News from Aotearoa

We are slowly discovering this beautiful country which will be our home for the foreseeable future… Here are a few pictures taken during the last month cruising around New Zealand. Enjoy!

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Sailing across the Pacific

Almost a month ago we arrived in Nuku Hiva after 30 days at sea. This island is such a special place for many reasons which I will leave for another post. 

For the second time in our trip (the first was San Blas) we have very limited access to the Internet, which is making us realize how addicted we are to our smartphones when we do have connection. Instead, we are enjoying the fact of not being connected and making the most of our time here. On the downside, we can’t upload Gaspar’s drawings or blog posts as often as we would like, but we both keep on working to have all ready for when wi-fi is available.

When we talk to other boat people about their journey across the Pacific we hear a lot of different stories. For us, this crossing could be classified as some of the best sailing we have done with Cirrus so far.

I was so happy to leave the hot and stinky anchorage of Las Brisas in Panama City. Although it was good to have access to all the shops and markets, we ended up quite tired of spending time (and money) in this big-mall-like city. We were both looking forward to the simple and beautiful routine of life at sea.

As we sailed away from the Panamian skyline we had to leave way to some big ships coming out of the Canal. The water was full of floating rubbish and we had to take care not to hit anything.

During the first ten days of the crossing the conditions varied from very calm weather to some wind on the face. My dad and our friend Felice sent us the daily forecast, and they insisted that we passed South of the Galapagos islands. To achieve that we did some motorsailing and some proper upwind sailing, hoping to enter the trade wind zone as soon as possible. 

Every night there was thunderstorm and lightning, but we got used to it, after all we should be ok inside our aluminium cage. The sea life was abundant, we saw an incredible spectacle of dolphins jumping and hunting and we had fresh fish every day for lunch and dinner. For about five days, we had two birds following us and sleeping on Cirrus.

Following our plan of leaving the Galapagos to startboard before turning southwest, we passed very close to the islands. We had decided not to stop, because we couldn’t afford the 1500 dollars it costs to anchor in there, but ur two bird pets don’t have to pay the mooring fee and so they abandoned us as we got close to the islands.

We crossed the 0° line at night, and celebrated entering the Southern Hemisphere cheering to Cirrus and to Neptune with beers and pancakes. 

The wind started to turn to the east at roughly 5° South, and we finally started pointing towards the Marquesas. The forecast we got for the following days couldn’t be more promissing: 15 knots of constant southeasterly wind.

Those tradewind days were the definition of champagne sailing. Cirrus sailed alone at full speed, yet the swell wasn’t too bad and life onboard was quite comfortable, Gaspar even managed to draw some of the storyboards for the comic. The conditions and the pushing current helped us break our record, 163 miles in 24 hours.

We crossed a few boats, many of them fishing and some cargoships. One of the fishing vessels was from Galicia in Spain and I spoke for a while with them by VHF radio. Too bad it was night time, they said that otherwise they would have given us some fish.

To keep entertained we read (Gaspar went through at least 1000 comic books), we played a lot of backgammon, I wrote, we took the noon sight with the sextant once in a while and every evening we had sundowners. The favourite aperitive food was popcorn, although pancakes won the battle once in a while.

As we got further West, the wind started to come more and more from behind. We poled out the jib, but with the increased southern swell the boat became quite rolly. The wind pilot doesn’t handle the spinnaker very well when there are waves, so by day we hand helmed and like that Cirrus was more stable.

I was at the helm when I heard a big bang against the hull. Gaspar came out and as we looked back we saw a small whale swimming away from the boat. I don’t know who got more shocked, the whale or us, as she was probably sleeping when the collision happened. Luckily the rudder and the keel were not hit and after checking that thehull was not damaged we carried on sailing.

During the crossing we had regular contact with four other boats via the satellite phone. One of them were our friends Ben and Margaux on a Moody 425. When we entered the trade wind zone we were 100 miles behind them and after an intense catching up game we finished the crossing 20 miles in front 😎.

Land ahoy! We first saw the small island of Fatu Huku, and then Ua Huka, at sunset. We still had some miles before arriving to our destination and we decided to slow down and get there in the morning.

After an exciting night we saw the stunning landscape of Nuku Hiva at sunrise. It became more and more beautiful as we approached and by the time we dropped the anchor in the bay of Taiohae we were both already in love with this place.