A Nordic Breeze

A Nordic Breeze

Breeze blogg

Vi har försökt att få till en kombination av ett liv i Stockholm och ett mer äventyrligt liv på båt. Vi kommer här att berätta om resans alla äventyr, i såväl med- som motvind.

We have tried to combine a life back home in Stockholm with a more adventorous life on a yacht. Here we will tell you about our adventures.

Vanuatu to Australia and, not the least, a short stop at another of this planets paradises

Vanuatu 2016Posted by Per Tue, November 22, 2016 19:46:05

Take off

So…now it was time again. Another longer passage. This time some 1060 nm from Port Vila in Vanuatu to Bundaberg in Australia, with a planned stop at Chesterfield Islands in the middle of the trip. Chico had already left us on a plane to Melbourne for his ten days at quarantine and Sabina and Ella would fly down to Bundaberg and pick him up there and wait for Breeze to come sailing in a few weeks later. Two Swedish friends came down to Vanuatu to sail with me; Torgny and Michael.
The wait for the weather window was over and it was time to leave early in the morning on the 8th of November. Michael had arrived only two days earlier but Sabina and I had done most of the stocking up before the boys arrived, and it was only the last shopping for veggies etc left to do before take off.

First leg is 587 nm and I was planning on landfall the 11th. Wind the first two days was 8-12 knots true from behind. Not much sea with that wind speed, but it made my initial calculations with an average of 200 nM a day crack within the first day of sailing. We also had some counter current and could only keep an average of 156 nM a day the first two days. We now had two options, since I don´t like going in at night to new places in remote areas - slow down and spend another night out at sea, or speed up and fire up the engine. When the wind died down to 4-5 knots the third day, it made the choice easy. I have always hated going slow and rolling around in old swell from the side, so we started motor sailing at 9-10 knots. We made landfall just before a beautiful sunset on the 11th of November and was greeted by chirping birds and the most beautiful turquoise water and white sand islets. Sundowner with Entice, Helios and Nimrod

We were not expecting any other boats, but found three others at anchor when we arrived – two Australian catamarans and one American monohull. Nothing wrong with sundowners but that had to wait for another day, because we were eager to go exploring the islands in the morning.

Exploring Chesterfield Islands

Chesterfield Islands, what is that??? Yes, it is not very well known, but it´s not hard to hit it if you are passing this area unknowingly. Many wrecks scattered around this reef is the proof of that. The reefs extend from 19˚ to 22˚S between 158160˚E in the southern Coral Sea halfway between Australia and New Caledonia. The outer reef itself stretches approximately 70 nm from the south to the north and comprises of reefs on the northern part and reefs with small low lying motus (islets) on the southern part.

It is an atoll, which is really an old sunken volcano, just like the ones in the Tuamotus. The area belongs to New Caledonia and is a protected marine and coral reef area. The best description of this paradise is a mix between Minerva Reef (for the few of you who have been there) and Galapagos (a bit more well known).

All animals are completely unaware of humans as being a threat, and you can walk right up to them. There is no other way to reach these islands than by your own boat, which makes it pristine and unique. The New Caledonian government is happy to grant you a chance to stop on your way to Australia, without having to go all the way to Noumea to check in, if you agree to send them a report of what you have seen and done at Chesterfield. Not many boats do get off the beaten track to get here though. They only get 15-20 visits of boats a year.
The islands are inhabited by thousands and thousands of birds, with visits by the big sea turtles coming up to lay their eggs certain times of the year and we arrived right in the middle of the turtle season.
Waters outside are amazing with one of the clearest waters you can find in the world with 30+ meters visibility. Reefs are healthy and fish are plentiful and huge (AND willing to be speared by your spear gun whenever you get hungry.There are lots of sharks (a good sign of a healthy reef) in the water, but they are only curious and wont bother you if you don´t shoot a fish too close to them. At the turtle breeding season and bird hatching season, Chesterfield is also a nursery for Tiger Sharks since it is so easy for them to find food at this time of year.

One calm day we took the dinghy through a small pass to the outer reef on the east side to go spear fishing. Huge Snappers and Parrot fish, but decided to shoot the not too big ones since I was not 100% sure if there was any Ciguatera (fish poisoning) there or not. We knew that some friends of us had been here a month ago and eaten fish they caught in this area without getting sick, so we felt pretty confident after all.

After cleaning the fish and throwing the carcasses in the water we had a new friend at the boat – a small Tiger shark. Small, when we are talking about Tigers, is 3 meters. All other types of sharks are easy to chase away, as long as you act as a predator and not a prey, but Tigers are the sharks responsible for the most attacks and accidents on humans in the tropics (and second on fatalities in the world, behind the Great White). No serious diver/spear fisher feels safe when having a Tiger shark in the water. Every time we threw something in the water our friend was there again, so that was the end of my crews daily swims from the boat at that anchorage.

The small islands stretch kilometer after kilometer at low tide and consists of the whitest coral sand you can think of…and birds. Birds, nesting in the small trees; birds, nesting in the bush; birds, nesting in the sand. Brown Gunnets, Masked Boobies, Frigate Birds, Crested Terns, Black Noddys and many others I don´t know the names of. It was fun to read in our bird book written by Neville Coleman that they don´t know where the Masked Boobies have their main breeding grounds. Now we know. There were hundreds and hundreds of them on the different islets of Chesterfield. The Masked Boobie always lay two eggs, but only one nestling survives.

Super moon and turtle watch

Every morning we went to the islets we could see new tracks from the turtles that had been up during the night to lay their eggs. Of course we had to go in one night to see them. This was the time of the super moon and in the dark, with nearest light pollution some 1000 km away, it was almost like moving around in broad daylight. One night we saw a big Green Turtle that had just laid her eggs and we could only feel happiness. Not many of her hatchlings will survive to come back and lay their eggs, but we were happy that this is one of the sanctuaries in the world where the turtles still can breed in peace.

Snakes in paradise

Unfortunately, there were some snakes even in this paradise. We had been there for three days when we saw two Chinese fishing vessels entering the lagoon. They immediately started fishing. We think they were diving for Sea Cucumbers and fishing for shark fins. We emailed the New Caledonian government to warn them, but they have no resources to send ships or planes for ID. We were asked to observe and take photos but not to interfere, since they can be dangerous if they feel threatened. We did not need to hear that twice, since we were alone out in nowhere and would be an easy target. Nevertheless, we felt extremely sad to see this piece of paradise being damaged and we really hope that they will be able to stop this fish pouching.

Time to leave

Leaving this paradise was hard to do, but as always weather decides. A low developing in the north threatening to bring 35-40 knots to the islands, and potentially worse, made us want to leave after the next front that was due on the 15th. We left the islands at first light 5:30 on the 16th in a nice 15-20 knots breeze from ESE and a benign 1,5 m swell. Winds kept increasing during the next day and so did the swell. We ended up sailing along in a howling 25-35 knots of wind from forward of the beam and a 3-meter short choppy swell just aft of the beam. It was fast, I give you that, but we reefed hard to slow down the boat to make it a bit more comfortable. Still, making more than 9 knots on average on the two days of our last leg to Bundaberg made it a short and overcoming pain. And as always, it makes the getting there so much nicer :)

  • Comments(0)//www.nordicbreeze.se/#post70

A short video from Breeze visit in beautiful Fulaga

VideosPosted by Per Mon, June 20, 2016 19:00:11

  • Comments(0)//www.nordicbreeze.se/#post67

Diving at the amazing Rainbow Reef in Fiji November 2015

Fiji 2015 - 2016Posted by Per Mon, November 16, 2015 15:28:39

  • Comments(0)//www.nordicbreeze.se/#post64

Roderlösa men inte rådlösa

Franska Polynesien 2013 - 2014Posted by Per Eliasson Sun, May 11, 2014 08:03:21

Så… när vi trodde att vi äntligen kommit iväg från Tahiti och påbörjat den här säsongens resa mot Tonga, Fiji och slutligen Australien så tog det slut redan på Moorea. Vi är nu tillbaka på varvet i Papeete igen. Låt oss börja från början.

Per åkte ned till Breeze tre veckor före Sabina och Ella, för att göra de saker som återstod på Breeze efter åsknedslaget förra året och för att förbereda henne för årets segelsäsong. I det ingick bl a upptag på varv för byte av djupgivare och logg och byte av tätningsringar till det läckande rodret. Men redan vid ankomsten till båten uppmärksammades nya problem. Batteribanken var död och behövde bytas ut. Fanns inga AGM-batterier av tillräcklig storlek att få tag på i Papeete, så det var bara att beställa från Europa. Skulle ta 8 veckor. Kul… då skulle vi bli kvar till början på juni i marinan innan vi kunde komma iväg, missa en månad av seglingssäsongen och bli tvungna att stressa igenom den stora oceanens alla godbitar. Per fortsatte att fixa övriga saker på båten och förbereda för dagen T (tjejernas ankomst). Listan i övrigt bockades av i snabbare takt än förväntat så Per kom till slut till den hemska tidpunkten då det fanns tid över till att tvätta kläder och städa på båten. Men, STOR lycka… två dagar innan Sabina och Ella skulle anlända åkte Per med en annan båtkompis för att köpa nya batterier till deras båt, och det visade sig att den affären redan samma dag skulle få in en laddning med exakt de batterier som vi var ute efter! Hård förhandling med andra leverantören, men till slut kunde vi komma ur den beställningen och köpa de här batterierna istället. Installerade allt dagen innan dagen T, vilket fick ses som ett bra träningspass – varje batteri väger 65 kg och Per fick lyfta ur 8 gamla batterier och in med 8 nya i båten. Osannolik glädje då allt var klart. Nu kunde vi fokusera på att bunkra mat och lämna Tahiti innan april månads utgång.

Sagt och gjort. Vi vinkade av våra kompisar Len och Erin från SV Maestro och åkte med Rob, Cathrine och Hanna på SV Koa till Moorea. Visade sig vara betydligt starkare vind och större vågor än prognoserna, 18-20 m/s vind och 3-5 meters våghöjd, men inte något som inte Breeze klarar av. Seglade på i 10 knop med bara genuan i slör, med vågor som tryckte på snett akterifrån, och njöt i fulla drag (ja, inte Sabina då, som var sjösjuk som vanligt). Autopiloten styrde, men vi fick en märklig sidförflyttning på båten i en våg med ett hårt nedslag (kändes ungefär som en broach) så vi handstyrde resten av vägen för att kunna parera vågorna bättre. Vid framkomsten till Moorea så kollade vi om det läckt någonting från den nya roderpackningen och upptäckte att vi dessvärre tagit in rätt mycket vatten. Pumpade ut och gjorde rent, tajtade bultarna till rodret eftersom vi trodde att det var därför det läckt. Lät det gå en dag och tittade igen. Mer vatten. Hmmm… torkade ut noggrannare och såg några sprickor framför rodret där det sipprade fram vatten. Per dök i och kollade på utsidan och såg att det var en ca 40 cm lång spricka i skäddan framför rodret! Vi ringde varvet och bad om ett akut upptag. Vi motoriserade tillbaka till Tahiti i lugn sjö och de tog upp oss på land så fort som vi anlände.

Hela skäddan satt lös! Med största sannolikhet körde vi på en val på väg över till Moorea. Vi hade kunnat tappa skäddan och rodret när som helst, och det var ren tur att det var lugn sjö när vi seglade tillbaka för den här skadan hade kunnat sänka båten. Nu blir vi kvar i Papeete ett tag för reparation. Vet inte än hur lång tid det tar, men hoppas på att komma härifrån i mitten på juni. Men… vi känner oss rätt nöjda och lyckosamma ändå. Hotell känns rätt ok just nu, och det finns sämre ställen att vara strandsatt på ;-)

Almost no rudder thanks to whale blubber

So... when we thought we finally got away from Tahiti and started this season's trip to Tonga, Fiji and Australia we had to make a U-turn already in Moorea. We are now back at the shipyard in Papeete again. But, let's start from the beginning.

Per went down to Breeze three weeks prior to Sabina and Ella, to repair some of the things that remained at Breeze after the lightning strike last year and to prepare her for this year's sailing season. In this was included among other things a haul out at Technimarine for changing depth sensors and log and replacing the lip seal for the leaking rudder. But already upon arrival at the boat new problems appeared. The battery bank was dead and needed to be replaced. There were no AGM batteries of sufficient size to get in Papeete, so it was nothing else to do but to order new ones from Europe, with an 8 week delivery. Funny... then we would have to stay until the beginning of June in the marina before we could get going, missing a month of the sailing season and having to rush through all the goodies of this vast ocean. Per continued to fix other things on the boat and prepare for the G-day (the girls' arrival). The list could be ticked off at a faster pace than expected, and Per finally came to that horrible time when there was time over for washing clothes and cleaning the boat. However, BIG happiness... two days before G-day, Per went with another friend to buy new batteries for their boat, and it turned out that this dealer on the same day would get a shipment with exactly the batteries that we were looking for! Hard bargaining with the other supplier took place, but finally we were able to bail out of that order and buy these batteries instead. Installed everything the day before G-day, which had to be considered as a good workout - each battery weighs 65 kg and Per got to lift the 8 bad batteries out of and the 8 new ones into the boat. Incomparable joy and happiness when it was finished. Now, we could focus on stocking food and we could actually make it out of Tahiti before the end of April.

Said and done. We left our friends Len and Erin from SV Maestro at the marina and took off together with Rob, Cathrine and Hanna on SV Koa to Moorea. It turned out to be much stronger winds and bigger waves than the forecasts, 18-20 m/s wind and 3-5 meter wave height, but not anything that Breeze couldn´t handle. Sailed at 10 knots with just the genoa, with wind from the aft quarter and with waves that pushed obliquely from astern, and just loved it (well, maybe not Sabina, who was seasick as usual). The autopilot steered, but we got a strange paging on the boat in a wave with a strike down (felt like a broach) so we hand steered the rest of the way. Upon arrival to Moorea we checked for leaks from the new rudder lip seal and discovered that we unfortunately had a lot of water in the lazarette and in the bilge. Pumped out all the water and dried it clean and tightened the bolts for the lip seal, since we thought this was the cause of the leak. Let it go for a day and looked again. More water. Hmmm ... dried it out more carefully and now we saw cracks in front of the rudder where it trickled water. Per jumped in and checked the outside and saw that there was an approximately 40 cm long crack in the skeg in front of the rudder! We called the yard and asked for an emergency haul out. We motorized back to Tahiti in calm seas and were immediately hauled out.

The skeg was loose! We probably hit a whale on the way to Moorea. We could have lost the skeg and rudder at any time, and it was pure luck that it was so calm when we sailed back because this could have sunk the boat! Now we are stuck in Papeete for repairs. Don´t know yet how long it will take, but hope to get out of here in mid June. But ... we feel quite happy and fortunate anyway. Hotel feels quite ok right now, and there are worse places to be stranded on than Tahiti ;-)

Så här ser det ut på Breeze nu… Arbetet är i full gång, från insidan till utsidan och allra högst upp. Allt kommer att bli så bra när det är klart.

This is Breeze right now. A lot of work under way…..from the inside to the outside and at the top. Everything will be better once it is done.

  • Comments(0)//www.nordicbreeze.se/#post51