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

Passage Panama to Marquesas - Part 2

14 May 2014 | Marquesas, French Polynesia
Passage Panama to Marquesas - Part 2 - April 9 to May 1, 2014

As expected, the weather has been good to us, we experienced a few squalls but nothing serious. In fact, as fickle as the winds were at the start, they ended up consistent enough to allow us to sail most of the way ( we have logged 60 hours of engine time so far out of 500 hours ). The kids and I started the trip a little quizzy (these long ocean swells!) but soon settled in. Watches have been easy, since there's virtually no traffic and nothing to watch out for! Marc and Anne being older, they have been assigned watch duties ( middle of the day for Anne, early evening for Marc) so no one can complain of lack of sleep. Our days are spent doing sail changes (for exercise sake really as the wind has hardly changed in the past 2 weeks), school, cooking, washing up, reading (or writing), movie watching and of course eating. It has been going well. Yet, we all feel listless, waiting for something to happen, to break the routine.

Mechanical breakdowns don't count, though we've had a fair share of them on this passage: emergency sail repairs and electric failures have been unwelcomed distractions keeping Terry busy on a regular basis. Marc assists often, making me hope he picks up mechanical skills along the way. He certainly enjoys the timeout from his school books.

The fishing has been average: after weeks of failed attempts, lure changes and false alarms, we finally caught 1 yellowfin tuna, 3 mahi-mahi and a good sized spearfish. It sounds like a lot but it happened over 3 days, shortly after we passed the Galapagos. It must have been a fairly fertile area (maybe a current line) because we have had no action since day 13! Even then it was hard work. As we had no bites during the day, Terry thought we'd try night fishing and leave the lines out after dark. Sure enough, that's when the big yellow fin striked and the boys struggled for an hour to bring him in. It was midnight by the time we had it bled, cut and in fillets! The spearfish took nearly half the line early in the morning, and again Terry and Marc spent a very a long time bringing him in. The fish fought hard, maybe too hard as he was in pretty bad shape when we landed him on the backstep. Once we saw its beautiful sail and realised how big it was, we wanted to release him but the hook had damaged him so much Terry reckoned he would not have survived anyway. So we kept him.

While company was rare 6 years ago, it has been relatively more frequent this time. We crossed 2 cargo ships bound for Chile (day 4 and day 13), 2 superyachts bound for the Galapagos (day 3 and day 8), and overtook 2 Australian yachts, MOANA ROA and MALUA heading for the Marquesas (day 13). We had a nice chat over the VHF, long enough to establish we had mutual friends in REMI DE and make a tentative arrangement to meet later, as one of the boats has teenagers onboard. On a spooky note, while 120NM east of the Galapagos (day 5), we had the visit from 2 fishermen on their "lanchas". What was unnerving about it was the fact that they seemed to come out of nowhere, showing up on our stern (we always watch ahead of the boat, rarely behind!) and to our surprise asked for food. I rummaged thru our supplies and found a packet of biscuits, some cereal bars and cans of Cokes that Marc handed over, then they took off at great speed in the horizon. While Terry ad Marc thought it was "cool", I found the incident eerie: the sight of the fast approaching launch brought still vivid memories of a near-encounter with pirates in Surinam and I can't fathom why anyone would be so far out on the ocean in an open boat. Terry reckons they were checking their fishing grounds. Who knows.

Easter and my birthday provided more pleasant diversions. I baked Hot cross buns and uncovered a packet of snack size Hershey's chocolates, which substituted for Easter Eggs (though we skipped on the actual hunt!) Anne is following in my cooking footsteps and baked the most luscious Chocolate fondant for my birthday. In fact she has been a keen learner, observing my every move in the galley and offering to make dinner a few times. She says it helps her with maths and problem solving. She loves baking and has supplied us with so many cakes and biscuits, I've had to channel her energy towards healthier endeavours like filleting a fish! Marc is the happy recipient of all these gourmet activities, ensuring we don't have leftovers. Terry always sneaks in checking for happy hour snacks and hoping this effervescence in the galley turns into a party. Unfortunately for him, it hasn't, mostly due to the fact that I don't drink alcohol on passages and I like to keep the place tidy at sea (you never know when the weather will turn bad on you, washing up with a hangover in force 7 is not nice!) A bit boring, but I promised to make up for it on arrival.

So we're well fed, we spend more time with each other than any other family I know (both in quantity and quality), and our boat (though needing some TLC) is faithfully taking us where we want to go. Why this feeling of apathy then?
No doubt the excessive intake of carbs (all these breads and cakes!) and lack of exercise play a lot in our physical lethargy. Figuring out what goes in our mind is more complex. It could be a mixture of disappointment and apprehension: Las Perlas was a big letdown, so were the Galapagos (though the latter was more wishful thinking!). I remember loving the Marquesas and wishing we could have stayed longer. I just hope not much has changed.

But then again, who I am kidding? We have changed ourselves. We have expectations we didn't have 6 years ago. The kids have grown: our 5 year-old Dora follower and Lego playing 10 year-old, have turned into music listening teenagers who may still enjoy a board game with their parents but would rather surf the internet and hang out with their friends (to their credit, they've only mentioned it twice in 3 weeks) While they once used to enjoy the moment, both are now constantly thinking ahead, focusing on our return to Australia. Could they just be biting their time until then? We all know that this cruise will end this year and once back in Australia the emphasis will shift to a smooth "reintegration into society", something the kids are more eager than we are, but Terry and I are committed to nonetheless.

I just SO want all of us to enjoy these next few months, as the climax of a great adventure rather than a mere delivery trip to be done with. To this end, already, we're due to catch up with Australian friends on REMI DE who we have not seen since Florida in 2012, and arrived in the Marquesas 1 week ago. Like us, they are heading home and we're hoping to cruise together for a while, along with other family boats we meet on the way. So, even if we are sailing thru familiar places and the kids get a feeling of "déjà vu", we'll be enjoying it with new company.

As I write, we only have 80NM to go before making landfall in Fatu Hiva, Marquesas. One more sleep and we will have been at sea for 21 ½ days, that's 36 hours ahead of Terry's predictions and 2 days ahead of mine! It's a good time, though no better than the last time on the L500. This baby does weigh a lot more, and with our damaged sails, we haven't pushed it too fast: with top speeds of 11.5 knots, we happily averaged 7.5 knots. No bullet train, but that's OK. The boat is comfortable enough for us to keep going for another to speak. Really,we all look forward to stretching our legs ashore, beach for Anne, hiking for Terry, internet for Marc, and a trip to the market for me!

Navigation Panama aux marquises – 2eme partie – du 9 avril au 1er mai 2014

Comme prévu, la météo a été clémente, nous avons essuyé quelques grains mais rien de bien méchant. En fait, les vents qui étaient changeants au départ, ont fini par être suffisamment constants pour nous permettre d’être sous voiles la plupart du temps (jusque-là nous avons enregistré 60 heures de moteur pour un total de 500h de navigation). Les enfants et moi nous sommes sentis malades au début (cette longue houle !) mais tout est rentré dans l’ordre par la suite. Les quarts ont été faciles vu qu’il n’y avait pratiquement pas de trafic et rien à surveiller ! Marc et Anne étant plus âgés, se sont vu assignes leurs propres quarts (en milieu de journée pour Anne, début de soirée pour Marc), donc personne ne peut se plaindre du manque de sommeil. On passe nos journées à faire des manœuvres (pour l’exercice en fait, vu que le vent n’a pas bien change ces 2 dernières semaines), l’école, la cuisine, la vaisselle, lecture (ou rédaction), séance cinéma et bien sûr à manger. Tout s’est bien passe jusque maintenant. Et pourtant on se sent mous et avachis, dans l’attente que quelque chose se passe pour briser la routine.
Les pannes ne comptent pas, bien qu’on ait eu notre dose pendant ce passage : réparations de voiles et pannes électriques ont été des distractions fâcheuses qui occupent pas mal Terry. Marc assiste régulièrement, me donnant l’espoir qu’il va ainsi développer des aptitudes mécaniques. En attendant il profite à fond de ces pauses loin de ses cahiers.
La pêche a été moyenne : après des semaines de tentatives ratées, des changements de leurres et fausses alarmes, nous avons finalement pris 1 thon jaune, 3 daurades coryphènes et un gros voilier. Ça parait beaucoup, mais ce n’était que sur 3 jours, peu de temps après avoir passé les Galápagos. On a dû traverser une zone fertile (sans doute un courant) car rien ne mord depuis le jour 13 ! En plus quel travail. Comme rien ne se passait de jour, Terry a décidé d’essayer la pêche de nuit et a laissé les lignes après le crépuscule. Ça n’a pas manqué, c’est là que le thon jaune a mordu et les hommes ont mis au moins une heure pour le remonter. Le temps de le saigner, le dépecer et me le livrer en filets, il était minuit ! Le voilier lui nous a enlevé presque toute la ligne le lendemain matin, et Terry et Marc ont mis à nouveau pas mal de temps pour le ramener. Le poisson s’est bien battu, peut être même un peu trop car il était en mauvais état quand il a atterri sur la jupe arrière. A la vue de sa taille et de sa voile magnifique on voulait le relâcher mais l’hameçon l’avait tellement amoche, Terry ne pensait pas qu’il survivrait. Donc on l’a garde.
Il y a 6 ans les rencontres étaient rares, cette fois les contacts étaient plus fréquents. Nous avons croisé 2 cargos à destination du Chili (jour 4 et jour 13), 2 superyachts en route pour les Galápagos (jour 3 et jour 8) et dépassé 2 voiliers australiens, MOANA ROA et MALUA se dirigeant sur les marquises (jour 13). Nous avons papote sur la VHF, et découverts que nous avons REMI DE comme amis communs, et comme l’un des bateaux a des ados a bord on s’est promis de se revoir plus tard. Pour parler de choses plus bizarres, alors qu’on était à 120MN des Galápagos (jour 5), nous avons eu la visite de 2 pêcheurs sur leurs « lanchas ». Le plus déconcertant était le fait qu’ils sont apparus de nulle part, se pointant a l’arrière du bateau (on regarde toujours à l’avant, rarement derrière) et surprise, nous demandant à manger ! En fouillant dans les equipets je leur ai trouvés un paquet de biscuits, des barres de céréales et du Coca Cola que marc leur a tendu, puis ils ont disparu à toute allure vers l’horizon. Terry et marc ont trouvé ça cool, mais cet incident m’a donné la chair de poule : la vue d’une vedette s’approchant rapidement m’a rappelé notre quasi-rencontre avec des pirates au large su Surinam et je n’imagine pas ce qu’une petite embarcation comme ça fait en pleine mer. Terry pense qu’ils devaient inspecter leurs casiers de pêche. Qui sait.
Paques et mon anniversaire ont été des distractions plus agréables. J’ai fait des Hot Cross Buns et trouve un paquet de mini chocolats Hershey qui ont fait office d’œufs de Pâques (bien qu’on ait renonce à la chasse aux œufs). Anne suit mes traces dans la cuisine et nous a fait un délicieux fondant au chocolat pour mon anniversaire. En fait elle est une bonne élève, elle observe tout ce qui se passe dans la cuisine et prépare de diner parfois. Elle dit que ça lui fait réviser ses maths et aide à résoudre les problèmes. Elle adore faire de la pâtisserie et nous a fait tellement de gâteaux et biscuits que j'ai dû rediriger son énergie vers des activités plus ‘saines » comme découper un poisson ! marc est l’heureux bénéficiaire de ces activités gourmandes en s’assurant qu’il n’y a pas de restes. Terry se glisse sournoisement à la recherche de snacks en espérant que toute cette effervescence mène à une fête. Malheureusement pour lui, ce n’est pas le cas jusque-là, dû en grande partie au fait que je ne bois pas d’alcool en navigation et je préfère garder le bateau propre et bien range quand on est en mer (on ne sait jamais quand le vent va tourner, et faire la vaisselle par force 7 un lendemain de fêtes, ce n’est pas le top !). Je sais, ce n’est pas drôle mais j’ai promis de me rattraper a l’arrivée.
Donc nous voilà bien nourris, on passe plus de temps ensemble que n’importe quelle famille, et notre bateau nous transporte fidèlement là où nous voulons aller. Alors pourquoi ce sentiment d’apathie ?
Il n’y a pas de doute, la consommation excessive de féculents (tous ces pains et gâteaux) et le manque d’exercice sont responsables de notre léthargie physique. Mais pour ce qui se passe dans nos têtes, c’est une autre histoire. Il se peut que ce soit un mélange de désappointement et d’appréhension : Las Perlas a été une grosse déception, ainsi que les Galápagos (quoique on n’espérait pas grand-chose). Je me souviens avoir adore les Marquises et souhaite y rester plus longtemps. J'espère que ça n’a pas trop change.
Mais après tout, ne nous leurrons pas. Nous-mêmes, nous avons changé. Nos attentes sont différentes d’il y a 6 ans. Les enfants ont grandi : notre petite fan de Dora n’a plus 5 ans et notre joueur de Lego n’a plus 10 ans, ce sont maintenant des ados qui écoutent leur musique sur écouteurs et bien qu’ils continuent à apprécier un jeu de société avec leurs parents, ils préfèreraient surfer sur internet et trainer avec leurs copains (il faut reconnaitre qu’ils ne l’ont mentionné que 2 fois en 3 semaines). Avant ils vivaient dans le moment, maintenant tous les 2 sont constamment dans le future, en train de planifier leur retour en Australie. Se pourrait-il qu’ils prennent leur mal en patience en attendant ? On sait tous que cette croisière va se terminer à la fin de l’année et une fois de retour en Australie l’important sera de se réintégrer dans la société, chose que les enfants ont plus hâte de faire que nous, mais Terry et moi nous sommes engagés vis-à-vis d’eux.
J’aimerais tant que tout le monde profite de ces prochains mois comme l’apogée d’une grande aventure au lieu d’être un simple convoyage a finir le plus vite possible. A cette fin, nous avons déjà prévu de retrouver nos amis australiens sur REMI DE, que nous n’avons pas vu depuis la Floride en 2012, et sont arrivés aux Marquises il y a une semaine. Comme nous, ils rentrent chez eux et on espère faire un bout de chemin ensemble, ainsi qu’avec d'autres bateaux familles qu’on est surs de rencontrer en route. De cette façon, même si nous traversons des endroits familiers et les enfants ont une impression de déjà-vu, au moins ils auront de la compagnie.
Au moment où j’écris, il ne nous reste que 80MN avant d’atterrir à Fatu Hiva, dans l’archipel des Marquises. Encore une nuit et nous auront passés 21,5 jours en mer. C’est 36 heures de moins que ce que Terry avait prévu, et 2 jours plus tôt que mes prédictions ! C’est un bon temps, même si on n’a pas fait mieux que sur le Lagoon 500. Le L560 est bien plus lourd, et avec nos voiles endommagées on n’a pas osé aller trop vite : avec une vitesse maximum de 11,5 nœuds, on a fait une moyenne de 7,5 nœuds. Pas exactement le TGV mais ça nous suffit. Le bateau est suffisamment confortable pour continuer 4000MN de plus…pour ainsi dire. Vraiment, on a hâte de se dégourdir les jambes à terre, plage pour Anne, randonnée pour Terry, internet pour Marc et visite du marché pour moi !

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
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Created 25 July 2014
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Created 25 July 2014
38 Photos
Created 30 June 2014
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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