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

The good, the new and the unexpected of 2017

30 December 2017 | Sydney
I am going to start this Christmas newsletter the same as last years’.
To all our family and friends, near and far, we hope this finds you well and you had a fantastic Christmas.

Our was very busy, with 14 of us on Christmas Eve but unlike last year’s, I didn’t host Christmas Day dinner letting a friend entertain and cater for 21 of us instead. So we’re feeling happy and blessed to be surrounded by loved ones, though tired after what has been a roller coaster year for us.

It started well, with a skiing trip to Canada with the kids, where we met up with cruising friends from Mexico and the Pacific. It never ceases to amaze me, how small the world is: we ran into the Bacon family shortly after landing in Puerto Aventuras and spent 8 incredibly fun months bonding over margaritas and tacos on the beach. Likewise, we met the Alexander family a.k.a Tribe crew in Tonga during our respective Pacific crossing and hit it off so well that we sailed along for a while thru Fiji until we parted ways, us towards Sydney and them to California.
We all hoped to meet again one day, though none of us expected it would be on the frozen slopes of Whistler! Friendships were resumed as promptly as they were halted years ago, the skiing was great and it was a wonderful start to the year…

We continued with the travelling theme in July, with a holiday in Singapore to celebrate our 30 year meeting anniversary. We took Marc and Anne to show them around, as well as discovering whatever changes had occurred over the years. Lots. Still, we managed to find some of our old friends there and reminisce over life as we knew it!

Both kids resumed their schooling this year: Anne excelling in year 8, she found a competitive streak in her we didn’t realise she had and blitzed thru all her subjects. Marc started a Bachelor in Business degree at the University of Wollongong, and deferred after 6 months, realising it was not necessary for him. He is re-enrolling for next year, after spending a few months trying new things ( like music producing, part-time bar tending, travelling with mates,…) Time will tell!

In the meantime, the fishing charter business has been doing well, with Terry, Mal and partner Michael putting in many hours into it. I have lost count of the early morning starts and 20 hour days the boys put in, especially during the summer months! Still, Terry always on the look out for a challenge, found himself “bored” and decided to acquire a plane to fly around in his ( our ) free time. It is a very attractive Piper Navajo, bought second hand which can accomodate 8 passengers, except that we’ve only been flying the two of us so far. Terry was lucky enough to resurrect his old Australian and American flying licences and has been spending ages upgrading these Visual Flight Rules licenses to a full Instrument Flight Rules license. These practice flights down the coast have been the opportunity to improve on my aerial photography skills. A long way to go still!!
For those of you on Instagram and Facebook, you can follow our travels, short trips thought they are.

So all was well and plans were made for further travelling by plane, until October when Terry came down with some health issues, namely Pulmonary embolism which required emergency hospitalisation and a few weeks of rest and relaxation. 2 months down the track, he is feeling 100% better, but still under doctors supervision and taking it as easy as he can. He is back skippering the charter boat, but the plane has been sitting in the hangar for nearly 3 months, as we are waiting for medical clearance to fly again.
Anyone who knows Terry will understand how frustrating this is for him, as he has always been a fit person, though I am pleased to say that he is a very reasonable and compliant patient. It could be the realisation that his body is not recovering as fast as it used to or simply the effect of my rousing on him to slow down! Who knows….

As I write this, we are preparing to sail the boat to the harbour for NYE fireworks. I can’t think of anything more fitting to end the year and sincerely hope it will be the sign of a better year, at least a more relaxing one. For the first time ever, we approach the new Year with no plans whatsoever, bar the odd medical appointment in January. This means we will either be home in Sydney and ready to welcome any visitors OR taking off on a whim around Australia whenever the mood strikes… Whatever happens , stay tuned.

We wish you all a very Happy New Year, may 2018 bring you much Joy, Happiness and Health in your life.

The Steens

A long awaited update from land lovers...

30 December 2016
To all our family and friends, near and far, we hope this finds you well and you had a fantastic Christmas. Our was very busy, with 26 of us on Christmas Eve and 12 around the table on Christmas Day. Feeling tired but happy and blessed to be surrounded by loved ones, capping what has been a hectic year for us.

It started with the sale of our beloved Lagoon catamaran in January. Terry helped deliver her to her new home in Queensland, and no sooner had he returned to Sydney (like 3 days later!!) that he stumbled upon an ad for a commercial fishing boat, not unlike the original VOAHANGY we built over 20 years ago. Her name is CINDY BETT, and after years spent on sailing yachts, Terry fell in love with the idea of going back to our boating roots, skippering a 65ft aluminium motor cruiser, with an engine room large enough to stand up and have a party in! Within a month, she was ours and after a few manic days of preparation and changeover, Terry and I delivered her from Port Lincoln (her then homeport near Adelaide) to Port Hacking ( her new home in Cronulla). It was a fabulous 4 day passage, we were blessed with perfect weather and sea conditions, bringing back memories of our previous cruises. No bluewater cruising for this new baby though, she is going to work instead! And so are we, as we have gone into partnership with Terry’s son Malcolm and family friend Michael who run Sydney Premium Charters. We knew from the start that it would keep Terry busy in charge of boat maintenance, but in order for him to drive a commercial boat, he also had to gain qualification as a Master 5 and Marine Engineer. That has meant countless hours of studying as he was determined to complete a 4 year course in 3 weeks of intensive sessions. As brutal a schedule as it was, it paid off as he was granted his skipper and engineer ticket and now spends nearly every weekend taking people out fishing or cruising up the river. If he was afraid of being bored before, he isn’t any longer!!

Boredom was never an issue for me, and with the catamaran gone and the kids at school, I looked forward to having some “free time” to expand my food blog and sort thru all our archives and maybe start putting our travel stories together in a book. That was plan A. Plan B has seen me involved in the admin side of the charter business, which somehow took a life of its own and required more commitment than originally thought ( a situation all partners found themselves in, I must say, so we are not the only ones juggling!) The food and travel writing has taken a backseat as a result. No complaints however, it keeps us all sharp and equipped with new skills, giving the kids an insight into running your own business ( they have mostly seen us as relaxed yachties thus far…).

This is on the work/business front. In the meantime, it has been a year of milestones for our family.

Marc turned 18 in February and completed his High School Certificate this december. This means his school days are over and he is free to leave home…both eventualities are highly unlikely though, since he has been accepted at the University of Wollongong to study for a Business Degree next year and the campus being only 50 minutes away from home, he will be commuting daily. Life is too good at home.

Anne started High School this year and excelled in all her subjects. She particularly thrives in Performing Arts and is keen to take on extra classes no matter how early or how far. There is no guessing who the designated driver is…

I turned 50 in April and celebrated with family and friends for an entire week! The Cairns contingent made the trip to Sydney, and my parents flew over from Paris for the occasion, which made it even more special as both Dad and I were able to celebrate our birthdays together ( his is 3 days after mine), last time this happened was 10 years ago!

Finally, Terry and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary last week. We managed to sneak away to the Southern Highlands for a few kids-free and boat-free days, hoping to fit in a few winery visits, hikes and restaurants. Unfortunately we were too tired for the hikes (the weather was super hot too!), so settled for wine tasting and dinners. Maybe we’re getting old!!

Wishing you a very Happy New Year, hoping 2017 brings you much love, health and happiness in your life.

The Steens

Chers amis et familles, proches ou lointains, nous espérons que cette lettre vous trouve en très bonne santé et que vos fetes de Noel se sont bien passées. Pour nous, ce fut une période très chargée entre un réveillon a 26 et une table de 12 pour Noel. Un peu fatigues, mais combles et heureux d’être entoures par nos proches, pour conclure une année assez trépidante.

A commencer par la vente de notre catamaran Lagoon en janvier. Terry a aide le nouveau propriétaire pour le convoyage au Queensland, et sitôt rentre a Sydney (3 jours plus tard) il est tombe sur une annonce pour une vedette de pêche, similaire au VOAHANGY original que l’on avait bâti il y a 20 ans. Apres des années passées sur des bateaux a voile, Terry a été séduit par CINDY BETT, et l’idee de retourner a nos racines de plaisanciers, aux commandes d’un bateau a moteur de 20 metres, muni d’une salle des moteur assez spacieuse pour non seulement s’y tenir debout et mais également y faire la fete! En un mois, le bateau nous appartenait et après quelques jours effrénés de preparations et de prise en main, nous avons tous deux effectue le convoyage depuis Port Lincoln (le port d’attache d’origine pres d’Adelaide) jusqu’a Port Hacking (son nouveau port, a Cronulla). Les 4 jours de traversee ont été sublimes, avec une météo et une mer parfaite, qui nous a rappelé bien des souvenirs de navigations précédentes. Sauf que ce nouveau bebe n’est pas destine a croiser les oceans, on va le remettre en service! Ainsi que nous, qui nous sommes associes avec le fils de Terry, Malcolm, et un ami de la famille, Michael, dans une société de charters de peche, Sydney Premium Charters. On savait des le debut que Terry serait accapare par l’entretien des bateaux, mais pour pouvoir être skipper d’un vaisseau professionnel, il lui a fallu obtenir la qualification de Master 5 et Ingénieur de la marine. Ca a signifie d’innombrables heures d’etudes pour lui qui était determine a completer en 3 semaines de stages intensifs un diplôme qui normalement prend 4 ans. Malgré un emploi du temps fou, ses efforts ont paye, il a obtenu ses 2 diplomes et passe maintenant presque tous les weekends a bord avec des clients, ou en pleine mer pour une partie de pêche ou dans la baie pour une ballade tranquille. Lui qui avait peur de s’ennuyer, ne voit plus le temps passer!

Quant a moi, une fois le catamaran parti et les enfants a l’école, je me réjouissais d’avoir un peu de temps libre pour developper mon blog culinaire et faire le tri de nos archives pour qui-sait rassembler nos récits de voyages dans un livre. Ca c’était le plan A. Le plan B m’a vu chargée de l’administration du nouveau business, qui d’une manière ou d’une autre, a décollé et necessite plus d’implication que prévu ( une situation dans laquelle se trouvent tous les associes, je me doit de souligner, nous ne sommes pas les seuls a jongler!). Les recettes et récits de voyage sont donc relégués au second plan pour le moment. Mais ne nous plaignons pas, tout ca nous aide a entretenir notre perspicacité et nous doter de nouvelles competences, tout en donnant aux enfants un aperçu du fonctionnement d’une entreprise familiale (jusque la ils ne nous ont vu qu’en mode plaisance!)

Bon, voila pour le cote business/travail. Autrement, nous avons atteints plusieurs jalons cette année.

Marc a fete ses 18 ans en Fevrier et passe son High School Certificate (l’equivalent australien du baccalauréat) ce mois de décembre. Cela signifie qu’il a fini sa scolarité et peut quitter le domicile familial en toute liberté… ces deux evenualites étant peu probables étant donne son admission a l’université de Wollongong pour un diplôme de Business l’an prochain et comme le campus universitaire est a 50mn de la maison, il fera l’aller-retour quotidien. La vie a la maison est bien trop facile.

Anne vient d’entrer au lycée cette année et excelle dans toutes ses matières. Elle s’épanouit particulièrement dans les arts du spectacle et a un engouement certain pour les classes supplémentaires peu importe l’heure ou l’emplacement. Inutile de mentionner le nom du chauffeur…

J’ai celebre mes 50 ans en Avril avec la famille et nos amis proches pendant toute une semaine! Le contingent de Cairns a fait le de[lacement a Sydney pour l’occasion ainsi que mes parents depuis Paris. événement d’autant plus special que mon papa et moi avons eu l’occasion de fêter nos anniversaires ensemble ( le sien étant 3 jours après le mien), la dernière fois étant il y a 10 ans!

Et pour finir, ce fut l’occasion pour Terry et moi de fêter nos 20 ans de marriage la semaine dernière. On a réussi a s’échapper aux Southern Highlands pendant quelques jours loin des enfants et des bateaux, en espérant visiter quelques vignobles, faire des randonnées et essayer des restaurants. Malheureusement, nous étions tellement fatigues qu’on a laisse tomber les randonnées ( la canicule n’a pas aide non plus!), et nous sommes contentes de degustations de vins et menus gastronomiques. On vieillit peut être…

Tous nos voeux pour 2017, on vous souhaite une excellent nouvelle annee, comblée d’amour. de de joie et vous garde en bonne santé.

Les Steens.

Happy New Year 2016!!!

30 December 2015 | Sydney
As the year end is near, I am writing this post in the exact same spot where 2015 started: back on the boat in Athol bay, Sydney Harbour. We have come full circle, after a very different year. Gone are the adventures and travels, it has all been about “settling back”, new routines and learning to let go....

We used to wake up every morning wondering what the day would bring. Now our days are planned weeks in advance: Anne has been bringing notes from school detailing excursions, requesting payments, reminding attendance to assemblies; Marc’s schedule has constantly revolved around exams, assignments and private tuitions…Dance lessons, choir concerts, driving sessions and parties only added to the busy calendar. And that is just for the kids!

The transition off the boat has meant a fair amount of work both on the boat and in the house. Terry finally completed all these little (and big) jobs we put off while living onboard, so the boat looks brand new again. We have actually enjoyed spending time back onboard in the past 3 months, just the two of us, since the kids’ interests now have evolved towards more land based activities. I only half-joke when describing our catamaran as a perfect weekender! If only the cost of the upkeep wasn’t so high. This is one of the reasons we made the decision to put VOAHANGY for sale, as I mentioned in my previous post. While we could easily justify spending so much on marina fees and maintenance when we were cruising (i.e. actually using and enjoying the boat) it now feels like a huge indulgence from our part, with other commitments looming (Marc going to university being a strong possibility). I know it’s “only money” as some people have told us, and it is a decision we could come to regret. But for now, it feels like the right thing to do. We’ll keep you posted.

On a more upbeat note, it has been a great year for catching up with family and friends: the house is proving to be a great entertainer and the perfect base for a few visitors. For once we’ve been on hand to attend family dinners, birthday celebrations and weddings! After being away for so long, it’s been amazing to reconnect with everyone, though we never really got off the grid with Facebook and the likes. And on this last day of 2015, sitting in our favourite harbour anchorage, Athol Bay, waiting for guests to join us to watch the Sydney fireworks, I realise that instead of focusing on what we’re losing we should embrace what we still have and look forward to new experiences…letting go, I say.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year, hoping 2016 brings you much love, happiness, and every success in your life!!!

The Steens.

En cette fin d’année, je me retrouve au même endroit ou 2015 a débuté : sur le bateau a Athol Bay, dans la baie de Sydney. La boucle est bouclée, après une année très différente pour nous. Adieu périples et aventures, bonjour retour en société, routine et transition…

Chaque matin, nous avions l’habitude de nous réveiller sans savoir ce que le jour apporterait. Désormais, nos journées sont planifiées des semaines à l’avance : Anne ramène quasi-quotidiennement des notes de l’école détaillant diverses excursions, demandes de paiement, rappels de réunions ; Marc lui a un programme rythme par des examens, devoirs et cours particuliers… leçons de danse, concerts de chorale, cours de conduites et fêtes complètent le calendrier déjà charge. Et on ne parle que des enfants !

La transition a terre a engendre pas mal de travaux autant a bord que dans la maison. Terry a finalement termine tous les petits (et gros) jobs que l’on avait reporté auparavant, ce qui fait que le bateau est comme neuf. Nous avons bien apprécié les quelques weekends passes à bord ces 3 derniers mois, juste nous 2, puisque les enfants sont maintenant plus intéressés par ce qui se passe à terre. A mon avis notre catamaran est parfait pour le weekend. Si seulement son entretien n’était pas aussi couteux. C’est une des raisons pour laquelle nous avons décidé de mettre VOAHANGY en vente, comme je l’ai déjà mentionné dans mon billet précèdent. Ce qui était justifiable en terme de dépenses autant en frais de marina et d’entretien quand on était en croisière, nous parait maintenant une énorme indulgence vu les responsabilités imminentes (Marc a l’université bientôt). Je sais, je sais…ce n’est que des histoires de sous, comme certains nous le soulignent, et c’est une décision que nous regretterons probablement plus tard. Mais pour le moment, c’est ce qui nous parait la meilleure chose à faire. Affaire à suivre donc.

Pour le positif : ce fut une très bonne année pour revoir la famille et les amis. La maison est idéale pour recevoir et s’est avéré la base parfaite pour quelques visiteurs. Pour une fois, nous avons étés dispos pour tous les diners de famille, fêtes d’anniversaire et mariages ! Apres tant d’années a l’étranger, c’est un vrai plaisir de renouer avec tout le monde, quoiqu’avec Facebook nous n’étions jamais coupes du monde. Alors nous voilà ce 31 décembre 2015, dans notre mouillage préféré d’Athol Bay, nous préparant à recevoir des invites pour assister aux feux d’artifices et je réalise qu’au lieu de regarder en arrière et déplorer ce qu’on va perdre je ferais mieux d’apprécier ce que l’on a et aller de l’avant…apprendre à lâcher.

Nous vous souhaitons a tous et a toutes une très bonne année, que 2016 vous apporte joie, bonheur et réussite dans tous vos projets !!!
Les Steens.
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 - Savannah
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