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

French Polynesia, Tuamotus - Part 2

24 July 2014 | Neiafu, Tonga
Voahangy
Tuamotus – May 23 – June 12, 2014

Part 2: Sharks, Pink sands and a birthday cake

Now for a different week. I would have been happy to spend another month in Hirifa, but the rest of the crew wanted more than just action in the kitchen. So we made a move for the South Pass, 7 miles further west, famous for its snorkelling. Of special interest was the “wall of sharks”, people from all over the world fly over to swim in! I told the kids this was the opportunity to face our fears, as Anne decided she suffered from galeophobia (fear of sharks). After a week on our own, the new anchorage felt like Grand Central station with a dozen boats parked, and dinghies and dive boats criss-crossing the bay loaded with divers and snorkelers.

Black tip sharks swimming under the boat, making for uneasy swimming off the platform! Anne read all about sharks in the encyclopedia from the harmless whale shark to the fearsome white pointer, and after watching the black tip specie here for a day or so, she decided they didn’t look so scary. So we all jumped in the dinghy and explored the south pass, snorkelling. Just like an aquarium! Terry and Marc have both had issues with their ears (Terry busted his ear drum back in Mexico, and can’t swim underwater let alone dive; Marc has troubles equalising, so can’t dive very deep either!), so scuba diving is now out of the question for our crew. Talking about bad luck! Still, the water was so clear and the marine life so amazing, that even snorkelling has been the most rewarding since the Solomon Islands 17 years ago! We had an absolute ball floating above the coral reef, with thousands of fish (sergeant majors, maori-wrass, angelfish, groupers, parrotfish, filefish, rays…) and hundreds of sharks (the harmless type).

Then, as we were organised to leave for Tahiti, the kids boats we had been waiting for last week and nearly gave up on, showed up! Change of plans followed: with a birthday party planned on REMI DE for Remi’s 9th birthday, we decided to stay on for a few more days, to keep them company. They should not have worried about being on their own anyway, as it turns out 6 or 7 other boats had heard about the party (VHF=boat equivalent of Facebook?) and decided to join us at the anchorage. It was a fun filled few days: bonfires on the pink sand beach, snorkelling expeditions in the pass, and relocation to Hirifa to enjoy Laiza’s hospitality. We were so happy to be back, sharing our find with our friends: Laiza’s was beside herself with excitement at the sight of her bay filled with yachts and children running around happily. She offered to cook a big dinner on her deck for Remi’s birthday, serving fougasse, pizzas and chocolate cake for the kids; poisson cru and BBQ chicken and frites for the adults…There must have been 30 of us crowding her otherwise very quiet place, which had been decorated for the occasion, with extra flowers and palm leaves! Both Laiza and Remi had a big smile on their face that night…

Of course, after the fun it was time to get back to more serious matters, which meant finding an internet connection so that Anne could sit a school test. The National Assessment program Literacy and Numeracy test (NAPLAN for short) is sat Australia wide by year 3, 5, 7 and 9 students. While the test period was from 26-29th May, overseas students like Anne were allowed 2 extra weeks to complete and return the papers. Internet is not easy to find in Fakarava, and I was planning to wait until Tahiti for any kind of online activities. The problem was that we were running out of time if Anne was to download the test papers, complete them over 2 days and return them to the Sydney School before the deadline of June 13. As it was, the weather conspired against us, with the wind shifting to the west and Terry declaring that we would never be in Papeete on time! Change of plans, again: we sailed north back to the village of Rotovoa (a 38nm choppy and windy motor in the lagoon!), to find out that we could not get WIFI on the boat. Luckily, Aldrich from FYS was nearby and offered us to come to his house to use their high-speed connection. So we spent 2 whole days downloading and uploading files, Anne completed her test in 1 day, and Aldrich was even nice enough during that time, to help Marc retrieve the data from his damaged hard-drive. I don’t know what we would have done without him and his wife Stephanie, offering assistance for nothing in return (actually, internet is free for clients who use their services, so I brought them a couple of laundry loads).

As usual I felt so at ease surrounded by these great people, I could have stayed in Fakarava another few days. But with the weather window being perfect, Terry was growing impatient to move on. Timing is crucial when transiting thru the passes of the Tuamotus: tidal currents can be quite strong (up to 6 knots for the outgoing) and it is best to wait for them to reverse or approach the pass from the edges. We were too late to catch the “slack tide”, so we took one final advice from Aldrich on how to handle the “square waves” of the north pass, raced out of the village anchorage to catch the last of daylight and let the 6 knots outgoing current sweep us out of the atoll like a conveyor belt.

The full moon rose, shining a beautiful light over the island, and once again, we left this place in awe of the kindness of its people and with unforgettable memories of underwater wonders!

Les Tuamotus – du 23 Mai au 12 Juin, 2014

2eme partie : Requins, sables roses et un gâteau d’anniversaire

Et c’est parti pour une semaine différente. Je serais bien restée encore un mois à Hirifa, mais l’équipage voulait voir autre chose que la cuisine de Laiza. Nous avons donc bouge jusqu’à la Passe Sud, 7 miles plus à l’ouest, renommée pour ses fonds et la faune marine. D’intérêt spécial : le mur de requins que des plongeurs du monde entier viennent spécialement en avion pour voir ! J’ai dit aux enfants que c’était l’occasion ou jamais de surmonter leurs peurs, vu qu’Anne a décidé qu’elle souffrait de « galeophobie » (peur des requins). Apres une semaine tous seuls, le nouveau mouillage a des airs de Gare de Lyon avec une douzaine de bateaux ancres, des annexes et des bateaux de plongées qui virent un peu partout charges de plongeurs et de snorkelleurs.

Avec des requins a pointe noire rassembles sous le bateau, il est hors de question de nager depuis la plateforme ! Anne a lu un tas d’information sur les requins dans son bouquin, de l’inoffensif requin baleine au redoutable requin blanc, et après avoir observé l’espèce a pointe noire pendant un jour ou deux, elle a finalement réalisé qu’ils ne sont pas si méchants que ça. Donc on a tous saute dans l’annexe et sommes partis à la découverte de la passe sud en snorkelling. C’est comme un aquarium ! Terry et Marc ont tous deux des problèmes d’oreilles (Terry s’est perce le tympan au Mexique et ne peut plus mettre la tête sous l’eau, encore moins plonger ; Marc a du mal à égaliser la pression et ne peut pas plonger très loin non plus !), du coup pas de plongée sous-marine pour l’équipage. Pas de bol !mais l’eau est si limpide et la faune sous-marine tellement belle, que même le snorkelling est magnifique, le meilleur depuis notre visite aux iles Solomons il y a 17 ans ! On a adore flotter le long du récif, au milieu de milliers de poissons (sergent majors, napoléons, poisson-anges, mérous, perroquets, balistes,…) et des centaines de requins (les gentils !)

Puis, alors qu’on s’apprêtait à partir pour Tahiti, les bateaux familles tant attendus la semaine précédente se sont pointes ! Apres avoir abandonné tout espoir de les revoir, on a change tous nos plans : une fête d’anniversaire étant prévue sur REMI DE pour les 9 ans de Remi, on a décidé de trainer encore quelques jours pour lui tenir compagnie. En fait, si ils s’inquiétaient d’être seuls pour le jour J, ils n’auraient pas dû, car 6 ou 7 voiliers avaient entendu parler de la fameuse fête (VHF=équivalent nautique de Facebook) et avaient rejoint le mouillage exprès. Ce furent des journées bien remplies : feux de camps sur la plage den sable rose, expéditions snorkelling dans la passe, et relocalisation a Hirifa pour profiter de l’hospitalité de Laiza. On était très contents d’être de retour et faire profiter nos amis de ce bijou : Laiza était folle de joie à la vue de sa baie remplie de voiliers et la plage qui pullulait de gamins courant partout. Elle a proposé un grand buffet sur sa terrasse pour l’anniversaire de Remi, servant fougasse, pizzas et gâteau au chocolat pour les enfants ; poisson cru et poulet grille frites pour les adultes…On a dû être 30 ou plus à se bousculer dans son restau d’habitude bien calme, qui pour l’occasion était décoré de fleurs supplémentaires et de feuilles de palmes ! Laiza et Remi ont toutes les deux revêtu un beau sourire ce soir la…

Bien sûr après les festivités il a fallu se remettre aux choses sérieuses, notamment retrouver une connexion internet pour qu’Anne puisse passer un test a l’école. Le « National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy » ou NAPLAN se déroule dans toute l’Australie et s’applique aux élèves de CE2, CM2, 5e et 3e. Les dates d’examens étaient du 26 au 29 Mai, mais les étudiants à l’étranger avaient droit à 2 semaines supplémentaires pour faire le test et le renvoyer. Internet n’est pas facile à trouver à Fakarava, et j’avais l’intention d’attendre Tahiti pour toutes nos activités en ligne. Le problème c’est qu’on n’avait plus beaucoup de temps pour qu’Anne télécharge ses épreuves, les passe en 2 jours et renvoie les copies à l’école de Sydney avant la date limite du 13 juin. Pour compliquer encore plus, la météo s’est retournée contre nous avec un vent d’Ouest et Terry a déclaré qu’on n’arriverait jamais à Papeete a temps ! Changement de plans à nouveau : on a file au nord vers le village de Rotovoa (une nav ventée et hachée de 38 miles au moteur dans le lagon) pour constater qu’on ne pouvait pas avoir de signal WIFI a bord. Heureusement que Aldrich de FYS était dans le coin et nous a proposé de venir dans sa maison et utiliser leur connexion haut débit. On a ainsi passe 2 jours à télécharger des fichiers, Anne a passé toutes ses épreuves de maths et d’anglais en une journée et Aldrich a même été sympa pendant ce temps, en aidant Marc à récupérer ses données qu’on croyait perdues sur le disque dur endommage. Je ne sais pas ce qu’on aurait fait sans son aide et celle de sa femme Stéphanie, tous deux offrant leur assistance sans rien demander en retour (en fait, internet est gratuit pour les clients, je leur ai demandé de faire un peu de lessive)

Comme d’habitude je me sentais tellement bien parmi ces gens très sympathiques que j’aurais pu rester à Fakarava quelques jours de plus. Mais la fenêtre météo était maintenant parfaite pour naviguer sur Tahiti, et Terry commençait à s’impatienter. Le timing est crucial quand il faut négocier les passes aux Tuamotus : les courants peuvent être forts (jusqu’à 6 nœuds sortant) et il vaut mieux attendre qu’ils s’inversent ou longer les bords de la passe. On était trop tard pour l’étale de la marée, donc on a pris un dernier conseil d’Aldrich pour négocier le mascaret dans la passe nord, déguerpi du mouillage pour profiter des derniers rayons du soleil et laisse le courant de 6 nœuds nous porter à l’extérieur de l’atoll…comme un tapis roulant.

Madame la Lune s’est levée, baignant l’ile d’une lumière douce et encore une fois on quitte cet endroit impressionnés par la gentillesse des habitants et des expériences sous-marines inoubliables !
Comments
Vessel Name: VOAHANGY
Vessel Make/Model: Lagoon 560
Hailing Port: Sydney
Crew: Terry, Voahangy, Marc, Anne Steen
About:
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
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Created 25 July 2014
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Created 25 July 2014
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Created 30 June 2014
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Created 30 June 2014
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Created 28 June 2014
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Created 23 June 2014
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Created 15 May 2014
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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!
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Created 25 December 2012
Unforgetable summer cruising around Block island, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard.
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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...
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Created 30 June 2012
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Created 31 May 2012
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Created 25 May 2012
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Created 14 April 2012
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Created 14 April 2012
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Created 30 March 2012
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Created 5 March 2012
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Created 12 February 2012
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Created 12 February 2012
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Created 28 January 2012
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Created 8 January 2012
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Created 4 January 2012
40 Photos
Created 28 December 2011
What happens during a transat?
40 Photos
Created 14 December 2011
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Created 19 November 2011
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Created 19 November 2011
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Created 19 November 2011
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Created 19 November 2011
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Created 19 November 2011
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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
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Created 8 September 2011

S.V VOAHANGY

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