Vanua Levu and Viti Levu in 40 kts wind we arrived at the inner passage on the north of Viti Levu and all was wonderfully calm. We had a peaceful night at anchor off Volivoli point a rather lovely bay  as recommended by Geoff .We set off early the next morning to reach Vudu Point marina  and had a tranquil and very pleasant motor sail through the inside passage.

real flat water in northern reef passage

real flat water in northern reef passage

We decided to anchor once again rather than go to the marina that evening. John chose Saweni Bay between Lautoka and Vudu Point, there was a sandy beach and  we swam and enjoyed a wonderful sunset followed by a moonlit night and realised why we were cruising! All the rough throwing around seemed like a distant memory.

sunset in saweni bay

sunset in saweni bay

We reached Vudu Point marina the next morning at low tide but just made it through the dredged passage and were again helped onto  the berth .The marina is in a lagoon and is circular with a concrete wall around the edge. We went bow to the circular wall wondering how we would get ashore but the berths are adjacent to a platform that protrudes from the concrete wall at deck level so very easy to climb ashore. Work started on cleaning the boat, checking the usual things and preparing for the next voyage to Vanuatu to meet with Bob and Sandie Llewellin.

boarding platform vuda marina on circular quay

boarding platform vuda marina on circular quay

Again we were delayed by weather so we went to Lautoka the second city of Fiji known as sugar city and provisioned in the excellent market .It is pleasantly laid out with wide streets and tree lined boulevards . We hope to leave tomorrow 18th August but it may be a wet journey at least initially … the pilot saloon may come into its own !

pharmacy Lautoka

pharmacy Lautoka or sugar city

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Wallis Addendum 26th July -2nd August 2016

We were delayed leaving by strong winds over Wallis and storms over Fiji to greet us ! So we used the time and went on a tour of the old fort used by the Tongan rulers of Wallis arranged by the Wallis cultural  centre. It was  just for us  so proved  very pleasant and interesting .It reminded us a little of the marae in other parts of Polynesia and was made of volcanic stones and  covered a large area . We also went again to Lalolalo lake  such a lovely place and completely unspoiled . Our guide told us that after the war the Americans had pushed all their armaments and tanks into  the lake but some enterprising divers had scaled the vertical lake walls to search but only found guns .The tanks had been pushed into the western part of the lagoon .

 

Fort de Kolonui

Fort de Kolonui

Fort de Kolonui-central meeting place

Fort de Kolonui-central meeting place

The 28th and 29th July was a festival in Wallis celebrating their change of status from a French Protectorate to a French overseas territory which took place in 1961 .This involved a big party with lots of music  dancing in front of the King .We enjoyed watching it and seeing all the decorated buildings .

stage decorated with leaves for show.

stage decorated with leaves for show.

dancers in front of king

dancers in front of king

dancers 2

dancers 3

dancers4

We decided to try and leave on Friday 29th July but only go to Futuna about 150nm away and within the same territory but as Friday dawned the rain was heavy and visibility very poor and as we waited for it to clear the time to get through Honikulu pass came and went so we had to abandon departure  plans . We were advised then by Emmanuel our meteo  expert that Tuesday was the best day to go for a good journey and fine weather on arrival . By now we had the dinghy packed away which is quite a task as the new model is much larger with aluminium floor boards so has to be stowed below.  Having got this done we were reluctant to get it afloat again so we spent the next three days at anchor and said goodbye to the other two yachts anchored with us in the bay  .They were both going east so needed different weather . A squall hit us quite suddenly on the night they left , bringing  40 kts of wind with heavy rain but not for too long luckily . We hoped our departed neighbours had missed it .Then finally we had one calm day so we were able to swim at last .The only windless day  throughout all our time in Wallis and now it was time to go !

finally a calm night in Gahi bay

finally a calm night in Gahi bay

goodbye to Gahi

goodbye to Gahi

Wallis to Fiji  02.08.2016 – 05.08.2016

It was not a very early start as our exit time was decided by the tide in the Honikulu Pass which today was at a civilised 11.15 and we went through easily with only a 2kt push from the ebbing tide. Outside the sea was as flat as we had seen it outside a lagoon since we started this year and the wind a pleasant 15kts from the SE; we were reaching our way to Fiji. By 3.00am the next morning we had the usual 2 reefs in the main and jenny and were back to the heavy swell and the ceaseless rolling! We were sailing quite up wind so in addition we had more waves than usual over the cockpit but no rain despite a few black clouds. By the next night we decided on 2 hour watches as conditions were still hard and by this time we were heading straight for one of the many eastern islands of Fiji rather quickly. Emmanuel had forecast a change of wind direction in our favour and miraculously on cue the change arrived at about midnight and we were able to make course for the Nanuki passage through to the Koro Sea without altering the sails. It was a great relief. Once in the passage in the lee of some of the islands the sea calmed and we had a very pleasant day sailing across the Koro Sea  towards Savusavu bay . This took until dawn the next day, a perfect arrival time and we were greeted by a Copra Shed marina hand in his dinghy who tied us up to a mooring buoy at 07.30 Friday 5th August . This was truly a memorably smooth arrival at the marina in Nakama Creek ,Savusavu .

dawn arrival savusavu bay fiji

Dawn arrival savusavu bay Fiji

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Samoa to Wallis 13degrees 17.26 S 176degress 10.17W

The dilemma leaving Samoa was not leaving on a Friday and not wasting a day but we did not manage to solve this one so wasted a day waiting in the harbour for Friday to pass. We had difficulty extricating Baringo from the marina because of an awkward cross wind and a large steel boat next to us, we had to do this at 5.00am when the wind was calm and then anchored in the harbour for until Saturday 16th July .We finally left at dawn and sailed north of Upolu and Savai’i slightly longer than going through the Apolima strait but it would be more sheltered and more scenic . We finally found a nice 15kt breeze so we had a pleasant sail in flat water until the eastern end of Savaii when it suddenly stopped ,we certainly had shelter now ! We continued under motor when the overheating alarm spoiled the tranquillity and found the fan belt broken . We were quite close to the shore drifting slowly towards it so there were a few anxious moments when we could not find the spare! Luckily this was short lived and John fitted the new fan belt easily and we were underway again . Once past the lee of Savai’i the usual 25 kts of wind and 2 meters of swell arrived so we sailed on into the sunset. The next day the rolling finally go the better of the oven which fell off its left had support and stopped gimballing. No more cooking now for the rest of the voyage but luckily it was not too many miles to Wallis but it was cold baked beans that night for supper. Our treat was a school of dolphins playing around the boat for a few hours the next morning but we were beginning to feel a little sceptical about the Friday rule!

We arrived at Wallis at 04.50 on Monday 18th July, rather too early to get through the Honikulu pass at the southern end. We needed low tide to do this safely so we dollied around outside the reef and much to our surprise another yacht appeared also wanting to get through the pass. We talked on the radio and reassuringly we both had the same information so we waited until 11.00, had a look at the pass and seeing flat water in we went. It is quite narrow and there are dramatic waves breaking on the reefs either side so as always it is nice to get through it safely. Once in the lagoon the sea was a beautiful iridescent turquoise blue  and only small waves . The path through the lagoon to the capital Matu Utu on the NE side is well buoyed so we anchored off the deserted port and stayed on board for the rest of the day tidying up the boat and sleeping .

 

Honikulu pass into Wallis; the breakers either side at the entrance are just visible from this distance but bigger close up!

Honikulu pass into Wallis; the breakers either side at the entrance are just visible from this distance but bigger close up!

Wallis lagoon- smooth water!

Wallis lagoon- smooth water!

going ashore with Davies' rucksac (extremely useful! Thanks Simon and Jo)

going ashore with Davies’ rucksac (extremely useful! Thanks Simon and Jo)

busy port of Wallis!

busy port of Wallis!

Windy Windy Wallis  18th July –

  1. Yes it really is windy here and Matu Atu takes the full brunt of the SE trades so we only stayed for two nights in order to check in and  do the initial orientation . The first discovery is that everything is very spread out so offices, shops, cafes ( very few ) are far apart and there is no public transport except  school buses . Car hire is impossible because the visiting  French workers who service the island hire them all to do their work. We just managed to book one for the following weekend to drive around Uvea . We then moved to the very  slightly more sheltered anchorage  of Gahi behind a peninsula further south but still on the east side of  Uvea . The wind blew continuously never less than 18 knots but the reefs protected us from the swell although it was certainly not flat as the lagoon is very large so there were  usually a few ‘white horses’ . There is no dinghy landing here and the flat beach and reef  dries significantly with the tide so we found the best solution was to tie the dinghy  to the local pirogue support structure  while we went ashore . Timing was critical to avoid arriving or leaving in low tide so it was always a wet landing  at anything above low tide .
dinghy tied up low tide

dinghy tied up low tide

Gahi anchorage

Gahi anchorage

We had an interesting two days driving round  Uvea finding many unusual distinctively Wallisean churches and two crater lakes. The challenge was navigating without a single signpost , road sign or village name ! The churches are all huge and there do not seem to be that many people to fill them and some are fairly remote although the island is small and the Walliseans drive around  in Toyata  hiluxes or similar which all look very new so everywhere is actually accessible . Without any public transport it seems everyone has a vehicle. We walked along deserted jungle paths to the shore but unless the tide is high the drying reef precludes swimming . There are no resorts, beach hotels or sea side cafes here , in fact no concessions for visitors at all as there are none apart from a few yachties.  All the houses and gardens all well looked after and the vegetation is certainly lush .

Wallis cathedral

Wallis cathedral

Gahi Church

Gahi Church

Hihifo church

Hihifo church

Another odd church

Another odd church

Another large Church

Another large Church

Lively interior decoration

Lively interior decoration

Interior detail

Interior detail

yet another massive church

yet another massive church

Interesting name for an airport; say Hihi or go Hi and then ..?

Interesting name for an airport; say Hihi or go Hi and then ..?

Crater lake major

Crater lake major

crater lake minor

crater lake minor

kite surfing wallis

kite surfing wallis

 

We returned the car so it is now walking  or hitch hiking to get around  and into  Matu Utu which is about 5 mils away from Gahi . We are waiting for a  chance to get to Fiji but at the moment the weather  does not look very promising .

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Alofi ,Niue 19degrees 03.32S 169degrees 55.45W to Samoa 13 degrees 49S 171degrees 45.80W

We let the Alofi mooring lines go at 15.30  Monday 27th June and headed north west to Samoa about 400 nm . So we are off the milk run now ! We started on a nice reach with a 25kt wind from ESE and made good speed towards our  target .The next day conditions became more difficult with an increased swell from the SE and a  stronger wind so the third reef in the main was required . The wind was 30kts gusting higher and the 4m swell rolled Baringo mercilessly . At each violent lurch our major concern was that Poppy the auto helm would give up and the thought of hand helming in these conditions all the way to Samoa filled our hearts with doom . The only upside was we were making good speed and indeed Samoa was sighted at 13.05 on Wednesday 29thJune . We were approaching  the SE corner of Upulo the main although not the largest island .

Approaching Samoa

Approaching Samoa

 

Apia the port and capital city is on the north coast of Upulo and as dusk was approaching  when were   closing the coast we thought we would anchor in the  purportedly sheltered Fagiola bay  on the NE corner .As we entered the long bay hoping for some shelter from wind and swell they both seemed to follow us in ! Surely this would  improve as we got deeper into the bay so we continued but the next problem was the chart plotter putting us in 1.0 m depth when the depth meter read 50 m ! The charts appeared to be about 0.5 mile out from the reality.

Fagoloa bay from the land looking very benign

Fagoloa bay from the land looking very benign

In dusk it is impossible to see the reefs so it was back out to sea in the failing light . Neither of us favoured a night entry into Apia  port with its reef strewn entry and uncertainty about the navigation lights so we opted for dollying up and down the leading line until dawn .At first this was rather daunting as the wind was still blowing 25kts and there was no moon and FADs ( fish aggregating devices )  were reported in the vicinity by the admiralty pilot book ! As the night progressed the wind settled and we saw no FADs and got used to the town lights and jibed up and down the line using only the little jib making a suitably slow 2-3kts .
Knowing dawn would come and we could enter the port made the strategy easier and indeed dawn arrived on cue and we easily entered Apia port thinking we might easily have done it in the dark! However we were safe even if a little tired . At 07.30 on Thursday 30th June we anchored near the commercial wharf and waited instructions for the port authority . As Samoa is on the other side of the dateline it was now Friday 1st July and judging by the time our instructions finally arrived from the port  authority  I think the weekend had already started ! We finally motored over to  the marina and tied up around 14.00 . The quarantine and customs visited us and we just got to the immigration office in town before it closed. We were here!

 

Something about Samoa
We thoroughly enjoyed the flat still waters of the marina after being thrown around during the voyage  and after a good nights sleep cleaned the boat from all the salt that had become encrusted everywhere . The marina is a little tired although the pontoons are in good condition .Indeed the second outer pontoon no longer exists after being blown away by a typhoon a few years ago but the back drop of the lush green mountains was scenic .

pontoon destroyed by previous typhoon

pontoon destroyed by previous typhoon

We walked to town about 20 minutes and found a well stocked supermarket “Lucky Foodtown “ and replenished our supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables as these had been scarce in Niue . We certainly appreciated the unlimited power and water of the marina as well as the lack of movement ! On  Sunday morning we went to church primarily to hear the singing which was very harmonious but we paid for it listening to a 45minute evangelical sermon! Everyone was dressed up in their Sunday best with wonderful hats so it was a colourful and cheerful scene.

Samoa cathedral. But we went to smaller protestant church near the marina

Samoa cathedral. But we went to smaller protestant church near the marina

off to church

off to church

off to church in best clothes!

off to church in best clothes!

church choir

church choir

We had met “Junior” the self styled  marina tour guide and had a very pleasant island tour with him on Monday .There is lots to see : Villa Vailima where Robert Louis Stevenson spent the last 4 years of his life , a wonderfully  peaceful  Bahai temple , a clear waterfall pool  to swim in , To Sua trench a deep swimming pool in the larva and a delicious  lunch in the Seabreeze resort. The south west end of Upolu has wonderful long stretches of coral sand beaches with several beach fales to stay in. These are slightly flimsy structures with a wooden floor and roof but no walls.

Viallema home of Robert Louiss Stevenson

Viallema home of Robert Louis Stevenson

RLS fireplace never used not surprisingly!

RLS fireplace never used not surprisingly!

 

RLS tomb with requiem poem on side

RLS tomb with requiem poem on side

typical samoan road-nicely kept

typical samoan road-nicely kept

clock tower Apia town

clock tower Apia town

Serene Baha'i temple

Serene Baha’i temple

View over Somoa very lush countryside

View over Somoa very lush countryside

Ocean trench

Ocean trench

swimming in waterfall pool

swimming in waterfall pool

South coast beach

South coast beach

 
We then decided to hire our own car having got the measure of the island with Junior and went around the other but less attractive way around western side of the  island . There is a lagoon in many parts but where there have been volcanic eruptions the larva flow has obliterated the lagoons and run out as far as the reef. The Samoan villages are all immaculately kept and a joy to drive through.
We booked a ferry to Savai’i the larger but less developed island and we left at 08.00 on Thursday  for an overnight stay  .It is a truly unspoilt paradise , so green and empty with many beautiful deserted beaches. The ferry journey was 1.15 hours to Saleologa across the Apolima strait  Our first stop was another delightful waterfall pool  under a 14m waterfall and quite enchanting . Next we saw the Alofa’aga blow holes which were pretty dramatic and very noisy .The power of the water forced through the holes in the larva  was amply demonstrated by  the warden throwing coconuts into the hole to be tossed several possibly about 100 feet into  the air  with the water. All quite exciting  and the coast line of larva looked very hostile. The peace and tranquillity of the island was palpable;  we had everywhere to ourselves and a great picnic overlooking a dramatically colourful wave beaten larva bay . We stayed the night in Stevensons Hotel on the north coast and slept in a beach fale whose sides are open to the sea breeze and the sound of lapping waves , we snorkelled in crystal  clear water  and although there were a few other guests we seemed to have the beach to ourselves . We had to go back to Upulo the next day but wishing we had decided to spend longer in Savai’i it has just the right amount of comfort  but remains unspoilt …for how long?

Ferry to Savaii

Ferry to Savaii

rough south coast of Savaii

rough south coast of Savaii

blowhole with coconut in the air somewhere!

blowhole with coconut in the air somewhere!

beach fale with sides down

beach fale with sides down

 

Inside Beach Fale

Inside Beach Fale

typical ubiquitous meeting house

typical ubiquitous meeting house

beach outside Stevensons "hotel"

beach outside Stevensons “hotel”

picnic site for lunch stop

picnic site for lunch stop

Julia swimming in waterfall pool Savaii

Julia swimming in waterfall pool Savaii

We kept the car as we wanted to do the walking trail to RLS’s tomb, he is buried on the hill above his beautiful home with his wife who died some year after him. He died prematurely at 44 years in Vailima. The rest of our time in Samoa was spent doing a few boat jobs ,shopping ,swimming and snorkelling at the nearby marine park and preparing for the next sail to Wallis.

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The Island of Niue 19degrees 03.32 S 169degrees 55.45W 21st June – 27th June 2016

Niue is the largest uplifted coral island in the world and it is surrounded by a reef which is steep to so anchoring is impossible. The Niue yacht club has  about 17 buoys to enable yachts to visit  the island. After a few welcome hours sleep we had to get ashore to check in. This was truly the Gibson lifts finest hour as  this can only be done by going along side the high wall of the commercial wharf and attaching a large hook to the dinghy’s lifting apparatus ,scrambling out of the dingy onto slippery steps then lifting the dinghy onto land with the electric crane ! The first morning there was a significant swell so the manoeuvre was tricky to say the least with the large crane hook swinging about threatening a head injury any moment and the dinghy bouncing up and down the wall! Once the dinghy is on the wharf there is a trolley to move the dinghy to the parking place. The hook must be detached and lowered down the wall for the next persons use. We managed the first morning with difficulty but during our stay became quite efficient.  Once again thankyou Malcolm. We had the usual check in procedure but the people are very helpful and friendly and drove us to the office and completed the formalities quite efficiently although this did take most of the morning!

reef around Niue

reef around Niue

Niue coastline

Niue coastline

Mooring field Alofi

Mooring field Alofi

leading lights into Niue

leading lights into Niue

Dinghy crane

Dinghy crane

The hook!

The hook!

landing the dinghy

landing the dinghy

dinghy park and trolley

dinghy park and trolley

The Niue yacht Club also housing Niue backpackers lodging has internet and very helpful staff with Commodore  Keith and his team welcoming us with fresh baguettes! After check in we orientated oursleves to the town of Alofi and enjoyed a delicious lunch of fish and chips .The food on board with the rough conditions had been sketchy so chips have never tasted so good. We were of course waiting for the referendum result with baited breath and were so disappointed and shocked to hear the result on New Zealand radio. We had cast our votes from Polynesia using Henry as our proxy but to no avail ….what now ??

We hired a car and drove around the island  and explored some of the seatracks  which are paths cut through the coral to the sea often leading to  beautiful pools protected by the reef which make for wonderful swimming and snorkelling .The water is  crystal clear but sadly not very much living coral but  the chasms cut through are quite striking .The east side of the island has many abandoned houses as so many Niueans have left the island for New Zealand . There is a hospital and a school and a smart resort as well as local cafes and restaurants but these are mainly on the west side of the island. We enjoyed a delicious Japanese meal one evening and an indian roti for lunch.

Limu pools

Limu pools

coral chasm with inland beach

coral chasm with inland beach

Chasm entry

Chasm entry

Inland beach

Inland beach

Vital services available

Vital services available

 

Sunday is a do nothing day here so we just did the last minute checks listening to  the church bells summoning the faithful .We hope to leave  for Apia , Samoa tomorrow Monday 27th June .

Sunday 26th June Niue island

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