The long wait is over

We returned home in November 2019, happy and proud. We had finally crossed the Pacific and arrived into Whangarei in New Zealand. North Star was safely put on the hard and prepared for a short three months vacation and refit, as we were going back March 2, 2020. But so much for a cruisers planning – never has it been more accurate that sailing plans, are written in the sand.

We have enjoyed being home and spending lots of time with our daughters, family and friends and then suddenly it was time to leave again. London was great, the weather was ok but in late February the world had started to mutate, in so many ways. The signs were all over the place, but as many other people, we lived in denial. We believed that China was so far away.  But on February 25th we decided to rebook our fight on March 2 th. It was mostly because it was via Hong Kong and only in mid March, when New Zealand closed borders, the reality of our situation and the world pandemic, started to sink in!

Our circumnavigation had come to a rather abrupt stop, like sailing into a reef with seven knots as we were unable to return to North Star. We also realised during the next months, how fortunate we were.  North Star was on the hard and well taken care of and Marie and I were home together with our family. We were struck by luck, even though it did not quit feel like that!

Many many other cruisers have been stranded in places you really not want to strand, many have been separated from their boats, which were  left hanging on an anchor or sitting lonely in a marina. So many stories have been shared during the last 8 months and our thoughts go out to all our sailing friends, in far away places. Many are now forced to give up their dream, because of the  pandemic.

As you, we have speculated about the duration of the pandemic. We have read papers on the vaccine development, listen to the premier of New Zealand, Mr. Gates and Mr. Trump and many others and our conclusion is that it is not going to be over anytime soon?? Especially not in the more exotic areas of the world, where we were heading with North Star. So what to do?

Life is full of choices, but for us giving up on our dream was not even on the list, so we wanted to continue our adventures – if not in the South Pacific, then where? We always thought we would finish our journey with a few years sailing in the Mediterranean, especially in Greece where we both have special ties. There were two considerations, we had to decide on. Could we safely sail for the pandemic and what about boat. It is possible and safe in Greece at the time of writing this, and you can move around freely as long as you stay in the country. Going to Italy or Spain or even Malta, have its share of difficulties, which I will happily entertain you with in another blog. But Greece was a good option a few months ago and it still is a great option, looking at the rather red and orange corona map over Europe.

North Star of Copenhagen with the setting sun over Albania

Next decision was boat – and frankly that was much more difficult. We soon realised that in order to continue sailing we would have to sell North Star and find another boat. Just having the thought felt like betrayal, being unfaithful – our trusted family member, which have carried us 30.000 Nautical miles across oceans in a very safe and orderly manner. We know her inside out, we have polished her, repaired every piece of her, so it was a very emotional and difficult decision – but it had to be taken. She is in Auckland, New Zealand and we are in Europe, with no means of getting to her. So she is now for sale. We have now applied three times for entering New Zealand and every time received a polite no way. It seems that foreigner with a not so worthy purpose like sailing, are not welcome for the time being. And they are not expecting to open before in the beginning of 2022.

As you probably have guessed, this long rambling story builds towards a conclusion! The conclusion is that we have now acquired another “North Star of Copenhagen”, which we took possession of on October 12 in the Gouvia Marina on Corfu. We will continue our journey and we will hopefully never again be involuntarily separated from our boat.

The new North Star of Copenhagen is a nearly twin to North Star in Auckland. She is a Hallberg Rassy, Swedish of course, Marie would say. She is a 54, so one size up from our 48 and she is from 2012, and has seen very light use. ( More details in the next blog, for the interested. )

We have now been onboard for a couple of weeks and, it feels wonderful and we are glad to be out here again! We are busy checking, maintaining and doing some fixing and hopefully next week, we will stray further out and about Corfu and the Ionian Sea. Before we return home for Christmas, we will leave her in Gouvia Marina again, until we return in the early spring.

That was the plan, and the pandemic has just changed that a few days ago. Europe is again closing down and we believe that the safe plan is to return North, this time around it could turn into a really long winter. So we deploy our bad weather strategy – RUN and HIDE.

First trip in Greece to Agios Stephanos

Going to New Zealand via Suwarrow, Niue, Tonga and Minerva Reef

We left Maupiti in the morning around 0800 on September 27th, to go out through the pass in low swells and it was well timed. 700 nm was awaiting us, going to this magical place in the middle of not so much, with only two inhabitants for six months of the year – 2 rangers. Harry and John are local rangers in the Suwarrow national park, which looks after the park, are immigration and customs officers and are just very nice to meet. We brought them tea, wine, some meat and a few other items, as they only have the provisions they bring. On top, we knew that their freezer had broken down. Check in procedures was casual and easy. No-one cared about the early arrival warning, you are suppose to email to the authorities.

John and Harry, rangers at Suwarrow

As we got to know them, they went out fishing and made a very nice potluck, with several different fish. Black Jacks, Tuna and a few others. Simon was fishing with them and caught 6 larger fish, in less than 2 hours.

9530 nm from London, as the birds fly! We have sailed quite a bit more than that.

Suwarrow is known as Tom O’Neals island. He lived there as a Robinson Crusoe, but by his own will for mostly half his life – and wrote a book about it. When we arrived, we did understand why – it is one of these very special places. It is safeguarded from tourists, because it is impossible to get there, except if you sail under your own keel. The sea life is in abundant and the solitude you find is amazing. But living there for many years – that is probably to push it a bit too much for us. 

The White House to the left, is where Tom O’Neal lived and now John and Harry

As we went through the Suwarrow Pass on September 23 in flat seas, we were met by two Humpback whales, and the tone for our visit were set. We snorkelled and saw beautiful corals and many fish, but we missed the huge Manta Rays, which also lives here. There were also plenty of sharks, to disturb our attempts to clean the bottom, before we sailed further. I was ready to jump in, but Marie was cleaning a plastic bag with a little fish blood and it was running out of the kitchen drain. The result were that 7-9 sharks were camping around North Star, waiting for more! We only cleaned the hull the day after…

Hull cleaning – I am sure the sharks would love a bit…

There were really nice people in the small anchorage, far from the world. Greyhound, Nomad, Serenity, Anna Isabel and us. All people we had met before, during our crossing and will meet again en-route to New Zealand. We all felt pretty excited about our travels, but I have to say, some have more courage than we others. A young couple on Anna Isabel from Portugal, are heading for the Solomon islands, north of the hurricane area, and then further North. Talking about going deserted places – Micronesia and the Solomons are not on the Milk Run. Brave they are!

Potluck on the beach

Some would say, that the crowds sailing the Milk Run around the world are increasing, and they are. But if you are in this for the solitude, there are still more deserted places to experience!

The east side of Suwarrow 2019

On the morning of the 27th, we left at 0900 with Greyhound for Niue and the 500 nm passage, with a very pleasant forecast of 15-20 knots on the beam. It means 3-4 days at sea, before we reach Niue and we hope they will have a couple of free moorings for two tired sailing crew. From there, it is small hop to Tonga of 230 nm and then another 200 nm down to the southern end of Tonga. There we will wait for a weather window to NZ and prepare the boat, for this last sometimes challenging crossing of 1050 nm.

We arrived after exactly 72 hours and 512 nm on October 4th. We were racing on a beam reach for the first time in many, many months. It was great to feel the sails again, after so much downwind sailing.

Niue is a fantastic island. The smallest island state in the world, with only 1600 residents on the island and plenty of them have been buried along the roads or in their relatives back yard, as is their custom. 42000 of them are living abroad.

Alofi Bay

As we arrive into Alofi bay, we did contact Niue radio and announced our arrival, as we did to Brian. He is  at the local yacht service, and acts as taxi, social gathering place, help with many questions and of course the mooring service, which cost 25 NZ a night.

Niue is a very big rock of limestone and coral. We moored in Alofi Bay, which really is the only place you find protection from the easterly swells. And the wind is easterly most of the time, until it changes and then you have to move quickly! Here in the bay, the island community have mounted 12 moorings for the approximately 180 yearly visiting boats. Maybe a few of the sailors, which are going west across the pacific does not stop here, but it says something about how lonely you are in these waters.

You lift your dinghy up 2-4 meters in the hoist to the right. The anchorage in the background.

We found a very nice mooring, close to the wharf and the dinghy hoist and announced that we had arrived. As Monday were a flight arrival day, we had to await customs and immigration, but after a couple of hours of rest, we were called on the radio, that they would await us on the wharf. So no visits to the boat! It went easy and we received our 30 days visa on the spot.

We rented a car for two days, and that was about right. There is a lot to see. The first day the only available vehicle was a small bus. So we rented that and filled it with yachties and we had wonderful days touring the island. We were shopping in the duty free liquor store, participating in a potluck in the yacht service office, where we met some of the other boats in the bay.

We visited a number of the “sea tracks” and these are shorter or longer beautiful hikes, which often takes you down to natural pools along the coast or to beautiful limestone caves, through a tropical forest. For two days we hiked and swam, we saw beautiful corals and lots of fish and just enjoyed Niue.

Niue cave
Niue caves

On the third day we had booked Niue Dive and they took us out on two cave dives, where we visited the underwater caves and enjoyed the coral gardens. In these waters, you have a 70 meter visibility, so the clarity and light underwater is unmatched to anything I have ever seen. Take a look at the pictures, we hope you will enjoy.

Niue in 28 meters depth – cave diving
Niue in 28 meters depth – cave diving
Entrance to a cave

Our last day Friday, was spend relaxing in town, enjoying the free sausages from the local bank, which celebrated a customer day and just wondering around chatting with the local people, trying to understand life on Niue. It is a mix of Polynesians and New Zealanders. The island is highly associated with NZ, as the economy is 100% dependent on the subsidies from down south. Unfortunately, also on this island, the Chinese have found their way and all the local roads are now being maintained by the Chinese, in return for fishing rights and more!! As said before, it is disturbing to see firsthand, how we leave the world to the Chinese. I am sure they are building for the future and maybe their motives are not only to help.

At Ha’apai Island, Tonga

We left Niue rather late in the day on October 6th, to arrive at first light in Vava’u in Tonga. We had  to sail around and between the islands from our first landfall into the harbour of Neiafu, about 20 nm, in a beautiful Halong Bay like scenery. Low islands with lots of green and many caves created by the almighty Pacific.

Entrance into Vava’u at Tonga from the East

Vava’u is protected behind a barrier reef from the east and is a wonderful flat water sail – it reminded us of our many summers in the Swedish archipelago. It was fantastic to feel that North Star was going to wind, heeling over and taking speed.

The hurricane safe bay at Neiafu

As we arrived into the bay of Neiafu, and checked in with custom and immigration, we saw the more than 30 boats on moorings or anchor in the bay. We realised that this was the kind of peaceful anchorage, near some civilisation, we have been longing for. We felt that we had crossed the Pacific. We arrived safely, with just the small southerly stretch of 1300 nm to NZ remaining, and we would worry about that on a later day.

We did not do much, except eating out drinking beer and celebrating. One thing to mention, is that we celebrated a 73 year birthday – also a cruiser who have sailed from Europe and crossed oceans – and we felt tired! I am full of admiration and I am sure this life style keeps people younger!But we did swim with Humpback whales, for a few hours. They are 15-20 meter long and here in Tonga the mothers swim with their babies. (4-6 meters long.) We could include many pictures of this extreme experience, but we had to choose 2.

Whale watching in Tonga
A small baby Humpback whale. Picture is from Tonga

Tonga is one of the oldest Kingdoms and they are a very poor kingdom. The king was autocratic until a few years ago, and the royal family still owns all land. In later year tourisme have started to increase slowly, but it is difficult to attract the bigger hotel chains, because of the land ownership. We enjoyed this, but cruisers are not increasing the living standard of the happy and smiling, but poor people.

Traditional dress in Tonga

After a short week on a mooring, we checked out for the Haapai islands and spend a few days snorkeling and hiking in the wonderful island group of Vava’u. Too short, but as we expect to return in May 2020, after the hurricane season, we did not give it the time it deserves. 

The Chinese presents is obvious. The embassy.

The immigration process is quite relaxed in these island, but you have to check into each island group you arrive into. And so we checked into Panghai and the capital city of Nukualofa. Neither of them would be a great miss, if you skip them, but the islands in the Hapai’s are wonderful and a thorough catch up, if you felt you had spent too little time in the Tuamotus.

King of Tongas palace.
We brought toys from Flying Tiger (THANKS to Vagn and Mette) and here are a couple of happy children.
The old Danish Ombudsmand institution, have spread even to Hapai, Tonga

Early November we arrived into Tongatapu and anchored together with 10 other boats outside Big Mama’s restaurant and yacht service. All 10 yachts, were just waiting for the right weather window. We were all trying to get out of the hurricane area, which starts in late November and for all of us it meant 1200 nm due south towards Opua in New Zealand and the Southern Ocean. It is the passage, which has the worst reputation of all.  Probably only matched by the sail from Madagascar, down around Cape of Good Hope. Both are close to the southern ocean and known for fast moving lows and closed isobars, which you really want to avoid. So we were duly warned and was somewhat observant on the weather!

We decided to go, as the first window opened to sail to Minerva reef. This is only 250 nm south and there we would evaluate, if we should wait until the next window or go. 

The ideal we all are waiting for, is a big high pressure around 1020 to 1025, moving slowly across from West to East and then leave anchorage in brisk winds of 20-30 SE on the nose for the first days and sail more to the west than needed. Then as the high move further east, the winds would settle and allow you to go south and finally disappear the last couple of days, as you approach the last dangerous stretch down from 30 S – 173 W, to the North Cape of New Zealand. Then you would motor into Opua or Whangarei. That at least is the theory!

North Minerva Reef anchorage – Copyright Michelle Marshall

As we came into North Minerva Reef and saw the 20 plus boats all waiting, we could feel the impatient and the tendency to group thinking…We decided to wait one or two nights evaluating in this very special place.

It is difficult to take photographs, which justify the beauty, as this is a ring reef in the middle of the South Pacific – underwater at high tide. ( The pictures from Minerva Reef are taken by Michelle Marshall, she was kind to share them with me ). But you are literally lying on anchor in 15-20 meters depth and looking at the 2-4 meters of swell and waves, thundering onto the reef at low tide. At high tide, some of that break over the reef and makes for a rolling anchorage. During the days you swim with the sharks and dive on the reef for lobster and other fish.

North Minerva Reef diving for lobsters – Copyright Michelle Marshall

The water temperatur was down to 19 degrees from 28 degrees, up in the French Polynesian islands – so as we are moving south the swimming will be much less, until we migrate back next year. It actually proved, that this were the last time we swam, in the beautiful Pacific.

North Minerva Reef at low tide – Copyright Michelle Marshall
North Minerva Reef underwater – Copyright Michelle Marshall

We woke the first morning and listen to a short wave station out of New Zealand, GOLF RADIO, who provides amateur weather forecast. This was then followed by a morning discussion at 1000 at VHF, between the boats on anchor in Minerva Reef North. To provide you with some inside in the difficulty of deciding when to leave, and the anxiety in the anchorage. Here are what was in the back of everybody’s mind.

First, we all new, that four weeks earlier a 50 foot Beneteau had sunk and one person drowned 38 nm North of Opua. They were sailing the same route, as we were about to do.

Second, all the professional forecasters including our own, recommended to LEAVE this morning –  it is a good weather window and you will only be met with a weak through coming through,  but nothing that will be difficult. GOLF RADIO said, do not leave, the incoming through will be much stronger than forecasted and there is sign of closed isobars up North towards Fiji ( 500 nm away).

North Star will never leave a safe anchorage, if we do not understand what kind of weather we will face out there. So the suspicion of the closed isobars moving down into our projected course, was enough for us to decide to stay put. 8 boats left and they had a wonderful sail the first 3 days and then they were hit by really bad weather for 3 days. It was never really dangerous, as most boats out here are well prepared, but very uncomfortable. Gold Radio were very right, the through turned out to be much stronger than expected, but hard to detect in the gribfiles, as these are notoriously known for being inaccurate out here.

So we waited and waited to the point that we started to discuss just to leave, and see what would happen out there. But we did not and finally after a week in Minerva reef, 14 boats left mid morning to a 20-28 knots ahead of the beam sail, for the first 2 days. We did not eat much, but we moved south west, sort of in the right direction with 170 miles a day – as good as it gets down here. Then as the High Pressure 1025 moved further to the East, the wind went into East and moved us onto a comfortable sail due South for a day or so. The last 48 hours, we motored and arrived into Whangarei after 5 days and 20 hours, about 18 hours later than the first boats. We were lucky, we found our stable high and it behaved as forecasted. So finally we arrived into New Zealand, after 3 years and 6 months, after a life changing journey.

First sight of the entrance to Whangarei, New Zealand.
Marie, Simon and I at arrival to New Zealand
From Copenhagen to New Zealand

Now we are in Half Moon Bay Marina on the hard. North Star is really ready for loving and caring maintenance and Marie and I are looking forward to see our familie and friends.

The Society Islands

Venus Point where Cap. Cook observed Venus

We ventured through the mighty Panama Canal on April 1st and on July 20th, we arrived into Venus Point on Tahiti. Nearly four months have passed, crossed the Pacific ocean halfway and sailed among some of the most deserted islands in the world. Not much in terms of spare parts or what we know as civilisation, can be found. So yes, we were sad to leave it all behind, the adventure of being so far away from the world we know! But we were looking forward to our visit to Papeete, Tahiti.

Finally we were on our way towards Tahiti, in the wake of Captain Cook and we arrived after 550 nm into Point Venus, where he also anchored only a “few years” earlier. It was a nice 4 days sail from Toua, and we went in behind the unmarked reef, to anchor in 10 meters of calm waters. It is a beautiful bay and arriving was another dream fulfilled,  as I am sure many of us dream about Tahiti and have read stories about how Captain Cook, arrived here in 1787. We also remembered the stories about Captain Bligh and Bounty – the well known mutiny took place not long from here.

We relaxed in the bay until morning, but after the many months that has passed since we left La Placida Marina at the end of the Panama Canal, the draw of civilisation and all its spoils were strong – so we headed for the City Marina in Papeete only an hour away. You cannot book, so when you arrive you call on vhf 16, and usual nobody answers and then you go in and find a spot! We were lucky and found our peaceful place, as it was busy days in the small marina.

When blue water sailors migrate, as the birds in the autumn, they follow different routes. Except they all visit Papeete and Tonga, so it can be a bit busy, as in Pacific busy! We also have not seen much of civilisation for four months, so provision, repairs and spare part shopping was a high priority.

The Church in Tahiti where the custom is to wear a beautiful hat

We were propelled into the city of Papeete and enjoyed for a little while. Wow, it is amazing how wonderful it is to eat lunch on a restaurant or buy an ice cream, when you have been without the option, for a long time.

Fruit provision in Papeete

The first days we did some sightseeing, as our daughter Alexandra only had three days to spend, before she was returning to her busy life. But after her departure, we could start the repair and maintenance cycle and the food shopping for the next leg sailing, around in the Society Islands and further. The maintenance was great, you can get most spares and the mechanics are good, so NS were in better shape when we left, than when we arrived.

We visited during the Hueva – the traditional one month festival

We thought the sightseeing was less interesting for us, as we we had seen many Polynesian islands before arriving to Tahiti, but it is a place made up of legends about eternal youth, hospitality and leisure. About 67% of the French Polynesian  inhabitants lives here and it is a well developed and touristic island. Most people stay in some of the famous resorts and do not leave.

French Polynesia gained Autonimy status in 1984

The Autonomy status was only granted in 1984, and since the old language and the old customs, have slowly been legally accepted. They are only allowed one hour a week of language education in their local language and only 15 years ago the tattooing was made legal again. The French catholic church was the iron fist.

Morea is only 20 miles away from Tahiti and it is very different island. We anchored in the Opunha bay on the north west side for many days, as it was really difficult to leave this pleasant and beautiful bay. We snorkelled with Stingrays, so close one bit me in my shoulder, we hiked up to the Belvedere and we enjoyed a wonderful day on horse back, in the mountains. We also visited a little local Patisserie, where real french pastry was enjoyed.

View from Belvedere over our anchorage

We probably overstayed a bit, anchored in 4 meter of crystal clear water, swimming in the morning and used our newly acquired SUP from Mamosa, a norwegian boat which had to cut the journey short and return home. But finally – Huahine was right there, 25 nm away and maybe it was nearly as nice?

Huahine proved to be even nicer. Especially Michaela was sad to leave Morea behind, but arriving into Fare, the small authentic town on Huahine, proved to be very enjoyable. We had luck when we arrived, to find the best buoy free and waiting for us. It turned out we were really lucky, as the depth was + 25 meters and with some corals on the bottom. We saw several boats which had to dive to release there anchor chain, stuck on the bottom in the corals.

Fishing traps at Huahine

Here we hiked the surroundings, saw the old fish traps in the lagoon and the nicest Marea I have seen. A Marea is the Polynesian outdoor temple, where they in the old days worshipped their Gods.

Marea at Huahine, see also the standing stones in the background. They are part of the temple.

After Fara we sailed down the west side of the island and just enjoyed snorkelling and diving in the turquoise water, in the quiet bays inside the lagoon.

We arrived into beautiful Tahaa in mid August and enjoyed the absolute relaxed and amazingly friendly island. Deep fjords and turquoise blue lagoons, framed by thunderous reefs. 

Satellite image to show the passes and reef, which are the surrounding light blue markings.
The smaller pearl is replaced in the oyster, to make room for a new larger plastic insert. It will then reproduce a larger pearl, in 18 months.

The first night we spend in Hameene Bay, after trying to anchor at the north easterly pass for a snorkel trip, but the wind was blowing white caps on the sea, so we retreated into the lee of the fjord and spend the night in absolute peace. The next day we decided it was pearl farm time and went to coordinate 16 40.967S and 151 29.171W and found a buoy out of at least 10. Here is Ficus, a nice restaurant which arrange traditional Polynesian dinners Wednesday and Friday, a closed yacht club and a pearl farm. We visit the pearl farm to experience the very manual process of manufacturing of Tahitian pearls. It needs to rest on the bottom of the sea for 18 months with a nylon pearl inside and every time it needs to grow even bigger, it is retrieved and the nylon pearl, now covered with 1.8 mm mother of pearl, has to be replaced. Yes interesting and of course the girls had to shop some more…

Traditional dances at Restaurant Ficus

From here we continued to Baie Hurepiti and moored all the way towards the end of the bay at 16 38.580S and 151 30.977W. We had booked a full day tour with Vanilla Tours, which started with a visited to their vanilla farm, then the rum distillery,  and finally we went around the island and up into the mountain. Noah, our guide and son of the founder of the company, was very knowledgable and friendly to be around. We had a great day and enjoyed two nights on their buoy. Noas family story is typical for French Polynesia. His parents sailed out here from French, and stayed! It is really a place you want to stay!

Coconuts are being prepared for drying. Then they are exported , to be used as coconut oil.

Finally we had to see the coral garden at 16 36.302S and 151 33.799W. Wow, the most fantastic snorkel trip we have enjoyed since we started our expedition in 2016. Twice we drifted through this shallow watery garden and enjoyed the corals many colours and a myriad of different fish. A true experience of swimming in an aquarium.

The aquarium
The aquarium
The Aquarium

Then a night in Baie Tapuamu on a buoy in complete glass like water and watching the sunset over the mountain of Bora Bora and drinking Caprihinja. (5cl rum, 1/2 lime, 2 tsk brown sugar and stir) This was followed by a barbecue of beef filet before finally hiding the sack around 0930 – yes we do go to sleep early.

So what is not to like?

But we had to leave for Bora Bora, as our youngest which have now been sailing with us for two months, will fly to Copenhagen from here – so on we leave on August 23th in beautiful flat pacific water, motoring the 20 nm across to Bora Bora – the pearl of the Pacific. 

Bora Bora

We were excited about Bora Bora, as we have heard so much good and bad, and by now we have figure out that the truth is in the eye of the beholder. So our approach is to listen, but try to make our own judgement. We all agreed Bora Bora is what dream are made off in so many ways, but not a cultural sensation!

North Star in front of Bora Bora Yacht Club

I will never forget our first evening anchored in front of the among sailors,  famous Bora Bora Yacht Club. We were having dinner on the terrace, overlooking the sunset and North Star, who has carried us so far. I think that was the moment when I realised – we are here, we have actually done it!

Tail of a Humpback whale outside Bora Bora. We did dive with them, but the camera decided to go black that day.

We did some snorkelling with Humpback whales and thought it was spectacular and we had a sightseeing field trip in our dinghy. We spend a morning on the reef with stingrays and black tip snarks and we enjoyed wonderful meals on the terrace of Bora Yacht club under the moon and stars. It was wonderful. Dora (89 73 49 57), our friendly favourite taxi driver, also drew us around the island for a couple of hours, and talked about fruits, history and sites.

Bora Bora from the air

And finally I got my Polynesian Tattoo from Mr. Marama 57 62 87 74, who have won the Polynesian Tattoo competition several times. He is the most esteemed and famous tattooist in Polynesia, according to the Locals and Lonely Planet. Actual leaving home for a different life and sailing halfway around the world – I had to have a lasting reminder of that dreams can come through if you keep dreaming them!

If you are looking for a mooring, call Francis at VHF 12, as he is the guy. A private company have taken over all the buoys and they are now all up to standard, except the ones outside the yacht club – they are under renovation here in August 2019. It cost 10.000 Fcp for a week and 5000 for three days – and then you can use any of the buoys around the island. As the lagune is rather deep, 20-35 meters and with the occasional corals, it is a little easier just to pick up a buoy.

The town is as on most islands we have visited, ok equipped – two super markets, ATM, restaurants etc. Internet at Cafe Aloe is great and they also have a slow connection at the tourist office.

We spend a couple of week drifting around Raiatea and Bora Bora and just enjoyed being here in paradise. After many weeks we were reunited with our German friends on Greyhound and we were slowly getting ready to leave and go further west.

Thinking back, it was fantastic to swim in 28 degrees water, see more sea life than most people see in a lifetime, relax with a book or eat dinner, enjoying the sunset. But being there for so long, it became our life. Today back in cold and rainy Europe, it is not hard to look at the pictures and long for the adventure. It is right out there!

Finally it was time to leave the Society Islands behind, but before we crossed into Cooks Islands we had to night sail to Maupiti, a small island, which is said to be prettier than Bora Bora, but without the tourists. There is a quite difficult pass to go through, with a nasty reputation.

View from the top of Maupiti
The entrance pass at Maupiti, it looks a bit scary when you are going in!

The pass was easy when we went through, around 1230 and with GreyHound in front, even easier. We anchored in front of the town and found the mooring. We walked the town, climbed to the top, to a fantastic view, snorkelled some, had lunch and went out to the reef for snorkelling with the Manta Rays. This was an absolutely highlight. Here we met Serenity, which did leave later the same days as us on their way to New Zealand. By now we only meet boats en-route to NZ, either via Palmerston or Suwarrow. We have calculated from a couple of sources that about 300 boats use these routes every year and about 120 of them are going to NZ for the Hurricane season, the rest continues to other hiding places for the strong winds to come.

Maupiti is very original, with only a few pensions and a small ferry to BB. Small shops with little to buy, and a very friendly population. We were always greeted and Marie made friends with the local policeman’s wife. She was something and showed us around the island in here car, brought us vegetables and helped us in many ways. She was teaching in the local Sunday school, so we brought here drawing articles and stationary for the school, kindly donated by Flying Tiger.

Diving with Manta Rays
A lot of the adventure is below the surface. (The divers are Marie and me)

It was a splendid 6 days visit and a very prober ending to our travels through the Society Island. Now we understand why all sailors say, they would like to go back and they would wish they had spend more time among these beautiful untouched islands, with a very friendly people.

I enjoyed the view that day!

The Tuamotus and onwards to Tahiti

Diving with sharks in the south Fakarava pass

We were not prepared for the Marquesas! We spent a month in absolute stunning beauty and could have stayed for another month, but all good things come to and end. So on a mid morning we decided to leave in very light winds, which only became lighter – so our sails were banging all the way or the engine was running, but we got to Fakarava and went through the pass right on slack time. The El Nino have been haunting us somewhat, being weak but not neutral, and for the moment going back to neutral. We hope the trade winds will return!

Flat and very colorful

The Tuamotus atolls are the oldest group of volcanic remains in French Polynesia. They are not high and green as the Marquesas or the Societies, but flat Motus (sand or coral island) with palm trees. They look very most like what most of us imagine paradise should look like. The people are friendly, and they are spread over 72 atolls far between, and you can always find the next most beautiful anchorage you have ever seen. Some people spend years here and we had decided a month was good

Hard to see these flat atolls on a distance, thanks for the radar

The atoll’s are difficult to see on a distance, they are surrounded by a ring reef with openings through (passes) and you can only go through these in fair weather and at the right tidal conditions. The charting out here is off with several miles, which means that you navigate with your eyes, with radar and with google satellite pictures. That means that in the beginning it is a little scary, because there are reefs all over and lots of coral heads which comes up right off the bottom. There are no repair facilities or spareparts to get, as this is as far away and as deserted as it comes in the Pacific Ocean. In short – a fantastic experience which plays right into the adventures hearts of Marie and I.

We got through our first time pass and headed directly for Fakarava N, which is where a small village is located, we looked for a nice sandy strip of bottom to anchor between the coral heads and found it on 22 meters depth. Out here you need to be carefully that your anchor chain does not wrap it self around the coral heads, as 22 meter is a bit to deep for free diving!

Anyway, we were so exited to finally be at Fakarava, a place I have been reading about in Troels Kløvedal books and from other adventures people, which visited way before us. Only sailors and very few tourists visit here and either way it is a rather large effort to get here. We had to sail 14000 nm to arrive here, which now does not seem very long, but when I reflect on everything we have seen on our way, yes it is far away from Denmark, where we initiated our journey.


Wifi at Fakarava yacht service

We were very kindly received by Fakarava Yacht service, a local french couple which have dedicated their life to help sailors on Fakarava with everything. Call them on channel 12 or 16 and they will be able to help you with wifi, washing, advice or even how to ship stuff – first to Tahiti and then to Fakarava.

We also found a couple of smal restaurants and a number of food trucks and three well assorted supermarkets. Just as a remark, much has happened during the last years, as we have been able to do most of our food shopping in all islands we have visited. Not only Coca Cola and Heineken but also milk, eggs, flour, meats etc.

Local supermarket on Fakarava

We enjoyed our time here and met a great boat crew from Halcyon a 41 years old Valiant 40, which later turned out to be a very important meeting for us.

We were not in Fakarava to see the town, so we only spend 2 days enjoying the best hamburgers we have eating in a while and we found great internet and got help with a couple of repairs and then we were ready to leave. Our hand was also forced by weather coming in from SE as it usual does in this areas, when a big high ( More then 1030 ) travels across along 40 degrees longitude. Fakarava N does not have any protection from SE, so we were going south down to the reef and some wave protection.

We were also heading down there because the south pass on Fakarava is world famous for the experience of diving with hundreds of sharks, which lives in the pass and feed and the amazing number of fish, in the reef.

We had to use the engine to get down there, as we were crusing in a marked channel, with the occasional coral head getting in the way. So slowly we made progress and Laura and Emil were keeping us out of harms way, by being on a lookout up in the bow of North Star.

Just when we arrived the engine became really loud and scrambled so we immediately stopped. We managed to anchor and then Emil and I went to work, to figure out what was wrong. We had many theories, but we never really nailed it down, until next morning when the crew from Halcyon came on board to help.

Us with the Halcyon crew. Simon to the right later met us in Bora Bora

This is a great example of how friendships are formed and relationships which at home would take years to create are formed in a day or two among blue water cruisers.
John, a long time cruiser and self-taught engine guy, who also is a professional photograf in a different life came together with Simon. Simon is danish, and Machine engineer and on a sabbatical – and they offered there help.

They found out that the 24 volt alternator, which is bolted on the main engine was broken of and was really only sitting in the last broken piece of four bolts- so everything was banging, when the engine was running. This is something I could not have managed, but they went to work and jury rigged a repair, with new bolts and horse clams, so at least we had good chance to be able to make it to Tahiti. During the day when the repair was taking place, several other boats were involved. We called on the radio for specific sizes of bolts or other spareparts and every time, cruisers we had never met before offered there help, with no expectations other than we would do the same if we were asked for help. A very difficult situation, where we were stranded behind the reefs, with no engine to get out, was changed to now we could at least take us out.

When the repairs were over, I sent a sat email to KKE motorer in Copenhagen, who is owned by Dennis, my very dedicated mechanic at home. And in just four days, he managed to get the sparepart for the engine from Volvo, get it to our daughter who flew out to meets us for here vacation. She had to divert, so she met us in Fakarava, but 10 days after the accident she arrived with the RIGHT sparepart.

John and Simon diverted from their plans and sailed back to meet us and spend another day to take apart the engine and install the sparepart, so now we are as good as new.

THANKS to all of you, for going out of your way, to help and showing this true cruisers spirit. Maria and I will never forget.

But someone found time to shop for the famous Tahiti pearls on Fakarava.

Demonstration of which pearls are good and not so good

We ended up spending a little short of three weeks in Fakarava South and enjoyed the reef on six dives, seeing more sharks than ever before. This is truly the most spectacular dive ever in my life. You dive down on the ocean side, right at the edge of the fall of to 4 km and here you observe the ocean going sharks, including a single Tiger shark – the locals call this the shark wall.

Not a tiger but a large black tip….

Then you drift dive through the pass with a 2-4 knots current and observe and enjoy. At first the amount of sharks is a bit scary and later they become part of the scenery. Look at the pictures and enjoy.

There is nothing down here, but together with the diving there are great snorkling, kite surfing with Adrain who lives abroad his boat and runs his kite school. And Lisa who lives here occasional and arrange a typical Polonesia style dinner on the beach. Yes, we had a great time and can thoroughly recommend this. Just look at the pictures.

Our timing was now way off as our month in Tuamotus were coming towards an end, so we had to choose and the choice was easy. We went up to Toua, in the fake lagoon pass on the North side. Here we spend time snorkling, having dinner at shore with Valentine and Gaston, the friendly inhabitants of this small motu. We swam in crystal clear water just enjoyed nature.

Dinner at Toua

This became our last stop in Tuamotus, before we heading towards Tahiti, and for Marie this became one of the top ten highlight since we casted off.

Not always beautiful weather on Fakarava

It is just very beautiful

Since we left, we have debated to stay here in FP for another year, go back to the Tuamotus, visit the Gambier and see it all. But we have decided that so many exciting adventures awaiting in Vanuatu, New Zealand, Caledonia and many others. The decision is to set sails for New Zealand and hide there for the hurricane season, via Suwarrow and Tonga.

Walk on the beach in Tou


The Pacific crossing and arriving into Marquesas

The last travel journal, “Arriving and Leaving Galapagos” described our journey into the great Pacific Ocean and the sail from Panama to Galapagos. And as said, it has changed our worldview and it has matured us as sailors. We always thought that the big divider on our journey was, if we crossed the Panama Canal or not. That was true, as everything changed on the other side. Until then you could really sail from one harbour to the next. On the Pacific side, you sail from one anchorage to the next, and distances become really far and lonely – and you have to be self-reliant in a very different way.

The Panama Canal before entering the Pacific

Looking out over the Pacific just before sunset

Landfall Fatu Hiva and it was raining

But leaving the Galapagos Islands, looking out over the foredeck of North Star seeing 3000 nm of water with absolutely nothing to hold on to before arriving to the majestic Marquesas. That is probably the biggest challenge Marie and I will ever face, in our sailing career. I have in the small journals during our crossing reported how we felt, so I will not repeat it here.

Fatu Hiva, first landfall after 3000 nm

After sailing for 18 days, we slowly saw the powerful heights of Fatu Hiva rise out of the ocean, towering up to 890 meters. It was green, lush and high on the South West coast and dry on the North coast. But more than anything, it was hard and you could hold on to it. It was dry land. You are immensely proud that the team and the boat managed to cross. There will always be challenges to overcome, problems with systems, weather, sails or crew, and unforeseeable events, though we all try to be prepared.

It is a truly unique experience to end a long sea journey because you are concluding something you really want to continue and you also want to get ashore to rest and enjoy your first cold beer!

We sailed around the northerly point of Fatu Hiva, in search of the Bay of Virgins, which is mentioned in many guidebooks as one of the most beautiful bays in the world. And yes, it is very beautiful and special. When we turned into the bay, it started to rain, it started to pour down so hard, that we stopped and let the boat float for about half an hour – visibility was zero. We had seen three boats on anchor in the bay, and suddenly they were gone. Actually the drop in visibility went so fast, that one boat on the way in hit a boat on anchor. But we are in the tropics, 9 degrees South of the equator, so rain comes and goes very fast. On our way in, it cleared and the sun came out and hit the Virgins – the pillars in the bay. The story goes that it was really named the Bay of Falloses, which is more appropriate. But the French missionaries, which came here, forbid the name and renamed it.

The famous and beautiful Bay of Virgins (fallos’)

French Polynesia is French, and was colonised by the French. It is very obvious, when you are here and it is nice to be able to find a small part of Europe, so far away. But the cost of the colonisation to the local Polynesian people has been tremendous, ever since Captain Cook first arrived to Tahiti. Fortunately, after many years where the French rulers forbid every traditional customs, including tattooing, language and dancing, the area has regained somewhat autonomy and the old customs are coming back, as the people here are very proud of their heritage and history, as they should be. Still today, all education is in French and only 1-2 hours a week are dedicated to the local language.

We have been lucky to experience some of the almost deserted islands. The Polynesians  have fantastic customs and we know they were some of the greatest sailors, the world has known. Among other skills, they could navigate after the ocean’s temperature.

By now we have travelled long and through many areas, which were “discovered” by one or the other European country. We have experienced first hand, how much damage “we” have done to the local people in our misguided attempt to try to convert them to our beliefs. We have stolen any kind of wealth and brought it back to Europe under the headline that they were colonies and therefore it was our right. In some of these islands, the history taught in the schools and told to the tourists only starts, when some European explorer arrived and changed the local name to the one he decided. We make it seem as if there were nothing before we arrived.

Anyway, we arrived to Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas, our first South Pacific Island and enjoyed every minute. We had the first beer in 19 days and then we rested a bit. Soon after our Norwegian friends from Mamosa came over and invited us to a Polynesian feast in the village. They also brought scones and the local grapefruit Pommelmuse (Pomelo), a giant grapefruit. Nice to have friends preparing for your arrival.

Cruisers around the world are seldom lonely. We were expecting a more quiet social life when we left home, but no. It all starts with exchange of information of any kind. We are dependent on each other in many ways. Cruisers often choose to start being friendly with people with a similar boat, people from the similar countries of origin or other common variables. Weather, boats, provisioning and anchorages are on the priority list as conversation topics. Then after a while, it either turns into a friendship or that is it. But I have no doubt that the term “sun downers” originated among cruisers. It is a very popular pasttime activity and often continues past sun down.

The local supermarket – they sell goose lever

We shopped in the little (read: very little) super market and found a remarkable selection. We bought Fois Gras, engine oil and Magnum ice cream. Yes, who would have thought.

Our friends, whom we had met in Shelter Bay, Panama were waiting and Greyhound was just in front of us. Surrounded by friends, we had arrived.

The night’s feast was amazing. We were invited into a local home and were sitting outside all night eating the most exotic, local dishes from Polynesia. The host had invited a couple of friends over and they played many forms of guitars – large and small. We were a whole table of cruisers and locals eating, drinking and singing together through the night. 

Imagine, further away than we had ever been on an island with less than 200 inhabitants, under the stars. The more we reflect, the more lucky and blessed we feel.

After some hiking and exploring on the island, we sailed to Hiva Ova for a bit of civilisation. There is a restaurant, a museum, three supermarkets and plenty of food and diesel. We saw Gaugin and Jacques Brel in the local grave yard as they chose to spend there last years here. It was a nice fast upwind sail and we anchored in the Tahauku bay with a stern anchor. There are many boats and in order for everybody to fit, the custom is to use the stern anchor and when the swells come in, it keeps the bow into the swells and we sleep better. The boat does not roll sideways.

1200 years old TIKI – like the Jellinge Stone in Denmark

We rented a car and toured the island and saw some of the Polynesian religious remains, among others the smiling Tiki. We also enjoyed the lush green mountains and valleys, the deep fjords, which we also visited by boat, as we drove our 4WD on tracks.

Hiva Ova was a beautiful place and we left very content with our tanks and food storage refilled on a small transfer over to Tahuata and the Bay of Hanamoenoa, which were some deep, quiet and beautiful bays and very comfortable after days on end in rolling waves. We also visited the next bay over, namely The Bay of Dolphins. Here we experienced the local culture in the small village, manta rays, hiking to a water fall, the arrival of the supply ship and just so much trading to get fresh fruit.

From here we went further North East, towards Nuku Hiva, which is the largest island and also the administrative center, where we again filled our food and diesel supplies on route to The Tuamotus, after nearly a month on these rather deserted island. That said, in most villages you can buy meat, beer, flour, water, ice cream and other basic supplies. In generel, we have found that these days you find a nice selection of many items, if there is a small village. It seems that much has happened in this respect, during the last years.

Kids all over the world are wonderful – you should see him play with a ballon we gave him

Nuku Hiva was a highlight in many ways. But the best two experiences were an island tour with a guide named Richard, who is famous in Denmark for touring with Havanna, and the walk in Daniels Bay up to the waterfall. Daniel, who lived there for many years is no longer with us, but his friendliness and hospitality has been taken over by the village and we had some of nicest food and met friendly faces wherever we went.

Daniels Bay at Nuku Hiva

We bought lots of fruits and few vegetables. The fruits are everywhere, but vegetables are hard to find. We never really miss them, as there is an abundance of alternatives that are equally enjoyable – and we have travelled this way to meet other customs and live differently to what we do at home. That said, we still have a few cans with liver pate (leverpostej) and Marie bakes traditional danish rye bread (rugbrød) once in a while and those days are really something special!

It was now time to leave when the forecast is good and new adventures are ahead, and our daughters are awaiting us in the Tuamotus. So early morning we were on our way with a 537 nm route set to Fakarava. We expected a 3 day journey with 15-20 knots, but it all turned out very differently.

We have arrived safely in Fatu Hiva, French Polynesia

Dear all,
We have just arrived into Fatu Hiva in French Polynesia in a malleus rain storm after the worst 24 hours of our whole trip. We have been sailing in variable winds and squalls and made sail changes again and again. When we finally turned the corner and could see The bay of Virgins, which is one of the most beautiful in the world according to Lonely Planet, it disappeared in rain and mist.
We did pause our entrance into the anchorage and was awaiting visibility and suddenly in between the rain squalls and the heavy wind, there it was. The huge mountains, the pillars it is all as we hope for and more. Pictures will follow on our web site.
We slowly entered the bay, tried to anchor a few times – before North Star found a nice comfortable spot at 24 meters depth and with 80 meters of chain out, to protect us against the draft winds, which comes down from the 1000 meter peaks, in front of us.
We are tired and very proud. We have now crossed the longest stretch of blue water ocean we will ever cross. We are still far away from New Zealand, but this is by far the longest and most remote part. There is a strange sense of accomplishment in the boat, as we clean ourself up, have a glass of champagne and freshly baked scones from our kind and welcoming Norwegian friends, who arrived a few days before us.
Our buddy boat Greyhound and we came into the bay with less than 20 minutes difference and we have been following each other all the way. It has been extremely good to be two boats out there and be able to see a light and speak on the radio once in a while. Thanks to Greyhound.
The crossing have been really really pleasant. We have enjoyed it in so many ways and probably more than when we crossed the Atlantic. We have graduated and can wear the “red trousers” with pride and feel like real Blue Water sailors.
Thanks you to all of you for following us the last 19 days. The next post you will see will be on Face Book and our
All the best from the crew of North Star (which will now engage in catching up on lost alcohol consumption)
Laura, Emil, Marie and Kim

Marquesa 14

Dear all,
The last 48 hours have been really slow. We are down to noon runs in the 140ties and that is slow for us. But a wind of 8-10 knots from behind jumping regularly 30 deg and sailing wing on wing is not a great sail for North Star or our buddy boat Greyhound.
So this morning with 830 nm left to Marquesa we put up our light weather sail the BLUE WATER RUNNER. And for about six hours we were running at 6 knots in 9 knots of wind – really good. But all good things come to an end and mid afternoon the halyard broke just outside the mast and 150 kvm2 sail was in the water! It is a normal house in the Denmark – so read alot of sail. But we were lucky that quickly we had all hands on deck – even Emil who was in the shower came up with shampoo still in his hair…Within and an hour or so we got it back on deck and lashed down. Hopefully nothing has happened except for the broken halyard.
For the first time since we started from Galapagos we are now running under engine and will probably do that through the night as we expect very light winds.
But now it is afternoon tea and banana cake and I believe the “kids” are going to watch another episode of Matador. So life is good and the weatherman has promised more wind in 30 hours – so we will be patient.
All from North Star on the 26-05-19 23:01 UTC
Still going strong,
The Crew

Soon we are halfway

Dear all,
Last 24 hour was a 165 nm run which was a little short in spite of the wind we have had, but we sail for comfort not for speed. We have out sailed 1336 nm here at UTC 19:28 and local time 12:00. Tomorrow I am sure we will celebrate the halfway mark and instead of sailing up hill it will be down hill towards Marquesa!!
We are solidly in the southern trade wind belt and I am thinking about all the books I have been reading about exactly this. It is the dream for most sailors and here we are. Privileged to actually be able to live the dream. I am so much looking forward to see the towering Marquesa islands come out of the ocean and feel the same, as the sailors who have been here before us. Anchor up in Bay of Virgins, and just be able to feel – we actually did it and now we are here.
I very much think about the Danish adventure sailor Troels Kløvedal, who in so many ways showed our generation that it is possible to just go out there and live a life integrated with the cultures you meet. Spent look periods on distant islands and become a part of the daily life for a time. You should read one or two of his books, if you haven’t already.
It is reading time for all of us, so many books have been passing through and it is very enjoyable to have time to read. Different styles and different focus and you can leisurely choose, what ever fits the moment. Because there will be another day to a different title.
I have just finished Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian, which is the first book in a long serie about the english navy in the 18th hundreds. Something I would only read, now that I have the time. Before that I read Puk Damsgård, Ser du månen, Daniel and before that Bernard Moltessier’s, The Long Way. I also stumled through Stephen Hawkins, A brief history of time. And this is only during the last ten days, it is really wonderful to have time and nothing interfere the solitude except the occasional squall and of course meal time!! Marie, Laura and Emil have their own list and we exchange and discuss, as we have our own literature club here isolated, in the middle of nowhere. Or here right in the center of the universe – where we are right now.
Greetings from North Star on 06 55.486S and 112 31.567W nearly as far away as you can come


The first third of our Pacific crossing to Marquesa

We have now been underway in seven days or is it six days or…We have stopped counting and the miles just tick away under North Stars keel. We have sailed 1000 nm today and that is merely one third of the nearly 3000 nm this crossing over the great Pacific is.
The weather have so far been with us. One day of rain to clean the salt of the boat and us, but else sunshine and a very nice wind from between 95 to 145. For the non-sailors that means wind from East to South East and as we sail a course of 252 degree, nearly due West, it is wonderful and comfortable sailing.
We expect a bit more wind than the 12-13 knots we have seen recently over the next few days, but nothing which is not welcome, so far so very good.
The crew have found into the watch schedule. As we are four onboard this time we only have 2 watches of three hours, every 24 hours – so it is very easy and much easier than when we sail double handed.
The kitchen is open 24 hours a day, as we sleep on different times, but standing ovation comes from Emil and I to Marie and Laura for Carrot cake, freshly baked scones, chicken in curry, Mahi Mahi in sesame and so on. We live really well as the conditions mostly allow for these creations. We have afternoon tea every day at 1600 local and normally dinner together with the setting sun and maybe watch some dolphins, who makes everything even more beautiful.
Emil is a keen fisher and have caught several fish, but only one made the dinner table. A very nice Mahi Mahi fresh out of the water and enough for 4 people for two dinners. We still have fruit and vegetables as Marie bought plenty and have made preservation of these outside a refrigerator, into an art. But now the whole stock of bananas and the papayas and many more start to ripe and we eat – as we know the last ten days, we will have to escape down into the tin cans.
We talk about what we do. It seems that the time just roll on. Of course we read, play games and sail the boat and somehow the days just glide away and we sail through the moonlit nights into the next day. So no, we are not restless or feel it is long trip. The experience in itself is fantastic, because how many times in your life do you spend 20 days or more together with your self and three other people on little space and with little privacy? You cannot escape and the entertainment is only of your own creation. You are depending on these other people, the weather and the boat. No correct, not very often will anyone of us be exposed to this. So it also great just to be in it and live it.
North Star is behaving really well and tracking along with mostly 7-8 knots and we are not spending much time in the engine room as the engine have only been running the first three hours out of Galapagos. Unusual, as the first 2-3 days down to the trade winds at 04S, are normally becalmed – but we had wonderful sailing.
This is it from North Star at 05 deg 46’030S and 106 deg 33’775W
Enjoy your Sunday