Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tongatapu, Tonga

We decided to switch of the engines while waiting for the offices on land to open after two, and the silence after six days of sea and engine noise, filled our ears. After a while the constant buzz in our ears subsided, while we were enjoying the gift of lamb we received from the new friends in Raratonga! Succulent! We sailed into the little harbor, with a big man waving us in, and tying us up, with a fish smell filling the air, and flies joining us. That’s life on land, and I knew the mozzies were waiting for me…

An official came aboard, and we paid the dues for Customs, 100 Tonga dollars, and were told to wait for the rest of the officials to come aboard. But we waited in vain, and after a while we left a lazy Peter, who arrived this morning in his hammock! We send Tiny, believe it or not, the taxi driver to the airport with specific welcoming instructions to fetch our Boss! Gonna be weird with a boss aboard… Marco couldn`t wait for Tiny to bring our guest, and eventually he arrived. Andando was delighted meeting him. Tiny asked me to add his name and number to the blog , so if you are in the area, Tinys` Tonga taxi,, tel. 8875127.

From Left : Peter, "Tiny" and Joe
After a glass of ice cold water, Marco sat back and told him very politely that we have a certain routine on this boat, and it would be better of him to just slot in and join in our fun! Luckily Peter was amused and promised Marco, to be good, and the nick name was born, Two Taps. So from now on Marco will be called Two Taps, that is what you do when you need a slave. Two taps on the head and he will serve Peter, and hopefully we can get away with it too!

The rest of the day was spent going through Andando with Peter, and he kept on smiling, so that was a good sign. He stayed with the boys, servicing the engines, changing the sail drive oil, while Johan and I went down the road for some shopping. We passed the cemetery, and I had to take photos for you. I thought the graves in the front yards of the houses in Raratonga were unusual. Just imagine waking up every morning, and walking passed the dirt heaps of your ancestors. But the graves in Tonga was amazing. They are Christians, but due to their custom, they wrap the body in a warm blanket in the coffin, and on top of the big heap, they spread the most beautiful spread or blanket. Some were quilts hanged up as well, and some were beautiful crochet spreads. It is done to keep them warm during their stay, and warm for the resurrection. I am trying to find out why I found bottles filled with something….maybe some need something warm on the inside as well…

At the market, I found this women wearing her grass skirt, and she told me that her father passed on two weeks ago, and she is wearing the customary skirt. I love these customs, and I do miss them in our plastic world. Maybe we can start having little traditions in our own families, just to let our memories live on a little while longer…

Sailing to Tonga

It was already the 13th of December 21, 2011, and we set the sails for Tonga! The stars greeted us , and it helped us to be able to see the choppy swells, rolling us around. But we were glad to be on our way. What started off as a nice wind of 11-14 knots soon died down, and we had to start the engines, to make sure we reach Tonga before the 22nd of December when Peter, Andando`s owner will join us for the rest of the trip to New Zealand!

It was my born day! I wanted to celebrate my birthday on the Big Blue, and Marco woke me with a candle wrapped in a plastic bag to keep it from spilling wax, followed by the singing low voices of my two Joe`s with chocolate cookies and coffee! The day was even better than I wanted, and my daughter and sister in law, send me a satellite phone message! Thanks for remembering…

Marco wanted a X-mas tree, and we started collecting glitzy things to put up on the big golden leaf we found in the Post office in Tahiti. Wherever we saw a big X-mas tree, we took a little piece of glitz for our own. What is X-mas without a tree? Hopefully we can buy a couple of gifts in Tonga!

Johan got his gift, when a marlin took the lure and he played with it until it swam back into the Blue. We lost so many big fish, with our double hooks completely bend open, only to see their black and purple shining bodies playing in the water.

One day the weather just changed. We woke up and the sun had a bright white shimmer to it. The sea looked even more blue, like cobalt. We could see the black cumulus clouds gathering and the rain were soon pouring down. Lightning was playing in the clouds, but luckily never close to us. We wished for the wind to accompany the squalls, but it didn`t last for long before it died down again. To Marco`s delight we travelled in time! It was the 19th of December, and the next day it was the 21st of December 2010! One day in our lives got lost, without us wasting it away by forgetting to live it! Six days later and about 894nm, Tonga islands are visible on the horizon! We can`t wait to shut down the engines, just to put down the constant noise…

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Raratonga was laying ahead of us, and we sailed into the little harbor, Avatiu at about 15h30. Johan called the Harbor Master on channel 12, and the gentleman sounded a bit surprised. Indeed, we were the only sailing vessel sailing into the little harbor, and it was obvious that they were busy with construction work in the harbor, and not prepared for yachts. The Harbor Master was the guy waving at us, and we dropped the anchor, and Johan reversed us politely as close as possible to the grey concrete harbor wall . No walk on jetty, but big black tires were waiting for us to clamber on to reach land!

 Even the guy from Quarantine with his fumigating canister couldn`t get aboard and handed the canister to Joe to fumigate Andando. The rest of the inspectors and Immigration officials sat us down eventually on a wooden bench in front of Andando .

No air conditioned offices today! After our passports were stamped we walked into town along the beautiful beach with the hibiscus fringing the roads. We found the Internet café to check out the weather, at 9 N$ per hour, but only after this !!!!!!

It wasn`t a peaceful night with the big concrete wall just too close for comfort. We were the talk of the town, and people popped in, or must I say over the wall to say hello . We heard about the bus, which take you around the island clock wise or anti if you like, in a couple of hours. But the boys saw the scooters for rent, and decided that after Customs and Immigration we have to spare three hours or so to see the island. However it was cleaning time on Andando while our Skipper did all the formalities.

 I bought my post cards and they were off to my people, and at the offices of the New Zealand Consulate we bumped into a South-African! Afrikaans! It sounded so strange to hear that on the street, coming from another human beings` mouth. It was like a little piece of home, and we clung to that to try and make it longer. She, Marcelle , told us about her life in New Zealand and how she and Deon ended up on this lovely island, and now are expecting their first baby! We made a date to quickly see them after work, just to share a little bit more…

All the formalities were done, the padeye fitting fasten and we rented the two scooters. The two Joe`s international licences expired, but luckily it was no problem. They did a very quick drive up the road with the two bikes and came back unharmed and the guy from Budget was pleased to leave the two scooters in their hands and issued 2 Rarotonga motorbike lisences for them. Well, with the speed limit for scooters and bikes at 40km p/h and cars at 50km p/h I felt safe, and with only 32km to drive around the whole island, I felt only better!

It was great to see this little island with about 13 000 inhabitants, and they are steadily declining. We stopped at the fruit stalls, but didn`t buy the local expensive pine apples at 12NZ$!

The street vendors in South Africa will smile at these prices - R 72 a piece
We went for a quick walk through the “closed” gardens, and found delicious grenadellas waiting for us to munch on them. We did not take the banana bunch with this time....

 We found the street where our new South African friends are living, and the wooden fish colored in our flag colors at the entrance,send back a homey warmth.

Deon & Marcelle's street - proudly South Africans
Apparently the lagoon is unbelievably beautiful to snorkel or dive, but we had to settle for a dip in the sea.

Just more than three hours later our final sightseeing stop was the old church with the graves from the 1800`s, and I couldn`t resist taking a picture of the little grave to remember these old graves.

We gave back the scooters minutes before 16h00, catching the office before closing time. We were just in time to buy a little bit of fresh stuff,and the most beautiful potatoes from New Zealand, the first nice ones since we left South-Africa! On our way back to Andando, we said good bye to Raratonga`s Tiki`s smiling upon us.

 Marcelle and Deon climbed aboard, and another South-African, Wayne, joined us, diving into the water to reach Andando. We showed them Andando and they could not believe the space and comfort of this beautiful Maverick 400 Catamaran. He is a school teacher in Rarotonga! Looks like our people are on the move! We were invited to a South-African barbeque, but we had to go! They said good bye with a fresh bread and a packet of lamb and delicious sausages…we have to ‘braai’ them somewhere on our journey! We waved them good bye with fresh tuna, the only gift we had.

In the front from left - Deon, Marcelle, Wayne

KIA ORANA…May you live on! It is the greeting in Raratonga, and we waved three people good bye, which only shared our lives for an hour and a bit…

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rarotonga – Cook Islands.

We slipped into Rarotonga, for a quick needed visit. We noted that the Port side pad eye fitting low on the hull attaching the screetcher cable seems loose. Hopefully we can get some good fresh vegetables, but most important we need to get the weather for the next week. If all goes well we`ll be sailing to Tonga tomorrow, where we are planning to meet Peter, Andando`s owner! But the weather will tell…

Moon Eclipse!

It is a long time since I was ‘Moon struck!’ Maybe I knew that it would not be a good thing for both of us to put Andando and the male crew under our spell, so I let Her be… She surprised me, ( like we do). No warning in advance to prepare for Her immense beauty to show, (just the way we like to). While I was still sitting staring over the moonlit sea, glistening in millions of diamonds, everything suddenly went dark! She did it! She even surprised me! Slowly the shadow of the Earth crept over Her sleeky creamy body. Tonight I was under Her spell! I watched her, playing with the shadow, letting it flow all over her, enveloping her, darkening her mood. But still she held me mysteriously in her spell, until her glow was a only a deep amber. I sat there in awe with Her…sharing the secrets of being. She slowly took back her color, the creamy white, but she left me under Her spell.

I knew that it wasn`t over. She wouldn`t let this moment in Her existence just pass Her by…not so easy! So She turned the Wind around, She bundled up the Sea, and She blew the Clouds into dark heaps of thunder and blackness, just to keep us under her spell. But she took pity on me, sharing the mood, sharing her feelings and she let the thunder and the black clouds circling us, but not touching us. She was just showing us her immense power…but still her gentleness of sending the white dove of safety to guide us through the storms!

Add caption

Leaving Tahiti

With Andando`s fuel belly filled up, after waiting so long for the big grey ship before us,

 it was already dark, and without our depth sounder we decided to leave early morning to avoid the reefs. We danced the night away with the boys entertaining us on all our favorite love songs ,thinking back a whole twenty four years, a young women in white in the arms of her hero…

But soon the romance was interrupted by reality. We forgot to buy margarine! Not so easy! You don`t just walk across the street to the supermarket, or jump into your car and rush down the street! You lower the dinghy, already stowed away. You row as fast as you can while the drizzle let your hair hang in your face, in hope to find a shop still open after seven! You`ve spend the last Polynesian Franks today, emptying your wallet of foreign currency…so now you hope to find an ATM somewhere on your way down the street, in search for margarine! We reached land, secure the dinghy, and rushed to the Yacht Club, trying to find someone to shove us in the right direction. Hallelujah! If we hurry, we can still reach the shop down the street! So that was exactly what we did. Joe and I started jogging, not feeling the rain drops anymore. Without knowing the time, only that it is dark, we were driven by the knowledge of being without margarine for the whole trip to the Cook Islands or wherever. Suddenly it seemed so important! How can we eat our flap jacks, still hot from the pan without the glistening of the butter… How am I going to make the lasagna, without the margarine thickening the sauce? Panting we reached the shop, and as soon as we stepped inside the sliding doors, we started breathing again after about two kilometers. We found the margarine, a whole tub, 500g for US$8, and slipped a bucket of ice cream in for Dom Pedro`s…I will not tell how much we paid for that! At a slower pace we started walking back, just for me to remember I saw a bread fruit hanging on a tree somewhere close to the road. It is dark, so I can get on Joes` shoulders and reach this delicious fruit. If the branch is hanging over a fence into the street, does that fruit still belong to the people on the other side of the fence? I don`t think so! With a balancing act in progress, a damn dog from somewhere behind the fence knew about this green fruit as well, and needless to say, we left the fruit hanging….and me floating through thin air up the hill to safety! But we had the margarine!

We sailed away the next morning with light wind in the sails. We pass the island Morea on our starboard side.

The lures were out, and we were hoping for some fresh fish. A big fin was chasing our lures, and we were not sure whether we wanted it to take the lure or not! A short while later something big did take our lure, and a piece of our line, and we were still without a fresh fish for the freezer. Soon our Skipper spotted some birds circling, and fish jumping out of the water! We changed course immediately and the chase started! Our lines were out, and it wasn`t long before two skip jack tunas grabbed our lures. We lost the biggest one of the two, but we were good.

With the wind on the nose and the swells on the beam, we were in for a slightly uncomfortable sail. There were squalls all around us all the time, and we had to be on the lookout to take the sails in before one of them hit us!

From THIS....Starboard

To THIS...Port adjusting the sails

and then within a few minutes to THIS.....

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Leaving Tahiti

Gardens @ the Papeete Waterfront

We spend a lot of Monday to get our visas, (3000 P Franks p.p) and Alfred at the office let us off not having to take out a bond as well! For certain countries (South Africa included) you need to obtain the visa before coming to Tahiti.With the flowers in my hair and my South-African smile, he even checked us out, and to top that phoned the Fuel jetty at Marina Taina, to organize our duty free fuel! Running very low on fuel, after leaving Marquesas without being able to get fuel, this was a relief. At remote places like Marquesas, the info you get from the Internet or sailing guides inform you of the availability of fuel, and after you sailed twenty two days, you can land in quite a predicament. There was fuel, but only for the private vehicles of the island who ordered it in advance. We couldn`t get a jerry can filled! Luckily the wind was at our mercy, and we reached Tahiti safely. We don`t want to be stuck somewhere on the Blue in a storm without fuel to feed these two engines. The fuel gods smiled on us, because the duty free prices are good, even better than Tonga and New Zealand!

We left for Marina Taina, breathtaking beautiful. I am so glad they chose this bay for the fuel dock. We passed the airport and beautiful resorts on our way.
We radioed and are scheduled to fill up around 15h00 this afternoon. We took the bus into Papeete, because Joe wanted to buy a traditional Ukulele ghitar…which he found. It was his lucky day, because in the bus he shared a seat with the most beautiful blonde in Tahiti!

On our way back, not knowing the bus routes we chased the busses, to find a pick up corner. While running after a bus, panting we saw it taking off again, and we had to sit and wait for the next one. Two women saw us running in the street, and offered us a lift in their air conditioned car…thanks to angels all around us! We made the final stop at the big Carrefour, which is definitely cheaper than the one in town. I swopped a couple of books at the Marina, but this time I didn`t use their launderette, and we didn`t visit the swimming pool or the lovely restaurant and bar.

The water is a crisp blue, the clearest we`ve seen since we started sailing, and Joe has to dive down to try and fix our depth sounder. Still not working. I don`t know whether it is overgrown by these little creatures, but we can`t sail these waters with all the reefs. The rest of us will be scrubbing her belly while we wait to go to the fuel dock!

Tiana Marina

Ps. We will be leaving this afternoon, starting the journey to Tonga via the Cook Islands !.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Posting from Alfred and Sonja _ Friends made on the journey

Hi Johan + Family,
This is Alfred, we met last Christmas-time in Lüderitz where I was with Sonja and our 2 white alsation-dogs on the MacGregor 26. We also had drinks together at the jacht-club and on board Catlyn.
We have just checked your blog again and we are absolutely amazed at all your adventures and all the beautiful places that you are visiting. The boys have grown long hair and you all seem to be in a fantastic mood all the time. You are all having such a super time in your life and the boys are mega-lucky to have you as parents. But your blog is abolutely amazing, interesting and enteraining and it seems that Marlene is doing all the writing and she is doing it perfect. Well done all of you, we envy you.
Next weekend is holiday-time again and I will take the dogs to Lüderitz and get the boat ready while Sonja still has to work another week. We can't wait to live on board our "Sweet Life" again or a few weeks. This time we are planing to sail the boat to Walvisbay after New-years-night, let's see how that will be.
Some 2 months ago I was also in Capetown for the Boats-show and enjoyed it immensely. Even the sun was shining for 4-5 days. On the way back I visited Langebaan where I want to do a day skipper course next year, and I had a look at Port Owen and found it beautiful. Unfortunately there was nobody at the yacht-club on a Monday afternoon and I had to go on. But I will sure be there one day with my own boat.
Ok, you all keep on having your super time, we think of you and check you on your blog.
Greetings from Alfred and Sonja

Alfred and Sonja and their beautiful dogs! is true that sailors are the salt of the earth. not because we sniff and swallow and live in salt, but because we care and we share! We remember Luderitz with a softness in a harsh environment...remember too many Jagermeisters, too many games with dice under a cup, and the man with the thumb sniffing tequila in lines..teaching me a lesson. Never again have we found a liquiditive yacht club like Luderitz again in all our miles! share with us your experience with your dogs while sialing to Walvis Bay...we remember two white dogs swimming the swells of the sea...and a women following!

My Birthday Month

We have started some years ago in our family to spoil someone for the whole of his/hers birthday month....and this month is mine! Since my month December started, every where I go, the three men close to me are stucking flowers in my hair...and in my life!

Exploring the town

We woke up very early in the capital of Tahiti, Papeete. The excitement of a new place to explore was pumping through our family. Around 7 am we hit the streets in search for the Market, starting at 4 am. I didn`t tell Johan that, otherwise…
Lots of fresh fruit and veggies were sold and fresh fish were displayed. Roasted pork were being chopped up into little cubes and rolled up into brown paper. But the prices of the Supermarket was better than the local market. We enjoyed the Craft and Curious with Marco sticking his head through the big smile of the smelly shark. The statues of the finely carved stone of wood, Tiki`s were Joes` favorite. These are little guardians for the people. I loved the Black Pearl from French Polynesia, known as the Pinctada Margaritifera cumingi. Legend has it that Oro, the God of peace and fertility would use his rainbows to visit Earth. He offered to the oysters` mother of pearl, its iridescence and this gave this pearl amazing spectrum of colors! Luckily my born day is coming up soon, and I saw a couple of little packages slipping into pockets, trying to avoid a Moms` scrutinizing eyes!

The flower market was beautiful! The Rose de Porcelain reminded me of the Protea of S.A. Still the white little flower, the Tiare which I fell in love with because its scent was filled with memories, was still my favorite. My men bought me a string which I wore the whole day, keeping the scent so close and now it is hanging in Andando filling the boat with their brown wilting bodies.

The people are decorated with the most with the most impressing traditional tattoos. Women`s necks and the curve around their ears are painted with the black ink…sensually beautiful! It is done with a fine carved comb, made of bone or tooth and fixed on a wooden stick.

After a great day, filled with new people and new sounds we settled for the steps of a shop, listening to locals entertaing all with their drums and ghitars and singing. So beautiful! And then we went home, for a lovely evening in Tahiti. The rump steak imported from new Zealand was delicious and reminded us of home, with the smoke billowing from the barbeque. How can we be so blessed, being on this world famous island?

All fell asleep, but I battled to settle down. I chatted on FB with my son, trying to stay a part. I filled the bath tub with hot water, and stayed there with my book until my skin wrinkled up, and then I stayed a little bit longer. But all was not well, something was bugging me. Maybe it was the news of my friends` mother being sick, or the news of another friends` father being diagnosed with cancer…. I stayed up, trying to listen to unwanted feet on Andando. After a while I went to bed, where I lied awake for a long time, and when I heard something I got up, circled the boat, and secured the windows… double checking the sliding door…. And then I slept.

Only to wake up the next morning to find our shoes and flip flops missing, and the bosun chair flung along the jetty! Our neighbours wasn`t so lucky. They lost their two bycicles! So much for 24 hours security cameras!

Papeete, Tahiti!

We sailed into Papeete`s bay and we threw our lines to a bare chested young man! Not a bad start, hey? The lines were filthy and Andando was covered with green and brown slime! Johan and Joe`s hands got sliced up from the little shells growing on the lines – quite a bloody start!

Civilization! It was a strange feeling hearing the traffic, the siren of an ambulance, seeing people mingling in the streets! But the boys were so excited. Joe connected the hose pipe and enjoyed having fresh water to rinse down the grime on Andando`s white deck. Marco connected the 220volt shore power, and the batteries were smiling. We knew that tonight we could burn some lights!

After radioing Port on Channel 12, we sailed into the Bay following the Morea ferry, with the airplanes flying over our heads or mast! They guide us to Customs and Immigrations, but when we got there, we realized that we needed some visas. Without being upset with us for not having, they only informed us to go to the Post Office on Monday, to get the visas, 3000 Polynesian Franks per person, and to return. To fill up fuel, we have to come back on Tuesday for a letter to be able to buy the duty free fuel for 105 P Franks and not the regular price of 155 P Franks. We roamed the streets, looking for something sweet, but decided against a Magnum for almost 4 Euros! I found my post cards for my dear ones, and Joe got lost somewhere in the shop behind a calendar! After waiting a long time for him, still busy studying the months of the year, we realized that he was enjoying the flowers, and only the flowers, in the Tahiti girls` hair!

We found a supermarket (Carrefour) and bought some necessities. It is still very expensive, and our poor South-African Rands are stretched to it`s limits! We fell asleep with the sound of people….

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Galapagos - video

Sorry for sharing this video only now...but our video man seems to be very busy !!!! Haha....

Friday, December 2, 2011

Leaving Marquesas

We lifted the anchor, getting wet from the soft drizzle coming down. The weather forecast said that we are sailing into strong winds up to 25knots, and swells up to 3.5m, only 6 seconds apart so we knew we were in for a slightly rougher sail. But our Skipper wanted to go, and his good crew was up and setting sails! It wasn`t long before the Forecast came true for a change, and we were rolling in a very choppy ocean. We sailed south west on the leeward side of Tahuata Island and enjoyed the shelter against nature.

 I couldn`t resist taking a picture of every sheltered little bay. Hanamoenoa was the first very comfortable bay with white sand, and no village, where we anchored for a while getting into the clear blue water.

 We needed to check the depth sounder because it registers the depth on and off and our Skipper thought that it must be interference due to growth underneath the hull. We also tried to scrub Andando down a bit, but the rain started again and we lifted anchor after we cleaned the depth sounder. Johan believes that these little creatures are definitely slowing us down! While the storm was still thundering over our heads with heavy black clouds hanging over the huge mountains, we sailed away in the 20 knot winds, but we kept close to the island. We passed the two bays close to each other, Vaivanui and Vaitahu. I would love to know the meaning of these strange words. Finally we reached Hanatefau,

and decided to spend the night to wait for the storm to subside or to go towards Tahiti in the meantime. We sat on the deck outside with these green giants of earth surrounding us, and we could see the waterfall rushing down the mountain.

After a good nights` rest, we were ready for the sea!

Although the swells were rolling us around, we were doing good speed. We averaged 6,5 knots so far! Maximum speed during a squall was 13,3knots, even with the main and genoa reefed down! The dark nights are still getting to me, and I don`t know why the wind feels stronger and the swells even bigger when it is so dark. My shift is still between 01h00 and 4h00, but I love to stay `till about 04h30 just to be thankful to see the glimmer of the promise of a new Sun! Our supplies are thinning, and we are all craving some fresh fruit and vegetables. The stocking up in Atuona was not very successful and we could not get any diesel either. We see the bowl of fresh fruit on a table or the salad on a plate every time we watch a movie… Why do they advertise these tropical islands with fruit cocktails and watermelons? Luckily we are still feasting on the big tuna we caught, and are hoping to catch a white fish soon. This morning a very big Dorado took our lure, but while Johan was trawling it in, he lost it. The hook was snapped off completely! Maybe it would have been a little bit too big for us.

Our spirits are still high, thanks to Marco, coming up with magic tricks or a dress-up dance! With the squalls coming down we fill up our drinking water. We succeeded to fill up 15 liters with one wash down! Even Andando is cleaned every now and then, washing down the salt. The swells wash over her, and for the first time swells are breaking over her aft deck! But boy, I do respect this boat! With these swells towering over us, she just lifts her bum and surfs them, and not once did I feel scared of her letting us down.

We reached the northern part of the Tuomotus Archipelago and I so wish we had the time to sneak into the atolls. Manihi was the first one we passed, and it is so amazing to see these sea filled atolls with palm trees.

 All of them are only as high as the tallest palm tree. Nothing stands above 14-18meters above sea level! Carefully we sailed passed the Tuamotu Archipelago, leaving them behind. But we were anxious to get to Papeete, Tahiti! As the sun set with its golden threads weaving through the clouds, if all goes well we will be sailing into Papeete, tomorrow during the morning! I just wonder how many pictures of the unforgettable sun sets we witness every day, are allowed on our blog?

Please don`t forget to look out of the windscreen of your car, or the office window or while cooking your dinner for your family….and share the Sun with us!