Time is running out and it´s time to round up.Three months ago I came to Raiatea,and it feels like an eternity.Months here are like years at home,and when adapted to this life it attracts any nomad soul.Waking up in the morning,and your day is an open chapter.
French Polynesia is still by far the most beautiful of all the South Pacific islandgroups,with the Tuamotos on top.
Tonga is not that beautiful,allthough nowhere else in the world are the whales so easily approached.
Fiji is a gem.With it´s high and lush islands in the east and south,it´s more beautiful than Tonga,and still very remote in these parts of the country.The Mamanuca and Yasawa islands on the western side of Fiji on the contrary, are higly exploited.Being Kiwi/Aussie backyard,they are still attractive with beautiful beaches,enormous coralreefs/good diving,surfing,restaurants and barbecues.
This years cruising socitey has been struck by a high amount of accidents.The SSB-radio is the "djungledrum" of cruisers,spreading rumours fast.Last year we knew of one catamaran that had to be towed in to the Marquesas having lost his steering.
This year an Irish boat sunk 3 days out from Bora Bora,the crew being rescued by French Navy.A Kiwi boat under way from Tahiti to NZ,encountered hard weather and filled his boat that sank.MRCC in Papeete picked up his Epirbsignal,and a SAR-vessel from Rarotonga was sent out and picked him up.On one of the atolls of the Cookislands,a rubberdinghy hit a shark.The shark got angry and took a big bite from the pontoon,circling while the dinhy was sloly sinking.They were rescued by another boat nearby.A Dutch singlehander hit a reef in unsurveyed waters in the Laugroup of Fiji.He was rescued by people from Mel Gibsons private island.Our "own Liza"of the Scandinavian group overslept when approaching Fiji from NZ,and ended up on a reef in the southern Mamanucagroup.Liza was rescued without injuries,but the yacht spent a week on the reef with severe injuries and being robbed.A couple of days ago an American yacht lost anchorgrip and is now on a reef.Yesterday a catamaran under way to NZ (with Swedish Niclas Jalgemo onboard)hit a whale,lost their rigging and engine.They sent out a pan-pan message and are now drifting 120Nm south of Fiji.Fiji navy is involved.Finally and worst of all,the Tsunami that hit Samoa and Tonga with not only local people,but also cruisers lost their lives.If all the above is just coincidental,or has anything to do with more unpredictable weather during El Nino circumstances can of course not be answered.One must remember though,that around 300 yachts do the "milkrun" every year.
Onboard Tarita we have had no major equipment problems this year.When Martin and Thierry came onboard,the Furuno weatherfax and the Jabsco freshwaterpump both broke within 15 minutes.The pump was replaced by a Shurflo of same capacity,and the weatherfax will be sent to Furuno here in Fiji for repair.Except for the ever present chafe on a blue water cruiser,all major systems have worked well.
The future for Tarita is unknown.It´s 1100Nm to NZ(7-8 days sailing),and could be an alternative for next year after sailing Fiji again.Australia is 1300Nm away, and still in the tradewindbelts(New Caledonia as a nice interim halfway).From Brisbane yachts can be transported to British Columbia for a reasonable price,and Australia is the place to sell yachts today(not NZ).Selling the boat on Fiji would be another option(Kiwi yacht brokers operate here).
If this blog ever opens again,it means we are under way.Wether this will be the case or not, is written in the stars of the southern hemisphere..................