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

New Year's Eve 2014 in Sydney Harbour

15 January 2015 | Sydney
Voahangy
The festive season has come to an end and I hope you all had a jolly good time with family and friends.

We certainly did, being back in Australia for the occasion and celebrating in earnest.

Christmas was a family affair, spread over 3 days. Following the French tradition, Christmas Eve is the most important night for us and I have always hosted dinner in the past. This year however, Terry's son, Malcolm and his family offered to host it at their place, which was a blessing as I could not imagine accommodating 20 people on the boat for a sit down dinner AND a present opening session. It was a beautiful afternoon, with all the kids and their families present: Craig and Kathy, Shelley and Jai, Tania, Danielle's family, the grand-kids spent time in the pool while the adults prepared for the feast. Everyone brought a signature dish, duck and a chocolate log in my case, featuring along with curry puffs, smoked salmon, guacamole, big salads, massive roast pork and more food I can't remember! Christmas Day was more of the same, at friends' place, with yet more food and extra celebrations for Shelley's birthday. And to top it all, our Cairns friends David and Denise joined us on Boxing Day.

Thus the stage was set for a week of festivities, to bring in the New Year. You can't be in Sydney on a boat at the end of December and NOT attend the NYE fireworks. It is one of the greatest free events on the planet and the joyful atmosphere is unforgettable. Decades ago, while in Sydney we'd never miss it. We last attended in 2008 on our previous catamaran and looked forward to doing it again. From past experiences, we knew it would be mayhem on that night, with thousands of boats converging in the harbour and trying to find the perfect viewing spot. The problem is that a great majority of them aren't used much during the year and skippers/owners take big parties on NYE without much preparation: no anchoring skills, some with no anchors at all, let alone fenders and certainly no common sense or knowledge of anchoring in a crowded space. I did my research on the Sydney NYE official website, finding out the location of the exclusion zone, best vantage points, and the official program.

Accompanied by Malcolm on his sportsfisherman's boat, Pole Dancer, we left Cronulla on Dec 29, allowing enough time to find a spot in Athol Bay, at the bottom of Taronga Zoo, strategic spot offering a spectacular view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Wolloomooloo and the eastern Sydney beaches. Arriving 3 days in advance allowed us to pick our spot in a relatively empty anchorage, with Malcolm tying alongside. One of the advantages of the location is the proximity of a small beach and the Taronga Zoo ferry which commutes across the harbour every 15 minutes: a short dinghy ride to the wharf was all it took to hop on and be in the city for either a walk, a provisioning trip (ahhhh, the fish market!) or pick up guests. One of the disadvantages however is the exposure to boat traffic and the incessant wakes of ferries, container and cruise ships, and fast boats during the day...from 6am to 6pm, our boat rolled constantly, so bad was it on day 2 that Pole Dancer threatened to smash into our topsides and we had to release it and anchor it a few meters away, where it could rock and roll without harming anyone! While our guests enjoyed a visit to the Zoo, Terry and I stayed onboard: him to watch out for any potential drama and myself on cooking duty for the big night. December 31 was such a hectic day: hundreds of boats poured into the bay, tensions rose as most late comers had scant regard for others, anchors were dragged, hulls touched, and the NSW Water Police patrolled constantly looking for drunks or speeding dinghies. On board, our full contingent of guests finally here, the serious partying started: Malcolm on BBQ duty, David in charge of peeling seafood, the girls assigned to salads assembly and cake decorating...not forgetting the drinks, which Terry gave all his attention to. Being a hot day, the kids begged us to let them swim off the boat. I was reluctant at first for all sorts of reasons: fear of sharks and jellyfish, non-stop traffic around us, and uncertainty about the cleanliness of the water. Then again, everyone else around us was splashing in the water, so I figured the sharks would find someone else to nibble on, Anne found out that the Sydney Harbour jellyfish are the non-stinging kind (just slimy and disgusting!) and I solved the safety issue by restricting the swimming area to the space between our 2 hulls and using our tender lift as our private beach (the Lagoon people would be so proud...it was the main selling point when they tried to convince us to go for the hydraulic dinghy platform rather than davits!). Watching the antics, partying and dancing on other boats provided the rest of the entertainment.

The fireworks didn't disappoint, they were as beautiful as ever! The entertainment started with aerial displays, followed by water cannon displays, then light displays...we had fireworks at 9pm ( so the young ones didn't miss out), then light parades until the 12-minute great finale at midnight to bring in the New Year! It was sensational and somehow all the stress of the past 3 days evaporated, as we stood on deck enthralled with the show. It was a noisy fun filled night, and as I looked around at all the other boats around us, I reflected on the diversity of the boating community: there certainly was a wide range of skills out there, from the young guns out on their tinnies without much understanding through to experienced bluewater cruisers, megayachts and anything in between. Still, we were all out there to enjoy the same thing...and judging by the smile on everyone's faces and the sound of cork popping all around, a good time was had by all!

It was not long before our crew retired down below. Thanks to a bit of cabin re-assignment and a couple of blow up mattresses, our 14 guests found somewhere to sleep...which was infinitely better than walking home that night! By the morning, most boats were gone. It was a glorious sunny day, and we set off early ourselves on our 3-hour trip back to Cronulla. Close to home, we anchored off Jibbon beach, at the edge of the Royal National Park, for a lunch stop and one last swim before finally tying up at the marina in the afternoon. 2015 is off to a good start!

PS: Considering the potential for trouble, things went quite smoothly. Based on previous experience, I anticipated maritime police crackdown ("Who is in charge of the vessel?"), rowdy behaviour from hoons, anchor dragging, chain lifting, boat rage...this year was very tame. Yes, we had the typical Riviera/Princess/Maritimo skipper roaring in with massive wakes, small monohulls trying to squeeze their anchor between large catamarans only to realise they'd lose the swinging battle, and of course a strong southerly change overnight tested everyone's ground tackle (luckily, this happened on the 30th, when there was still plenty of swinging room!) But overall, it was quite a drama free New Year's Eve, where everything ran like clockwork and everyone enjoyed themselves.

Réveillon 2014 dans la baie de Sydney

Maintenant que la période des fêtes s'achève, j'espère que vous avez tous passe de bons moments entoures par ceux qui vous sont proches.
Ce fut certainement notre cas, de retour en Australie pour l'occasion et prêts à faire la fête !!!

Noel fut une affaire de famille qui dura 3 jours. Suivant la tradition française, le 24 Décembre est la nuit la plus importante pour nous et dans le passe, le réveillon de Noel s'est toujours déroulé chez nous. Cette année cependant Malcolm, le fils de Terry, et sa famille se sont proposés d'accueillir tout le monde chez eux, geste très apprécié de ma part car je n'imaginais pas recevoir 20 personnes à bord pour un diner ET une séance d'ouverture des cadeaux. Ce fut une après-midi magnifique, avec tous les enfants et petits-enfants répondant présents : Craig et Kathy, Shelley et Jai, Tania, la famille de Danielle (la compagne de Malcolm), les petits-enfants passant la plupart du temps dans la piscine pendant que les adultes préparaient le festin. Contrairement à la tradition française, ici tout le monde met la main à la pâte pour le diner et apporte ses recettes fétiches : canard et buche au chocolat pour ma part, accompagnes de sambos au curry, saumon fume, guacamole, salades composées, un énorme rôti de porc et autres mets. Toute la famille s'est réunie en une grande tablée pour ce « pot luck » festif ! Le jour de Noel fut similaire, chez des amis cette fois, un autre festin et une célébration supplémentaire pour l'anniversaire de Shelley. Et pour finir, nos amis de Cairns, David et Denise, nous on rejoint pour Boxing Day (26 Décembre et jour férié en Australie).

C'est ainsi qu'a commencé une semaine de liesse pour accueillir le Nouvel An. C'est impossible d'être à Sydney sur un bateau fin décembre et de ne pas assister aux feux d'artifices de la Saint Sylvestre. C'est l'un des plus importants évènements gratuits de la planète et l'atmosphère de joie et de bonne humeur y est inoubliable. Il y a des années, quand nous habitions à Sydney on ne le ratait jamais. Nous y étions en 2008 sur notre catamaran précèdent, et voulions absolument refaire l'expérience. On savait déjà que ce soir la serait chaotique, avec des milliers d'embarcations convergeant dans la baie a la recherche de la meilleure place. Le problème c'est que la grande majorité ne sortent pas pendant l'année et les skippers/propriétaires invitent toute une foule à bord pour le réveillon sans grande préparation : aucune connaissance du mouillage, certains n'ayant même pas d'ancre à bord, encore moins de pare-battages et absolument pas de jugeote ou d'expérience de mouillage dans une baie pleine de monde. J'ai fait ma recherche sur le site officiel Sydney New Year's Eve, pour trouver la zone d'exclusion, le programme et le meilleur emplacement pour assister aux feux d'artifice.

Bien préparés donc et accompagnes de Malcolm sur sa vedette de pêche, Pole Dancer, nous avons quitté Cronulla le 29 décembre, nous allouant plein de temps pour trouver un mouillage a Athol Bay, au pied de Taronga Zoo, endroit stratégique avec vue imprenable sur le pont de la baie, l'opéra, Wolloomooloo et les plages de l'est de Sydney. En arrivant 3 jours à l'avance on a pu choisir notre mouillage ou on voulait, et Malcolm s'est mis à couple. Un des avantages de cet emplacement est la proximité d'une petite plage et le ferry de Taronga Zoo qui fait le va et vient dans la baie tous les quart d'heures : il suffit d'un court trajet en annexe vers le quai pour se retrouver en ville et se balader, faire les courses (ahhhh, le fishmarket !) ou récupérer des passagers. Un des inconvénients cependant c'est le manque de protection contre le trafic maritime et le roulis incessant du au sillage des ferries, cargos, paquebots et autres vedettes rapides qui croisent la baie toute la journée...de 6h du matin à 6h du soir, le bateau n'a pas arrêté de rouler, à tel point que le deuxième jour, Pole Dancer a menacé de percuter nos œuvres mortes (*expression inconnue jusque-là, ça veut dire la partie émergée de la coque) et il a fallu le lâcher et le mouiller a quelques mètres, là où il pouvait valser sans faire de mal à personne ! Nos passagers en ont profité pour aller au Zoo (Dave, Denise, marc et Anne) ou marcher en ville (Malcolm, Danielle et famille), pendant ce temps-là Terry et moi sont restes à bord : lui pour parer à tout accident éventuel et moi pour préparer le repas du réveillon le lendemain. Le 31 Décembre a été une journée des plus bousculées : des centaines de bateaux ont afflues dans la baie, la tension a monté avec les retardataires qui se fichaient complètement des autres yachts arrives avant eux, certains ont commencé à chasser (*trainer leur ancre), d'autres se sont touches et la NSW Water Police, sur le qui-vive, patrouillait constamment repérant les souls au volant ou les annexes en excès de vitesse. A notre bord, une fois tous nos invites arrives, la fête a enfin commence : Malcolm charge du BBQ, David décarcassant les crevettes, les filles assignées a la confection des salades et la décoration du gâteau...sans oublier les libations, auxquelles Terry a dévoué toute son attention. Comme il faisait chaud, les enfants nous ont supplie de les laisser nager autour du bateau. J'ai hésité un moment pour pas mal de raisons : la peur des requins et des méduses, le trafic maritime tout autour, et mes doutes sur la propreté de l'eau. Et puis en regardant tout le monde patauger autour de nous, je me suis dit que les requins allaient bien trouver quelqu'un d'autre à grignoter, Anne a réalisé que les méduses locales ne piquent pas (elles sont justes visqueuses et dégoutantes !) et j'ai résolu le problème de sécurité en limitant la zone de baignade à l'espace entre les 2 coques et l'usage de notre tender lift comme plage privée (les gens de Lagoon seraient très fiers...ce fut leur argument de poids pour nous convaincre de prendre une plateforme hydraulique au lieu de bossoirs pour relever l'annexe !) Quant au reste du divertissement, il ne fallait que regarder les gens faire la foire sur les autres bateaux.

Les feux d'artifices n'ont pas déçus, ils étaient magnifiques comme prévu ! Le spectacle a commencé en fin d'après-midi avec des démonstrations aériennes, suivies du show des canons à eau des bateaux pompes, puis les illuminations ... Les feux d'artifices ont commencé à 21h avec la version familiale (pour permettre aux jeunes enfants de ne pas être en reste), puis une parade de lumières et enfin les feux de minuit, un spectacle pyrotechnique spectaculaire de 12 minutes pour entamer le Nouvel An ! Effet sensationnel qui nous a fait oublier le stress des 3 derniers jours, maintenant que nous étions tous captives par cet embrasement des cieux de Sydney. Ce fut une nuit certes bruyante, mais pleine de joie et de bonne humeur, et en contemplant tous les bateaux autours de nous, je me suis mise à refléter sur la diversité de la communauté nautique : il y avait certainement une vaste gamme d'aptitudes, entre les jeunes dans leurs barques sans expérience, les navigateurs au long cours, les megayachts et autres équipages plus ou moins expérimentés. Et tout ce beau monde était là pour la même chose...et à en juger par les sourires sur chaque visage et le son des bouchons de champagne, la nuit fut un succès !

Notre équipage n'a pas mis longtemps avant d'aller se coucher. Grace à un remaniement des cabines et quelques matelas gonflables, nos 14 passagers ont trouvé où dormir...ce qui était bien plus pratique et agréable que de rentrer à terre en pleine nuit ! Le lendemain, la plupart des bateaux étaient partis. C'était une matinée superbe, très ensoleillée, et nous avons appareillé à notre tour, pour retourner à Cronulla, une navigation de 3 heures. Une fois proche de notre destination, nous avons fait une escale-déjeuner à Jibbon beach, à l'orée du Royal National Park, dernière occasion de baignade pour tous avant d'amarrer a la marina en fin de journée. 2015 commence bien !

PS : Vu les problèmes potentiels, les choses se sont très bien passées. Me rappelant de réveillons précédents, je m'attendais a plus d'interventions de la part de la police maritime ( dans le style « Qui est aux commandes du navire ? »), des comportements bruyants parmi certains, des ancres qui trainent, des chaines soulevées par erreur, des skippers perdant la boule...D'accord on a bien le skipper de Riviera typique arrivant à toute allure balayant tout dans son sillage, le petit monocoque qui essaye de se mettre entre 2 gros catamarans et se rends compte qu'il va perdre la bataille au moment d'éviter, et bien sur l'arrivée d'un front froid du sud en pleine nuit qui a teste l'ancre de chacun (heureusement ça s'est passe le 30 décembre, le mouillage n'était pas encore bonde !). Mais en général, ce fut un réveillon sans soucis, extrêmement bien organise que tout le monde a adore.
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
18 Photos
Created 19 November 2011
30 Photos
Created 17 November 2011
21 Photos
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

S.V VOAHANGY

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