Tikihau and more …

•Sunday, 23 April 2023 • 2 Comments

I can’t believe it’s been 6 days since my last blog post … where does the time go? Life on the ocean waves is busy.

Tikihau was all that it was cracked up to be – very lovely. It was smaller than Rangiroa and less developed but bigger than Ahe and slightly less shabby – it had 2 shops in the village, bike rental, a tiny snack bar and a diving school. There were small guest houses on the different motu’s and we found a lovely ‘hotel’ (4 guest huts) with a small bar and restaurant where we were warmly welcomed.

The diving was brilliant. We dived at the pass where all the nutrients from the atoll drift out to sea – as a result, the fish congregate at the pass and once again, I found myself in a Disney movie! We were greeted by ‘spiral’ dolphins – so called because they jump and spiral at the same time – showing off for the boats. After that, stone fish, sharks, tiger fish, Japanese eels and so much more. It’s another world.

We explored the village and the beaches around us with Fiona and Matt. Swimming from the tender (even Chris!) and then discovering the small bar in time for a late lunch. Very special times.

The weather is tropical – hot and humid with tropical rain dumps preceded by big winds – I am up and down opening and closing hatches at all times of the day and night. Our air con is not working so nights are very hot and sticky. At least the outside of the boat gets a good clean. Water is very precious everywhere … we make our own but I think twice every time I turn a tap on. Unbelievably, the smaller atolls have no fresh water supply – they collect rainwater or import it. The same with fresh fruit and veg … all imported once a week so stratospherically expensive e.g. £8 for a lettuce if you can find one. My provisioning skills have not been bad … I am down to 2 potatoes, 3 onions and 2 apples. We have just finished our football grapefruits after 8 days! Timed perfectly as Carrefour is waiting for us in Tahiti.

We left Tikihau a day earlier than planned as we hoped to make a final Tuamotu stop at Makatea. Makatea is the only island in the Archipelago that is raised up … no lagoon. There are only 3 mooring bouys, no anchorage and you can’t reserve. I called the mayor of Makatea at 9 am after we had exited the pass of Tikihau (another safe exit!) and sadly, the boats he had expected to leave had not done so. Plan B … sail to Moorea in the Society Islands 160 miles away. Suddenly we have a 24 hour sail and I have to mentally adjust to 3 hour watches again. We had good wind and some squalls through the night … we are getting better at this sailing business but you can never take your eye off the ball …

We made it to Cooks Bay in Moorea around mid morning along with our friends on Matilda. We have had such fun with them! S/Y Pippin and Leviathan are also in Cooks Bay … more social to come and more exploration. First though, some sleep 💤

Rangiroa Video from Chris

•Sunday, 16 April 2023 • 2 Comments



•Sunday, 16 April 2023 • 2 Comments

Wow … we have loved this Atoll. When we arrived we had a day of continuous rain and cloud but from there on, aside from passing tropical showers, the sun was shining, the sky was true blue and the sea a myriad of greens, aquamarine, turquoise and a deep blue.

I joined up with Fiona from S/Y Matilda and we did 2 dives through the pass … drifting through the coral with the current we saw shoals of barracuda, a hammerhead, a massive Napoleon Wrasse, glorious reef fish and dolphins ‘holding hands’ – completely magical. We found Relais de Josephine … a small local bar and restaurant looking out over the pass where we could watch sharks and dolphins whilst having coffee or cocktails – my favourite place. We biked our way around the atoll and discovered ‘Pearly’ – a little hut owned by a local expert in the black pearls farmed here. Shopping essential! We splashed out on a super dinner at the Kia Ora resort with Fiona, Matt and the owners of S/Y Orpheus, Tristan & John – another fun evening with plenty of sailing stories … everyone has them! We hooked up with S/Y Misty, Cacique IV and Enalia for drinks – lovely social and good to get to know our fellow Arc compatriots better. We have had a holiday from a holiday and I am feeling like a new woman!

We did a couple of jobs … once again into the ocean to clean the hull – it’s unbelievable how dirty the waterline becomes and it’s hard work to scrape off barnacles and seaweed – definitely becoming more OCD about the cleanliness of the boat as we go on! James is bringing out a piece of kit that will allow me to dive a few metres below the boat for 30 minutes at a time … I will be able to clean the whole hull when that arrives. Sad to say I am excited to get the kit! We have a big list of jobs for a marina when we reach Tahiti in a week or so … many of them checking things out so we know if anything is looking like breaking but also work to make sure all is well for the next few thousand miles of sailing.

In the meantime, we are moving on … our next Atoll is Tikihau. 40 miles away, Jacque Cousteau claimed it was the most beautiful Atoll in the Tuamotu’s … we shall see … Rangiroa will be hard to beat. We left at 7.15am and went through the pass at low tide. A 3 knot current pushed us up to 9 knots and there was some chop in the water as the atoll water raced out to the ocean through the narrow pass … we made it safely and should arrive in time for high tide and slack water through the Tikihau pass … never a dull moment!


•Tuesday, 11 April 2023 • 6 Comments

Ahe is an almost entirely-enclosed coral atoll and the only village is Tenukupara – our anchorage – which is located on an island in the south side of the Atoll. Only 2 other boats in the anchorage and one of these was empty. With a good night’s sleep, we set off to explore the village … truly tiny. One store where we could buy fresh eggs, one church, one ‘Mairie’ (closed), a football pitch that looked very unloved and some bungalows. It took 30 minutes to walk around the island that housed the village. Ocean on one side and lagoon on the other. No road links to anywhere although bizarrely, there were some cars! Lots of shallow fast boats – to go from island (motu) to island around the atoll, to get to one of the 50 pearl farms in the atoll and the one lodge (4 bungalows) at the other end of the atoll. The atoll is remote, peaceful, isolated and totally authentic.

We were anchored in a fish bowl … I could snorkel from the boat. Within 5 strokes I was snorkelling around a bommie and seeing oysters along with glorious multi coloured reef fish. The water is a beautiful colour under the sunshine – azure blues, pale greens … just as I imagined the south pacific. We had 3 incredibly restful days – a few jobs but lots of sleep, snorkelling, some exploring in our tender and chilling out. It was Easter weekend – nothing happening. I asked about visiting a pearl farm and getting a guide to show us some of the original forest of the atoll but ‘no can do’. We resigned ourselves to simply enjoying the peace and quiet. We had wanted remote and authentic … we got it!

On Saturday night we made a decision to move onto our next atoll – Rangiroa. A contrast to Ahe as the biggest atoll in the archipelago and the second biggest in the world. With a small airstrip, Rangiroa was likley to be livlier. Social batteries replenished, we thought we would be happy to see other humans and find a good restaurant! We planned an exit through the Ahe passage for Sunday afternoon. Moonset was around 8am so we needed to exit the passage at about 2pm. The only challenge was that the entry time for Rangiroa was also around 2pm – 24 hours later – with a journey of only 80 miles, we were likely to reach the atoll by sunrise and would have to hang around until the passage was safe. Hey ho – the life of a sailor.

The night time sail was rolly and slow. Plenty of lightening, some small squalls (sails up and sails down) and we went back into our 3 hour watch system. It’s exhausting! Sure enough, by sunrise, we were at the entrance to Rangiroa. Chris had been doing more research on times for entry. The passage looked calm and we were near high tide. We decided to take a look and judged it would be safe. Life jackets on, headsets live as I went once again to the bow (titanic style!) to help navigate our way in. High fives … another safe entry into another beautiful bay. We are anchored. I have dives booked for Wednesday and a drift snorkel for Friday with fellow Arc sailors from S/Y Matilda. There is a fancy hotel nearby … I feel the cocktails coming on.

Shooting the breeze …

•Tuesday, 11 April 2023 • 3 Comments

Here we are in the South Pacific, an unusual rainy, cloudy day and we are at anchor. Always jobs to do but I have decided to forgo the jobs and catch up with email and my blog instead.

We made a big decision last week … it had been coming over a few weeks. We needed to firm up on a decison to jump off the World Arc and take a year off – as planned back in France when we made the decision to sail around the world – or to continue the circumnavigation with this rally. It’s strange how things change … we’ve been sailing since last August and somehow, it doesn’t make any sense to stop for a ‘break’. This is not a long term way of life for us … it’s an amazing adventure and we have decided to continue the adventure and do the circumnavigation in one hit. We have a great group of fellow sailors – all a bit crazy but alot of fun and super supportive; we have some momentum behind us and we don’t want to lose this; and finally, we are apprehensive about leaving the boat for any length of time as stuff goes wrong when she is not being loved. We will have to fly to New Zealand at some stage to visit lovely friends and see more of that wonderful country but it won’t be this year.

My nephew, Jack, is getting married in August so I am going to take 2 weeks out of the Australia schedule to fly home for the wedding and see family and friends. Super exciting!! Chris will probably stay with Mistral – either overseeing work or sailing her with crew (to be found) up the Australian coast. We are working on the plans now. Also looking at the schedule for the second half of the world – in spite of our new found confidence at sailing with just us, we definitely need help for many of the passages from Australia back to the Caribbean. Any takers let me know although I fear, we are fast running out of sailing mates!

We are both well, happy and still friends! We are slimmer than we were and we are more confident and competent sailors. Still loads to learn as every day continues to be a bloody school day! Every day is busy somehow – it’s a life of extremes … fabulous adventure, experiences of a lifetime, memories of special places forever and really hard work along with some scary bits. We can never be complacent – the ocean is the ocean, the skies are huge and we are tiny and fragile by comparison. Weird and life changing!

Anyway … enough of my ponderings. Back to the blog proper – we have just successfully sailed through the night to Rangiroa – the second largest atoll in the world. More to come on the next post!

Mistral at anchor in Hanamoenoa Bay, Tahuta, Marquesas

The passage to Ahe (Tuamotu Atoll)

•Saturday, 8 April 2023 • 7 Comments
South Pacific Islands – our route

We are here! First passage for just the two of us and we are alive, still friends and the boat is in one piece. We had fairly light winds, a few small squalls (the wind and rain appear very rapidly) when the sails generally need to be reefed in so the boat is not battered by the sudden big gusts, and lots of big skies, perfect sunsets and a full moon to guide us through the nights.

With 3 hours on and 3 hours off, most of the time is taken either sailing or sleeping. We’ve generally caught up on sleep in time to have a meal together at 6pm and then on we go for another night. My sailing confidence has definitely improved over the months … I’m happy taking the sails in and out by myself; dealing with boats that come too close; managing squalls and keeping the sails filled … and of course, starting the engine in the event of rubbish wind. Not too shabby though I say so myself!

Highlight of our passage was catching a tuna – we managed it together. Generally, Chris reels, I gaff (stick a big hook into the gills to lift the fish into the boat) and pour vodka into the fish to ease it on its way to the great fish heaven in the sea! With Chris holding the fish, I gut and then fillet the fish. I need sharper knives and a bigger board to work on but all things considered, we ended up with 4 big tuna fillets – enough for 16 portions!

Getting into the atolls is really challenging. At Ahe, our chosen atoll, there is only one small passage to allow entry and exit … only 200 yards wide and about half a mile long. The water rushes out of the atoll at a rate of knots always (water comes in over the reef and needs to get out) but there is a tide trying to rush in or out, wind that funnels through the passage and very shallow waters as the reef is not far below the surface. Plenty of potential for mishaps. Indeed, the Tuamotos are called the dangerous archipelago since many ships have found themselves caught on reefs and sunk (remember Kon-tiki?). We did loads of planning to get to the entrance at slack tide (5 to 6 hours after moon rise or set). We were an hour or so later than we wanted to be – we took a look and decided to give it a go. So … we donned our life jackets, closed all hatches and I went to the bow of the boat with my polarised sunglasses so that I could see rocks that might jeopardize Mistral. I used my harness to strap myself to the boat (just in case of rogue waves) and with butterflies in my stomach we made our way into the atoll.

As it turned out, the passage was fine. There was a current of 3 knots and depths of 5m, choppy waters but no rogue waves. High fives all round. Next challenge was to cross the atoll to the anchorage in front of the ‘village’ and anchor – avoiding rocks (bommies of rock and coral that are randomly across the seabed). The crossing was well marked but the anchorage is strewn with random bommies. When we had anchored, I swam all around the boat with a depth monitor to check we couldn’t swing into a shallow bommie. We were all good. Time for a beer, a large gin, some good wine and then a very early night!

Nuka Hiva

•Tuesday, 4 April 2023 • 5 Comments

I forgot to mention the welcome committee as we sailed into Nuka Hiva – a pod of dolphins showing us the way swimming and jumping on our bow … what a treat!

Chris and I had a jobs day after Janie and Patrick left – provisioning, cleaning, laundry and generally getting ready for the next leg of the journey. We decided to stay a couple more days in the Marquesas – the islands are unique and we wanted to make the most of them. We sailed around to Daniel’s Bay – only 5 miles west from our anchorage … another beautiful and secluded bay with towering lush green mountains – it could be a fantasy island. Any moment, I am expecting to see creatures from Lord of the Rings! I joined up with some of the fleet to do a 10k hike up to a dry waterfall – simply beautiful landscape although I was bitten a lot by the dreaded ‘nono’s’ – mosquito type biters – and this in spite of covering myself in dreadful deet. On the way back down we passed a local home where we were offered dinner and also fresh grapefruit taken from the trees … I am stocked up with grapefruits for our passage to the next set of islands!

Dinner was an adventure – we joined up with Maria and Oscar from LoneStar as their dinghy is much lighter and easier to manoeuvre for a wet landing onto the beach … we surfed in and got really wet! Earlier in the day, 2 dinghies had capsized trying to get into the bay. These water landings are non trivial! Dinner was delicious – a simple table for the 10 of us, fresh caught tuna with breadfruit chips and a mango and apple coleslaw. Fresh fruit for dessert – glorious! All the energy we needed to carry the tender back to the waves, leap in when we were up to our thighs in water and paddle like crazy until the water was consistently deep enough to take the engine prop. Hard to do these things with grace and elegance – beached whales come to mind as we land ourselves in the bottom of the boat!

We left the next day for a trip back to Ua Pou … it’s the closest launch pad for the Tuamotus Islands. We powered across the 25 mile channel at 8.5knots on a broad reach (in land lubber language – both sails out on the same side) and anchored in Hakahetau Bay on the north coast of the island.

I have discovered that this island was the inspiration for the Moana film … so excited to share the pictures with my grand daughter Vivienne – the expert on these matters! After a super early night, I joined others on the fleet for a hike up the mountain from the village of Hakehatau – first to the home of Manfred – unbelievably a German gentleman who makes and sells chocolate from the middle of absolutely nowhere. Next a waterfall out of a Disney film, a plunge into the rock pool and the longest shower I have had in months underneath the waterfall – my ‘Timotei’ moment (remember that shampoo advert?)! These moments will be with me forever.

And today … finally, we set sail for the Tuamotus Islands. About 550 miles to the south west of us. 4 days and 3 nights sailing and we are on our own. Given my sleep pattern right now is 10 hours a night, not at all sure how I am going to cope with 3 hour watches? Adrenalin and black coffee will keep me going. Hoping for fair winds and good fishing!

Ua Pou

•Friday, 31 March 2023 • 9 Comments

What a name for an island and what an island! Nicknamed by travellers ‘the Cathedral Island’, as we approached, it was easy to see why. Amazing geology – at least 12 spires in basalt rock emerging from the volcanic mountainous land. We all sat spell bound as we got closer and closer to the land.

Our anchorage was a little rolly (aren’t they all??) but in our excitement, we didn’t care. We anchored at 4pm and by 4.30pm we were in the tender and off to hike up the hill to a large crucifix to see the sun going down behind the stunning pinnacles. The view was definitely worth the 40 minute hike up and we were rewarded with a cheeky beer at a perfectly placed guesthouse on the way down.

The next morning we had a trip into the village – I was super keen to find the culture centre where local artisans sold their work. Unique to Ua Pou is a stone with markings like flowers over it. The artisans polish them and create jewellery. I bought 2 necklaces – special memories of a very special place.

Next stop Nuka Hiva – a fabulous 25 mile sail to the second biggest island in the Marquesas. Another stunning anchorage – we are in the crater of an old volcano. Lush green mountains all around us and hallelujah … a calm anchorage! We are here for a couple of days and this is where our lovely crew, Patrick and Janie leave us. P & J have been stars – we absolutely could not have got here without them. Their sailing knowledge and experience was invaluable and even more important, their good humour and positivity under all circumstances! We will miss them.

We had a fabulous last evening together – the prize giving dinner for the whole fleet. We were greeted with necklaces of flowers and treated to local dancing and fire eating as well as local cuisine of goat, pork and tuna. Lots of very odd colour fruit to go with the savoury – happy to try anything once! The island people have made us very welcome – we really are privileged to be in this lost paradise.


•Tuesday, 28 March 2023 • 4 Comments

A lovely relaxed sail across the 10 miles from Hiva Oa to Tahuata through the Bordelaise Channel. We spied coconut tree fringed beaches – beautiful white sand – very different to the black volcanic sand on the island we had just left. We sauntered along the coast line until we found a bay we could have to ourselves and weighed anchor. The joy of a calm anchorage, clear blue water and the possibility of a swim to the beach to explore. This is what I call a holiday and I resolved to do no jobs and simply enjoy the moment!

Snorkelling was fabulous – so much to see and all so close to the boat. A wander along the empty beach and a lovely lie in the sun listening to my audio book. Heaven. Apéros, large G&T’s and a beautiful sunset … perfect.

We planned to move to Ua Pou Island the next day thinking it was about 40 miles away so a leisurely start … in fact, as we got organised to leave at 9.30am after our fresh mango and banana breakfast, Cap P realised it was 65 miles away and had we left then, we would be arriving in the dark … never a good idea in unknown waters. Obviously, we have got far too relaxed about planning. I was disappointed … a) I had spent more than an hour packing up and getting ready and b) I had got excited about our next destination and realised our visit would now be a really short one. Still … another day in paradise was not such a bad option and having got over myself, I set to work planning the next few destinations (having learnt our lesson), snorkelling and then cleaning the boat hull from the water. I am a bit more than half way round now so some good progress.

We set sail this morning at 4.30am … we will be at Ua Pou early afternoon. So far, a relaxed sail … Ua Pou looks magnificent from 20 miles away as I write.

Ua Pou

Mavi Mai (welcome) Hiva Oa!

•Sunday, 26 March 2023 • 7 Comments

OMG … we are actually here! Huge excitement as the sun rose on Wednesday morning (my watch) and the land emerged in the dawn. A sight for sore eyes. Janie on deck to share the joy; both of us snapping away – how many sun rise photos is too many??

We dropped anchor at 0950 to much applause from fellow arc sailors already there and immediately popped the champagne … an epic journey … the longest passage we will ever do. Definitely worth celebrating! We were all tired but somehow it was like Christmas Day … so excited and lots to do in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on the beautiful remote island of Hiva Oa.

First things first though – we had to check in, customs and immigration. There is always a very long list of jobs that need doing fast – we will only have 2 or 3 days on this island so we need fuel, provisions, money, laundry, gas bottles filled, generator looked at by a professional. Mistral has a filthy hull and needs a good clean – weird, as we thought the sea was clean but no … it turns out that in spite of paying a fortune for anti-fouling, barnacles and all sorts of other stuff attaches itself. Ugh. We also want to see the island and explore. All this and each time we go ashore, we have to take our lives in our hands getting into the tender in our happy but quite rolly anchorage!

We booked ourselves into the only fabulous hotel in the island for dinner (Macron was there 2 weeks ago!) and got ourselves organised. Dinner was indeed fabulous – gorgeous hotel with stunning views and great food. So happy to be speaking French again and enjoying some french food and wine albeit with a Polynesian twist!

Gaugin lived in Hiva Oa in the last few years of his life and there is a delightful museum built in the grounds of his home on the island with copies of much of his work. Day 2 started with a visit to Gaugin and an exploration of the main village (definitely not a town). I spent the afternoon cleaning the hull – quite tricky as I had to fix lines around the boat that I could hang onto from the water with one hand and scrub the hull with the other. The joys of boat ownership.

Day 3, Patrick, Janie and I joined some friends for a tour of the island. Chris guarded the boat and worked with the engineer on the generator. The island is like a lost paradise – lush, green and totally uninhabited. There is a single track road going to the north of the island where we visited the remains of a Polynesian village with the tiki’s (sculptures) for which the archipelago of the Marquesas is famous. Quite stunning. Hiva Oa is applying for UNESCO status for the ruins and they deserve it. We finished the day back at the fab hotel where there was a fiesta with a fantastic display of traditional dancing. The men (v hot!) performing dances akin to the New Zealand Hakka performed at rugby matches with the women in grass skirts belly dancing. Gorgeous and a lot of fun.

Today we move on … destination Tahuata – just 10 miles from Hiva Oa. More excitement to come …

View from hotel into the bay