Steen Rally

Follow us on our sailing adventure from France to Australia

30 December 2015 | Sydney
29 July 2015 | Sydney
15 January 2015 | Sydney
22 December 2014 | Sydney
21 November 2014 | Cairns, Australia
02 November 2014 | Cairns, Australia
21 October 2014 | Port Vila, Vanuatu
01 October 2014 | Fiji
20 September 2014 | Fiji
08 September 2014 | Fiji
24 July 2014 | Neiafu, Tonga
06 July 2014 | Tahaa. French Polynesia
23 June 2014 | Moorea
23 June 2014 | Moorea
15 June 2014 | Papeete, Tahiti
14 May 2014 | Marquesas, French Polynesia
13 May 2014 | Marquesas, French Polynesia
10 May 2014 | Marquesas, French Polynesia

Superstorm Sandy

11 November 2012 | Fort Lauderdale
Charleston, Oct 24-Nov 2, 2012

For us cruisers, the key to safety is preparation. We take care of the boat with regular maintenance, scheduled refits, believing that it will take care of us in return (i.e. stay afloat and remain a comfortable home while taking us places). We also take great care of watching the weather, choosing routes according to the seasons and watching out for possible storms before setting sail. An eye on the sky and an ear to the weather radio!

Beside sight-seeing, one of the reasons we decided to spend the northern summer and fall cruising the United States’ north east was to escape the Caribbean hurricane season. It typically lasts from June to November, the riskiest months being August and September. Occasionally a hurricane will travel as far north as New York (as hurricane Irene did last August) but that’s pretty unusual. This year’s summer has been exceptionally warm in the US and free of any major storms. We did experience a couple of severe thunderstorms in Washington DC and Newport RI, with winds gusting up to 70 knots, but in each case it only lasted 30 minutes and we were safely anchored, so were never in any danger.

As the season advances, the likelihood of a tropical storm decreases and with the temperatures dropping, we have shifted our focus more on cold frontal systems originating from the Mid-West. The general idea is to either sail south before a front reaches us, or stay put and ride the northwesterns behind it as high pressure builds along the coast.

We left Annapolis on Sunday Oct 21, when the weather was great, but Terry was worried about a cold front coming from the Midwest and we didn’t want to get caught in that. It wasn’t until we were half way down the Chesapeake Bay that we saw a tropical storm developing near Jamaica in the Caribbean’s, and predicted to move slowly north towards Florida within a week. Dilemma was this: did we turn back and wait for the storm to pass and disappear out to sea as most tropical storms do, all the while risking running into the cold front we were trying to avoid, or did we keep going, pushing to the safest harbor while the weather was still good? We knew we had a 3 day window before conditions deteriorated and quickly looking at the charts, we established that we could make it to Charleston, South Carolina, in time. I called the Charleston Harbor Marina and booked a space, and decision was made to keep sailing.

The trip down was windless, sunny and beautiful, which felt weird considering that we were travelling between 2 big lows, we even caught fish (2 tuna fish and a sailfish we released as we don’t enjoy eating protected species) so overall had a great time.

We arrived in Charleston on Wednesday Oct 24, a very warm day, welcomed by dolphins frolicking inside the marina (permanent residents we’re told), and if it wasn’t for the now never ending storm warnings on TV, you’d never have known something terrible was brewing. Sandy, as the storm was now called, was sitting outside Florida and moving north slowly towards the Carolinas. The wind gradually picked up and by the time it reached our latitudes on Saturday Oct 27, the barometer was down to 977mb, we experienced heavy rain and strong gusts, but as the storm was located some 300 miles out to sea we never saw anything over 40 knots.

Obviously we were glad to be in Charleston, had we stayed in Annapolis would have been more traumatic (though they experienced hurricane force winds and rain, our friends didn’t suffer any damage I must say.) Most distressing was watching the damage caused by Sandy between New Jersey and Long Island, where other friends on land seriously coped it! To think that a lot of the places we enjoyed this summer have been smashed/wiped/buried is heart breaking. It will take a long time to clean up and recover, and we feel for the American people who have been touched by this tragedy. Thankfully, all our cruising friends in the US we’ve contacted were safe and counting themselves lucky the storm didn’t reach them.

It’s November 2nd, the after effects of Sandy here have been very strong and cold winds as frigid air from Canada has been sucked in all week. We’ve stayed put at the marina, unable to get off the boat for 2 days, as waters from the bay kept breaking over the floating jetty. Basically we’re waiting for the gales to die down and the seas to settle enough for our next leg to Savannah, Georgia, 65nm south. I know, it is a short trip, nevertheless we’re watching these weather grib files thoroughly, waiting for the perfect window. With less than a month to go until the official end of hurricane season, we like to think that Sandy was the last storm for the year; but one thing we never forget is that safety comes first (yes, before fun!) and we have to remain vigilant no matter what.

(*) Apologies for the delay between posts, I thought it best to mention our Sandy experience sooner rather than later.

Charleston, 24 Octobre-2 Novembre, 2012

Pour nous, naviguer en toute sécurité est une question de préparation. Nous bichonnons le bateau en l’entretenant régulièrement et renouvelant l’équipement en cas de besoin, nous assurant ainsi qu’il nous demeurera fidèle (non seulement en restant à flot et mais aussi un cocon confortable qui nous transporte d’un endroit a l’autre). On surveille également la météo, en choisissant notre route selon les saisons et gardant un œil sur les possibles tempêtes avant d’appareiller. L’œil rive sur le ciel et l’oreille collée a la radio !

A part le tourisme, une des raisons pour laquelle nous avons décidé de naviguer cet été et automne dans le Nord Est des Etats-Unis était d’éviter la saison des cyclones dans les Antilles. Elle dure normalement de Juin à Novembre, Aout et Septembre étant les mois les plus « à risque ». Occasionnellement un cyclone atteint jusqu’à New York (comme le cyclone Irène l’a prouvé en Aout dernier) mais c’est plutôt rare. Cet été il a fait très chaud aux Etats- Unis et les tempêtes se sont faites assez rares. On a fait l’expérience de 2 violents orages à Washington DC et Newport RI, avec des vents de près de 70 nœuds, mais dans les deux cas cela n’a duré qu’une demi-heure et nous étions mouilles en toute sécurité, donc jamais en danger.
Au fur et à mesure que la saison avance, la probabilité d’une tempête tropicale diminue et alors que l’air se refroidit, notre attention se porte plus sur les fronts froids qui se forment dans le Midwest. L’idée est ou de mettre le cap sur le Sud en mettant le plus de distance possible entre la dépression et nous, ou bien attendre qu’elle passe et profiter des vents de nord-ouest qui soufflent derrière résultant d’une zone de haute pression le long de la cote.

Nous avons quitté Annapolis le dimanche 21 Octobre, le temps était superbe, mais Terry s’est inquiété a la vue d’une de ces dépression provenant du Midwest et on ne voulait pas risquer de se faire prendre dedans. Ce n’est qu’une fois à mi-chemin dans la baie de Chesapeake qu’on a vu une tempête tropicale se développer près de la Jamaïque, les experts annonçant une lente trajectoire vers la Floride d’ici une semaine. Le dilemme était le suivant : faisions nous demi-tour et attendions que la tempête passe et disparaisse en mer comme les tempêtes tropicales le font d’habitude, tout en prenant le risque de rencontrer la dépression qu’on essaye d’éviter ; ou continuions nous en mettant le cap sur le port le plus sur pendant que la météo était encore bonne ? Avec 3 jours avant que les conditions ne se détériorent, on a calculé qu’on pouvait atteindre Charleston dans la Caroline du Sud a temps. Par chance on a pu réserver une place à la Charleston Harbor Marina, donc la décision fut prise : on continue droit devant !

Ce fut une navigation parfaite, calme et ensoleillée, ce qui était d’autant plus étrange qu’on se savait naviguer entre 2 grosses dépressions. Nous avons même pêché (2 thons et 1 voilier qu’on a relâché, vu que nous n’aimons pas consommer des espèces protégées), c’est pour dire !

Nous sommes arrivés à Charleston le mercredi 24 octobre, par un jour de grande chaleur, accueillis par des dauphins qui s’amusent dans la marina (des résidents permanents apparemment), et si ce n’était pas pour les avis de tempête en boucle a la télé, qui aurait deviné qu’un drame se profilait à l’horizon ? La tempête maintenant nommée Sandy, était située au large de la Floride et se déplaçait lentement vers la Caroline. Le vent s’est intensifie progressivement et lorsqu’il atteint nos latitudes le samedi 27 octobre, le baromètre avait chuté à 977mb, la pluie n’arrêtait pas de tomber, accompagnée de grosses rafales, mais la tempête demeurant à 300 miles au large, nous avons eu la chance de ne sentir pas plus de 40 nœuds de vent.

De toute évidence nous étions heureux d’être à Charleston, ça aurait été une toute autre histoire si nous étions reste à Annapolis (rassurez-vous, malgré les conditions cycloniques, nos amis la bas s’en sont bien tires). Le plus pénible a été de voir les dégâts causés par Sandy entre le New Jersey et Long Island, ou d’autres de nos amis à terre ont sérieusement souffert ! Ca nous fend le cœur de constater tous ces endroits où nous avons passé de bons moments cet été, détruits, ensevelis, rayes de la carte. Il leur faudra beaucoup de temps pour s’en remettre, et on compatit pour les Américains qui ont été affectés par cette tragédie. Les bateaux amis que nous avons contacté aux US sont tous sains et saufs et soulages de ne pas avoir été sur le passage de la tempête.

Nous sommes le 2 novembre, les séquelles de Sandy cette semaine ont été des vents très forts et froids, causes par l’aspiration d’un air glacial venant du Canada. On est restes à la marina, ne pouvant pas quitter le bateau pendant 2 jours, car les vagues n’arrêtent pas de déferler sur le ponton. En gros, nous attendons que le vent tombe et la mer se calme avant d’entamer notre prochaine navigation vers Savannah, Georgie. Ce n’est qu’une courte distance, 65 miles nautiques, mais on observe les fichiers grib scrupuleusement, guettant la bonne fenêtre météo. La saison des cyclones s’achève officiellement dans moins d’un mois, en théorie Sandy devrait donc être la dernière tempête tropicale cette année, mais n’oublions jamais que la sécurité compte avant tout et qu’il vaut mieux rester vigilants.

(*) Desolee pour le delai entre les billets, je pensais qu’il valait mieux mentionner notre experience Sandy maintenant plutot que dans quelques semaines.
Vessel Name: VOAHANGY
Vessel Make/Model: Lagoon 560
Hailing Port: Sydney
Crew: Terry, Voahangy, Marc, Anne Steen
Terry, 71, skipper, ex-pilot, surfer, aerobatics champion, can fix anything, never sea sick, loves a beer, hates the cold, is happiest anchored off a deserted beach. [...]
VOAHANGY's Photos - Main
84 Photos
Created 20 November 2014
2 glorious months, cruising various parts of Fiji. So many different experiences in one country: lush rainforests, colourful indian towns, blue lagoons, traditional villages, great fishing, fancy resorts... And the best part was sharing the cruising with family and friends. Can't beat Fiji with company! Here is a collection of our favourite moments (and there are a few!!!)
1 Photo | 8 Sub-Albums
Created 12 October 2014
Some of the whales actions we witnessed in Tonga, to read with the Whales action post by Anne!
7 Photos
Created 1 October 2014
Whale watching, snorkelling, bonfires, making new friends...One of the most remote and austere destination, far away from big tourism, with friendly people holding on to their traditions. Weather a bit chilly, but who cares???
46 Photos
Created 10 September 2014
49 Photos
Created 25 July 2014
15 Photos
Created 25 July 2014
9 Photos
Created 25 July 2014
38 Photos
Created 30 June 2014
20 Photos
Created 30 June 2014
72 Photos
Created 28 June 2014
55 Photos
Created 23 June 2014
27 Photos
Created 15 May 2014
37 Photos
Created 11 May 2014
40 Photos
Created 30 March 2014
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 15 March 2014
The time finally came to leave...a month of celebrations and sadness!
30 Photos
Created 5 March 2014
Another holiday within the holiday! Spent 13 fantastic days in Whistler, British Columbia joined by Aussie friends David and Denise. First time on skis for them, perfecting camps for Marc and Anne, loads of fun for everyone.
70 Photos
Created 8 February 2014
Nothing like having family and friends coming for a visit in the sun. Lots of eating, drinking, swimming, laughing...showing everyone our small paradise.
99 Photos
Created 30 January 2014
End of school year in Puerto, many get togethers before flying off to Paris for a family Christmas.
25 Photos
Created 23 January 2014
Day of the Dead festival, a friend visiting from Australia, Anne participating in her first martial arts tournament,...As usual a lot of eating and socialising!
40 Photos
Created 2 December 2013
68 Photos
Created 6 November 2013
Having visitors means putting on our tour guide hat "Voahangy & Co in Mexico", much exploring and eating: ruins, cenotes, beaches, villages, markets,... . I shared Mexican cooking lessons and was repaid with Dutch baking classes from our French guest. We ate a lot of cakes this month! So much sugar, no candies needed for Halloween this year, just parties...
74 Photos
Created 1 November 2013
This is the slowest month of the year in Mexico: hurricane threats, hot and humid weather, torrential rains drive the tourists away and confine the rest of us indoors. It poured for 22 days non stop! We still managed a dive (in the rain) for Father's Day, a day of all you can eat and drink at the local resort for Terry's birthday, and as usual lots of cooking and eating. Just on cue, the weather cleared at the end of the month for the arrival of Marie Suzanne, a French girlfriend. So lots of touring and catching up. Celebrated Mexican Independence Day all month long (it seems), eating black beans and pork verde!
47 Photos
Created 10 October 2013
No excursions this month. Just hanging around Puerto Aventuras, school, friends, ...Sat thru a couple of storms, torrential rains, big winds...Nowhere to go so more time spent in the galley and writing about it!!!
33 Photos
Created 12 September 2013
Holiday month for everyone: visitors from the USA, kids in and out, parties, US National Day celebration, French National Day celebration, Tulum for a night (bliss...) The start of a new food blog meant a month spent in the galley experimenting. Not much in terms of local food, mostly home cooked French. Chocolate cake anyone?
41 Photos
Created 24 August 2013
Holiday Seasons with old and new friends, provisioning and preparing to leave the USA...
54 Photos
Created 16 July 2013
End of school year performances, lots of baking/cooking for school festivities, Marc hospitalised, first tropical storms testing our nerves, road trip to Belize... Eat ceviche, my latest food addiction!!!
15 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 8 July 2013
Lots on! An interesting road trip to the Chiapas region, wonderful ruins of Palenque, green and lush Tabasco, Anne's birthday, Cozumel by boat, Kids sports graduation...Eat chilaquiles, breakfast with a difference.
26 Photos | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 2 July 2013
Settling down and mixing with the locals: kids are off to school, birthday parties, more of Tulum, unexpected reunion with fellow cruisers. Eat: black bean soup!
30 Photos
Created 2 July 2013
Not much tourism this month. We finally made the decision to stay for the rest of the year. So it's head down with school, get together with cruising friends ( they're passing thru while we stay behind) and switching to "landlubber's" mode. Resolved to eat at home more often, back to healthier diet.
19 Photos
Created 13 June 2013
Exploring the Yucatan peninsula by car, to Uxmal ruins and Merida. More of Tulum. Marc's Birthday. Try Flyboarding. Join in the local community of Puerto Aventuras. Xel-Ha. Discover Playa del Carmen. Eat nachos.
27 Photos | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 13 June 2013
Landfall in Isla Mujeres, find our way around our new home in Puerto Aventuras, excursion to Coba ruins, discover Tulum, swim with dolphins, eat tacos...
31 Photos | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 13 June 2013
Our last few weeks (even months) have been spent in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico. Not much cruising for us, more like enjoying company of new friends, safety of a protected harbor, and relaxing for a while, knowing we don't have to go anywhere for a while...
25 Photos
Created 2 April 2013
2 weeks in an island where time has stood still for 50 years! Road trip La havana - Vinales- Cienfuegos - Trinidad - La Havana. Cruise down the west coast, beautiful beaches, good fishing, diving,... Warm waters at last!!!!
3 Sub-Albums
Created 5 February 2013
To be enjoyed while reading the post!
43 Photos
Created 31 December 2012
Exploring Charleston and Savannah
1 Photo | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 27 December 2012
2 weeks shore leave, driving to Shenandoah National Park: lots of hiking, eating "country style" food, looking for bears, avoiding bears...Long drive across to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to visit the Wrights brothers memorial and Cape Hatteras.
28 Photos
Created 25 December 2012
Caught up with friends, left the boat on display at the 2012 Boat Show, toured historic downtown and US Naval Academy, watched a football game...welcome to the US sailing capital!
51 Photos
Created 25 December 2012
Unforgetable summer cruising around Block island, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard.
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 16 December 2012
46 Photos
Created 17 October 2012
A leisurely cruise from New York to Newport. Quite anchorages, fresh ocean breeze, ...a million miles away from Big City living!
37 Photos
Created 5 September 2012
July and September in the Big Apple. Cruise, Eat, Shop, Walk,...Look at some of our best memories (work in progress, I am still sorting thru thousands fo photos!)
1 Photo | 4 Sub-Albums
Created 3 September 2012
Museums, memorials, parks, bike trails...the most photogenic city.
85 Photos
Created 15 August 2012
First voyage in July, on our way to Washington DC. Passing thru quaint and historical towns, sampling crabs and oysters in hot summer nights... Returned in September, enjoying all Annapolis has to offer (well, nearly), and the spectacle of autumn foliage.
20 Photos
Created 15 August 2012
Where there are some seriously clever people!
22 Photos
Created 15 August 2012
29 Photos
Created 20 July 2012
Shore leave: Make believe, dreams come true, thrills, fast food...Anything goes here!!!
42 Photos
Created 20 July 2012
Welcome to America! Our port of entry, last moments with friends, base for a mini-refit, and our first taste of the USA...
18 Photos
Created 30 June 2012
59 Photos
Created 31 May 2012
17 Photos
Created 25 May 2012
33 Photos
Created 25 May 2012
52 Photos
Created 25 April 2012
19 Photos
Created 14 April 2012
30 Photos
Created 14 April 2012
28 Photos
Created 30 March 2012
28 Photos
Created 5 March 2012
40 Photos
Created 12 February 2012
36 Photos
Created 12 February 2012
25 Photos
Created 28 January 2012
49 Photos
Created 8 January 2012
37 Photos
Created 4 January 2012
40 Photos
Created 28 December 2011
What happens during a transat?
40 Photos
Created 14 December 2011
44 Photos
Created 19 November 2011
22 Photos
Created 19 November 2011
40 Photos
Created 19 November 2011
13 Photos
Created 19 November 2011
18 Photos
Created 19 November 2011
30 Photos
Created 17 November 2011
21 Photos
Created 30 October 2011
18 Photos
Created 22 October 2011
24 Photos
Created 1 October 2011
21 Photos
Created 8 September 2011


Who: Terry, Voahangy, Marc, Anne Steen
Port: Sydney