We arrived in Prickly Bay, Grenada on Sunday 1 April
after a 30 day passage from St Helena to the Caribbean.
Our arrival in Grenada marks the completion of our
We stayed a week in St. Helena, climbed the 700 steps of Jacobs
ladder, saw the Napoleonic sites and did several walks in the
hills and forests. Important in its day as a staging
post for provisions in days of sailing ships, then coal
for steam ships, and later as a base for transatlantic
phone cables, the island now has little of its strategic
importance but is still unique for it's beauty, history and
the wonderful welcome that is extended to the few that
We arrived in Richard's Bay, South Africa, in early
November. We spent most of December/January waiting for
favourable weather in order to sail around the coast from
Durban to Cape Town. We took advantage of this to explore
the country by land, incl. a hiking trip to the Drakensberg
Mountains, a safari in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve and a
short road trip along the Cape Peninsula. Although we were struck
by the beauty of South Africa and by the great variety in
landscape, culture and ethnicity between various regions and
greatly enjoyed our time here we are now excited about our next
long voyage from SA to the Caribbean via St Helena.
The islands off Madagascar's North-West coast proved to be
our favourite destination of this season. In particular the
area around Nosy Be is a sailor's dream: a cruising ground
with reliable winds, short passages between the many beautiful
islands, some spectacular anchorages, fantastic food and
colourful markets. Here we caught up with our friends
Eaglewing & Petrel and spent a few happy weeks cruising in
company with their gang.
Chagos is an island group that marked the middle of our Indian
Ocean passage. It has the reputation of an island paradise,
as it is remote and uninhabited. Amongst sailors, Chagos is
famous for being home to an almost permanent community of
cruisers with some yachts staying more than a year. We were very
taken by the beauty of the islands, the clarity of the water and
the abundance of marine life. Although we couldn't
see ourselves staying here for months - let alone years - we
greatly enjoyed our two weeks of days filled with fishing,
snorkeling, swimming and the almost nightly bbqs ashore with
Cocos Keeling is a typical atoll with a ring of small islands
formed of coral beaches and palms that surround a lagoon.
At the entrance to the lagoon the depth changes from ocean depths
to tens of meters very quickly, with dramatic changes in the
water colour. A highlight of our stay was swimming across The
Rip, a pass were currents driven by the trade winds push into the
lagoon, and onto the shallow reef that provided the best
snorkeling we have ever experienced with an abundance of reef
fish and some very colourful coral.
Most accounts of Christmas Island mention the Phosphate
works which dominate the anchorage, but fail to mention the
fantastic scenery and wildlife on the island and the very
welcoming island populations which consists of Chinese, Malay and
Australians. We rented a car and took in some of the sites (the
island is less than 9 miles square). After 26 days at sea, we
enjoyed all the island had to offer: well stocked
supermarkets, laundrettes, free hot showers, an open air cinema,
and several ethnic restaurants.
We spent two days in the capital of Vanuatu, Port Vila after an
overnight sail from Tanna. It's an interesting, bustling
place with a very sheltered anchorage right off the town.
From Port Vila we left on what turned out to be our longest
passage so far: 3882 miles in just over 26 days. We considered
stopping at several places along the way (Port Moresby, Thursday
Island, Darwin, Ashmore Reef) but in the end to keep going
as conditions were good. We have included photos from the passage
8 days from Opua, we arrived in the beautiful island of Tanna, in
southern Vanuatu. We spent a very enjoyable few days here, met
lots of the local people, saw the volcano and were invited to a
circumcision ceremony. After Tanna, we went north to Port Vila
from where we will head for the Torres Strait.
Henrietta's sister Erika and her boyfriend Markus flew out to
NZ in February for a three week visit. Together we traveled some
3000km by car. After a few days in Auckland, we first headed
north taking in Northland and the Bay of Islands, before
driving south to explore the central North Island.
After an enjoyable nine day passage from Neiafu, Vava'u, we
arrived in NZ just after midnight on 26th October. Our goal for
the season achieved! The plan had been to get to NZ before the
nominal start of the southern hemisphere hurricane season in
One the way into Tonga we caught one of our biggest fish, a 20kg
dorado. The day after arriving we entered an informal harbour
race, and came third - winning a introductory scuba dive. We
spent about two and a half weeks in Tonga and really enjoyed it,
but left earlier than intended to catch a favourable weather
window for the often tricky trip to NZ. We hope to return to
Tonga some day, as it is one of the most beautiful places
we've been. They may have been called "the Friendly
Islands" due to misunderstanding by Capt. Cook, be we also
found them to be just that.
Known as 'the rock', Nuie is one of the largest coral
islands in the world. It is also the smallest nation state, with
a population of about 2000 citizens. When we got arrived, Nuie
was still recovering from the effects of a large cyclone which
had hit earlier that year. (images now archived)
This island was our only stop in the Cooks and is a large atoll
with a population of about 50 people. Very beautiful and
isolated, it was one of the highlights of our Pacific trip. The
islanders are incredibly hospitable and amazing fishermen who
enjoy hosting visitors, allowing them to share their ways of
life. On our last night there we were woken by a group of whales
'blowing' as they swam through the anchorage.
The most cosmopolitan part of French Polynesia, this is a group
of about six or so principal islands, including the famous
islands of Bora Bora and Tahiti. The town of Papeete is the
biggest town for about 4000miles and we enjoyed it's bustle,
a real contrast to the ruggedness of the Marquesas and the
remoteness of the Tuamotus.
An extensive group of coral atolls, the Tuamotus are part of
French Polynesia and lie between the Marquesas and the Societies.
The atolls are sparsely inhabited, remote and very beautiful. We
visited three atolls - Ahe, Apataki and Toau.
These islands are high, volcanic, fertile and dramatically
beautiful. Our landfall in French Polynesia was the eastmost of
the islands - Fatu Hiva. We arrived in 'the bay of
virgins', which is the the most stunning anchorage we've
3 weeks in the Galapagos - and we could have spent months there.
The famous wildlife is all around. Sea lions, penguins, pelicans,
iguana, turtles, sharks and rays - and that is just in the
anchorages. Ashore, we also saw the giant tortoises, albatross,
blue-footed boobies and much more.
Neither the bureaucracy nor the transit of the canal are as
painful as the rumours we had heard suggested. It takes about a
week to organise as the system is really set up for ships rather
than yachts, but it is not difficult. It is a great day out -
with some anxious moments - as you first rise into the Gatun Lake
via 3 locks, travel for about 25 miles through a flooded jungle,
and then descend into the Pacific. (images now archived)