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Category Archives: Travel
A few days ago I mentioned big news and I guess now it’s time to let the cat out of the bag: We’re in the last weeks of our voyage. Soon – probably sometime in July we’ll return to Berlin. Back into the concrete jungle, yes. Well. Now it’s out.
Of course some of you will try to encourage us to stay and I really appreciate it but be assured: It was not an easy decision. And somehow we wished we could continue. But the time is not the right one. We’ve been sailing three years, crossed two oceans, lost one yacht, had many adventures, met wonderful people and were able to see and live in the amazing beauty of the South Pacific. It’s a good time to stop.
We also searched for ways to continue our travel or fast routes to sail back to Europe but nobody on board really wants to cross the Indian ocean and even less the Atlantic from south to north with very few and short landfalls in between. We all miss our family and friends a lot and – it has to be mentioned: Since our shipwreck we always have been very short on money which sometimes complicated things.
Soon we’ll try to go back in our previous lives but not quite yet: We still have some weeks left and want to visit Tikopia in the Solomon Islands and climb the volcanoes of Vanuatu. Later we probably will end up in Australia which seems to be the best place to sell a boat in the Pacific.
And just as we made up our mind, the South sea throws this unbelievable gorgeous island called Yanuca in our way. Together with the family from the SY Time Lord we’re the only souls around. The kids wander off and disappear for hours looking for crabs on the beach and investigating a lost resort hidden by the palm trees. We snorkel in the crystal clear water, see turtles and sharks. Dolphins swim and jump in the bay and in the evening we have a wonderful camp fire on the beach. And to top it all off, we experience a rare ‘blood moon’ as we return to our boats.
But still, today in the afternoon we’ll pull the anchor out of the coral sand and sail through the night towards the western islands. We try to reach Malolo Leilei (what a name !) in the morning and probably stay there for a week to celebrate easter and Violas 6th birthday.
Two days ago we arrived in Lami, a little village west of Suva. Here in the little bay, we finally met some more cruising families which is extremely welcome. The kids have endless fun and are messing up a different boat each day. ;-) In the meantime, the captain crisscrossed through Suva to get all papers, copies, photographs together and verified by the german consul. Now a pack of paper is underway towards Canberra where the (nearest) austrian embassy will hopefully issue me an emergency passport.
Suva being the largest city in the tropical south Pacific is home to 50% of all escalators – namely: two ! There is also three or four traffic lights and a cinema. And today I will wander off to see ‘Rio 2′ with the kids. Heh. After stocking up a little, we’ll probably be out on sea in a few days, visiting the island of Benga and finally arriving in Malolo Leilei where we plan to celebrate easter and (even more) Viola’s sixth birthday.
Also we made a huge decision and have changed our long term plans but more on that in an upcoming blog post.
It’s been a long time since the last update. Way too long. And much has happened – as always. But the important thing right now is that my brother Oliver and his girlfriend Julia are here in Fiji and staying on the Suvarov fot the next twelve days.
They arrived yesterday, coming from Singapore and we immediately left Savusavu and dropped anchor in front of the Costeau Resort to go snorkeling. Their first impression is – well – quite good. Or rather: both were pretty speechless when they first dipped their heads under water.
And that’s just the beginning. Tomorrow we’ll continue to explore the local reef and it’s little fish and plentiful corals. If the weather holds up as promised, we’ll be sailing to Namena on Saturday. There the two will be shown the true, untouched beauty of tropical sealife. Expect some nice pics on our return !
Good News Everyone ! This might be the last blog entry about engine cooling for at least a few weeks ! I know: you’re gonna miss the frequent posts on this really exciting subject. – I too will miss the excursions into the depths of the engine room every morning but it seems that new developments will shift my energy into different areas…
After I did a lot of testing, the final changes I made was to replace two more hoses, clean and polish the old waterpump, getting two new impellers (also for the bilgepumpe !) and finally connecting both pumps in parallel to increase the waterflow through the engine. And it seems to work as during the last test-trip from Savusavu to the Resort, the engine DID NOT overheat ! Ok. I was only putting along with 1500 revs but still. Also one has to take the water temperature into account and that settled at amazing 31˚C (!!) during the last weeks ! With that temperature, all watercooled gadgets will run into slight problems. I borrowed a nice infrared-thermometer from Dieter and now I could verify that the engine indeed doesn’t overheat: After running for one hour, the cylinderhead measured 62˚C and the water coming from the exhaust 52˚C. All good.
And as usual: when one thing is repaired, the next one will break. Our next patient is just beside the engine in the bilge: the watermaker suddenly wouldn’t build up any pressure. I suspected a seized valve which I took out and restored. Then the pre-pumpe wouldn’t start anymore so now I have to figure out how to get all the air out of the system. Well, well… next project.
In the mean time the rainy season went into action and the first cyclone ‘Ian’ (upgraded to category 5) missed Fiji and went over Tonga. Right now the storm is heading south where it will disappear over colder waters. The next one is just about to form in between Vanuatu and New Caledonia while here in Fiji the weather slowly returns to ‘normal’.
With all the heat in the engine room (and outside) we try everything to cool ourselves. A few days ago we set out on a little journey together with the crew of the SY Time Lord. Our destination: The Maroroya falls near the Nakawaga village. We get there by car (takes about 30′) and stop a little before the village where the path starts. The walk through the jungle is only about half an hour and very nice. Beautiful flowers and trees all around and soon the kids can hear the waterfall announcing itself through the thick, lush green.
The kids have a lot of fun walking through the forest and the hightlight- the bath in the cool, fresh water will not end. One can actually swim through the two little pools and go right under the fall itself. Where the water is quiet, in the little ponds the kids collect prawns – which they set free again after a while. (Too small to eat. ;-)
After a extensive picknick we start walking back. When we reach the road, we call for a cab which will take about 40 minutes to get here. As the sun burns down on us and we see a river nearby, we climb down and follow the creek until we reach deeper water. Another nice, cool bath, yay !
It was a really nice little trip – we should do that more often. Well – now that my engine project is on hold, I guess we’ll get out of the dreaded anchorage more often…
The last few hours in Tonga and we spend it in front of the computer. Hehehe.
Nah – not really. We will putter down to the main wharf and clear out of Tonga alright but tonight we’ll still spend one more night around the corner in a quiet anchorage. Tomorrow during the day, we’ll set sails and go to Fiji.
So here are some more pictures for you, taken in the ‘main town’ of Vavau: Neiafu.
Also we’ll be without internet of course and have only our SSB connection. But we should be back online beginning next week when we arrive in SavuSavu.
Finally an action post for the sailors that read our blog.
On our way towards Tonga we ran into a front / through. As the thing really looked weird on our weather maps we prepared ourselfes for the worst – and pretty much got it. Luckily for us, the storm hit during daylight which is a lot less freightening than having strong winds in the pitch black night. Lucky for you too as you get some scary pictures (and maybe a video later on).
The front was clearly visible in the morning after breakfast and when it hit, the wind turned 180 degrees and increased to about 40 knots at which it stayed pretty much all day. After a few hours, the sea picked up and nearing the end of the storm we had waves reaching well above five meters. Despite the rough seas we still did 4-5 knots, going against the wind with the main and genoa in the third reef.
Slightly further south it was even worse. We heard of yachts that encountered more than 50 knots of wind just 50 miles south of our position.
The damage: one genoa sheet was nearly shaved through and again we made lots of water. The most of it in the lazarette but not as much as previously in the living quarters. The sunbrella cover of our Genoa was already slightly damaged from all the flapping during the light wind sailing and the storm did some additional damage. But it’s already down and we gave it to the local sailmaker to re-stitch it. It should be fine again in one or two days. We had to use the autopilot for a few minutes while we put in another reef. Although it usually keeps the course quite well it managed to do a jibe (!!) while we were sailing on the wind. A jibe with 40 knots is not very nice and it tore out the stopper of the track of the main sheet. But that I can also repair easily. The culprit seems to be a faulty connection on the autopilot computer – a common fault, we learned. I’ll look into that during the next days too.
Compared to the other boats that came into harbour during the next days, we did pretty well. Other boats had their sails completely torn, blocks destroyed, hailyards snapped, etc. I don’t like cleaning the boat after an incident like that but if that’s all – I can live with it. And of course we will again improve and try to stop some more leaks that we found on hatches, vents, etc.
And here are some first pictures from our trip to Tonga. The text is at the bottom of the pictures. Enjoy !
After more than one year in french Polynesia it’s time. Time to leave and time to sail again. In a few minutes we’ll be heading out to sea again. The journey is about 1300nm and should take something in between 10 to 14 days. Oooou yeah !!
Slowly it’s getting embarassing. Every time I announce new plans I gotta revise them only days later. Well… we only wanted to be in Bora Bora for one night and to clear out. But while we were underway a low pressure system has developed right here above these islands and we won’t have any wind during the next days.
To reach Vanuatu in time we would have needed stable wind conditions all the way and even without that low it would have been quite tight. So we again changed our plans, stick around here until the weekend and then we’ll sail towards Tonga. I guess the change is not for the worst as it somehow felt wrong to skip past those beautiful islands.
Of course we also discuss what we’ll gonna do for the Cyclone season but I guess it’s too early to write about it. You know…. plans can change…
After a night with a lot of wind and rain, the weather seems to be getting nicer and we’re setting out on our next voyage. Towards Vanuatu with a short stopover in Bora Bora to clear out of french Polynesia. It’s another long journey that awaits us: about 2500nm(~5000km) towards Port Vila, Vanuatu. As usual we’ll be reading our emails daily via shortwave radio and the satellite phone we’ll turn on every day in the morning for an hour or so.
The dinghy is on deck, everything prepared, the tanks are full… Now we’re having lunch and then we’re off.
There still seems to be a confusion about our situation right now. We’ve NOT stopped sailing. I’m in Europe for three weeks to get things organized and to visit my family and friends. End of May I’ll be back in the South Pacific and we’ll set sail towards Suvarov and Tonga.
I don’t want to write about Europe right now. I’ve started getting my thoughts on paper but it’s so crazy, the life here has so little to do with the life we live in Polynesia, it’s really hard to even find things to compare. But I’m 100% happy to be with my family again and it feels good to see all friends after two years. Speaking of: there’s someone weaiting for me, I’ve gotta go.
At 20:55h local time I arrived in Berlin. At the gate, I got picked up by Stephi, Gibor and Wolfgang who immediately shipped the ramaining me to the next bar where we had some beers and shared the first stories. At 01:30am I fell into a soft, not moving bed and passed out. The mobile phone woke me up twelve hours later and now I gotta go out into the cold city and try to get my bearings. Where’s the sea ??
Yeee, in only three days I’ll be back from where we started. Somehow crazy. We spent two years trying to get here to the other end of the world and on Monday I’ll hop into a plane and 46 hours later I am in Berlin. But the decision to go on really short notice also meant a little work. As we’re still not finished with the boat(s) we spent the week in Tahiti. The Suvarov moored to a buoy close to the Rancho Relaxo of the Seas, we exchanged anchors and chains. Now our trusty bow anchor is back with us and the slightly older chain with the ‘Brake’ anchor is on the Rancho. Both items we might sell next week. The old Liferaft is underway to Raiatea where it will be given to it’s new owner, the wind generator now powers a french boat that’s underway towards New Caledonia. The remains of our rig went on shore where Jerry will later transform it into an arch (?) for the Pukuri.
The evenings I spent on the internet looking for spare parts and stuff we need, organizing the trip and trying to get in touch with friends. Oh I hope, somehow I could manage to see them all. So anyway, my schedule is Berlin for the first days, then to my family in Austria. The third week of May I should be back in Berlin from where I leave on the 21st towards our home in French Polynesia.
Trying to catch up with my blog posts, I wanted to share a few pictures Lorenz took, when we were diving with the Rays a little further down to the NW-tip of Moorea. There’s not much to say, so I’ll stop writing and you can enjoy the pics:
To escape the depressing life on a shipwreck and the endless ToDo-lists, we had a visit to the blowhole on the east side of Tahiti some days ago. Here’s a short clip. Enjoy.