Sailing on The Indian Ocean – from Cocos Keeling to Rodrigues 

It’s a tough journey, say those we spoke to. We are about to take the leap between Cocos Keeling, Australia’s westernmost island, to Rodrigues, Africa’s easternmost island. A two-week journey of around 2000 nm, right in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

The Indian Ocean looks like a big belly, surrounded by four continents – from Australia in the east, Africa in the west and Asia (Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia) in the north, all the way down to Antarctica.

One good thing about the Indian Ocean is that there are many small islands to stop at during the long passage. We have already been to Christmas Island , and we have three more to visit before we reach South Africa.

The Indian Ocean is also said to be the windiest sea, in contrast to, for example, the Pacific Ocean, which in Swedish is called the calm sea. Here in the Indian Ocean, this season, constant high-pressure forms that start from Madagascar in the west and go east to Australia. They are the ones that create both the trade winds we love to sail on and long-distance swells – waves that we already knew when we started would be 4–5 meters high.

Decision on Departure

We are already in the best season to sail in these waters, as the prevailing winds are from the east-southeast, giving us wind and waves from behind – a must for sailing, on any sea.

Still, there are differences – it’s windy – more or less. Here at Cocos Keeling, we had a gale last week. No one moved, and the cargo boat that came did not unload because of high waves and swells.

What follows are my daily notes and photos from this journey. 
How was it to sail on the Indian Ocean in the high waves and strong wind?

Day 1, Monday 21 August

We set off early in the morning when it was still high tide, the first calm day after the gale. So do even Rondo and Alado, the other two yachts that arrived around the same time as us. The anchor is filled with coral sand, which easily slides off. We announce our departure to the Cocos police, and on the way out we notice that the cargo ship had begun to unload. We see flocks of birds flying close above the water – a sure sign of fish below.

Just after an hour, we set a direct course towards Rodrigues. The wind increases, so we take an early reef in the Genoa and before night falls we take a second reef when the wind increases to 25 knots. Over 20 knots are a lot of wind, and safety is always paramount. We rest as much as we can, and we call our mothers when it’s still calm.

After the sun sets, we encounter two cargo ships, both on a collision course. After some talk on the VHF, they adjusted their course. We have no idea if there will be many boats on this trade, or not. Regardless, every meeting requires careful monitoring, especially at night.

An early warning
An important rule is to always keep our hand on something because we never know when a big wave might cause an overhaul. Cooking is therefore a challenge and a balancing act. We got an early warning today when captain fell to the floor when a big wave suddenly rocked the boat. Luckily, he managed with just bruises and a sore back and elbow. We take out the safety harness for the stove for the first time.

Day 2, Tuesday 22 August

We sail towards the sunset in the west, so the sunrise is always in the stern. On the second day we only see the sun in the morning and in the evening, in between it is a grey day. It feels calmer, we are getting used to 20 knots. The wind continues to increase. We make good speed, 174 nm (nautical miles), on the first day.

We look ahead at the weather forecast and see more wind and high waves for the coming weekend. What is it like to sail in five-meter waves? I’ve never done that before. Is it dangerous? How can we prepare? We cook some food in our pressure cooker and set up the back cover in the cockpit.

Day 3, Wednesday 23 August

The wind is now down to 13 knots, we did 160 nm on the last day. We have already completed 25% of the journey – something to celebrate! There aren’t many boats out here – just two cargo ships on long distances.

Day 4, Thursday 24 August

We measure how far we have sailed each morning to estimate the arrival time – on the last day we did 165 nm, and the wind was around 15 knots. It’s a grey day, and we know this will be our last slow day. We bake bread and a yummy lamb stew. In the evening the wind starts to turn – for seven hours there is no wind at all, so we drive through until the wind increases rapidly at midnight, and soon we take in two reefs again. On the weather maps, we can see that we are on the edge of a high-pressure area.

Day 5, Friday 25 August

We are now in the area of relentless and unstoppable trade winds. It goes fast – we make eight knots, even though we have four reefs taken. We lie on the sofas. What’s a bit strange is that I decided to start writing my story with flowers. It’s a perfect distraction, and it makes me happy to go through all my photos with flowers and write about my love for them. 

Day 6, Saturday, 26 August – Halfway!

It still goes fast, the gusts are up to 30, so we keep the four reefs. The day’s distance reaches its peak at 183 nm. We’re halfway there! It is a mentally important milestone. It is not closer to turning around if something happens. You just know you have to keep going. You also know that the boat can handle open seas and wind.

This day we realized something else, namely that our gas probably won’t last the whole trip. We have two bottles in a cupboard in the stern stowed away, so we just need to change the fittings, usually very easy. On the open sea with waves washing over, even that is too risky. Balancing at the back of the deck, and picking up a few things to reach the locker, is just something we don’t want to do. We don’t go outside the cockpit at all. So, this was a lesson learned. In the meantime, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it lasts, and we’re discussing our options for various canned and cold food.

Day 7, Sunday, 27 August 

The waves get higher and higher, coming from behind and rapidly rolling forward one by one. I force myself to go out and look at them, I know it helps. I see and feel that we are being carried. Very fascinating and astonishing.

Day 8, Monday, 28 August

Today we reach the peak – the waves are 4–5 meters high, and we are still being carried! The difference isn’t that big, we’ve slowly gotten used to the higher levels. The weather is dramatic, with clouds shifting rapidly and suddenly picking up the wind and pouring down rain. The captain feels the contradictory movements in the boat – there is the wind and waves coming from behind (east), but also swell, bigger waves coming from far south.

Day 9, Tuesday 29 August

Finally, it turns – the wind drops, and we take out two reefs and now have ”only” two reefs furled. A nice sign is a bird and a flat rainbow, something I’ve never seen before.

Day 10, Wednesday, 30 August

It’s a great feeling to sail towards the moon. This is early in the morning when it’s on its way down.

Today it is even nicer, the wind blows 15 knots and fills our now-released Genoa perfectly. I take care of sunbathing, which rarely happens. And to my delight, a double rainbow lights up in the afternoon. Captain and I have a good sharing, or perhaps more accurately debriefing time, with each other.

The moon goes up before the sun goes down!

Day 11, Thursday, 31 August

We get a beautiful sunrise and later a dramatic sunset. It’s a full moon tonight, so I am not surprised.

Captain treats us with homemade pan bread made from tapioca flour. Luckily for us, the gas lasted until this day, and we had no problem at all changing to a new bottle.

We are going slower now, the wind is down to 13 knots which means that the feeling of swell increases, as the wind does not match the still quite high waves.

Every rainbow is worth a picture as it is pure magic.

We are getting closer to Rodrigues, with only 130 nm to go. In the evening, we start to see other boats on the plotter. At first, it looks like one fishing boat, but the closer we get there are more and more of them, a whole little armada.

Day 12, Friday 1 September

We are happy to arrive in daylight. As usual, we see land from afar. It takes hours and hours to get closer. We thought we should get some lee from the island, but instead, the wind increases the closer we get.

We shall pass through an invisible reef; we just have to trust the plotter. Captain searches for a transit line without success. After a long while, I see a bright white light on a house in the direction we are moving. It must be for us seafarers. We proceed slowly and when we are inside the reef we take down our Genoa pole before turning 90° to the anchorage. There is a large cargo ship at the dock and a single sailboat. We anchor next to him, and soon we have two people from the border police and one from the health administration on board. You should have seen the eyes of the police officer in charge – so loving. Imagine all the police officers in such strong contact with their hearts!

After the quick meeting, we had to take the dinghy ashore to face customs and immigration, fill out many more papers and show passports. Before we were ready with everything, the sun was almost gone. Tired and satisfied, we celebrated this journey, 2013 nautical miles in 12 days and six hours, as successfully completed.

Saturday, 2 September, in Mathurin, Rodrigues

We are very happy that we managed to arrive in time for the Saturday market. Once a week the local farmers turn up at the marketplace and as we haven’t had a market since Darwin six weeks ago, we were eager to see what they could offer us. We were pleasantly surprised, everything looked very fresh, and the range was wide. We secured eggs and fresh vegetables and went back to the boat to wash, clean and rest.


  • We manage more than we think.
  • It helps to be present, breathing into what is.
  • Worrying about the unknown (high waves in this case) is 100% unnecessary and helps nothing.
  • It’s wonderful to have a boat that is seaworthy, rainproof and can take the waves smoothly.
  • Tasty food is a nice treat, preferably pre-cooked.
  • There is no need to be seasick – preventive pills exist and they work.
  • Take it easy and relax a lot.
  • Unexpected creativity can come even under those circumstances.
  • The ocean carries us, again!


Our next passage will be from Reunion to Richards Bay, around ten days. Stay tuned. 

Cocos Keeling

Another remote island, an atoll consisting of 27 mini-islands in the middle of nowhere, specifically in the Indian Ocean, three and a half days sailing from Christmas Island. 

We want to arrive in daylight, so we can anchor safely on sand and not on one of the many coral heads. We have adjusted the sails, so we go slower. It’s early when we cross the sea border of Cocos, 12 nautical miles out. We have read that Border Force opens at 8am, so we keep approaching. The police call us at 7.30 on the VHF. They want to check the formalities: number of people on board, nationality, any animals or weapons on board and where we are from.

Even in daylight, approaching the anchorage is quite scary. There is a red and a green stick that marks the entrance, but there is also another stick that confuses us, and it looks dark everywhere, equal to coral, in the otherwise turquoise water. We turn back and call the police and ask. Better to appear stupid than a besserwisser going aground. The boat that came after us made almost the same mistake before we pointed him in the right direction. And just now another ship comes in, also without reading the entrance sticks correctly. This time the police spotted them and let them stay out there – I guess, until they have done the clear-in-procedure.

We pass the dark part and anchor on white sand. Many reef sharks circle around to say hello. And after a short while the police arrive. Very easy and friendly check-in procedure.

The only place for foreign boats to anchor is at the northern corner of Direction Island. From the boat we see a lot of coconut palms, a small jetty and some huts by the beach. We also see beautiful little white terns flying in pairs, which I later read are called love birds.

History says that this island was discovered by Captain William Keeling in 1609. Much later, in 1825, the French ship, Mauritius, made another attempt but was wrecked. Charles Darwin on HMS Beagle visited the island in 1836.

Residence at Cocos Keeling began in 1826 when the Clunies-Ross family started to export copra – whole coconuts were exported to Singapore and Mauritius, and coconut oil to Java and Great Britain. Much of the islands were cleared to make way for endless rows of palm trees, and labour was imported from Malaysia. The coconut export is history now – the palm trees remain as a living memory. The island was declared British in 1857. Since 1955 they belong to Australia, self-governing at the local level.

So here we are in what feels like a paradise. When we go ashore, we get to know that this was a strategic place in the First and Second World Wars. The short walk around the island tells the story. 
In the early 20th century, the world started to connect to each other through telegraphs. Cables got laid out on the ocean floor, with cable stations at strategic places. From the UK to Perth in Australia, via Durban, Mauritius, Rodrigues and here at Cocos Keeling (1901). Another link went up to Jakarta and later Singapore. This cable station was destroyed in 1914 by the Germans during the First World War. It was rebuilt and finally closed in 1966 when a new, more direct cable replaced the old one.

The Cocos Keeling was reached by air for the first time in 1939 during the Second World War. A military airbase was established on West Island, in 1945. 

A new era of communication technology is developing, this time from above. Elon Musk has made satellite communication, Starlink, available for the public. 

Cargos comes every sixth week with supplies, and aircraft comes every second week with fresh food. Small ferries make daily tours between Home and West Island. 

And some yathies pass by during the trade wind season. We have been three boats here this week, and last night came another two. It’s still remote and strong winds come and go, making it very tough to go anywhere.

The locals also come here on the weekend to have a picnic. We got invited to eat with them. The kids picked small stones of glass to write their names in the sand.

Although a military ship is anchored in the entrance to Cocos Keeling, it looks like tourism is the thing these days. Small boats come from time to time to visit the fine coral beach here at 

Direction Island. For the first time we leave an imprint after us. 

The main attraction is the Rip – a narrow strait between Direction Island and the next, Home Island – where a strong current makes it possible to float with it and watch all the fish.

As on Christmas Island, we see many small crabs; hermit crabs that protect themselves in borrowed empty mollusc shells, and so-called ghost crabs that dig holes in the sand. They love coconuts, and people who come here leave open nuts for them to eat.

Another special thing is here in abundance – it is sea cucumbers, an expensive delicacy if you ask the Chinese people. They are the size of large green cucumbers, but they are alive and black and live on the sandy seabed. We tried them – taste like squid.

Locals use a machete to open coconuts. Westerners drill and then use an axe. And here on the boat, captain also uses a drill and then a Japanese knife. The nut is hard! Imagine the power of that little shot to get through the shell.

Christmas Island

In the light of the full moon, we round the northern tip of Christmas Island, a small island in the Indian Ocean, about ten days’ sail from Darwin, Australia. Looking for a mooring, we see lots of flying fish in the light of the flashlight. We also see a huge jetty and some large dark buildings. Flying Fish Cove (the name of the anchorage and bay) is open to the sea, but the high mountain gives sea lee, and the 20-knot trade wind feels calmer here. We catch the third buoy, the one farthest from the jetty, but only two boat lengths to the rocks where the waves loudly announce themselves, along with the many birds that seem to be living on the tree-clad rock wall just behind us. There are two more boats here, from the USA and France, and later we learn that we are the seventh yacht to visit this season (end of July 2023).

Here I share my main impressions of this remote and unique island.

The first impression of Christmas Island in daylight is all the birds. The mountain next door is filled with birds in the trees. We learn that many species only live here, and up the hill, there is a bird feeder for the Boobies, who don’t make it on their own on the first try.

Looking down into the turquoise water, I see many small aquarium-like black fish swimming around the boat. They hang around us all week. When we later snorkel, we see many more beautiful fishes and live corals. Anchoring is prohibited, and they have nine solid moorings (10AUD/night or 50/week) and some huge ones for larger vessels. The local fishing regulations state that we can only pick four lobsters per day!

The third impression is the large jetty, yellow buildings and cranes on the other side of the bay. It is phosphate mining that takes place – the main reason why this island is inhabited. British sailors found this mineral in the late 1890s and claimed the right to the island. (Since 1958, however, it belongs to Australia.) People from China, Malaysia and India came to work in the mining operations. A Silver City with aluminium houses was built for the workers, and they have a huge hardware store with the saying – what’s not sold here, you don’t need.

Of course, there are nice people here too. It started with the super easy and pleasant meetings with the Bio-clearance check and Custom, who took their time on a Sunday. My biggest concern, about having fresh food and eggs on board, wasn’t even a question for them.

There is a shortage of cars. We were too late to book, but luckily it worked out anyway. In the hunt for a car, we were invited to dinner by Nigel and Ruby at Ocean View Apartments. Every Monday they invite those who live in their apartments, friends, neighbours, and sailors to a free dinner. There we met Neesha, a teacher on the island, who offered to show us around!

About 2000 people live on the island, 60% of them from China, the rest from Malaysia, India and Australia. They are said to live in harmony with each other. Well-dressed Muslims with covered hair, living side by side with young people in shorts and tank tops or dressed as mermaids!

As we go ashore, an ultramarine blue apartment building stands out. The Malaysians live here, we learn. They are the ones who go to the mosque nearby, to pray five times a day. My eyes catch the different sofas outside each entrance.

The big thing on this island is the crabs. There are millions of them, twenty different species that live mostly on land, and some only on this island. Once a year they go down to the sea – at the end of October when the rains come – to mate and lay eggs. 

The crabs do a great job – they clean up and keep the rainforest clean and open by eating fallen leaves, seeds, fruit and grazing on new plants.

They also maintain an open and clear understory, aerate the soil and recycle nutrients that help plants grow. 63% of Christmas Island is a national park on ancient volcanoes and limestone, so they have a huge area to look after.

Now, during the dry season (May to October), the crabs hide in the shade and their holes in the ground. Now and then they come out to dehydrate in water. Below you see Red, blue and robber crabs.

The migration procedure begins with the male crabs going down to the sea (taking two weeks) and making a burrow where they mate with the females. Then the males go back up to the forest and the female crabs incubate the eggs (12–13 days), then spawn before dawn during the last quarter of the moon – after this, the females also return.

The eggs hatch immediately on contact with water, and in 30 days larvae develop into megalops. They make it to the beach and transform into crabs that live on the shore for six weeks before returning to the first forest plateau. It takes four years before they become adults.

During this time, a total of two months, the roads are full of crabs. Roads are closed and on the ones that have to be kept open, people use scrapers to get around. They have built low fences on the sides of the roads, to direct the crabs to pass beside the road and through tunnels, and in one place over a bridge.

The good thing about missing this spectacular migration is that the roads are open, and we can see around the island.

Another very spectacular phenomenon can be found here, and that is the so-called blow holes. Water shoots up from the holes in the limestone, makes a loud noise and splashes us wet. Nature has so many wonders!

We had heard that the food supply comes to the island every other Friday and that the fresh vegetables only last a few days. It wasn’t too bad, even after a week they had plenty of onions, potatoes, apples, carrots and some cabbage. A lot of cans and frozen food were available. The prices were higher, but on the other hand, the alcohol was duty-free and offered a huge variety we have not seen since in Europe.

Diesel was only available in jerry cans at the petrol station for AUD 2.90/litre when we were there. 30% more expensive compared to Australia (where we got it duty-free on departure), but in a remote location like this still good.

One last thing from this island to mention is all the beautiful beaches. As sailors, we get plenty of sun and water, so we skipped this, also because the beach at Flying Fish Cove was great and offered nice snorkelling. At cycling distance, we instead found The Grotto – a cave with sweet water at a perfectly cooling temperature.
The last picture shows our magnificent night view from the anchor.

On the way back to Europe

Hi, we are now on the way back to Europe. In some days we will leave Darwin for the Indian Ocean and some of its islands. We will take the southern route to South Africa and then up to the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Azores.


Auckland, photos: Anna Eriksson

Finally, we are in Auckland with Vista! This was our goal when we left Stockholm. At that point, we had no idea how hard it should be to come here. First, the whole pandemi reduced the numbers of boats that got visas to come here – only for one reason – refit & repair. Secondly, there are very hard to get a berth here, as it is so crowded all over – even if there are many and big marinas around the coastline. They even stack their motorboats on top of each other! That ”room” is also the entrance to the marina.

We are in Oram’s marina, right in the middle of the city. It is so cool! The big grey boat Dapple is just a toyboat – having a subamrine and pressurechamber – amongst a lot more. So we are a mini-boat in this marina. We anyway get a great help of many skilled craftsmen that are having their businesses close by.

We were very lucky to have dolphins joining us on the way here!

La Luna, The Moon 2019-2020

This is my tribute to the Moon. And to the women group Luna that I participated in with big gratitude. I am born and have lived most of my life in the beautiful capital of Sweden, Stockholm. Mostly I never saw the moon. When we started to sail I saw her always. Here will follow my favourite pictures of the moon during our sailing from Stockholm end of May 2019 to New Zealand December 2020.

Stockholm 19 mars 2019, 20.24 – our first winter on Vista. We stayed in Wasahamnen, in the city and went walking around Djurgården every night. This is just outside the restaurant Oaxen – well worth a visit.
Galicien, Punta das vallas, Illa de Faro 15 August 2019, 22.19 – the crescendo and moment when it all turned to gold.
Porto Santo, the small island north of Madeira, 12 September 2019, 20.19 This day, every year, they celebrate Christopher Columbus coming back. The whole village was out – it was very moving.
La Gomera, San Sebastian marina, 12 November 2019, 21.37 – we stayed three weeks on this very cosy island.
North Atlantic, 24 December 2019, 7.11 – this is our third day on the Atlantic – it was quite calm so I dared to use the oven and make a Janssons frestelse to celebrate Christmas.
North Atlantic 9 January 2020, 20.22 – just love the moon gates
North Atlantic, 15 January 2020, 2.05 – it can be so dark in the middle of the night. The moon is always a great companion.
Lake of Gatún, 13 Mars 2020, 23.05 – this is the lake in the middle of the Panama canal. We came there quite late and the moon was just visible some short moments.
North Pacific, 21 Mars, 2020, 4.59 – this is our fourth day on the passage over Pacific to French Polynesia. Five days later we pass the equator and are then on the South Pacific.
South Pacific, 7 April 2020, 18.48
South Pacific, 7 April 2020, 19.17 – same night, just half an hour later and so different!
South Pacific 8 April, 2020, 18.26 – and the night after another style and color
South Pacific, 14 April 2020, 4.55 – saw all those round balls up in the sky.
South Pacific, 16 April 2020, 4.55 – now we are very close to land. 18 April we reach Hiva Oa after 33 days on the Pacific.
Tauhata, Hanatefau, 1 June 2020, 16.24 – this I think is the best spot to anchor in Marquesas Islands. The mountain is like a wall, protecting against headwinds. Several Amel-owners stayed here under the confinement. In the nearby small village, Hapatoni, Tehine in the blue house is cocking for the sailors. A really sweet spot in the world.
The Channel Bordelais between Hiva Oa and Tauhata, 1 June 2020, 17.37 – I love how the small white wave kind of mirroring the moon.
Nuku Hiva, 4 June 2020, 17.53 – like a painting
Papeete, 1 September 2020, 19.37 – this is our second (of four) full moon in Papeete, the capital in French Polynesia. 9 November we finally got permission to continue to New Zealand. We leave the same day to Moorea.
South Pacific, 29 November 2020, 20.50 – we are east of Kermadec Islands – the full moon is amazing!
South Pacific, 29 November 2020, 20.57
South Pacific 30 November, 5.54 – it continued until the early morning!
8 December we reached Opua after 21 days at sea.
New Zealand, Whangamumu bay 27 December 2020, 21.17
New Zealand, Whangamumu bay 28 December 2020, 21.18 – the night after we where not anymore the yacht most far out. Still another painting. 30 December we arrive to Whangarei which will be our home for a while.

To become an ocean sailor

I have learnt that the big transformation is happening when you come in contact with the stuff you don’t know that you don’t know. Zero consciousness before you enter a new ”land” and suddenly are aware of things you had no clue about before. 

For me, this happened when I (and my husband) to my surprise became ocean sailors and liveaboards. With that decision came new experiences that have given us access to a much bigger arena in life — the oceans, not only the Baltic sea. The capacity to sail day and night for weeks in a row. 

We were at a point in life that a lot felt like a peak — we lived very well in a big apartment in the city of Stockholm, we both run and enjoyed our own businesses, in good health we had 6-7 weeks of every summer for sailing in the Baltic – since the last 21 years. We had friends who sailed to Scotland back and forth during one summer and others who easily made a night jump from our favourite islands, Christiansø to Gotland. Just like that. We thought they were very brave. That was not for us we justified — we sailed only daytime from harbour to harbour or anchor-spot. Once we wanted to see the North sea-going through the Kiel channel. As the western wind blow very strongly and our motor was very weak we turned around halfway and at that point, we said that Baltic is good enough for us. 

What I can see now is that the curiosity and lust for exploring something new weren’t present to a high degree. Actually, we were content and very busy. So busy that existence helped me fall, not only once but twice one summer, so we just had to cool down and be still and recover me — and with that getting time to talk about the future. We realized that we didn’t have a compelling plan for the future, more than more of the same. When that sank in we quickly realized it was time for new challenges. As my husband was close to retirement I understood that if we should sail further out in the world it has to happen quite soon. I had to let go of my fear of not being able to cover my costs while living onboard. We both decided to trust that life is meant for exploring more and more of our own capacity to serve and be a contribution to the world. After that everything went fast and it didn’t take long before we had decided to sell our apartment and buy a new yacht built for sailing on the oceans. 

To count as an ocean sailor you have to make a crossing. To become a full member in Ocean Cruising Club, OCC, one has to sail a minimum 1500 nm non-stop. For us in the Nordic countries, the Atlantic crossing is the most obvious one. Every year hundreds of yachts leave Canarias for the West Indies in December – January when the trading winds is to our favour. After the crossing, you have the right to wear red trousers.

Our first crossing – Atlantic
It took us one year to make the shift to living aboard and another year to complete our work and life in Stockholm. And further six months to sail down to Canarias. 

I had so many thoughts and questions before our first crossing. How about if something happened with us or with the boat? What can happen? How big is the risqué? Is it irresponsible to sail only the two of us? Shall we join ARC as it is our first passage? Shall we take on a crew? How to calculate the food and how to keep it fresh? Will I be able to cook when it is rolling a lot? What exactly is a squall that people say will come? And how is it to be in 3-4 meters waves? Will I be seasick? Will I be able to sleep? And so on…

The scariest thing I think was to let go of land (being far away from) and with that the possibilities to get help in urgency. A life raft is, of course, something — but who wants to jump into it and hang out in the middle of a big rough sea? 

Already on our first small trip right out in the Atlantic — from Cascais to Porto Santos in Portugal, three days and nights — we got the feeling that we will make it. The captain said he could have gone on and on. And I felt it was ok as well.

Months later came the big day after many weeks of preparation in Las Palmas. Food was precooked, all lockers were filled. Extra water, extra diesel, extra everything! We got help to place the AIS-mob correctly in our Ocean spinlock deck wests. The last thing we purchased was a Hypalon dinghy. The only thing I didn’t found was pepper spray. A friend said I gonna find it at St Martin. In case someone should come and border us in the Karibien –  we checked Noonsite reports carefully. Our boat neighbour and I joked about (to reduce the anxiety) how we should handle over some money in a fish-nets and ask them to please leave us, in case it happened. All this tension! 

Boats were leaving almost every day and every time, we could both see and hear that something big was about to happen. Foghorn howl, people were standing waving on the pontoons. Impossible to miss. I still remember the feeling strongly the morning it was our turn. 

Friends came to the diesel-ponton — we did top up the last — big hugs and helping hands. Waving hands from the other side. Yes, off we went! Now it was for real. Three weeks or so waited in front of us before we should see land next time. 

Rest is history. Of course, we made it. It was bumpy. Waves got higher and higher. Squalls were coming on us as well. A steady wind from the back the whole time. I did take seasick plastic, so I didn’t get seasick. I cooked and I slept. It was a huge feeling to drop the anchor in St Anne bay at Martinique. We stayed there for days before we slowly took the new dinghy and cleared us in on the other side of Atlantic. Now we knew. Now we had our own experience. We made it!

We left 21 Dec — made a stop at Mindelo, Cap Verde, three nights — left again 1 January and arrived at Martinique on 15 January 2020. 2108 nm + 887 to Cap Verde. 

The journey continues and with that a new passage: Pacific
In our case we had decided from the beginning that we should sail as far away first (=New Zealand) and from there slowly take us back to Europe via South Africa and Karibien again. 

So two months later we stood stand by in Shelter Bay marina to pass out through Panama channel for Pacific. This time we were not worried at all for the passage to Marquesas — actually we did look forward to it. The only difference was the longer distance and with that, to bring more food. We were lucky to get the tip about Panama Mercado — a huge Mercado where they sold fresh (and not fridged) fruit and vegetables. Perfect! Best so far — be sure to go there — it is worth the cab drive. Information about the coronavirus had been activated the last days, but as we had our zarpe — international clearance to Marquesas — we decided to go wave by wave. After a month on the sea it must be over anyway we thought. 

If Atlantic was our first very important virgin trip, with Pacific came the decision, or rather the consequences, to go all the way around the world. Many passages would follow. 
What happened after a week or so on the Pacific was that we got the message via our iridium satellite mail, that French Polynesia closed their borders. Sailors on the way should go directly to Papeete and then fly home. This was a quite chocking message out there and we frenetically tried to get some more information with the help of friends on land. We soon realized that all countries were closed. 

At that moment we started to look more wildly on the world and asked ourselves — why don’t we go north to Hawaii instead? We measured — distance was almost the same. Easy – we can do that! There and then I felt how we had in-bodied being ocean sailors! Looking for openings and solutions, not fearing what it should take. We can sail on oceans. 

This passage anyway ended up in Marquesas — you can read about the whole trip — my Pacific reflections here. It was a marvellous tour — I just loved being out there. 

We left Panama 17 Mars and arrived at Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands 18 April 2020.
4030 nm in 32 days. 

The third passage to New Zealand
Now we have done our third long passage — from Bora bora at the Society Islands to Opua in New Zealand. We are one of few boats that, after very long waiting, has got permission to enter for refit and repair. The feeling of confidence is still with us. We have more experience, it is easier and goes quicker to prepare. With this passage came other questions. Every water is new before it is entered. About this one, we had heard that the last third part should be tough. End of trading winds with the wind in the back. Welcome to sailing in between low pressures, adjusting the sails more often, even tacking against the wind and sea. 2100 nm the bird way, much longer in the reality. We got to the test the boat and us in 46 knots, the most so far. We closed everything as big waves rushed over the boat over and over again. We sailed on the genua with all three reeves enrolled. From Kermadec Islands (south of Tonga) we most rightly had to tackle against the wind and sea. And then the wind decreased significantly. We counted hours and litre diesel — do we dare to start the motor already out here? No, not yet. Luckily wind soon came back. (Even if you carry extra diesel you can never have so much that you can motor the whole way. We have 600 l — that’s enough for around five days including running the generator to get water and electricity.)

As you know they have strict regulations on bio food in New Zealand – they will border us directly when we enter to check that we are not bringing any meat, chicken, fish, fruit, vegetables, eggs or dairy with us. In my understanding, we are not allowed to bring any food at all. That’s tricky as it is hard to say exactly how many days the journey will take.  I asked if I could keep a canard for having as dinner our first night in Opua (to celebrate achieving our goal after 1,5 years sailing). No, no avian foods are allowed sorry, our agent responded…. It turned out well in the end. To my disappointment, they didn’t come aboard to look at my empty and well-cleaned fridges, freezer and cupboards. And after covid test, our agent had organized a food deliverance, so of course, we could make a celebration dinner with some very tasty wine from New Zealand – a present from our agent. 

I and my captain are looking at each other and we both know that being an ocean sailor means being prepared to change, to have patience and accept even the slow rides as well as the tough ones. To trust that we are taken care of as well. 

17 November to 7 December 2020- 21 days and 2591 nm from Bora bora. (+ 6 days and 166 nm from Papeete)

The beauty with ocean sailing is that you are surrounded by the most brilliant existence all the time. Ok, I hide in the cockpit or saloon when it is rough weather but soon I am up looking at the horizon — feeling tranquil with a lot of space and freedom. Witnessing the sun, the stares and the moon coming and going in the shades of the clouds. Feeling grateful over the message I receive of how Ok it is to just be. Getting remembered that the sun is always there, even when not visible. We as sailors are part of the big play going on out here. Riding on the waves, getting moved by the wind, getting power from the sun to our selves and our solar panels. We dip down and up — we are part of the big, big blue ocean. It is just a very great feeling. Enjoy, is all there is!

Sun and salt from Anna Eriksson at s/y Vista, an Amel supermaramu 2000 redline

Opua, 13 december 2020

Artikel i Oceanseglaren


I senaste numret av Oceanseglaren, nr 3, 2020 finns en artikel att läsa om hur vi lämnade allt och seglade iväg. Nöjsam läsning!

Only in swedish, an article about how we left all and sailed away.

Vista skönjas till höger i bild, Wasahamnen.

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. 

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.