21.10.2017

Niue agricultural show

Some pictures of the agricultural show today, which is similar to the one in Tonga, just smaller. The last picture shows coconut crabs fighting each other. In the first and fourth picture you see the throws in the taro throwing competition. Lots of laughter everywhere.

Back in

7hrs and 2 dolphin escorts later we're back in, tied up to a mooring and in bed. It's 3am now. All good.

Back out

So the wind turned westerly and the westerly waves came in in top of the southerly swell. Everything meets up in the bay and as this situation put too much strain on the mooring we had to leave. There is a reason why the Yacht Club does not want anyone to be on their mooring in westerlies. You can break the mooring and end up on the reef right behind you. So now we decided to spend the night sailing down and up the west coast until the wind changes to South - south east. We don't have much wind but enough to get the wave we can't have at the mooring. And at the mooring we would have had to do night watches as well so we might as well be out here where it's safe for us.

20.10.2017

more photos

First day Niue

Niue welcomed us in grey - weatherwise. The underwaterworld is clear blue with lots of corals. You see that from the boat or when you snorkel.
This morning we were ordered to be at the pier at 9am for check-in with customs. We got up, quick breakfast and off we went - in rain - wondering why there are tents and some people on the pier (like yesterday) and how the hauling out of the Dinghy is going to work. The friendliness of the island started right there, in the water. A whole bunch of spinner dolphins came and escorted us all the way to the wharf. There were at least 25 of them in the bay, about 10 escorted us. Oh my god they were so cute. In the pouring rain I did not pull out my phone to take some pictures. At the wharf there was someone to help us. The waves kept pushing the Dinghy up and down and towards the wall. I got of at the ladder while Marcus stayed in the Dinghy to receive the hook. Once hooked in, with the help of a rope, he got off onto the stairs (which were under water) and there we were. We put the Dinghy on that one trailer which lives on the pier and pulled it out of the way. As we found out to
day was a raft competition. LIke we know "soap box races" these were rafts made ot of branches and supposed to be paddled by four people. We saw one which we really liked and thought it has the best construction as ist was close to a real good catamaran hull. Well, needless to say, this raft, with 4 young kids from the Niue high school, won this whole thing. They actually won 1000 NZD!
Ok, on the pier we waited for quite a while until a Van with the print "Ministries" showed up. A symphatic looking young guy with a big smile and curly hair invited us to jump into the van and off we took. Ok, we thought, nice that we get a ride to the offices. but no, we just drove up the hill, stopped in front of the customs wherehouse. There, in the van, we gave him all the forms which we had prepared, printed and filled out, he looked at the passports and the immigration forms, took everything and then told us, we will get the passports stamped when we check out (immigrations officer not available today) and also we will then pay 15NZD for quarantine for trash and NZD80 per person clearing fee. We received the check-out forms and left the van 10 min after we boarded it with no official document or stamp but the passports in our hands. The guy made clear that if we want to leave between now and Tuesday we'd have to clear out right away, as they do not work on public holida
y and weekends. It was nice enough he'd check us in on Friday. Yes, they theoretically do work 5 days, but practically they only work 4 days. Too bad yesterday was holiday, so still Friday is basically no working day.
Ah, ok, understood.
So we were at land, puzzled to see everything closed. Well, they are celebrating their constitution this long weekend. Another public holiday coming up on Monday. So it turns out we're really "lucky". Almost everything is closed this long weekend, including tourist information. Oh wait, no, they will be open tomorrow for 3 hours. So, we can't even check in with the Niue Yacht club, as you have to do it in the tourism office. Not a problem, we walked to the "home" of the NYC anyways. A nice lady, ira, welcomed us, gave us the password for the (at the moment not working) wifi, gave us the most necessary informations for around Alofi and off we went. Had NZD5 lunch at the Indian restaurant and then watched the third and last part of the race and the price giving as well as the haul out of all the boats before we were finally able to let our Dinghy back into the water to go back to Alita. Why go back? Well, we're in the middle of a troph and we do not know if the wind's going to
turn westerly / northerly and how bad the weather is going to get. We need to be prepared to leave the mooring anytime and sail around Niue to wait for the weather to settle down. So we're back here on Alita, rocking and rolling and looking out for the dolphins to keep us company. I was going to book an island tour for tomorrow but with the weather we don't know if we can actually do it, we have to be on the boat. So that's that. For Tuesday I have a rental car (could not get one earlier), so I hope the weather plays with me. I don't know yet if I'll be able to get a car on the other days, I'll try. But, hard, with all these holidays. We asked if there are more coming up to make sure there is non when we try to check out. The answer is priceless: we con't know yet.

19.10.2017

Niue 1

Ha. I may not be allowed to go ashore, so what? I just went swimming/ snorkling. This whole island is one bog coral block/reef. So no wonder you can't anchor here. On the one hand it's deep and on the other full of coral canyons. Quite pretty to snorkel directly from the boat. Would be even good for diving. Millions of corals sitting on dead reef canyons. I cant wait to explore the island as of tomorrow. I'll keep you updated.

Safely arrived in Niue

We safely arrived in Niue at 8am. Unfortunately it's a public holiday so we can't check in and thus have to stay on board. Also there is a kanu race going in the bay and we can't go to the assigned mooring right now. It's horribly rolly here, I get seasick at the anchorage. In about an hour we can move to a place where it looks a bit calmer. Getting ashore here as an act anyways. There is a concrete pier but no where to put a Dinghy as it's always rolly. They have installed a lift with which you need to lift your Dinghy up and out. That's going to be interesting. So, will be back with news tomorrow or so.

I see the light

We are about 35nm west south west of Niue and I can just start to see the light of town being reflected into the cloudy nightsky. The inly stars I see today are the ones next to the boat, created by our wake and fluorescent algae.
Expected arrival some time in the morning, depending on how the wind behaves. Should by anywhere between 9 and 11am local time, oct 19th (we're sailing one day backwards :-))

18.10.2017

Beautiful passage

We're almost half way over to Niue. We had a beautiful sail so far. After a 5 hr rest before midnight I made a 5 hrs night shift because it was just so incredibly beautiful. As it's almost new moon and few clouds the night was perfect for watching the stars. It was a heavenly gift to see so many sparkling spots in the sky shining down on us while we smoothly sailed trough the ocean producing even more sparkling stars in the water thanks to fluorescent algea. I could just not stop looking. That's what makes passages an unforgettable experience. I love passages like this.
Our current position is: 18deg50,1S and 172deg09,8W

16.10.2017

New: Vimeo channel

I just started a channel where I will post the videos I make (in web resolution). Please feel free to share with friends, colleagues, anyone who you think might be interested.

Vimeo channel: Sailingdisantoceans

Looking back on 4 months of Tonga

Unfortunately the time has come to say good-bye again to a place that made its way into my heart. Tonga. A hardly known, beautiful country full of super nice people and islands with white sandy beaches, rock shores and caves. A country that mostly consist of ocean. A country where chicken eat chili for a better singing voice, where dogs play with free running pigs, where people build fences to keep pigs out of their garden, a country where you are being valued by how much you give to your community and where the singing in the church immediately frees those water drops behind your eyes to run down the cheeks and makes you feel like you already made it to heaven. It is always sad to l eave a place you like, where you got to know people and found a life that suits you. Like New Zealand, this place keeps you busy all day and night: morning swim, looking over beautiful ocean, watching the fish under water, exploring reefs and caves, healthy walks over endless beaches in Ha'apai and along rainforest paths in the „garden islands" in Vava'u, find and open coconuts, go fishing, watch the sunset, go out and look at and photograph the unbelievable milky way on a clear night. There is so much to do and especially enjoy that it is hard to squeeze in al the cooking and eating that needs to be done. Thank god for all the fresh vegetables and fruits that I was mostly able to buy and the fish that Marcus caught so we could life healthy and, I have to say, very cheap. 

My personal highlights definitely were my brother and friends visiting and re-discovering Tonga with them, the mind blowing and unforgettable whale watching tour, the beautiful minutes in the caves when the water was super clear and the sun made this most amazing scene and the many night shifts while shooting the stars.  

Well, if you have followed the blog you witnessed all these amazing moments. Lately I haven't posted much as there was nothing new for you. Just the same old poster motive of blue /turquoise waters and lonely islands. Ah, life is good and so many amazing places out there. 

As a close down of the trip I went to church yesterday and listened from outside. Rarely anything has touched my heart lately as much as this (ok, the whales did). Malo aupito - thank you very much TONGA. I will be back one day. Hopefully with my god-children.