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New Pictures!!! (December 10, 2006)





New Zealand and more



OPUA, New Zealand - 35.S 174E

The final approach to Opua was during the early morning of November 13th a cold and sunny Monday! At sunrise we could see the Big Rock with a hole on the horizon just east of Cape Brett. The smell of land inundated the cabin and with the first sunrays the crew craweld out of their bunks to see the land, Ahoy! Aotearoa - the land of the long white cloud was greeting us and the little penguins that gave the Bay of Islands its Maori name were soon sighted by the boys. The entrance to the river was easy and we could see the littles towns of Pahia and Opua as well as the old whaling town of Russel - NZ first capital. We mooreed on the quarantine dock and soon the NZ officials came to inspect the boat and check us in - all done very expeditiously and with the right focus. After the check in, we slid into our slip in the marina and were greeted by our friends from Lavour who arrived a week earlier. Quite a relief to have made this difficult passage without major winds and waves and only in 6,5 days!

Now we are getting into the groove of the land life - We got a nice little car, a GSM cell phone chip and have water and electricity on the dock - so Diva is a floating home right now! The marina is very nice and the little towns very friendly and convenient. Our friend Bernd and Janett Bambus were there to greet us and it was quite a pleasure to see them after so many years! The kids have their friends and there is a school at 5 minutes walking from the Marina. We will enjoy the pleasures of land life for a while and go out to cruise the area on the weekends!

Now we have a cell phone here - 0064-21- 236 4475.

Cheers to all our friends

The Essles


Em alto mar: 33.30S; 175.20E
UTC: Sunday Nov 12th 2:00 AM (Greenwich time)

So faltam mais 110 milhas para chegarmos em OPUA a capital da vela de cruzeiro da Nova Zelandia. La daremos entrada no pais e a Diva fica na marina local e vai descansar um pouco depois das 8500 milhas que navegou desde dezembro do ano passado. A travessia foi tranquila e depois que a frente fria passou a pressão alta tomou conta do cenário trazendo frio, sol e pouco vento. Assim fomos, algumas horas motorsailing outra velejando com as velas caçadas no ventinho Sudoeste em direção ao nosso porto de destino. A travessia para a NZ é sempre iniciada com alguma tensão, ja que se deve evitar uma frente na chegada à NZ. Ai pode soprar forte e o ar frio, pesado chaqualha qualquer velejador! Parece que escolhemos bem nossa "janela" de vento e estamos chegando sem grandes percalços. Assim cubrimos as 1030 milhas em seis dias e meio fazendo uma media de 162 milhas por dia - nenhum recorde mas nada mal também.

Em Opua vamos visitar nosso amigo Bernd Bambus - aquele alemão que inspirou o Mark ha uns 30 anos atrás a gostar da vida no mar! Depois vamos comprar um carrinho usado para nos divertir pela terra dos Kiwis.

Até mais Mark, Corinna e os Meninos


In the high seas. Position: 33.30S; 175.20E
UTC: Sunday Nov 12th 2:00 AM (Greenwich time)

It is only 110 miles left to arrive to OPUA, cruise sailing capital of New Zealand. After arriving, we'll leave Diva in the local marina to rest for a while after the 8500 miles she has sailed since December 2005. The trip has been smooth and after the cold front has passed, the higher pressure brought some cold, sun and light winds. So we had to motorsail for some hours, and sail with reduced sails in other moments due to the Southwest wind blowing towards our destination. The trip to New Zealand always starts with some tension, because you have to avoid a front in the arrival. The wind there can be strong and the weather cold, making it difficult to any sailor. It seems we have chosen the appropriate time window since we are arriving without mayor issues. We have covered 1030 miles in six and a half days, with an average of 162 miles a day. No record here but not bad at all.

In Opua we plan to visit our friend Bernd Bambus - the German who inspired Mark 30 years ago to enjoy the life at sea!. We also plan to buy an used car to have some fun through the Kiwi's land.


Mark, Corinna and the kids

590 miles to go to OPUA in NZ (November 8, 2006)

So far the crossing has been benign and conditions are light. We are in the 3rd day of the crossing that should take us about 6 to 7 days. Everything is well and yesterday with the calm seas we had to do a few things and work on the school projects as well. It is slowly starting to get colder and in the nights we are using our blankets for the first time on the trip.
The cold waters of the south await us. Our position on Nov 8th 19:30 UTC is 26.45 South and 179.51 W - For those geography interested, we will be crossing the actual date line in a few hours - so this year we crossed both equator and now dateline - always a milestone for any sailor!
Yesterday the Airplane from the NZ Maritime flew over the boats and checked each one over the VHF radio. Quite amazing - and comforting to know that they are out here! NZ is very, very well organized to receive boats and we already have all the official forms on board and filled out for arrival - é outra coisa pais desenvolvido!

We hope conditions keep up and we make good progress. Will send an arrival update when we get into OPUA.

Cheers from the Essles


Quick Update - Left Nukualofa 21.10S, 175.30W and are underway to Opua 35.2S 174.5W, New Zealand (November 6, 2006)

Yesterday we cast off our lines from the dock in Nukualofa, Tongas Capital after filling our tanks with Diesel. We sailed out of the big bay in the early afternoon. When exiting the reef a whale mother and his calf greeted us goodbye from Tonga with a full body breach (jump), just a few hundred yards away from us. The sunset and the full moon in the evening all made for a farewell from these beautiful islands with the friendly people. We are now heading south to the cold waters and expect the trip to take about a week. Hopefully the winds will be generous and give us fair sailings. We will send pictures and a new update when we get to New Zealand.


Ha’Apai Group Tonga - 19.40 S – 174.17 W (October 28, 2006)

After four weeks in the Vavau group we have sailed further south to Tonga’s middle island group called the Ha’Apai. Here we found tranquil islands with little infrastructure and rich sea life. Several anchorages amongst reef strewn islands await us as we move south towards TongaTapu the groups capital main island where the king of Tonga resides. From NukuAlofa we will await a good weather window to make our last large crossing this year down south to New Zealand. Weather permitting we should arrive in Opua by end of November.

The weeks in Vavau have been full of great moments with lots of boat friends around us. We were able to see several whales with their calves in the wildlife and the boys will not forget the sightings of large whale tails and the misty jets from the dorsal blowholes of the large mothers. We entered the swallows caves with our dingy, saw salt water snakes, and dove into Mariners cave where the swell compresses the air inside the cave forming mist for a few seconds. We wandered around the small paths in the dense island forest and visited local farming fields where Papaias, Pineapples, taro and other fruit were harvested. At dusk the flying foxes flew over our heads to get their share of the fruit in the forests while during the day there giant bats sleep hanging from the trees nearby. The little town of Neiafu offers all what the cruisers hear desires. There we also met our friends from Phoenix who arrived from American Samoa and we spent Johnnies 14th birthday together. A beach fire in Port Morelle Anchorage was our farewell party as they will head to Australia and China this season.

Now we are pairing up with Esprit with Shea, Katie and their 9 year old son Jamie who we first met in Kauehi in the Tuamotus. We hope we get some other “Kidboats” together to have a good Halloween night on Oct. 31st.

Cheers, The Esslefamily


Vavaú Group in Tonga - October 2006


Since early October we are in Tongas Vavau islands in a really nice cruising ground. All the islands are 1-2 hours away from each other and you can sail in protected waters for most of the time. This is a world famous whale watching site as the whales come here in the winter to calf and reproduce. We have yet to see “our whale” but others report incredible sightings. We have first taken it easy after our arrival from the Niuatoputapu islands – a rough passage of 24hrs upwind with 25 knots and overcast skies. The trip was a bit better as we sailed with 4 other boats and were always in contact via VHF radio. Our friends from Blue Marlin were close by and Lotus from Holland was quick and always in eyesight, finally passing us at the end. We were conservative and only had our 2nd reef and the staysail up and that made the ride comfortable enough.

In Neiafu, the capital of Vava’u we met many friends and an incredible amount of kid-boats! We counted 10 boats with children. The local hotel opens the pool for the yachties and ALL the kids went there for 3 days in a row to have fun. Hedda and Maritas (the twins from Blue Marlin) birthday was held there and all kids had a ball. We sang Happy Birthday in 7 languages!

The town is a real sailor’s heaven – very simple and basic, almost like a cowboy town with wooden houses in funky colours, but all is available.
The bay is super protected and the locals put many moorings so you don’t have to worry about anchoring in the deep water. The Austrian bakery, Pete the Meat that sells imported meat and collects garbage, Gas, gasoline, supermarkets and a fresh fruit market all in walking distance.
Lovely restaurants, cafes and internet are found – and all at more “normal” prices after Polynesia. We met up with our friends from New Zeeland Martin ,Trish and Reece on KUPERE and left with them for a few days in the Tapana anchorage next the Ark-Gallery a little floating store. We dug out the windsurfer and enjoyed a few rides when the wind was fresh and had several cook-outs on the beach. De Pelikaan with Vincent and Iris and their kids Roxie und River from Holland met us there and Camdeboo from Canada joined in. With schoolwork and all the paying in the afternoon everyone would drop in their bunks quite early in the evening. After Kupere left for the Hapaii group we ventured out to Kenutu Island and went o visit a Cave there. Lawur, Ohana-Kai, Pelikan anf Esprit( all kidboats) joined up there and we had another night with fires on the beach. So far Tonga is living up to its reputation as a wonderful cruising ground.

We plan to cruise here until the end of October early November and then start heading southward to the Hapaii group and Tongatapu the capital of the Kingdom. Weather will dictate the departure to New Zealand sometime after that. The plans for the end of the year are also firming up as Karin and Eckard, Marks parents are coming to visit over Christmas in NZ!

All the best
The Esslefamily