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A family travels from Florida to New Zealand aboard their St Francis 50 catamaran
Niue, a big rock with a big heart!
09/10/2008, Alofi (niue)

We Love Niue! There are between 1000 to 1500 people left in Niue, most of the 6000 inhabitants left little by little for New Zealand and when cyclone Heta hit in 2004, the population really dropped, leaving a good 50% of the houses abandoned. But the small town of Alofi is very hospitable and one of a kind! Beginning by an original way of lifting your dinghy (lifted on the wharf by a crane that you operate yourself at the great joy of Alec and David, all men get a kick out on this one), Alofi does not seem like much at first but you just get into it and find yourself busy every day (market, weaving class, pool table, the cutest little yacht club, site seeing or just hanging out with cruisers or the locals that are absolutely a joy!). Yesterday we went on a full day trip with 4 other boats; we left early, all 14 of us packed with our picnic in the van, what a wonderful day we had! We first stopped at the Tahava / Matapa site and hiked for about 20 minutes before reaching some amazing caves near the seashore where this gigantic arch (Tahava Arch) open on breaking ocean waves, inside, a small transparent pool is so pretty that you can't not just jump in it. We also explored the other pass that led to Matapa Chasm, a nice snorkeling and swimming spot. The afternoon was spent to visit another site on the south east side of the island, called Togo Chasm: another 20-30 minute hike in the forest took us to a very strange and hypnotic lunar landscape of coral spikes. The wind on the east coast was ferocious and the waves crashing on the rocks where we were standing were mesmerizing, we stayed a long time just watching the power of nature. We finished the day at restaurant where the food was delicious and to top it all we were served by Miss Niue! Emilie and Alec are so happy to find kids again, the days go by very fast.... Tomorrow we are going to a weaving class....
Niue est super! L'ile a entre 1000 et 1500 habitants, la plupart des 6000 habitants present il y a quelques annees ont quitte l'ile petit a petit pour la Nouvelle Zelande et depuis le cyclone Heta en 2004, 50% des maisons sont maintenant abandonees. Mais le petit village de Alofi est acueillant et tres original! En commencant par la levee de l'annexe a la grue (au plus grand plaisir des petits et grands garcons qui s'amusent follement a opere la grue plusieurs fois par jour), les journees passent tres vite entre le marche, les cours de vannerie (ou plutot palm tree weaving), le petit yacht club, deux restaurants, et surtout le contact avec les autres bateaux et les locaux qui sont tres sympas et toujours pres a discuter. Hier nous sommes partis faire un tour de l'ile avec 4 autres bateaux. Un depart tres tot, 14 personnes plus le picnic, masques,tubas, serviettes, le van etait a maximum capacite, quelle rigoalde!Premier stop au site Tahava / Matapa ou une marche d'environ 20 minutes nous a menee a des caves fantastiques en bord de mer ou une arche ouverte sur l'ocean completait le spectacle. De belles petites piscines naturelles d'eau sale nous invitaient a nager, l'eau est tellement transparente les fonds colores sont tres attractifs! Nous avons aussi explore le second chemin qui nous a mene a Matapa, un endroit a ne pas manquer , nage entre les rochers et de jolis poissons tropicaux. Le site de Togo au sud est de l'ile est aussi a ne pas manquer: Apres une marche dans la foret de 30 minutes , l'arrivee dans un paysage lunaire de piques coralliens est hypnotique! Nous avons fini la journee au restaurant ou un delicieux repas nous a ete servi par Miss Niue elle-meme! Demain le marche a 7h et la classe de vannerie....

Arrived in Niue, living the dream?
09/06/2008, Niue

So, I have to be truthful. You are home, on land, and like me two years ago when I was reading avidly the adventures of cruisers, I was saying "lucky them, I would like so much to do that...."it does sure seem like it is all peachy and rosy, the perfect dream! Well I would say 90 % of the time it is but I do hate the 10% left! This morning was one of the prime example of not living a dream: We are still in Aitatuki now since 10 days waiting for weather and the wind is not laying off! We decided to go today in 25-30 knots of wind with a formed sea and 5 meters waves and my stomach is so tight that I am already seasick before departure. I am so afraid, it is not even funny and to top it all we have to begin by getting out of the pass which is a narrow manmade cut very shallow at one point.... So we made it ok... We have the main (three reefs in it), the wind is coming from the back so the movement is not as bad as I thought it would be, but we are still protected by the lee shore of the island, the big bad waves have not reached us yet! The ocean is dark blue with white caps all over! Yesterday two boats tried to leave Palmerston and came back after 15 minutes and the other; 1 was too rough. Right now O'Vive is sliding through at 9.5 knots and we have hardly any sail out!!!! The movement is slightly better and I am feeling a little better as I see that the boat can handle it fine. We are on our third day out , first night, neither me or David could get any sleep (30-35 knots and rough), 2nd night was better and we were exhausted, so we slept much better, and today third day is heaven, the wind came down at 20-25 knots, the waves are down, only 3 meters by now. Two other boats broke their automatic pilot and had to steer by hand, so we feel lucky... and I have my David, never doubting (or at least never showing it) and the kids seeing their dad confident that everything will pass and we will be in a beautiful island soon enough, are never complaining too much and sleep still like babies in a 35 knots wind when it is hammering out there. I know the true sailors are going to laugh at me but I also am sure that a lot of the cruisers have the same stomach ache before leaving, I just thought I will share this with you, lucky guys on land, sleeping tight in your stable bed tonight.....but I still would not change my place with anybody for a million dollars when I am going to see the island on the horizon tomorrow, and the sailboats of our friends waiting for us.... there is nothing like arriving...... It is a firework exploding in your stomach and it makes go away all the little stomach aches.
We arrived in Niue September 6th at 10:30am local time: 581 miles in 72 hours and 15 minutes!

09/07/2008 | Jill Jahn
Sometimes you have to go through hell to get to heaven! Just to let you know your safe bed at home is under a mandatory hurricane evacuation. I think you still have it pretty good. We miss you and stay safe!!
09/08/2008 | Davina Geddes
Your voyage looks to have been rather rough for the last few days, glad you've reached land again.How many more months will your trip take ? Davina
Aitutaki to Niue day 2
09/05/2008, enroute, Pacific

Friday 11am Friday morning finds us out from under the trough in sunny skies again. The ride is smooth with the wind and waves from astern. Removed one reef in the main this morning, so now sailing with two reefs in the main and full jib. Last night I tried to sneak some jib out but Nathalie noticed right away and came up from her bed to tell me no surfing tonight. So I rolled the jib all the way in for the second night in a row. It sure made for good sleeping and still fast enough that no boats would be able to overtake us during the night. Yes, some places are crowded such as Niue where there are only 20 mooring buoys and it's best to have one as it's very deep to anchor and a good chance to lose your anchor in a deep chasm. Last 24 hours 195miles, 187 miles to go.

Aitutaki to Niue day 1
09/04/2008, enroute, Pacific

Aitutaki to Niue Thursday 11am We stayed in Aitutaki for longer than we wanted to due to a slow moving BFH (Big Fat High) sitting to our southwest (1040+hpa). It blew 30 to 40 knots for days along with rain and cold. Forecast wave heights of 18-28 feet just outside of the harbor. It was the first time we had stayed longer than we had wanted to. Well after climbing the highest hill 3 times and eating in the same restaurants even though they were good, well you get the picture. So yesterday Wednesday September 3rd after being there for 10 days we decided to leave even though conditions had still not settled down. This because I saw a trough forming east of Niue that was forecast to become a pretty deep low right in our path by Sunday. The next opportunity to leave would have been in another 10 days. So that explains why we are out here in this weather, we left at 11:15am with a little sun shining, by the time afternoon arrived we were out of the lee of the island with 3 reefs in the main a scrap of jib poled out the other side surfing down the waves at up to 20 knots. Shortly after night fall we rolled up the jib completely and spent the night under main alone. We were still surfing some of the larger waves as the wind built to a steady 30 knots gusting to 36 knots with rain every so often. Any more wind and I would have removed all sail. The problem with large waves and wind is your average mile per day number is not fantastic as you are keeping the average speed down to keep the surfing under control. Give me 18 knots and smoother seas and I will have a much higher average speed. This morning finds us under rain but the wind has dropped to 20-25 knots so we have the jib out again. We left with three other boats, "Upps" our German friends had to change course to Palmerston Island to try and find some calm water to repair their self steering gear. "Excalibur" a Australian boat is doing well about 50 miles behind us and "Enswann" a French boat who does not have a radio is somewhere behind them. Mono-hulls do not like to sail directly downwind as there is no sideways pressure on the sails to keep them from rolling. Looking back at them rolling almost gunnel to gunnel in the big waves does not give me any urge to trade boats! "Orca 3" is waiting for us in Niue and "Malachi" is leaving Niue for Tonga today as they have to pick up friends there on the 7th. 188 miles in the last 24 hours 382 to go.

The blue lagoon of the cook islands
08/28/2008, Aitutaki, Cook Islands

8/28/08 Aitutaki Aitutaki entrance was not that easy! 40' wide and 6' deep at high tide. There is only one man made cut leading to a small harbor and because we are impatient by nature, we made our entry pretty stressful, coming in at low tide, it was very close!!!! But, we made it, slowly going through the narrow passage and the 3.5 lnots current then we had to anchor the Med way with our back line attached to a palm tree. It is a very cute but sleepy little island, not much happen, but we enjoyed renting a scooter and going around the island with the kids, they actually got to try the motorbike with shift gear and had a blast (only on very remote dirt path) but I think it was the highlight of their stay here. The lagoon is muddy near the shore but it is beautiful on the south motus of the island where the water is clear. People on Aitutaki are lovely. For weather reason, we are kind of stuck here for a week, but it is ok. A big german monohull called Upps (60ft!) came alongside O'Vive at high tide. Today another French boat came along the outer reef and was kind of hesitating to come through the pass, we went to see him to give him some info and he will wait for high tide tomorrow morning. For info, we draw 4.5ft (1.4 meter), Upps draw 1.7 m and the French boat 1.6 m, but remember wait for high tide! L'entrée du lagon de Aitutaki n'a pas ete tres facile! Il y a un seul passage assez etroit et peu profond surtout le derner tier, et comme nous sommes un peu impatients de nature, nous avons voulu passer juste après la maree basse, nous etions arrives depuis 1h et demi déjà. Nous sommes donc passes tres doucement, avec un courant contre nous de 3 noeuds et demi, cela a ete un peu stressant mais nous sommes arrives au petit port ou nous nous sommes amarres a la facon "Med", une ligne a l'arriere accroche au cocotier du rivage et l'ancre a l'avant . C'est une petite ile tres jolie et paisible. Nous avons loue des scooters et sommes partis a la decouverte de l'ile avec les enfants. Emilie et Alec ont essaye les scooters (en fait l'un des deux etait une moto avec changement de vitesse au pied) sur un petit chemin de terre loin de tout ou ils ne risquaient rien, ils se sont bien amuses. L'eau du lagon est trouble aux abords mais vers les motus au sud de l'ile, le lagon devient turquoise et transparent, c'est tres joli. Les gens sont tres sympas. Nous sommes coinces a Aitatuki pour une semaine en raison du mauvais temp a venir, mais c'est pas mal. Un monocoque allemand, Uups (60 pieds, 19 metres) s'est amarre le long d'O'Vive, ils sont arrives a maree haute! Aujourd'hui un autre monocoque francais est arrive pres du reef et n'etait pas sure de pouvoir entrer, nous sommes donc alles les voir en annexe pour leur donner un peu d'info et ils entreront demain a la premiere heure a maree haute. A titre d'information, notre tirant d'eau est de 4.5 pieds ou 1.4 m, le bateau Allemand, 1.7m, et le bateau Francais, 1.6m . En tout cas, attendez la mare haute, cela vous evitera des battements de coeur!!!!!

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Who: David, Alec, Emilie, Nathalie
Port: Tavernier, Florida USA
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