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 Bora Bora to Tonga

08 September 2014 | Fiji
Voahangy
Passage from Bora Bora to Tonga - July 15-24, 2014

"The weather forecast is hopeless: no wind for at least 5 days, we'll have to motor" Terry announced gloomily. "Oh what a shame!" I replied, but secretly I was soooo relieved. It's no secret that any breeze over 20 knots sends me (and the kids) in a spin, and renders us useless.

It was a glorious start, with very little wind, flat seas and beautiful sunshine. For 7 days, Terry tried every sail combinations he could think of to make the most of a persistent 8 knots north easterly breeze, wishing he could turn the engine off. I suggested tacking and bring the wind more on the beam so we could actually sail, but he isn't the kind to zigzag, he'd rather go straight to our destination. The argument is: better going in the right direction slowly, than fast to nowhere. We averaged 150nm a day, caught 3 fish, ate like kings and queens, and managed to keep up with school.

Then, Terry got his wish: the wind shifted on day 8, first blowing from the NW at 16 knots, then from the W at 22 knots, from the S at 30 knots, and the SW at 35-40 knots! We went around in circles, endured squalls after squalls, following the wind to ease the ride (mindful of our loose windows!) and by day 9, we settled for a 15 knots SW breeze and a 100nm windward ordeal! We appeared to have entered the South Pacific Convergence Zone, a weather region where different pressure systems meet. It is a common phenomenon occurring when trade winds moving towards the Equator reach an area of low pressure, the air then rises, moisture is released resulting in much cloudiness, thunderstorms and heavy rainfall. While the zone is in constant motion, it usually interacts with the front of a low pressure system sweeping eastwards in the south Pacific. It is not unusual to suffer the effects from one of the cold fronts blowing from the southern ocean, and some sailors refer to this stretch of ocean as "the dangerous middle". The weather experienced at the zone can be relatively benign or dramatic, depending on the strength of the front.

It turns out that a big cold front was affecting New Zealand and blowing strong and freezing winds our way. While sea conditions were not dangerous, they certainly made for a very uncomfortable trip. This must have been the longest 100 nm in the history of this boat: lots of crashing and banging, we ended up bashing our way in with 2 engines running at 2000rpm, 1 storm sail and 2 reefs in the main! Needless to say that the cook went MIA and the crew made do with vegemite and crackers for 2 days. We had decided to make a straight line for Tonga, skipping places like Aitutaki or Suvarow along the way, on the basis that we had seen enough beaches for now. Well, what I wouldn't give for a nice quiet atoll now!!! On the bright side, I am pleased to report that our windows held up, unlike our VHF antenna, one sliding door and something in the port bilge which keeps the pump going constantly (still unidentified at that stage!). Skipper has a busy week ahead doing repairs!

We arrived in Tonga, cold and wet (somehow the weather now feels more like winter than tropical), tied up to the Neiafu customs/fishing dock as requested by the authorities and waited for the officials to board us. Within 10 minutes, health and quarantine arrived, followed by customs and immigration. We offered them coffee and cakes made for the occasion, shared a few pleasantries (the immigration guy was tickled pink when he glanced thru my passport and found his initials on the 2008 entry stamp!), one of the officers scored a piece of fish we were happy to partake with in exchange for keeping all our fresh fruits and vegetables. All paperwork was completed in 1 hour, quite efficiently in our books! Then we were off to the mooring field joining the crowd of other yachts. Marc's first question was: "do we have WIFI?"

Navigation de Bora Bora a Tonga - du 15 au 24 Juillet 2014

« La météo s'annonce mal : 5 jours sans vents, il va falloir se mettre au moteur » annonça Terry d'un air sombre. « Oh, mince alors ! » fut ma réponse, bien que secrètement j'étais ravie. Ce n'est un secret pour personne : par brise de 20 nœuds ou plus, les enfants et moi devenons un équipage qui ne vaut rien, confines dans le carre du au mal de mer.

Tout a bien commence, avec effectivement très peu de vent, une mer plate comme un lac et un soleil resplendissant. Pendant 7 jours, Terry a essayé toutes les manœuvres possibles pour optimiser une brise de 8 nœuds venant du nord est, en espérant pouvoir éteindre le moteur. Je lui ai bien suggéré de tirer des bords et faire du bon plein, mais notre capitaine n'est pas du style a zigzaguer, il préfère aller droit au but. Son argument clé est : mieux vaut aller lentement dans la bonne direction, que rapidement nulle part. On a donc ainsi fait des moyennes de 150 miles nautiques par jour, attrape 3 poissons, mange comme des rois et des reines et réussi à maintenir le rythme scolaire.

Puis le vœu de Terry s'est réalisé : le vent s'est pointe le huitième jour, d'abord venant du NO à 16 nœuds, ensuite plein ouest à 22 nœuds, puis plein sud à 30 nœuds et enfin SO a 35-40 nœuds ! On a fait des ronds dans l'eau, essuyé grains après grains, suivant le vent pour soulager le bateau (en surveillant nos vitrages qui tiennent à coup de scotch !) et le neuvième jour s'est terminé avec une brise de 15 nœuds soufflant du SO et encore 100 miles nautiques à parcourir au près ! On était entre dans la zone de convergence du pacifique sud, terme météorologique pour décrire une perturbation ou des systèmes d'air différents se rejoignent. Ce phénomène est assez commun, et prend naissance quand les alizés soufflant vers l'équateur rattrapent une zone de basse pression, l'air s'élève, l'humidité est relâchée avec pour résultats nuages, orages et averses. Cette zone bouge constamment et son activité est normalement liée a une dépression qui se déplace vers l'est dans le Pacifique Sud. Il n'est pas inhabituel de sentir les effets d'un front froid sévissant plus au sud et certains navigateurs appellent cette partie de l'océan « le milieu dangereux ». Les conditions dans cette zone peuvent être relativement bénignes ou dramatiques selon la sévérité du front.

Au moment de notre passage, il s'est avéré qu'une grosse dépression affectait la Nouvelle Zélande, générant des vents forts et froids dans notre direction. La mer n'était pas dangereuse, mais les conditions étaient inconfortables. Nous avons vécu les 100 miles les plus longs dans l'histoire de ce L560 : entre les rebondissements des coques et les fracassements des vagues sous la nacelle, on a continué tant bien que mal avec nos 2 moteurs tournant à 2000 t/mn, 1 tourmentin et 2 ris dans la grand-voile ! Inutile de dire que la cuisinière était en grève et l'équipage a dû se contenter de biscuits et vegemite pendant 2 jours. On avait décidé de rallier Tonga sans escale, en délaissant Aitutaki et Suvarow, partant du principe qu'on avait vu assez de plages. Eh bien, qu'est-ce que je n'aurais pas donne pour un atoll bien calme en ce moment !! Ceci dit, j'ai le plaisir de reporter que nos vitrages ont tenu, à la différence de notre antenne VHF, une porte coulissante et quelque chose dans la cale bâbord qui n'arrête pas de déclencher la pompe (encore non identifie jusque-là). C'est une grosse semaine de réparations qui s'annonce pour le capitaine !

Nous sommes finalement arrives a Tonga, frigorifies et trempes (bizarrement le temps est plus hivernal que tropical), et avons amarre au ponton des douanes/pêcheurs comme le veulent les autorités pour attendre d'être abordes. A peine 10 minutes se sont écoulées que les officiers du département Sanitaire et Phyto se sont pointes, suivis par la douane et l'immigration. On leur a offert du café et des gâteaux (fait exprès pour l'occasion), partage quelques plaisanteries (le monsieur de l'immigration était tout ému de découvrir ses initiales dans mon passeport lors de notre passage en 2008), et obtenu de garder nos fruits et légumes à bord (en échange de quoi un des officiers a récupéré une part de poisson). Tous les papiers furent faits en 1h, très efficace a notre avis ! Puis on s'est dirigé vers la zone de mouillage ou tous les autres bateaux sont rassemblés. Et la première question de Marc : « On a le WIFI ? »

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
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
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
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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
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Created 8 September 2011

S.V VOAHANGY

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