Saturday, September 30, 2006

Bula from Savusavu

After 4 rain and wind lashed days the drowned rats aboard R2 pulled into Savusavu in the Fiji Islands today. Its fair to say we are glad that the last 600 miles are behind us and that we will be at the front of the queue at the yacht club bar this evening for happy hour. Busy mopping up as best we can at present although as the rain continues to pour it's not proving to easy. More later...

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Drowned Rats

The crew of R2 are officially drowned rats after 3 days of torrential rain and squalls since shortly after leaving Samoa headed towards the Fiji Islands. Today, Thursday 28th September has brought the first improvement in the weather so that we could update the blog. The winds have finally moderated a little and the sea has begun to calm. We have 160 miles to go to Savusavu and hope to make landfall tomorrow, which will be Saturday as we will cross the international dateline tonight. We are looking forward to arrival and drying out. At 19:00 GMT on September 28th R2 was at 16 Deg 19 Min South and 178 Deg 12 Min West.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Talofa Lava from Apia

After eight days of glorious weather and perfect sailing conditions we started to make our finalapproach to Apia, the capital of Samoa. The trip was probably one of the best we have ever had, we had 15 knots of wind just off the quarter, blue skies, clear nights with an amazing moon and gentle waves rolling us along. On our final day we passed the halfway round the world mark from the point we left Punta Ala in Italy just over a year ago - that was cause for a little celebration. We had thought we were going to have to stand off the entrance as our arrival time was going to be night, but the wind picked up just enough for us to arrive on the afternoon of 13 September. There was some thunder squalls around us on our last night, but in the distance so we had been keeping an eye on them but they didn’t come close, that was until we were making our way in! The entrance is pretty straightforward but no buoyage just leading lights on the hill that you had to line up, the reef on either side of the entrance was fierce with breaking waves. Out of nowhere the squall hit us, reduced our visibility to less than a boat length and slammed us with 45 knots of wind. There was no way we could continue as we were not sure how good our chart was and could not see the leading lights. So Andrew turned R2 around and put the engine on full revs taking us out along the track we came in, the sea picked up really quickly and we could only make about a knot against the huge waves. We had to rely totally on our GPS, which at one point told us we were going towards the reef when we were steering away from it because the wind and sea was pushing us. It was really scary and I sat inside monitoring our position screaming it to Andrew every few seconds, while he stood out in the elements being battered by torrential rain and breaking seas - he always gets the short straw. The squall eased a little and we called friends in the harbour on the radio who said it was calm in there and we turned around again and motored in at full speed to calm waters to be greeted by lots of boats we knew. We found a great spot to anchor and got out the beers!

We spent out first night catching up with friends, unfortunately Sandy on Zefrin was not well so they were there which was good for us as they had planned to leave a few days earlier, Noa arrived later in the afternoon with Kika making a night entry around midnight. Next day we cleared in which was easy enough but we had to visit four different offices, but it meant we explored the town a little and met some lovely Samoans in the process.

Samoa is the last place on earth to see the sunset, being just east of the international date line. There are nine islands in the group, all of which are volcanic. Upolu is the most populated, where we arrived in the capital Apia. Samoa is famous for beautiful beaches, spectacular waterwalls, freshwater cave pools and tropical plantations. Robert Louis Stevenson spent the last years of his life here and was known by the locals as Tusitala - teller of tails. In the last century it has been governed by the Germans and New Zealand before becoming independent in 1962. So English is widely spoken as a second language although the culture is very much Samoan. The ‘faa Samoa’, the Samoan way of life resists the pressures of the rest of the world. The ‘Aiga’ the extended family stay close and loyal within the village and the ‘Matai’, the chiefs are well respected , the ‘Alii’ the high chief makes the laws for each village. Houses known as fale in Samoa are usually round or oval, with a high thatched roof supported by wooden posts, most do not have walls and you seen straight through. In Apia some houses have walls but are still very open. The local sports are rugby and cricket.

We hired a jeep for a day and went on a tour, we were side tracked by a hike to a lake in a crater which was amazing and we swam in Lanatoo lake which no-one has ever found the bottom of. Goldfish swam with us and it was so serene and beautiful after the hour hike through dense rainforest. We continued on our tour passing through many villages of groups of fale, we witnessed a women’s committee meeting, waved back at about a thousand people who saw us on our way. We went to the south to see the incredible white beaches and to the north through incredible rainforest, passing gorgeous gorges and waterfalls at every turn. As we headed back to Apia we spotted a Kiribati or cricket match so stopped and met the locals watching. It was cricket with singing and chanting in skirts! The batters waiting sing, the fielders chant and all this wearing the local attire of lava lava, a sarong. Nearly all men in Samoa where lava lava and the women wear the same with very conservative fitted tops that match.

That evening we decided to go in search of a curry house we saw as we left Apia that morning, we found it but they were only doing take-away, but that wasn’t a problem as the lady waiting for her food invited us to come and eat our food at her house with her family. Luna was the bubbliest kindest lady and made us so welcome. She lived in a huge and beautiful house within her family commune of about 20 acres, the house was full of children and relatives who all spoke perfect English. This was the other side of Samoan life. We ended up staying until gone midnight, putting the worlds to rights and learning all about Samoa. Luna’s great grandfather was William Masters who settled in Palmerston and took many wives and spread families around
the Cook Islands.

The next day was Sunday, an important family day in Samoa, so most of us cruisers stayed on our boats and relaxed, we met with Annie who writes for yachting monthly, so watch out for us in her blue water letter! Annie and Tevor invited us for drinks, which went into dinner and a great evening, they have been cruising for years so have many stories to tell.

Yesterday I went off shopping and for lunch with Ellen (Kika), Emily and Sophie (Zeffrin), while Andrew and Nick went off to do some boat errands and ended up in a bar playing pool with the locals including the mayor and a village chief. The fun carried on back to R2 where I cooked dinner last night and much wine was consumed. This is such an amazing place and we feel very at home. Lots more to see and do so another long blog to follow I feel.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Still on route to Apia

Position 14 deg 16 mins south and 165 deg 57 mins west at 18:17 GMT on Monday 11th September. We're still out here rolling along on our way to Apia, Samoa and have 338 miles to go. We have been joined in our trip by friends Nick & Ellen on Kika and Walter and Rita on Noa, they are north of us as they came from the Northern Cook Islands, but have the same distance to run so Nick is plotting us all on his 'geeky' program to see who does best each day. Amazingly we are in the lead at present but the German contingent on Noa are pretty speedy so we have to watch out for them. We also have a lovely family from Alaska aboard Nueva Vida about 30 miles away from us, we left Bora Bora together and kept VHF contact until we got too far apart from them. They have a boat a little larger but very similar to R2 so it is interesting to get their position reports. The winds have been nice and consistent and we've been having a nice trip so far. We are a bit anxious that we may run into a squally zone sometime soon as we know it's out there. For now we are enjoying it, spending our days reading, doing a few boat jobs and cooking. I am proud to say I have perfected my flapjacks at last - ridiculous that they've been such a problem but that's life - Andrew is pleased as if I use up the Muesli in flapjacks he doesn't have to have it for breakfast! Oh the excitement out here!!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Poisition report

At 0437 GMT on Saturday September 9th ReVision II is at position 15 Deg 08 Mins South and 159 Deg 44 Mins West with 703 miles to go to Apia Samoa. Today we finished off the last of our tuna so will start fishing again tomorrow. After a squally night we have had a beautiful day today with clear skies and light winds. All is well.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bye Bye Bora Bora

ReVision II finally left the Society Islands on Tuesday much to the disappointment of Captain and Crew. We are having a good sail so far and are heading towards Apia in Samoa. We are keeping a close eye on the weather which has been somewhat variable of late but so far we have had clear skies and steady winds. We hooked three fish today, firstly a huge sailfish which got free after a brief fight, then we managed to get a large Wahoo to the side of the boat but couldn't gaff it but finally we managed to land a nice Tuna of 8-10lbs which Carolyn is currently preparing for dinner tonight. The moon is full at present and is almost bright enough to read by so night watches are proving more popular than normal. At 0430 GMT on Thursday 7th September ReVision II was at 15 deg 59 mins South and 154 deg 54 mins West and we have 986 miles to go to Apia. More later.

ps just heard from another boat on passage that hooked a whale today but couldn't land that either !

Monday, September 04, 2006

Bora Bora

We finally left our friends at the Raiatea boat yard and village a few days ago and had a lovely trip up to Bora Bora. We motorsailed up to give the engine a really good test and all Andrew's hard work paid off as for the first time since we have owned R2 there was no oil leak and no overheating - we were very pleased! The view of Bora Bora was amazing as we got closer, the lagoon making the clouds above it green and the peaks standing tall, we were very excited as this was one of the places that started this trip for us. The entrance was straightforward and we headed into the clear waters of the lagoon in fantastic weather. We had heard that there was alot of development in Bora Bora so were a little worried that it wouldn't live up to our expectations. There are alot of hotels but the lagoon is so huge and they are mainly bungalows on the water so they don't spoil it too much. The main settlement only has two supermarkets and a few nic-nac shops and had a nice sleepy feel to it. We hiked through the rain forest to the middle of the island on our first day and took a baguette for a picnic on the top of the ridge looking out over the lagoon which was a perfect view. Yesterday we took R2 on a trip all around the lagoon passing through some pretty shallow coral passes which was quite scary but worth it as it was just incredibly beautiful. We have alot of friends here and there is a happy hour at the yacht club, which is great to meet up for a beer without breaking the bank. We had to buy a new outboard in Raiatea as the Honda was no more after it's trip in the lagoon in Rangiroa, so we've been having fun running Suzy in (sorry Suz but what else do you call a Suzuki?) We went snorkeling across the bay and it was quite nice but hope to get to see some of the really amazing coral on the south of the lagoon before we leave. Unfortunately the weather turned a bit and it has been torrential rain through the night and this morning, but it is still warm and we are still in Bora Bora! WOW!