This is a post for the sailing nerds – so to say. I like to look at the numbers and as this was our fastest trip of the last three years it’s even more fun.
Ok here comes: From Tanna, around NewCal towards Brisbane we travelled a total of 1238nm and it took us 219 hours to do that. This gives an awesome average speed of 5,70 knots ! Top speed (with a wave pushing from behind) was 9.9kn. The daily logs (24hours from noon to noon) were: 141, 144, 150, 126, 136, 142, 125, 130 and 123nm.
The wind on average came from SE with a force of 5. Minimum of S2 and maximum of S9 (measured: 42 knots). We never met more ships than on this trip. Out on the open ocean we met two fishing vessels, two tankers and one cruise ship. And during the approach to Brisbane we met another six ships. The drive up the river was a whole different story. We that we have stayed on tropical islands for these last years and never saw a real city… now suddenly we have to navigate a river with speed ferries zomming in and out, hundereds of ships anchored everywhere, buoys, moorings, jetties…. a lot of current. And everything is so bright ! And the eyes as well as the skipper who hasn’t slept the last 48 hours are a bit overwhelmed… But everything goes well, we find a nice spot to anchor and sleep the best sleep ever. The one of sailors who arrive in a safe harbour after a rough trip.
Oh. And I’ve got a little video too. It’s a bit boring but sailors might enjoy it anyways…
Crazy, crazy. It seems like an island out of a dream. Unreal. Too beautiful, too exotic. I don’t know where to start… we’ve only been here for a little more than a day. I’m still overwhelmed. And we haven’t even seen the volcano yet ! So… what happened ?
Well, our friends from the SY Elhaz said hello and goodbye and left for Port Vila – which made us quite sad. But next morning the SY Kira arrived and we had a good, long breakfast together that continued into a mid-day feast, followed by a walk through the village and a swim on one of the most gorgeous beaches we’ve seen so far. When the sun started to set behind the volcanoe, we brought Gui and the kids to the boat. The men were invited to drink kava with the villagers. People in Tanna are strict followers of the ‘Kastom’ and thus: no women allowed.
All the grown up males gather on a little place in the village and start to prepare the kava by chewing the roots, spitting it in banana leaves , rinsing it with water and finally pouring the brown/greyish liquid in a little coconut shell. The kava here is a lot stronger than in Fiji as it is made from fresh roots and the traditional way. We enjoyed the ritual and the quietness that falls over the village after the first round of cava bowls went around. The sounds are from the waves and the wind to our back and endless zykades in the front, the sound of small, red glowing fires all around and a lot of loud slurping and spitting. The sky is full of stars, no bright lights disturbing our vision. We are welcome in the village and together with our friend Claus with whom we started the voyage three years ago. What a dream !
And although we’re anchored in one of the most historic places (James Cook went ashore in this bay, approx. 230 years ago) we’ve found internet: connected via bluetooth and mobile phone. Slow but steady…
After we’ve been waiting for one week not seems to be the time: For two days the wind will shift to the east and also go down a little in force. In an hour or so we’ll set out towards the south-east, towards Tanna. There we’ll meet the SY Kira, hopefully the SY Elhaz and definately the Mont Yasur: the active (!) volcano of the island.
Also this post marks the end of internet: in the next days and weeks on our final travel to Brisbane, Australia we will only be connected with shortwave radio. So no pictures in the upcoming days. – Sorry…
So that now was our second to last trip with the Suvarov, ey ? It was a nice one, I have to admit. For the first time in a year we had pleasant, nearly perfect wind on that journey. And although the swell made the ride a bit bumpy in the beginning, we did quite well. We logged 131, 126, 122 and 127 nautical miles daily and the whole trip of 545nm took us just a bit more than 100 hours.
We also were quite lucky: we arrived in Port Vila at night but with good weather. The next day it started to rain heavily (we topped up the water tank in less than one hour !) and we had wind quite above 30 knots. Good timing !
So it seems we’re stuck in Port Vila for a few days since our next trip to Tanna is against the wind and I don’t want to head out into rough seas…
But right now I’m still waiting for the quarantine officer to come on board. It seems he’s busy with the cruise ship that entered that morning and keeps us waiting. Gui and the kids are on land, visiting the immigration office and later the Australian Embassy fur Gui’s visa.
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.
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.
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 !!
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.