17 September 2014

15 September 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -18.182316 LON: 170.956633
Timestamp: 2014-09-15 09:04 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-18.182316&lon=170.956633
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -17.959116 LON: 171.590150
Timestamp: 2014-09-15 01:04 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-17.959116&lon=171.590150
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -17.949550 LON: 171.628950
Timestamp: 2014-09-15 00:34 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-17.949550&lon=171.628950
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -17.816116 LON: 172.110150
Timestamp: 2014-09-14 18:05 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-17.816116&lon=172.110150
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

14 September 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -17.653750 LON: 172.570933
Timestamp: 2014-09-14 10:03 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-17.653750&lon=172.570933
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Approaching Vanuatu

We're about 270 miles from Port Vila at the moment so chances are that
we'll be there either late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Apparently we're due for a bit of weather during tomorrow. The GFS GRIB
forecast that we have shows around 20-25 knots which in reality means
probable wind strengths around 35 knots or so, because GFS is usually
under by about 50%. Fortunately it should only last for about 12 hours
but there is a trough and convergence zone we have to pass through so
that could mean some squalls and rainfall along with it. We are running
with 2 reefs in the main and a genoa at the moment, the plan is to put a
third reef in the main tonight and furl the genoa a bit, then probably
douse the genoa tomorrow and put out the staysail in its place. We have
had steady winds around 15-17 knots all day today which has given us
good miles under the keel but there really isn't any way around this
trough, we have to just push through it as best as we can.

I think the auto position updates are working OK at the moment but there
was a bit of a zig-zag where the program that handles the manual
position updates got the E and W longitude mixed up. In any case we're
back in the E hemisphere having crossed the date line which runs through
Fiji, and heading towards Vanuatu.

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -17.319066 LON: 173.813483
Timestamp: 2014-09-13 17:59 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-17.319066&lon=173.813483
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

13 September 2014

11 September 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -15.510549 LON: 178.487533
Timestamp: 2014-09-11 01:50 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-15.510549&lon=178.487533
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -15.50645 LON: -178.4981
Timestamp: 2014-09-11 01:45 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-15.50645&lon=-178.4981
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -15.463599 LON: 178.620916
Timestamp: 2014-09-11 00:15 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-15.463599&lon=178.620916
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -15.3169333333333 LON: -179.122516666667
Timestamp: 2014-09-10 18:48 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-15.3169333333333&lon=-179.122516666667
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

10 September 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -15.1322666666667 LON: -179.633916666667
Timestamp: 2014-09-10 12:54 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-15.1322666666667&lon=-179.633916666667
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -14.987500 LON: -179.859650
Timestamp: 2014-09-10 08:12 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-14.987500&lon=-179.859650
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -14.888900 LON: -178.910366
Timestamp: 2014-09-10 00:11 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-14.888900&lon=-178.910366
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -14.8234 LON: -178.31065
Timestamp: 2014-09-09 18:47 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-14.8234&lon=-178.31065
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

09 September 2014

08 September 2014

07 September 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -13.566333 LON: -173.242166
Timestamp: 2014-09-07 07:04 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-13.566333&lon=-173.242166
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -13.5512333333333 LON: -173.161666666667
Timestamp: 2014-09-07 05:20 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-13.5512333333333&lon=-173.161666666667
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Departing Savai'i

We had a few fits and starts departing Savai'i.

The wind in the bay where we were anchored kicked up to 20 knots and a
bit more about the time we wanted to leave. Fortunately we'd already
contacted Ian the fishing boat guy at the Va-i-moana resort on shore and
he led us out through the pass. It was a bit easier going out than
coming in, but there was still a significant "washing machine" swell and
a strong cross wind that was making holding a course difficult. The
reef edges were easy to see, however, and the channel appeared wider
coming out than going in. Ian pointed out (as we left the channel) that
our swim ladder was down, due to me having taken a swim this morning so
we hauled it up and continued sailing.

Strong NE winds on the north of Savai'i soon turned E and then a bit SE
so we were able to get some sail out. Once we did, of course, the wind
died off completely and the washing machine swell reappeared, as we
rounded the western tip of Samoa. So we had no option other than to
motor for a few more hours, in fairly uncomfortable conditions.

By 4pm (local time) today the swell had calmed down, and after an hour
or so of coming from every which direction the wind finally settled in
to a 10 or so knot SE wind, at about 120 degrees on our port side (wind
direction measured in degrees port or starboard from dead ahead).
That's a pretty good sailing angle for us so we're now making about 4
knots on the course we want. Not great speed but speed in the right
direction at least, and without having to use the engine.

Forecast for the next 24 to 48 hours is for much of the same so it
should be a slow-ish but comfortable passage to Vanuatu. If the wind
holds OK tomorrow we should be able to fly the spinnaker for a while to
get a bit more way on.

I've logged in with one of the HF radio nets -- Rag of the Air,
broadcast from Fiji, so there are a few other folks who know where we
are and will be keeping tabs. The sked is at 8am our time so I can eat
a bit of breakfast while listening to the radio.

Next stop Port Vila.

Bye Bye Samoa

Today around mid-day local time we plan to up anchor and leave Asau Bay, Samoa. It should be about 10 days sailing from here to Port Vila, Vanuatu.

I have a stack of photos and videos to post but the general internet slowness and cost here prevents me from posting more right now. I will try to upload some in Vanuatu or maybe when I get back to Sydney or Saigon.

Weather for the next few days looks like SE winds around 15 knots, so it even may be a good spinnaker run.

06 September 2014

16 August 2014

Sailing around Upolu

Since I now have a bit of time to spare in Samoa before heading off to Vanuatu, I decided to sail out of Apia and down the coast a bit to a couple of the other anchorages on the chart.

Before doing so I visited the fish market and picked up these tasty little treats.  3 parrot fish and a couple of grouper.  The larger of the parrot fish I cooked up the same day, and put the other four in the freezer to eat during the trip.



The first anchorage I went to was Fagaloa Bay, which was nice and scenic.  On the way in I passed this village directly below a waterfall.
The head of the bay gets shallower very slowly as it goes towards the village there, so I was able to pick my anchoring depth.  I dropped anchor in about 11 metres of water just away from the reef along the side of the bay.

After a day or so snorkelling and some time walking on shore, I decided there wasn't much to do there and headed to the next bay, Falefa Bay.

Falefa Bay has an odd little island sticking out of the coral reef at the entrance to the bay, and a village along one side.  I did a bit more snorkelling around the reef near where I anchored, and then headed out in the dinghy along the shore.

Just outside of the bay I found a small resort where I stopped to order some lunch and tried to get a recharge on my SIM card (no luck there), but also found this rock pool nearby.
The pool appears to be fairly popular with locals and tourists alike, and I stayed there for a few hours chatting to some people I met, including these two young ladies.
The one on the left, Teuila, is just about to return to Nanjing in China where she is completing a degree in international trade and marketing.  I wished her well in her studies and recommended that she consider working in Singapore after she completes her degree since she speaks Mandarin as well as English and of course Samoan.  So Susan, you might end up with a young Samoan lady with a degree from China knocking on your door for a job interview one day!  The other lady (Meue? -- can't figure out the spelling from hearing her name once) was considering a degree in Psychology.  They both seemed fairly switched on to what was happening around them in the world, which was good to see in young Pacific Islanders.

Unfortunately on the way back to Chiara Stella I broke another shear pin in the outboard -- and since that's the third one so far this trip I have no more spares.  So I will have to head back to Apia on Monday in order to try to source a replacement.  I know of a few motor service centres there, hopefully someone will have a pin that I can use.  Without it I'm reduced to rowing if I want to use the dinghy which is a bit of a pain.

In the mean time, tomorrow will be spent cleaning and tidying, and perhaps cooking one more of the parrot fish for lunch.

06 August 2014

Turtle feeding frenzy

I posted the other day that I'd been bitten on the butt by a turtle.  Yes, it really happened.  No, I don't have a turtle-shaped hole in my backside.  No, it didn't hurt (not much).

How it happened was that we went to Swimming with Turtles in Sato'alepai Village, Savai'i, Samoa.  You basically hop into this large lagoon pool where there are a bunch of pretty chilled out turtles, doing their own thing and waiting for someone to swim by with a tasty piece of papaya.  Which they are happy to take from your hands, as shown in this video shot by our sailing friend Leanne from True Blue V.



Unfortunately I think that there is a simple flaw in the premise of getting turtles used to snacking on papaya.  Papaya isn't that dissimilar in colour and shape to a human butt.

You can guess the rest of the thought process going on in that tiny little turtle brain all by yourselves.

05 August 2014

Launching Coconuts

Launching coconuts into the blowhole on the south coast of Savai'i, Samoa.

Papaseea Sliding Rocks

This is just outside of Apia, Samoa.  A video of me sliding down the rocks at Papaseea.
Also one of Nhi taking the same slide.

Samoa

Previously I lauded Rarotonga as a great holiday destination, and I still do, but Samoa has a lot to recommend it as well -- not just for sailors but for anyone looking for a warm weather get-away.

The weather here at this time of year (southern hemisphere winter) is notably warmer than Rarotonga, and the water temperature is warmer as well.  This has made swimming and snorkelling much more attractive.  I must be really no longer used to the cold because now I'm comparing a place where the water temperature is 24 degrees with somewhere else where the water temperature is 28 degrees (I have a water temperature sensor on the hull of the boat so I know pretty much exactly what the water temperature is).  Compared to Lyttelton's 15 degrees, both are a paradise!

Having spent a few days in Apia, we decided to do a bit of a tour of both of the islands of Samoa, the main one Upolu (where Apia is located) as well as the larger but less populated island of Savai'i.

Upolu scenery is very pretty.  It has mountains and rivers and as a result lots of pretty waterfalls.
Unfortunately I died horribly after accidentally falling in to this one.  The remainder of this post has been dictated from the afterlife.
Yes, I'm still a smart-arse.

We stayed a night at a beach fale in a village called Salepaga on the south side of the island.  Nhi took my electric bike and I rented a touring bike for myself (which was much harder work than the electric!) and we cycled along the south coast for a bit.

We discovered this beach at Vavau, with a bit of effort.  There is a sign at the top of the turn-off saying "beach bungalows" with a couple of ladies on a fale there telling us that the beach bungalows were no longer there and it would cost us 5 tala per person to visit the beach.  So we paid our 5 tala and followed the road and didn't see anything spectacular.  After walking around for a bit we discovered another track, and following it we found this.
Which was where I proposed.  More on that later :)

We continued along the road and a short bike ride later we found the turn off to the To Sua trench.  It's a marvellous spot, it's a large sinkhole connected to the ocean by an underground opening, with a ladder and platform put down to enable swimming.
We stayed for a few hours and enjoyed the water as well as the garden scenery, and then had the taxi driver take us and the bikes back to Apia.

Later in the week we struck out from Apia (by taxi again) to the Robert Louis Stevenson museum.  RLS spent the last 5 years of his life at Vailima, overlooking Apia, and built a rather impressive house here.
The inside has been restored, including some of the Stevensons' original furniture and belongings, as well as some replicas of period pieces where they couldn't obtain the originals.
Although I did spot that they had included a Staunton chess set (dating from well after Stevenson's death) rather than the St George style which would have been more appropriate for the time!  I must mention this to them if I get back there.

After a few more days relaxing in Apia, we struck out again for the other island, Savai'i.  We had a tour there promptly and professionally arranged by the folks at the tourist information office on the Apia waterfront, basically it involved a taxi to the ferry terminal, a hire car on Savai'i, and one night's accommodation in beach fales on the far side of Savai'i.

Savai'i also has lots of pretty scenery.
It also has blowholes!
It's also the site of a recently active volcano, with lava flows still evident.
Also an odd little tidal race formed between the main island and one of the offshore volcanic offshoots.
Just driving around the island and watching the island life was interesting.  Samoa has a strong family-oriented culture and we could see a lot of family based agriculture while we were travelling around, often with an entire village getting together to dig rocks (volcanic soil is good for growing things but also contains many rocks), plant, harvest, build fences and walls, and even collect bags of rubbish to keep the streets clean.

Overall a really interesting place to get away from things.  Highly recommended.










Apia

4 days of glorious (mostly!) downwind sailing got us from Suwarrow to Apia, the capital city of Samoa.  We had the option to detour via American Samoa (Pago Pago) but decided not to, and took the direct route to Samoa.

Most of the sailing was done wing on wing, with both headsails poled out, and for some of that I kept the mainsail up with 3 reefs, sheeted in to reduce the roll a little bit.  Overall there wasn't much swell or rolling, however so it was OK with or without the main.

Early on the second morning we got hit by a series of strong squalls, each only lasting a few minutes but the strongest gust in the last one reached 44 knots!  I had the small autopilot running at the time and it refused to hold a course in those gusts so I was reduced to hand steering.  After that the wind reduced nicely, however, and gave us a good run for that day and the next day.

Early in the morning on the 4th day we were up taking in the poles as the wind had swung around to the north, and by the mid morning we had the wind on the beam.  It was still fast sailing and we managed to make Apia before sunset with a little bit of motor assistance.

Apia is quite pretty.  To say there are lots of churches is an understatement -- there are dozens of them and some are quite massive, such as this Catholic church on the waterfront in town.
As we had arrived in Apia too late in the day to clear customs, we spent a night at anchorage before moving into the marina (which was nearly full but one space was made available).  There was an endless procession of visitors to Chiara Stella -- health, quarantine, customs, port authority, immigration and then finally a tender to lead us in to the marina.

We spent a bit of time watching the outrigger races on the harbour.
Stopping at the marina allowed us to take on water (which we were short of, as we weren't able to use the watermaker in the harbour), and top up the batteries with shore power, which I'm now making use of by running my main laptop.

There are a few bars nearby the marina which can get noisy at night, but we've been taking advantage of those to have a few drinks, watch the rugby (go Waratahs!) and generally chill out.  It's also useful to be able to ride the bike to the nearby supermarkets -- of course we have been unable to restock provisions since Rarotonga.

Retrospective - Suwarrow

I now have enough internet and a bit of free time to go over some of the parts of the trip that I was only able to talk about briefly earlier.  Blogger allows me to post via email but I can only send text emails while at sea, no pictures.

Our first planned stop after leaving Rarotonga was Palmerston atoll.  This is a sparsely inhabited atoll about 260 miles north west of Rarotonga, housing about 25 people (the population fluctuates a bit from year to year as some leave and some return), all of whom are from the same family -- the descendants of an Englishman who settled there in the 19th Century with his 3 Polynesian wives.

Unfortunately about 40 miles south east of Palmerston we were hit by strong north westerly winds, quite unusual for that time of year and not what was on the forecast at all.  So we hove to overnight and waited to see what the wind would do the next day.  In the morning I discovered that the wind had moved to the south west but was still quite strong, too strong to enable us to sail to Palmerston and also too strong (and from the wrong direction) to allow us to anchor at Palmerston.  This is because the only anchorage at Palmerston is outside of the reef, and it's a lee shore in anything coming from the west.

So we decided instead to make sail for Suwarrow.  Because the wind was strong and over one quarter we had a run of something like 168 miles over the next 24 hours, and in fairly quick time we had arrived at Suwarrow.

Suwarrow is an atoll in the northern Cook Islands that is usually uninhabited, however the park ranger Harry and his wife Vaine are stationed there from June until the end of October.

The anchorage is inside the lagoon, tucked away behind one of the main islands known as "anchorage island".  It's quite pretty.

The island has the trappings of home for the two people who live there for part of the year, including a sign to remind everyone how far they have come to get here:
The past history of the island includes that it was inhabited by a New Zealand seafarer, hermit, and survival expert Tom Neale, of whom a memorial is found on the island.
The island is also inhabited by hundreds of crabs -- mostly hermit crabs but the occasional coconut crab too.  We saw hermit crabs getting up to all sorts of antics -- climbing trees, digging holes, and getting into the occasional bar fight.
The atoll's name comes from the Russian "CYBOPOB" ("Suvorov", pronounced SUvaROV -- unstressed "o" vowels in Russian are pronounced as an "a"), who was a Russian general in Napoleon's time.  A Russian ship bearing Suvorov's name passed by the atoll during the 19th Century and gave its name to the atoll, the name has changed over time to "Suwarrow" and it's now known officially as that according to the Cook Islands.  There are some plaques commemorating the sighting of the island by the Russian ship on the island, however I'm not sure when the plaques were placed there (they appear to date from some time during the Soviet era).
All up we stayed at Suwarrow for 6 days -- snorkelling on the reef, strolling on the island, and watching some manta rays being cleaned -- video of that to come!

All good things come to an end though, and after a last visit to Harry and Vahine, who taught me how to husk a coconut and gave us the recipe for coconut pancakes, we packed up our dinghy and left for Samoa.



22 July 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -13.737483 LON: -170.134733
Timestamp: 2014-07-22 07:57 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-13.737483&lon=-170.134733
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Winds and storms

The Manua Islands of American Samoa are a set of fuzzy blobs on the
horizon, away to the south of us now. I didn't think we'd be able to
see them at this distance (about 30nm according to the chart) but they
are high islands formed from volcanic activity, over 2000m to the
highest peak.

We've had an odd assortment of winds today, more reminiscent of sailing
in Middle Harbour than in the trade wind belt. We started with the
usual easterly, with a forecast predicting it would swing north easterly
during the day. In fact it started out by dying off, then coming from
due west, and progressing around through south west and south, all quite
light so we motored for a few hours. It's now due easterly again and
we're running with the poled out genoa and the main with 3 reefs sheeted
in tight to reduce the roll. There's still a significant swell although
much lighter than yesterday.

We spent most of the morning dodging storms, which we seemed to do
successfully. We could see quite a bit of activity around us but the
worst we got was a calm between two of them, and the tail end of a bit
of rain.

At the current speed we should make Apia late tomorrow (Wednesday)
afternoon, but I'm still betting on the wind to die off a bit which
means we'll more likely arrive on Thursday morning. I'm looking
forwards to a beer at Aggie Grey's.

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -13.627250 LON: -169.059150
Timestamp: 2014-07-21 15:53 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-13.627250&lon=-169.059150
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

20 July 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -13.378200 LON: -166.473850
Timestamp: 2014-07-20 07:43 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-13.378200&lon=-166.473850
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Onwards to Samoa

We spent 5 days at what has to be the most idyllic place on the planet
-- and you can only get there by boat so it's not crowded with tourists.
At one point there were 8 yachts there (plus the park ranger and his
wife who live there for 5 months of the year) and it almost felt crowded.

We swam with sharks, watched manta rays being cleaned, snorkelled around
coral reefs and took many photos and a few videos -- too much to upload
via satellite phone unfortunately.

We left Suwarrow on Friday around noon our time, and we're now headed
towards Apia, Samoa. With good winds behind us it should be a 4 day
passage but the forecast is for lighter winds after the weekend so it
may be that it takes us 5 days.

I'm trying a new sail configuration -- with the wind directly astern I
have the two headsails poled out, one either side, but I also have the
main sail up with 3 reefs, sheeted in tight to reduce the roll. There's
a fair bit of swell and we're copping some roll but I think it's working.

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -13.357100 LON: -165.059616
Timestamp: 2014-07-19 17:19 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-13.357100&lon=-165.059616
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

14 July 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -13.249816 LON: -163.107483
Timestamp: 2014-07-14 03:35 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-13.249816&lon=-163.107483
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Suwarrow

We have arrived and dropped anchor at Suwarrow atoll, northern Cook
Islands. More to report and photos later. It's a very pretty place and
there are small black tipped reef sharks swimming around the boat.

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -13.249383 LON: -163.107333
Timestamp: 2014-07-13 19:34 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-13.249383&lon=-163.107333
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

12 July 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -14.830166 LON: -162.636483
Timestamp: 2014-07-12 11:28 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-14.830166&lon=-162.636483
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -15.186516 LON: -162.165533
Timestamp: 2014-07-12 03:28 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-15.186516&lon=-162.165533
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -15.800900 LON: -161.842483
Timestamp: 2014-07-11 19:27 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-15.800900&lon=-161.842483
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

new record

I think I just set a new record for this boat -- between yesterday at
8am and today at 8am we covered 163 nautical miles, which is an average
well over 6 knots. Most of that was done on the same course, 340
magnetic on the autopilot with the wind just behind the beam, main with
2 reefs and genoa partially furled. Wind speed was mostly between 22 -
25 knots with gusts to 28 or so (against a forecast of 16 knots). Seas
were a bit too lumpy so it was difficult to cook any food, fortunately I
laid in good supplies of cabin bread, cheese, jam, and even some chopped
liver I made at Rarotonga.

Right now we have more pleasant conditions around 16 knots (against a
forecast of 11 knots) with seas still a little lumpy but much less than
yesterday.

Someone should make available a GRIB file simply based on the GFS model
but with 50% added to all of the wind speeds. Talking to a few of the
other sailors around French Polynesia and also in the Cooks, it seems to
be common knowledge that the most widely used weather model always
forecasts wind speeds that are pretty close to exactly 50% less than
what you're likely to get. Even the one English language weather
channel I found in French Polynesia took the simple route of reading the
wind forecast from the GFS GRIB and adding 50%. The GFS wind direction
seems to be more or less accurate, so if you just took the model wind
speed and added 50% you'd get something reasonably close to an accurate
forecast.

The new water maker is now working, more or less, after I replaced just
about everything in it I could replace -- perhaps 15 hours spent
servicing a brand new machine direct from the dealer just to get it
running doesn't impress me at all. At least Katadyn have replied to my
email giving me a few other things to check.

11 July 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -16.574333 LON: -161.716583
Timestamp: 2014-07-11 11:26 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-16.574333&lon=-161.716583
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -17.488433 LON: -161.657500
Timestamp: 2014-07-11 03:25 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-17.488433&lon=-161.657500
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

not Palmerston

The winds sat around 30 knots most of the night blowing us eastwards, so
we have decided to abandon reaching Palmerston. Instead we have turned
the boat north to make Suwarrow instead. We're now making about 6 knots
roughly northwards with the wind on the beam so we will probably make
Suwarrow by Monday or thereabouts. Unfortunately trying to make
Palmerston from here would be a 90 mile upwind beat and no guarantee of
a safe anchorage when we get there.

10 July 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -18.648600 LON: -161.985750
Timestamp: 2014-07-10 11:19 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-18.648600&lon=-161.985750
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -18.648916 LON: -162.378566
Timestamp: 2014-07-10 03:18 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-18.648916&lon=-162.378566
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Progress update

We are about 70 miles from Palmerston Atoll where we plan to stop for
the weekend. In theory we could make it late today with the current
wind and a bit of motor-sailing but I've decided we're going to take
things slowly. The wind is forecast to move in front of us this
afternoon and so we will heave to when it does, and wait for it to move
back around to the other side of the boat which it should do (according
to the forecast) some time late tomorrow morning.

At the moment it's a pleasant morning's sailing. Wind is about 10 knots
just in front of the beam, seas quite slight with about a metre or so
swell. We have most of the genoa up and 2 reefs in the main (I could
shake one out for speed but couldn't be bothered right now if we're
going to heave to later in the day anyway), and we're making about 4.5
knots.

I have a big bunch of bananas on deck that someone gave us at Rarotonga.
I'm waiting for them to turn over-ripe so I can test out my banana
bread recipe.

Movie time now I think.

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -18.744216 LON: -162.137100
Timestamp: 2014-07-09 19:17 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-18.744216&lon=-162.137100
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -18.85984 LON: -161.953616666667
Timestamp: 2014-07-09 15:20 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-18.85984&lon=-161.953616666667
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

09 July 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -19.053966 LON: -161.756366
Timestamp: 2014-07-09 11:16 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-19.053966&lon=-161.756366
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -19.961650 LON: -161.040816
Timestamp: 2014-07-09 03:15 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-19.961650&lon=-161.040816
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -19.961650 LON: -161.040816
Timestamp: 2014-07-08 19:11 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-19.961650&lon=-161.040816
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -20.0523 LON: -160.940116666667
Timestamp: 2014-07-08 17:36 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-20.0523&lon=-160.940116666667
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

08 July 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -20.427050 LON: -160.569883
Timestamp: 2014-07-08 11:09 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-20.427050&lon=-160.569883
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -20.878850 LON: -160.137566
Timestamp: 2014-07-08 03:06 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-20.878850&lon=-160.137566
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Leaving Rarotonga again

Well we finally left Rarotoga for the second time, after replacing the
genoa, forestay, and furling luff for the genoa furler. Although it
feels good to be out on the water again, I will miss the folks back in
Rarotonga and will go back there again some day.

Big shout outs to Bret Scott of Scott Sails in Manly Vale, Sydney, for
getting a new genoa made to my previous measurements which he had on
file. Bret I don't know if you're reading this or in contact with Megs
who probably is but the new sail fits perfectly and is currently poled
out on a dead downwind run, about 12 knots of breeze behind us and
drawing well.

On the island big shout outs to Keith Christian of Sail Rarotonga who
acted as a receiving point for all of the parts and was able to
reassemble the furler, the forestay and help us get running again. Also
to the rest of the special crew -- Bridget, Ivan & Linda, Paul, Andy
(digger) and Johnboy who lent a hand where needed and got us moving again.

Having a couple of extra weeks on the island enabled us to get to see a
few things we wouldn't otherwise have made the trip for. The dance show
at the Staircase bar on Thursday night was particularly good, and the
Islander Hotel fed us our last steak before heading into the blue again.
The show at Te Vara Nui was also worth catching, along with the many
other little places that we visited.

We should be in Palmerston in 2 or 3 days time, more likely the latter
because we'll take it slow and easy. The long range weather forecast
doesn't look good for landing there but we'll see what happens when we
arrive.

After that it's on to Suwarrow and then Samoa.

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -21.203383 LON: -159.785500
Timestamp: 2014-07-07 19:15 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-21.203383&lon=-159.785500
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

04 July 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -21.2047 LON: -159.784748333333
Timestamp: 2014-07-03 20:27 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-21.2047&lon=-159.784748333333
YIT tracker: http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

New Tracker

Today I signed up for the NZ based Yachts In Transit so I should have a new tracker working:  http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/chiarastella

I can send position reports to that automatically or manually so it might alleviate some of the problems of the other ones.

02 July 2014

Just for anyone wondering where I am

I'm still at Rarotonga, still awaiting the parts to repair / replace my furler and genoa.  The furler parts and forestay are in the country now, awaiting customs clearance, while the sail left Sydney yesterday so I'm expecting it any day now.

So it's given me a bit longer to explore Rarotonga than I had otherwise planned, and there are worse places in the world to be stuck for a couple of weeks.  It has the major advantage (compared to French Polynesia) of being cheaper, at least we're not paying for accommodation except mooring fees (there being no free anchorage), while waiting.  There are plenty of nice places to eat on the island, and we've explored quite a few.  There was a night of buffet dinner and island dancing, a vietnamese/asian fusion restaurant, a lunch with another boat crew, and general getting around the island having a good time waiting for parts.

Of course I've had some work to do as well on board -- serviced the gearbox, serviced the generator, reorganised the storage a bit, etc.  Yesterday we went shopping and restocked the freezer in anticipation of leaving, and that also gave me the impetus to reorganise the pantry, etc.  All of which needs doing much more regularly on a boat than on land, because there is so much less free space so that you have to be careful of how you use it.

We've visited the other side of the island a bit, and checked out the lagoon at Muri.  I'm a bit slack at taking photos, so this one is borrowed:

All nice and tropical looking although the locals have been complaining about the cold recently (it got as low as 18 degrees at one point).

Hopefully the forestay parts will clear customs today, and the sail will go up later in the week so we should be ready to leave around Friday, weather permitting -- and if it doesn't permit we'll stay the weekend, stock up at the market on Saturday morning, and then leave on Monday.

I'm looking forwards to being out on the water again.

18 June 2014

Rarotonga again

Just another brief update: We left Rarotonga about 5pm yesterday only to return in the middle of the night with a broken forestay and a ripped genoa.  Repairs are likely to take a few days at least and possibly up to a week so I'll be here until further notice.

16 June 2014

A couple of weeks in Rarotonga

We sailed into Rarotonga on Monday 2nd June, which is where I've been since.  Unfortunately that day was a public holiday, we had planned to arrive the next morning but with consistent 25 knot tail winds all the way from Bora Bora the trip took less time than expected.

Rarotonga is a great place and I'd thoroughly recommend anyone looking for a nice holiday destination to give it a go.  Especially from New Zealand, flights are cheap, the local currency is the NZ dollar, and accommodation ranges from cheap on-the-beach bungalows where you take care of everything yourself, to backpacker lodges, to 5 star resorts.  The beaches are pleasant and clean, the snorkelling is good, and food and most other amenities are cheap.

The main purpose of the stay here was to fix the leaking stern tube. Repairs were effected in the water, in the end it became apparent that the cause of the leak was that the engine had been installed too low, causing the shaft to rub against the tube.  This broke through the bottom of the tube eventually, as well as putting some wear and corrosion on the shaft.  So the temporary solution was to move the shaft seal further aft so that the damaged section of the tube was inside the seal rather than behind it, and the leak has now stopped.  I will have to replace both the stern tube and the shaft in Vanuatu but since I'm planning on hauling out there for 6 months anyway, there will be plenty of time to do it there and the current repairs will hold until then.

After getting the repairs done the wind kicked around to the north for a bit, delaying our planned departure date, which was to be last Thursday, 12th June.  So I treated myself to a couple of days stay in a resort on the other side of the island, because with the wind from the north and the harbour entrance facing north, staying on board the boat was a bit bouncy.

In the end after shopping around for last minute deals on rooms for a bit ("what rooms do you have for 2 nights starting tonight"), we ended up with a half price rate on a room at the Little Polynesian Resort.  Can't complain really, outdoor spa bath and king size bed so I didn't particularly care what the weather was doing.

The view from the back deck of the resort was a bit like this (OK you're probably all sick of sun-and-sand photos by now, but here's another one anyway):





Anyway I have much more to report about Rarotonga but I'll leave that to the pages in the cruising wiki.

Planned departure from here now is tomorrow, which for us will be Monday 16th June.   Sadly that means I'll spend my birthday at sea rather than on a tropical island as originally planned, but at least I'll have the wind and waves to help me celebrate.  Next destination will be Palmerston and then Suwarrow atols, in the northern Cooks, and then on to Samoa.

15 June 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -21.204965 LON: -159.784717
Timestamp: 2014-06-15 06:06 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-21.204965&lon=-159.784717
YOTREPS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

01 June 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -18.621250 LON: -155.234950
Timestamp: 2014-06-01 01:41 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-18.621250&lon=-155.234950
YOTREPOS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -18.621250 LON: -155.234950
Timestamp: 2014-05-31 17:37 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-18.621250&lon=-155.234950
YOTREPOS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

31 May 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -18.096983 LON: -154.503100
Timestamp: 2014-05-31 09:38 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-18.096983&lon=-154.503100
YOTREPOS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -16.493583 LON: -151.789350
Timestamp: 2014-05-31 01:29 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-16.493583&lon=-151.789350
YOTREPOS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -16.493583 LON: -151.789350
Timestamp: 2014-05-30 17:25 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-16.493583&lon=-151.789350
YOTREPOS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

30 May 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -16.493583 LON: -151.789350
Timestamp: 2014-05-30 09:21 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-16.493583&lon=-151.789350
YOTREPOS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -16.493583 LON: -151.789350
Timestamp: 2014-05-30 01:24 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-16.493583&lon=-151.789350
YOTREPOS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

28 May 2014

Bora Bora

Arrived here at Bora Bora on Sunday late in the afternoon, after a few hours sailing and a few hours motoring from Tahaa, winds were fairly fickle and light.  Of course there is a lot written about Bora Bora in the various tourism guides,  some positive and some negative,  but overall it's a very pretty place. I'm not sure if it's the prettiest place in the South Pacific,  we've been to some remarkably attractive islands,  in particular I think that both Tahaa and Moorea are quite underrated.

Bora Bora does have the advantage of easy accessibility and of course the resorts if you are the sort of person who stays in ad resort every time you go on holidays. I've been quite enjoying cycling around the islands and seeing the sights first hand,  and in particular the area near the main township on Bora Bora is nowhere as pretty as either Tahaa or Moorea or Raivavae.

I don't have to stay in a resort of course,  I just drop an anchor or in this case pick up a mooring, this one outside the MaiKai marina just north of Vaitape.

The marina has the advantage of being close to the town and shops, such as the supermarket and the various pearl centres, but I was a bit disappointed with the facilities. "Toilets" in this case means one single cubicle,  BYO toilet paper,  and "showers" means some outside hose attachments with a spray nozzle. The sort of thing that, to be honest is starting to push my buttons a bit in French Polynesia (along with the inability of any French skipper to use a radio,  know where starboard is, know how fast 5 knots is, or have any clue about safe passing distances).

At least the food is good.

26 May 2014

Chiara Stella position report

Current position: LAT: -16.657183 LON: -151.446883
Timestamp: 2014-05-25 20:25 UTC
Iridium position: http://map.iridium.com/m?lat=-16.657183&lon=-151.446883
YOTREPOS tracker: http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=CHIARAST
MarineTraffic position: http://marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?zoom=10&mmsi=503518300

25 May 2014

Raiatea and Tahaa

We left Mo'orea for the overnight sail to Raiatea.  Despite originally deciding to skip Raiatea in favour of Taha'a, we instead spent a few pleasant days in the Marina Apooiti in Raiatea and exploring the nearby town of Uturoa.  Sailing there from Mo'orea was a pleasant overnight sail without a lot of traffic about, although we were passed by Orca 3, an Australian flagged catamaran (in fact on its way back to Australia from where it was built in France) during the night.

On the way in, in fact just before we were about to make our gybe to the entrance leads into the Raiatea lagoon, we caught this:

Very tasty indeed!  Flash fried with some soy sauce and garlic it was some of the best fish I've ever eaten, and look at the size of it!  Needless to say we still have a freezer full.

Uturoa is a sleepy little town although it has a nice fruit and vegie market and 3 small supermarkets carrying a range of different things.  We also found a guy (Richard) who assisted to get my outboard running again, as it had started playing up in Mo'orea.  The marina also had a laundry and showers which were very welcome.

Next stop is Taha'a. Things are all very close here:

Raiatea and Taha'a share the same lagoon, this was taken just after leaving Marina Apooiti on Raiatea.  Taha'a is to the left, and to the right in the distance is Bora Bora, which is about 5 hours sailing time away.

Taha'a is a very pretty island, lush and green almost to the extent of making Raivavae look barren.  The main export here appears to be vanilla so I went to visit a vanilla plantation today and bought some vanilla pods and powder direct from the farm.

Internet coverage has been spotty and expensive since we arrived in French Polynesia, but right now we're moored off the Hibiscus lodge/bar/restaurant in Haamene Bay which has free (and reasonably fast) wifi.  3G coverage has been fairly poor here although it was OK in Raiatea, but at about $30 for 400MB it's expensive.

Tomorrow we will leave Taha'a and head for Bora Bora for a few days.