Lastest news TONGAs northern Island Niua-topu-tapu - September 2006
9 days of passage and 1300 miles later we arrive in Tonga this morning.
The Wind and seas have been generous again and we only had to motor some 10 hours of the whole trip. A front passed us and the wind clocked around from east to North to West but we only had a little bit of rain and no signifficant strong winds. The seas were good during the first 4 days and then got "confused" as the weather changed. We are all looking forward sleep in our beds without the rolling. With this long name, the cruisers have given the island the nick name NEW POTATO...On the passage, the fishing score was interesting this time. We got 6 "hits on our lure but were only able to bring two Mahi-Mahi (Dorados) on board. All others escaped unharmed when jumping and fighting the fisherman. So 6 to 2 for the fish! Dorado has delicious white meat and we had our traditional round of sushi-sashimi. Patrick is already versed in making the rice rolls and our wasabi stock is running concerningly low!
In Raiatea we had a real tough cold front come trough and we got 3 days of strong winds and rain. We decided to go to the dock in the middle of the little city and met our friends from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland and England. All were tucked down under the covers as the 30 plus knots of winds pressed us against the dockwall. As the weather improved we decided to move and Divas bow-thruster ( a water jet that turns the front of the ship) was vital to get off that dock against the still strong wind. We enjoyed the supermarket and cafes in the vicinity but after 4 days we needed some swiming and diving again! Restocked with baguettes and ice cream (real treats for boaties) we departed.
After Raiatea we sailed to Bora Bora, probably the most famous of the Society Islands, strewn with 5 star hotels with "your private bungalow on the water." The girls enjoyed the stay thoroughly and Zoe our new crewmember adapted well on board. From Juan we hear good news and that he is well and recovered in Bs As.
The first few days in BoraBora we spent on a Motu and dove and snorkeled alot. Louis from Elysium dove over the wreck of superyacht TAM that sank just a few weeks ago after a loose generator hose filled the unattended yacht with seawater. We only saw the underwater pictures...eery! The kids decided to do a camping overnight on a Motu and packed their little tent and flash lights for the adventure! Corinna made pizza and the marshmellows were roasted over a small coconut husk fire. The next moring Mark went with the dingy to pick up the explorers and all went well, thanks god! You must let your kittens go, sometimes!
We then moved to the Bora Bora Yacht Club and met up with friends again. A bicicle tour round the island revealed the beautifull east side and tested our muscles - we decided to sail there and anchor off the beatifull Motu and the southeast side. Bob and Cindy of FIGMENT followed us closely over the very shallow sandbank to the anchorage of translucid water. In the background the sceenic mount of Bora Boras extinct volcano, after sunset a stary sky with no lights... one of those memorable moments we came to collect! On the nearby beach were few houses of locals and we met Gaston who makes the many hotels thach roofs from a local plant (not palmleaves!). He lives a simple life with his family and two kids but with all amenities powered by solar pannels and inverter. It is quite amazing the lives that the locals live here - not bad at all!
The boys enjoyed every minute of the days with no school and played hard with Tatiana and Tamara. When the time came to catch the local flight back to Tahiti we all felt a knot in our throaths. It was a wondefull time together. Now its time to say goodbye to the Society Islands of French Polinesia and get to know their ancestors - the Polinesians from Tonga where seemingly the colonization of Polinesia started many many years ago. In early november we will sail down to New Zealand the land of the long white clouds!
Cheers, The Esslefamily
Raiatea, Society Islands of French Polinesia, August 25, 2006
A boatfull of kids left Tahiti for Huahine, the sleepy and natural island of the societies two weeks ago. We left in the evening and did an overnight passage.
The week in Moreea was very enjoyable if it wasn't for Juan, who had the dengue fever and was forced in his bunk with fever and the nasty symptoms of the desease. Victoria, his finacee, who came to visit him, stayed with us on the boat and got to see the island but both could not make their planned vacation come true. After a week of suffering Juan decided to go back to Buenos Aires with Victoria to recover from this hard fever and the associated down. We hope he gets better quickly.
Before leaving Papete we got Zoe Henderson on board who will help us with the boat and the watches from here on. Zoe is from London and has sailed from the Caribeean to the Marquesas on an english boat.
Tamara and Tatiana arrived from Germany and blended in very well as both are used to the boat life when they sailed for 3 years with their parents. In Huahine we met our friends on Kupere from New Zealand, Blue Marlin from Norway, Manta from Nevada USA and Luna from Holland. Bart, a windsurf professional with Dagmar from Germany and their daughter Solei made our junior crew hone their windsurfing skills and several dingy tours were made to get to know the beatifull island. After a cold front we all went hiding from the strong winds in a deep bay and had a few card playing evenings with the friends.
As the weather settled we went to the "south anchorage in one of those post-card bays and stayed a few days. Now that the boys have vacation every day is filled with beach and water activities and everyone drops into its bunk in the evening exausted from all the paying. Zoe, Corinna and I have work to do on the boat and when Philipp capsized the dingy we had to clean up the outboard motor that filled with water... In Raiatea we will meet other boat we know and get to know the famous sites of what used to be the capital of polinesia in ancient times. The acheological sites are very interesting and the history of the locals quite interesting. All is well o board and all are having fun.
Cheers, the esslefamily
Morea, Society Islands (August 5, 2006)
Finalmente escapamos da vida de cidade (que tem seus sérios atrativos) para uma semana de relax na ilha de Morea. A namorada do Juan, Victoria, chegou da Argentina e vai passar a semana conosco à bordo. Ontem, ao chegar na baía ao lado da Capt. Cook's Bay, o mar estava tão translúcido que dava a impressão que íamos encalhar de tão raso que é. Mas, a ecosonda marcava claros e traquilos 6 metros de profundidade. Aqui vamos fazer tracking, mergulhar e snorkling - os meninos querem fazer "scurfing" que é surfar atrás do botinho. Nossos amigos velejadores vão chegando aos pouquinhos por aqui!
Semana que vem chegam as filhas da Ingrid e do Georg Reygers - Tatiana, minha afilhada de 13 anos e a sua irmã Tamara de 15 anos. Vai ter muita bagunça à bordo, mas elas são muito legais e queridas. As duas velejaram com seus pais por 3 anos no Caribe e portanto conhecem a vida à bordo.
We finaly escaped the city life and are now in Morea near Capt. Cooks bay.
The water is so clear that we thoght we might be running aground but the depthmeeter marked 6 meters. We will spend an enjoyable week here with Victoria, Juans finacee and will then pick up Tamara nd Tatiana, my goddaughter, who are comming from Germany on the 11th of August for a month to reinforce the female contingent of the crew.
A week of city life is behind us and we were able to get most of our projects done and Corinna raided the local Carrefor for supplies that should keep us stocked until Tonga. We wanted to go to the Marina Tahina behind the Airport where EVERYBODY is anchored but got stuck in the city warf to wait for the morning light. But then we liked it (It had good fresh water) and the convenience of doing everything by foot kept us there for the rest of the stay. We visited the pearl museum and got the closing show of the local festivities with very impressive dancing and beatifull dancers!
We then made an adventurous jeep tour of the islands mountains. We swam in the fresh waters of the 100 waterfall valey. Incredible how full of life the nature is. We were also made aware of how sensitive an island ecosystem can be: one brown/green plant introduced from Mexico "for decorative" purposes in 1905 is now a big plague invading the rainforest and stealing light and space from the native plants. It was spread by a hurricane that messed up the plants and send out seeds of it from the Botanical Garden... Amazing story. In Raiatea they are now testing a fungus that kills this plant. But will it also afect others? - A Pandoras box! And this is on this little island in the middle of the pacific... The same is happening everywhere in the world.
Sabine and Florent had a house from friends for a few weeks and invited us for a nice dinner. Sabine is having job interviews in Papeete so they might stay for a year before they move on. We all went to have a decent haircutt our first, after Panama city.
Tomorow arrives our skipper Juans fiance Victoria from Buenos Aires and he will receive her at the aiorport with the traditional flower necklass!
Toau. Tuamotus The local couple, Gaston and Valentine received us and handed us the mooring lines to this beatifull bay called Anse Amiott. It is a rare false pass into the coral and you are protected by the reef but can not go into the lagoon, so a very protected anchorage. We went diving with the tanks with our british friends from Tigger, Peter and Toni and Patrick dove down to 15m for the first time over the outside reefs. The coral was very alive and colorfull and we saw hundres of differnet fish species in great clear water. The week ther flew and we met up with Blue Marlin from Norway and Sumé - both boats have girls on board and we met them in San Blas Panama for the first time. The family receives the sailor so well that everybody stays and gets comfortable. You go to have a special dinner at their restaurant and we ate like kings! The lobster and fish are from the reef and we tried the famous coconut crab - delicious - it looks like a giant hermit crab without the shell and it is strong like a bull! when hungry it drills it strong fingers into the nut to scratch out the meat. And the every afternoon the cruiser meet up and play voleyball or make a cookout our anything. It is a real little paradise spot.
July 19, 2006 Position: Fakarawa - Tuamotus
After a smooth crossing from the Marquesas we came into the atol of Kauehi. The pass, normaly a nerve wracking experience with strong currents and breaking waves was calm and the time we chose at slack tide proved to be right. We crossed the lagoon and anchores in front of a beautifull little village. The water has that incredible color of turquoise to aquamarine and snorkiling and diving is on the agenda again! We were joined by or friends Florent& Sabine from ZANGRA and met other sailors in the anchorage. On Esprit there was another boy who joined in quickly to play with our wild bunch. A few days later in came Phoenix with Johnny and Garret and the boys team was complete!
In the Tuamotus land and water are scarce and there is not much activity besides tourism and coconut plantations. But over the years the black pearl farming has become more ubiquious and the beautifull jewels of the sea come mostly from these atols. We found out about the next pearl farm and payed them a visit. Quite interesting to see the process of the pearl insertion, nurishment and harvesting. Many pearls are sorted until you find one of the grade that will go to a Parisian jewlery store! Corinna and the boys loved the experience!
After a great beach song evening in Kauehi with our felow cruisers we left to go to the south pass of Fakarawa some 40 miles to the NW. We crossed that pass without incidents and dropped ou hook in a beatifull anchorage with cristal clear water. An incredible drift dive was awaiting us at the pass
the next day. Snorkling in the current, over colorfull reef, with white tip sharks around you, fishes of all colors passing by - breathtaking. These are some of the best diving spots in the world.
After a few days there we went on to the northern corner of this large atol to witness the local festivities of the 14. of July. 4 days of dance and singing contest, roweing regattas around our boats and an incredile session of spear-into-the-coconut contest, called the javelin.
A cultural delight and a nice way of meeting the locals. Besides the 5star hotel MAITAI there are very few tourists on the islands - a real refuge from the buzz!
We now want to go to TOAU and anchor in a bay where a friendly family lives and will go diving and snoreling - always after homeschooling!
By the end of July we shoud be getting into Papeete, Tahiti where our goddaughters Tamara and Tatiana will join us for a months.
Godspeed! The Essles
Kauehi - Tuamotus S15.50 W145.07 brm that grows the famous jewels. I hope you will see her with some of them around her neck in a few days. We want to go to Fakarava and maybe Toau before we sail down to Tahiti. Nuku Hiva - Marquesas S8.55 W140.05 From Uo Pou we sailed north to the Controllers Bay in Nuku Hiva. Almost the only boat in this impressive anchorage. When we dingyed ashore, we walked to the village and hiked up the hills to an archeological site where the old marquesian rituals were held. Marquesians were quite developed people, fearless warriors, excellent canoe rowers (until today everybodys sport) and also cannibals. The rituals and feasts on these stone platforms must have been amazing! Thanks God things changed at least for us white suspects. The people still carry amazing tatoos on their skin and the Marquesians are vey proud of their art. A different world - I am glad the kids are seeing all this. Taioae Bay on Nuku Hiva was our next destination. Its a beatifull bay were the Governor of the Marquesas is based. We met up with our friends from Phoenix and the boys were very happy to see the kids. A few days in the "city" and a quick repair on the generator ( a tempeature switch had gone fautly) and we were ready for some beach life. A car ride through the island with 4x4 fun gave us aglimps of the famous northern bays and we left to meet up with Florent and Sabine of Zangra. Phoenix and Elysium with Louis and Tracy followed on the same day. Dozens of tiny mellon headed whales, a bit bigger than pourposes, played on our boat bow much to the fun of the crew! Anaho bay will enter our book as one of the most beatifull in the world!
An incredible scenery, beatifull beaches and a nice sheltered corner in which to anchor. We indulged with smimming , snorkeling and Juan and Florent went with Corinna and Sabine to catch octopus. Several evenings with wine and friends followed. A nice relaxing spot!
Back to Taioae to get fuel and see he worldcup football matches! First Argentina lost and Juan was down, then Brazil out... what a dreadfull result. And now Germany is out as well. I guess we have to cheer for Portugal now. The French were absolutely happy about the result. We watched the games early in the morning in a restaurant and filled the room with crusier friends all waving brazilian flags - in vain. But it was good fun - thats the important thing. Now wetake off to the Tuamotus - 530 miles to Kauehi, our next destination. Ua Pou - Marquesas We are at 09.21S and 140.02W in the bay of Hakahau in Ua Pou!
Here we checked into the Marquesas and French Polinesia and had outr Passports stamped. We have met our Friends Sabine and Florent Nasse on their Boat ZANGRA (France) and Niels and Hannelore from JONNA(Denmark) - they have two kids Jens and Caroline. Next to us its the US trimaran Elysium and the british cat TIGGER. The all went across the ocean from Galapagos with us and were part of our daily radio updates. Yesterday we hiked up to the cross on the bay mountain and had a fantastic view! The Pinacles on Ua Pou are like the suggar loaf in Rio de Janeiro. We are taking it easy here in the "civilization" and bought some ice cream and fresh croissants! Fromhere we will sail to Nuku Hiva - he northern most island of the group!
all is well on board - cheers!
16-06-06 In Marquesas
After landing in a little paradise in fatu Hivas Bay of Virgins we are under way to the northern group os Ua Pou and Nuku Hiva. The islands are lush and phantastic as they were praised and one can spend alot of time here. He are enjoying it thoroughly.
Estamos indo da Ilha de FATU HIVA que é a mais do sul e onde chegamos de longa travessia para um grupo de ilhas mais ao norte das marquesas - Ua Pou e Nuku Hiva - cada nome...
O fato que as Marquesas são realmente lindas e muito "paradisisacas". Voce anda nas ruas do vilarejo e todas as arvores são de frutas, Goiabas, Pamplemouse (aquela laranja gigante meio amarga que aqui é doce) manga, fruta pão e outras mais locais. Hibiscos,jasmin manga e aquela florzinha branca cheirosa. Realmente o lugar cheira bem. As pessoas são simples e parecem bem resolvidas, tranquilas. O ambiente é receptivo e simpático e a criançada é só alegria. Vem todos te olhar e conversar (em frances é claro).
O vento passa no vale e a esquerda e a direita paredões de rocha de lava cheias de plantas. Fomos para uma cachoeira de 40 m de altura e nadamos na piscina de agua geladinha. Como a rocha é preta o sol esquenta a aqua que desce - então é como um chuveirinho quente. A trilha pelo mato foi outra coisa especial. Nos brasileiros somos mimados com matos e cachoeiras lindas, mas esta realmente esta no topo da lista.
Jantamos na casa de um casal de artistas - ela faz desenhos de nankim sobre caca de arvore e ele esculpe os famosos totemzinhos chamados Tikis. A fruta pão com doce, peixe cru marinado em limão e leite de coco e um cozido de frango com curry. Delicia e sabores novos e prazeirosos. Até assistimos o jogo do Brasilx Croacia na choupana
- todos de camiseta Verde/amarela e armados com bandeirinhas e o Juan nosso skipper de camiseta da Argentina. Santo Kaka nos tirou do sufoco. Jogaram, mas a Croácia não foi moleza não.
A travessia dos Galapagos até aqui durou 16,5 dias e foi muito rápida - os outros demorararam 20 - 22 dias. Crédito ao nosso barquinho e a uma boa estratégia de regateiro evitando o vento em popa total que é mais lento que o travéz. nos útimos 5 dias o vento soprou mais forte (20-25 nós) e reduzimos as velas e as ondas nos balançaram bastante. Mas as noites estreladas, o luar, os golfinhos na proa compensam o desconforto - by far.
Os outros barcos se espalharam pelas ilhas e acho que a turma das crianças vai congregar logo logo em Nuku Hiva Até o proximo update.
05-06-06 Closer to the Marquesas
1120 miles to go. Its 5 a.m. and I (Mark) am on watch since 2:00. Its a beatifull night with all the stars you can imagine and a few more, only some small clouds and no moon - so its pitch dark and you can see the glimmer of the pancton. All has been seen before but - oh how beatifull it is! It is a long passage and the days goe by quickly. The kids manage well with all the motion and study and play as if we were on anchorage.
Yesteday morning we saw a school of Porpoises (Golfinhos) that came to play at DIVAs bow - there were at least 30 of them. And the boys went forward and screamed and schouted and the animals stayed for some 20 minutes - we observing them swim and they observing the 3 blondheads scream - I am not sure who had more fun, the boys or the "Flippers".
Precious moments -that's why we came!
In the afternoon we made a "desfile da fantasia" to comemorate our good progress and the jury gave prizes from the most ridiculous (mark) to the most complete(Patrick) to the most original (Philipp) and the whitiest (Alexander). The prize of a chocolate bar was consumed in minutes!
I am learning to play the kids computer game (oh gosh are they fast) and everyone is reading. Corinna is in Africa with Tania Blixen and now with James Mitchner. Juan is reading about Simon Bolivar. In the mornings and in the afternoons we do the Radio check In over the Single Side Band radio (SSB) that has a very long range. All the sailboats that are crossing check in tell they position and any events of the day that basicly resume itself to fishing. Tunas, Mahimahis and Wahoos are reported with great pride. Most of the other boats are couples sailing but there are 4 families under way: Denmark, Brazil, US and UK.
All is well on board and we are making good progress. Cheers to you all!
We are starting day 7 now (June, 1st) and are 1200 miles under way.
We are getting the trade winds from the south east at 15-18 knots. So its been great sailing all the time and we only motored out of our port in Isabella. So far so good. It is getting choppier out here but, hey, we are in the middle of the ocean.
Looks like 10-11 more days - that would be a phantastic time en route!
We got a Tuna and a wahoo and the stopped as the frezer was full! The daily routine is watchkeeping for Juan and me and school for the boys on an easy schedule - every other evening there is movie night (a bonus for the passages). One never gets used to all the motion of the waves - but yes one does get used to some of it and the mornings and evenings are secdial moments en route. The stars can only be seen like that in a meenless ocean nite. Uau.
Every morning our deck is littered with 10-20 Squid that jump on deck at night. we plan to collect them and make Moqueca de Lula! Juan is eagerly looking for more fish on our lure. Its a squid!
The meals are always a highlight of the day and our pizza dough is almost perfect now! Fish and vegetables, Pasta, Arroz e feijão, everything has a chance and we enjoy it thoroughly.
We want to approach the marquesas from the south to Fatu Hiva (bay of virgins) and then go up to Hiva Oa for check in and some fresh stuff and then to ua-pou on your recommendation and nuku hiva which is said to be the nicest of the islands.
On Our Way to the Marquesas Islands 01.30S;92.47W - 2850 miles to go
After some great experiences in the Galapagos, we are off to the Marquesas Islands. The group of islands is the first of the French Polinesia group followed by the Tuamotus and the Society Islands where beatifull Tahiti and Bora Bora are.
For now our trip has been excellent - Its the first day though of a 20-22 day passage. This is one of the longest ocean crossings and there is absolutely nothing close by. So a bit of "frio no estomago" (anxiety) was present when we lifted our anchor in Isabela Island. It was a very beatifull morning and the sea was calm as a lake. "Phoenix" , our friends departed with us and we could see their colourfull Spinaker fly until the evening. The boys have been chatting on the VHF (short range radio) and exchanging fish infos. We were blessed first with a 3kg Tuna, later Johnny and Garret followed suit and caught two Wahoos. These are delicious fish and we made some excellent sashimi. The japanese sushi knife and the lesson I got from my forum buddies was really essential and we use it quite alot.
The lonelyness is broken up by daily radio nets of all the boats going towards the Marquesas. There are more than 15 boats going, so you can hear about the conditions ahead of you on the daily check ins. We call in at 09:00 in the morning and 6 in the evening. I downloaded the weather faxes from the NOAA website and conditions are very benign for the next 72 hrs. So you know that other boats are out there and know where you are.
Juan and I split up the night shifts and during the day the boys and Corinna keep a lookout. So far we have only seen one fisherboat, but you have to be alert! The Radar helps to spot things on the horizon such as cargo ships and larger boats. Interestingly we NEVER steer the boat - the autopilot SIMRAD - we call him Simbad - does the job very well. Simbad is a nice crew member that never complains and does not even eat! Only a few amps from the battery bank.
In the Marquesas we would like to first stop at Fatu Hiva - the southern most island and get to know the famous Baie des Vierges (Bay of Virgins) as the scenery is supposed to be one of the most dramatic in polinesia. The islands are not very populated and life is still simple. But we will update you when we get there. For now we are the companios of the dolfins that play at our bow and belong to the sea and the winds.
All the best to you all and thank you for the friendly e-mails we receive.
It is a great way to stay in touch.