After four hours bus ride through New Zealands beautiful North Island we arrived in Auckland. Since Panama we have not seen any city life at all. We checked in in our Air B&B and and the kids were completely excited! They had their own room with a big double bed, there was a wardrobe where they could hide in, there was a table and a small kitchen with a big fridge (with ice cubes in the freezer!) and a big bathroom with washing machine and a shower with endless warm water. You may wonder how this should be so exciting but for boat kids this is very exciting. They begged to eat dinner at our table in the Air B&B and not in a restaurant.
Next day we caught our flight to Zurich with a short stopover in Hongkong. Jaël and Amina were completely absorbed with the on board entertainment program. They were almost too busy to sleep…
We arrived in Zurich Airport very early in the morning and to our big surprise we got a warm welcome from our friend Lisa. What a beautiful surprise! She had to catch the train to go to back to Berne (it was a normal workday) but there was enough time to have a glass of Prosecco, coffee and a piece of this delicious “Welcome Mirabella” bread she had made for us.
The time in Switzerland passed very quickly. We visited our family and friends, spent a few beautiful days in Adelboden with my family in winter wonderland, went on a sledge run in Flumserberge, had Glühwein on the Christmas market and practiced our ice skating skills… we thoroughly enjoyed it. But of course it was also strange to be in all these familiar places without having our home. As our apartment is subrented while we are travelling we stayed most of the time in Küsnacht with André’s sister Karin.
On the 31st of December we took our flight to go back to New Zealand. It was not easy to say goodbye again not knowing when we would see our family and friends again but we were also looking forward to our next adventures.
We made it – what a great feeling! New Zealand seemed so far away at the beginning of our journey – half around the globe – and now we were here. Unbelievable!
It was dark when we came closer to shore and there was a land breeze. It reminded me of the smell in the mountains in Switzerland on early summer evenings… a mixture of hay, damp earth and a tiny little bit of cow dung. Something just so completely different to all the places we have been before on our journey – but very much like home.
We arrived in Opua around 10 pm. We were on the early group, so we had to handle our lines by ourself. PELIZENO was the first boat of our ” Minerva Reef Club fleet” and had made it on time to be cleared in during the day. In the hours after our arrival more and more boats from the Minerva Reef Club fleet came in. It was a long night there on the quarantine dock… of course we had to celebrate our arrival in New Zealand and about every half hour there was another boat arriving… The rhum on Rougue flowed freely.
Next morning there were quiet a few boats there for customs to clear in but everything went very smooth and efficient. A friendly german speaking lady introduced herself as Monika and brought us a welcome bag with all kind of useful informations. We felt at home right away. There was a good atmosphere. In the Marina Cafe were many familiar faces . Some we had already met in French Polynesia others we knew from the Vavau Blue Water Festival in Tonga. It was so great to see so many of our friends.
To make things even better Jaël and Nael from BAJKA could start in Opua school on Friday already. We just had enough time to organise a lunchbox and black skirt and leggings for the uniform. The school was 10 min. walking distance up the hill… it simply could not be better.
There was no kindergarden in Opua but our new cruiser friends Kostya and Jenya from PONYO told us about Paihia Waitangi Kindergarten. Their daughter Michelle was enroled there and they planned to take her out to go cruising. So we tried our luck and Wil and her team were happy to enrol Amina the following week. We arranged to start slowly, as Amina had been around us all the time for the last year and was not used to be without us anymore. After a while trying we decided to bring her only in the mornings and that worked out very well. Wil, Dilmari and Mahina are doing a fantastic job there and Amina was very proud to go to Kindi.
While the kids were in school and kindergarden we started some major boat projects which had been on our to do list already for a while. Opua is certainly one of the best places for boat projects. Kiwis are very passionate sailors. Therefore you have a big chance of finding solutions for any problem you could come across on a sailboat. In addition we planned to have Mirabella repainted while we would fly to Switzerland in December and explore the South Island in a Campervan in January.
On the weekends we enjoyed beautiful hikes in the mangroves and rainforests full of fern trees. We did not see any kiwis but lots of beautiful birds like Fantails and singing Tuis. We just loved it. I think it is this mixture of stunning nature and the relaxed and friendly people that makes New Zealand so special. Wherever you go you have those special encounters with warmhearted people.
We celebrated Jaël’s 7th birthday on 31.10. and all the boatkids went on a “trick or treat” tour on the numerous pontoons of the marina. On Naels Birthday two days later there was a Halloween party in school. There were always kids around in the marina and they loved to scooter around and play together. So we all enjoyed this time and almost got back our landlegs.
End of November Mirabella got hauled out and Paul, the rigger ( by the way the husband of Jaël’s teacher) took the mast down. Amina was very excited about it and told everyone in Kindi that she has to climb up a high ladder now to get on the boat.
So we left Mirabella in Opua, ready for being moved into the shed for the repaint. We had packed all our warmest clothes for our Switzerland trip and Lukas from BAJKA gave us a lift on Sunday morning to the bus station. Four hours bus ride to Auckland and a long flight back home on the following day ahead of us.
Who would have thought that it would work out that well… there was this perfect weather window that allowed Karin to join us for the passage to New Zealand and to be on time for her flight back home. We never would have planned it that way – things just fell into place and worked out well.
Normally the passage from Tonga to New Zealand can be quite challenging as the weather forecast is usually not precise yet for the last few days on the day of departure. Therefore you might suddenly get some uncomfortable winds which were not yet predicted when leaving Tonga. Luckily there is Minerva Reef 350 nm off of Tonga and 800 nm off New Zealand. You can anchor there in the middle of nowhere , sheltered from the waves and wait, until you got a good forecast for the rest of the passage.
When leaving Ha’apai we were not sure yet if we would stop in Minerva Reef or not but strong wind and waves were building up and it seemed more pleasant to wait 3 nights in Minerva Reef until it would calm down a bit. So we anchored in this surreal place together with 10 other boats. Most of them we knew from the Vavau Bluewater Festival but also our cruising friends BAJKA and ROGUE were there.
Minerva Reef is probably the most weird and special place we ever anchored in. The wind was blowing with 25 knots but we were protected from the waves, even if we did not see any land. We spent our time with discussing the latest weather forecast, exploring the reef, baking cake, looking for some warmer clothes in the hidden treasures of the boat (as it was getting a bit chilly) and Jaël and Amina enjoyed some playtime with Nael and Ilian from BAJKA.
On Wednesday everyone left (except one boat, which we tried to persuade that it will not get any better) as the forecast for the 800nm to go looked brilliant. We had a very good passage and arrived in Opua, Bay of Islands on Sunday night around 10 pm. It was a long night on the Quarantine dock as almost every 30 minutes there was another boat from our Minerva Reef cruising group arriving.
The following day we were astonished about how efficient, well organised and friendly everyone was. We can highly recommend Bay of Island Marina in Opua to anyone as a port of entry in New Zealand.
After a good passage from Niue we anchored in a beautiful spot where INFINITY, ROGUE and MONKEY ISLAND were already waiting for us. We went on land to have some drinks together. ROGUE had already spent some time in Vava’u and was planning to move South the next day. Our plan was to clear in in Neiafu the next day and register us for the Vava’u Bluewater Festival as the weather forecast for the coming week did not look very promising. The whole following week would be rainy and very windy, so not really the right weather to check out the beautiful anchorages in the Vava’u island group.
As Tonga is one of the rare places where you are allowed to swim with humpback whales we where hoping to get a chance before the stormy weather aŕrives. Even for Karin who has seen a lot of underwater life this was something very special. There is of course no guarantee when you book the trip that you actually will be able to snorkel close to one of these beautiful mammals. We cruised around for quite a long time and on the first attempt the whale moved on too fast. But a little bit later we were lucky. Our guide gave us directions where to swim and we had the chance to see a mother whale with her calf just next to us… an unforgettable moment!
The cruising festival was a great thing. It was organised by a few local businesses together with New Zealands Customs , Bay of Islands and Whangarei Marina. It really made appetite for New Zealand! The organizers were all very friendly and helpful. The ladies from customs and biosecurity explained us what we had to exspect at the c-dock. They also distributed a documentation with all the necessary forms which was very useful.
One of the highlights of the festival was the visit of Hosea Primary School where the children did some beautiful singing and dancing performances. After a delicious local lunch (made by the kids parents) the kids could play together. The kids playground looked a little bit different… one of the biggest attractions was an old car with a broken window. You would never find that on a playground in Switzerland..
And of course there were also some regattas. First there was the Friday race. Light winds – perfect for us. The whole BAJKA crew was on boat. Lukas, who sailed for Switzerland at the Olympics in Sydney 2000 was our secret weapon… and we won! There was a party in the evening where we saw our friends from CHASING STARS and TODAY again who were just about to leave for Fidji. It was a fun night and great to see them again.
Next regatta was the Wednesday race… there was a lot of wind and we got slightly beaten by our challenger ZENSATION, who was second in the first race. We had a bit more healing than usual and parts of the crew were busy downstairs with bailing out the water which entered through the sink because we had forgotten to close the seacocks. What a beginners mistake…. But Lukas and André stayed calm and the finish was very tight. We were second in the monohull category and won 5 days in the Bay of Islands Marina in Opua, New Zealand for the cleanest hull – as one can see on the pictures below ;-).The last regatta was the weekly Friday race again… this time with no women and no kids on board but also with no wind and no luck ;-). All in all these races were good fun for us and it was particularly interesting to share Lukas’ knowledge and experience.
After the cruising festival we said goodbye to INFINITY who headed towards Fidji and sailed further south to the Ha’apai Island group. We first thought that we are just staying for a short stop over and then continue towards Nuku’alofa to drop Karin off but then a perfect weather window for New Zealand started to develop! Who would have thought, that Karin would join us for this passage! We anchored on a beautiful remote island together with BAIJKA and PELIZENO, had a beautiful walk around the island on my Birthday and got ready for the passage. We would have loved to stay a bit longer, but the weather window was just too good… we could not expect anythinģ better. Goodbye Tonga – New Zealand here we come!
Once you have managed to haul out your dinghy at the pier you will discover beautiful Niue with the most friendly people you can imagine. The only place we have been so far, where you do not even have to stretch your arm out to get a ride…
You probably do not know where Niue is . To be honest we did not know much about it either. We were looking for a place where Karin could join us after her diving trip on the “French Polynesian Master” and Tonga turned out to be too complicated. So the plan was that she would meet us in Niue.
Niue is a small island in the South Pacific Ocean to the east of Tonga. It has an area of 260 square kilometres and a coastline of 64 km. It is one of the world’s largest coral island. Niue is a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand. There are about 1600 people living on the island.
BAJKA was already waiting for us in Alofi. As we haven’t seen them since Fakarava we were looking forward to catch up with them. INFINITY had arrived just a few hours before us. We had left Maupelia together and had stayed in contact on the passage. On a windless day we even managed to meet for a swim in the middle of nowhere. We wanted the kids to have some fun in the water together as we knew that the rest of the passage was going to be very windy and rainy. Karin had arrived already a day before us in Niue and had booked a room in a hotel.
The haul out lift for the dinghy was a bit unusual at the beginning but we got used to it quickly and Jaël and Amina were quite excited about this new procedure. Clearing in was very easy and uncomplicated.
Niue is known for whale watching and diving. There are beautiful caves and chasms waiting to be explored and the water is very clear. The people are very friendly and as soon as they see you walking along the street they offer you a lift. No matter you want it or not.
We hired a car and drove together with INFINITY in moderate speed (driving zigzag around the holes in the road) to the Avaiki Cave. It was a picture perfect scenery and we enjoyed a refreshing swim in the cristal clear turquoise water. Afterwards we continued to Talava Arches and had a snorkel later on in the beautiful Limu pools.
The next day we went diving and it was spectacular. Quite adventurous for a new born PADI Open water diver but all went well. We had the opportunity to dive in a cave and in a chasm. This was something completely different! We saw plenty of water snakes which we have not seen in French Polynesia at all. The visibility was outstanding. Niue is a lone island in the pacific and, being a coral island, it does not have much soil and runoff. This are key ingrediences for world class visibility.
On the anchorage we could even see whales right behind Mirabella. Once Jaël and Amina were with BAJKA in the dinghy and saw one very close. Humpback whales in the southern hemisphere spend the summer feeding down in the waters around Antarctica and thèn spend the winter migrating north past New Zealand to the tropical South Pacific for breeding – most commonly around Niue and Tonga.
We were really positively surprised by this small island and would warmly recommend it to other cruisers. For us time had come to say goodbye , next stop was Tonga, where we possibly would meet ROGUE and CHASING STARS again.
After Bora Bora we were not ready to say goodbye to French Polynesia. The time we spent here had begun so magical in Fatu Hiva and it did not feel right for us to end it in Bora Bora the pure opposite of Fatu Hiva. All those exclusive luxury resorts, private beaches and the commercial village of Vaiape with innumerous pearl stores that was not French Polynesia how we loved it! Maupiti, the smaller and less touristy sister Island has been on our list since we arrived in the Pacific and we absolutely wanted to go there.
The challenge with Maupiti is just that the pass to get into the lagoon is a bit tricky. It is only possible to get through in calm and settled conditions and therefore one can easily get stuck in there for a while as you have to wait until the weather is calm.
We were completely aware of that risk. There are for sure worse places to get stuck in… So we motored all the way from Bora Bora because there was no wind and thought that the pass will be ok but as we arrived there the entrance did not look very inviting – actually it was a bit frightening. Do we really wanna go through these waves ? Maybe better turn around and go back to Bora Bora I first thought…. but then André took the helm and I just concentrated on the ideal line on the GPS and yelled at him when he had to turn more port or starboard.
The waves were breaking on either side of Mirabella at the reef entrance. For some time we even didn’t see the break in the reef at all and it looked like we are just going straight onto the rocks. The current was very strong and the Yanmar diesel was working overtime. After some time we left the breaking waves to port and starboard and only the 4kts current was against us. Things calmed down. But we needed to keep the concentration level up. There were still a number of coral bommies between us and the anchorage. And coral bommies are the top boat killer in places like French Polynesia.
Somehow we managed this too and found ourselves in the beautiful lagoon of Maupiti. What a paradise!
Maupiti is quite different to most of the other Society Islands. Since the reef pass is so difficult to manage no regular passenger ferry goes to Maupiti. The only way to get to the island is a flight from Tahiti or by private boat transfer. This limits the economy and tourism. There are no overwater bungalows or international hotel chains in Maupiti. No speed boats zipping across the lagoon so that the tourists can make the most out of their relaxing holiday. Most tourism is low key in private small boutique hotels. With owners as host.
We really enjoyed exploring Maupiti. We took our kayaks, paddeled around the entire island and discovered some of the most beautiful beaches in French Polynesia. We met Heinarii with her son Tamatea and daughter Clélia who lives on the most beautiful motu with a dream island beach. We hired bicycles and rounded the island on land. And we jogged around too. We hiked up the very steep path all the way to the top of Maupiti. The view over the lagoon and the Pacific was priceless. Although the track was really adventurous and borderline for André with Amina in the backpack…
After nearly two weeks the weather and the waves calmed down sufficiently so that we could leave this beautiful place. We planned to sail to Maupelia, the most western island of French Polynesia…
Maupelia is sparsly populated. Maybe some 20 people live here. We are not really sure, the motu we stayed on had no population so we haven’t really seen anyone. We consider it as one of the most stunning atoll. The reef entrance is challenging but managable. The water quality is breathtaking. The fish and sharks are plentiful, the corals are super healthy and nearly no one lives here. Everything is literally untouched.
We stayed there with Infinity and Monkey Island, two kid boats and it was South Seas Paradise dream come true. Jeremy from Infinity and André went spearfishing in the lagoon and returned with a large bucket full of fish. Jeremy speared most fish as he was fearless despite the sharks. In Fakarava André lost his speared fish to the sharks and he was now a bit more cautious. Well at least that was the excuse…
The afternoon and evenings we spend on the beach, with bonfire to grill the fish, playing kids on the beach and surreal sunsets. This place is unreal. We cleaned the hull under water as preparation for the next passage. For the full two hours that we were cleaning we could see the fish and sharks swim below us. It was magnificent, like cleaning the hull in an aquarium.
When the weather window was right, we sailed on to Niue. And everyday since, André asks himself if he can ever go spearfishing in such a beautiful lagoon again…
Papeete on Tahiti was our first town since Panama. Some people say it is loud and noisy but for a change we liked it. Especially the lively market hall and the square with the roulottes restaurants, where you could get all kind of different street food for little money.
It was a pleasure for us to welcome Loni again and of course Jaël and Amina where very excited to see her. They enjoyed strolling around with her in the beautiful park along the waterside and of course had to try out all the playgrounds. We haven’t come across any playground since Panama – if you don’t count the beautiful beaches with hermit crabs and a thousand other things to discover. Being in a big marina after sailing several months in remote places means also having a big to-do-list waiting to be done. So while the kids were enjoying Papeete’s playgrounds we were busy working us through our list.
We managed to get some tickets for the last day at the Heiva which is Tahiti’s biggest festival. Amina fell asleep after a while but Jaël enjoyed the show together with Alyssa and her sisters from CHASING STARS. We were deeply impressed by the dance performances and the beautiful costumes.
Just when we were done with all our jobs we heard that the diving boat FRENCH POLINESIA MASTER will come to Papeete the next day. Our former crew Marine worked there as a dive master and so we decided to stay and meet her for probably the last time. Mauro was also in Papeete so we invited both for a farewell dinner on Mirabella. It was a good evening and the kids really enjoyed to see them both again.
Next day we finally set sails for Moorea which was only about a 3 hours sail away. As it was her day off Marine decided to join us and return to Tahiti with the evening ferry.
The Society Islands are the ideal combination of Marquesas and Tuamotus. They have beautiful green hills and mountains like the Marquesas and lagoons with turquoise clear water and palm trees like the Tuamotus. Moorea’s scenery is stunning and together with CHASING STARS we enjoyed the beautiful pineapple plantation walk. I never tasted pineapple as good as the ones I bought in Moorea. They were simply delicious. Next day we visited the Rotui juice factory which was also for the kids very interesting to see.
We lifted the anchor and joined INFINITY at the Tiki anchorage near the place where you could pet the sting rays.
After beeing almost four weeks with us Loni had to fly back home. It was so nice to have her again with us on Mirabella. We all enjoyed her company. She took the ferry to Papeete and we left Moorea for Raiatea, where ROGUE was already waiting for us.
In Raiatea we made a river tour with our dinghy together with Josh and the ROGUE boys. A local guy overtook us in a kajak and asked if we would like to buy some fruit. He asked us to follow him and gave us a tour through the whole plantation. He showed us all sort of different fruits, climbed up the trees to pick them and let us taste. It was so interesting and you could see that he was really proud of it. On our way back it was pouring and we were completely wet when we got back on our boat. What a beautiful excursion!
Later that afternoon the weather cleared up and we changed to a beautiful anchorage in the shelter of a small uninhabited palm tree island. It was an idyllic place for a swim the next morning. We continued North and anchored in Taha’a close to a beautiful coral garden where we could snorkel with the current. A perfect snorkel spot for the kids and we had a lot of fun together with CHASING STARS and ROGUE.
The next day we were invited to Mana’s Birthday party, a nice guy André met on his jogging tour, while we were visiting a pearlfarm and a rhum distillerie. Mana celebrated his birthday on the small island were we were ancored nearby. He surprised us all with a spectacular firedance!
No doubt Bora Bora’s scenery is stunning ! It wasn’t all for us though. One secluded resort after another and all was a bit of a closed society. When André wanted to check out one of the resort to have a drink at the bar he was politely but firmly asked to move on…
We also discovered rowing the dinghy. We hit a coral head and the dinghy propeller was damaged, so for a while it was all back to rowing…
After a while, we once more said Goodbye to CHASING STARS an ROGUE. They continued to sail to Suvarov and we wanted to stop in Maupiti.
After a very rainy passage with uncomfortable waves we got ready for our first atoll. We had chosen Makemo because we heard that it is a nice island and the pass seemed to be not too challenging. Ideal choice for atoll greenhorns like us.
André’s planning was excellent and the pass was really no big deal. We anchored close to Pouheva village and soon jumped into the dinghy to explore the village. When we arrived in the small harbour we saw two fishermen cleaning their catch of the day. I just wanted to ask them if we could leave the dinghy there and started talking with them. They generously offered us two nice groupers as a gift. What a warm welcome! We soon discovered that the main method of transport on this island were bicycles. A very peaceful atmosphere. No one passed without a friendly “Ia Orana”. While André and Mauro tried to get some internet in front of the supermarket, me and the kids went on exploring the village. We heard some nice music and went to have a look where it came from. We came to a backyard where a group of women where training a Polynesian Dance performance for the Heiva festival in July. It was fantastic to watch them perform and Jaël and Amina liked it as well.
As the wind had calmed down we planned to change anchorage. We moved to a beautiful and very remote spot west of Pouheva. When you move inside these atolls you have to be very careful. One has always stand on the bow spotting the coral heads. It was like a postcard picture scenery of Polynesia. A beautiful beach with palm trees and a lot of hermit crabs. We met a family on the motu who just arrived to do copra farming. They come here twice a year for about 4-6 weeks. The dried coconuts are sold in Tahiti for Monoi oil production, cosmetics and food industry.
The family was very friendly and showed us how to weave some hats out of coconut palm leaves. We spent the days with spearfishing, snorkelling and swimming and it was the perfect place for Jaël to practice on the SUP.
Our second atoll was Fakarava – every divers dream – and the beautiful atoll where I was going to do my PADI Open Water certificate. BAJKA, another Swiss boat with two boys was already waiting there for us. Who would have thought that we would sail together to New Zealand with these guys. We rented some bicycles the next day and cycled together to Hinano Pearl Farm, where we were introducüed into the secret of pearl farming.
Fakarava is truly one of the most beautiful spots on earth, especially when you like diving. The visibility under water is incredible and the variety of fish is fantastic. After being excited seeing my first shark while diving I soon realized, that there are heaps of them and I gave up counting. But the majestic smooth passing of a manta ray is something I will never forget and will always remain special no matter how many of them you have already seen.
One day Mana – one of my dive instructors invited André and the kids to his place to see how he feeds the nurse sharks. This was something spectacular not only for the kids…
After I had succsessfully made my PADI Open water we moved to the south pass together with CHASING STARS. ROGUE had moved there already earlier. We did an amazing snorkel in the pass all together the next day, letting us drift with the current. It was just fantastic! To hide from some forecasted stronger wind we all moved to Hirifa the next day, an anchorage where we had better protection.
After a month in beautiful Fakarava we left for Toao which was another atoll just 10 miles away. Getting in was easy but getting out turned out to be a bit more tricky. André and Chris from CHASING STARS checked out the pass before but although it should have been the right time the pass did not look quiet at all. Finally we decided just to go and it was a very wild and bumpy ride. Goodbye beautiful Tuamotus!
Arriving in Fatu Hiva in the sunrise after 16.5 days on sea was simply magic. I think we will never forget this beautiful morning with that stunning scenery. It was simply breathtaking.
The bay of virgins is the most scenic place you can imagine. When we arrived there were just a handful of other boats anchored there. We were welcomed by Max (a dutch solo sailor) who brought us some juicy pamplemousse from the island. They were delicious and tasted like paradise… surely also because our fruit reserve was down to zero after the crossing. Max also gave us a lot of useful informations about the village of Hanavave.
After a nice pancake breakfast we got ready to discover the small village of Hanavave . Technically you would say there was not much to discover. There was a church, a tiny small shop (who just accepted French Polynesian Francs which we did not have), a post office and a mairie. No restaurant, no ATM, no wifi. But the real discovery were the people living there. Everyone was so friendly and after a short while we already knew half the village. There was Reva who offered us some fruits and fresh eggs in exchange of some rhum, we met Veronique, who offered us bananas and oranges in exchange of some T-Shirts. And there was Anne and her husband Henry who gave us lots of pamplemousse and lemon and showed us the beautiful wooden handcrafts and Tikis they do. They told us about the “Salon des Marquises” in Papeete and that a lot of people from the village will go there with the “Aranui 5” boat in the following week to sell their artcrafts during that exhibition. With Anne we could also make a deal to have two bags of laundry washed and dried against two pairs of flipflop. She also told us that we should not miss church on Sunday morning 8 o’clock, as it was mother’s day and all the women will wear beautiful handmade flower crowns.
For Saturday evening Max had organised dinner at Desirée’s place for all the boats in the anchorage and we spent a wonderful evening together. The church on Sunday morning was one of those magical unforgettable moments… the beautiful choir, the wonderful scenery and the smell of all those flower crowns was just a perfect blend.
After the church we first chatted with some local people and then headed back to the port. There we met two local guys with a dead goat who had fallen off the steep rocks. We started talking with them and one of the guys – Christian was his name – offered us to prepare a dinner the next day at his place. We asked the other boats if they wanted to join and ended up in a group of almost 20 people eating delicious goat with coconut milk and papaya, raw marinated fish and fried breadfruit and rice.
And so the days passed and we stayed much longer as we originally thought we would. André went spearfishing with Nico and Gavin from URCHIN, Simon proudly showed us his artcraft masterpieces, Florida explained us how to do tapas and Basil showed us how to make fresh coconut milk. André and me also did a beautiful hike to the village of Omoa. So there was so much to discover and we learned a lot about their way of living.
After 10 days we left Fatu Hiva and sailed to Hiva Oa to officially clear in there at the gendarmerie. Our next stop was Tahouata. We anchored in a beautiful bay with a fantastic beach. After a few days CHASING STARS, INFINITY, ROGUE and some other kids boat catched up with us and the kids had a blast together at the beach playing with the big waves.
After one week of sailing in the Pacific we arrived in Santa Cruz. With our agent Ronnie we had arranged a stay without autografico which means that we were not allowed to move to another island with Mirabella. Shortly after Ronnie had stepped on board the authorities showed up. André had to answer a whole bunch of questions and a female officer checked our pantry. Normally you are not allowed to bring fruits, vegetables or cheese. Our fruit reserve was down to a handful of limes and some coconuts. She did not really investigate thoroughly though. Otherwise she would have discovered my well treasured box with parmesan cheese at the bottom of the fridge… she left us the limes but took the coconuts and seemed to be pleased with that catch of the day.
Santa Cruz turned out to be an excellent choice. On the watertaxi dock we could watch reef sharks, pelicans, seals and beautiful red crabs from very close and right after the watertaxi dock, there was a large playground for the kids. A stop at the small fishmarket was always a highlight, as you could watch there seals, pelicans and fregat birds from very close, lining up for getting some left overs.
The beautiful walk to Las Grietas we even did twice because we really liked this magic place. On the way we passed a beach where iguanas where nesting. The refreshing swim in this crystal clear turquoise sweet water was fantastic.
Near to the village there was also an interesting tortoise breeding station and the Darwin Center to visit. Paddling with the kayak in the bay to watch the Blue footed boobies or dive into the peaceful atmosphere of Laguna de las Ninfas was wonderful. So time passed very fast and we extended our stay. Our friends from INFINITY (from the Atlantic crossing) arrived and it was nice to catch up with them and spend time together as we have had different routes since Barbados.
Although INFINITY wanted to convince us to leave a week later together with them and some other boats we found that after two weeks it was time to move towards the Marquesas. Jeremy organised a kind of Pacific fleet to track the boats crossing to the Marquesas and to have some kind of network, if anyone get’s in trouble. This Tiki fleet turned out to be a fantastic thing as it was always good to hear from the other boats with what they were up to during the passage.