Tag Archives: ZigZag

Bula, Fiji!

The sailing grounds of Fiji are huge and we will have the delight of exploring them for about two months. The Lau Group alone is over 200 miles long or half the length of the Caribbean. Then you have the Yasawa Group, two huge main islands and lots of other individual islands to explore. We decided we would explore as much as we could but with the primary goal of visiting the Lau Group, difficult to do unless the weather plays nice for you. These islands, very much off the beaten track and very definitely off grid, have only been opened up for cruisers to visit in the last five years. The Fijian Government stopped issuing permission in the mid 90s as it was felt that the island communities were being corrupted by the few visitors they were getting. Cruising licences were granted again in 2012. Last year around 100 yachts visited the chain.

On our passage from Tonga, we came through the Oneata Pass during the night and then turned N for the 170miles run up to Savusavu. Our first sight of land in daylight was the island of Taveuni, a huge old volcano lying to the SE of our destination, Vanua Levu island.

Bula, Fiji!

We booked in at Savusavu on Fri 9th Jun. Savusavu is the northern and most eastern of the available booking in ports of Fiji. The Customs and Immigration Staff were pleasant and we had no problems. Charges are made for the Biosecurity and the Health inspectors (a total of about $230 – about £85 – exchange in Jun 17 was $2.70 to £1 – all pricing given in Fijian $). Don’t book in at a weekend as you get hit for automatic fees for the Customs and Immigration with a minimum charge of three hours staff costs, another $200 or so. The only issue we had was as we had no Fijian money on us, we needed to find their offices on the following Monday to pay. We had a few attempts where the staff were nowhere to be seen, presumably busy with duties but it did mean we explored the town well!

The other embuggerance we found is that until you gain your sailing licence you aren’t allowed to tour Fiji. Stupidly, it requires another application to the Customs staff after you have booked in. We did it through the Marina office and it took a further three days to be organised and for us to be called into the Customs office to finish the paperwork off, a total of a week after we arrived. Why it isn’t done automatically with the information you supply with your advance notice C2 paperwork, I don’t know. Once you have the licence, there is a second requirement to phone in to Customs with your plans once a week so they can track you as you go through the islands.

Bula, Fiji!

We had a fantastic week at the Copra Shed Marina, sitting properly still for the first time after all the fast jumps we had had since Tahiti and met some good people. It took a few days to work out that we knew Ding from Opua when he had been parked beside ZigZag and we had mutual friends in Gill and Alastair of Starcharger. We had a good day watching Scotland beat the Aussies and then the Lions match afterwards.  There are three marinas in Savusavu. You have the Yacht Club, a mile or so up E outside the town. This is home to the long term liveaboards that have decided not to leave Fiji. We were invited down one evening for a pot luck supper which was great fun. They are a nice crowd. It was great to meet Jimmy, a 15yr vet of Fiji who has now qualified for residence. His story of building a platform on his newly gained land with an ISO container and putting a yurt up on top to live in until the house is finished is inspirational!

Next you have the Copra Shed. With some dock space and plenty of balls, it is the most swept up and commercialised of the marinas. It has an excellent bar and restaurant, laundry, shops and a couple of chandleries with a surprisingly good selection. Their electronics were better priced than NZ. The marina will also organise, free of charge, your booking in and out, calling the Customs and Immigration staff in as you arrive. Well organised and with a secure dinghy dock, it is run by Geoff Taylor (the OCC PO in these parts) and his staff and is a good place to be. To point out a star, Pretty, the lady who runs the marina office is superb at sorting out your questions and problems. Our week on the ball cost us $15 a night and our evening view was fantastic.

Bula, Fiji!

Lastly you have the Waitui Marina. These days it is pretty run down but its balls are even cheaper than the Copra Shed. If you really need to save cash go here, but don’t expect frills. It has a small dinghy dock, a bar and the evening restaurant is a BBQ stand at the front of the building. Saying that they are the best of the marinas at listening out on the radio and are excellent at sorting out taxis. Bula, Fiji!

Turning right out of the marina, there are several restaurants along the sea front. The Chinese is excellent (portion sizes are massive) and the Indian is pretty good too. You really need to ask for hot here as if you don’t you will get a bland offering. When they do heat it up, it is excellent.

In regard to services, the Copra shed is excellent.

Laundry is cheap at $8 a load and generally done within the day. Water and fuel are available (water from the dock at a small charge – fuel from the local Total petrol station – not tax free but easily organised).

We wouldn’t recommend Shabnam, the lady who sits outside the Copra Shed and says she is a seamstress/sail repairer. She did some inside cushions for us on the basis we could check her work before we gave her our sail cover,  parasail and bimini for repair. What came back didn’t impress and I certainly wasn’t going to hand anything more valuable to her to do given her standard of work.

Internet is always a thorny problem in the Pacific. FP was stupidly expensive but we were impressed with Tonga. Fiji is even better. Fiji has an good 3G phone coverage and data cards for your phone cost $50 for 50Gb download, valid for a month from Vodaphone, the provider we were advised to use by locals. We bought a card and then a dongle to allow us both phone and data access. Full service and good internet about $140? And $50 credit for calls throw in for free? Excellent! Bizarrely international calls are $0.15 a minute, local calls are $0.42. Go figure……..

We explored Savusavu thoroughly. It is a small town with one main street running maybe half a mile long with a bus station and a large indoor market for fruit, veg and the all important dried kava roots, used to make the local tropical beverage of choice. The majority of the shops are cheap, a bit chaotic but great fun to explore and the people are uniformly helpful and pleasant. It has been great to get back to better prices than FP. My Keen sandals were starting to fall apart. Fixed by the shoemaker for $6.  Could have bought new flip flops for $5 but hey! It isn’t a population with much money and the pricing in shops (and you have to say the quality of goods in the shops) reflect this.

Bula, Fiji!

Our first of four sets of Fiji guests arrived. We last saw Shena and Kinsley from Almost There in Puerto Rico for Christmas ‘15 just before they moved off their boat and back to North Carolina. Kinsley has shot up and now is as tall as me at the grand old age of 13…. It was lovely to see both of them although the long flight out here had taken its toll. The goodies they brought out with them (new handheld, the new Delorme, new cable for the VHF and some god awfully sour sweets called Warheads for the girls) were gratefully received. The Moonshine that came too will be appreciated at a later date!Bula, Fiji!

We had a couple of days exploring the local area with them.We visited a tropical rain forest, run by locals. We spent more time looking for kava to present them and then getting stuck on the v small road to the village (thank you to the bloke who took pity on us and took us the rest of the way in his 4×4 – no way would our hire care have made it) than we did actually looking around the trail.

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It is well worth a visit if for nothing more than the fresh water crayfish and the bugs we found. I enjoyed being surrounded by that slightly off rotten smell you get from true rain forest, very much a land smell. My legs didn’t really enjoy having to climb up and down hills for the first time in a long time.

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We visited a village that looks after a waterfall. After our sevusevu ceremony where our $20 stick of kava root was formally accepted, we were given permission to look around the village, buy some trinkets made in the village and then visit their waterfall. I’m afraid I succumbed to the charms of an enormous shell and the ladies had fun buying bracelets. I had some fun with two very small boys wanting to throw a rugby ball around and we toured the neat, small village, proudly being show the church and the Fijian equivalent of the church bell, a hollowed out tree, used as a drum. Bula, Fiji!Bula, Fiji!Bula, Fiji!Bula, Fiji!DSCF1719DSCF1712Bula, Fiji!

We headed back into town and Lou got very excited about a sign she saw. Apparently her Dad went to St Bedes when he was growing up………..

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We met up with another couple of kid boats, Mrs Goodnight from GE with Katrina on board and most impressively Lil’ Explorers from USA with 6 kids on board!

We had a good night at the Savusavu Yacht club with a pot luck supper and visited the old plantation club in town too. It had extracts of A to Z of White immigrants in Fiji where the detailed views of the planters on the intractability of the “natives” in the late 19C was a horrifying non-PC but very interesting. I’d have to say the current internal problems with the take over of administrative and management roles within Fiji by Indian émigrés (now 4 and 5th gen Fijians themselves) started a long time ago and seems to me to be very much down to British colonials  bringing in more “tractable” staff……

We loaded up with fresh from the excellent market as there is a very limited ability to pick up anything in the islands beyond the local’s hospitality.

Bula, Fiji!

We moved from Savusavu SE to the end of the point beside the Jacque Cousteau Resort to meet up with Mrs Goodnight and Lil’ Explorers and to wait for a weather window to move to Taveuni, a large island 40miles W but well placed to give us a decent sailing angle down into the Lau Group, hopefully our next destination. Whilst we waited we had great fun with a movie night on board Lil’ Explorers and then an education for all of us in the delights of Halyarding. Great fun, a little scary and with the potential to go wrong if you mistime it, it was an adrenaline buzz loved by all.

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Shena and I got up to a fair height but the wee ones got to the full stretch of rope. Hannah went one better and launched just as the rope went taut, firing above the line like an arrow. It took us all by surprise. I think she reached well beyond 10m in height and took a long time to reach apex and fall back into the water!

Bula, Fiji!

The passage to the Lau Islands is not an easy one. The prevailing winds of Fiji are the SE trades. To get back into the Lau Islands from either Savusavu or Suva, the two booking in ports means a either a long beat upwind or waiting around for weeks to get a window of 36hrs or so when the Trades collapse as a system goes through. There had been one just as we arrived in Fiji and one looked likely as we moved around to the Jacque Cousteau Resort. To position ourselves, we beat a further 40Nm E around to the island of Taveuni. It was not a pleasant sail and we had big seas until we got into the lee of Taveuni. We stopped at the Paradise Resort near the S corner of the island and met back up with Stop Work Order.

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The resort is owned by two Aussies,Terri and Alan . Deemed too old to do so in Aus,  they moved to Fiji to be able to adopt kids and now have four happy smalls. Good people, they have decided the resort will be a cruiser friendly place and have put in 6 buoys in place for visiting boats. The buoys are free as is the use of the showers and pool. The food is excellent and the evening ambience, helped along by being serenaded by a guitar playing local was very pleasant. Internet is v expensive ($50 a day against $50 for 50Gb lasting a month via Vodaphone data card) as is laundry (more than 5x the price of getting it done at the Copra Shed) but we required neither service.

I did get an education in wearing my “man skirt”. In FP, men wear the sulu with the front cover going to the right, just as I would wear a kilt. In Fiji, men wear the front cover to the left; ladies to the right. I was a little surprised to be wolf whistled at by the grinning guitar player but he explained why and we laughed. He did offer to exchange his own more formally correct Fiji suvu for mine but I rather like my Bora Bora flowery one…… I did change the wrap around before anyone else took advantage of me and got another knowing smile and a nod when he saw me correctly dressed!

The kids had a wonderful time and Hannah enjoyed a couple of nights being invited to dinner with the Resort owner’s kids. Much laughter, great fun and we thank Terri for the invitations.

We had two great days at Paradise before leaving on the tide N to make more easting in the shadow of Taveuni. Two days of sailing stretched in front of us, most of it on a best course to windward.

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Hell and damnation! I haven’t had the best of months in regard to losing stuff overboard. First, my much repaired and slightly beat up Royal Highland blue ensign and flagstaff went overboard on our trip down from Rangiroa when the rod holder the staff was in broke off. Tragic!

Then as we turned into the entrance to Bora Bora a gust caught my favourite hat, given to me by Georg of ZigZag in NZ and off it flew. An emergency drop of the main later (good MOB drills practise), a hard turn to a return course and slow search pattern could not find  it.

I am bereft.

And more than a little annoyed.

Ah well. Enough whingeing. But sorry, Georg. Only so much advertising done for you!

As we left Raiatea through Pass Rautoanui, just S of the Carenage, Frans came and saw us off. A skilled surfer, he’d been on the reef and saw us pulling out. We said our goodbyes and looked forward to seeing him and the rest of Sangvind in Tonga.

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The 25Nm sail to Bora Bora was an easy broad reach and then run as we cleared the wind shadow of Raiatea with no more than 18kts app showing. Boat speed went as high as 9kts but averaged 6.5kts as we spent most of the time goose-winged with full main and genoa to the SW corner of the reef surrounding the island.

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It felt great and as the last time we would use the current sails, a nice way to sign them off. After all the cloudy, wet weather with mucky wind, it looks as if the SE Trades have started to re-establish themselves. Blue skies, winds still a little reinforced, often at 25+kts, but it is starting to look to being the kind of weather we want to see to push W in.

The girls decided that they need to get some photos with Bora Bora in the background and we got some nice ones.

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We were passed by a couple of charter boats who, inexplicably, drove towards the island with reefed main and engines on. Why do you come all the way to French Polynesia to hire a yacht and on a perfect sailing day, motor? Hicks.

Going around Bora Bora inside the reef takes a little care. The route around the N end of the island to the anchorages on the E side is shallow and you need to have draw less than 8’ to be comfortable. There is one cheeky dogleg between a S cardinal and a red but the rest of the trip down to our anchorage behind Be and Be at 16 29.294S 151 42.135W in 9’ of water was easy. We did ignore two reefs shown on the Navionics mapping I had but I think they must have been sand banks at some point that have disappeared. Certainly we had 10’ of water beneath us as we crossed them…..slowly and carefully! Water colour is what I go by when in shallow water here, not mapping data. An important lesson. The bottom shape changes frequently and you must trust your eyes and judgement. Oh and go slow, just in case you do have a brain fart!

We anchored just as Be and Be headed into dinner and to watch a show at the Intercontinental Hotel, just to our S. We decided we would have a quiet night and recover from all the fun we had had with Quatra and Sangvind over the last few days.  We got to watch our first sunset over the island which was a good one from the anchorage off Hotel St Regis.

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It took just one water taxi charging past us at high speed at 5m distance for me to deploy the big torch on strobe which I choose to use to show them we were alive, awake and not going to put up with inconsiderate driving. There are, sadly, lots of hotel taxis taking the herd back and forward to the main island.

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By mutual consent, Be and Be and ourselves moved down to where Plastik Plankton had described as the best anchorage in Bora Bora in a bay at the SW side of Motu Pitiaau. We had a go at getting in to the very shallow water, chickening out as the depth showed 3’. We anchored at 16 32.045S 151 42.257W in 7’ on powder like white sand in the company of a few charter boats and a couple of liveaboards. The place is gorgeous, rimmed by coconut trees, shallow water, quiet but pretty sterile and a spectacular view of the mountain. It reminds me of the Bahamas. Huge areas of white sand and very little living on it. Saying that, there is a lot to be said in parking up with this kind of backdrop!

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After the deeper water of Raiatea, everyone was keen to get back in to enjoy the water again. With life at its simplistic best, we did little more than relax, found the local magasin to get bread and just got all laid back. The kids alternated between boats and the adults would “retire” of an evening to the empty one and let them get on with kids stuff whilst we had some quiet time. It was a good arrangement.

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We had talked with Peta and Geoff about Shelby’s ambition to get scuba qualified back in Raiatea and I had offered to take her down to see how she coped. We had a small bombie 20m behind us and we decided that at 3m it was a perfect easy start for her to see if she liked it. After an hour of talking through equipment, hand signals and actions on, we dropped in, watched the fish as she got comfortable and just as we were to ascend, up swam a stingray, coming for a look at us. Shelby came up with a smile. Stand by, Be and Be. I think you have a convert on your hands!

Reputedly one of the best snorkel sites in Bora Bora is a drift E-W at Taurare in the Motu Pitiaau’s SE corner. You tie your dinghy up at the SW end of the beach, walk E along the shore, go out over the old exposed coral bed and then jump in. The initial water depth is cheekily shallow, the current fast and you need to be careful. Lou got a graze as she thumped on to a rock. Once the water speed calmed down it was an ok drift but the coral wasn’t in too great a shape.

The next day we dinghied to another site to the S of a motu, 700m E of Point Matira, the southern most point of Bora Bora. There we found another coral garden which was far nicer.  Known by the dive companies as the Aquarium, with deeper water (3-5m), a lot less current  and bigger bombies, the fish life was excellent. A couple of days later, we went back a second time and Shelby and I dropped in to feed the fishes (who were quite used this) and to explore the garden properly. Two dives in and she has already got a good feel of buoyancy already. Next step  – her Open Water qual. Perhaps Tonga or Fiji, I hear.

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One of the local guides rocked up and topped everything we had seen by feeding a Giant Moray Eel he said was known as Lady Gaga. He tempted her out of her burrow with chunks of fish. When she didn’t come out far enough he dropped the fish and then pulled the eel bodily out! She was over 2m long. You wouldn’t want to put your hands anywhere near her mouth.

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We moved back up to use Hotel St Regis’s facilities but unfortunately we met a sharp little man on the dock who was not keen to let us in. With a new asking price of  $25 a head (and we would need to make a reservation as well – which “couldn’t” be assured) rather than the $25 to tie up the dinghy Be and Be paid a week before, it simply wasn’t value for money. Geoff dinghied around to the Meridian where the welcome was even less pleasant. Having parked up and walked up to reception, he was told in no uncertain terms he wasn’t welcome and had to ask that the security hoods (x2) took their hands off him as he was walked back down to the jetty. I can understand that the hotels wish to maintain their exclusivity but the attitude of the (NB – non Polynesian) staff has been generally rude. It’s as if they don’t like kids………

We moved around to the Intercontinental where we had a far more pleasant encounter.  Although the pool man apologised when he said it was paid guests only for the pool, he did say that the kids could play on all the beach toys including a peddle boat. Geoff complained about the strength of the Mai Tais but only that they were too strong! Nice place, nice people and my thanks to Iris at the Concierge desk for helping me with a return to the agent.  But I’m not sure if I’d pay $11000AUS (or 6k UK pounds) a week per head – room only but with flights from Aus included. Bora BoraBora BoraBora Bora

Geoff, Eleanor and myself went on a dive with Topdive to the dive site Anua, known for its Manta Rays. We saw a turtle and a couple of clown fish and that was it. Both boats followed our movements in the hope of seeing Mantas with us but no luck.

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We swam a long way looking for them in, for here, pretty poor vis (15m). The Topdive crew, Ana and Arthur, were good guys and were honest enough to say that the Bora Bora diving experience is a poor one in comparison to what you would find in the atolls. No big surprise and I concur. The good dives here involve Humpback whales outside the reef who can be found from mid May on. We will hope for better in Nuie and Tonga. The upside was that they was happy to fill my bottles and did so for the princely sum of 1000XFP which is the most reasonable price I have paid anywhere in the Pacific. They were also happy to let the kids run riot and use the dive boat as a jumping platform at the end of the dive.

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We moved back round to the W side of Bora Bora and took a free ball at the Mai Kai Yacht Club and Marina. It really is just a restaurant, bar and dinghy dock which shares an infinity pool with a small pension next door but it is very nicely done, has free internet, strong enough to be picked up at the boat and the staff are great. And it has a happy hour bringing the prices down to a reasonable level for an hour a day. We met up with Phylis, Emma Louise, Reao and Be and Be for a few nights of festivities. Good times!

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Our sails arrived in Tahiti on 27th Apr (years of fun for a little less cost than a week at any hotel here!), sadly too late to get the boat up to us before the May Day holiday. It took until the 4rd May for them to reach us. The genoa was quickly fitted, a good bit bigger than the old and looking very shiny! The main took longer as I had to put in all the batten ends, a slightly nervous affair as it involves 8 screws per fitting and I really didn’t like drilling holes in the new sail. My thanks to Craig, Geoff and Steve for their help. Well done, Lee Sails for nailing it. Both sails just perfect.

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The weather had still not settled into the Trades that we hoped for. However, with time running out on us and with a long way to go in seven weeks to get to Fiji, we needed to get moving. Geoff and I had been having daily Councils of War, looking at, speculating and discussing the weather as far E of us as Fiji and the big winds S of us charging past NZ and its effect on our weather. We decided that a suitable window was forming, which looked as if it would give us a good push across towards the 1000Nm to Niue. We took the sad decision that we would need to bypass the Cook Islands for two reasons. Firstly, the wind were looking to be 20+kts in the Cooks for some time, not time we had to wait. Also the World ARC is scheduled to reach Nuie about the 24th May for a week, taking all the balls and meaning we would have been unable to visit. Nuie or the Cooks? One had to go from the schedule. If we only had more time………….

Booking out was a bit of a palaver. The local Gendarmerie were no problem at all although the girls were very disappointed not to get a stamp in the passport as we are still EU citizens.  I dare say that will all change in a couple of years but then UK visitors will be restricted to 3mth visas to French Polynesia like the rest of the world. Bizarrely, you also require to get final clearance from the Harbour Master’s office in Papeete. Why I don’t know as all you get is a email from them and it isn’t part of the paperwork you are required to give when you reach your next port of call. It arrived 24hrs after we had requested it.

We took on a little fuel at the fuel dock 200m S of the Mai Kai. Be aware that the fuel dock requires a copy of your tax free certificate, boat papers and green entry form. You need to supply the copies as they won’t make them. No docs; no fuel. We paid 80C/l for diesel and $1.60/l for petrol.

After a (extended) happy hour with Emma Louise, Reoa, Phylis,  Be and Be and ourselves, we had a fine last night with Steve and Cheryl back on Skylark, we providing the rice and they the curry they had made earlier. An excellent time was had by all. We said our goodbyes to Craig and Aron and Mick and Kym as I doubt we will see them again on this trip. We wish them all fair winds and safe sailing.

After hitting the Super U for one last round of baguettes, we left Bora Bora just after dawn on 6 May with blue skies and light winds. With some of the best visibility we have had here, we looked back at the spectacular sight of Bora Bora with Raiatea and Tahaa, another 25miles further E, standing clear. A beautiful way to sign off on these islands.

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To shorten the passage W to Nuie and to wait for the weather and wind to arrive, we left Bora Bora and sailed the 30miles to Maupiti, the rarely visited and second to last island in the Societies chain.

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Gentle Annies

Heading N along the coast, we saw a signpost for Pancake Rocks and just had to stop. We walked down to the coast line and walked around a small bay, formed by an undercut allowing the sea to surge in to form several blowholes. The rock structure really was like a stack of pancakes – quite odd – and as the soft rock eroded so the coast resembled endless small canyons. There were several sizable blow holes too. It was well worth the stop.

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Whilst we had been heading N, some of our favourite people had been heading S from Auckland, having finished converting their van which they collected at Christmas.

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We met up with ZigZag at Westport, a small town close to Pancake Rocks. After sitting down for lunch, we persuaded them to follow us an hour back N to the wonderfully named Gentle Annies’ Campsite which sits at the mouth of the XXXX river. We had been told about it in passing conversation by another traveller and what we researched after that, pleased us.  Voted third place in a national pole of campsites, we thought it must be good and so it proved. It is a lovely set up. A central house with a small cafe, a long communal room with a fireplace, fish tank and decent internet, surrounded by sheltered camping areas, split up by hedges and flower borders providing shelter. And right beside the sea with the gentle rumble of waves providing a night time soporific. Lovely! The ground was soggy in places as the site had been subject to the deluge we had had but the weather stayed dry for us and the ground slowly drained itself.

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The current “managers” of the camp sight are a couple of Brit travellers, working to replenish funds. He is a gardener back home and he has got the gardens looking terrific.  And of course, a big trampoline for the kids is a great attraction.

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The other great thing about the camp, unlike most of the rest of NZ,  was that there were several fire pits which we were able to use. All you needed to do was to collect wood from the beach, where there was a huge supply, to run either a pit by the tents or as we did one night, to heat the pizza oven up by the main house. The pizza turned out well! As the evenings were still a little chill, the warmth of the fire was greatly appreciated.

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We had planned to stay a night or two. In the end we stayed four. It was a great place to base ourselves and there were some wonderful places to visit close by.

There was , the longest wire bridge in NZ at Buller Gorge. Pointlessly expensive to get in to, we looked at it, announced “it is big, isn’t it?” and drove quickly on. ZigZag did go in and took this snap. For us it was not worth the $15 a head to spend a minute crossing it. I understand the NZ requirement to make money from tourists but as a traveller rather than a bone fide tourist with the holiday cash to burn in a couple of weeks, it is a bit annoying being asked to put your hand in your pocket for not unsubstantial sums for most activities. It just means that we have had to concentrate on the free to do stuff.

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A case in point. We visited the Charming Creek railway line that supported a coal mine and logging operation back in the days. Some of the rail is still there and it is a 18km walk from end to end. We did the first 6km which allowed us to visit a great waterfall, go through several tunnels sparkling with glow worms and cross another long wire bridge built by the NZ Army after the last one washed away. It was a good walk even though the smalls found it tiring as proved by Mia collapsing on me as we walked back to the car park. I got a good workout carrying her wrapped in my top, her in complete floppy mode for a couple of miles!

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We also visited a cave system at the Moria Gate Arch. It was a little like going down the rabbit hole but the caves were impressively large, echoed wonderfully as proven by the smalls and were a good explore. Pickles came too and Mia was a very responsible carrier!

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Georg had a pleasant time playing around with the settings of his camera, far grander than our little pocket one. Some of the shots turned out very well.

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We separated again with Starcharger and Skylark heading towards Abel Tasmin, the NW corner of South Island which is a huge National Park. ZigZag headed south to carry on their explore of the South Island. We have loved the time we have had with them in NZ. Unfortunately it doesn’t look as if we will get the chance to meet up with them in 2017. They have decided to limit their sailing this year due to the wonderful news that Irene is pregnant again. With Fiji and Tonga providing a high risk of exposure to Sika virus, they have taken the sensible decision not to travel there and will be concentrating their time in NZ and maybe New Caladonia. We will, I am sure, manage to meet up with them again but it will be a little further down the road than we both expected.  We look forward to seeing the photos of the new arrival later this year and perhaps in the flesh in the Caribbean in a few years time!

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Happy Christmas 2017

We decided to splash out for Christmas. On the basis that we had been invited to Vaughn and Sylvia’s for a pre-Xmas drinks party on the 24th and ZigZag were in the nearby Half Moon Marina, we found an Air BnB house for rent near both and moved in for three days.

The do at Vaughn and Sylvia’s was great fun. The kids played in the heated pool, the grown ups (the men at least) looked longingly at Vaughn’s rather glorious speakers that had come all the way from Glasgow and his excellent BBQ. The selection of beer was impressive and the enormous fillet of beef that we were spoilt with tasted fantastic. Added to that the platters of salads, cheese, biscuits, many types of bread meant that the meal was a joyful event. Our thanks again to Sylvia for the organisation and Vaughn for his excellent BBQ skills. Quite an undertaking the day before Christmas.

Irene took over kids’ entertainment after dinner and they all had a great time singing Christmas songs in a variety of languages! It all seemed to work although asking the Dads to judge the costume dressing up competition was a little dangerous.

Christmas 2017

Christmas Day was spent at the Air BnB house. It was a pretty little three bedroom house with a hot tub in the back garden and most importantly a decent kitchen to cook in. I will say that the general cleanliness of the kitchen left a little to be desired but a couple of hours of scrubbing brought it up to standard. I hope the owner appreciated our efforts when they returned from their Xmas away.  The house also had a washing machine! This was run practically non-stop with ZigZag catching up on their loads too – never has laundry been so enjoyable.

Santa delivered as expected and by way of Fiona Foura’s parents, we were able to pick up presents kindly sent from the UK from the family too. I’m not sure just how sane it was to buy Eleanor a chemistry set but she is already had fun making smells and bubbles!

Christmas 2017

The kids had a huge smile on their faces up to the point we made them wait for the arrival of ZigZag for the opening of the presents from us! ZigZag dutifully arrived just as the kids were ready to explode, with Irene’s sister, Mareike, over for the holidays in tow.

We had a lovely meal with a mix of British and German delicacies being added to the table, offering the traditional Henderson starter of cream of turkey and parsley soup. The parsley was courtesy of the Chinese market we found at the racecourse on our way back from picking up ZigZag’s new car on Christmas morning. Good thing the large Chinese community doesn’t celebrate Christmas! The main course was turkey followed by a huge sticky mascarpone wonderfulness made by Irene and Mareike. We had managed to find a good size turkey, the last in the shop, but had failed miserably in our attempt to find decent chipolatas. NZ just doesn’t do decent sausages. We have found a single butcher on our travels that would make what we would class as what is comparable to the standard we would find at our local butcher in the UK.  Bread sauce and cranberry sauce were generally enjoyed; I’m afraid the sauerkraut was less so! Each to their own. The one item that Lou was hugely disappointed not to have on her plate was Brussels sprouts. As it is high summer down here, they were, regrettably, out of season.

Christmas 2017

Whilst our girls are by no way grown up, it is always fun to be around really smalls for Christmas. Noah was very helpful in unwrapping everybody’s presents whether asked for or not! Mia had a lovely time playing and cuddling a new doll.

Christmas 2017

After the meal, we retired to the hot tub and had a very pleasant afternoon bubbling away with a certain amount of NZ bubbles helping us along. Toasty!

A Happy Christmas to one and all!

 

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Exploring the North Island

We left Opua in convoy. We were loaded to the gunnels and Starcharger were carrying Lorna and George of Quatsino. Our first stop was at a batch beside the sea at Kaimaumau. As an explanation, many New Zealanders have a family holiday home, handed down through the generations. often by the sea. It is known as a batch. These days they are less popular as international travel becomes cheap enough for most to run up to Fiji, Tonga or Aus for holidays. However, many are available to rent, they don’t cost a great deal and most are built in beautiful and quiet spaces. 

We based ourselves there for three days and had a great time.

Day one saw us travel the final 80km to the northern most point of New Zealand – Cape Reinga. This is an important Mouri site as it is said that departing souls from the island travel to the Cape and lower themselves into the underworld, by way of the ancient Pohutukawa tree on the end of the rock outcrop, just to the W of the lighthouse.

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Day two took us to the wonderfully named 90 Mile Beach. It isn’t actually that long – it is only 80km – but the over exaggeration is forgiven. If you have a 4×4 veh, then the beach is open to you to drive on. With our poor beastie, we had to walk! We had fun bouncing up and down some of the huge sand dunes and the view along the beach was an endless beauty.

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The day before when we were travelling up to the Cape we had been staggered to see hills of sand towering above the rolling grass downs of Northland. These enormous dunes have built up as sand is thrown ashore by the prevailing W wind and are common on the W coast running N from Auckland. We visited a baby one with Amelie when we were staying with the Hoburns. Standing hundreds of feet high, the ones near the North Cape are a different scale altogether. They have spawned another great sport – sand boarding.

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The only trouble with said boarding is the effort of climbing up a couple of hundred feet of sand dune. Climbing sand isn’t easy at the best of times. Do it a couple of times and your lungs are bursting and your legs are jelly. We got to the point of using relays to get the all important boards back to the top. The girls loved it.  Alastair gave us the funniest descent, scattering the panicking watchers at the bottom of the hill with one of his banzai runs to everyone’s amusement. 

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We left the company of Starcharger and Quatisino as they headed back towards their boats and we headed down the W coast by ourselves.  We found that there was a ferry between Kohukohu and Rawene so rather than drive all the way back on to Highway 1, we took the recently graded W Coast Road which wound its way through the mountains. It was a great drive and the scenery was beautiful. The ferry took about half and hour. It was nice to be back on the water, even on just a stink boat!

Exploring N Island

We stopped at the entrance to Kiapara Bay, the scene of a recent tragedy in November where a fishing boat was lost with eight deaths. The entrance to the bay is tricky with large sandbanks extending out over a mile. You can see two of them  with breakers in the photo below. It is a beautiful harbour once you are in. Sadly the fishing boat touched one of the banks and turned turtle in the 4m breakers. There were only three survivors.

Exploring N Island

Exploring N Island

We have been hugely impressed by the land management that we have seen throughout the North island. Where once the UK went down the initially efficient but environmentally damaging hedge removal, NZ farmers have built hedges and whole tree lines to divide land blocks, proving shelter for stock and crops. We spotted this area as we drove to the Kia Iwi Lake campsite. The norm around the vineyards, it is quite common to see them around just normal blocks of land used for livestock, as seen here.  These tree lines are 40-50’ high.

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The Kia Iwi camp site was well set out and great fun. On a freshwater lake, it means endless splashing around for the kids in the surprisingly warm water and of course there were plenty of other smalls around to play with. Dad got involved too and there was a certain amount of tomfoolery protecting the swimming platform! We also met a great couple, well into their eighties who have invited us to visit them on our return to Auckland. Ex RAF but an émigré more than 50years ago, he still hasn’t lost the accent! We stayed at the site for three days and left with tears.

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Heading South, we drove into the area of NZ  that is the home of the giant Kauri trees. Once common across NZ, they were cut down in huge numbers in the 18th and 19th century for their hard wood. Now, very few are left, they are protected and NZ has started to replant them. It will take even longer than the UKs New Forest to grow back to glory as the trees grow slow and will last to over 3000years.  We visited the largest of them left named Tane Mahuta, The Lord of the Forest, thought to be about 2000years old, said to be a baby in comparison  to the monsters that were around a couple of hundred years ago. The other interesting fact around these trees is that they are the source of GUM, which once petrified becomes amber. A major industry of the 19thC was to collect the gum from the trees by scoring them or dredging up all the old amber that was plentiful in the swamps, melting it down and exporting it. Gum was sorted in to different grades and was used for make such stuff as jewellery, the first linoleum (providing the waterproofing) and gumboots. Want to know where that particular word for wellington boots came from? Look no further. Interestingly, the North British Rubber Company (now known as Hunter) based in Edinburgh was taking out adverts in the local papers asking folks not to buy the knockoff “gumboots” made here as far back as the 1870s!

Exploring N Island

Our final stop before hitting Auckland again was at a campsite in the Tawharanui Peninsula Regional Park. The area is completely wired off to prevent stouts, rabbits and possums from getting in. It is a sanctuary for flightless birds and is one of the few sites with good numbers of kiwi. We didn’t see one although Eleanor says she heard one calling at night. We did see great numbers of Pukeka, another more common flightless bird. The beach was beautiful and and we saw lots of surfers returning to the camp happy after a day playing in the waves.

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We stopped in briefly to say hello at the Hoburn’s to pick up the left behind socks and Hannah’s Kindle. Then it was time to head into Auckland to meet up with Aislado and ZigZag for some Christmas celebrations. Northland is beautiful, warm and we have had great fun exploring it. As always, we wish we had more time to do it justice but what secrets we found, we have loved. Our thanks to Sarah and Mo for giving us so many hints and steers for our travels.

Time to turn our sights on the wilder lands of the South Island.

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Opua, NZ – Meeting the fleet

When you are travelling south towards New Zealand from the Pacific islands of Fiji and Tonga, most people will head for Opua. It is the northern booking in port for yachts in New Zealand, where Customs and Immigration are based and it is within the famous Bay of Islands, a gloriously sheltered area with a huge number of anchorages to hide in, no matter what the weather. The traditional route takes you past Minerva reef, one of the most desolate anchorages in the world and then S, potentially through an area of nasty seas to the shelter of NZ. Another route, used by Tika, is to go via Norfolk Island, newly administrated by Australia with a population of 60. It isn’t a popular route as it adds on a couple of days sailing and takes you in to Australian territories but it does have the huge advantage of allowing you to go around the main weather patterns, giving you a beam reach at worst back into NZ waters. Opua

We had been monitoring the transits of Jade, Starcharger, Quatsino II,  ZigZag and Tika as they made their way down past the Minerva reef and wanted to meet them at Opua where there was a small festival for the arriving fleet. There was also a calling notice out for the Ocean Cruising Club, who were organising an arrival party at Nina Kiff’s house, the local Port Officer.

The drive up took about three and a half hours, through stretches of beautiful countryside. You got the impression that the land around the road had been tamed but the hills overlooking the road were wild and covered with thick vegetation. And so green. As soon as you are way from Auckland the roads become single lane A roads with the occasional overtaking lane on steep hills. The speed limits are closely adhered to and we have heard that this trend is reinforced by a zero tolerance Police attitude and numerous unidentified van and cars with speed cameras ready to snap the unwary. Saying that, with the state of our van, keeping below the speed limit is not a problem. The roads are steep and full of bends. I am finding that I am keeping our lumbering heap well below the limit to be safe. She doesn’t corner well with the weight we have on board.

We arrived at Opua and immediately ran into Irene and Georg off ZigZag, newly arrived and looking very tired. The sail down had been reasonable but windy towards the end and for the first time in a long time, there had been a head wind and sea for periods of the trip. They soon decided to fire off to bed. We had been invited to stay with Gill and Alasdair on Starcharger with the kids to sleep next door with Lorna and George on Quatsino II. Typically the kids saw small friends for the first time in months, screamed with joy and just disappeared.

We headed up to the OCC gathering at Nina’s house. It was great to meet some truly dedicated sailors and were privileged to be at the prize giving of the 2015 Rose Award a prize presented for the most audacious short handed voyage of the year. Suzanne and Comrey of Whateke travelled 1200 miles upwind on the Patagonian coast, starting at the Beagle Channel, a trip which proves them to be as hard as nails and a bit nuts!  It was great to meet them and hear their story. Amazing. Lou also met a wonderful lady called Rose. Lou is hopeful that when she is in her eighties and still sailing, she is as positive, bouncy and fun loving. I’m not sure how many times sailing round the world this group represents but I suspect that it is more than you can count on a set of hands. Inspirational.

Opua

For the next few days, we enjoyed the marvellous hospitality of Starcharger, Quatsino and a variety of guests. One could suggest that we partied a  little hard but it was great fun. We learnt that Gill plays the sax well, Paul can be understood when he sings (magnificently, by the way) and Lorna should not be left in charge of a didgeridoo. We had fun and the kids had a great time catching up with the Jade and Tika kids and meeting new ones from Enough and Carpe Dium, names we had heard on the net but never met. They joined in with the local sailing club. $3 a head for 3hours sailing on the club Optis, Splash or 420s. The kids loved it and of course got pretty wet. The difference is the water temperature here meant they came out blue!

It was fun.

With the crews of Invictus, Mobi, ZigZag, and two French boats, all with small children, we visited the Otama Vineyard for some wine tasting and to meet St Nickolas. Very much a Germanic tradition, St Nickolas appears on 6th December. He appeared a little early but the kids loved the small goody bags he dropped in to give them. I understand St Nickolas enjoyed the visit too…….Opua Opua

We must say we have been lucky in meeting people. Malcolm and Helen Shaft are OCC members of long standing who settled in NZ after many years sailing. At the OCC party, Malcolm offered us a small flat that had been used by his mother who recently passed on. He followed this up with an email a couple of days later to remind us of the offer and to say it hadn’t been the drink talking. With Starcharger planning to move South a week later, we decided to lighten their burden (and to save our livers) by taking Malcolm up on his offer. However, before we left we had some more cracking nights, taking it in turns around Quatsino II, Starcharger and ZigZag. The kids had a variety of sleepovers but had almost as much fun on Quatsino. I think George found it novel having smalls on board, happy to come in in the morning for a chat (one way traffic at a million miles an hour in Eleanor’s case). Certainly, I found him looking a bit stunned after one of these sessions!

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The daytime activities were varied too. We had a great time at the Paihia Xmas parade. Lots of fun, some great costumes and the smalls got lots of sweeties. The free ice-cream at the “Taste of Switzerland” on its opening was good too. I’m not sure how long it will last in the partisan setting of NZ considering the shop opposite is selling NZ’s best ice cream at half the price….. And of course we had to try the fish and chips. Noah bullied his way in to being fed by Gill and Alasdair. Note the fact that the tomato sauce is being held for him. He intonated that this was to happen very loudly.

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A short ferry ride away from Paihia is Russell, the original capital of NZ. Known as the Hellhole of the Pacific in the early 19C, a den of iniquity and houses of ill repute abound, it has transitioned into a quaint tourist town of shore side tearooms and shops selling tourist trinkets. The oldest pub in NZ, The Duke of Marlborough it still alive, well and serving excellent beverages. The pier, rebuilt and extended these days is a magnificent structure.

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Our sincere thanks to Alasdair, Gill, Lorna and George for giving us berths for the time we stayed with them. It was hugely appreciated and great fun!

We moved up to Malcolm and Helen’s house and unpacked the car into the Granny flat and garage. Hot water, a double bed and a TV! What more could we want!

Kauehi – The Isle of Buried Treasure

For those only interested in the “treasure”, then jump to the end. PS. You’ll need to read this anyway as there is a clue in the text. Ha!

For the rest of you……

“Ah, you’ll meet Yul Brynner. Give him our best wishes please”, said someone when I mentioned we were heading for Kauehi next on the morning Pan Pacific Magellan Net (8173Hz @ 0800Local). Utterly confused, I asked what on Earth they meant. It turned out that the head honcho and centre of the village hierarchy, the man that ran the shop and seemingly the driving force in the Kauehi community, bore a strong resemblance to the film star. Now we have met him, we concur. 

Having entered the lagoon with no issues, we headed straight for the village of Tearavero. According to the charts, the direct route across the lagoon is absolutely clear of bombies, a first for us in the atolls. Distrusting this information we kept a close lookout but saw nothing. The first coral we saw was a large reef about 0.5miles off the village itself.  I am not sure why but unlike every other motus, there are very few bombies within this atoll. Some strange dynamic, I’m sure.

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We anchored 400m off just in front of the red post marking the end of the reef running out on the N side of the village, in about 25’ of water. We picked up and repositioned once to ensure we wouldn’t foul on one of the numerous coral heads. There are three anchorages here. The one we were in and then two others going N across two spurs of reef, each progressively more protected from SE winds, but further away from the small pier at the village. There is a French yacht parked here who got here and choose to stop three years ago. Gary, the owner, now runs a diving operation with one of the locals, using a rib to take customers to the pass to dive.

After the great bunch of kids and the relative civilisation of Makemo, Kauehi is sleepy hollow. The church bells ring at 0500hrs and then half an hour later to get people moving and presumably get things done before the sun is up. By 0900hrs, the place is a shabby ghost town, seemingly inhabited by land crabs and little else. The village kids have been packed up and sent off to school on one of the other islands. All that are left are the v smalls. You get the impression of life a bit more on the edge here with money not coming easily. Strangely there are no fishing boats working.

There is a Post Office and it has a Vinispot hotspot which occasionally works although the term hot isn’t very appropriate. The internet is dreadfully slow and we had difficulty getting mail downloaded, even using HTML. I resorted to HF radio/Pactor to get my weather.

We eventually went across to the shop and did indeed met Yul, otherwise known as Tiaihau, who was delighted to hear the messages I had for him from a couple of boats. The shop is not great but has the very basics and a large proportion of the goods are red label. There is little choice. Veg is restricted to potatoes and onions. We were surprised to see baguettes in one of the freezers but didn’t enquire on the price. He does stock beer and after a couple of weeks of abstinence, Lou and I enjoyed a bottle each to celebrate our arrival. He also stocks one of the dodgier whiskys I have seen, made with love and care in Tahiti…….

 Kauehi

Anyone ever heard of it? I doubt it gets much of a following on the export market.

We stayed around the village for two days, just getting our bearings. On the basis that village festivities, planned for that weekend, had been put back a week, we decided to head to the southern anchorage that An and Ivan on Vagabound had expounded.

Kauehi

We had a pleasant two hour sail which went past one of the very few genuine islets to be found within an atoll. These days it is a pearl farm base and you need to be a little careful of the oyster strings that surround the it. Most of the floats are a few feet underwater so difficult to spot until you are nearly on top of them. Deeper keeled yachts might find it easier staying to its E as they move S. There are few strings between the islet and the atoll.

We reached the SE corner of the atoll and anchored in 12’ of water @ 15 57.550S 145 04.796W, just off a motus with a huge collection of fishing buoys decorating a tree by an old copra hut. Sadly these days Kauehi has very little copra industry. Termites have reached this atoll and coconuts don’t survive to dry out properly once they are on the ground which means most of the coconut groves on the uninhabited motus have been left to overgrow. Those coconuts that are collected around the village are stripped out still wet and the pulp is sent off to be made into a skin cream. Thankfully very few mosquitos have moved in to those groves left to themselves.

On our motus, someone had tried to keep the ground clear around the hut, probably for family outings down to its beautiful secluded beach. We left the coffee, sugar and milk power sitting on the dresser untouched but did borrow the plastic chairs and the head of a rake.  We found a sleeping platform 100m N of the hut. On the basis we intended to stay for a while and to help keep the place maintained we set up a fire to clear the ground spoil. There were piles of partially burnt logs and coconuts dotted around and we used the debris from those first before making inroads to the surrounding area too.  We had great fun doing the platform up, cutting new coconut fronds down to reroof it and build some side panels as well. Our weaving wasn’t up to much but it was enough to keep the wind out. The campsite also gained the sunshade tent and a hammock from ship’s stores.  The mosquito net that Kirsty left behind following her visit to Antigua also got an outing and made a very useful piece of equipment for the intrepid explorers.

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Kauehi

The girls decided that the sleeping platform was too good to waste so announced they wished to sleep ashore. Dad went too for the first night but equipped with a handheld, an approaching full moon giving good light and with the embers of a fire each night to go to bed with, they had soon packed me back off to the boat. The motus was renamed Margaret Motus in honour of my parent’s new Border Terrier puppy, named Peggy, and that became their onshore call sign.  Having just read an very interesting article posted by Mike on Sasquatch, on US society’s ever more draconian views on child care and parental neglect, I am quite sure Lou and I would be quickly arrested for our disgraceful lack of parental supervision in allowing the kids out of our sight and care on the motus.  My folks, who left my brother and I on the Shiram Mor in the Outer Hebrides as kids, would be equally damned in today’s self-righteous and barmy society. Personally I see it as excellent personal development for them. Although the girls used the radio to keep in touch, they enjoyed the stories about David and I signalling to Mars.

There were a few night time visitors to the camp. The normal thousands of hermit crabs were joined by a tree rat and then a couple of nights later, we saw two or three brown rats.

Kauehi

Tree rats are interesting creatures. As you travel around French Polynesia, you will see tree trunks fitted with wide metal bands to stop the tree rats from climbing them and eating their way in to the coconuts, their staple diet. Their movement is very different from normal rats, being closer to jerboa hopping with big back legs rather than a rat scurrying. The one we followed around eventually climbed a tree to get away from us but was not put out by us following it for some minutes. The rats shot off as soon as we got a light on them.

We lost two tupperware box lids to the Tree Rat one night. It chewed the rim of both box lids, obviously using its coconut opening technique rather than just burrowing through as a rat would. The girls were not bothered by either type of visitor and happily ate the cake the tree rat failed to reach. They believed us when we told them they were the biggest, scariest monsters inhabiting the motus! We used an empty all metal milk powder can to stop unwelcome interest in the midnight snacks after that.

Over the week we stayed, the fire grew in stature to the point we were burning the main base bulb and trunk sections, 18” in diameter, from a tree that had been cut down. We cleared huge amounts of dead fronds and hundreds of coconuts. Palm oil burns well. Other than one morning when we needed to relight it, it burnt for six days. The only thing we missed were marshmallows, a complete failure on our part, as Eleanor announced she had seen some at the shop but hadn’t told us because she thought they would have been too expensive. We have obviously being going on about the simple life and using up boat stocks too much. We did make up the bread sticks ZigZag showed us how to do back in the Marquesas and these went down well. As an aside, we just got a message to say that Noah has finally decided to start walking. Well done, the wee man! We used some glow sticks that we had bought long go in Puerto Rico so the girls had great fun playing with those. 

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We had some great snorkelling just off the campsite with good coral in no more than 10’ of very clear water. There were good varieties of Angel, Butterfly and Damsel fish and we were always joined by black tip sharks. We came across another shallow coral site a mile to the E of us, three motu up, which was worth swimming on too. H also found out what happens when she puts on my weight belt. Bouncing between bottom and surface to breath and trying to giggle at the same time is not necessarily a good idea!

Kauehi

The rest of the time was taken up with reading, feeding the fire, saving suicidal hermit crabs from the flames (a Hannah task), exploring the reef side of the motus and simply kicking back. We did look out for what was described as the site of an ancient village called Tuketuke which by local legend was in the SE corner of the atoll but we were unable to find it. I asked a couple of locals about it and I got the impression that no one is sure of exactly where it was. I rather think that the reef has taken it long ago.

The girls had great fun making coral and shell gardens from their finds on their beachcombing expeditions.  Hannah had a very long, convoluted story about the ‘fortune tree’ in her garden and the hermit crabs were particularly fond of Eleanor’s garden.

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The night before we travelled back up to Tearavero, the weather blew up with gusts to 32kts which brought torrential rain. Both girls moved into the tent but survived the night no more than a little damp. Having packed up the camp and left it much clearer than we found it, we sailed back N, seeing only three bombies in the 8 miles run. We re-anchored off the village in time to join the delayed weekend festivities.

Night one involved chips (frites), dreadful background music (we felt the electronic Polynesian version of Gangnam Style was the highlight!), the disco run by Yul wearing a very grand coconut frond hat and a nearly 5 a side football match which ended up as a kick about rather than a match.  E and H had fun doing gymnastics, watched on by the local kids.

For day two and three, we had a petanque competition with first prize set as two chickens and two bags of rice. Lessor prizes included a bag of sugar.  My partner, Olivier, and I won our first match but came up short against the eventual runners up in the second round, losing 7-5 after a tight match. We didn’t disgrace ourselves and it was good fun. It was pretty competitive with 16 teams playing. The winners were an older couple who were scarily good.

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With a decent weather window approaching and little to attract us around the village, we decided to head for Fakarava, 35 miles away to the W. We greatly enjoyed the SE corner of Kauehi and would thoroughly recommend it. The motus we were on gave us the wonderful feeling of being truly alone on our own desert island and the shallow snorkelling was excellent. One of the highlights of the Tuamotus so far.

I am of mixed feelings on the village. The anchorage is pretty, the people are nice enough but there is little to see, (normally) less to do and I didn’t see anything there to attract us in. I think we might have been a little spoilt by Makemo. If there had been kids here, perhaps it would feel different. But I doubt it.

We left on 20 Sep as the sky burned at dawn, one of the best sunrises we have seen in the Pacific. We sailed, well reefed, at 8kts with a 20+kt ENE wind across to the pass and were fired out under sail being helped by a 2-3kt current. A very satisfying way to sign off on Kauehi. 

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Finally for those that come after us , the girls have left some “buried treasure” on the motus we camped at. Perhaps of interest to Oliver on So What, Hannah left some Pokémon cards. Please add to the stash and pass the word out to other boat kids. We might even go as far as getting the hide logged on to Geocache. I reckon it is exotically far enough away for it to be rarely visited.

Find the decorated tree with its orange and greens

Walk to the Sacrificial Table and look E along its edge to see the pathway

40 paces will take you to the crossing trees

Search for the black stone which has no right to be there

And look beneath!

Good luck