Sunday we were celebrating Viola’s fifth birthday. There were all our friends from the anchorage/beach as well as Jean Claude and his daughters, friends from school and more.
The party started right in the morning with the setting up of the slack line, some weird rope game, putting baloons in the trees and while the kids were preparing these things, the skip sneaked out and buried a treasure deep under a coconut palm.
The gang had a lot of fun, searching the park for the hidden hints towards the treasure while the grown ups tried their balance on the slack line. But there was one thing that stole away the attention from the celebration: The puppies !
Somebody left seven little puppies under a tree in the park and they all found food and love with the kids that cuddled and carried them. When we left on monday all but two of the little dogs already had found a new home.
Next day we had to leave towards Tahiti. As usual, there’s not much wind and we were running under engine. Back in Tahiti, we dismounted and sold the windgenerator, the VHF and the fridge. Finally things get moving…
Oh ! And I nearly forgot to mention: I’m gonna fly to Europe !!!! Yessss !!! The Ackerman Foundation sponsored the flight to get Gui’s label Coquito started. So I’ll be in Berlin and Austria the first three weeks of may, starting a business and getting parts for the Suvarov. And of course visiting all my friends and my family – oh, I’m so happy. It’s been two years. I really am excited about that trip. Yay !!
Yesterday Viola was celebrating her 5th birthday. Later I still have to sort through ~400 photos and find the good ones for you. But now we leave for Tahiti to do some work on the Rancho (again…). Here’s a little preview:
Yes, the Pentax K-5 still has some battery left. It arrived with ‘one bar’ of battery and after one month of use it still works – about 600 photographs later. That’s an amazing battery !
The bathroom in the aft cabin was used as a storage space for all that stuff we didn’t find a place for yet. But as the ‘junk room’ got emptier and emptier over the last weeks, we thought it would be time to get rid of the walls and extend our living space. I started fixing the broken kitchen window and as Gui is of no help here, she took the power drill and started tearing down walls.
Again there is some difference to the Rancho Relaxo: On our old boat all the interior was done professionaly and uwing the same wood and brass screws. The Suvarov on the other hand is amateur built and the interior is a wild mix of different types of wood, screws, paints and taste (or lack thereof). In our current case most of the wood is glued together with additional screws that are hidden under filler and paint. That makes things a lot more difficult. But after one day of hard labor, the bathroom is gone and we can think of what to do with the new space and how to integrate the steering cables that run through the middle of the room.
Next day I take the old wood panels and fabricate a mock-up of the new interior. I think that’s a good test to see whether our idea would work. Now we’re gonna sleep one or two times over that and see if we can come up with a better idea. Otherwise we’ll buy wood and start the work.
At 06:20h in the morning the alarm goes off. Just as the sun jumps over the mountain ridge and bathes the bay in a beautiful golden light. We eat breakfast on deck because a big school of dolphins entered the bay and is playing in between the neighbor boats. When we paddle ashore a little later, we go riht through the middle of a group of 20-30 dolphins that are now going down the channel and back into the bay. At shore a local fisherman gives us a few fish and he follows us to our car. – Yeah, for the first time in two years we got a car ! A very friendly family who’s son goes to the kindergarden with Viola borrowed it to us. The catch is that it has a dead battery, so me and our fisher-friend push the car to start it.
The school is closed for easter holidays but Bruno and Viola go to the Circus-school. There they do acrobatics, play clown and generally have a lot of fun. As it’s the last day, we come early for the pick-up and the group does a presentation for us. Viola’s friend Manoa comes back with us to the Suvarov. There’s a little front approaching and the dinghy ride with five people is not as relaxing as it was during the morning. The three wild ones do a pirate fight across the deck and through the interior of our boat. When the rain starts drumming on the roof, Bruno and Viola get active collecting rainwater.
Uh, and I have some bad news: I was quite looking forward to the return of our DSLR but unfortunately the charger for our good camera stayed in South America. So I continued using the compact camera. And this rather poor replacement did a little dive in Viola’s rucksack. Although the skipper ignored the sore foot and immediately jumped overboard for a rescue mission, it still got a few drops of water. Not more than during a snapshot in the rain but enough for it to wreck the battery. So now we have two compact cameras and a Pentax K5 without charger. The last cameras still in operation are the GoPro and my trusty old mobile phone which from now on will be the primary source of pictures for this blog. Uaaah !
Poor Guillermina again has an ear infection and thus the noisy three leave the boat for a little excursion. There is a nice hill just behind the beach and we want to check it out. So we grab a drink, a few apples and some bread into our rucksack and set out in search for an entry to the path that’s supposedly following the ridge up the hill.
After half an hour walk along the road we really find an entrance to the forest and start fighting our way through the bushes and over crumbly earth and loose rocks. It’s not really a nice walk but the view from up here is absolutely amazing. Once we reach the little ‘summit’ we have our lunch and watch the boats down in the anchorage. We can see the surfers at the pass taking the waves, the speedboats zooming past the beach in full speed, etc.
We’re back down at sea level early in the afternoon and enjoy the ‘fresh’ 30 degree Pacific to wash off all the dirt from our trip. It was great – even more so as it was the first proper movement for me after having had a swollen, nearly unusable foot for a couple of weeks now. Well, my ankle is ok but now it’s Gui who’s fighting another infection. *rrr*
It’s easter and that means, the school is closed. Instead of taking the tour towards the kindergarden with dinghy and bus – Viola and Gui hitch-hike up the valley towards the horse ranch. Viola is doing a four day horseriding holiday and you can’t imagine how happy she is. Every afternoon she returns all dirty and tired but still has enough energy to jump around in the water for an hour or two. Then all the horse smell is gone and she falls asleep while eating dinner. Heh.
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:
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….
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.
We’re only 24 hours away from the city-island of Tahiti and we’re already feeling healthier, fresher, happier, etc. Moorea truly is a treat after that crowded anchorage and the polluted air of the city. It’s a good thing that we like it as it could happen that we have to spend a few more days here. There is a big high pressure system passing south of us and the wind will not be right for the passage to the Tuamotus. So we’ll have to wait…
Yesterday Dan and me took the dinghy towards the reef where the wrecked yacht is bouncing in the surf. There were already a few sailors from the anchorage helping the owner get all stuff from the boat. We got all the sails down and into the dinghy to transport them towards the beach. The accident happened when going through the pass of the reef under engine where the propulsion suddenly stopped. Whether it was the gearbox or some failure with the propeller we don’t know. But it certanly was too late to get sails up and the yacht hit the reef only a minute later. The keel and rudder broke off instantly and the ship filled with water. What a sad story and how shocking to see how fast and easy something like that can happen !
In the afternoon we discovered that the small shop close to the beach is also selling burger meat ! We got the big pack and left it in the sun to defrost while we took the sailing dinghy for a ride through the lagoon.
Right before sunset we met back at the beach and Dan showed the kids how to start fire with a firestone and some dry coconuts. The short ones were fascinated !! We had a beautiful evening and everybody fell into the bunks like a stone. Good to be out in the nature again !
Some have been asking and – yes – we’re still in Tahiti. Somehow we seem to can’t get going. But as today we finally have a rainy day (first one since ages) I’ll hopefully find the time to do a few missing blog posts.
Right now I just wanted to announce that we’re still here and that I update our website slightly. I’m gonna write another blog post soon. Promised.
Wow – a week passed without a new blog entry ! That’s ususally a sign that either we’re really enjoying ourselves or we’re quite busy. This time I guess it was a mixture of both.
First we had new friends arrive: The SY Tamora went on a mooring right next to us. For a welcome we did some barbequeue (Carrefour for the win !) Next day, we started the pizza oven on board and it finally was time for the famous Rancho Relaxo all-you-can-eat pizza !
Sundays the girls did an excursion to the horse party in Papeete while the boys made a big mess in the ship and repaired the watermaker. Luckily the membrane is not cloaked. The problem was a high pressure valve that got stuck. But with the help of Mr. H2O (Hr. Braeuer) and the really excellent instruction manual, we got it working again. We also cleaned all the filters and now it’s working great again.
In the meantime Gui and Viola enjoyed the visitor’s day in the hippodrome of Papeete where Viola found horses of all sizes to cuddle with and ride on. Looks like they had a lot of fun there.
We also did a big walk through all of Papeete in the heat of the midday and visited tht chandleries and tool stores. Unfortunately we didn’t find what we were looking for. On the same day the long overdue SY Papillon arrived with her new and improved besan mast (pic will follow). And on tuesday/wednesday Zac and me did a big mountain tour up Mont Aorai which I will describe in another blog post.
And here come the pics of that amazing beach we found on the island of Taohata in the Marquesas. Here we spent a few really lovely days of which I spent an impressive share in the engine room finally getting our good ol’ Benz running again. The original blog posts are here and here.
We again managed to oversleep – the crossing of the Pacific, it seems. In the beginning there were six sailboats here at San Cristobal but now the Rancho Relaxo is the last one. A weird feeling. A big bunch of tour- and diving ships but only one sailboat. Well…
The last days were dominated by farewells. First the SY Papillon – a beautiful 57″ ketch from the states started towards the Marquesas. Next day the SY Tamora weighted anchor. Dieter and Silke made a short stopover at the Isla Isabela and now are underway to the Gambier Islands. The day before yesterday our swiss anchor – neighbor set sail. Esti, Mario and Laura also started with destination Gambiers but they might try to make a stop at the Easter islands, if the wind is favorable. Especially the last parting was very hard for our kids as they were good friends with Laura. Bruno was extremely sad when she finally got into the watertaxi and went home aboard her catamaran.
I think we’ll stay a few more days here at San Cristobal but slowly it get’s a little to cold. Funny. We’re as close to the equator as you can get but it’s cold. That’s the Humboldt current. The water temperature was 31 degrees in Panama and Costa Rica. When we reached Galapagos we had 26 degrees but that dropped to a chilling 22 degrees during the last week ! First it’s too hot, now too cold. It’s really not easy to get it right for the LosLocos. Hehehe.
We’ve been planning to go camping for a long time. Usually it was me who’s against it, because our tent is actually way too big for us and I don’t like carrying around all that stuff for only one night out in the wild. But Gui wanted to go camping for her birthday, so I finally had to give in.
And it was a good decision ! The camping site was wild and lonesome – the beach of Puerto Chino is completely isolated and we had it all for ourselves. Only us, plenty of animals and the sea that smashed it’s waves onto the beach. The most beautiful music to fall asleep.
The kids had lots of fun with the white/grey sand and with the big waves that were fun to play with. We climbed the small hill nearby, searched the surroundings for animals and watched the pelicans feed their young ones.
On the way to the beach we climbed up the volcano and saw the lagoon in it’s crater and we visited the station where they care for the giant turtles. On the way back we stopped at a giant tree with a house in it’s twigs. – There is also another room down in between the roots. One has to climb down a ladder through a hole. The kids loved it ! – And we had a great weekend AND Gui could test her surf board. More pics on that in another blog post…
Galapagos. Just the name of these mystic islands are connected to so many images and stories. Darwin, marine iguanas, sea lions, giant turtles… And all that (except for Darwin) we’ll see in the next days and weeks.
After our dramatic arrival in the anchorage (a blog post with pics of that will follow !) We soon were greeted by an agent and the authorities. Soon after we missed about 600USD but had clearance for staying 20 days at the island. As the whole archipelago is a national park, everything is quite restricted and one can not sail around with his own ship. On can’t even take the dingy to the beach ! But – well, there are boat taxis for 1USD per (grown up) person.
The first day we went to the beach, together with the crews of SY Tamora, SY Mares and another sailing vessel with two kids aboard. The beach was fantastic and we finally were snorkeling again – after more than two months without touching the ocean. Unfortunately on that day we had quite huge waves and thus the underwater sight was poor. No turtles for us. – Only a few sea lions in the water. And those were more interested in the fish…
But it was great anyway. Everywhere you look, you see beauty. The black, grey and red volcanic stones at the beach for example. Together with the bright green bushes it makes a fantastic background for any kind of picture. And the marine iguanas – well I could take hundreds of photos. Amazing creatures, scary looking but harmless and they are everywhere !
Just as the sea lions. They are everywhere. Everywhere in the town, on the benches, in the boats and dinghies, at the beach. Luckily our boat has no bathing platform and also a high freeboard, so the sea lions cannot enter. But all our friends already had them in the cockpit or on the foredeck. Hehehe. Today I took the sailing dinghy to town – hopefully no sealion sleeps inside, when I get back in a few minutes.
I’m not used to work that much anymore. No, no. And definately not in these circumstances with that incredible heat. But – hey – at least I got two amazing kids who happen to help me a lot and keep the mood up. (Ok, ok. Not always…) So today we finally installed that active Radar-reflector that we had lying around since we left Europe. It’ll come in handy on the next longer passages, I hope. While Gui was in ‘town’ to finally clear in (after a more than a week that we’ve been here, hehehe) – I installed the unit on the mast of the wind generator and put the cable through the ship. And that actually was most of the work because of course all stuff has to be moved from one corner to the next, all floor boards have to be removed, all the stuff has to be moved to the saloon bench and so on….
After half a day of work the cable was finally where it’s supposed to be and it also seems to work. Although we’ve still have to test it with an active Radar in the vincinity. I also installed a pre-filter in the seawater system to protect the pump in the kitchen and the watermaker from bigger parts entering through the hose. We put the bolt holding the forestay that keeps moving to the starbord side back to where it belongs, we put a new switch for the electric bilge pump, refilled engine oil, etc.
Yesterday I also took the kerosene stove apart and cleaned everything so now both flames work perfectly again. Tomorrow we’ll try to repair the electronic kompass, reconnect the Radar and fix a couple of other minor things…. But then, I guess on monday we’re finally ready to leave ! Yay !