Sailing in foreign waters – to our first atoll in Tuamotos

It felt big to have made it to Marquesas. Now we have headed one step west to the next archipelago Tuamotos. We had heard so much about the atolls – especially the entrances that only could be passed in slack water with sun in the back. We wanted a baby-atoll – an easy one with a wide and simple entrance – for our first time trip. Stephen who had sailed here before recommended Kauehi. It was 500 nm – around four days to come there. We looked at the weather – it looked like we should get enough wind, decreasing the last day. Good enough, we really wanted it to be calm and nice especially at the entrance, so off we went. The wind went down the third day so we started the motor. As it then got more easy to estimate the ETA – Estimated Time of Arrival – we should be in perfect timing to the slack water at Kauehi. 

With the radar on we came closer, so far it had been open sea, but now small, small atolls started to appear. We saw them as lines on the radar. Suddenly the radar started to beep. We looked out in the darkness – help, what is in the way? We saw nothing. We should be around 10-15 nm from Kauehi. We searched over the water edge with the search light – saw nothing. We slowed down and decided to wait until the sun went up – only 30 minutes left. I cooked some coffee and made porridge. It is always good with some food in the stomach before arrival. The beep continued. The only thing we could relate it to where the low hanging clouds all around us. We saw it was raining both here and there. The wind had increased quite a lot and came right in our direction. Waves got higher. 

When sun went up, well when it got lighter, it was cloudy all over the sky, we continued without the radar. Soon we saw land! A small, small stripe in the horisont. The opening of the atoll was on the south-west side so we had to go beside the atoll for a while. 


Around ten o’clock, in perfect timing for the slack water, we where outside the entrance. Captain started far out following the line in the charts through the pass. He wanted to feel how the boat was moving in those conditions. 24° the chart said, he had to compensate for wind and waves. It was blowing around 20 knots and was grey. In front of us, inside the atoll, we saw a dark grey rainfall.

We proceeded, saw the red small light house on our port side. Correct. We had measured the pass – was it wide enough to turn around and out if needed? Yes, we thought so. How strong should the current be? We have heard it can raise to 6-8 knots! We make max 7 with the motor. Tidal bores can rise inside or outside they have warned. We continued very focused and in the middle came a lot of eddies – the whole passage was very choppy. Is this slack water?! Captain raised the motor so that the turbo (=extra power) started. It helped. And then we where through! 

The recommended anchorage place was at the opposite side of the atoll where the small village was, around 5 nm. We saw two more sailing boats, we saw a church, some houses, palm trees. 

Our iridium beeped. That means we have got a message. Old sailing friends, Carl Axel and Christina from Stockholm, had seen on our tracking page that we where inside and con gratulated us for having made it in those foreign waters. We both got moved. We felt really far away from home.  

They say that you have to eyeball to find your way between corral heads. When the water is brown there is coral, turquoise means sand. I was standing in the front, prepared to eyeball. It was just too grey to see anything else than dark blue-green water. We dropped the anchor on 20 meters depth, far out as usual.

We looked around and saw the atoll as a circle around us, quite big, like a small lake. It was still grey and a lot of waves and wind. Here we are in the real South Pacific! You wouldn’t want to see a photo. It shouldn’t show much more than dark water and a huge sky.

Still we felt that this was really different. This we have never seen. Marquesas islands felt suddenly very understandable – islands with mountains. We had anchored on the lee side of many islands, in shelter behind a mountain, at least a hill. In the Baltic, south of Europe, Canarias, Caribbean, Panama – every where island and mountains. 

And how about being on anchor when it blows 25 knot? At home we had been in a safe marina long time ago. In the Baltic, from where we are coming, we have very little tidal and current. This is quite wild. 20 ton boat including us are hanging on one anchor and anchor chain surround by waves with whitecaps (inside the atoll, outside the waves are 3 m – at least we are on the right side) The sound of wind is quite strong. If we drag we have at least plenty of space behind us… I have heard that there are no waves in an atoll. That is just not true.  

The second day we released the dinghy and put it down in the water. That felt enough. The sun had the kindness to show up at the end of evening.

Later, when it was dark – we suddenly heard a poff. We looked up and wondered what was that? At the village we saw a big fire with high flames. Do they celebrate anything? We looked in the binocular – couldn’t see any people, just a car. Are they burning trash? Why in the dark? We saw the fire slowly going down. 

The third day we gathered some strength and decided we should go ashore and have a look at the atoll. Captain drove us in the now really turquoise water between the coral heads. We landed on the small bridge in front of the church.  Palm trees swaying in the wind. Yes, this is a real south sea atoll! I had my short wetsuit. It was perfect, at least in the water. No one even showed a sign that they saw it as a strange dress on land – they just said hello back to us.
We heard music from the house closest to the pier. We thought it maybe was the beech bar as it had a huge speakers from where we heard pop music on high volume. I said Bonjour madame to the lady in the house. I understood  that she asked if I had magazines. We saw kids moving as very free spirits with really nice bicycles. We looked into the church. Close by there was an outside chapel. 

It was Monday 29 June, it was their independent day and every one was free except Matilda in the first shop. She told us that 100 people lives here and that it comes food every second week from Papeete (the same Saturday we came). 

I asked about the fire – she said it was a house that exploded! No one hurt and nothing else destroyed. A family without a house, taking shelter in the town house.

Matilda also told us that it is the Maramu-storm that is blowing now, having it’s season June-July. Aha, so this is the Maramu! She told us where to anchor. We passed our boat  neighbour on the way out. Only one now, the other have moved. He had lost his anchor and was on one of the moorings. Small white buoys, I thought it was sign for fishing nets or maybe a pearl farm. He also pointed out places to anchor closer to land. He said that the one Matilda had pointed out was tricky with coral heads. 

We went out to Vista. No, we don’t dare to move her in this wind. It’s good enough that anchor is holding us. 

Marquesas – the green islands

The Marquesas consist of ten small islands with Nuku Hiva as the biggest in north and in the middle Hiva Oa. Tahuata just south of Hiva Oa and Fatuhiva the most south of them all. This are the islands a sailor first meet when sailing from America in direction west. 

They belong to French Polynesia that also consists of Tuamotos (atoller) and the Society Islands (with Tahiti). 

We have been to four of them — the green mountains are a typical sign for all of them. 


Hiva Oa – the island that became our first landfall after 33 days on Pacific from Panama. 

For ever in our hearts as we got a very kind & warm welcome. Jaques Brel and Paul Gauguin have chosen to take their last rest here. 

Tahuata – a smaller island without an airstrip. Here we where swimming with manta rays for the first time. 

Fatuhiva is the most dramatic one with high expressive mountains. Thor Heyerdahl lived here in the small village Omoa for some years in the end of the 1930s. 

Nuku Hiva – the head island of Marquesas with the administrational office as well as the only hospital. A big bay for the sailors. Many change crew here as it comes and goes flights here. Surprisingly a large pinje forest in the north. Payed by EU we got to know. 

Tikis
On all the islands they are very skilled in wood and stone art. There are sculptures every where — in the nature as well as outside houses and so.

Buoyancy – when you have it everything goes easier!

Remember the feeling of the first time you found balance when you started to learn bicycling? The wiggling start that several times turned out in falling and then suddenly didn’t – you continue rolling and realizes how holding your body and moving the pedals round and round gets you a more and more stable feeling of balance. You got it!

Haven’t got any own photos yet…turtles go up in between to get some air – like divers. This one is taken by Aleksei Bakulin from StockSnap. Thank you for sharing!

Same thing with buoyancy for a diver – without it you can not dive, it is too risky. With 11 kg air on your back, and in my case 7 kg weights to compensate the air, you need to find the buoyancy to dive safe and effortlessly. Then you get access to and can have a positive interaction with the underwaterworld. A world with it’s totally owns premises. 

You have buoyancy when you can float in the middle of the sea without holding on to anything, especially not the corals. You finetune by breathing – in and you go up, out and you go down. If you have buoyancy the rest goes easy, as our dive instructor Elisabeth said. 

So, I have struggled! Floating up and down, grasping after more air, waving my arms, paddling my feet’s, touching the bottom – thankfully mostly on sand (yes, I have touched a coral, please forgive me), being too fast and clueless about how I could manage myself. 

Elisabeth showed me step by step, she checked all the outer stuff like the BCD, the right amount of weights, where I had the weights and so on. She was like a reseracher searching for the solution. The last thing we did was breathing deeply together. 

Then came the moment when I felt it! I felt joy for many minutes and then I float up (again). Anyway, after that I knew what I was searching for and how to come back to it with the breathing as well as making the movements smaller, more streamlined and at least attempting to swim, glide through the water as a fish. 

***

Me and my captain where talking the other night about how important it is to have  buoyancy even on land, in our communication. When we are buoyant we are aware about our own breathing and we see the surrounding we are into. We are relaxed and present. We can easily come back to buoyancy by sharing what is there. 

For example – I meet a new person and directly forget his or her name. I realise that my breathing is shallow and that I am actually nervous. By saying that (what is there) instead of trying to keep an image up, I give myself space to be authentic and to reconnect – both with myself and the person in front of me. 

Same thing when you continue talking – when we are present and conscious about our own and the other persons state we will have a nice flow in our conversation. We listen deeply, have space for the other ones thinking, feeling and talking. No need to steal the air and interrupt as we are not in hurry. We rest in the listening, knowing a lot is going on even if it is subtle. We hear the nyances. We dare to wait and be silent. Waiting for what is coming next. You never know.

We know that we also going to get listened to. We do not have to prethink about our answer or story, we just stay in the listening until it is our time. Then we rest with ourselves as well – giving us the space to just be and float, drifting away in the thoughts. Giving space for new ideas, thoughts and answers to come up. 

Can you hear the difference between someone talking very much about something that not really makes a difference or sense for the ones around and someone sharing an engaging experience? It is like the former needs debriefing – to be able to let go of something that has passed and that the later shares to contribute. 

When we listen carefully we can almost hear the stress in the fast and repeatingly talking.  Nancy Kline, a master in listening, ones taught me that when one is repeating oneself again and again it is a sign that one has not been heard. Nothing right or wrong in above – just different and as you notice you can adjust your responce to what is there. 

Wise Elisabeth again: ”The more you are aware of your buoyancy, and therefore your breathing, the more everything will flow peacefully. In the water and out the water. Stress because of new and unexpected things happening will vanish and your worries will disappear.”

Like on the airplane – in emergency – secure your own breathing first. When you breathe you will feel more. Feeling what you want, what you need, what is most important in this moment. How aware are you about your breathing? I was not I must admit. I thought I was breathing deeply, but I did not. At least not under the water – a quite new environment for me.                       

Breath in, breath out – easy! 

Enjoy your day!

Sun and salt from Anna 

Bonaire, 23 February 2020

Lessons from the Waves

  • We are all One, we belong together
  • It’s ok to peak!
  • We need/use each other in order to come forward
  • We are strong together
  • With patience we travel long
  • Energy and power is getting created when we move, 
    the deeper and higher the more
  • Without movement we do not exist
  • Our language is energy – that’s how we understand each other
  • Life is going up and down and that is the way it is
  • We invite you to play with us
  • We easily find new ways when we hit obstacles 
  • We can easily shift our state
  • The Ocean is Our common playground 

Atlanten – in pictures

1 january 2020

5 January

8.19 First on the fifth morning the sun showed up a little bit. Afterwards we heard that Cap verde had got a sandstorm after we left. Maybe that’s why it was so grey?

6 January

9.26 Finally a strong morning sun – making a beautiful silver street on the ocean.
We sailed only on the genua the whole way. The sunprotectioncover at the bottom started to break. This was our first try to repair it. It did not worked… Now it has got new seams.

7 January

This is 1.21 on the night. I (Anna) always have the watch 1-4 o’ clock. We had a raising moon with us and this night I thought we also had an angel at the mast. I got almost chocked when I looked on the photo afterwards and saw the standing figure. Even if looks calm it is rolling and I shot a picture just to get the moon. First when I showed Arthur the photo he saw that it was the end of the boom that made the shadow. I prefer to remember it as one of our angels.
8.19 the sun is on the way up. My second watch is 7-10 in the morning. I am preparing breakfast and take my seat with a cup of tea on the left side of the Mesanmast. I start watching.
8.34
8.51
8.57
9.03
9.22

8 january

8.22 the dawn
8.32
8.35 We are halfway, in the middle of Atlantic and the waves started to get higher.
8.40 This is so powerful!
8.42 I just love when the sun cracks through a cloud!
8.52
19.30 Sun set

9 January

7.52 A new dawn.
7.56
8.07
8.41
19.42
20.22 This night we got the first squalls.

10 January

7.52
8.10
8.25
8.34 The red cloud
8.44
8.46 Sun goes up.
9.13
10.46
19.38
19.52
23.49 Full moon!

11 January

8.21
9.03
9.18
20.06

12 January

8.32 Moon is still with us
8.34 And behind us starts a new dawn.
9.08
9.10
9.19
9.22

13 January

8.46
8.46
9.33
9.35
9.46
9.55

14 January

8.54
9.31
9.35
9.36
9.38
9.40
9.55
9.58

15 January

5.45
6.38
6.59 First boat we see in two weeks
7.58 Anchored in St Anne bay, Martinique. French guest flag up.
This was our qualifying passage as members of Ocean Cruising Club – no more A (as in Associated) on the flag. We will pick up a new one in Panama.
Yes, we made it! Thanks for being with us!

Crossing Atlantic – yes, we made it!

Since Columbus wanted to sail to India the other, west-way and instead found the land in between, people  have been sailing this trade to the West Indies. We are just another boat in a long, long row sailing on the passadwind. Still – you haven’t done it before you have. 

So how was it for us? 
We loved it, we felt that we where living out there. We could have gone on many more days. 

It is magic to be in the element of wind and waves for so long time. We where surfing on a massive wind and wavemovement. We didn’t see a boat on the whole trip, just four on the plotter. The context is huge – horizonts all around and many thousands meter deep, dark blue water under us. First it was bit scary – so much can happen during the way and there is really no turning back when you set off. Quite soon we felt that it was working – the waves carried us even when they got higher. And when the wind increased we just rolled in our genua a bit. The beauty and strenght in the nature took over.  

We are still landing in that we have been sailing the two of us over Atalantic. We came here (Martinique)  in the dawn and we felt like we have entered a new land. The light was different, the water was warmer (28°), the view was also different – a huge bay with a lot of sailingboats on anchor surrounded by green soft hills. Quite amazing!

It is special to travel so long time to reach a place – it takes less than a day to fly here and for us it took two weeks or sex and a half month from Stockholm. 

Did everything went well?
Yes, we have a wonderful boat, an Amel Supermaramu, built exactly for the purpose to go long distances on oceans. She went very nicely in the deep waves. We will have someone look over our genua (the only sail we used) as parts of the sunprotection started to loosen at the bottom of it. We also have some shafing on the sheets – we have bought extra for the future. 

How did you managage on the two of you?
As we have a boat that goes on autopilot it is more about staying fit and well rested for the night watches. The sailing it self was quite easy as the tradingwind where steady blowing from north east and as mentioned no boats out there, so not very much to check out for. 

But you never know! We checked the radar every half hour and on the second part of the journey it was squalls (heavy wind and rain for a short while) coming mainly night time. 

The all the time rolling was the hardest part to get used too. Made us very present to every single movement. We both took seasickplastic the night before leaving. They holds for three days and that was enough to get used. We bring several extra types – Calma to take when you already feel seasick and another brand from Canarias with coffein (as others makes you tired). Just as a security. I am very happy with this. Part of the rolling is all the noice from things moving in the boat. It is a never ending story to get it silenced. 

We are very aware of the importance of sleep and rest, so we prioritize that all the time.

We do have fixed scadules for the night watches. Three hours, starting 22-01, 1-4, 4-7, 7-10 in the morning. If we can not sleep we rest. We take a shower and we dress off before sleeping. We always take at least one nap daytime. We do bring sleepingpills as well, never used, just in case. 

I did prepared food in advance to just warm up. That meant no one needed to cook in the rolling sea (makes you seasick easily) especially in the beginning. We have a pressurecocker with a lid that can not jump off. What ever you do in the kitchen you have to guard it every second. I can really recommend bringing ”foodthermos”. I make porridge in them for breakfast and cook rise in them for dinner. We also brought dry food (like for campers) that you just add some hot water to and let stand for ten minutes. Just in case. We didn’t drink alcohol, just a lot of water, coffe and tea. 

Bananas lasted one-two weeks even if we bought them green. We frooze the last ones and found out it was really tasty to make an easy smoothie by mixing them (using a fork) and then add spirulina, chia, ginger and other great stuff. Next time I will bring more. 

What do you do all the day? Isn’t it boring?
Days goes fast! Not boring at all. We live on board. We want to have it as smooth as possible every day. We are not in hurry. We prefer slower if that means safer.

Of course we check weather – many times a day, we adjust the sails, we check things, we make new water, warm water and electricity three times a day. 

Arthur and I approach it differently. He is the captain – securing everything goes the way it should. I always have different projects going on – writing diary and other texts, reading and taking photos. When I read I choose the thickest and most deep book I can as I have the precense and time to read quite a lot. 

On this journey I was studying the sun and the waves every morning and night. I am sitting on the first row just drowning in the big silent light show. I am with all there is around us. It’s in a way as being on a silent retreat in a magic surrounding. At the night we had the moon shining over us. I am learning to trust, especially the big waves – they will carry us with care even when they grow higher and stronger. When you start witnessing you see more and more. I feel very grateful. 

Facts: 
Start 19 Dec 2019 from Las Palmas. 
Made a stop in Mindelo, Cap verde some days. 
Started again 1 Jan 2020 
Arrived Martinique 15 Jan 
Distance travelled: 887+2108 nm (tot 2995), from Stockholm 6517 nm
Hours on motor: 25
Winds: 15-30 knots, mostly around 20 
Waves: 2-4 m
Speed: 6-8 knots

BEING A TEAM

Now and then I look at Arthur and ask him with a glimpse in the eye – Are you aware about who you have chosen to bring with you on this journey? This use to be in moments where it is so obvious that I am not so practical (or more correctly said – yet not so experienced) as it would be great to be on board. 

Many asks us if we shouldn’t have someone with us, especially on the long trips. We both pass on that. This is our life and journey.  If we can’t manage it ourselves, we shouldn’t do it. 

Think if it is really true that we all have everything we need and that we all have access to everything. Then our personalities nor skills doesn’t matter – we will be part of something much bigger that gives us access to what is needed when challenges shows up. 

I have so many examples when I have got the extra energy in tough times – could be from the sun, the dolphins, someone having answer on my questions, from Arthur of course – it always seems to exist help when needed! Arthur and I stand for that we have the resources for making this journey together without knowing everything beforehand. 

Arthur is the captain, no doubt about that. When he doesn’t know I provide him with questions and listening. It helps very often. He listens to me as well and gives me space for reading and writing. He has not been pushing me to step up and join him with the sailing, it came naturally when I realized I was needed for reaching goals at longer distance. I like very much to accomplish what we are setting up. I stand for plan A longer and more consistent then Arthur and it works so far. 

Arthur has the longer view – he already knows what islands he wants to go to in the big blue on the other side of the world. I am more here and now – thinking amongst other on what food to buy and bring. 

We both are in a time when remembering details is on the list. What are the questions we need to address before leaving an easy access world with nautica and skilled craftsman.

Since many years we are supporting each other to listen to what we call our inklings. It’s the often very silent and soft voice who wants to get heard – often to remember us about something. If we skip to act on It, we always regretting as It for sure was something important. When one of us express an inkling we are eager to give it attention. 

We belong together all of us – just look at the waves! 

La Palma – magic nature

We are in Tazacorte on the west side of La Palma. From ”our beach” there is nothing in between before Florida. In December it is our turn to cross the big blue Atlantic. First we will see some of the Canarias islands.

We went to the top of La Palma, Roque de los muchachos, and got some extraordinary views. For me it was the first time being this high up (2426 meter). A big contrast from being on the sea – the element of feelings. Up here it was like the wind, clouds and the sun where playing around without limitations. Even if it was windy I found a place where it was still and I just relaxed into the hugeness and silence.

Several countries have telescopes up here to study the stars. Sweden built the tower in the middle 1989.
No one is allowed to use light up here after the sun set.

To come here it takes a driver with courage. Thank you Arthur! The roads are narrow and very beautiful. First tunnel came as a chock – think about meeting someone here!

You get well paid for being on those roads. On high altitude we found old pinetrees with ”skägglav” – it just grows if the air is very clean. A lot of birds were singing.

El Hierro in the horisont
The saltfabrique on the southern headland.

Om helgon och traditioner

En del av resandet är att ta del av nya kulturer och traditioner. Festerna är många – alltid finns något att fira!

När vi skulle fortsätta till Madeira blev vi ombedda att komma tidigt för på eftermiddagen skulle årets stora högtid äga rum i hamnen – firandet av fiskarnas skyddshelgon, Nossa Senhora de Piedade (barmhärtighet).

Eftersom jag blev så berörd av Columbusfesten bestämde jag mig för att följa även denna. I korthet innebar den att alla båtar, framförallt fiskebåtarna, från trakten kom i en procession till Quinta de Lorde för att hämta sitt helgon och föra henne till kyrkan i grannbyn Canical över lördagsnatten. På söndag eftermiddag återfördes hon till sitt lilla kapell på bergstoppen där hon kan se alla fiskarna på långt håll. Under helgen var det fest och gudstjänster i Canical.

Det som var fint och ovant att se var att alla såg ut att delta på sitt vis – i processionen, på båtarna (hela dagen), i kyrkorna, på gatorna, på stranden. Det är en stor kulturskillnad mot Sverige. Vi har inte så många traditioner, förutom midsommar, som samlar många (alla) människor. Klimatet spelar förstås roll.

Jag undrar vilken skillnad det gör när en hel by samlas för att gemensamt under en hel helg fira och be till ett helgon om att det ska gå bra även nästa år. Vi har ju inte riktigt den traditionen heller. En ödmjukhet inför större krafter. Det är så uppenbart när vi färdas på havet.

Norra Madeira i sikte.
Vi förstod snart varför vi skulle komma tidigt – hela hamnen blev fylld med stora och små fiskebåtar, en del motorbåtar och någon enstaka segelbåt. Våran marinero var i tjänst på bryggan.
Jag bestämde mig för att gå i deras ”skor” och försöka känna in deras tradition. Det var många som vandrade hela vägen upp i värmen.
Prästerna gick som vanligt i täten.
Nossa senhora de Piedade, Barmhärtighetshelgonet, bärs ut på en bädd av krysantemum som doftade ljuvligt. I det här lilla kapellet bor hon hela året.
Kvinnorna hade långa ljus med sig som de lyste upp kapellet med.
Utsikten norrut över den lilla byn och hamnen från berget med kapellet.
Det var mycket som hände i hamnen den här dagen. En del solade och badade på hotellet som vanligt. Andra gifte sig.
Naturen är fantastisk.
Här syns berget med det lilla kapellet på toppen. Vår båt i förgrunden till höger.
Moderskeppet var extra utsmyckat. Det är olika båtar varje år som får äran att frakta helgonet.
Bryggsegling får en ny innebörd efter att ha sett det här. I hamnen i Canical var även fiskebåtarna fyllda med familj, släkt och vänner.

När det är fest (och det är det ofta) så grillas det. Hela kycklingar uppvikta i ett stycke serveras med det traditionella brödet. Eller grillspett på rejäla långa pinnar som var och en grillar själv nere på stranden.

I grannbyn Canical vilade helgonet under lördagen i den första lilla kyrkan. På söndagen var den stora kyrkan helt full under gudstjänsten.

Snart ska prästerna, orkestern och pilgrimerna kliva på. Alla båtar inväntar.
En lång helg lider mot sitt slut. Här återvänder fiskebåtarna till Canical.