Fiji in Shades of Grey

If you are expecting some sort of erotic adventure I am sorry to disappoint you. The title is referring to the weather in Fiji. I have recently added code to all my webpages to include Google analytics and Google search console. Google search console lets you learn how your web pages are found by search engines, which keywords lead to your pages being listed in Google searches and which searches actually lead to people landing on your web page. I had some interesting insights.

A rare ray of sunlight in the convergance zone

A rare ray of sunlight in the convergance zone

An article (sorry it’s in German) about a boat that vaguely resembles an UFO lured people interested in aliens to my page. So I thought lets give Shades of Grey a try, it might attract some poor souls while they are googling the web for erotic delights. Search console will keep me informed about the success of this venture.

But that’s not what my travel blog is really about. The last blog ends when we leave Wallis with destination Fiji. Consequently that is where this blog starts..

Rainy Savusavu

Rainy Savusavu

The passage to Fiji was mostly unpleasant: The first night was a never ending sequence of squalls with rain and plenty of wind, followed by a day and another night of constant rain and wind. The SPCZ (South Pacific Convergence Zone) payed us a lengthy visit. Only the last day was pleasant. We raced through the reefs and atolls east of Vanua Levu into the Somosomo Strait to get through the pass between Vanua Levu and Taveuni before dark. But even average Speeds of above 7 knots only got us there by sundown and we reached our final destination Savsusavu at 3:00 am. It was pitch black in the Nakama Creek but we managed to find a vacant mooring to tie on to. I was slightly shocked when I looked around in the morning and noticed how close we had navigated Qi past a nasty reef that protruded from the water at low tide only 15 m behind our mooring. I must stop this stupid habit of sailing into anchorages at night.

A view of Savusavu - Qi circled in red

A view of Savusavu – Qi circled in red

Savusavu is a beautiful place, I have probably written about it already in 2014 but it can’t be said often enough. Good cheap internet (cheaper than NZ), a good variety of affordable fresh food in the markets and delicious cheep restaurants on shore. We  usually get away with about 13 $US for a meal for the two of us including starters, and drinks. Fiji also features extremely friendly people and not to mention plenty of friendly cruisers. First we were a bit disappointed about the weather though. Quite a bit of rain and no sun in days. Until one morning I noticed how good it felt not to break into a sweat and get roasted by the sun while paddle boarding up the creek and I learnt to embrace the weather. It is actually quite nice to be out of the scourging sun of Wallis and Samoa.

Hanging out in Savusavu we heard about the Rainbow Reef of the Somosomo Strait and that it is one of the worlds top dive sites and I decided I would have to give it a go. Going back east against the trades is quite a challenge so I looked at local dive operators first. Well over 170 EUR per person for the 50 mile trip and a two tank dive made me change my mind. Also we wanted to take a look at Taveuni, which is said to be very beautiful. After looking at buses and ferries to Taveuni I notices that a slight change in the wind to the south was due for Thursday which might allow me to reach Taveuni in only two tacks beating up against about 20 kn of wind.

Jack Fisher - best yachtie guide for the Rainbow Reef

Jack Fisher – best yachtie guide for the Rainbow Reef

So after getting our cruising permit organized we left Savusavu on Thursday at 5:00 am. It was a rough sail, pointing as high as we could into 20 to 28 kn of apparent wind and a nasty 1.5 m sea. These are the times when you look at your rig and listen to the noises of the waves crashing into the boat and ask yourself if you are not too hard on it. It looked like my two tack calculation would not work out and I ended up setting our autopilot into wind vane mode to keep a constant angle of 40 degrees to the wind which was the best we could do in the waves. As the wind increased our averages went well above 6 kn and to our delight the wind gradually turned further to south. I recon this is partly due to the effect of closing in to the lee of the mountainous  island of Taveuni, redirecting the wind in our favor. Sailing at a constant angle to the wind our track described a wide curve only just avoiding to hit land, the course gradually changing from 65° for starters to 100° in the end.

Shuti Crew

Shuti Crew

We arrived in Viani Bay around 2:30 pm and anchored outside of Jack Fisher’s place next to the Israeli catamaran Shuti. After a brief nap I payed Shuti a visit on the paddle board and they invited us to join them on their boat for a snorkeling trip to the reef with local guide Jack the next day. So the next morning we headed of to a dive site called Cabbage Patch and  spent a pleasant day with the crew of Shuti and Jack. Gaylyn entertained the children with games and the delicious lunch reminded us of our Atlantic crossing with Israeli crew.

 

 

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Where the heck is Wallis

My last blog was from Savai’i, the wilder Island of Samoa, so I have quite a bit to catch up on because after a brief stop in (where the heck is) Wallis we have meanwhile arrived in Fiji.

gaylyn having a hip bath

gaylyn having a hip bath

Things were going a bit slow on Savai’i as Gaylyn got sick after having a pina colada (no, not what you think, only one) at a resort on shore. She started to fast which she kept up for almost 2 weeks and as always life turns a bit stale when Gaylyn is fasting. She spends most of her time lying in bed so we are not undertaking any major expeditions and I have to entertain myself.

Gahi

Gahi

We left Savai’i and sailed to the beautiful island of Wallis (200 nm east of Samoa) which I stumbled  over when plotting the course from Samoa to Fiji. On arrival at Wallis it was blowing 30 knots from SE and the anchorage of Mata Utu, where you have to check in was untenable so we moved right on to the bay of Gahi.

Wallis is a French overseas territory which automatically implies that nobody speaks English. Luckily they do speak French there so I got along OK – Gaylyn was mostly the silent bystander which she did not overly enjoy. Only on the very last land trip we met the island Judge who was willing and able to speak English with us.

halalo

Qi anchored in Halalo

Wallis also is a bit special in that there is no public transport (no buses, no taxis) and that the internet is hard to find and bandwidth is at the level of a 9600 baud modem (about 1 kbyte/sec). It took 2 attempts to download the first 2 photos of Gaylyn’s brand new grandson Charlie.

To move around you have to hitchhike (some of the older readers might still remember how to do it),  which works really well because the Wallisians are incredibly friendly, pick you up quickly and usually deliver you to where you want to go even if it is nowhere close to were they are actually heading. Also there are a lot of cars because the French take good care of their colonies – it seems everybody on the island owns a 4 wheel drive although it is completely unclear what the Island actually lives of as there is no tourism apart from a handful of visiting yachts. If you walk the streets in Wallis everybody stares at you – the art of walking seems to have been forgotten.

Jungle on Ile Faioa

Jungle on Ile Faioa

The wind kept on blowing rather hard for most of our time in Wallis and Gaylyn kept on fasting so we did not get much done. At least we managed to visit some of the outlying islands which are scattered over the rim reef of the lagoon. Wallis offers stunningly beautiful views over the lagoon specially in areal photos that you can see at the hairdresser in Mata Utu. We visited his shop accidentally because the guys in the souvenir shop next door told us we could get postcards there. Turns out the hairdresser sells everything from haircuts to photos, computer accessories and t-shirts. Coolest shop in Mata Utu. We bought a pair of Wallis t-shirts just to confuse all those who have never heard of the place.

Enjoying the beach on Ile Faioa

Enjoying the beach on Ile Faioa

Unfortunately the water in the lagoon is rather murky, so we found the snorkeling less good than you would expect. As the weather for the trip to Fiji looked rather challenging (sailing upwind with plenty of breeze and waves) I had to announce to Gaylyn that for the sake of safety on board we would have to stay in Wallis until she broke her fast and got stronger again. Gaylyn soon decided that she had had enough of fasting and of Wallis too and started eating again. So after checking out with the friendly gendarmes we left towards Fiji.

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Best Blowhole ever

Sounds a bit boring doesn’t it ? Best blowhole ever – so what.  But this one really left me impressed. I just couldn’t believe it. So I just have to special feature it.

We were touring the island of Savai’i, the wild western sister of Upulo, the bigger of the two main islands of Samoa. One of the attractions you find on the tourist map are the Alofaaga Blowholes located near Taga in the very south of the island.

The coastline here consists of lava flows that look like they are not very old. The black lava is cooking away in the intense sunlight, it feels like you get baked the minute you step onto it. The swell of the southern pacific crashes directly on to the  rocky coast. It seems that the lava is not as solid as it looks. When walking over to where the blowholes are you can hear hissing noises in places and looking into the puddles of salt water you see little bubbles forming periodically from fissures. It seems that parts of the rocks have lava tunnels running  underneath.  Some of these tunnels are directly connected to the surface of the rock by substantial holes that form the blowholes. When a wave crashes in to the mounds of the lava tunnels they create a huge pressure inside the cave which is released through the blowholes. This setup allows you walk up directly to the blowhole and virtually stand next to it while it blows. The holes are partly 10 or more meters away from where the waves crash into the coast.

This guarantees an amazing experience. While you stand next to a big gaping hole you better scan the waves coming in to the coast. Once you get a real big wave, get ready for what is going to happen next. The wave crashes into the rocks and after a 5 second delay the blowhole starts roaring like a starting jet and keeps the pressure up for several seconds spitting out a solid stream of air and water. Only at the end you get some plain water splashing out. The locals know the exact timing and will sometimes throw coconuts into the hole to entertain the tourists.  The coconuts are propelled more than 12 meters up into the air before they drop into the ocean.

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Honorable Mentions

I think I might qualify for an honorable mention by the Darwin Awards . The honorable mention is granted to those who have failed to receive the actual award due to survival but are up and coming to in the competition to win one soon. The Darwin Award is granted to individuals that remove themselves from the gene pool (kill themselves) in such an idiotic way, that their absence is likely to significantly improve the quality of the human gene pool in regards to intelligence.

The ladder to the pool

The ladder to the pool

Much has happened since my last regular blog on the beautiful island of Upolu/Samoa. Gaylyn has summed up some of it an article (Call to Action). In this article I will concentrate on the events that occurred at our last visit to To Sua – the beautiful Ocean Trench on Samoa.
To Sua is an ocean side park that attracts a lot of tourist and locals – probably the sightseeing hot spot on Upolu. Apart from blow holes, rock pools, cliffs and most beautiful gardens it features 2 big vertical holes of between 10 and 30 meters of diameter and about 12 meters depth, that contain a mixture of fresh water and ocean water. The two major holes are connected by a tunnel and there is also a dive thru connection to the open sea. Our marina neighbor Chris had invited us to join him to visit the place once more and this time we had heard of the swim through cave and taken goggles so that we could give it a try. Failing to take flippers might have been the first in a series of mistakes.

The cave I never got to see

The cave I never got to see

You have to negotiate a steep and slippery ladder to descend the last 7 meters to the pool that horrifies anyone who dislikes heights and is a serious barrier for little children or people with disabilities. Once in the pool I inspected the swim through cave from the outside and seeing the bodies of people inside noted, that it is a rather shallow dive of not more than 4 meters to where you can take a breath. Obviously there was a cave in the middle that was easy to reach and allowed you to take in air. After taking a deep breath I dove down and headed towards the cave.

Anyone who has been diving knows that when wearing googles your vision is restricted. You see mostly what is in front of and below you. Looking upwards requires an effort that involves taking your head all the way back or even bending your back backwards. When swimming swiftly it will reduce you speed to get you to rise to the surface.  Also in water that is not perfectly clear it is hard to judge distances correctly.

A beautiful hole in the ground

A beautiful hole in the ground

Starting into the cave I saw the light of the ocean in what appeared to be not too much of a distance. Drawn by the light I totally ignored what I had learned about the cave being only 4 meters away and swam towards the luring shine without ever bothering to look up. It took a while until I noticed that the end of the tunnel was not as near as I thought – it never crossed my mind though to stop and just rise to the surface even when my diaphragm started to twitch indicating that I was seriously running out of air.

Chris - a smart diver

Chris – a smart diver

I arrived at the surface of the ocean on the last of my breath an in a state of panic. My last thoughts before surfacing were about how long I would have before lack of oxygen would take me out. Not even then did I grasp my mistake. Instead I  worried about Gaylyn and Chris, knowing that I was most probably the most skilled free diver of the three of us in terms of being able to hold my breath.  When Chris surfaced half a minute later he was totally relaxed. He told me about the huge cave inside that runs for most of the distance of the passage. Obviously there is more to being a skilled diver than being able to hold your breath.

I still was so terrified by my experience that I decided to climb the steep face of the cliffs to return to the pool the dry way, rather than have another go at the cave. This turned out to be another most stupid decision, because I almost wet myself climbing the steep and slippery rocks.

tosua1Now this could be the end of the story. But obviously one serious panic and another fit of fear climbing the cliffs was not enough for the day. Back in the pool Chris told Gaylyn how easy it was to get to the cave. He had just crawled along the ceiling of the tunnel until he found air again. Gaylyn who had wisely stayed out of the cave so far decided to give it a go. Watching her go in from the outside I noted with horror that she was crawling away in the wrong direction. She was not going towards the blue light of the ocean but into some remote corner of the cave with no guaranty of finding air. Luckily Chris took off shortly after her and I was hoping he would take care of things.

Later it turned out that Gaylyn had been lucky enough to end up in a tiny cave with enough air to breathe. Seeing someone dive in she thought it was me again and called out thinking I was making the same mistake once more. Instead she heard Chris answer from the big cave and eventually found her way to meet him there.

Conclusion: Sometimes we forget that we are not 20 any more. Sometimes we even forget all the lessons we have learned since and also to stop and think when things do not work out as expected. On this day I have come close to drowning in the abundance of air only two meters away from me. I seriously think this would have qualified me for the Darwin Award had I not survived. As my substandard genes remain in the gene pool I will have to make another attempt to receive the award.

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Samoan Affairs

For the first time since Panama we have openly disobeyed official orders. I was about to write for the first time ever, but then our exit from Panama crossed my mind.  I will write about that another time – maybe. Our passports are missing an exit stamp from Panama, after lying to an immigration official and then taking off hurriedly skipping immigration exit procedures.

Here in Samoa it happened again.  We tried to do everything right, waited for two hours to get the paperwork from no less than the prime ministers office. Papers that would allow us to visit the island of Savai’i – the bigger of the two Samoan main islands after officially having checked out of the country. There were indications that this procedure was not agreed upon by customs but I thought that they might have figured it out meanwhile.

So after getting our letter and going through immigration exit procedures I proceeded to customs and stupidly told them what my plans were and showed them the letter to prove it was OK. As a foreign yacht I need to get an outgoing clearance from customs  – a document that states my next port of call, the crew and stores carried on board and that I have legally cleared out of the last port. Unfortunately they did not agree with my plans. I was told that I could visit Savai’i but would have to come back and that I would get my customs clearance only then.

I told them, that I needed a clearance to Wallis immediately and that it made me very sad, that I couldn’t visit the beautiful Island of Savai’i, because I was already cleared out by immigration and could not stay any longer without violating immigration laws. He agreed and started to tell me about nasty people who were violating the laws and visiting Savai’i illegally. He looked at me sternly, saying he hoped I was not one of those reckless people. I just did what I usually do in such a situation – just looked at him with a puzzled expression as if I had not quite understood what he was talking about.  At this point I was actually just very disappointed and thinking that I was going to miss out on Savai’i altogether.

I finally got my clearance but the customs officer confiscated my letter from the prime minister so I  took off to the boat in a very angry mood. We had started our quest at 9:00 o’clock and meanwhile it was 13:00 and I was sweating away in the heat of the day – I was hot and bothered. I proceeded straight to the boat and went right on to leave port. Only then it dawned to me that I had gotten myself in to a totally stupid situation – I was buggered (as they say in Australia).

The weather report predicted wind only for this day – hardly enough to get to Savai’i and no wind for the next 4 to 5 days. I would either have to motor the 220 miles to Wallis using up most of my precious fuel or spend the next 3 to 4 days bopping along on a very still Pacific Ocean. Also it was already too late to reach even the next possible anchorage before dark and I was not allowed to do that anyway. Gaylyn telling me how stupid it was to show customs the letter did not make my mood improve at all.

We took off. The port of Apia disappeared in the distance – very slowly because we were only making 3 to 4 knots of speed. It was about midnight when we reached the first possible anchorage and we decided to carry on and make our final decision once we reached Asau – the place where we were originally planing to stay on Savai’i.  After a pleasant night sail with a full moon, reaching on 7 to 8 knots of land breeze we arrived outside of Asau at 6:00 (giving us an average speed of 3.5 knots or 6.5 km/h – a bit faster than an average person on foot). Because it was still too dark to risk the entry through the reef I decided to heave to for a couple of hours which would allow me to get some sleep.

I was going towards 9:00 when I woke up again – it was time to make a decision. We decided that it was pointless to carry on with no wind and that we would try to claim an emergency stopover if someone cared to ask, pretending that our engine was playing up.

The entry through the reef was rather exiting. I was navigating with google earth footage but the sunlight was so bright that I had problems reading the tablet display properly. In Asau there is a channel going through the reef with the remains of an old sea wall to port and a reef to starboard. The swell breaks over both sides and the entry is hard to spot. You have to go awfully close to the nasty black rocks that remain of the old sea wall to get into the channel. I got into alarmingly shallow water before I understood that keeping a safe distance to the rocks was not an option.

Our friends of the sailing vessel Dione arrived several hours later. Sue of Dione – being a lawyer – claimed that the sole existence of the document from the prime ministers office was enough to allow me to stay. The fact that some customs officer had confiscated it was irrelevant. Well my previous experience with lawyers is that they are quick to tell you how things are supposed to be but that doesn’t really help much if some official has a different opinion on the matter.

We settled in anyway and started to forget about our unclear legal status until the next afternoon

Permitted to stay

Permitted to stay

when a rundown little tinny approached us with two police on board and the barkeeper of a close by resort who acted as the skipper. They were already taking photos of Qi from the outside and kept on doing so after boarding. When I asked them how I could help them they said they had come to see our permit. Gaylyn started telling them that it had mysteriously vanished but I do not like telling bullshit to officials, so I told them that customs hat taken it away.

Savai'i Police

Savai’i Police

They were not overly worried. Instead after telling us they would try to retrieve the document for us, they changed the topic and proceeded into the inside of the boat, made themselves comfortable and accepted our offer of drinks. The policewomen showed interest of my music that was running and her male college tried two glasses of the wine we had just got out for sun downers. They ended up taking plenty of photos of us and themselves and took off after 20 minutes, the male officer slightly clumsy from the effects of the wine.  We have not heard of them again so far..

 

 

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New Post Map

I am currently going through the effort of putting all posts and galleries on a google map so you can select them by region. So far I have the Pacific covered. Feel free to try it under Post Map in the Menu.

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Touring Samoa

Took a tour around the south and east side of the Island. Loved it. Junior our taxi driver and Guide showed us the highlights of Samoa. Starting of with the Samoan  version of a meat pie, which he bough for us on the way up to the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum. We will have to go back there  because we did not enter the museum nor did we hike up the mountain to see his grave and the view over the north coast.

Next was the bahai temple , the Mother Temple of the pacific Islands. I had never heard about the bahai faith before and was surprised by their beautiful messages.

We carried on through the beautiful Samoan landscape, passing little villages nicely decorated with flowers, houses surrounded by neat little gardens. A lot of the life of a Samoan family seems to take place in the open. Every family has a big open pavilion through which the breeze can flow and that’s where you hang out. Meanwhile Junior got us some fresh coconut to drink – probably the most delicious coconut water I have tried so far.

Samoa is a mountainous island covered in dense jungle with plenty of rivers and waterfalls. Although there is only an extinct volcano on Upolu it seems that the Island has seen a lot of lava flows in the not so far away past. After visiting the beautiful Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa we took a bath in the To Sua Ocean Trench. To Sua has beautiful rock pools, blow holes  and swim through caves and is a perfect place to spend some time and get out of the heat.

We carried on to Lalomanu to have lunch. Lalomanu or White Sand Beach is the backpackers beach hangout in Samoa, where you can hire a beach hut for small money. By far the nicest beach we have seen so far in Samoa.

The trip then took us back around the eastern point and the north coast to Apia. The landscape there is rather impressive with steep mountains and lush green valleys and stunning views over bays and the islands reef fringed coast.

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Against the Wind

.. , running against the wind – reminds me of an old Bob Seger song . For the first time ever since we are sailing Qi, we have engaged in a 350 mile upwind passage across open ocean. Looked like a peace of cake on the grib files (weather forecast).  Mainly 10 to 15 knots of wind from 110 to 120 degrees, sailing a course of 30 degrees from Vava’u / Tonga to the eastern corner of Opolu.

Turned out it was rather twenty-something knots of true wind most of the time with the accompanying steep 2-3m waves. The wind direction was OK though, we could have made it to American Samoa in one tack if we had wanted to. Qi battled the waves bravely for over 55 hours, the front deck being constantly swamped before we got around the corner of Opolu and turned downwind again.

Made it, warm welcome in Samoa

Made it, warm welcome in Samoa

For the first time ever Gaylyn was feeling seriously seasick and I was affected too feeling queezy and lethargic. Sailing Qi felt like wrestling a rodeo horse, running into one big wave after the other: Stop and go, up and down with nasty crashes every now and then when the bow would fall into the void or crash into another wave.  The first time Gaylyn agrees to my general opinion that passage making has nothing to do with fun.

Samoan quarantine inspection

Samoan quarantine inspection

Meanwhile, after one day in Apia we are forgetting the discomfort of the journey, enchanted by a warm welcome to the Island. Lovely people living on a lovely Island – well worth the effort. Apart from all the lovely locals (marina officials, taxi drivers, health, customs, quarantine and immigration), we are already loving the good value you get for your money and the beautiful shops – something you totally miss out on in Tonga. Had a nice chat to Germaine, a Jamaican stranded in the South Pacific – Jamaican vibes in Samoa – it doesn’t get any better.

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Mittlerweile in Tonga

Ich komme mal wieder nicht mit dem Schreiben hinterher. Entweder ist das Internet so schlecht, dass ich nach dem Wetter-Download genug vom Warten habe oder ich habe besseres zu tun. Im letzten  Post ging es um die Reise nach Tonga und die Ankunft dort. Das ist jetzt schon einen Monat her und wir haben seither viel erlebt.

Big Mamas Yachtclub

Big Mamas Yachtclub

In Tongatapu war nach dem Einchecken Abhängen in Pangaimotu und Warten auf Wind angesagt. Diverse Yachten hingen mit uns dort und es ist generell kein schlechter Ort zum Sein. Die kleine Insel Pangaimotu liegt 1.5 sm entfernt von Nuku’alofa der Hauptstadt des Königreiches und beherbergt einen “Yacht Club” – eine Kneipe also. Die Insel ist hübsch anzusehen mit reichlich Palmen und Strand, liegt in Kristall klarem Wasser und ist umgeben von einem hübschen Korallen-Riff. Speziell im Norden der Insel, wo das Riff von einem schiffbaren  Kanal durchschnitten wird gibt es für Schnorchler viel zu sehen.

aroyaldressup

Qi über die Toppen geflaggt

atonganprincess

A Tongan Princess

badetag

A Tongan Beach Party

Zur allgemeinen Unterhaltung fand dann noch eine Fundraising-Party im Yacht-Club statt zu ehren der Königin Mutter, die ihren 90. Geburtstag feierte und Geld für Heime für behinderte Kinder sammelt. Die Segler hatten zu diesem Ereignis die Boote über die Toppen geflaggt aber die erhoffte Audienz mit der Königin-Mutter blieb leider trotzdem aus – wir mussten mit einer Prinzessin vorlieb nehmen.

Die Zeit verging schnell mit Paddleboarding, Kajaking und einer Sightseeing Tour der Hauptinsel Tongatapu und bald stellte sich der erhoffte Ostwind ein, so daß wir weiter nach Nomuka in der Ha’apai Gruppe segeln konnten.

Die 60 sm nach Nomuka wurden bei herrlichem Segelwind auf Am Wind Kursen schnell zurück gelegt und am Abend lagen wir im nächsten Insel-Paradies vor Anker. Die Insel selbst ist eher ruhig, wie üblich gibt es diverse Kirchen, denn diverse Christliche Kirchen sind in Tonga aktiv. Wir erforschten auch die kleine Nebeninsel Nomuka Iki vor der wir vor Anker lagen.

Meiner Vorliebe für Querfeldein Trips folgend versuchten wir am Ende barfuss die Insel zu durchqueren. Leider hatten wir die Entfernung unterschätzt und waren froh, als wir auf einen Pfad stiessen, der uns in den Hinterhof des einzigen

A Nomuka Beach

A Nomuka Beach

A Church on Nomuka

A Church on Nomuka

Bewohners der Insel brachte. Ein weitestgehend zahnloser alter Mann der dort mit einer Horde erstaunlich grosser und wohlgenährter Schweine ein einsames Dasein fristete. Er versuchte erst mich (erfolglos, ich verstand nicht was er wollte) und dann Gaylyn französisch mit Wangenkuss zu begrüssen. Leider sprach er kein Englisch so dass unsere Unterhaltung eher stockend verlief. Immerhin machten wir aus, dass es ihm nach Zucker für seinen Kaffee gelüstete (daher der Mangel an Zähnen) und wir versorgten ihn damit.

Von Nomuka ging es 2 Tage später weiter nach Ha’afeva. Die Insel sah auf den Karten einladend aus mit einem großen geschützten Ankerplatz im Westen. Gleich am ersten Morgen (es war Sonntag) beschlossen wir mit der Crew der britischen Yacht Tululah Ruby dem Gottesdienst im Ort beizuwohnen. Nicht so sehr weil der heilige Geist plötzlich in uns gefahren ist sondern weil die Insulaner für ihren wunderschönen Gesang bekannt sind.

Sunday in Ha'afeva

Sunday in Ha’afeva

Der Gesang ist in der Tat beeindruckend. Es wird generell mehrstimmig, volltönend und mit kräftigen Stimmen gesungen und wir wurden für die etwas langweiligen weil unverständlichen Predigten voll entschädigt. Nach dem Gottesdienst defilieren die Teilnehmer Hände schüttelnd aneinander vorbei. Ich entzog mich der Prozedur aber Gaylyn schüttelte dem halben Dorf die Hand, was sehr gut aufgenommen wurde.

Die Teilnahme am Gottesdienst brachte uns eine Einladung zum Mittagessen ein, die wir schlecht ausschlagen konnten. Angekommen in dem einfachen Heim kamen mir erste Zweifel, ob es nicht vielleicht doch besser gewesen wäre sich dezent aus dem Staub zu

machen. Als schliesslich zu Tisch gebeten wurde, wurden diese Zweifel zur Gewissheit. Die

Sunday in Ha'afeva

Sunday in Ha’afeva

Küche übertraf meine schlimmsten Erwartungen und das Essen bestand aus Corned Beef mit einem Spinat-artigem Gemüse durchsetzt, Huhn (welches eine sehr eigenartigen Nebengeschmack aufwies) Brotfrucht und Tapioka. Brotfrucht und Tapioka waren eher fad, das Fleisch sehr suspekt. Die Spinat-Variante war gar nicht mal schlecht

Making friends with the locals

Making friends with the locals

Making friends with the locals

Making friends with the locals

aber in mir hatte sich nach Besichtigung der Küche die Überzeugung festgesetzt dass dieses Lunch mich krank machen würde.

Glücklicherweise war das Essen scheinbar doch nicht kontaminiert. Wir etablierten mit der Familie einen regen Tauschhandel, der uns reichlich Limonen und Papaya im Tausch gegen ein paar Angelhaken und Schnur einbrachte. Nächstentags flickten wir noch das Boot des Familienvorstandes mit Epoxy und Glassfaser. Unsere Gastgeber waren Überwältigt.  Es fehlt einfach an allem auf den Inseln und man kann mit kleinen Gaben und Hilfsleistungen extrem viel bewegen.

Da eine häßliche Kaltfront mit viel Regen und starkem Wind aus Nord angekündigt war, beschloss ich trotz suboptimalem Wetter die Reise Richtung Lifuka, der Hauptinsel der Ha’apai Gruppe fortzusetzen. Dazu mussten wir bei wechselhaften, zumeist starkem Wind durch ein Labyrinth von Riffen und Inseln ankreuzen.  Da der Wind konstant in Stärke und Richtung variierte war ich permanent beschäftigt mit Trimmen, Wenden und Reffen und erschreckte Gaylyn mit einer Tirade von Kraftausdrücken, als die permanente Schwerstarbeit an den Winschen und Reffleinen anfing mich ernsthaft mürbe zu machen.

Exploring Uoleva

Exploring Uoleva

Nach erreichen der vorgelagerten Insel Uoleva, 5 sm von unserem Ziel entfernt gaben wir uns  zufrieden und ankerten in der wunderschönen Bucht vor einem weiteren traumhaften Palmenstrand.  Wir inspizierten auch diese Insel und besuchten 3 der 4 Resorts, die die einzige Besiedlung der Insel bilden. Es gab ein hochpreisiges Resort im Süden welches wir nicht besuchten, ein ziemlich cooles Kitesurfing Resort im Norden und zwei Backpacker Resorts.

Uoleva - the rough side

Uoleva – the rough side

In Captain Cooks Hideaway, einem der Backpacker Resorts begrüßte uns Mari, versorgte uns mit Passionsfrucht und selbstgemachtem Limonensaft, zeigte uns ihrte wunderschönen Flechtarbeiten, weihte uns in Tongas Begräbnisrituale ein und lieh uns eine Machtete um uns die Durchquerung der Insel zum Riff im Osten zu ermöglichen.

Von Osten branden die Pazifikwellen ungebremst auf das Saumriff, welches gut 500m vom Palmenstarnd entfernt liegt. Hier trafen wir auch die Kitesurfer an, die in der Lagune im kräftigen Passatwind ihren Spass hatten.

Zwei Tage später war es Zeit sich einen sicheren Ankerplatz zu suchen, um das kommende Schlechtwetter auszusitzen. Wir liefen Lifuka an und trafen dort auf einen Katamaran den wir schon von Nomuka her kannten. Die Eigner haben dort ein kleines Resort und sind spezialisiert auf Freitauchen und Schwimmen mit den Walen. Von ihnen erfuhr ich den optimalen Ankerplatz für den kommenden Nord-Wind.

Dark Clouds over Paradise

Dark Clouds over Paradise

Die nächsten Tage hatten wir unglaublich schlechtes Wetter. Neben Wind bis 40kn gab es Regen in rauhen Mengen und kein bisschen Sonne. Als das schlimmste vorbei war erkundeten wir den Strand und fanden dass Ha’apai Beach Resort. Der Australische Besitzer war nett und die Speisekarte höchst einladend und wir beschlossen am Abend dort einzukehren um Gaylyns Geburtstag nachzufeiern. Dazu muss man wissen, dass in Ha’apai für Vegetarier nichts zu holen ist. Neben den obligatorischen Tapioka- und Maniok Wurzeln ist auf den Märkten nichts Grünes im Angebot. In den chinesischen Läden gab es dazu noch Brot, Äpfel aus Neuseeland, steinalte Kartoffeln und Zwiebeln. Eine echte Herausforderung für Gaylyn.

Gloomy Sundown

Gloomy Sundown

Abends gab es mal wieder einen Regenschauer und da die Sonne gerade untergegangen war, mahnte ich zur Eile um noch bei Licht den Durchgang im Riff zum Dinner zu finden. Der nächste Schauer war schon in Sicht und wir schafften es gerade trocken ins Restaurant bevor es wieder schüttete. Es regnete infernalisch  – unter dem Wellblechdach des Restaurants konnten man kaum sein eigenes Wort verstehen und das Ankerlicht unseres Bootes verschwand immer wieder in der Wasser geschwängerten Luft. Wir vertrieben uns die Zeit mit ein paar schwer genervten Huschrauber-Piloten, die dort gestrandete waren und wegen des Wetters nicht fliegen konnten. Mehrere Stunden später nutzten wir eine kleine Pause im Wolkenbruch um in dunkler Nacht mit dem Dhingy wieder zum Boot zurück zu kehren.

Wieder hiess es Warten auf den richtigen Wind. In der Nacht die wir im Restaurant verbracht hatten, hatten zwei Yachten versucht Richtung Norden nach Vava’u zu segeln. Am nächsten Morgen waren beide wieder da, nass und frustriert.

Wir warteten weiter und schlugen die Zeit mit Paddleboarden tot. Bei einem meiner Ausflüge paddelte ich direkt in einen Trupp von ca. 10 kleinen Blacktip-Haien hinein, die erschreckt auseinanderstoben. Einer schoss direkt auf Gaylyn zu die neben mir im Kajak daherpaddelte und vor Schreck eine spitzen Schrei ausstiess.

Anchor up at Sunrise in Lifuka

Anchor up at Sunrise in Lifuka

Zwei Tage später beschlossen wir,  dass es Zeit war Lifuka zu verlassen, lichteten im ersten Licht des Tages den Anker und segelten nach Norden davon. Wie schon unsere Reise-Entscheidungen  zuvor war es perfektes Timing. Zunächst mussten wir so hoch wie möglich an den Wind aber im Laufe des Tages drehte die Brise von Nord-Ost Richtung Ost und legte zu. Wir hatte alle Segel draussen und beschleunigten zusehends. Am Ende hatten wir die 70 sm nach etwas über 10 Stunden abgesegelt und rauschten mit knapp 8 kn Speedgegen die Welle dahin. Einmal im ruhigen Wasser der Vava’u Gruppe kamen wir gerade noch im letzten Licht am Ankerplatz an.

Welcome Rainbow in Vav'au

Welcome Rainbow in Vav’au

Wir hatten schon in Ha’afeva das richtige Timing gehabt. Diverse Boote hatte der Nordwind dort erwischt und sie hatten ein paar grausame Nächte in der nach Norden offenen Bucht. Nach Vava’u war uns nur ein Boot gefolgt, alle anderen hatten weiter auf Südwind gewartet und mussten die Strecke am Ende unter Motor laufen, weil der Südwind zu mau war.

Weiter gehts demnächst mit Vava’u. Wer jetzt schon genervt ist von den ewigen Palmenstränden wird daran keine Freude haben denn Vava’u ist der Knaller.

 

 

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Endlich wieder Südsee

Nach fast 18 Monaten Pause – zurück in der zivilisierten Welt – sind wir endlich wieder in der Südsee. 10 Tage und 300l Diesel hat es gebraucht um von Whangarei, Neuseeland nach Nuku’alofa, auf die Hauptinsel Tongatapu des Königreiches Tonga zu segeln. Leider waren es auch gut 4 Tage unter Motor, denn der Wind war eher unzuverlässig, oft platt von hinten mit weniger als 10kn. Schwacher Wind von hinten zerrt an den Nerven der Crew, denn es geht nur im Schneckentempo voran aber das Boot schlingert in der achterlichen Welle und die Segel schlagen lautstark und unangenehm.

Ein paar Tage in die Reise hinein wurden wir von einem Neu-Seeländischen Boot überholt und hatten einen kurzen Austausch per Funk. Der Skipper teilte uns mit, dass ein Neu-Seeländischer Cruising Club im Minerva Reef ein Treffen abhielte und viele Boote dort sein würden. Kurzerhand änderten wir Kurs auf Minerva – das liegt zwar deutlich westlich von unserer Kurslinie nach Tonga, aber eine kleine Pause war uns willkommen und die Wetterkarten liessen uns auf Westwinde hoffen, die uns von dort nach Tonga blasen würden.

aperry1

Sailing into the Sunset with SV Perry ahead

Minerva Reef hat eine interessante Geschichte (siehe Wikipedia) und ist einer dieser einzigartigen Orte. Mitten im Pazifik bildet es zwei Atolle, deren Korallen-Riffe bei Ebbe bis zu 90 cm aus dem Wasser ragen, bei Flut werden sie überspült, sind aber nah genug an der Oberfläche um die Ozeanwellen zu brechen und es gibt jeweils eine Einfahrt in die Lagune und damit einen ruhigen Ankerplatz mitten im offenen Pazifik.

Die letzten 48 Stunden vor Erreichen des Atolls trafen wir immer mehr Boote. Da der Wind vollständig eingeschlafen war und wir Minerva erreichen wollten bevor die Westwinde einsetzten, wurde der Diesel angeworfen und am Ende erreichten wir die Riffe an der Spitze eine kleinen Flotilla bestehend aus 5 Booten. Im Riff selber zählte ich am Abend knapp 30 Segelyachten vor Anker.

Approaching Minerva Reef

Approaching Minerva Reef

Wir erreichten das Riff am frühen Nachmittag und da es schon absehbar war, dass wir nächsten Tages weiter fahren würden um den Westwind zu nutzen, hatten wir es eilig das Riff zu erkunden. Leider vergaß Gaylyn vor unserem ersten Bad im tropischen Pazifik ihre Sonnenbrille abzunehmen. Zurück an Bord sah ich ein dunkles Objekt langsam zu Boden sinken. 12 m Freitauchen – direkt nach dem Ankerbier das ist deutlich jenseits meines Limits also musste das Tauch Equipment ausgepackt und zusammengebaut werden und wenig später war ich unterwegs zum Grund.

Die Brille war schnell gefunden und einmal unten beschloss ich noch schnell den Sitz des Ankers und der Kette zu prüfen, denn wir hatten in der Nähe einiger Korallenstöcke geankert. Die Kette wurde schnell entwirrt und auf dem Rückweg wurde ich von einem kleinen grauen Riffhai gestalkt. Er war zwar nur knapp über einen Meter lang aber reichlich aufdringlich und kam unangenehm nah.

Unser anschliessender Ausflug zum Saumriff mit Paddleboard und Kayak war eher unspektakulär abgesehen von der Tatsache, dass er mitten im Pazifik weit weg von trockenem Land stattfand. Ich denke wir werden auf dem Rückweg nach Neuseeland noch einmal hier halten müssen um das Riff ausführlich zu besichtigen. Hoffentlich haben wir dann mehr Zeit.

In der Nacht kam der versprochene Wind auf – gut 30kn aus SW bescherten uns eine unruhige Nacht. Am Morgen haben wir uns von unseren Deutschen Nachbarn (Katamaran Twiga aus Bremen) noch mal Wetterinformationen eingeholt und beschlossen unsere Reise fortzusetzen.

No wind on the Pacific

No wind on the Pacific

Das war leichter gesagt als getan, denn die Ankerkette hatte sich in der stürmischen Nacht wieder in Korallenstöcken verheddert und wir bekamen den Anker nicht hoch. Zu allem Überfluss brannte beim ersten Versuch noch die Sicherung der Ankerwinsch durch, so dass unsere Abfahrt um eine gute halbe Stunde verzögert wurde, bevor im 2. Anlauf der Anker wieder aufgelesen werden konnte. Dann ging es bei 25kn Wind durch die Einfahrt des Atolls raus in den stürmischen Pazifik. Ein spannender Vorgang, denn auf dem Riffen auf beiden Seiten der Durchfahrt brandeten große Ozeanwellen.

Leider hielt der Wind nicht lange, so dass wir schon in der nächsten Nacht – kaum 60 nm von Minerva entfernt wieder das übliche Schwachwind-Gedümpel hatten. Wir hielten noch eine Weile durch aber in der nächsten Nacht wurde dann wieder der Diesel bemüht denn unser Timing war so, dass wir es mit Motorunterstützung gerade vor Sonnenuntergang durchs Riff nach Tongatapu schaffen würden. Ohne Motor würden wir zur Unzeit ankommen und eine weitere Nacht herumdümpeln.

Landfall in Tonga at Sunset

Landfall in Tonga at Sunset

Wir schafften es wie geplant im letzten Licht durchs Riff, mussten dann aber im Dunkeln Anker werfen. Das war wie immer Nervensache, denn man sieht im Dunkeln die Hindernisse nicht, die einem am Ankerplatz das Leben schwer machen. Wir verfehlten nur knapp eine Boje die sinningerweise gut einen Meter unter Wasser schwamm. Ein Hindernis dass einem leicht den Antrieb still legen kann, wenn sich seine Leinen im Propeller verfangen.

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