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.
Two years ago from today I was spending my last days in the office, most of my thoughts revolving around the still endless todo-list. The evenings and weekends were spent doing planning and preparation. It was a magic time. Images of lonely islands and adventures out on the sea in our heads. Mostly those pictures came from the many stories, blogs and books we read during that time. And although we read a lot – we still didn’t really know what it’s gonna be like. Two sailing-greenhorns on the oceans of the world ? Back then, when someone asked us about our destination, we meekly pointed towards the west.
Although the conception of our trip was not completely wrong, it still came a lot different than we thought. One and a half oceans later we wrecked our beloved Rancho Relaxo and are still in the process of settling in on the Suvarov. The paperwork is done and the austrian flag again decorates the back of the boat. Most of the work on the new boat is now finished.
The main problem right now is the Rancho. She’s still rusting away on a mooring in Taina Marina and costs money every month. Now that work on the coquito webshop is finished, we finally have time to put all the remaining stuff online for sale. And although we don’t try to have any illusions we still hope that we can find someone who wants to live on board the Rancho. Maybe even repair her and sail again… There’s still time. Gui’s visa will expire on the 30th of May and thus the date of our departure is set. A fact that I’m actually glad about because it’s really time we get away from here.
Not that I wouldn’t love these paradise-like islands and the wonderful polynesian people. But as everywhere there are also some downsides. Right now it’s the never healing wounds that drive me crazy. Even the smallest cut will get infected, swell up and take forever to heal. My ankle is showing a nice purple/black/red cut that has been there for a month now. Antibiotics and daily cleaning doesn’t seem to help much – it’s still swollen and hurts. This seems to be a general problem as most of the other sailors have had the same issues and the bodies of the lokal people also show remains of those cuts and bruises. The other thing I’m looking forward to is to finally visit some english speaking islands again and have better contact to the local people. An issue that is completely alien to our kids. Although they ‘only’ speak german, spanish and english, they have absolutely no problem communicating with the local kids. A fact that is best demonstrated by Viola who joined the local kindergarden a few days ago. She doesn’t mind at all that she has to get up before sunrise or that the other kids speak only tahitian and french. The only thing that counts is the many new friends she has and the new games she plays with them.
Shortly before the arrival of my family, I did a long interview with Hinnerk Weiler of Segelradio. You can listen to it HERE. It’s in German. So not sure, why I’m writing about this on the english side of the blog…
Oh – and yes. We’re all happy together again. The first day after the LosLocos returned, we sailed back to Moorea again. And here we’re right now enjoying the beach, the palms and the beautiful water while being happy to be together again. Soon I’m gonna post some more pics and stories. – Yes, many things happened already….
My christmas box was sent away on the 9th of December 2012. Yesterday it arrived ! About three weeks late for christmas, I finally got the cookies, my grandmother and my sister made for me. Altthough they were more than a month underway, the gingerbread is fantastic ! I also received the much needed bank card – the old one expired on 31.12.2012. It feels a bit unsafe to be here, alone in the south seas without the possibility of getting cash. Heh – not that we would have very much but still…
Also in the parcel: Our very first self written article in a printed magazine. The Austrian sailing monthly Yachtrevue printed it in Dezember 2012. Although I wasn’t 100% happy with a few of the minor edits, the final story is quite good. Here’s the article as PDF, sorry – german only.
I decided to use the christmas holidays for a little vacation. Where I’m going ? Moorea is the planned destination.
The Rancho is completely empty (except the front cabin) and all the gear I need to work on – solar panels, watermaker, SSB is on board the Suvarov. Our slightly degraded, deflatable dinghy is tied to Rancho Relaxo and Bruno’s Pinguin swimms in the back of the new boat. The mooring for the Rancho I paid for up until new year – I’m actually ready to go.
Weren’t it for the crates, bags and baskets of stuff in between those piles of clothes, tools, music instruments and books. Somebody has got to clean up that mess before we head out into the ocean tomorrow ! I have a feeling that I should get up early tomorrow if I plan to leave around noon.
Uh, and it’s gonna be the first sailing with the new boat. Also first time singlehanding – even more exciting ! Yay. But I’m soooo looking forward to that, I can’t tell you ! After having spent soo much troubling days and weeks here in this anchorage in Tahiti, I’m really ready for a change of landscape !
Also, I wanna see if the christmas present from home arrived yet …
Finally I’m getting something done ! Today was the first day in over a week that it didn’t rain. Not at all – it’s unbelievable. Right after breakfast I jumped into the dinghy and started filling crates and bags with stuff from the kitchen, bathroom, aft cabin and saloon. It’s still quite slow as I have to pack everything, get it into the dinghy without dropping something. Then wrestle it on board the Suvarov and find a new location for all the stuff.
But still- half of the Rancho is already empty. I also switched the toilets the other day. – One of the only things that will actually profit from the rain.
After a sundowner with my neighbor Chico, I emptied the last crates with things from the bathroom. Tomorrow I’m gonna get the rest. Yay !
Just as every day of the last week, today we’ve had several rain showers. Right now there are in between four and six low pressure systems creating a big mess in the South Pacific. Those systems formed in a line stretching from Polynesia to the north of Fiji – over a distance of 3000 miles ! Here where I am, the lows will get crushed in between two gigantic high pressure systems, while the ones on the western end will probably converge and create the first tropical depression of this year. Maybe they could even become a Typhoon.
Boring ? Well, in between yotties it’s not just smalltalk – it’s it’s pretty essential to discuss weather issues. It’s about whether the anchorage is safe or it becomes a trap. It’s about swell, wind and rain and the possibility to take the tender and get to (dry?) land. Or in my case if it’s possible to bring stuff from our old boat to the new. Every day in the morning there’s about 15cm of water in the dinghy. And as soon as it’s bucketed out, the next shower will fill it again, it seems. Not exactly helping if you have to transport clothes, food, spare parts and tools. So I’m trying to occupy myself reading instruction manuals for all the gadgets that are on the new ship. I’m discovering hoses for the engine ventilation and try to make sense of all the cables that disappear somewhere underneath floorboards or behind cabinets. Yesterday I was searching for about 30 minutes to discover a switch for the light in the engine compartment. I guess, it’s gonna take some time until I fully understand our new ship.
Next ToDos are the replacement of the leaking toilet (our old one was actually newer and nicer) and the preparation to install the water maker. But right now I should actually not think of things to do but rather get our stuff moved. It’s bad enough that I look over to the Rancho Relaxo a hundered times a day. I’d rather only have to take care of one boat. So hopefully we’ll get a little less rain the next days so I get something done.
Two days ago I took my toothbrush and moved over to our new ship, the Suvarov. Despite me being quite lonely here it feels great ! The ship is so much bigger than the Rancho Relaxo and no more banging the head a hundered times a day. The windgen (a D-400) works way better than the Silentwind we had on the Rancho, the fridge doesn’t empty the batteries and we also got a new external WLAN antenna. No more sitting in the cockpit with the laptop !
Unfortunately I’m not getting much done these days. The weather is quite nasty. It’s raining a lot the last days and the wind is quite strong. This makes the dinghy rides between the boats a really wet exercise. But I got the most important things and the rest I will move as soon as the weather is improving (which will not be soon as it seems). In the meantime I’m trying to figure out all the switches, buttons, cables and hoses and make lists of things todo and to improve and to move… Uff. Enough work for months… But what else would I do ?
The last night. Wow. I didn’t think that this would happen. Happen at all and happen so fast. Tomorrow I’ll sleep on the Suvarov. Hopefully the weather will be better or all my packed things will get wet.
It’s a very sad moment. Using the stove a last time, brushing my teeth in the little bathroom a last time… But hey: Tomorrow I’ll be all the more happy. Especially as this weird, fast movement will have an end. The swell is still increasing and we’ll get a whopping 3.8m tomorrow. I’ll rather sleep on a ship with a mast by then.
Gui, Bruno and Viola are preparing their bags to leave for Argentina. They will visit the grandparents and Gui will work on the new collections for Coquito. I will stay in Polynesia and will soon start to move all our stuff to our new home: The SY Suvarov !
YES ! We found our new ship. It’s a Caroff Sterven MKII from 1995. 12.3m long and 4.3m wide, built in steel of course. She has a LOT more room than the Rancho Relaxo of the Seas. She’s not a sleek looking ship but she’s big enough for me to walk around without constantly banging my head – which I’m looking very forward to.
You’ve seen the list of work on the Rancho Relaxo and although it’s really hard to let go, the decision to rather invest into a new boat is a good one. The comments on the last post were pretty much spot on: We can’t spend a year on a shipyard in Polynesia. That’s not the life we want to live. Especially not with the kids. So I’m gonna spend the next months moving all our fancy gear from the old to the new boat and prepare everything to set sail when the new season starts in April 2012. YEEEEEEAAAAH !!!!
It’s been nearly four weeks. I’m still having problems sorting my thoughts. Ship-wise we did a big step forward but it’s still to early to write anything here. But we’re 100% positive: The journey will continue !! We’re lucky to have so many friends and active blog readers who write to give us new ideas and send positive vibes. It’s truly wonderful to open the computer in the evening to find thoughtful and positive emails from Germany, England, Panama and other places on this planet !
After our rescue, the pilots of the helicopter spent half a day finding help to salvage our ship. Now they took a day off to invite us to the Navy base, have a BBQ together and show the kids all the equipment on the base ! Absolutely amazing !! For us it’s a very welcome distraction from our depressing bord life but for the children it’s very important to see the pilots and the chopper without the stress of a rescue. Bruno and Viola could climb through the helicopter, inspect the airplanes and play with the winch that lifted us off the reef.
The heat on the landing strip was like hellfire but the kids didn’t even realize. They were fully absorbed by all that fancy machinery, the interesting helicopter with all it’s screens and buttons. For hours they asked questions without end and of course had an amazing day. – Who wouldn’t ?
We also are extremely happy to have had that opportunity as we think it’s really important for the kids to associate some positive feelings with the helicopter and the people involved in the rescue operation. Yeah, and guess what Bruno want’s to become when he’s grown up ?
Sorry I’ve not been posting too much during the last weeks but I hop that will change soon. Today I’ve also started to answer all those nice emails we got and finally the inbox looks a little less chaotic. Oh – spaeking of writing. Together with the Yachtrevue an article is coming into existence. It should be published in the december issue.
To get some distance to what happened and because it’s Loana’s 12th birthday, we decided to take the ferry to the neighbor island of Moorea. Jean Claude, whom we helped evacuate his yacht two weeks earlier, invited us to spend a weekend with his family.
The trip with the speed ferry only takes a little more than half an hour and we get picked up by car. The ride along the coastline has some magnificent views and we soon enter cook bay and continue towards the center of the island. Here we pick up the birthday girl and her sister Heilani who spent the day at a horse ranch. The energy of the soon to be 12 year old seems to be endless as we first drop her off at the jazz dance class before we finally get to their beautiful little house. The garden is typical for the area and has mangos, papayas, bananas and of course cocos and underneath all that green we see chicken and rabbits enjoying themselves. The weekend on the ‘countryside’ is a perfect change for us as we finally stop thinking about the Rancho Relaxo but have endless talks or (try) to repair an old motorcycle.
The time passes rapidly and sunday in the evening we’re back in Tahiti. Monday morning we suddenly find ourselves surrounded by the amazing number of TWO austrian ships: The ‘Chi’ arrived from the Tuamotus and the ‘Optimist’ came back from Moorea to do some last minute repairs before finally leaving for Fiji.
We’ve talked to many people, asked for prices and looked at used masts but it seems to be a fact: The Rancho Relaxo can not be repaired by us. We have tried to be as objective as possible but in the end that’s really difficult. The Rancho Relaxo is not just an object but our home and we had many thrilling and beautiful moments together. Saying good bye will be incredibly hard but a repair would cost us more than we could expect to ever get back by later selling the boat. After all we try to see the positive side of this: The market for used boats is really bad right now and we’re what you could call at the end of the world. So it is right here that we have actually good chances to find a new yacht. This and the financing of this new boat is what we were focussing the last days. And in both areas there have been extremely positive developments !
It seems quite surreal but only two weeks ago we were on the reef and thought that we would loose everything. Now it seems as if we will continue our journey with a new boat in the next year. This is possible because we have the support of both our families and they not just approve of our lifestyle but encourage us to finish what we started. Many friends helped us and want us to continue our journey. And that is exactly what we will do, although it will not be with the Rancho Relaxo of the Seas – and it will mean more work for us in the future. But that should not take the fun out of it and we are extremely happy about these amazing developments of the last days !!
Every day feels completely different. Sometimes we’re all down and frustrated, the next day it seems as if life embraces us with all force. Our thoughts are too confused to write down as we still cannot say anything concrete about how it will continue for the Rancho Relaxo and us. But I would like to thank all of you for your support !
It is absolutely amazing !!! We’re can’t believe how many friends reached into their pocket to support us. And even more surprising is the amount of (until now) anonymous blog readers that step into the light and support us financially or by writing a few nice lines to make us smile again. To all of you: Many, many thanks and a big hug from the whole family !!
As soon as we can think a little bit clearer, I’ll write more but right now I’d probably only spread confusion.
Many friends and readers of our blog have asked us how to help and whether they could possibly support us financially. To be honest, in the beginning I was absolutely scared of that thought for a couple of reasons. First of all it’s a thing of pride, I guess. But most of that I lost on that reef in Tetiaroa and as for the rest – I’ll just have to ignore it. Second thought: It was our decision to set out and search for adventure and a simpler life – which we mostly found. My navigation as a skipper was not safe and it was ME who fell asleep during the watch so why should someone else pay for my mistake ? Third: Although some financial aid would ease our situation at the moment and possibly even pay for part of the repairs, how would we move on ? We have to earn some money ! We’re considering writing for sailing magazines, possibly start writing an (E-) book, I could do some IT-work, Gui is planning to create a web shop for her children’s clothes label ‘Coquito’… any tipps and ideas are welcome !
What changed our mind in the end is that we would have no problem at all to accept hands-on help to work on the boat. But as we’re stuck here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, this is not an option. So why would we refuse donations ?
We have created that little Paypal donate button on the side and right there you will also be able to find the details for our german bank account. The decision to write this really wasn’t easy. We are thankful for every cent that will help us to move on ! Thank you all for your support (monetary or otherwise) !