Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Nomuka Iki to Nuka'alofa

11th October 2007

We got up at 05:00 yesterday to a flat calm and set off at first light at 05:30 after the mandatory two cups of strong coffee. After the near gale-like conditions of the previous days, we had to motor all the way in order to get to Nuku'alofa in daylight.
We arrived at 16:30 and had to perform our first "Mediterranean" style mooring; drop the hook, reverse towards the wharf and get lines ashore from the stern. The wharf is just a pile of boulders and too shallow to reverse right up to and so we had the dinghy pre-launched with a long length of rope flaked in the bottom. Fliss dumped the anchor and I reversed as she ran back, got in the dinghy and rowed to shore, paying the rope out as she went. All went very smoothly to our great surprise and we were lucky to have the wind dead astern, which certainly helped.

We will check in to Nuku'alofa today (Friday) and we think that we will have to check out again on Monday or Tuesday since the weather patterns look like they might be shaping up for a run to NZ around then.


Nuku’alofa has been given a really bad right up; apparently it’s the crime capital of Tonga. On 1st impressions it’s not that pretty as it is just an industrial port but Pete and I will reserve judgement until after we have explored the town.

12th October 2007


Nuku’alofa might not be a pretty place but we both agreed that it’s not that bad, the town has a nice fruit & veg market and the locals are extremely friendly.

We walked for miles trying to find the immigration office, the map we had was useless as all the landmarks I.e.Banks, restaurants etc where not where they should be. It was explained to us that 6 months ago the town had seen riots and lots of the buildings had been razed to the ground so that’s why we couldn’t navigate our way around. The Tongans like to be helpful and always try to please you so each time we asked a local for directions to the immigration office they would try to give an answer even if they didn’t know where it was. In this way, we got a different answer every time.

We met one local who claimed to be a descendent of Captain Bligh. Apparently Captain Bligh turned up, made loads of promises to a Tongan lady, and once she became pregnant he was seen rowing rather swiftly back to the boat. The Tongan lady stood on the shore shouting “Sir Lie!” at the boat who where getting ready to raise the anchor ready for an unexpected departure. When the baby was born she was named Sirlie.

The thing Pete and I both love about Tonga is the culture and the folklore. You can pick up a necklace made of either cow bone or whale bone in the shape of a fishing hook, the story goes that the gods cast out a hook and caught the Tongan Islands and brought them all close together, wonderful.

The taxi drivers love rugby and even though we beat them they really are rooting for England. I do a good impression of Johnny Wilkinson as he prepares to kick a penalty, they fall about in laughter and chant “Go Johnny Wilkinson”.
Great place, great people even the customs officer was extremely helpful and he smiled.

13th October 2007

We are looking at leaving here bound for NZ tomorrow morning. The weather forecast looks ok for the moment so we have re-tidied the boat, done the deck and rigging check, and just need to finally get into the filthy dockside water to clean-up the propeller and a few lingering goose barnacles before we are ready.

There is a meeting of the heads of state of the Pacific here tomorrow and the Immigration office is cordoned off along with the main administrative centre of town. We are hoping that they have got their act together and re-located to the dockside in preparation for giving us our exit papers!

14th October 2007

We received the weekly weather gram from Bob McDavitt this morning and we are going to stay put based on his advice. Looking ahead, there appears to be quite a large high-pressure system coming out of Australia and some mean little lows underneath it. All in all, we don't want strong winds or a whole bunch of Southerlies (which is what is now forecast) and so we are going to hang around for about 3-4 days and then maybe go to Minerva reef for a couple of days before heading off. Out of the six boats that were going to go this morning, 2 have left and 2 of us are definitely staying - not sure about the others. Of the two that have gone, why get weather forecasts if you don't bother to act upon them?


It was a bit of a disappointment as you mentally prepare yourself for a long passage but I agree with Pete it wasn’t time to go.

The passage to New Zealand is dreaded by all sailors so it’s best to play safe. Pete and I get fed up with hearing all the horror stories about how we’re all going to get a pasting , it’s daft really as all it does is frighten the life out of people and make them extremely anxious. We’ve heard it all before and the horror stories started in Panama. Some Yachties have boycotted the idea of sailing to New Zealand and have opted to sail to Australia and then fly to NZ. I wonder how much their decision was taken after listening to the scaremongers, Pete and I will go and try to get across event free, if we get bad weather so be it but we’ll deal with it at the time, the run to Northern Tonga was bad but we did ok. There’s no point worrying about something that may never happen.

15-18th – Interlude – Weather watching and provisioning.

19th October 2007

We checked out this morning and ran off to a little atoll called Pangiamotu only 1.5Nm from Nuku'alofa. It is quite nice here - much more pleasant than the town.

Anyway, we think that we will head off tomorrow for Minerva Reef. We will probably have to bash some headwinds to start off with but the weather window looks good. We met a catamaran today "Gaia Su" who are leaving on Sunday and "Essence" (who were originally going last week) are also off. We shall beat the crowd who are waiting for Sunday or Monday and hope to get some good Easterlies after the first 24 hours. The weather right out until Wednesday looks stable and we shall make the most of it and therefore probably only stay one night at Minerva.

Both Essence and Gaia Su have said that they will stay in contact (Via Iridium and SSB) and so we shall be able to know what other conditions are being experienced ahead of us (they are faster boats).

Vavau to the Hapai Group - Tonga

5th October 2007

We checked out of Vavau and did our final provisioning and then headed of to Port Morrelle to say goodbye to Don & Barbi.

In the afternoon they popped over to say goodbye and Barbi presented us with some homemade chilli sauce, she warned us that it was strong stuff and we should only use small amounts, well see!

Don asked us if we really should go as the weather forecast was for 25 knots gusting up to 30 knots and the wind variable and rain, as we know now that with high winds brings nasty steep seas. Pete and I both felt that we should risk it and start making our way to Nukalofia ready for the jump off to New Zealand plus the weather had been so poor in Vavau we really wanted to see & do something different. Henry Lloyds at the ready we dropped the mooring buoy and headed off out to the unknown.

As we motored part Don & Barbi they gave us a traditional Polynesian send off and both blew their conch shells, great send off great couple!.

On our way out the sky behind us was grey and raining all over Vavau, Pete and I looked at each other and said “It’s gonna be a long night”.

As it turned out the forecasters couldn’t have got it more wrong, we had 3 knots gusting to 10 knots of wind, smooth to slight seas and the most wonderful starlit night. We had 2 reefs in the main (standard stuff on night passages) jib and headsail, with the engine on tick over we gently glided our way to Ha’afeva – Hapai. We were both glad that went for it!

6th October 2007

We arrived here in Ha'afeva at 08:45 this morning. This is a tiny island with an encircling reef and clean sandy beaches. Apparently, there is a village on the other side of the island and we will walk across there later to investigate. Also, the snorkelling is supposed to be good around the North side of the reef and we will take the dinghy there and have a look as well.

We walked to the village and it is quite large and built mainly of wood. It is completely surrounded by a fence of sticks that is used to keep the pigs, goats and chickens nearby. We saw very few people there and the people kept themselves to themselves. I think the problem is that most do not speak any English and so we acknowledged them and carried on. Eventually, a young lady called our attention and asked if we wanted some bananas. This is a usual trick for starting bartering and we said that we would rather like some papaya, breadfruit and citrus fruits. The lady had a bad tooth and wanted painkillers and so we agreed on a swap of some medicines. It is clear that they can receive dental treatment since the lady had two gold capped teeth that I think are status symbols rather than anything else but we don't know how often the treatment is available of where they have to go to get treatment.

She then invited us to lunch at her house tomorrow at 1pm, the locals are so friendly and could really show the western world how hospitality is really done, we appreciate that we will have to go laden with gifts but it’ll be another wonderful experience.

We did a bit of snorkelling but it is not as interesting as we had imagined. We have seen better and only had about 20 minutes in the water as we were both tired after the nights sail.

7th October 2007

We walked across to the other side of the island today to have Sunday lunch with Linda-the-local. We have been told that the offer of lunch or dinner is often extended to visiting yachts and some form of reciprocal gift is not out of place. Fliss dug out some old make-up and I fished-out a length of rope that has been taking up locker-space plus an adjustable spanner that would never be used.

Gifts proffered (the rope seemed to be a winner), we sat down to lunch - on our own. The table was laid for two people and we ate there like kings whilst the rest of the family and the village children watched us. A very strange affair but, apparently, other yachties have had the same experience on other islands. The food was good; fish in batter, corned beef wrapped in taro leaves, sausages, sweet potato and taro root.

After lunch, and with doggie-bag in hand, the local boys escorted us around the island. They wanted us to show them where the big spider was that we had taken a photo of earlier in the day. We showed them and they proceeded to catch it and handle the monster (almost as big as their hands) to Felicity's dismay. They were warned that if it came within 6 yards, then Fliss would break out in a deadly allergic reaction. They kept the spider well away from her.


I must clarify the spider bit, it was HUGE with a massive white egg sack and red and black legs.... after the kids left Nadezhda I was worried that the little scoundrels had put one in the bag and I had visions of waking up to the cockpit being one big spiders nest.... they didn't thank god!

We have had a wonderful time here and the locals are great, the children are immensely tactile and I have this wonderful memory of Pete walking down the jungle track with one little boy holding his had, Pete's face told a million stories as he wasn't sure what to do.... it was so funny this long legged foreigner holding this little boys hand who was knee high to a grass hopper...

Here is very reminiscent of the Tuomoutous, very very peaceful and lush jungle interior.... fantastic.

We both agree that Tonga has probably been our favourite of the South Pacific.

8th October 2007

We moved from Ha'afeva at 10:00 and had a superb sail in 20-30 knots of wind just 25 miles to Nomuku Iki. Nomuku Iki is a small island just off the island of Nomuku. I think that "Iki" means "Small" or "Child of". We felt our way into the anchorage under leaden skies and unable to see the reefs except where waves were breaking over the shallower areas and were a bit worried about the exposed position we settled in, especially since the beach to the side of us has a wrecked fishing boat lying there on its side. The winds continued and reached at least 35 knots towards the evening and so it was not the most restful night although the batteries are now well and truly charged.

9th October 2007

Today the wind abated a bit and we launched the dinghy and took a walk along the shore. Apparently, the island houses a prison but we did not find it since the interior seemed to be an impenetrable mass of shrubs and trees. We did not go too far around the island as banks of clouds rolled in and we scuttled back to Naz before things turned dirty. The rest of yesterday was spent washing ourselves and clothes in the cockpit and filling the water tanks and other water containers we have. We are now clean, are full of water and topped up with electricity. However, the weather did not recognise this fact and kept dumping inches of water on the decks as the winds increased and came at us from all directions causing Naz to swing and set off the anchor alarm every so often. Again, not a pleasant or relaxing night.

10th October 2007

The wind has settled to a more Nor-Easterly slant and so we now have the swell coming around the North of Nomuka to contend with as well as being on a truly lee shore with the wrecked fishing boat directly behind us. If we dragged our anchor, we will follow the clear path through the coral that was cut by the stricken fishing vessel.

We upped anchor at about 13:00 after we got completely miffed with the pitching of the boat in the waves. We moved across into the lee of Nomuka main island and dithered around trying to find a patch of sand amid the jumble of coral and steep-sided bommies. Eventually, we set the hook and all was calm and peaceful at last.

Vavau Group

16th to 20th September 2007


We spent a nice couple of days at Port Maurelle - Anchorage Number 7 (from the Moorings guide book). There is no Port here - just a fine white sandy beach. Fliss is dragging me into the water at every opportunity so that she can practice her snorkelling skills. We have found out that it is only the equivalent of £120 to do a 3-day scuba diving course that results in open-water PADI certification. Fliss wants to have a go and I should really do it as well. A lot of people actually carry diving equipment on board for emergencies as well as pleasure. A useful time to have such gear was the day before yesterday when Fliss's mask and snorkel went overboard in 16 metres of water and I will not attempt to free-dive that deep. Luckily, there was good visibility and I could see the kit on the bottom when the sun shone. We got the dinghy anchor and dangled fishing hooks from the bottom of it and I then snorkelled back and forward over the offending item until it was snagged. A good days fishing!

Yesterday, we broadcast on the Cruisers Net (08:30 Ch 6) about our quandary trying to fill our gas bottles. Don & Barbie on "Lutana II" picked up the message and are in the same anchorage. They have spent the last 20 years cruising around the world collecting gas fittingsand he hauled out his big sack of brass and soon had something that would work. We therefore upped-anchor, went back to Neiafu, and now have two full tanks. In return, we picked up groceries for them. We spent a nice evening with them and I think that we will both sail over to the "Coral Gardens" (Anchorage #16) today for some better snorkelling.

In the quiet periods, I have been sanding and varnishing the areas of the kitchen where the varnish has completely disappeared. This will allow me to get a few coats of varnish on the more exposed areas before I get around to sanding the whole lot and finishing off.


The snorkelling is wonderful here! Loads of different coral and brightly coloured fish, we saw a huge bright pink starfish which looked like a child had cut it out using a play-doh cutter as it was fat unlike the blue ones which have long thin legs. I am pleased with my progress as before I wouldn't go in the water without a life jacket and now I can't wait to get in the water. I've complained in the past that my fins are awkward to use but Pete said it was down to my technique (I tend to paddle with them) but he tried them today and agreed that they weren't flexible enough, when I get to New Zealand I will buy another pair.

Barbie on Lutana II made a delicious pizza for us all to share I really don't know how other people manage it as on the Yacht Nadezhda if you come over for a sun-downer you are really lucky if you get aged peanuts or olives, I must do better! Don & Barbi are Ozzies and are slowly making their way home once they get to OZ they plan to stop sailing and buy a motor home.

Don is a real character, I said "Don, I have real problems trying to dive down whilst snorkelling" in a serious tone he replied. "Well Fliss there are two reasons for this: one, you are a girl and, two, you have a big fat bum, sorry mate you need weights to sink" I couldn't help but laugh and least I know now what the problem is!

21st & 22nd September 2007

We moved today to Nuku which is a tiny but stunning island, it really is a blip fringed with white sand, tonight we are going to have drinks on the beach with Graham & Judit from Nomad Life, Rob & Lilly from Mariah III, Gerard, Monica and their three young kids and also the crew from Lassi (sorry I can't remember their names but they are from Germany). The drinks are to celebrate Rob's birthday.

We haven't mentioned that the sand on the island drops deeply off at high tide, one minute you are up to your ankles and the next the water is chest deep. When it was time to go our fellow yachties held the dinghy so that we could get in, Pete suddenly had the devil sitting on his shoulder, he noticed that Graham was standing just on the edge of the shallows. Once the engine was started he gave Graham a yank, this resulted in Graham toppling over into deeper water. Graham is a brilliant sport and took it well, but as the saying goes "Revenge is a dish best served cold". We'll have to see!

23rd September 2007.


As last night was great fun we decided to follow up with a BBQ on the beach tonight

We eventually fired-up our two disposable barbeques which we bought at the same time we got Naz. They worked extremely well and we had burgers, chicken and tuna fishcakes with potato salad, salad relish, pulses salad and bread. The kids from Clarabella loved Fliss's homemade burgers and a good time was had by all until we then got caught in an almighty downpour and a race developed between us to see who could get to their boat fastest and close the hatches. The rain eased up and we then re-convened on Nomad Life for a short time.


It really is a gorgeous setting especially at night with the moonbeams highlightingthe sand and the backdrop of the coconut trees is really quite magical, it really is tropical paradise.

We took the hurricane lamp to the beach and the kids of Clarabella loved watching the crabs come sideling up slowly to look at the light and then quickly scurry away when they spotted these huge giants looking down on them, great fun! What a wonderful life for these three small children.

24th September 2007


This morning, we upped-sticks and moved to anchorage 16 (coral gardens) where Don and Barbie were anchored. Nomad Life needed Dons' gas connecter converter and they followed us there but when we arrived we found messy waves coming across a 2-mile reach with 25 knots of onshore wind. Graham and Judit on Nomad life made a swift exit back to Nieafu to fill their gas bottles and Lutana II and ourselves moved across the bay to a more protected anchorage. The anchorage was not much to write home about, there was a village there but it was impossible to walk about since it seemed to have no road, only a bunch of clustered homes where everywhere seemed to be someone's back garden. We decided not to intrude.

25th September 2007


We moved again today to Ano Beach as we have booked to go to a Tongan Feast with our usual crowd and across the bay is where it is held.

It rained all day, and then rained some more. We had just plopped the anchor down in another bay and got hit by a F7 squall (we can measure the wind speed now that I've fixed the fuse in the circuit board). The anchor jumped once and then bit-in again - lucky, since there was a shallow reef just behind us. We upped sticks later and wandered around trying to find a spot where the anchor would embed itself but it seems as though it is just a fine layer of sand over a coral bed. Anyway, we are still here and haven't dragged since we put half a ton of chain on the bottom just to make sure.


Pete didn't mention that we rowed over to have a look at our anchor and it was lying on it's back so we decided to go back to the boat and have another go, we both got onboard and I was raising the anchor when Pete shouted to stop, in our haste we (actually Pete) had forgotten to tie the dinghy on and it was now happily floating towards the reef! Pete immediately got on the VHF to call our mates Derek and Anthea on Sucanuk (Eskimo word for sun) to ask if they could rescue our dinghy but luckily enough another cruiser spotted our plight and raced over and recovered it, lesson learnt, more haste less speed! A dinghy in the hand is worth two on the reef?

26th September 2007


We had a lazy day. At lunchtime, we visited Reflections (of Hayling) and spent a pleasant couple of hours with Juliet and David over a tin of beer. Afterwards, we had a quick snorkel but the reefs were not especially interesting.

Don and Barbie came over in the evening for sundowners and we sat in the cockpit until the rain began. Don, who likes brain teasers gave us a wooden puzzle to work out, he likes dishing out those annoying MENSA-like things that you cannot put down and cannot solve either. We retired inside and had a game of Rummicub, which I think Don usually wins - unfortunately, I went down first - Nadezhda one, Lutana II zero - a rematch will have to be played! They returned to their boat just before the wind picked up and we had 40 knots of wind through the islands. At about 20:00, the wind turned 180 degrees and suddenly blew-up. We were fine since we were now in the lee of a small island to the South of us although we were hanging off a ledge of dubious holding with 35metres under the keel. The radio suddenly came alive with chatter about people dragging their anchors, getting caught snubbed tight on coral heads and the like. A boat in a particularly exposed anchorage dragged and went aground with no possibility of help from their only neighbour (Ariel - who only has a rowing tender). Eventually, at midnight, the wind started to abate.

27th September 2007

We had communicated the tide times to the stricken yacht the previous night and we got up at 06:00 the following morning ready to motor the six miles around to help pull them off at high tide (07:30). We got up and called the vessel who thanked us and told us that they had managed to re-float half an hour earlier. Luckily, they did not have any damage.

Later in the morning, we moved to a mooring and went ashore to catch a taxi into town to get provisions. We met up with Don there and had a pleasant lunch with a couple of his mates before sharing a taxi back.

28th September 2007

A quiet day

29th September 2007

We got up at 06:00 and eight of us took dinghies to the beach where there is a road that leads into town. We had booked a taxi the day before (by VHF) and also booked breakfast in a place called Mango's to watch the Tonga V England rugby match. The game started with Tonga scoring a penalty and then a try and this was greeted by roars of approval by the Tongans and the Australians who made up most of the crowd. Eventually, England started to come back and, by Half-time, the whole place was deathly quiet except for Graham, Judit, Fliss and I clapping politely and saying "Jolly good show England - Keep it up!". We won 36 - 20something. We did a bit of shopping and waited for some others of the group in "Tonga Bob's" where they had also shown the match. At Tonga Bob's, they were having a Heineken promotion with free beer during the game and, of course, all the locals and most of the yachties were drunk (11:00 am). There are quite a few Lady-Boys in the South Pacific - something to do with too many boys being born and so they bring up some sons as if they were girls. One of these was wearing white all over with "Queen of England" written all over his/her clothes. He/She was doing erotic dancing to the tune of Bob Marley and other classic Oldies - very amusing.

In the evening, all the people in the anchorage went to shore for a Tongan Feast that was put on by the locals. The usual gamut of souvenir stalls had been erected and we were treated to Tongan dancing by the kids accompanied by string and drum accompaniment. Afterwards, we sat at a long table that was set out with various foods served on banana stalks or wrapped in banana leaves. Most of it looked and tasted like coleslaw and was a bit disappointing but the company was very good and we all had a good evening.

1st October 2007

We set off today at 10:00 to return to Neiafu and start thinking about our trip down to the Ha'apai group. We took Barbie from Lutana II with us and had a fast sail under headsail-only, thrashing a Moorings boat as we did over 7 knots with the dinghy planing behind. The rain here seems set to stay and so we stayed on board.

2nd October 2007

We went into town to do some last-minute provisioning ready to leave tomorrow night. Mariah III are also leaving tomorrow to head for Fiji and so we decided to meet up for dinner in a local bar.

As it happens, Gerard from Clarabella also joined us and, after the meal, the bar started the Karaoke soon afterwards. The locals have excellent voices and the ladies sang ballads whilst a local gent sang various Perry Como's and Frank Sinatra songs.

Not to be outdone, Fliss badgered the rest of us to have our turn with some more contemporary songs. Our little group couldn't manage to fit the words to the music and we were all out of tune and finished a few songs to the bewildered and polite clapping of the locals. It was a great hoot and even the reserved public school image of Gerard was seen grappling for the microphone to add his piece.


Such a funny night as we were absolutely terrible! We did a brilliant job of massacring some good oldies, Dancing Queen and It's raining men didn't escape our torturous exhibition.

Lilly was the official photographer and we have some great shots of the artists performing (most of the time we were in hysterical laughter). The night was to say good-bye to Rob & Lilly as they were breaking from the pack and heading towards Australia., quite sad really as we have been crossing paths since Colon in Panama.

3rd October 2007

After all the plotting and partying before leaving, the weather was so poor on today that both Mariah III and ourselves cancelled out departure plans.

4th October 2007

Mariah III left this morning (Thursday) but the winds are too Southerly for us to want to bash close-hauled to Ha'apai in 20 knot winds. We shall wait and see what happens with the winds - there is a possibility of a shift to more Easterly tomorrow night for a brief period and we might take the opportunity to kick-off. The problem is that we have to check out here before we leave and that means we might have to check out tomorrow and then hide if we decide not to go.

Niuatoputapu to Vavau - Tonga

9th September 2007

We upped early and left the anchorage by 07:45 and had a good but close-hauled sail towards the Vavau group of Tongan islands. The passage was uneventful and good winds overnight kept us on schedule to make landfall in daylight the next day.

10th September 2007

After dawn arrived, we soon spotted the high cliffs of Northern Vavau. The land is predominantly a limestone uprising making steep cliffs with high plateaus and easily navigable deep channels between the arms of the many islands. Further to the South, the islands become lower and coralline and navigation becomes a little trickier.

We headed straight for the main town of Neiafu where we picked up a mooring buoy because the water was took deep near the town.

11th to 14th September 2007

We had a lazy few days hiding from the incessant rain, re-provisioning and doing the odd jobs. We are running out of gas for cooking and we took our empty cylinders the two mile hike by dinghy to the gas station. They could not deal with our style of bottle and we spent many hours trying to buy connectors to convert between New Zealand style and our own Calor Gas style to no avail. I have since worked out that NZ bottles connect directly to the pressure regulators and therefore alternative high pressure connectors cannot be found. Luckily, “Ariel” have a couple of full British bottles aboard and have offered to loan us one until NZ where we will have to buy new bottles.

15th September 2007

We left at lunch time for a 6 mile sail to a deserted anchorage. When we arrived, the bay was full of boats and wee had trouble finding a spot to anchor.


As we motored in we spotted Splinters Apprentice, this surprised us as we thought they had already headed off to another island. They had decided that with the weather being so poor that they would wait it out for a few days but they were leaving today at 4:30pm. The good news was that they were on a mooring buoy and they said that they would call us before they left so that we could have it. We had anchored but Pete wasn’t happy as we were on coral and you could hear the chain rumbling across it.

True to their word they called us to say they were leaving and waited for us to get the anchor up before dumping the buoy. As we approached another boat was getting ready to raise his anchor and snaffle the buoy and said quite begrudgingly “ That’s good timing” I replied “We had a heads up that they were leaving & it’s not what you know it’s who you know!”.

So here we are in a beautiful picturesque bay safe & sound on a mooring buoy.

Suravov to Niuatoputapu - Tonga

30th August 2007

We left Surovov at 12:30pm it really was a wrench as we have had a wonderful time there, it was quite sad saying goodbye to the family as they had been brilliant hosts.

Leaving Suvarov


The forecast has changed its mind and decided that the winds will be light from now on.

We should not need fuel or water when we arrive since we have plenty on board but we are currently running a "dry" ship since the rum has run out. Replenishments will be sought once we arrive.

We like to call our destination New-Potatoes since it is easier to remember than Neiutoputapu and also easier to spell. The pilot book says that the entrance is straightforward but C-Map shows it as very narrow. A mid-day arrival will be good.

2nd September 2007

Well, we have had a good sail so far apart from the second night when it was a bit squally and fickle. Fliss got rained-on and I got a good soaking as well as having to cope with exceptionally erratic winds that varied 120 degrees and had us going between 8.5 knots and 1.5 knots. Not a relaxing watch!

Yesterday we passed Rose Island just before sunset. Unfortunately, the light was not right and we were not able to stop for the night. Rose Island is a nature reserve and one must get permission to stop there but since there is no warden, who would know? There was a single mast sitting inside the lagoon. I was surprised when we saw it since we have been sailing and steering by Celestial and DR positions since leaving - we knew it was on our rhum line but I was surprised when we sailed by within one mile without even adjusting course. Of course, Fliss used GPS and silently made sure that we weren't going to hit it!

The forecast keeps on telling us the wind is dying and here we are doing 6-7+ knots. The latest forecast shows that the wind will stay with us for tomorrow and that is all we need to make landfall. It is 07:30 in the morning and we have 40 hours to go at our current rate. This gives us an arrival time in the middle of the night and so we will need to slow-down once we get a little nearer in order to arrive in daylight.

4th September 2007

We have passed the international dateline and suddenly moved forward a day - and are getting confused as a result!

We had a bit of a wind shift and sudden increase that meant that we were sailing again this afternoon. After no wind, we suddenly had to tuck the third reef in the main and shorten the jib to a handkerchief. "Never Mind" we said, it was just a squall and they sometimes take a couple of hours to blow themselves out. The problem was that we were surfing towards our destination at 7-8 knots and we have budgeted on 5 knots in order to reach our landfall at about 08:00 the next morning. I think that there really was no slowing down for us and if we took the main down, we would have no possibility of hoving-to and awaiting daylight. So, at about 22:30 and only 30 miles from NewPotatoes, we hove-to in order to stand-off until morning.

Both of us were a little nervous of the hove-to manoeuvre since we have never tested Nadezhda's capability to hove to in such wild conditions and the thought of having to tack in such large seas and roaring wind gave us the jitters. In the end, although we were doing 7 knots on a broad reach, it took the engine to get the nose through the wind and waves and to settle us in hove-to. After that, we hid down below and the ride was surprisingly quiet and stable. The only problem was that we probably did not need any headsail out since the small amount that we did have was causing us to lie a little too beam onto the seas. As a result of this, we had the regular breaker that came up like the sound of an avalanche that hit us broadside with an almightily bang and piled hundreds of gallons over the deck that would then slosh around from one gunnel to the other for a while.

As we couldn’t maintain a watch we decided to put out a “Securite” call on the VHF on the hour and every hour to advise all vessels that we were hove-to and not under command, we also politely requested that all other vessels maintained a good watch and kept a safe distance from us. I did get a call back from another Ozzie boat who was also out, I was amazed to hear that he was 40-50 miles from us and could still hear us. He described his conditions as “Dirty” the wind speed he recorded was 30 knots in the gusts, he was on his way “slowly” to Pago Pago, how he managed to go slowly baffled us.

5th September 2007

Pete managed to get some sleep but I couldn’t relax enough, I wasn’t frightened but I felt that someone had to stay awake to keep an eye on things.

All in all it was a valuable experience as Nadezhda rode the waves beautifully and it made me realise that she is definitely the boat for long distance cruising, she really is made of stern stuff!

I woke Pete up at 6:30am and the conditions hadn’t eased in-fact they had intensified


I managed to get a good 2/3 hours of sleep but Fliss did not get any. She woke me at about 07:00 and I stuck my head out of the companionway to the fiercest and most ridiculous scene of boiling waves and horizontal spume. Actually, we had just been hit by a squall that had piled an extra few knots onto the windspeed and the overall conditions were not as bad as my first morning impression. So, we tacked the jib and we were off again at 7+ knots having a fairly comfortable ride. The good thing was that there were patches of blue showing in the sky and the winds were dropping a little to something a bit more bearable.

The sun poked through

I had checked the pilots notes and the information on C-Map that said that there were shoals and breaking waves at the entrance to the pass and that with an Easterly swell, the breakers could go all the way across the entrance making it dangerous to enter. At 20 miles off, I called out a "Good Morning Campers" to anyone in the anchorage and had a reply from Peter on an American yacht "Marcy". He told us that they could not clearly see the entrance from where they were but offered to take a dinghy ride there to check it out. An hour later and he called back to say that they had sat in the entrance for about 5 minutes and no breakers had actually closed-out the pass. He said that we would need to come in with the breakers about 40 feet to our port side and we should have the engine on hard for steerage. "It will be intimidating but probably quite ok" were his words. He then offered to come out and guide us through and we snapped up the offer.

We called Peter (and Ginger, his wife) when we were 2.5 miles off and soon had the leading marks spotted. Headsail rolled in, we turned for the entrance and soon spotted the little RIB with a Q flag flying on a pole at the back. They appeared to be playing dangerously close to the surf as we hardened-up the main and headed for them. The most natural thing to do was to keep away from the back of the waves that appeared to be curling over and breaking, but the dinghy made a bee-line right next to them and we followed. Not too many yards to the right were rocks and shoals under the surface and we had to resist the temptation to go there. Once past the entrance, the water was flat calm and we had an easy run in from thereon. All credit to Peter and Ginger and our many thanks for getting us in safely.

Entrance to New Potatoes

As we approached the anchorage, there was a familiar shape sitting there. "Splinters Apprentice", a long cabin Saga 36 was bobbing gently there. "Ariel" whom we had met in Suvarov were also in as well.

We dropped the hook, arranged for Customs to visit, blew-up the dinghy and went over to Marcy to offer thanks. They offered us a shot of Tequila that was gratefully accepted since we have been running a dry ship after the rum had run out some time past.

Customs, Immigration, Police and Health officials arrived at the quayside (one man and 3 women) and I ferried them to Nadezhda. Peter & Ginger had warned us to hide our tobacco and leave just a few packets around. The island had not had a supply ship in more than a month and the next one was due on the 24th September. As a result, the whole island had been suffering withdrawal symptoms since the cigarettes ran out and any tobacco was a valued commodity. Each official handed us papers to fill in, each asking for pretty much identical information. They pried into a few cupboards looking for goodies but were satisfied when we offered them 2 packets of cigarettes and one of tobacco (half of what we claimed to have on board).

With no provisions being delivered to the island, the stores were apparently pretty empty and the island had nothing with which to replenish our sundowner stores. We had a response to our enquiries from Nico who ran a tiny store ashore and who listened out to the VHF. He had the entrepreneurial skill to have made a homebrew from tinned peaches, sugar and "other stuff" and we agreed to meet him later. He did not want money for his goods, he wanted to trade tobacco.

We first went over to "Splinters Apprentice" and were invited on-board by "Bone" and Beth who have been cruising for the last 14 years. We compared notes on the Saga and found that we sail our boats in much the same way. They agreed that poling the headsail to windward on a broad reach and flying the staysail at the same time was an excellent way to get an extra knot of boat speed. They use their autopilot in conjunction with their Aries windvane and they also prefer to run a small high-clewed headsail rather than anything approaching a genoa.

We took our leave and went ashore to find Niko and furtively exchanged a pack of cigarettes and a pack of tobacco for a gallon of home brew. It felt like we were doing some sort of illegal drug deal. Nico offered us a large taster of the brew and it was very nice - a sort of sweet Cointreau taste a bit like sherry. We returned to the boat and had a glass each and were suprised when Nico and his wife Siea turned up in another yacht's dinghy offering us half a bottle of brandy…. Word must have got around that we were raging alcoholics but we were glad of the supplies that cost another 2 packets of cigarettes.

At seven o'clock we were to be found fast asleep on the couch having hardly touched a drop of our new supplies.

6th September 2007

In the morning, went over to "Splinters Apprentice" who were having trouble with water in the laptop and some of their keys on the keyboard were not working. As a result, they could not do a system restore that required use of the "O" key. We took along our spare keyboard to sort them out and I also prised the key off and got it working (although I never managed to re-fit the offending article, they were happy that it was now useable). They gave us Maxsea navigation software and soft copies of many pilot books from New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, SE Asia (Volumes I & II), Thailand and India through to the Red Sea.

We then took a walk into the main village, which is about a 45 minute hike along the dirt track that runs around the island.

The island is a complete culture shock after leaving French Polynesia. The houses range from cinder-block structures with tin roofs to wooden shacks covered with palm leaves. Little children run everywhere and all want lollipops, which we do not have. They mix with the dogs, pigs, piglets and horses that roam around freely. Pork is obviously not in short supply but we were surprised at the lack of chickens - especially since we have run out of eggs and there appear to be none available on the island. We later learned that the locals do not eat eggs and were horrified that we would even consider it.

The walk was interrupted in each small settlement by people asking for cigarettes until we eventually arrived at the main village where the Treasury, Ministry of Commerce and Trade, Revenue Office, Labour Office, Ministry of Agriculture and other major government departments were housed in a wooden shack that was indistinguishable from the run-down surrounding houses. This was where we changed some dollars for the local Pa'anga (1.8 Pa'anga to the dollar) and then paid our customs and health dues and were parted from some more cigarettes.

We then found the local shop that was impressively large. It sold cooking oil, cans of soft drinks, machetes, corned-beef, UHT milk and tinned mackerel. It used to sell rice as well but we snaffled the last bag.

As we walked back, the local schools turned-out and flooded the street with a hoard of red-clad, brown-faced, bare-footed little-un's. They surrounded us and escorted us back along the road as we tried to avoid stepping on the tangle of little bodies around our legs. The boys are fascinated in the men and the girls staring agog at Fliss. The swarm slowly shrank as homes were approached and the little red bees waved "bye-bye". All the smaller kids were wearing red uniforms and the older kids from a school further along the road wore; purple dresses for the girls, and grey tunic and grey skirts for the boys. The boys also had what looked like woven grass kneeling-mats that they folded and wore around their waists like a cummerbund.


On the way back I asked the kids where we came from and they said “Tonga” so I gave them a clue and started to sing our national anthem (they new the words) after I had finished my poor rendition I asked them to sing theirs, one boy started and then stopped out of embarrassment but after a few seconds all the kids were singing (about 15) it was wonderful as they harmonised beautifully and sang it with immense pride. Incredibly sweet moment as the kids where aged between 5-12.


In the evening, we were invited over by Ian and Cathy to "Ariel" for dinner. Ian cooked-up some starters to give us a taste of things that can be done with local produce. We had fried breadfruit chips that were a pretty good replacement for the potato variety and also we had fried coconut that had a splash of soy sauce added - It was amazing how much it tasted like crispy bacon! Main course was corned beef bolognaise.

7th September 2007

We went over to Niko's and offered him some impact adhesive to fix the inner tube on his car and he gave us a lift into the main village where we got our exit papers. The forecast looks good for a trip to Vavau on Sunday and we thought we might as well get the outbound clearance early.

We went with Ian and Cathy to a nearby Motu for a little explore and then we all visited "Marcy" in the evening for sundowners and snacks. It still amazes us how other folks provision - they had cheeses, cold sausages, crackers and popcorn to offer us.

8th September 2007

Today we will relax and tomorrow, the weather looks good for a trip to Vavau. There is a serious low pressure hanging off New Zealand at the moment and we are not sure how that will affect us in a couple of days time so we will get out tomorrow and then we won't be stuck here for the next week. There were about 8 boats in the anchorage here when we arrived, half of them left yesterday and 3 left this morning leaving just Marcy and ourselves.


25th August 2007

We did not get any rest after we arrived since we had a small stream of dinghies coming by to introduce themselves and chat. By the time we thought it was ideal for a quick nap, we realised that we needed to make something for the pot-luck barbeque. Since we had nothing to barbeque and we had run-down all our fresh stocks in Polynesia, we had a little difficulty. Eventually, we made up rice with peas and peppers and a dish of pasta with pesto. Neither were touched since the Americans brought along much tastier fare of pulses and Poisson-Cru (raw fish in lime juice). What a waste of our meagre supplies! Anyway, a couple of boats had been fishing and we had barbequed Mahi-Mahi and Wahu that was exceptionally delicious - even Fliss had to admit that it was more like steak than fish.

BBQ on the beach


The fish was cooked by Jim and Martha on a motor boat called “Special Blend” you couldn’t help but like Jim as he had a wonderful deep south American accent, infectious laughter and a larger than life personality, a real character.


The island is looked after by John, Veronica and their four children. Veronica comes from Danger Island (NW of Suvarov) and John is from Raratonga - the kids range from about 12 down to about 4 years old. We unloaded our unused Monopoly game on the unsuspecting family. Here they are without need for money and commerce and we are now forcing the merciless cut and thrust of unfettered capitalism on them!

26th August 2007

Today we went over to Sabbatical III with whom we had VHF contact during most of our passage across. They quickly whipped-up fresh fruit smoothies blended with crushed ice. They have a Super-Maramu that looks like a throw-back to Seventies design from the outside but is lush and luxurious inside. The freezer was the size of our cockpit and held all sorts of goodies - they even had unopened bottles of good wine underneath the saloon table - how the other half live eh?

Having been delayed there, we made our way over to the beach where John, Veronica and the kids were waiting for a tutorial on the basics of Monopoly. The game went well and we thought that everyone understood the concepts until it came time to start trading properties with other players. I swapped Kings Cross station with Veronica for Old Kent Road plus a couple of hundred pounds cash and then suggested that everyone start trying to get a full set of one colour by doing similar deals. Jeremiah, the eldest, also had a card that Veronica wanted. We told him to name his price and he said "Ten Pounds". I pointed out that he had already spent over £200 for the card and that, since his mum really needed the card, he could turn a seriously obscene profit. We asked him again what he wanted for the card and he still insisted on £10 - I think he was simply trying to be nice to his Mum. In the end, Fliss told his mum to pay £500 although I think that she would have been willing to pay nearly double that! I am not sure that the game will catch-on in the traditional sense and yet John and Veronica now have to put up with constant demands to play another game. We have obviously failed to create mini-entrepreneurs but have successfully managed to introduce petty demands and incessant squabbles into an otherwise loving and close-knit family.


I couldn’t help but admire the integrity of Jeremiah as there was no way he was going to stitch his mum up, the youngest, Mani, was a different kettle of fish without a doubt a budding businessman, “show me the money” was his favourite saying whilst rubbing his hands together in glee, a cracking little cheeky chappy with outgoing personality.


In the evening, we visited Ian and Cathy on home-built "Ariel" a steel Wylo. They have returned from NZ to do some more cruising of this area of the Pacific before they go back there again at the end of the season. I said that there was a article about a couple on a Wylo "Wylo II" transiting the Panama canal a couple of years ago in Yachting Monthly. They said that they were there and that the photograph in the article was of their boat.

27th August 2007

John and family invited the yachties to visit Bird Island and the Seven islands on the Eastern flank of the Atoll. Those with Rigid dinghies and powerful outboards (Americans) took their own transport and those without (Us) went with John & Co in their aluminium boat and their outboard that fired on only one of the two cylinders. A couple of Americans from catamaran "Emmanuel" also came along with us.

Baby Frigate Bird

Bird Island

We stopped first at Bird Island. There are a number of Motus fringing the reef but only one of them seems to be populated with birds. In fact it is overpopulated, with terns, frigate birds and tropic birds all nesting beak-by-jowl on, in and under the scrubby vegetation. As we walked by, the terns all took flight and hovered above us - some of them were only a few yards away but they did not appear to be malicious in any way and we were not dive-bombed or guano-splattered. The kids loved it and were hunting rock pools for crabs. Jeremiah had eyes of a hawk and pointed-out eggs, crabs fish in rock pools and spotted an eel under a rock which he lifted to send the alarmed animal skittering across the rocks into another, larger rock pool.


As we dropped anchor John said “If any sharks come towards you don’t run or panic” I have never seen so many people power walking!.


We moved-on to the "Seven Islands" and stopped… at the Eighth! Our stop at Eight Island included a walk around the island to pick up Jetsam and other rubbish. After that, Jeremiah shimmied up a coconut tree to knock down fresh green ones so we all had a fresh drink. Veronica suggested that the bods from Emmanuel may be tired and that they should go back with Aaron and Chris from another catamaran "Bare Feet" - they are a lovely pair and easy to chat with.

After that, it was just Fliss & I and the caretakers. We took our time on the return journey trolling a couple of hand-held lines over the back of the boat. Jeremiah caught a whopper of a Grouper that his dad had to help in getting aboard. After that, I was handed the line and caught two more, not quite as big as the first. The technique is to run over patches of coral heads where a catch is almost guaranteed. I got the award for the best bludgeoning with a blunt stick that was necessary before trying to extract the hook from the sharp-toothed mouths.

Pete and the Grouper


It was wonderful just hanging out with the family (sorry for the Americanism). Just seconds before Pete caught his first grouper Jeremiah shouted “You’ve caught a fish” he had watched it swim up from underneath the coral and take the lure, amazing really.

John & Veronica


We went back to John and Veronica's to do clearance and I watched as John filleted the fish into great big boneless steaks. He offered us one and asked us to take another for "Emmanuel" and one for "Ariel".

The fish was delicious although a little over-spiced with Caribbean seasoning. We shall try something a little less intense with the rest of the fish.

28th August 2007

Not a lot to report today apart from we took a leisurely walk around the island.

John & Veronica's children playing

Another day in the office for Pete!

29th August 2007


Pete I'm afraid to say is the biggest girl's blouse when it comes to snorkelling in the South Pacific (granted that the pilot book say's beware of aggressive sharks) in Surovov all the yachties were snorkelling on the reef but Pete wasn't keen so I asked another Yacht (Jim & Katy on Asylum) if I could go with them... Pete was almost shamed into going with us anyway, he sat in the dinghy with his mask and fins on and said in a pitiful voice " I Don't like sharks", being understanding, caring & sensitive I said " Get in the water you poof and let me know what's down there". after an hour (most of the time he spent standing on the reef) he declared that he had seen all of the reef and wanted to go back to Naz... Before I knew it Pete grabbed my arm and towed me back to the back.... I asked why he always tows me back and he said I was tired??? news to me! I think he wants us both out ASAP as I can splash a bit with my fins which is bad news as it attracts sharks as they think it's a fish in distress.

The coral was very nice but no great abundance of marine life.

Moorea to Bora Bora and then Suravov

1st August 2007 - Moorea


This really is a breathtaking anchorage. This morning we watched a huge crab with a massive shell on it's back weaving it’s way around the stones slowly on the seabed it was amusing to see the wiggly route that it had taken, that's how clear the water is here.

We went for a last snorkel with the stingrays and sharks this morning. There were only a few other people there but Pete and I agreed that the atmosphere felt totally different almost threatening. The sharks that we had seen previously kept a greater distance from us and swam mostly by themselves; today they were swimming in packs and much closer to us than they had been in the past.

The fish were amazing and if we just floated they came right up to your mask and hovered around looking at you, the colours were superb! They were all around us and when we swam away they just followed us. We think they felt safer with us with all the sharks around. One Angel fish started pecking Pete’s finger.

As we got back into the dinghy Pete spotted a reef shark (Black Tips) thrashing around in the water… time to go!


We motored most of the way to Raiatea with about an hour of sailing before we approached the island. We went first to Faaroa bay which deeply indents the Eastern coast about half-way up. This is the home of Sunsail where they keep their boats on mooring buoys. We went into the Sunsail office to ask where the local shop was and a surly lady waved her hand in the general direction of the road and said "Trios Kilometres". We decided to take the dinghy and had to negotiate lots of barriers reefs with large lagoons to the shoreside - I'm sure that it was more than 3 Kilometres and we eventually ran out of fuel on the way back. However, we did get bread and oven chips.


It was a long slog! The running out of fuel didn’t impress Pete at all, luckily there wasn’t head winds and choppy water, after a large sun-downer all was forgiven.

3rd August 2007

Pete ………….

Today we put the headsail out and ghosted up inside the reef to the main town of Uturoa on the NE tip of the island. My bridge was playing-up and I wanted to find a dentist. At the quayside, there is a fuel dock that extends so that visiting boats can moor alongside for a couple of days - free of charge. We put Naz alongside and went to find the dentist - it was closed. We worked out that it was Thursday and that it must therefore be closed for the rest of the day. I asked a chap waiting for the adjacent doctor whether today was Thursday and he agreed. Later, we discovered that it was Friday and I could have waited half an hour and seen the dentist then!

The wind was increasing and the reach across from the barrier reef was causing the wavelets to slap Naz and pin her to the dock so we decided that it would be prudent to move off and anchor. We went around to Apooti bay just past the Northern airport and met up with Nomad Life and Toboggan for a couple of sundowners before returning to steak and chips on board Naz. Whilst telling of my need for a dentist, I showed them the bridge and it "came orf in me 'and guv!"


The “it came orf in me ‘and guv” was for the benefit of Nancy & Steve (Canadians) as the are fascinated by cockney slang, Pete, Graham and I have spent many a happy sundowner hours teaching useful phrases in-case the happen to visit the East End of London and bump into some gangsters, they have learnt some of “The Knowledge”.

4th August 2007


We returned early to Uturoa and went alongside the town quay again in search for a dentist that was open. I located one and he checked out my tooth and glued the bridge back. Let's hope it stays put until NZ.


Whilst Pete was being attended to I entertained 3 armed customs officers who were amazed that we hadn’t been boarded before. After checking our paperwork the lead officer (who was wearing leather gloves, crikey I wondered what was coming next!) insisted that I show him the boat. He looked through all-visible lockers. Pete returned and said to one guy that if we really wanted to hide something there would be no way that Customs officers or a dog would ever find it, the officer agreed and they then left.


An American on a rather ramshackle boat ahead of us wanted to know what had gone on. He appeared concerned that customs were doing spot-checks. Apparently he makes his money doing "trading" and "deliveries" but he would not elaborate.

We spent the rest of the day chugging around the wind-less Western side of Raiatea and Southwestern side of Tahaa looking for a remote anchorage. Unfortunately, the depths in the lagoon are 30-40 metres and then shelve directly to 1-2 metres. It is quite tricky finding a spot that is shallow enough without a gaggle of Moorings and Sunsail boats. We ended up in poor light and decided to drop the hook in 27 metres in Tapuramu Bay.

5th August to 8th August 2007


We took our time circumnavigating the island of Tahaa inside the encircling reef and basically having a lazy time. We visited a pearl farm which was more of a “Pearl sales centre plus cafĂ©” than an example of a working pearl farm and we also caught up with Graham and Judit a couple of times.


We returned to Raiatea on the 8th and met up with Nomad Life once again. We went over to them and had a fantastic Vindaloo Curry that Graham had made, he really is an excellent cook! All made from fresh spices and the chicken was marinated for 4 days, delicious. After quite a few rum & cokes Graham declared that he wanted to race Nadezhda to Bora Bora (only 25 miles) and, being “slightly” competitive, I agreed to accept the challenge on behalf of Pete & Nadezhda.

9Th August 2007


In the morning we all felt slightly jaded so the start time was delayed by an hour. At 10am Nomad Life & Nadezha raised to anchors to start the race to Bora Bora.

Knowing Nadezhda as we do, and looking at the grib file for wind direction, we decided to pole out the jib to starboard and have the main to leeward. After poking our noses out through the pass Pete felt that he may have made a mistake as we were only just being able to fill the jib. Luckily as we cleared land the wind came around and Nadezhda took off like a rocket.

Graham has a DSC VHF as so do we, so we both were able to request position reports from each other, checking the distance between boats.

Nadezhda had a good lead but as we rounded the headland I noticed that Nomad Life were catching up with us, the wind had backed and was now right behind us, we don’t do that well down-wind, position report requested and it was confirmed Nomad Life had managed to claw back 1.5 kilometres.

Another problem was that the wind was now starting to head us making it impossible to continue with the jib poled out. Pete & I held an emergency meeting and we quickly discussed tactics on how to get the pole down whilst not losing speed or ground.

Plan hatched: Pete went up front, I rolled the jib in, he unclipped the pole, ducked and shouted “clear” I then pulled the jib back out and winched liked mad.
The whole procedure took around 2 minutes.

Nadezhda did win but maybe if the race had been slightly longer and down-wind they certainly would have given us a run for our money.

Respect to Graham & Judit for being brilliant sportsman as they took it really well, it was really just a bit of fun and made short sail more interesting.

Nomad Life catching up with us as we approach Bora Bora

The evening was spent at Bloody Mary’s (A very chic bar/restaurant) with Graham, Judit, Noel & Natalie (Yacht “Kyrie”) and Steve & Nancy (Yacht “Toboggan”). The night spilled over to drinks on Nomad Life with Graham, Judit, Noel and Natalie. Noel & Natalie are returning to New Zealand after spending seven years cruising around the world in Noels’ home-built ferro-cement boat.

10th August to 18th August 2007

Bora Bora summary

Bora Bora is meant to be the Jewel in the Society Islands crown, and albeit a very pretty island, it really doesn’t beat Moorea, it is purely a holiday resort.

We took a car with Graham & Judit to tour the sights of Bora Bora and within an hour and a half we had seen all the sights to be seen. That evening, we returned to Bloody Mary’s for a couple of beers and spent the rest of the evening with Terry & Lynne (yacht Resolve), a superb night with Pizza and rum it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it!. Terry and Lynne bought their yacht so that they could sail from South Africa to New Zealand where they will relocate near their daughter. They sold two large houses with swimming pools and will only be able to buy a very modest home when they get there. However, they said that South Africa was becoming untenable and the drop in lifestyle was going to be worth it.


Lynn is a superb artist and she showed me her charcoal pictures she had drawn of political figures in South Africa the likeness was amazing. Lynn’s used to work on the sports council of South Africa and her references for her visa into New Zealand were from well known rugby players, it’s taken them three years to get the visa sorted out. Great couple and we hope to meet up with them in Tonga.

We did have a wonderful time. The snorkelling is excellent in beautiful clear water but what made Bora Bora a great experience for us is that we made lots of new friends; the social life is exceptional.


We ended up staying for longer than anticipated due to some very strange weather patterns over the Cook Islands. Forecasts went from saying that there would be no wind to then telling us the next day that there would be 50 knots of wind. We had reports from other cruisers en-route that the seas were rough and the winds gusty and so we delayed our departure. When we finally did decide to leave, we went about 10 miles and then returned because there was not a breath of wind.

Rob, Lilly & Pete at "Bloody Marys"

20th August 2007


The weather looks fine for the next few days and we had a report from John and Susan (55’ Catamaran “Sylkie”) that the wind was about 15 knots and a broad reach.

So it’s goodbye to French Polynesia and hello Cook Islands, hopefully our money will go further there!!

21st August 2007


After yesterdays flying start the wind has now died so it’s motor on. This crossing is slightly dreaded by cruisers as the seas can be very boisterous. Nancy & Steve on Toboggan left a week before us and unfortunately encountered 30-40 knots of wind (in the gusts) and extremely high seas.

The last thing we heard was that they were safely holed up at Palmerston (Cook Islands) and that Toboggan had suffered considerable damage to the goose-neck. They said that the local people were amazing and as they arrived in strong winds and seas a local boat showed them the way in.

22nd August 2007


Again not a lot of wind, each time we get a breeze we get the sails out to try to minimize engine hours. Over night a huge dark image appeared on the radar and no matter which way I turned it followed us. Expecting the worse I grabbed my Henry Lloyds and put the running boards in. I expected high winds and loads of rain. It rained hard for 10 minutes and drizzled for 20 minutes but no squally winds. Pete got up at 2am to a beautiful starlit night. I guess it was my turn for a soaking.

23rd August 07


At 8am this morning we have been goose-winged with full sail running between 6 & 7 knots (occasionally 8 knots) and have therefore probably eaten up some miles.

We listen in on the SSB Radio to the group of boats who are doing the same passage as us. They broadcast their positions and current conditions to a central co-ordinator who keeps tabs and the information is very interesting and useful. It is interesting how someone only 100 miles away can have very different conditions.

The SSB get-together happens twice a day and is a useful safety feature as well as an introduction to other sailors travelling in the same direction. The current group is for people leaving Polynesia and heading for either the Cooks or Tonga.

John and Susan on Sylkie said that they would report our position and conditions to the group on our behalf if we send them e-mails (our SSB is receive-only). We therefore co-ordinate our 2 e-mail sessions per day to occur half an hour before the SSB get-together and Susan reports-in for us. Sylkie is about 60 miles ahead of us and, surprisingly, not leaving us behind too quickly - she is a 55 foot catamaran and I would have imagined that this downwind run would have left us wallowing in her wake.

24th August 07

Suvarov is a very remote Island and is only inhabited by the National Park rangers. The island itself is meant to be very beautiful. The bird life is meant to be stunning and loads of coconut crabs but swimming is a no go as there a plenty of aggressive sharks in the water.

We had a good day of sailing today but it was a bit more downwind than we like. At about 15:00, the wind suddenly shifted (with the help of waves??) and we crash jibed. This was prevented by the gybe-preventer line but unfortunately, the string holding the pulley block to the deck parted (probably chafe) and the preventer line pulled one of our stanchions off the deck and was only stopped in its travels by the shrouds. Luckily, the mainsail and boom did not therefore slam all the way across and the deck is still solid as a rock at the stanchion base. Five minutes later and the wind shifted 90 degrees the other way and we had a bit of a squall. We were ready though with 2 reefs tucked in the main and half the jib put away.


This sounds awful to say but I so grateful that the crash gybe happened on Pete’s watch as if it had happened on mine I would have felt that it was due to negligence on my part.

The way we play things on long sails it that Pete gets the morning off and I have the afternoons. Well this morning on my watch before the crash gybe happened I was extremely nervous as the wind kept veering putting it directly behind us. I kept our course high to keep it just off but had to keep a constant watch. I really don’t like downwind sailing especially if you have large waves.

Pete was unlucky and there was nothing he could have done as the wind shift appeared out of nowhere, in my opinion we were extremely lucky that the block got caught around the stanchions as if the boom had slammed across the damage could have been a damn site worse.

Pete felt really bad about it as he’s loves Nadezhda dearly and no other yacht could be better looked after - it was just one of those things.

As the squall hit I called up Sabbatical III (they had overtaken us in the night and were 9 miles ahead) and warned them that some weather was coming their way. Laura thanked us and quickly rolled in their two head sails (the head sails roll up together) about 20 minutes later her husband Mark called back and said “we owe you three sundowners as the wind shifted 50 degrees and had we not have rolled the sails in we would have been in trouble”.

25th August 2007


Last night at 10pm the wind totally died so we had no choice but to put the engine on, thank god we re-fuelled in Bora Bora.

The SSB camaraderie is wonderful and everyone is egging each other on. I heard on the VHF this morning that if yacht arrives late’ish another cruiser will dinghy out to show them the way in through the narrow pass, fantastic eh!!!

A hot sweltering day with no wind! This morning we looked at the distance to travel and decided to up the engine revs as it would be shame to stand off for the night if we were an hour to late to go through the pass.

It’s 8:30pm and Pete has gone off watch and I’ll try to leave him till 1am, another beautiful starlit night but are we going to pay for a windless day with squalls, lets see!

Only 94 miles to our waypoint which is only a few miles from the pass, cutsey flag is ready to fly, Suvorov here we come!

26th August 2007


The wind slowly increased through the early hours of the morning until we could get the sails flying again. As the wind strengthened, we reduced the engine revs so that we could maintain 6.5 knots and arrive with the best sunlight conditions for eyeballing through the shallows and, eventually, we turned the engine off – Bliss!!

We dropped the sails and entered the Atoll lagoon through the coral pass at precisely the time of the sun’s meridian with it high in the sky and directly behind us. This made the shallow patches easy to see as the deeper blue turns to cyan and then to browns as the bottom shallows. Entry was straightforward and we quickly anchored with 5 other boats.

We already knew Sylkie and within minutes, we had met three of the other crews as they came over or passed in their dinghies. The only people that we haven’t met are Mark and Laura from Sabbatical III – I think that they are catching a few Zzzzzzz’s after the passage. I think that I might do the same before we meet up with everyone on the beach for a barbeque later.