Posted by: asolare | 08/12/2011

New Zealand to Sydneyy

Sailing around Cape Reinga at leisurely 6 knots

Posted by: asolare | 26/09/2010

American Samoa

170º41´.4W 14º17’.5S

American Samoa

Every day episodes of heavy rain and blustery squalls fall on Pago Pago, the harbour with the highest rainfall in the world, the apt setting for Rain by Somerset Maugham . Google, why the Moon and Sixpence in Tahiti? For a week Asolare has been washed thoroughly in fresh water and gallons rescued from the awnings and funneled into our fresh water supply. South Easterly trade winds force the clouds high over the aptly named Rainmaker mountain towering above us and deposit 300mm this month down on the harbour . Amer. Samoa is unfairly described as the armpit of the South Pacific. Surprisingly we have not meet any white Americans. The obvious influence from the USA are the hugh 4 wheel drive trucks gas guzzlers cruising the coast road at 25 miles/h all immaculately polished and contrasting with the local multicolored buses, a crumbled up dollar to the driver gets you a hours trip to the end of the island entertained by loud religious hymns or samoan idol videos. Friends make the journey just for the fun of it gossiping with one another and the driver.
The island is green, green, green and beautiful, lots of birds white graceful tropicbird , mountain doves, flying foxes, and flowers, hibiscus bougainvillea, coral tree , the villagers proudly brush up leaves and debris from the winds , a carpet of soft grass covers the land, shamefully unable to be reproduced in Le Lavandou and heavy creeping vine the mountain side.
Tuna canneries can’t be ignored, surrounded by dilapidated Asian Fishing trawlers. They hum day and night even on the holy sabbath when even the big motor car hummers don’t hum. Thus far the stench has not hit us except when we brazened Starkist for permission , not granted, to watch processing and learn for our own catches.
We have spent the week shopping in a hugh Cost U less where the only exciting produce were fresh roast chicken and $ 130 of New York skirt, not the , but frozen animal cut into 12 x 1.5 inch hugh steaks. Sometimes we need a little luxury washed down with Almaden Californian burgundy from a 5 litre carton.
We had 150Nm to sail from Niutoputapu last port in Tonga to Paga Pago.The passage here was tough. Despite a Scopaderm patch and regular Stugeron after 3 months day sailing I was sea sick on my night watches. The pattern is 3hr watches at night and 4 hours by day. There was a 3 meter swell. I am anxious about the next overnight tomorrow to Apia and the adrenaline kick makes me sicker.

Posted by: asolare | 09/06/2010

Niue to Tonga

After a fast lively reach south west from Suworrow to Niue the Asolare crew spent four days enjoying the hospitality of the locals and the superb diving. The visibility is extraordinary due to the remoteness of the island and the lack of silt run off the porous limestone cliffs which also provide fantastic caves and underwater landscapes to explore. There is a sensation of flying when swimming off a steep drop off and a huge population of sea snakes swimming to and from the surface or curling up in groups in the gullies. Lobsters or crabs were found in every crack we shone out torches into in some caves.

We had a great time ashore too despite spending a large proportion of our time queuing at the bank with a yacht club BBQ, a Niuen feast at the opening night of a local restaurant and an interesting tour of the island but eventually dragged ourselves away towards Tonga.

The sail was a gentle spinnaker run under a southern upside-down moon and arriving in the evening too late to navigate in among the Vava’u reefs we anchored for the night in an idyllic spot behind a deserted outer island. Expecting to have the place to ourselves at sunrise we were surprised to emerge on deck to find two boat loads of Tongans walking on the reef harvesting sea cucumbers to sell. Now on a mooring in the landlocked Port Refuge we have had the opportunity to sample this revolting looking creature at a Tongan feast (no meals in this part of the world, they are all feasts!) and found it to be rather like pulpo or octopus.

Asolare will be saying goodbye to World ARC and staying on for a while in Tonga so we are enjoying some good times with the other crews before they sail on. We will now spend some time exploring Vava’u and other parts of Tonga.

Posted by: asolare | 31/05/2010

Return to Suworrow

Suworrow is an uninhabited Atoll in the middle of nowhere. Group two of the World ARC fleet arrived to find the anchorage empty but we were soon joined by 4 other cruising yachts. We made the most of our three days there with a dinghy trip across the lagoon to visit Bird Island and pick up rubbish as we did two years ago, a beach party attended by the whole population (22 yachties) and lots of snorkelling and diving undeterred by the reef sharks that circled the anchorage.

For our last night in Suworrow we moved to the eastern anchorage where Peter introduced Mandy to night diving with a truly magical experience. We drifted among cathedral like 14 meter high towers of honeycomb coral lit by the full moon; it was like flying in a snow capped forest populated by fish. Even Peter with his experience of over 4000 dives found it staggeringly beautiful and very special, Mandy will never forget it especially the moment when we switched off our lights, to see the columns shimmering by moonlight. The local fish population was just as mesmerised by us and our lights; don’t think they get many visitors particularly after dark.

Posted by: asolare | 31/05/2010

A visitor at sea

On the way to Suworrow we were visited by a bird (a Shearwater?) who ignoring much more suitable perches attempted to land on a blade of a stationary wind generator, the resulting spin must have given us a couple of watts and caused us much amusement, before settling on the spinnaker pole uphaul. Why we wondered did it not choose the pole itself or even better the redundant main boom which was lying unused, a prefect resting spot for a weary flyer.

The sail was five days of classic trade wind sailing with the spinnaker up punctuated by a couple of exhilarating rides through squalls.

Posted by: asolare | 31/05/2010

Leaving Bora Bora

After rejoining the World ARC folk we left Bora Bora on Wednesday after a quick couple of days in the Bora Bora Yacht Club where the hosts Teava and Jessica gave both Peter and Mandy a great welcome and membership of the club as returning guests. We were both there two years ago when Teava and Jessica had only just taken over the club and it was great to see the results of the hard work they have done since then.

A dive just outside the Bora Bora pass was another good one; each mooring buoy seemed to be manned by a big friendly Grey Shark waiting at the bottom of the line for the food that the local dive operators always take. Luckily ours allowed us to pass without a “ticket” and obliged us by circling menacingly allowing Peter to try to spook Mandy by grabbing her leg as she turned to watch.

Posted by: asolare | 17/05/2010

Tahiti Pearl Regatta

Asolare has been sailing in the Tahiti Pearl Regatta where we didn’t win any prizes but got an amazing amount of attention and compliments for out big turquoise spinnaker which is exactly the colour of the lagoon when the sun is shining. We have developed a problem with the furling system which means we are for the moment unable to use the mainsail but have a good supply of sails still to fly from a choice of two masts. Most of the downwind sailing was done with the big turquoise and the mizzen spinnaker set.

The TPR is a great sailing event with a 27 mile downwind race to Bora Bora on day one, an upwind leg back to Riatea and Taha on day two then an around the island race inside the reef and a short course in the lagoon on the last two days. All this fantastic sailing is followed by a party every night in a different anchorage, usually held on a motu or small part of the reef detached from the main island with just a few palm trees on it. The race organisation even put on a shuttle boat, so you don’t have to race towing a dinghy, and deliver a fresh baguette to your boat every morning.

We go back to Bora Bora tomorrow to rejoin the World ARC fleet for the last few days in French Polynesia before sailing on to Suwarrow and Niue.

Lots of love to all back home, Peter and Mandy

Posted by: asolare | 30/04/2010

Asolare in Papeete

Asolare arrived safely in Tahiti on Friday 23 April and tied up on the waterfront in Papeete, the first time in a marina since she left Panama in late January. Mark and Clare left here to be replaced by a slightly jet lagged Mandy who when waking at 2AM was delighted to be welcomed to the southern hemisphere by the Southern Cross framed perfectly in the hatch above the bunk. This delight is now wearing a bit thin after the third night of wakefulness but Mandy is pleased that she is already so in tune with the rhythm of the southern night sky that she wakes at exactly the moment that this constellation passes the forestay every night. This bodes well for future passages so long as a watch system can be devised that takes advantage of this.

Activities have so far been somewhat domestic, provisioning, laundry and boat cleaning being the priorities. Peter kindly cleaned the entire forward head and shower for Mandy while she was busy on deck by the novel method of filling it with foam! This will hereafter be known as “The Washing Machine Incident”. Mandy is still getting used to the luxury of a cruising boat with a washing machine so had not yet hit upon this method of killing two birds with one stone, that is the recycling of fishy ziplock bags while simultaneously getting tiresome cleaning jobs done.

There was a break from domestic activities when the local tourist board put on an afternoon of traditional Polynesian water sports for the World ARC gang, the pictures show us helming a Tahitian sailing canoe in the harbour. Today a island tour is planned, a day on an air-conditioned bus seeming appropriate after the Asolare crew drowned their sorrows at winning absolutely nothing at last night’s prize giving partly due to staying a couple of days longer enjoying the Galapagos.

Having given serious and sensible consideration to the Tahiti Pearl Regatta it was decided to not enter as sailing two handed and with half the Pacific still to cross it would be better to abstain. The entry form was then filled and handed in within minutes. We have resolved to chant “we will not be competitive” each day of the regatta on waking and at the first start signal. However the suggestion by someone at the party last night that we could always enter the white sails only class as we would be short of crew to fly a spinnaker was met with a snort of derision from Peter and gasp of incredulity from Mandy.

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