A three minutes long film from the pacific crossing Panama-Australia in 2008 in the Endeavourcat 30 we had bought.
2012-2013 we did the crossing again but now with a Helios 38 catamaran
A three minutes long film from the pacific crossing Panama-Australia in 2008 in the Endeavourcat 30 we had bought.
2012-2013 we did the crossing again but now with a Helios 38 catamaran
Checked out from Lautoka (Fiji) on Monday the 15 of September but couldn’t leave until two
days later due southerly winds. Had a SE wind around 20-25 kt and where heading in a Sw course. The sailing to Noumea – New Caledonia is about 700 miles. After three days of S-SE winds decided we to make a stop in Anatom, the most southern island in Vanuatu. The weather had so far been bad. Cloudy and cold so we were freezing all the time. Stayed two nights in Anatom which was a nice stay. Gave away all fishing equipment, lures and lines we had to the locals.
The trip from Anatom to Noumea took us two days and the wind were more easterly than before but much wind and high waves. Had a very nice sailing the last 50 miles when we came inside the reef. Strong current boosted us to 8 kt in 10kt of wind.
New Caledonia is just like French Polynesia – Expensive and English is not widely spoken. We were first planning to sail down to Ile de Pins but changed our mind because of the SE winds. Instead we explored a couple of anchorages not to far from Noumea, Lighthouse Amadee and another sheltered one. Saw many sea snakes on the islands.
After a week there were good forecasts to Australia so we took of a week earlier than expected. The sailing went very good. The first day was a little bit windy and big waves so the autopilot had problem steering up when there came gusty winds and when we surfed away on the waves. The other six days was really nice with the sun shining all the time and winds between 10-20 kt. No problem to sleep. Dolphins visited us two times and a whale closer to Australia. 800 miles and we were now in Bundaberg, Australia. Pacific have now been crossed! 10 500 miles on Uhuru.
Uhuru has now been sold and we will soon start our trip with backpacks for the next 6 months.
500 miles later we arrived in the capital of Fiji, Suva (12th of August 2008). The sailing went ok with pretty light winds (5-20 kt). The stronger wind was the last night.
Day 1: 20 kt of SE wind, 133 miles.
Day 2: 10-15 kt of SE wind 135 miles
Day 3: 4-10 kt of SE wind, 100 miles
Day 4: 10-20 kt of SE wind, 125 miles
Some guys from Health and Quarantine came over to the boat with a lot of forms to fill out. The funny thing was that all forms had to be filled out three times! (No Xerox?). Anyway. The forms had to be delivered to Customs and Immigration who have their office around the main harbour and then the fee from quarantine had to be paid somewhere else. To cruise around you also need a permit which you have to apply for at ”Fiji affairs” Messy.
Mainreason we went to Suva was because it was on the route to Beqa island where we had heard of great shark diving. During our 11 days in Suva the time kept running faster and faster. Socialized with Mike and Tracey on Peregrine and the Family on Innocenti. We did also spend much time maintaining the boat. A guy sanded and varnished all floor plates. Had new canvas made for the boat to make it look more attractive. So from now on the canvas is GREEN! We had APM doing the canvas and the job they did could have been better. So we suggest everybody who is thinking about doing any kind of canvas work, go to Port Denarau and Marshall Sails. Very professional!
It is sort of cheap here in Fiji, or, much is. Taxi downtown is about 2 USD, good lunch around 6 USD, etc. The city is becoming more and more modern and the latest big shopping mall, MHCC, have some nice selections.
Next destination was Beqa island. Had a very nice sailing in 20-25 kt of wind with an average speed of 7 kt. Anchored deep in to Vaga Bay between two reefs in 15 ft of water. Waited till the next morning to go ashore with the Kava. A guy jumped into the water and swam up to Uhuru. He asked for some fishing line which we gave him next day. Gave the chief some Kava and told him about us. Got invited to a house where we had tea and talked. Took the dingy to the five star resort on an island about 3 miles away. Booked two tanks diving in the lagoon and two tanks shark dive.
The diving in Beqa lagoon was quite nice but nothing compared to the shark dive we did the next day. They feed the sharks with big garbage containers filled with fish heads. We were about 15 ft from the containers where grey, black tipped, lemon- and bull sharks swam. The biggest was about 15 ft long. The big fishes were also quite impressive, especially the big travellies. Got a very good price on our diving (paid 1/3).
After five days in Beqa it was time to move on. 55 miles to Robinson Crusoe Island. The sailing went good with 15-25 kt of wind and averaging 7 kt speed, till we had 10 miles left. Then the mainsail ripped and we had to go with only the small headsail. When we tried to call the resort on the island we noticed the VHF was dead and had to find our self in thru the passage.
Stayed anchored two nights outside the island. Had lunch and dinner (10 FD each) at the
Resort and watched a fire dancing show. Mostly young backpackers which was nice because
long time since we spoke with younger people.
Needed to run the engine the 20 miles to Musket Cove. Well marked passage all the way in to
the moorings but mysteriously there are boats running in to the reefs every now and then. Did
only stay one night in Musket Cove. The mooring was 15 FD/night which includes hot
showers, water and a social life (a spot where most boats go when they are on the west coast.
The hot showers felt really nice. Last time we had it was at a hotel in Panama City 7 months
Left the next morning to Port Denarau, about 10 miles east of Musket cove. The main reason
we went there was because there is a sail maker (Marshall sails). They did repair our
mainsail. Good work! Port Denarau is very touristy but a nice place if you have money to
spend. Good restaurants (Hard Rock Café, Italian, Chinese, Indian, Pizza place, etc.).
Sailed up to waya island in the Yasawa group after 4 days in Denarau. The sailing went slow
in the 4-8 kt of wind we were given but finally took us to the southern bay. A nice anchorage
surrounded by green and dried mountainous landscape. Gave some Kava to the chief and after
one minute we were free to look around in the village. They are sort of used to all cruisers so
they didn’t seemed very curious.
Tried to move on the next morning but after 1.5 hour, 7 miles on our way, we had to turn
back. Got the wind and waves to much in the nose when we turned toward the new island.
Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be easy to go back. The last 3 miles was very hard with the
waves against us and gusty winds up to 35 kt.
Stayed in the bay the next day also. Got aboard on the 43 ft aluminium catamaran “Paws”
which the owner had built by himself . Our second attempt to reach Manta ray island went
better. This time we chose to go east of waya island instead to get a better wind angle. 15-25
kt of wind gave us an average speed around 5 kt. We had heard from so many boats about
their snorkelling among manta rays so we had to go here. Unfortunately we didn’t succeed to
locate them after three attempts (high tide). Ate dinner at the Manta ray backpacker resort. 15
FD/person. Very nice food which included three different main dishes. Found nice snorkelling
just outside the resort.
Still NE winds so we decided to go back to waya island. Had a nice 13 miles sailing in 11 kt
of wind. Stayed here two nights and did some boat maintaining (clean the bottom etc.) to
prepare it for Australia. They say the bottom shall be cleaned no later than one month before you arrive in Australia.
We have celebrated one year anniversary with Uhuru. We also thank Endeavourcat for
sponsoring us. Check out the pictures on their website: http://www.endeavourcats.com
On Tuesday the 16th of August 2008 we will start our sailing to New Caledonia.
After we had been on the main island Upolu we sailed over to the next island, Savaii. Anchored in Asau and were the only boat there. A very sheltered anchorage. During our four days we rented a driver with his car to take us around the island. Explored some more and bigger blowholes, lava field and swam with turtle in a small pool.
Niuatoputapu was our next destination. 170 miles, not far but hard! Had to sail south (180) with a wind angle no bigger than 40 degrees and with big swells. The passage into Niuatoputapu seems very tricky and narrow if you look on the chart. Fortunately it is very good marked. The time was around 8 PM and no moon giving light but with waypoints and the well marked pass we came in safe.
This island seems to be a real Aussie/kiwi place. Of four boats we were the only non Aussie/kiwi and some had been here before. We anchored in 30 ft and it was quite sheltered. There was ok snorkelling closer out to the reef and we could here the whale song. The villages are very simple (dust roads, no electricity etc) but charming. Went out to the small island which was very picturesque. After four days we needed to move on. The forecast showed us northerly winds and that were what we needed to get down to Vava’u.
This time the sailing south went much better even though the northerly winds not showed up until the last 12 hours and the wind was stronger than expected. Almost no swell. SE-E-NE 10-20 kt. 170 miles. To be sure we arrive in daylight we made the trip over two nights. Had to reef everything the last 10 hours to not get there to early. Picked a buoy in Neiafu, a very sheltered place! The fee was between 12-15 Tongan (4 Euro) and the ones Aquarium café had included free use on their Internet café. A little bit disappointed when there were no other boats we recognised.
It felt good to bee somewhere civilized with restaurants and other facilities. The prices were ok. A lunch around 7-8 USD, dinner 10-15 USD, etc. After four days on the buoy it was time to discover the small islands. The good thing to sail in Vava’u is the short distances between the islands (a couple of miles). That is also way it is a very popular sailboat charter base. Everywhere we went there were a lot of those charter boats.
The first night did we spend in port Maurelle. Very nice and popular anchorage with clear water. Took the dingy about a mile to the Swallows cave and then we tried to find Marvelers cave but without success. Next morning = new islands. Ovalau. A scenic island with anchorage in 4-15 meter. Could see some whales from this anchorage. Ok snorkelling. The bad thing with most islands is the reefs. There is not many beaches without reefs. After two nights there we moved back to Port Maurelle.
Back in Neiafu on Saturday (four days on the outer islands). Started with some diving. Nice corals and a lot of anemones with different kind of clownfish. A couple of days later it was time for whalewatching! Yeahhh!! This was awesome! Found some crazy whales who first totally breached. When we went in to the water they chased us instead of we chasing them. They were always close (could touch them if we wanted). The female was around 13-15m long and the male around 11 m. Huge!! A day we never will forget.
At this time we had met some familiar boats. Madeline (who we met first in Panama and keep seeing), Prairie Oyster, Silver Curl, and the Swedish boat Tilda with captain Kalle.
Checked out (8th of August 2008) after 2.5 weeks in Tonga. Fiji next (Arrived in Suva the 12th of August 2008).
We had a good sailing from Suwarrow. The two first days were windy (15-30 kt) and gave us an average speed around 6 kt. The two last days were calmer (5-10 kt) and we had to run the motor for about 16 hours. On the third day we had three humpback wales (6-8 meter long) playing around the boat.
It always feels relieving when we have reached the new port. This time the chart didn’t match the reality but it was pretty easy to see water breaking on the reefs. A dingy from the harbour met us and showed us in to the marina. The Marina is new (opened August 2007) and it seems you must go in there. Only big yachts are allowed to anchor outside. It’s not very expensive though. We paid 33 tollar (12 usd) a day. Mike and Tracy from Peregrine arrived three hours before us and helped us with the lines when we came in. Peregrine did departure at the same time from Suwarrow as we did and adjusted their speed to ours the whole trip to keep radio contact.
We liked Samoa although there were things that felt irritating. First of all, it’ is very cheap especially compared to French Polynesia. We ate on restaurants and cafés and didn’t cook very much on the boat. A lunch was about 4-7 usd, dinner 7-15 usd, a beer 1,50 usd, rent a car for one day 70 usd etc. It was also a very social time in Samoa. We socialized much with Mike and Tracy and had a really nice time. Rented a car one day together to see some more of Upolu. Found a fresh water cave to swim in, saw some blowholes and some nice views. By the way, one thing was pretty expensive. Internet was 10 tollar an hour and if you plugged in your own laptop the price was between 15-20 tallar an hour.
What we didn’t like was that you had to pay for every sights you visited, not very much (2-10 tallar which at the moment is about 1-5 usd). When we ordered a drink in the restaurant or the bar you were supposed to pay when it was served. Had a beer at the yacht club (dingy club) and had to pay 2 tallar for the facility the waitress called us a taxi. When you arrive with a boat there is five different persons who will visit you before you are free to leave the boat: Immigration, custom, quarantine, health and personal from the marina. A lot of forms to fill in.
To experience more of the real Samoan culture, Savaii seems to be a better option. To go there you need a permit. The permit is not hard to get but you have to go to the government building with boat papers and passport. Issued when at the time you get there. After eight days in Apia (Upolu) we sailed up to Asau on Savaii. Much is similar to the more remote villages from Apia on Upolu. There is a bus to catch but it takes at least three hours to go to the bigger city/village – Salolonga. Instead we hired a man with a car to take us around the island. Went first to see the blowholes (more and bigger than those on Upolu) then to Salolonga to do some Internet. Before we were back we checked out a lava field and a bit further away we swam with turtles.
After four days it was time to move on. Next port: Tonga.
The sailing to Suwarrow went good. Winds between 15-30 knots, E-SE, which gave us an average speed of 6 knots. 720 miles took us exactly five days. Still no luck in the fishing. Sailed with one reef all the time until the last 12 hours when we took another reef to slow down. We didn’t want to arrive in the dark and had to plan for slack water in the passage.
Dropped our anchor in about 20 ft. Around us there were three other boats. Peregrine who we met in Bora Bora, Cosmos (Americans) and a boat we don’t remember its name but the skippers name is Luke (French). Luke had no mast because it was lost in 40 kt of wind 200 miles from Suwarrow.
Luke was a interesting man, about in his sixties. Have lived in French Polynesia about 30 years and worked as a whole and retail seller of Tahiti pearls. He told us some stories of his life about pearls.
On the first evening we had been invited for pot lock barbeque on the beach. It became a very nice evening with nice food and nice people. We brought some rum and beer. Before the pot lock we met John and Veronica who are park rangers on Suwarrow. They live here between April and September and have done it for four years with their four children.
It is a nice snorkeling and we have seen groupers, napoleon, black tipped and grey sharks and a lot of colorful fishes. There is back tipped sharks swimming close to the boat all the time and when we throw in food they get really active and there is often about 12 sharks.
After four days in Suwarrow we pulled the anchor and moved on to Samoa.
After two months in French Polynesia it’s time to move on. We have had a nice time here and visit three different archipelagos. Marquises with its mountain landscape; Tuamotus with its low laying motus and crystal clear water; Society islands with its mix of those two. It’s hard to make one of them to a winner when each on have something special. Marquises and Tuamotus will be remembered for its people and theirs hospitality. Society islands will we remember for its paradise views/sights: High mountains surrounded by a lagoon in different nuance of blue.
Unfortunately but not unexpected, French Polynesia is very expensive. We found it most expensive in Marquises and least expensive in Papeete. Our biggest expense has been petrol much depending on all motoring between and around the islands. Food is expensive but it is possible to find cheaper brands. Baguette is cheap (50 XPF) everywhere but to get one you have to be early. After 08 AM there’s no left. The shops are often closed between 12-15.
The villages and buildings does mostly look the same no matter where in French Polynesia you are. One type of house is seen more common. On the backyard you will often see a pig tied to a tree waiting to grew and become food. Everywhere you go you’ll see or hear roosters or chickens. In their gardens there are a lot of fruit trees: Mango, banana, Papaya, breadfruit etc. It is often possible to find some wild growing fruits too. The roads are mostly good but we think the speed limits are to high especially when they exceed it the same road you are walking on. In Papeete there are sidewalks and the traffic (and everything else) is like a big city elsewhere.
In the beginning we were a little bit surprised how well people seemed to have it especially when there isn’t a core industry. Cell phones, Internet, nice cars, sort of modern equipped house etc. what we have heard the people get a monthly payment from France. How much depends on some factors.
The most popular sport seems to be paddling canoe because it doesn’t matter when or where we are. They are there too! There are also many local sailboats. We are not very fond of the powerboats because nowhere else are they driving so fast and close to us sailboats. A very big contrast what we experienced in Panama.