s/v Barefoot
Lavranos 43
 
What about Wallis?
David
08/25/2013, Wallis Island

Wallis Island, lush with banana and coconut palms, papaya, breadfruit and mango trees, and encircled with an ocean calming reef is a French administered Protectorate. Every village is decorated with a towering steepled cathederal kept in immaculate paint and trim. Wallis Island is in the ocean near Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga; the remains of a Tongan fort dating from 1450 displays Tonga's former influence in the area.

After 3 weeks anchored at Wallis, Barefoot is tugging at her anchor chain to depart; sailors need to move on to see new places and, oddly enough, Wallis has no fruit, no vegetables, no fish, no taxis, no busses, no tourists, no tourist information, no affordable, cheese, wine, beer, no brake pads (cars moving slowly either have no brakes or are driven by nuns), and no cell phones. There is one ATM, 3 restaurants, a modern water supply and sewage system, full electricity, garbage trucks with wheelie bin lifting and dumping arms and yellow reflective vested drivers, street sweeping vehicles with flashing yellow lights and numerous speed bumps on streets and roads.

The "town", Mata Utu, 5 miles from the dinghy landing, sprawls with no center. Visualize the bank, a mile from the post office, and that a mile from the super market and that a mile from the customs office and that a mile from the hardware store; each a long, hot, roadside walk. Transportation is only possible by hitchhiking; few people speak English--French or Wallisian only. A French sailor informed us the French word for hitchhike is "STOP", (the English word!). We've shopped through town quite successfully one mile at a time by sticking out a thumb and yelling "STOP!" Most vehicles are pick-up trucks and we flip ourselves in the back causing the driver only a brief delay; we usually wait at a speed bump.

Eight months ago cyclone Evan hit, curved, returned and hit again and flattened Wallis; only the speed bumps were undamaged. The fruit crop is gradually recovering, many cathedrals are in scaffolding, and the wheeled, green, plastic garbage bins are new. French nationals reside here as teachers, administrators, and police. Their foreign-duty supplemented salaries enable purchasing vegetables imported from New Zealand (tomatoes and cucumbers 20 US dollars per kilo), and cheese, wine, and beer (3$ a can). Although we asked, we cannot discover why there are few local vegetables or why imported products are expensive compared to other islands. Most fishing is by French nationals for sport and cuisine, but there is no fish market and few Wallisians appear to fish. Roslyn caught a 1 meter Spanish mackerel inside the reef, briefly enhancing our popularity with the 3 other cruising boats. Car parts are scarce but lawn mowers and weed whackers (whipper snippers) abound and the neat houses and tropical gardens of the Wallisians reflect their constant buzzing. People readily pick us up and willingly drive out of their way to deliver us to town or back to a dinghy landing. Shop keepers are friendly and helpful. Wallis has been an interesting experience.

Wallis arrival
David
08/08/2013, Wallis Island

Ros thinks we cheated death again and I think the passage was uneventful. Hook now down at Gahi Village at Wallis; duskish at 1745L last Monday (5th) and first new island anchorage observation at dusk is: juice? Yes, there is electricity at the village--lights are on. Reef pass at Wallis Is. was short and clear. Trades finally kicked in on our last night along with SPCZ (South Pacific Convergence Zone) drifting over Wallis. What converged at Wallis was lots of wind and rain. First at the pass entrance, rain obliterated the radar and the eyeballs so we stood off for an hour to recover visibility. Second at the main village anchorage (go there to clear in) where the bombies and wharf were obliterated. We fled to Gahi, a village and anchorage 5 miles away partially protected from the lagoon swell and 20kt winds. Gratefully, the rain filled the water tank in 10 minutes. No worries, hitched a ride to town to clear in the next day. All very friendly here. Wallis and the motus (not a singing group) appear (when we can see them) interesting; we look forward to exploring. All is well.

08/15/2013 | Gerald, Rosy and Katie Crowson
It's great to read your fascinating log and takes us back to our brief meeting on Raivavae. How do you feel now about those old Polynesian voyagers on their double-hulled canoes?
Tonga revisited
Ros
07/18/2013, Nuku'alofa, Kingdom of Tonga

'Flexibility' is the name of the game out here! We set sail from New Zealand between winter storms, headed for Wallis Island, on 28th June. A week ago we were happy to drop anchor at Nuku'alofa, the capital of Tonga, on the island of Tongatapu. This 1100 Nm passage did not rank in our 'Top Ten', with either no wind, or too much. We sailed slowly or motored through calms in the middle of a big 'High', and hove-to for 48 hrs in a 'Low' that was intent on following us from NZ. Three-directional swells most of the way didn't add to the comfort factor. Fortunately our good friend Maudi at Marsden Cove, (who must be psychic) insisted on making pre-prepared meals for us to take, or we might have tired of vegemite sandwiches (conditions were often not ideal for cooking).

We didn't have time to visit Nuku'alofa when in Tonga last year, and after reading some of the Tongan history, were happy to take a break here, and explore the seat of Royalty for the Kingdom. Yet again, Capt Cook has been here before us; yesterday we stood on the site where he came ashore to visit the King. Our exploration of Nuku'alofa also included a visit to the Health Clinic, 2 visits to the Dental Clinic and eventually a consultation and tetanus shot at the hospital - all because I had an argument with some rusty barbed wire on a dark night (no teeth problems, just language/locality issues!). This excitement was followed by a determined 'sit in' at the laundry in order to leave town with our bed-sheet.

The Tongan islands lie conveniently close to our 'track' to Wallis. We're now 'weather watching' again, ready to head 165 Nm north to Vava'u. Unfortunately it doesn't appear we're going to get the settled weather we need to visit the Ha'apai Group. From Vava'u we just have a 350 Nm hop NNW to Wallis Is.

08/15/2013 | Martin Jutzeler
Dear Barefoot crew,
I am a researcher in volcanology, and I recently read your blog from last year, where you talk about the pumice raft you encountered between Tonga and NZ. I am extremely interested in these clasts, and I wonder whether you could tell me when and where you encountered the raft, and if you would - by chance - have some samples you would be interested to share for science. I you do not have samples, photos of the raft or the clasts would be interesting. I can easily pay for any postage fee. With my best regards, Martin Jutzeler
Heading North
Ros & David
06/27/2013, Marsden Cove, New Zealand

We finally have what we hope will be a reasonable weather window, so setting sail from NZ around midday today. We're headed direct to Wallis Is. and expect to take about 2 weeks.
We've really enjoyed NZ, especially our sail right around the country, and catching up with old friends. We're starting to feel like 'locals', so must be time to move. We're looking forward to some nice warm tropical weather; the NZ winter has settled in.
We'll try to keep the blog updated along the way.
Regards from us to all back home

Note to Self on Passage Matters
David
05/13/2013, East Cape, NZ

We sailors have notably short memories of unpleasant events at sea. That explains why when queried about a passage several days after completion the usual answer is "uneventful". It also explains why we go out to sea again. Whether the "short memory" condition is a result of the amount of alcohol consumed by a dry sailor promptly after dropping anchor (attempting to erase portions of the passage, no doubt) is a subject for another time. Having not yet dropped anchor on this passage, I'm still lucid and think it prudent to make notes to myself concerning a decision that in retrospect could have been better. As I write, we are northwest of East Cape, NZ and the seas have settled down to 3 meters and the wind down to 30 to 35 knots-both from the port quarter (150 to 160 degrees); life is better. The main is triple reefed (unfortunately the bunt is not tied). We're making 7 or so knots; the boat is pitching, rolling and occasionally slammed hard by an overtaking wave. Earlier, of necessity because of the larger seas and much higher winds, we were sailing dead downwind and square to the seas, but now we tolerate the roll and slam in order to lay our course. Writing this, the computer feet grip the nav desk well, but the mouse and cursor are on the loose and my butt rocks back and forth in the nav seat.

This passage is from Picton, South Island to Great Barrier Is. North Island, NZ., about 660 sailing miles. In Picton, we watched weather forecasts for 10 days looking for a window of southerly winds to sail north to East Cape (a notorious, "capey" rounding) and easterlies at the Cape to sail west toward Auckland. Our weather information came from grib files and NZ met service marine broadcasts. There are few intermediate anchorages so we sought a weather system that would cover the 5 day passage; it finally developed. Sailing out of Picton via Tory Channel, past Wellington and out Cook Strait require "going with the flow" which means hurrying or pausing along the way for the proper tidal current. Our weather window consisted of 18 hours of northerlies (10 to 15 knots)(means sailing to windward); painful. The wind at East Cape (a major issue) would be light (15 knot) southerlies; perfect. Rounding East Cape and heading west 25 knot south easterlies were forecasted; excellent, that would wind up the final 200 miles quickly.

The passage was as planned up to and around East Cape (the day of northerlies was a "hang-on-baby" slog). But, oops, rounding East Cape at 10 PM, the southeasterly 25 knots on the grib and 35 knots predicted by the NZ met service climbed in less than half an hour to 45 and 50 with gusts to 55. One reef in the main served well until the sudden increase which I took to be temporary and attributable to the proximity of the Cape. Not so; the winds held in that range and a corresponding sea built for the next 15 hours. We hove-to with a triple reef after exceeding the speed limit with one reef much too long. The met service began reporting 40 knots 12 hours later. Now comes the "try to remember for next time part": I should have "sailed the wind we had" and tucked in a second and third reef immediately as the wind built instead of anticipating it would ease once clear of the Cape. Now, at anchor, as I dispatch this two days later, the sun is shinning, the sea is calm and, thinking back, the passage was "uneventful". We'll go to sea again next month bound north to Wallis Island and Tuvalu.

(See Photo Album: 'The last leg around NZ')

05/15/2013 | Mario Juarez
Holy Toledo. For me, "uneventful" means "few events of note," not, "events kicked my butt for many long hours but I survived." Clearly, the dynamic is different on the water.

Drink well!
05/30/2013 | Jimbo Miles
My goodness!
What an adventure!
Many an untold story that would never fit into the Internet I'm certain!

Congratulations in a remarkable circumnavigation of NZ and voyage thus far!

Till next.
Indian Ocean Pirate Rally
David
05/10/2013, East Cape, NZ

Joining in a rally format to sail with a hundred to as many as five hundred other sailboats to safely cross the Atlantic Ocean and other tempestuous bodies of water is now popular. The rally concept appeals to ocean sailing novices as well sailors wishing to have customs and immigration formalities and departure and welcome ceremonies (including a courtesy bottle of champagne) arranged by others. Many sailors simply enjoy the social milieu of several hundred boats nearby with whom to exchange daily (or more if you like) chit-chat on the VHF radio and SSB radio. Not to be overlooked is the opportunity to have a washed-overboard dinghy or a fallen crew member plucked from the water by a following boat or to obtain a transfer of fuel, water, or beer when needed; possibly even a tow to the finish line. Rally organizers sort all the details, deftly smooth bureaucratic ripples, offer assurances of safety and security (complete briefings and checklists provided), and deliver rally flags and banners to all captains. Games and contests to win tee-shirts and bling include daily speed records, biggest fish caught and guess the date and time of arrival. Rally fees have climbed to four-figures and participation continues to increase each year. We on Barefoot do not feel drawn to the amenities of the rally format and until now have not seriously considered joining a rally. However, in light of the following we are reconsidering. The world-wide popularity of the rally format has not escaped the notice of those piratical Somalians in the northwest Indian Ocean who have completely interrupted the cruising sailors' traditional route from Thailand across the Indian Ocean through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean. A few cruising sailboats were plucked off by the pirates and cruising sailors turned their sterns to the route. While many cruising boats now avoid the dangerous Red Sea route by ducking below Africa, others load their boats on yacht transport ships for passage through to the Med from Singapore. Recently, in a dramatic change of tactics, the pirate group led by the infamous "johniebe good" has announced the first annual 2014 "Indian Ocean Pirate Rally". Rally participants will congregate in their boats at a to- be-designated "lat/lon" off the coast of India. From that point across the Indian Ocean, past Somalia to the Red Sea, each boat on the passage will enjoy the comfort and security offered by six large, heavily armed steel fishing trawlers, each supporting fifteen cleverly decorated small wooden motorized dories with canvas tarps concealing the small arms cache in the bow. The trawlers and dories will surround the rally fleet to protect it from pirates as it moves westward. "For security and safe passage guaranteed, nothing is better than being surrounded by pirates" says johniebe. Although the boats will handle their own formalities and ceremonies will be minimal, all participants (each boat must fly a pirate flag) will have the unique opportunity to meet the dory pirates and share food and beverages with them as well as transfer some to the trawlers. Participants will improvise contests and games such as the popular "talk-like-a-pirate-day" (bring your own eye patch), a saber sharpening contest, and (for the pirates only) shiniest AK-47 contest. Pirate Rally fees are expected to be in low five figures for each boat--perhaps not unreasonable compared to the cost of the yacht transport ship or the long sail around South Africa. Johniebe says this rally is absolutely the "must-do" event for all cruising sailboats crossing the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea.

47degN to 47deg S
Ros
05/05/2013, Stewart Island

From Seattle to SW Cape, Stewart Is, New Zealand and from Puffins to Penguins in 19 months and over 14,000 Nm. Had we planned this when we set sail from Seattle - no!

However, along with the 'Book of Puka-Puka', David insisted on bringing from Seattle the 'Stewart Is NZ Cruising Guide', (which he had kept for 20 years!), calmly disregarding my protestations about sailing so far south and wild weather. SW Cape, Stewart Island is the second lowest cape in the southern hemisphere, only Cape Horn is further south. Puka-Puka we managed to visit, well off the 'coconut route', in the Northern Cooks. Perhaps David had a private little plot to reach Stewart Is and 47⁰S all along?

We set out from Marsden Cove in the North Island in February to cruise the Marlborough Sounds, across the north of the South Island. Thanks to the local sailors in Nelson who convinced us that Fjordland was the way to go, we changed our plans and headed further south. As a result, we enjoyed a great opportunity to visit this spectacular and remote southern region of NZ, and to round SW Cape, Stewart Island at 47degS. This week we finally arrived in the Marlborough Sounds, after completing a circuit of the South Island.

After 'sampling' this famous wine region, we plan to sail up the east coast, returning to Marsden Cove, completing an unplanned circumnavigation of New Zealand.

(See Photo Album: 'Stewart Island, NZ')

05/09/2013 | Mario Juarez
Such enviable adventure! Be safe!
They Never Smile
David
04/12/2013, Stewart Island, NZ

Sailors call them Mollymawks. Most people say "Albatross". Around Stewart Island there are many "white-capped" albatrosses. These are serious sea birds. They follow us when we're fishing. Often four or five are a couple of feet from the stern while we drift fish. They are smart birds and recognize fishing rods and the associated activity. Ros caught a 15" fish that she decided was a bit small. She released it over the stern and "Albi" dove in, picked it up, and swallowed the entire fish whole-sideways. In an attempt to outsmart them Ros now releases undersize fish from the bow while I dance a jig at the stern to distract the birds. The water here is clear. The birds see the fish being reeled in and dive for them. It is a race to see who has the fish for dinner. Up close, one has a sense of the bulk of these birds. Each wing is a meter long. After landing the double hinged wing appears to activate and folds aft, forward and aft in three sections-it is not an instant process. Their foot paddles are each 8" wide. When landing both are lowered and angled slightly aft apparently to produce drag to slow down. The paddles then shift forward and become skis for landing. Take off requires developing flight speed by running on the paddles. If the sea is calm, there is no wind to assist with take off and quite a bit of paddling is needed. Paddling is also used to rapidly travel short distances on the water without flight. In flight, the birds circle the boat and easily speed along at 10 or 12 knots, commonly flying a few inches above the ocean surface using the air pressure between the wings and the sea surface to generate lift. Occasionally they flap their wings; more frequently when the breeze is light. They fly solitary and in squads of three or four swooping and banking through the wave troughs in unison. Their long, yellow beaks-curved downward at the tip-together with deep black eyes and a grey-white face under a brilliant white cap give an them an elegant, but arrogant and remote expression. They never smile.

04/12/2013 | pw
Sounds like a great subject for the GO camera. Have you used it much yet?
Yesterday Pasted; Today Lucky
David
04/06/2013, Solander Is., NZ

Tonight Barefoot is underway motoring by Solander Island, bound for Port Pegasus, Stewart Is., NZ. The passage between the south end of NZ and Stewart Island is notoriously difficult. Rarely is the wind calm, the sea flat, the sun shinning, and a fresh big-eye tuna on the trolling line - today we have it all; we are lucky. Yesterday, underway from Dusky Sound to Chalky Sound, was different - 25 knots of wind on the nose (from the south-Antarctic cold), a 3 meter SW swell combined with a 1 meter NW swell and wind waves on top, and a 1.5 to 2 knot adverse current. This piece of ocean is a nasty bit. It is further south than Tasmania. Deep low pressure systems mean wind, huge swells, and strong currents that are pinched and accelerate at the south tip of NZ because of the mountain range and the surprisingly shallow water between NZ and Stewart Is. Note that Stewart Is. is at 47 degrees south; winter and short days are near so we'll keep moving right along.

Captain Cook Slept Here
David
04/02/2013, Dusky Sound, Fiordland, NZ

Today we motored 20 miles westward from Shark Cove. Tonight Barefoot is anchored (with shore lines) at Pickersgill anchorage in Dusky Sound. Cook anchored the Resolution here during his 2nd voyage to NZ in 1773. It is so remote that it probably doesn't look a scrap different now than in 1773. The weather is NW 30 and rain; it is probably the same as well.

The photo below shows the actual spot where the Resolution was anchored. A commemoration plaque has been layed on the white area of rock. Cook set up an observatory on this small headland where another plaque has been layed. To the left of this photo is Pickersgill Harbour with Cook Stream running into its head. A temporary 'village' was set up around here where the crew could work on the repairs and maintenance for the ship.

More photos are in the 'Dusky Sound' gallery.

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