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

Whale watching in Vava'u

01 October 2014 | Fiji
Tonga – July 24 to Aug 8, 2014

As I mentioned in the previous post, we arrived in Tonga early in the season and the weather is surprisingly cold!!! As we reached Nuie, the wind came from the S-SE and turned definitely fresh (from Antarctica?). Our quilts and winter PJs came back in service as the overnight temps dropped down to 15C (45F?) and swimming lost its appeal. Instead we focused on looking for whales!

Southern winter is the best time to see humpback wales as they migrate from Antarctica to warmer breeding grounds including Tonga’s tropical waters. They particularly enjoy the calm waters between Vava’u islands and we were lucky to observe acrobatic moves from some of the animals as well as mums and their calves resting or playing. Whale watching is a burgeoning industry in Tonga, often combined with fishing charters (if the fish don’t bite, most boats will look for whales instead). Strict regulations apply and whale watch operators, who are mostly expats, don’t always see kindly to cruisers undertaking their own whale watch. We were once followed by one commercial boat, seemingly wanting to make sure we didn’t disturb the mother and calf (there is a “safe” distance of 100 meters to keep) we were observing. It is also illegal to swim among the animals, unless doing so with a whale watch operator (and we have seen up to 10 people in the water splashing around much less than 100 meters away from the animal!) The feeling of being under scrutiny took some of the magic some days and had us wondering if all this was done for the sake of the whales or the preservation of business ( people pay $200 a day for a peak and a swim ) Still, we came across a few while navigating and witnessed some fantastic behaviours. Instead of trying to describe them, I thought I’d share with you Anne’s story which she wrote for school. Whale watching thru the eyes of an 11-year old:

Whales Actions

If you go to places like Tonga, you will see a lot of whales. Unfortunately, it is illegal to swim with whales, unless you go with a Whale Watcher company. But you can still see the whales and what they do, from your boat. And with this brochure of mine, you can find out about whale behaviour at the top of your head.
Blow- This is the most seen out of all. It’s when a whale comes up for air. You can tell because there is a spray coming out of its blowhole.
Breaching- breaching is probably the action that most people want to see. This is when a whale jumps out of the water and lands on its back or side. This action is what Humpback whales do the most.
Fluking- When a whale’s tail rises out of the water when it dives.
Head rise- A whale’s head vertically coming out of the water.
Pec Slap- Usually when a whale claps the surface of the water with its fins, as if saying goodbye.
Tail Lob- Lobbing the tail in the air.
Tail Slap- When it slaps its tail on the surface of the water.
Tail Swipe- Usually, when the tail comes out of the water and waves it to one side.
Hope all these wonderful actions helps you notice if there’s a whale! Hope you start whale watching!

PS: pictures of these actions can be seen in the blog’s photo gallery

Tonga – du 24 Juillet au 8 Aout, 2014

Comme je l’ai déjà mentionné, nous sommes arrivés aux Tonga en début de saison et le temps est étonnamment frais ! Une fois passes Nuie, le vent a tourné au sud-est et la température a carrément chute (venant de l’antarctique ?). Les couettes et les pyjamas sont à nouveau de service et la baignade a perdu tout son attrait. On préfère maintenant faire la chasse à la baleine (au sens figure bien sûr ! !)

L’hiver austral est le meilleur moment pour admirer les baleines à bosse lors de leur migration depuis l’Antarctique vers les lieux de ponte plus chauds comme les eaux tropicales des Tonga. Ces cétacés apprécient les eaux calmes autour des iles de Vava’u et on a eu la chance d’observer quelques acrobaties ainsi que des ébats plus tendres entre femelles et baleineaux au repos. L’observation des baleines (whale watching) est une industrie florissante aux Tonga, souvent conjuguée avec les excursions de pêche (quand les poissons ne mordent pas, beaucoup de bateaux décident d’observer les baleines). Les règlementations sont strictes et les opérateurs, pour la plupart des expatries, ne voient pas d’un bon œil les plaisanciers qui entreprennent leurs propres observations. Une vedette commerciale nous a suivi de près un jour, apparemment désireuse de s’assurer que l’on ne dérangerait pas la baleine et son petit qu’on observait de loin (il y a une distance de sécurité de 100 mètres à respecter) C’est aussi illégal de nager parmi les animaux, a moins d’être accompagne par un opérateur homologue (et nous avons alors compte jusqu’à 10 personnes barbotant a bien moins de 100 mètres de la baleine !) L’impression d’être sous surveillance constante a gâché la magie du moment plusieurs fois, nous poussant à nous demander si tous cela était fait pour protéger les baleines elles-mêmes ou simplement pour préserver le business (il en coute $200 par personne par jour pour un coup d’œil et une baignade). Ceci étant, on a réussi à rencontrer quelques baleines lors de navigations et furent témoins de comportements incroyables. Au lieu d’essayer de les décrire tous, je préfère partager avec vous le rapport qu’Anne a rédigé pour son école : l’observation des baleines a bosse vu par une enfant de 11 ans.

Les comportements de baleines

Si vous vous rendez aux Tonga, vous verrez beaucoup de baleines. Malheureusement, nager avec les baleines est illégal, à moins d’y aller en compagnie d’un « Whale Watcher ». Mais on peut toujours observer les baleines et ce qu’elles font depuis le bateau. Grace à ma brochure, vous pouvez découvrir le comportement des baleines facilement.

Blow (le souffle) – le comportement le plus visible. C’est quand une baleine prend sa respiration. L’eau sort par un évent, au-dessus de la tête de l’animal, et forme un nuage de vapeur.
Breaching (le saut) – le Breaching est l’action que la plupart des gens veulent voir. C‘est quand une baleine bondit hors de l’eau et retombe sur le dos ou sur le cote. Cette action est la plus fréquente chez les baleines à bosse.
Fluking (queue) – Lorsqu’ ‘une baleine sort sa queue de l’eau avant de plonger.
Head Rise (espionnage en surface) – Quand une baleine sort la tête perpendiculairement et reste ainsi un moment.
Pec Slap (coup de nageoire) – La baleine roule sur le cote, brandit une nageoire hors de l’eau, puis en frappe la surface plusieurs fois, comme si elle disait au revoir.
Tail Lob – la baleine « lance » sa queue en l’air
Tail Slap ( coup de queue) – la baleine effectue de violents coups de queue à la surface de l’eau.
Tail Swipe – quand la baleine remue sa queue sur le cote tout en nageant en surface.
J’espère que toutes ces actions vous permettront de repérer des baleines ! Bonne chance !
PS : les images de certaines de ces actions sont disponibles dans la galerie du blog.

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