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

Mustique fantastic

30 December 2011 | Mustique, Grenadines
December 26-29, 2011

We've decided to end this last week of 2011 on a high note, heading for Mustique island.

A mere 10nm from Bequia, we enjoyed a brisk 90 minutes sail on a broad reach. I started to think that if all navigations were to be that short and in such perfect conditions, this could be the ultimate sailing playground!

Commonly known as "billionaire's island", Mustique was acquired in the late 1950s by an English gentleman by the name of Colin Tennant. He found the island so beautiful, he decided to make it a haven for his wealthy and aristocratic friends. One of the first to be convinced of the project was late Princess Margaret whose villa "les Jolies Eaux" was one of the first built. Word of mouth ensued, and many of the rich and famous followed as owners of holiday homes there, Mick Jagger, Tommy Hilfinger, David Bowie, to name a few. Since 1968, the island has been managed by the Mustique Company which is a consortium of land owners many of whom rent their homes to (well heeled) vacationers. I can't help compare the Mustique Company with some of the body corporates we deal with in Australia, and seeing what a great job they are doing at preserving their investment, I wonder what an AGM would be like! Some of the decisions taken to control development on Mustique, include limiting the number of plots (114 I read), restricting building heights to the tree line, and having the island and surrounding waters to one kilometre offshore declared a Conservation Area.

The result is truly remarkable: imagine Australia's Port Douglas and Hamilton Island blended together, without the deadly creatures (jellyfish or crocodiles), the high rise buildings, the mass tourism (vessels carrying more than 25 passengers are not allowed) and with a Caribbean feel to it. The Mustique Company has 75 villas available for rent (when the owners are not in residence that is), ranging from 1 bedroom bungalow to 11 bedroom estate, with weekly tariff between US$5000 and US$150,000. Of course, house staff is included (at least a cook/chef), as well as a vehicle, laundry service and managers cocktail party! Should you prefer a hotel style accommodation, you have a choice between the fancy 5 star Cotton House resort or the more intimate Firefly 4 rooms guest house (or exclusive retreat as they call themselves!) As far as eating out is concerned, choices are limited to 3 restaurants ( at Cotton House and Firefly) and the more informal Basil's Bar, once voted one of the top 10 beach bars in the world (more on the eating scene later). There are 9 beaches, all equally pristine and well groomed ( you can see rakes marks on the sand!), shady pathways and sign posted nature trails, a picturesque fishing village and boutiques (2) as pretty as a picture! Everything about the place feels nice and cozy, neat and well organised, a real fantasy island!!

Ok, by now I hear you ask, how could you afford to stay there on your boat?
Well, as exclusive as Mustique is, it is friendly and welcoming to visiting yachts. Mooring is allowed in Britannia Bay only, using one of the 30 moorings made available. We picked the buoy closest to the bar, which seemed like a good idea at the time but proved to be a noisy affair every night! There is a conservation fee of US$75 charged for the boat , which entitles us to a 3 night stay. In our books that is quite reasonable, considering that we can hike all across the island, explore the beaches, attend the managers weekly cocktail party (yes, the same I mentioned before!), and run into any celebs who may be in residence at the time (Mick Jagger was easy to recognise). As long as you stay away from private driveaways, and stay discreet if and when meeting famous locals, you can wander around as you please.
Well, to a degree! Talking about celebrities, we hired a taxi to tour the island and were disappointed to find out that all the beaches on the eastern side were off-limits until January 9, due to many high-profile guests staying on the island for the holidays. The same happens during Easter and August, apparently, so should you want to have full access to the island, pick the off season (ie not the northern hemisphere holidays). It didn't matter in the end, we discovered beautiful Lagoon and Gelliceaux beaches, the snorkelling around Britannia Bay was splendid and the views from the top of the hill across Bequia and St Vincent priceless. Even the water around the boat was crystal clear, and Marc and Anne spent hours with ARC friends Alex and Sulyna, swinging and jumping off the bow.

Not everything was so perfect though, and for the foodies that we are, we had high expectations regarding the restaurant scene. We indulged by having a candlelit dinner at Firefly for our anniversary, and attending Basil's Wednesday night BBQ buffet followed by a jump up with the kids. Both totally different experiences (one romantic nestled among the rainforest, the other rowdier in thatch and bamboo huts perched on stilts over the water), equally expensive (think A$150pp at Firefly and A$25 for a hamburger at Basil's...) and of average quality and service (maybe that's why the rental houses come with a chef!!) Terry was less than impressed (warm beer at the bar!), claiming we eat better meals on board.
Much more fun and value for money for the yachtie that I am, was following the house staff (easily identified by their uniform featuring the name of the residence they work at) carrying out their daily provisioning at the grocery store. Ahhhh, the Corea's Food Store: a real Aladdins cave full of goodies from all over the world, gourmet sauces, nuts, chocolates, and to my surprise Vegemite! I am afraid I lost all sense of reason and parted with A$7.50 for a small jar, but hey, we don't know when we'll find it again in that part of the world. Back to the island cooks, without exception, they and the shop keepers were the friendliest people, taking the time to explain the use of some items (your best christophene's recipe? How to make coconut chips?) Mind you, Terry reckons that is part of their training, treat everyone equally, we may be celebrities after all !!!

So, our verdict in the end? Forget the expensive accommodation and restaurants, I reckon you can do Mustique on little more than US$25 a day! Just bring your boat (or charter one), fill up with provisions, take a picnic to the beach, mix your own cocktail and watch the sunset from the boat, listen to the music coming out of Basil's Bar late into the night, and enjoy the star filled night sky... The views cost you nothing and the experience is just as special. Now, if only I could convince Terry to return...

Cette derniere semaine de 2011, finissons l'annee en beaute: cap sur Moustique.

A peine a 10 miles nautiques de Bequia, super navigation de 90 minutes par grand largue. Si toutes les navigations sont aussi courtes et dans des conditions aussi parfaites, nous sommes dans un terrain de jeu ideal!

Communement appelee "l'ile aux milliardaires", Moustique a ete acquise a la fin des annees 50 par un gentleman anglais au nom de Colin Tennant. Il trouva l'ile si belle qu'il decida d'en faire un havre de paix pour ses amis aristocratiques et richissimes. Parmi eux, la Princesse Margaret est une des premieres personnes a se laisser convaincre et construit sa villa "Les Jolies Eaux". Ensuite, le bouche a oreilles aidant, d'autres personnalites suivront le pas, et la liste des proprietaires inclut des noms comme Mick Jagger, Tommy Hilfinger et David Bowie. L'ile est geree par la Mustique Company depuis 1968, un consortium de proprietaires qui, lorsqu'ils n'y sejournent pas, louent leurs residences a de tres riches vacanciers. Imaginez les reunions de coproprietaires, lorsque il faut prendre des decisions! Le development de l'ile est strictement controle et certaines mesures comprennent la limitation du nombre de lotissements (114 d'apres mes informations), la hauteur des maisons ne doit pas depasser la cime des arbres, et l'instigation d'une zone de conservation couvrant non seulement l'ile mais aussi les eaux environnantes a 1 kilometre.

Le resultat est merveilleux: un melange de Port Douglas et Hamilton island en Australie, sans les creatures mortelles (meduses et crocodiles), les immeubles, le tourisme de masse (tout bateau avec plus de 25 passagers a bord n'est pas autorise) avec une ambiance antillaise.
La Mustique Company offre 75 villas a louer, la selection allant d'un bungalow d'une chamber a un domaine de 11 chambres, les gammes de prix entre 5000$US et 150000$US la semaine. Les tariffs comprennent le personnel de maison (un chef/cuisinier minimum), un vehicule, service de buanderie, et invitation a la cocktail party hebdomadaire! Si vous preferez rester dans un hotel, vous avez le choix entre le resort 5 etoiles Cotton House ou le gite de luxe Firefly. En ce qui concerne la restauration, les choix sont tout aussi limites: 3 restaurants (a Cotton House et Firefly), et le plus decontracte Basil's Bar, autrefois sur la liste des 10 meilleurs bars dans le monde (je reviendrais sur les restaus plus loin).
L'ile est entouree de 9 plages, aussi belles les unes que les autres, tres bien entretenues (on peut voir les marques de rateau dans le sable), il y a plusieurs chemins de randonnes, un village de pecheur tres pittoresque, des boutiques (2 !) a la façade multicolore! Bref, l'endroit respire la quietude, tout y est beau, douillet, tres bien organise, une vraie "fantasy island".

Bon, je vous entends maintenant demander, comment peut on se permettre d'y aller sur notre bateau?
Moustique est certes tres chic, mais reste ouverte aux plaisanciers. Les bateaux sont autorises a mouiller dans Brittania Bay, ou Mustique Moorings a installes 30 bouees. Nous avons pris celle qui etait la plus proche du bar, pensant etre tres malins, pour finalement avoir 3 nuits tres bruyantes! Le cout de 75$US par bateau nous couvre jusqu'a 3 nuits. A notre avis, c'est tres raisonnable, vu que nous pouvons parcourir l'ile de long en large, nous ballader sur les plages, nous rendre a la cocktail party hebdomadaire (oui, la meme que les vacanciers!), et apercevoir qui sait certaines personalites en vacances... (Mick Jagger etait facile a reconnaitre!) Au fond, tant que nous gardons nos distances et respectons les allees privees, on peut se balader partout.
Enfin, presque partout, car lors de notre ballade en taxi autour de l'ile, on a appris que toutes les plages sur la cote est (les plus belles) etaient fermees au public jusqu'au 9 janvier a la demande de certains "people" en villegiature pendant les fetes. Apparemment, c'est la meme chose a Paques et au mois d'Aout, donc vous etes prevenus pour vos prochaines reservations! On etait donc un peu decus, mais finalement ca n'avait pas d'importance car on a decouvert les plages divines de Lagoon et Gelliceaux, le snorkelling dans Brittania Bay etait splendide et le panorama sur Bequia et St Vincent du haut de la colline...magnifique. Meme l'eau au mouillage etait tellement limpide, que Marc et Anne ont passé des heures avec Alex et Sulyna (copains de l'ARC) a patauger et plonger.

Ile idyllique donc pour les paysages et les activites, mais on ne peut pas en dire autant pour la restauration. Pour les amateurs de gastronomie que nous sommes, nous nous attendions a des menus haut de gamme, et etions prets a nous faire plaisir avec un diner au chandelles a Firefly pour notre anniversaire de marriage et un BBQ buffet chez Basil's Bar avec les enfants. Resultat des courses: 2 experiences tres differentes ( une soiree romantique entoures de lucioles en pleine foret, un dinner plus "rustique" dans des cabanes en bambous et toit de chaume sur pilotis), aussi couteuses l'une que l'autre ( compter 110 euros pp a Firefly et 20 euros pour un hamburger a Basil's), d'une qualite et service assez moyens pour le standing (sans doute pour ca que les villas sont louees avec un chef!) Terry surtout n'a pas apprecie de se faire servir de la biere tiede, et declara que l'on mange mieux a bord.
En ce qui me concerne, j'ai trouve plus rigolo et avantageux, de suivre les chefs employes de maison (faciles a identifier avec leurs Tshirts portant le nom de leur maison) qui faisait leur courses quotidiennes a l'epicerie. Ah, mes amis, le Corea's Food Store: une vraie caverne d'Ali Baba, avec des produits du monde entier, sauces, noix, chocolats, et a ma surprise Vegemite d'Australie! La j'ai ferme les yeux et depense 6 euros pour un petit pot, ce n'est pas tous le jours qu'on en trouve. Mais pour en revenir aux chefs de l'ile, ils etaient tous, sans exception avec les commercants, super aimables et gentils, prenant le temps de m'expliquer comment utiliser certains des produits locaux (c'est quoi votre meilleure recette pour christophines? Comment on fait des chips de coconut?) Il faut dire, comme me le rappelle Terry, que ca fait partie de leur job, traiter tout le monde de la meme facon, après tout on pourrait etre des "celebrities" nous aussi!!!

Le mot de la fin donc: Oubliez les hotels et restaus chers, on peut tres bien apprecier Mustique pour 25$US par jour! Il suffit d'y aller en bateau ( le votre ou louez en un), faites les provisions avant de partir, emmenez un pique nique a la plage, faites vous un cocktail and profitez du coucher du soleil sur le pont, ecouter la musique provenant de Basil's Bar toute la nuit, en admirant les milliers d'etoiles...Les vues ne coutent rien et l'experience toute aussi passionnante. Si seulement, je pouvais convaincre Terry de revenir...
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
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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
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Created 25 May 2012
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Created 25 May 2012
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Created 25 April 2012
19 Photos
Created 14 April 2012
30 Photos
Created 14 April 2012
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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
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Created 19 November 2011
30 Photos
Created 17 November 2011
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Created 30 October 2011
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Created 22 October 2011
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Created 1 October 2011
21 Photos
Created 8 September 2011


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