Monthly Archives: Tuesday November 26th, 2013

In the mangroves

With all the heat and without a breeze we’re not very motivated to do big adventures. But yesterday when it started raining again, we set out on a little trip with the dinghy. The kids wanted to explore the tiny island next to our boat. So we set out with cooling rain and paddled into the mangroves.

Es regnet. Ideal fuer einen Ausflug in die Nachbarschaft.Was versperrt uns da den Weg ?Frische MangrovenwurzelnMehr Wurzelwerk, Licht- & Schattenspiele

We zigzag through the maze of little channels, discover some hidden birds and try (without success) to catch some geckos from a half sunken bamboo jetty. We could definately use a few of those animals on bord to eat away those mosquitos that try to keep us awake at night. Our way is blocked by a piece of an old pontoon that must have drifted in here and we turn around.

Quer ueber die kleine InselUeppige, tropische VegetationUnd raus auf der anderen SeiteAlles entdeckt, geht's wieder zurueck

On the way back we discover a little path that leads through the otherwise impenetrable jungle to the other side of the little island. Unfortunately I only have the small, waterproof camera with me – the big one would have done better shots. But at least there are some nice, colorful pics. Ey ?

A Panorama of SavusavuBruno and Viola at schoolThe neighbour island we explored earlierA view to the west with the marina on the left and the ferry dock in the back

And as I got started with the camera (and it stopped raining) I again went up the mast and took a few more shots. From up there the water looks surprisingly clear. From close-up that’s different and sometimes it also get’s a bit smelly. But I guess that’s just the mud that is exposed during low tide. On the pics you can see the Copra Shed Marina with the little jetties in front. There we spend some of the hotter afternoons when it’s getting uncomfortable on the boat. Well, here we will stay for the next months… Awful – isn’t it ? Also: don’t forget the mosquitos ! ;-)

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Letting nature cook (for) us

The first days in Savusavu went by quite swiftly. The usual routine: getting the laundry done, some basic shopping, getting to know the village, etc.
As we determined before, the people of Fiji are extremely friendly, the Indian population is extremely enterprising and the Curries that one can eat at nearly every place are hot, delicious and affordable.

So the first impression is quite good. And that definately should be so as we’ll be here for the rain season which officially lasts until April. That doesn’t mean, we’ll be stuck here on the mooring but here we’ll have our base and hideout in case a taifun is announced.

Panorama of the Nakama creekSome temple up on the hill ? Needs an investigation...Cooking a breadfruit in the hot springsWe found a POOL !!

As most all hurrican holes, Savusavu has the downside of plentiful rain, slightly muddy water thanks to the mangroves and the bay-in-bay setup and of course: mosquitos.  Not exactly sexy. But it’s ok – especially since we discovered that hotel with a pool ! We’re kind of tolerated but also seemingly the only bathing guests anyway.  On the way towards the pool we got two breadfruits as a present and as our path led us by the hot springs, we dropped one into the boiling water. After our refreshing splash we came back to pick up the nature-boiled breadfruit. Yamyam !

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(Deutsch) Interview mit Bruder Leichtfuss

Sorry, this entry is only available in Deutsch.

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Safe and sound

..arrived in Savusavu. Our -to be- rainseason quarters. Today we’ll check out the situation with the moorings and will search for an internet connection. But the first impression is quite nice. Also there is a french family on the boat next to us which we met in Bora Bora. The kids will love that.

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Homeschooling – and a thank you to the SY Mollymawk

Jill from the SY Mollymawk just published her second article about home – or rather on-bord schooling titeled ‘The results of the home-school experiment’. First, I’d like to thank Jill for taking time to write such insightful articles but instead of plain interest for us the importance is actually a different one. Although we may sail another ocean, we’re in the same boat when it comes to schooling our kids.
Of course we read books, articles and it’s one of the most prominent discussion topics amongst cruising families. But there still is a lack of confidence. This probably is rooted deep in our upbringing – both my wife Guillermina and me went through a formal education of european style. I didn’t like it much whereas my wife enjoyed it. And while I choose a life of labor, my wife’s thing was an academic career. But both we liked the ideas and concepts layed out in our favourite book about schooling: ‘Learning all the time’ by John Holt.
But just being fond of that concept doesn’t create a school environment nor does it teach your kids the essential skills needed for life and self-education. While the only decision 99% of all parents we know at home have is whether it’s gonna be a public or private school, we face the endless insecurity of whether we do it right and if it was a good decision after all. Choosing the life on sea and teaching the kids on our own is difficult, sometimes hard work and not always very satisfying. Although it can be. While Viola, aged five keeps asking for reading lessons and wants to write stories, learn Guitar, etc. Bruno seems to lose interest after a few minutes. But then there are these other moments too. A few days ago, we sat in the Government building in Levuka, Fiji. Bruno sees a picture of all the ministers and wants to know exactly what they do, how they come to be in charge and even has suggestions to improve the situation. And while we wait for nearly two hours to get our cruising permit – instead of nagging and jumping around in his seat, we train mathematics and calculate how far a human could count if it were the only thing he was doing in his life. Through the window we watch toads trying to escape the blazing sun as the lawn is being cut and Bruno, aged seven, tries to understand why the toads won’t just go straight for the shadow to their right. We end up in a discussion about genes, brain sizes, adaptation, the moisture of the skin, the usual habitat of those reptiles, the difference between toads and frogs, etc. Yes – this is ‘doing school’ for us and that is what both we and our kids enjoy. – It doesn’t always have to involve book, desks and pens. But it has to be an enjoyable way of learning things.

Interested in everythingAyyyy !!Still the favourite: painting.Exciting science. Yay !

Thanks to the crew of the Mollymawk we are once more ensured that we’re doing the right thing and that (given the right circumstances) it will work out well for our kids – independent of what their later plans for life will be.

Here you can find the mentioned articles:
Part 1: The purpose of education
Part 2: Results of the homeschooling experiment

Also when you’re at it, don’t miss out on the amazing books Jill wrote. Highly recommended !!

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Levuka, Ovalau island, Fiji

Although we already are anchored at the next postcard island, I still have to post some pictures of Levuka, our first contact with Fiji. I mentioned the funny haircuts but somehow forgot to shoot some pictures of the beautiful ladies of Levuka… Well, those will come later, I guess. Also worth mentioning is that Levuka once was the capital of Fiji ! Hard to believe as it’s a quiet, little Village.

The cowboy-western-style waterfront of LevukaTown center with churchAnd while other governments still argue about it - Fiji is preparing itselfWalking in the shade, along the main street

As we found nearly everywhere else too, there are numerous schools and plenty of kids everywhere. All dressed up in nice, colorful school uniforms. A treat for the eye !

When we picked up the cruising permit, I noticed the schedule of the authority. It has a seminar on climate change for the employees. Yeah – when the big polluters of the earth still are arguing whether or not it’s true, the island nations of this world are getting prepared for the worst.

Schoolyard at midday.School kids posing in front of strange emblem.At the little pond, in the middle of the tropical forestPlaying with the new toy cooking set

Maybe the people of Levuka will also start thinking of getting rid of that awfully noisy Diesel generator located in the center of the village that provides power for the whole island. There would be more than enough sun to power all homes here on the island and as for storage, I suggest to use that huge fuel tank up on the hill. One could use the excess power during midday to pump up salt water and use a turbine to generate power during the night. – Just a thought…. But I guess burning fuel is (still) just too convenient.

Back down towards the villageThe old mason's building. It was burned down because some people beliefed it would be an entrance to hell. (Turns out - it wasn't...)In front of the town hall.Taking the street back towards the sea. Schoolkids ahead.

Alright. Enough of the ranting. There are also some pics of our little hike up the hill to the little freshwater pond. On the way the kids got a little toy cooking set and when we were back on the ship they promptly openend a restaurant on the foredeck. Let’s see if someone can decypher Viola’s menu. It’s a wild mix of german, spanish and english but it shows promise and she’s definately not lacking inspiration. Also  – she’s still just five. :-)

An icecream !! After weeks and weeks without.Bruno and viola opening a restaurant on the foredeckViola's menu is a mix of spanish and german words and lettering. Takes a little vantacy tu reed.Together with the SY Optimist we sail towards Leluvia, our next stop.

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A few days in the past – The island Nuku in Tonga

Before leaving Tonga we spent a few more days at a little, lonely island called Nuku. We were already cleared out so we shouldn’t have stayed but it was just too hard to say good bye. See for yourself…. It’s crazy.

Nuku. Our own little island for three days.Not too bad - isn't it ?The perfect little beachBruno having endless fun in the crystal clear water

Haha.My beautiful little princess.A tropic bird.Splash !

The colors are just unbelievable.But still sometimes it's school timeViola concentrated at workFinally we lift up the anchor and set out towards Fiji...

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Zwei Tage in Levuka

Die ersten beiden Tage in Fiji sind recht schnell vergangen. Erst mal, weil wir sowieso viel Behoerdenkram zu erledigen hatten und dann sind wir auch kreuz und quer durch das Oertchen und haben uns alles mal angesehen. – Soviel gibt’s ja hier nicht, aber witzig ist das schon. Ich meine, der krasse Gegensatz mal wieder, zu den anderen Inseln. Also man wuerde es ja nicht glauben, aber die Waterfront von Levuka sieht aus, wie die einer Westernstadt. So mit Saloon und so – nur dass halt eben kein Saloon mit Cowboyhelden zu finden ist, sondern zumeist Laeden und Lokale, die von Indern bewirtschaftet werden. Die Leute aus Fiji selbst sind Melanesier und Bruno fand vor allem die Frisuren der Frauen recht witzig – die tragen fast alle Afro-look. ‘Die haben alle runde Frisuren !!’ Hehe. Sehr, sehr nett sind alle und alle gruessen freundlich mit ‘Bula !’ oder ‘Bulabula !’, fragen nach dem wohin und woher und so weiter. Verstaendlich auch, sind wir doch erst die zehnte Yacht, die in di
esem Jahr hier war. – Kaum zu glauben….
Und weil noch immer kein Wind ist und die drueckend heisse Luft einem das T-Shirt am Ruecken kleben laesst, sind wir heute zusammen mit Christine und Hannes von der SY Optimist die Wasserleitung entlang den Berg hoch gewandert und haben einen tollen, kleinen ‘Pool’ im Bach entdeckt. Erfrischendes Suesswasserbad mit 25 Grad, im Schatten der Tropenbaeume. Ein Traum !
Also Fiji zeigt sich von seiner besten Seite und ich bin schon gespannt, was der naechste Stopp bringt. Morgen gehen wir mal ankerauf und tuckern etwa 10 Meilen zu einer suedlich gelegenen, winzig kleine Insel namens Leleuvia. Am Sonntag oder Montag sollte der Wind zurueckkommen, dann geht’s nach Savusavu in den Norden.

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Arrived in Fiji !

Today in the early morning hours we made our final approach through the endless islands of Fiji. We made landfall at 0900h local time. After a walk to customs, health, harbour master, biosecurity and immigration we finished the clearing in process. Despite being a little lenghty all officials were extremely friendly and forthcoming. We also still didn’t quite master it as tomorrow we have to retrieve our cruising permit for our future voyages in the archipelago.

Levuka was the former capital of Fiji and although it’s only a tiny little village it is quite charming, the people are extremely friendly, food is cheap and it’s very hot ! We like it ! Yeyeyeee !!

More later – when we found an internet connection….

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Back in the east !!

As I downloaded the weather information and looked at our position I realized: We’re back on the ‘eastern’ side of the globe again ! About eight miles ago we crossed from the western to the eastern hemisphere – currently we’re at 179° and 51′ EAST ! Heh. It’s only a letter on the GPS – but the meaning is clear: With every mile we’re sailing, we’re getting closer to home. Although that concept of home seems rather unreal right now.
Anyway. Last night we navigated through the Lau islands. Very exciting at night ! We saw the last island disappear on the horizon just as the sun rose. Right now we’re in the Koro Sea and about half an hour ago again we saw land: The island of Ngau on the port side and Koro on the starbord side. Both islands are about 35 nm away and we’ll try to navigate in between, afterwards going north of Nairai and Mbatiki towards our destination. We expect to make landfall in the first hours of daylight. The SY Optimist whom we last saw exactly one year ago will also be there. Nice !!

LATITUDE: 17°45.86S, LONGITUDE: 179°51.01W, COURSE: 258T, SPEED: 4.1, WIND: E3, TO GO: 57nm

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Quer durch die Lau Gruppe

Also erst mal die gute Nachricht: Wir haben Wind. Zwar nicht viel, aber es reicht um immerhin mal ueber 4 Knoten zu segeln. Uff !! Das war auch echt notwendig, die Nerven lagen schon etwas blank.
Und da es der Wind natuerlich unmoeglich macht, irgendwas zu planen, segeln wir also nun nachts durch die Lau Gruppe. Wohl die Perlen von Fiji oder so: wunderschoene kleine Pilz-Inseln mit tollen Korallenriffen. Werden wir uns vielleicht spaeter noch ansehen. Erst mal muessen wir aber zu einer der groesseren Inseln im Westen, zum Einklarieren. Die ersten paar Riffe und Atolle haben wir schon hinter uns, gerade segeln wir suedlich an Thakau Lasemarawa vorbei. Dann kommt noch ein Riff an Backbord und die Insel Thithia an Steuerbord, dann sind wir erst mal durch. Wenn der Wind halbwegs bestaendig bleibt (haha) sollten wir dann uebermorgen zum Sonnenaufgang auf unser vorlaeufiges Ziel, Ovalau zusegeln. Spaeter vermutlich dann weiter nach Savusavu, mal anschaun, wie dieses ‘Taifun-Hole’ nun echt aussieht. Wir brauchen ja noch ein sicheres Versteck fuer die Regenzeit…

LATITUDE: 17°52.77S, LONGITUDE: 178°37.78W, COURSE: 277T, SPEED: 4.2, WIND: E3, TO GO: 144nm

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Day 3 towards Fiji

Still no wind. The mood on board is deteriorating.
Also we just received a revealing email about Savusavu and decided to not go there. Instead we’ll aim for Levuka on the island of Ovalau. But honestly we don’t know where to go after that. I guess, we’ll find out soon….

LATITUDE: 17°48.30S, LONGITUDE: 177°04.34W, COURSE: 252T, SPEED: 3.3, WIND: ENE2, TO GO: 233nm

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Und wieder kaum Wind (Tag zwei Richtung Fiji)

Der Pazifik macht’s uns echt nicht leicht. Schon wieder schlagen die Segel und ich kaempfe stundenlang mit der Windsteuerung, um unsere Wohnschachtel irgendwie halbwegs geradeaus steuern zu koennen.
Nachdem wir die Nacht ueber immer wieder manuell steuern mussten, habe ich heute Morgen das Teil mal auseinandergenommen, eine Flasche WD40 versprueht und danach alles ordentlich eingefettet. Weiters hab ich auch die Steuerseile, die ich in Tonga nachjustiert habe wieder gelockert um bloss nicht irgendwie zusaetzlichen Widerstand zu generieren. Nun kann die Fleming Windsteuerung halbwegs Kurs halten. Naja. +/- 30 Grad – das ist das Beste, das ich rausholen konnte. Muss irgendwie gehen.
Zum Glueck kam gerade eine Regenwolke und hat uns mit sensationellen 10-12 Knoten Wind beglueckt, so kann mal kurz eine Email Tippen. Wenn die Wolke durch ist, heisst’s wieder am Steuer sitzen und die Windsteuerung ab und an wieder auf den richtigen Kurs zurueckbringen. Spi haben wir nicht probiert, das wuerde die Steuerung sowieso nicht schaffen. Mehr will ich auch gar nicht schreiben. Ich bin ziemlich genervt !

LATITUDE: 17°37.28S, LONGITUDE: 175°52.20W, COURSE: 277T, SPEED: 3.6, WIND: E2-3, TO GO: 278nm

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From Tonga towards Fiji, day 1

At last we could tear ourselfes away from the island of Nuku. Our little paradise, about 150m in diameter with 200m of gorgeous white beach.
Now again, we’re out on sea and although I’m quite angry with the windsteering, we’re doing well. I don’t know what’s wrong – I spent the last hours trying to figure it out but the windsteering (again) won’t work properly. At least it steers in one direction – so I can ‘unbalance’ the steering to starbord and it holds the course a bit. Every 5 to 10 minutes I have to manually interfere as 50% of the steering-power isn’t enough. Damn !! I really wish we could have a journey where everything works for once….
The weather is as predicted, the wind light and we’re a bit slow. But we should be able to reach Fiji in about four days. If the wind direction shifts to the east and the wind stays light, I might try the spinnakker, I bought in Tonga for 400USD.
The kids are asleep as is the capitana – again she was seasick today. *rrr* Hope it’s better tomorrow.

LATITUDE: 18°17.09S, LONGITUDE: 174°48.14W, COURSE: 308T, SPEED: 4.7, WIND: E3-4, TO GO: 351nm

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Noch immer in Tonga. Aber morgen geht’s los.

Wir sind noch nicht so richtig losgesegelt.
Eigentlich wollten wir nach dem Ausklarieren ja nur noch eine Nacht ein wenig ausspannen, bevor’s nach Fiji geht. Jetzt haben wir aber einen Strand bzw. eine kleine Insel entdeckt, die ist sowas von schoen. SOWAS von krass unglaublich bilderbuch-schoen, das koennt ihr euch nicht vorstellen !
Alan von der SY Zebedee ist auch hier und so haben wir beschlossen noch eine zweite Nacht dranzuhaengen. Aber morgen geht’s dann echt los.

Wollte nur bescheid sagen – nicht, dass sich jemand Sorgen macht, weil man uns auf See vermutet und wir uns nicht melden.

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