Vancouver isn’t kidding when it talks about its harbors, it waterways and the great time you will have sailing in these waters. You do get rain and you also get plenty of sunshine.
After Pender Harbor, we motored off to Secret Cove with about half the fleet. Turns out that was our last Green Box on a dock, so the order of the afternoon were drinks and sharing nibbles and talking the sun down. Actually before sun set, we heard music and before we knew it singers were pouring onto the docks and we spent the next hour singing songs from Amazing Grace to show tunes to Carole King and Janis Joplin. Old MacDonald got a workout.
In the morning, we all sailed or motored over to Snug Harbor, a marina that is the last vestige of the Union Steamship Company on Bowen Island. A great marina with shops and a great pub called Doc Morgan’s who fed the whole flotilla and kept Canadian Geese as guard birds.
And so we finished where we began, at the Royal Van in Jericho Bay. We had an amazing dinner with singers and an old English Folk Song, we had “thank you”s and that we all had a terrific time was duly noted. We were asking when the next ICOYC cruise might be scheduled because it is something many of us would like to do again.
I have to put it in writing that the despite what you might hear, the Death by chocolate was not the highlight of the trip, but it was certainly in the top ten.
We crossed the Malibu rapids again pre-dawn, on our way to the Royal Van Outstation in Pender Harbour. It was about 46 nautical miles in the rain.
The Enchanted crew were enclosed in clears to keep out the miserable weather.
We were happy to be going to an outstation with all the amenities of home. We could get off the boat and make our way to the lovely club house and sit and watch the rain. It cleared up during the late afternoon, and it was time to crack open a bottle of bubbles and toast our hosts.
This was a great spot and we could walk to a great local store, named John Henry’s, have hot showers, do laundry and have lunch in the club house. We were happy to go to a nearby restaurant in the evening. The Australian crew of Corus met us for dinner coming over by dinghy, as well as about half the flotilla. We completely filled the dining room.
In the morning we go off to Secret Cove, but tonight we eat drink and socialise.
Since the first skipper’s meeting, the flotilla had discussed Chatterbox Falls and the Malibu Rapids. Protocols were discussed and reiterated, even the yachting guides err on the side of detailed strategies. We left in the pre-dawn darkness from Harmony Bay, so that we would reach Malibu Rapids at slack tide.
Malibu Rapids often has a 9-knot current ripping through a boulder sided narrows, we wanted to be sure to be there at the right time. Once you get to the rapids, you enter the granite fjord of Princess Louisa inlet, it was chilly and the clouds were at mast height but we were all ready to go through the rapids.
We let all the outgoing boats go through and then went through the rapids. We think because of the lack of rain in previous months, it was only about 2-3 knots of current. It was an anticlimax. Was that it?
We then motored up the six kilometers to Chatterbox Falls; she didn’t disappoint. We were all impressed by the thundering falls and the misty landscapes.
This is granite fjord country crafted by glaciers. Over the next two days we saw elegant Blue Herons fishing, a seal catching a giant silver salmon and bashing it from side to side on the water to stun it and raptors soaring over head. The lushness around the falls creates moss and lichen on every surface.
We could reach out and touch the clouds. They were often lying between the masts.
We took dinghies back to Malibu rapids to visit the Youth camp and see the rapids from above. Still not nine knots but a bit more formidable.
We met a hiker and asked how he came to Chatterbox Falls, replete in backpack and tent, he said float plane. He would go for his hike and then take the ferry back. Hiking through the trees was muddy but lush. Needless to say, this was a highlight of BC. Remote and accessible.
James and I last visited Tahiti and Bora Bora in 1985. We have to say it was romantic and if you are looking for the most beautiful lagoon to set a Tiffany’s commercial, this would have to be it. The Aranui came into the lagoon off of Vaitape and anchored. We had a wet landing and disembarked to a motorised pirogue or canoe. Other passengers, went to swim with sharks and rays and others decided to take a truck tour around the island of Bora Bora.
The rain didn’t dampen us because we were under cover on the canoe but we missed some of the Tiffany blue water. The barge took us to visit the shallow lagoon, the sharks, rays and terns and then to a beach where you take a swim and a mudbath of coral shells. We also passed a turtle sanctuary and so many bures posted over the water.
Our guide was the very image of Disney’s demi-god, Moana, but was beautifully spoken in French and English.
Even though the sky was grey, the water is turquoise. No rays, though. These sharks seem used to humans but they will go for a shiny ring, so keep your fingers in the boat. (Davo, would you like to hop into the water? Me neither)
We went past the Le Meridien bures on the water but we didn’t see any turtles. Still we were glad to hear an International hotel is looking after the sea turtles. We went for the mud baths with the white coral mud, simply rejuvenating as you can see in the photo.
The sun started to peek out of the clouds and still on the canoe with Moana we went to a motu or small atoll, which belonged to his Ukele playing uncle. We could have a swim, they gave us fruit and coconut in abundance and the best part would have to be the singing and ukele.
These little motus are the Bora Bora half acre, just private and lovely. You need something from the shops, just take the pirogue.
Back to the Aranui because our picnic on Motu Tapu, was rained out. Later we go pearl shopping and playing in Vaitape but we didn’t have enough time to visit Bloody Mary, which only opens in the evening. But in the evening we consoled ourselves with mohitos and chichis and the Aranui took off for Papeete.
In this part of our voyage, we are following in the path set by Captain James Cook in his second journey (1772-1774) navigating around a treacherous and moody Cape Horn towards the Marquesas Islands. He was a navigator extraordinaire, no GPS nor even a chart to follow. Some of his sailors felt they would possibly sail off the ends of the earth. He improved nutrition as well as insuring his men had a ration of beer each day, which probably kept their hydration up.
When we have sailed in the Pacific, many of the soundings noted on the charts were made by Captain Cook. Some of his journals are kept at the State Library Of NSW and you can request a viewing of these historic documents.
We are on our way back to Nuka Hiva to collect a container, now divested of it contents from Papeete and full of copra or bananas. You have to admire the efficiency of the crew of Aranui in getting the containers on loaded so quickly. We have a bit of time and go into Taiohae to see some replica Tikis in the park.
These tikis remind me of other prehistoric stones and instances of ancestor worship we have seen in Europe. It reminds me of sacred places the world over, where ancient man would use stone and sites to worship their ancestors or perhaps use them as a nemonic system. Wouldn’t it be great to ask them?
We repeat the loading exercise in Ua Pou and then we depart at 4:15 pm for the return 40 hour journey to the Tuamotu and the island of Rangiroa.
We had two wonderful weeks camping on Mercier in Cowan Creek, we met up with so many friends, shared wine and food and played with a wonderful new two-man kayak. We ate Sue’s Duck Curry, Debbie’s lasagna and Michele’s peeled prawns. Geoff, James and Dave Hats excelled on their respective barbecues.
For all that food and wine, something was definitely missing. Where were Richard and Rene and the party boat, NAND V? Thanks to Frosty, we did know. We were getting frequent updates from Frosty complete with photos as they motored to Tasmania.
Let me assure my Northern hemisphere readers, Tasmania is not our summertime Med. It is more like the Med in the middle of winter; rough, fierce and changeable. But the M/Y NAND V crew picked their weather and beat south along the coast, into Bass Straight and finally into the Derwent River. The NAND and crew had arrived at Hobart.
After our two weeks (without the party boat), we sailed home Saturday and moored Mercier. The phone rang on Sunday afternoon, it was Richard and the conversation was brief, meet Jane at the airport on Monday morning and fly down for several days of cruising the D’Entrecasteaux Canal and visit some of the ports in that vicinity. Off we went.
We landed in Hobart, jumped in a cab and within minutes of being met by Rene at the entrance of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, we were on the NAND and motoring out of the marina. Ever wonderful hosts, there were scallop pies in the oven.
We were reminded very quickly, that we are now sailing in the Roaring 40’s and we plugged away crossing the mouth of the Derwent. Moths flew past us on their foils so quickly they looked airborne.
We motored on to Bruny Island and saw an amazing sight. A large seal was struggling with an octopus and right overhead was a sea eagle poised for any opportunity of taking a share. The seal was throwing the octopus into the air and then retrieving it like a puppy with a chew toy. To keep the octopus from grabbing him, the seal would shake his head from side to side, dragging it in the water and then throw his catch into the air. The water black with ink. The sea eagle floated over this carnage. finally realising there was nothing left for him. It was quite an amazing sight, Rene took the best photo. Here is mine.
Jane had a unique fishing style, catch and release. She caught over 25 Flathead but as they were small, she released them back to the wild. We weren’t sure what the fish below was but she sent him back too.
In the evening, we moored in Barnes Bay in an anchorage slightly misnamed The Duck Pond. It was calm, but there were swans not ducks. There were a few yachts moored there and we were all visited by a family of black swans. They were so graceful and lovely, the male swam to one side and the ‘teens’ and Mother approached the boat chirping melodically, very interested in the bread we threw over the side. They seemed so gentle but the male looked on very sternly, you wouldn’t want to upset him.
We went into Cygnet Bay, the next day after looking at fish farms in several places. We took the dingy into the wharf and tied up and walked into town. We had good coffee and then shopped for a few items from the organic grocer – there were superb cherries, raspberries, blueberries and patron peppers. The produce in Tasmania is remarkably good.
The weather went from chilly to beautiful, no one was tempted to swim but we did see children swimming.The best thing about the weather was that the five of us missed the Sydney heat wave. It was a joy to need a jacket at night .
Tasmania is in the Roaring Forties and sea breeze was showing a preponderance of brown on its charts, meaning we were going to get plenty of gusts at 35-45 knots at about 9 PM. We made our way back to Hobart and the mooring. The marina managers were going to each boat and checking the mooring lines and fenders. Now we had time for a quick trip to Hobart Town with our sailors’ errands taking them to the shipwright and the ladies walking around town. It was hard to believe that such a change was coming.
And here is a photo of the wonderful NAND V, we know people will enjoy visiting her at the Wooden Boat Festival. Thanks so much to Rene and Richard for their wonderful hospitality. And to Jane for her wonderful company and commentary of the Golden Globe outfits. What a great interlude with friends.
Saturday was a big day, we had to finalise securing, stowing, cleaning and readying Mercier for her departure from the Med and the beginning of her journey to Australia.
There wasn’t much printed material, either online or from the shipping company about how to prepare the ship. Sevenstars Shipping was responsive to our questions, so we hope we have Mercier organised properly.
Turn off or disconnect batteries
Empty water tanks and accumulator of water
Clean with fresh water and bleach both head and holding tanks
Limit diesel to under 200 litres
Secure and stow items left on board
Tape shut all lockers and hatches, wrap any breakables in bubble wrap and secure against movements in the boat
Cleaning was very important as we know Australian Customs officials want things clean, we even lifted the floor boards and cleaned the bilge.
We were due at Pontile Etritrea at 1300 hours to meet the crews of Sevenstars Shipping and the Damgracht, to load Mercier.
As we entered the commercial harbour of Genoa, we had to contact the harbour master, with a prearranged clearance and proceed towards Pontile Eritrea and the ship.
Once the crew was on board, the diver went underneath Mercier to assure the slings were in the correct position. I certainly breathed a sigh of relief to know that others were going up with us and Mercier was secure.
It is easy to see this is how high Mercier was going and we all climbed off at that railing and Mercier was lifted higher to be placed into her cradle.
At this point they place Mercier on the cradle and weld the cradle to the deck. James was off to the side, watching intently.He boarded, locked up, put away fenders and I said a soft farewell.
We are wishing Mercier a safe voyage to Australia, where there will be more Azure seas to greet her. There, with luck, the adventures will resume.
This one is for the sailors, who read this blog. I wanted to call it boat p orn but James said that might be unwise. We have been in two ports Viareggio,Tuscany and Genoa. This is boat building territory, La Spezia is in between these two ports and another boat builder’s paradise.
While we were there we saw this boat. We thought Frosty loves sailing in this part of the world. He can work two jobs and buy this boat, then we will visit him. I am not sure even a big lottery win would help.
Viareggio looks like a carnival town, lots of fun fair rides for the children and a beach covered with umbrella and deck chairs for the family. Italian is spoken here and sometimes a bit of German. There was a Bubble man, whose photo I can’t show you because he was surrounded by children. But here is one of his bubbles in the sunset sky of Viareggio.
We left early the next morning and there were dozens of fisherman on every surface of the three moles that make this a protected harbour.
More eye-candy on the way to Genoa.
Finally, we reached Genoa and sailed into a huge bay, past the Costa Concordia being dismantled, warehouses in various states of ruin but handsome nonetheless.
But have I finished with my boat spam yet? Decidedly not, here is the beauty just moored across the channel from Mercier at the Marina Mole Vecchio. The staff here are great, especially considering Mercier is the same size as this yacht’s bow.
More on Genoa the town later, but I had to thank my sailing friends for following Sailing Azure Seas and boat spam seemed the best way to do it.
Let’s face it, as countries go, Italy is bella; beautiful and glorious. Here were are racing by its magnificent coast to meet a ship in Genoa that will bring Mercier to Oz. We had a wonderful day in Ischia after saying goodbye to gorgeous cousins in Minori and Sorrento. Ischia is one of our favourite islands because people are just as likely to break into song as to say ciao.
The Thermal Spa is wonderful, with mineral springs running hot and cold. The waterfalls act as massage therapists.
The next morning we sailed past another favourite, Procida, because we just didn’t have enough time to stop. We are already planning another Italian sojourn, using ferries and pensiones. Procida, Ponza and Ventotene are three of the Pontine Islands, south of Rome. We anchored in nearby Ponza and had a wonderful swim.
From Ponza, it was a nine hour day sail to make it to Porto Turistico, because we had a lovely south westerly breeze to help us on our way. You know there has to be a reward for that much sailing. A day in Rome, with shopping at Castrioni, scrumptious lunch at Romeo, a stroll down the Pont S’Angelo and a gelato fix.
Two days ago, we were stopped by the Guarda Finanza or border patrol of Italy. We were just motoring past Cittavecchia, we were asked quite a few questions. “Where are you going?” “Ercole”, we answered, he looked confused. More questions about our intended trip, while the other officer was checking us through their computer. He asked again,”Where are you going?” “Ercole” we said smiling. A few more questions, then he says “erCOle”. Si, mystery solved.
There are not a lot of ports or anchorages north of Porto Ercole on the mainland coast, so we sailed out to Elba, This is a wonderful Tuscan island and we have been here three times.
Yesterday, we arrived to about 8 yachts at about 3PM. By the time we went to bed, there were literally 100 yachts in the anchorage. not counting the boats in the marina. It was like the Sydney Harbour Bridge at 8:00am, just about bumper to bumper. Many yachts had their fenders out at anchor, just in case.
In 2012, we wanted to visit Capri and made a booking at the local marina, which wasn’t confirmed, more of a ‘call us on the day’. Still an hour before we were due to arrive at Capri, the port emailed us and said ” Sorry, we are full.” We motored round the island and anchored in Marina Piccola. Staring at the island, but not able to land was frustrating. This time we were smarter and left Mercier in her lovely dock in Salerno.
Eleven of us made our way from Minori to Capri via a ferry. Easier, smarter, faster, so consider taking a ferry and not a yacht over to Capri. Ischia, Sorrento or Salerno are all fairly close and have safe marinas in which to leave a yacht.
Once there, we split and half the party sailed off to the Blue Grotto and the rest of us journeyed up to Anacapri. We wandered round tiny steep streets, tried on hats, visited Churches and watched a shoe maker make sandals to order. We met later for a lovely garden lunch.
One of my favorite books about Italy is The Story of San Michele by Axel Munthe. Munthe was a Swedish doctor, a crony of Oscar Wilde, Henry James and a self described misanthrope who loved animals more than people. His villa in Capri is secluded and takes you away from the commercial Capri and the spruiking. It deposits you in a exquisite garden with magical views and serenity. It is cool and catches the breezes, very important. Munthe said “My home shall be open the the sun and the wind and the voices of the sea – like a Greek temple and light, light, light everywhere.”
The excitement came with trying to ensure we got the bus back down, by the time three buses got to us they were full. On the fourth pass, finally a bus arrived only half full. Some clever people thought they would push in but we managed to block those who didn’t want to queue. We empathized with the sardines we had for lunch. Capri, we’ll be back and next time, we’ll take a ferry and stay awhile.