Michael's NL w/ lots of pics!: Maupiti, Fr. Polyn., August - Whangarei, New Zealand, November 2013

Tue 3 Dec 2013 17:57

35:43.596S 174:19.579E

Michael's NL w/ lots of pics!:

Maupiti, Fr. Polyn., August - Whangarei, New Zealand, November 2013


Hi All


The mountains of New Zealand have just came into sight! so I put our last bottle of champagne into the fridge to celebrate arriving in NZ, half way around the world!


This last leg of our voyage coming from the Tonga via Minerva Reef has been eventful. We stayed at Minerva Reef, a wonderful sunken atoll in the middle of the ocean, for only 3 days before we decided to set sail and take advantage of what looked like a good weather window to NZ about 850 nm away. The last night we had a S African family over for fantastic dinner of Lobster, Yellow Fin Tuna, and NY Sirloin steak! Small world, we discovered we had a mutual sailing friend from S Africa. They met Mahi Mahi in the Caribbean and I in Madagascar in 2003! Chris caught the lobsters that afternoon and we caught the tuna on the way in. What a feast! NZ does not allow you to bring in many food items from abroad so for a change we were working hard to use all them up!


The upcoming sail looked like it would be a very relaxed and smooth one with light winds but unexpectedly the winds became strong and we were beating into them. Seems you get more wind than the weather reports show when you don't need it and less when you do!

By the second night, we were bashing into very steep waves with very heavy rain squalls going by. It was very difficult even just to move around on Andromeda with her constant bouncing and lurching and at times it felt like we were being hit with a wrecking ball from below. After just two days Iris and I felt like it had been a week!. Fortunately, things calmed down and starting into the third day and it was very smooth but with little wind. We did have to motor or motor/sail off and on but I did not mind too much after the beating we took the first 2 days!  The 4th day out we landed a  40k yellow fin that filled up our freezer for the foreseeable future. Luck would have it that we caught another 10K Big Eye Tuna (one of the best eating) an hour later. Sadly I let it go.


There have been to many adventures since we left Bora Bora end of August to relate here but many of them including  pictures can be found at  blog.mailasail.com/andromeda. A number are in German but quite a few in English also. Some of the highlights from this journey  were:


Swimming with humpback whales in Maupiti where we were lucky enough to get close enough to touch them! Pretty amazing to see these huge creatures in the water so up close and personal. I found one sleeping and he made a startled sound as his eye opened to see me a meter away looking back. In Aitutaki we anchored outside the pass and reef as we got there too late in the day to safely go in. Returning to  Andromeda at sunset I went over to where I saw the telltale mist from the blowholes of whales behind her. While I was looking around for them I detected a movement below and saw one coming up right under the dingy. I did not want to put the engine in gear for fear of cutting the whale and fortunately he changed course at the last minute so his tail only lifted up the bow rather than capsizing me! It takes a bit to get my heart going but that certainly did!


Beach Party - Iris really wanted a beach party for her 40th but we were traveling and had made no plans. Sailing into Mopelia (still Society Islands) we were so lucky to find many friends there including a few young couples we knew. While talking on the radio Isabelle came on to say it was her 38th birthday also the next day! We decided to have a joint party and fortunately they had already arranged almost everything.  They had some of the locals to prepare a feast including lobster, grilled fish, poisson cru (a delicious local type of ceviche with coconut milk) and traditional pig roast! Many cruisers also brought salads, birthday cakes and other delicious tid bits. A great party it was with about 30 people. We drank, feasted, played bocchia, guitar, sang etc. Iris and Isabelle were the last ones standing and dancing at midnight!


Cruising the beautiful Cook Islands and exploring the Kingdom of Tonga.


Visiting the two sunken atolls Beverage and Minerva Reef. We snorkeled the pass at Beverage Reef and found many canyons full of fish: huge groupers and snappers, jacks and many gray sharks. The last place I saw so many fish was a similar sunken atoll, Basas De India, between Mozambique and Madagascar. While snorkeling I tried attracting some fish with a few pieces of bait. I didn't get much result to start but when a few jacks started to nibble on the pieces of fish it was like a signal went out and all hell broke loose! Sensing the activity many of the big snappers and groupers zoomed over and then followed by about a dozen gray sharks. They were swarming around me in a frenzy and so close I was fending them off with the end of my spear gun! Wanting more action after some tranquil snorkels in the lagoon we went again along with a fishing rod and hand line. With the rod I got hits right away but could not stop the fish fast enough before they got under the reef or eaten by a shark. I then resorted to the hand line. I looked over the side of the dingy with my mask as I lowered the bait so I could tug the bait away from the large fish and sharks I did not want. The larger groupers and snappers could have ciguatera and Iris already had a mild case of it. I managed to get some nice size snappers but I had to be very fast to pull them in before the sharks got them. It was a lot of fun to see this close display of the sharks madly trying to catch hold of the struggling fish darting this way and that! Soon I was out of bait. We moved away from the last feeding zone and I tried to go in and quickly I speared a small jack or runner and got it in the dingy before the sharks got it. Iris held on to the side of the dingy looking. As soon as I speared a small jack 10 sharks were on it in seconds! I've never seen them react so fast. Iris also practically leapt out of the water into the dingy! Sharks usually circle a while to check things before finally taking hold but right away they were fighting over the fish in a wiggling frenzy that looked just like vultures on a carcass in Africa. I also retreated quickly to the dingy as sharks in a feeding frenzy can be very dangerous. They cut the line to my nice stainless spear shaft but I was not inclined to go back in to look for it right away. A real shame our underwater camera was broken as I would have loved to capture this sight and the whales under water.


Unfortunately my bad back was getting worse, despite spending several hours a day stretching, exercising, and using my electric stimulator machine. This was very distressing because initially I had  good results from seeing a number of osteopaths in Tahiti, Raitea, and Bora. My activities became increasingly more limited and the pain worse. This was really a shame and a bit depressing because for a long time I dreamed of sailing and exploring the Pacific and now I was here but could not enjoy many aspects of the trip. However when feeling down

I tried to keep in mind how lucky I am just to be able to sail to and see all these beautiful places.  And to have such a wonderful partner who was willing and able to take over many responsibilities and cope with the situation with a smile on her face most of the time and give me most excellent massages!


I'm looking forward to spending some time on land back in S Africa and hopefully sorting out my back problem and spending time with Ally. Iris and I fly out of Auckland Dec 9.  I go directly to Cape Town and Iris to Hamburg for Xmas with family and friends. She then joins me Dec 28 in CT where we will stay for 3 months! It will be great to see Ally (who is growing rapidly and now talks with a South African accent) again after more than a year! and to visit many wonderful friends there. We'll return to New Zealand March 9th and plan to explore some of the country by land. In the meantime, Andromeda will get some new rigging and her bottom completely redone, amongst other many regular maintenance chores.


Please send a quick reply let us know what's happening in you life.



Michael & Iris


                                                                                                                 Here are a few pictures from along the way:


View of the passage in the south of the atoll

View of the mountain and church of

Maupiti, Society Islands

Idyllic Maupiti

Scene of Iris’ Birthday Party in Mopelia, Society Islands

Birthday Girls Together

Stressful Sailing under Autopilot

Little dock in Aitutaki, Cook Islands

Relaxing after Rough Passage; Aitutaki, Cook Isl.

One day off boat projects:

Excursion to Honeymoon Island

The famous dinghy crane in Niue – great service, as there’s no sheltered bay to take the dinghy ashore

Susie actually enjoyed cleaning the fish

Grey Sharks in Pass at Beveridge Reef

Going hunting for lobsters at Minerva Reef

Sunset at Minerva Reef

Above: Really nice yellow fin tuna

Left: Strange fish from the very deep ocean that came up to bite our lure at night

Utukalongalu Market in Neifa, Vava’u, Tonga

Tonga:Nice scene from above

Beautiful Tonga (Lolo Island in the NE)

Iris Kiting well in Tonga

Pipi Longstocking is ready for Halloween

in Neiafu, Tonga

  Enjoying last day in a tropical paradise at Mouna Island in Tonga before setting sail to NZ; but no wind for kiting today…

Arrived in Whangarei, New Zealand

Goodbye South Pacific!

Whale siting on the Southern coast of Niue