Category Archives: Plants

A few more pics from Tanna / Vanuatu

A few more pictures that I couldn’t upload when we still were in Tanna. One of my favorites is Viola with the parrot. Enjoy !

Unser Ankerplatz in Port Resolution - 250 Jahre nach James CookDer 'Yacht Club'Zwei Holz-Statuen am Eingang zum DorfEin Teil des kleinen Dorfes

Ein neues Haus wird gebaut...100% Naturmaterialien, 100% recycling-faehigKosten: 0$ (alles waechst in der Umgebung), Dauer bis Fertigstellung: ca. 1 WocheFussball am Fusse des Vulkans

Riesiger Bayan Tree - wer versteckt sich da ?Haensel und Gretel ?Die Dorfschule wurde beschenkt mit zwei grossen Tueten Material aus dem Bauch der SuvarovClaus, Bruno und eine Backpackerin - unterwegs Richtung Yasur

Ein Arbeiter kommt uns aus dem Wald entgegenUnd hat einen bunten, zahmen Papagei mit dabeiDer fluestert Viola irgendwas charmantes ins OhrDie kleine Piratenbraut macht ganz auf lieb

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Flowers at the market

The colors, the odors, the beauty. Come with me to the market of Port Vila:

Nelumbo nucifera: the wonderful lotus flowerThe lotus 'fruits'Different arrangementUnreal... but that's how they grow !

The flower lady and some customersBeauty in the shadowjust beautifulThese flowers we often found in the jungle

More flowersThe market... I love these woven basketsMy beautiful girlin the market

Bruno found his favourite petyellow eyesViola is also too happy......but the crying, because she can't keep the lizard.

…oooh yeah. And I miss my good Pentax camera ! The photos could be so much better with decent equipment. Well, well…

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At the Maroroya Falls

With all the heat in the engine room (and outside) we try everything to cool ourselves. A few days ago we set out on a little journey together with the crew of the SY Time Lord. Our destination: The Maroroya falls near the Nakawaga village. We get there by car (takes about 30′) and stop a little before the village where the path starts. The walk through the jungle is only about half an hour and very nice. Beautiful flowers and trees all around and soon the kids can hear the waterfall announcing itself through the thick, lush green.

Aussichts-FelsTolle BlumeFleckiges GewaechsIntensiv Lila

The kids have a lot of fun walking through the forest and the hightlight-  the bath in the cool, fresh water will not end. One can actually swim through the two little pools and go right under the fall itself. Where the water is quiet, in the little ponds the kids collect prawns – which they set free again after a while. (Too small to eat. ;-)

Diese erinnert an HerbstfarbenGesichterBesser...Wir sind am Ziel

75% LoslocosFlusskrebse fangenDschungelPflanzen auf Pflanzen

After a extensive picknick we start walking back. When we reach the road, we call for a cab which will take about 40 minutes to get here. As the sun burns down on us and we see a river nearby, we climb down and follow the creek until we reach deeper water. Another nice, cool bath, yay !

BlattDer Weg zum FlussDer Fluss mit ueppigen Bambusbuescheln im HintergrundNochmal schnell erfrischen, bevor's retour geht.

It was a really nice little trip  – we should do that more often. Well – now that my engine project is on hold, I guess we’ll get out of the dreaded anchorage more often…

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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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Utukalongalu market and a few faces of Tonga

The last few hours in Tonga and we spend it in front of the computer. Hehehe.

Nah – not really. We will putter down to the main wharf and clear out of Tonga alright but tonight we’ll still spend one more night around the corner in a quiet anchorage. Tomorrow during the day, we’ll set sails and go to Fiji.

So here are some more pictures for you, taken in the ‘main town’ of Vavau: Neiafu.

A house on the side of the 'main street'We're far away from everywhere it seemsTongan schoolgirlsTongan youth with the traditional uniform

Traditional clothing: black and woven pandanus mats around the waist.a tongan car. Hehe.The computer shop (think of that, next time you enter Walmart or Media Markt)Lady selling vegetables in the market

Another old lady sellin her homegrown saladWe also get some fresh herbsWoven baskets and other beautiful artefactssilhouette of a schoolgirl with a coconut in her hand

Taro rootBoys and girls :-)traditional clothingStreet scene in Neiafu

Also we’ll be without internet of course and have only our SSB connection. But we should be back online beginning next week when we arrive in SavuSavu.

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The first anchorage at Vaka’eitu

Our first stop outside of Neiafu was at the anchorage No.16 on the western side of Vaka’eitu. A very peaceful little island inhabitated by only one family. We arrived there last saturday just in time to participate in a traditional Tongan feast with a pig roasted over open fire and many roots and vegetables baked in an earth oven. Veeery nice !!

The beachside of anchorage #16The view to the west with some of the small, beautiful islands of Vava'uPreparing for the feastYoga on the beach in the morning hours

Next day we took a hike together with Harald and Veronica from the SY Tagtraeumer – the one other austrian sailboat currently in Vava’u waters. It took some time for us to discover that we actually met before. That was in Mindelo, Cabo Verde in December 2011.

The walk over to the other side of the island leads through beautiful lush tropical forest and the beach on the eastern side is amazing. Unfortunately it was too windy and the sea to choppy to go for a swim.

A little hike to the other side of the islandCrazy vegetationA little window in the canopy throws sunlight at my two girlsA beautiful girl I encountered on the beach :-)

We stayed for four days and then finally said good bye (again) to our friend Dan from the SY Red Sky Night. He took off towards Fiji to press on towards Australia.

Bruno strolling alongViola and Bruno running on the beachThe skipper looks a lot younger with short hair, ey ?A heavily weathered treetrunk

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Going for a little hike up the hill

Poor Guillermina again has an ear infection and thus the noisy three leave the boat for a little excursion. There is a nice hill just behind the beach and we want to check it out. So we grab a drink, a few apples and some bread into our rucksack and set out in search for an entry to the path that’s supposedly following the ridge up the hill.

After half an hour walk along the road we really find an entrance to the forest and start fighting our way through the bushes and over crumbly earth and loose rocks. It’s not really a nice walk but the view from up here is absolutely amazing. Once we reach the little ‘summit’ we have our lunch and watch the boats down in the anchorage. We can see the surfers at the pass taking the waves, the speedboats zooming past the beach in full speed, etc.

We’re back down at sea level early in the afternoon and enjoy the ‘fresh’ 30 degree Pacific to wash off all the dirt from our trip. It was great – even more so as it was the first proper movement for me after having had a swollen, nearly unusable foot for a couple of weeks now. Well, my ankle is ok but now it’s Gui who’s fighting another infection. *rrr*

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Climbing Mont Aorai

To avoid mental meltdown after staying on the boat for too long, Zac and me got out to climb a mountain. The Mont Aorai with its 2070m should be a very beautiful hike and it has two huts in convenient locations to spend a night there.

So we took the bus around midday and arrived at Pirae at 13h. We walked past the village and asked our way through towards the Belvedere, a small restaurant at 700m where the actual trail will start.

It took us quite some time to get there and the walk on the paved road was quite exhausting but once on the trail I removed the shoes and we finally walk through nature. One of the better things is to walk barefoot and feel the moist, stony, muddy ground. The beginning of the trail follows along the side of a valley until it reaches the ridge on which it stays for quite some while. Actually most part of the trail is right ON the ridge with both sides being quite steep and usually leading a few hundered meters down.

Just before nightfall we reached the first hut on 1400m and we had a nice dinner with Couscous, vegetables, soup and coffee. The night was chilly and windy and we were glad that the backpack Zac got from the SY Ustupu would fit perfectly into the empty windowframe. That way it was much more comfortable and after having fun with our headlamps and the long-exposure mode of the camera, we slept until eight in the morning.

On the second day we continued our way up through the clouds and a wild, dripping wet rainforest full of fern trees and with everything covered with moss and lichen (old man’s beard). The air is damp and completely saturated and the scene might change on the next corner after which we might find ourselves out of the clouds and surrounded with pine trees and walking on dry grass.

After a short stop at the hut on 1800m we leave our backpacks and continue towards the summit. The path gets slightly more difficult and we reach the peak shortly after midday. A little snack and a few photos later we’re already on our way down where we soon again find ourselves surrounded by the clouds. Unfortunately those are now over-saturated and it starts to rain around us. It will continue to be wet until we reach the end of the footpath.

That of course means that a big part of the hike downwards is quite slippery and gets very tricky as much of the ground is composed of red clay. But we reach the Belvedere just before sunset and are very lucky to get a ride down to the village. And as we already know the polynesian way, we’re not surprised as one of the guys who is riding with us in the back of the pickup truck offers to get us to the marina. He just has to get back home and get his own car. The local people are extremely friendly and helpful and are not shy to drive two dirty, sweaty aliens around the island.

All of the above photos were made by Zachary Shane Orion Lough. You can find more pictures on his website.

Posted in LosLocos, Pics, Plants, Rancho Relaxo, Travel | 3 Comments

Picture torrent in the Pacific

Now that we finally have an internet connection, I’ll start to upload pictures of the last islands. Starting with our car trip through the island of Hiva Oa of the Marquesas archipelago, where we visited some archaeologic sites with ‘Tikis’. It was an amazing trip but see for yourself:

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Fatu Hiva

The first island we sat foot on after crossing the Pacific Ocean was Fatu Hiva. The island is quite small – about seven miles in north/south direction – and extremely green. When doing landfall in the Galapagos, we could smell the volcanic rocks far out on sea. Here, the breeze was carrying the scents of flowers and fruits. The way up along the west side of the island was long and tiresome as there was no wind and without engine, we had to relay on the little wind we had. But it even got worse when we had to enter the bay. There was either no wind or strong gusts falling down from the mountains. It took us nearly three hours to get to our final position.

When going towards shore for the first time, we took a bottle of rum and exchanged it for a big bag of fruits. Fantastic grapefruits, oranges, lemons and bananas. Finally – after many days without fresh food.

Next day we made friends with Zac from the SY Panache and took a little stroll through the village and into the forest, in search for a waterfall. Unfortunately we couldn’t find it. But we still had a bath in a small river, we encountered.

One day later the SY Red Sky Night arrived and together we made a second try. This time we found the waterfall and had a nice bath in the pool at the foot of it. This island really is one of the most beautiful ones we’ve ever set foot on. No wonder nearly everyone who does the pacific crossing stops here.

After three nights at anchor in the bay of Hanavave, we lifted up the anchor to sail to Hiva Oa, the main island of the Marqueas. Details on that exciting trip will follow in the next post.

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Waiting for the port captain

Yesterday at 4pm we stood in front of his door for the first time but he was ‘in a meeting’. At around 6pm we gave it another try but again: meeting. Today we got up extra early to maybe find him free for us. After a boat-taxiride and a 15 minute walk into the village we again found him in a meeting. Well. So we spend our time travelling back and forth in between the village and our boat. Or we roam the beach and watch the iguanas and crabs.

The island is quite different from San Cristobal. The streets are unpaved and the houses much nicer, the nature is even more meager.  The Iguanas are much smaller and the nice and bright beach is interrupted by black lava rocks. Those are the same rocks that we found in the entrance to the anchorage. It’s quite interesting to navigate in between those obstacles and I guess at night it’s quite dangerous. The anchoring is not that nice here as there is quite some swell entering and the weather is mostly misty – bad for our energy input.

Continuation of the above entry at 7:30pm: Finally in the early afternoon the port captain found some time for us and we could present our case. He told us to get going as fast as possible and repeated everything all the other people of the office already told us. Thereafter we found ourselfes in a small office where another officer took about two hours to type the protocol, make a copy of our passports, ask stupid questions while we studied a copy of the ecuatorian maritime law that lie on a table. In the end we were back at the Rancho Relaxo around 3pm and I could finally fix the engine. (Replace the fuel filter again.) So it’s working now but noone knows for how long. But for sure long enough to exit the harbour.

Tonight we’ll have the crew of the SY Red Sky Night from Australia aboard our ship and we’ll have a drink or two. They will also start towards the Marquesas in a few days and as they got a faster ship than ours, we’ll probably arrive around the same time.  Tomorrow after the breakfast we’ll be going….

Oh ! And I nearly forgot: Today we also saw Penguins !! Unfortunately we didn’t have a camera with us.

Last thing: During the voyage our satphone wll be turned on every day at 18:00 UTC for one hour.

Posted in Animals, LosLocos, Pics, Plants, Rancho Relaxo, Sailing | 1 Comment

Camping at the beach of Puerto Chino

We’ve been planning to go camping for a long time. Usually it was me who’s against it, because our tent is actually way too big for us and I don’t like carrying around all that stuff for only one night out in the wild. But Gui wanted to go camping for her birthday, so I finally had to give in.

And it was a good decision ! The camping site was wild and lonesome – the beach of Puerto Chino is completely isolated and we had it all for ourselves. Only us, plenty of animals and the sea that smashed it’s waves onto the beach. The most beautiful music to fall asleep.

The kids had lots of fun with the white/grey sand and with the big waves that were fun to play with. We climbed the small hill nearby, searched the surroundings for animals and watched the pelicans feed their young ones.

On the way to the beach we climbed up the volcano and saw the lagoon in it’s crater and we visited the station where they care for the giant turtles. On the way back we stopped at a giant tree with a house in it’s twigs. – There is also another room down in between the roots. One has to climb down a ladder through a hole. The kids loved it ! – And we had a great weekend AND Gui could test her surf board. More pics on that in another blog post…

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Back in civilisation (?)

After one complete month that we spent in Kuna Yala, we’re now back in the so called western civilisation. The contrast couldn’t be any bigger. The San Blas islands, little sand patches with palm trees and beautyful corals and now Colon, a stinky town with rotten buildings and lots of noise.

After seven months that we spent on islands we’ve now put our feet on a continent for the first time since leaving Portugal. Right now we lie in the Shelter Bay Marina where our kids spend the day in the pool and the djungle begins right after exiting through the marina door and one can hear howler monkeys and lots of birds all day. There are crocodiles (!!) in the harbour water and we meet many sailors that we ran into on other islands in the Caribbean. All discussions are about the channel, the date when to leave and what is still to be done at the ship. Really pleasent to be with many other sailors again.

And we’ve been very busy since arriving: We’ve done all paperwork for the passage, the ship is measured and fenders and panama-lines are rented. We also did our biggest shopping until now and got groceries for about 900 dollars on board. Enough to last until Tahiti we hope. Gui was at the doctors and got antibiotics for her otitis of the middle ear – so in the next weeks there’s medicine instead of snorkeling…

Tomorrow we’ll leave the marina and sail towards Portobello where we’d like to persuade the Kira to follow us into the Rio Chagres. And as soon as we know the date for the passage into the Pacific, we go back to Colon to get the Rancho Relaxo out of the water and do new antifouling and take care of a few little rust patches on the waterline. Mmmmh.

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Sterling-regulator installed and on to Bayahibe

On our last trip we had to run under engine for an entire day. In cases like these it would be nice if the alternator would fill up all batteries to 100%. But this is ususally not the case. Therefore we installed the new, digital Sterling alternator regulator that will now handle the charging. I installed it together with Bruno before leaving to Bayahibe so we could test it on the way. It works great !!

So now we are in Bayahibe – just five miles east of the marina but it’s much nicer to be at anchor again. Although the village here doesn’t provide much. There is a small shop and a few restaurants, a cyber-cafe (where I’m at, right now) and a dive shop. The beaches are crowded with large skiffs with huge outboard engines. Those drive the tourists to the Isla Saona that’s around the corner. This island will be our next stop. It must be beautiful as every day hundereds of people are going for a trip there.

What else ? Well there are only six days left for Gui and the kids until they leave for Miami. Huh, then I’ll be alone here in this little village – just me and the Rancho Relaxo. Well – could be worse.

We spent a nice afternoon at the beach where we found a palm tree perfect for beginners. Everybody tried to climb and saw how difficult it is. We didn’t even get to half of the height, but still we managed to do a few quite good pictures. Hehehe.

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At the warm waterfall

Way to fast the days run past. The three days on St. Lucia were amazing and we would have loved to stay a little longer. Also because we so much wanted to see our friends from the SY Tamora and the SY Thor. But we’ve gotta deliver our friend Guenther to St. Maarten where we have to be on the 10.2. and there are plenty of nice islands in between that we also would like to visit. So we hope to meet our friends on the San Blas archipelago in Panama.


The last day in this – probably the most beautiful anchorage we’ve been so far – we spent walking to the near waterfall. What we didn’t know is that the water runs down quite hot and thus we had our first hot shower since…. Well I don’t know.

The hike wasn’t really one. It’s just up the street and then one has to take a little path through the forest. But it was great ! Afterwards we cleaned up the ship ate dinner and prepared for our next trip northwards. – More on that in the next post.

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Climbing the Piton

At 0730h Guenther’s clock is ringing. But I woke up because of Michele’s boat rocking against the Rancho Relaxo. He’ll be back in half an hour to pick us up. Fine. Breakfast.

At 0800 sharp, Michele arrives with our guide Peter. But Pete was out partying yesterday and has (beside other problems) a huge hangover. After walking for 15 minutes we have fear that he’ll break down and send him back. So Guenther and me are walking up without guide – he’s not needed anyway. The way is quite visible and with the climbing he can’t help much.

Rainshowers pour down every couple minutes and the moisture in the air is incredible. The sweat is dripping off my forehead. We are perfectly adjusted for a climbing session: Both of us are wearing bathing shorts and Guenther even has shoes ! I’m walking bare foot. I also brought shoes but wanted to do it Moitessier-style. It’s really nice to feel the ground, the rocks, roots and the wet foilage on the ground.

The piton is about 700m high and at some stages we really had to climb. Because the rain makes the rocks and the ground slippery it sometimes can get a little dangerous but nonethless, we made it to the top. It took us about 2 hours and every minute of it was great ! The view from the top is of course amazing. I called Bruno via VHF but he couldn’t see me from the ship. Despite using a spyglass and me waving the yellow cover of my rucksack.

After climbing down we had a ‘Piton’ at the bar on the beach and Gui picked us up with the Dinghy. We really had a great day ! And maybe tomorrow we’ll all walk together to the waterfalls.

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In the Djungle (without words)

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With the car in the south and a new visitor

Huh ? No update in three days ? That’s unusual. But of course that only happened because we’re sooooo busy. Hehehe. This monday we rented a car and crossed the island towards the south. It goes waaaaay up on the mountains and it really IS a street as you expect it to be, meandering up the steep slopes of the rocky center of Gran Canaria. On the summit we had a little rest, cool air, a nice view, the driver had a beer and the kids had a donkey-ride.

Then it was downhill for quite a while, passing strange plants. I was just saying to Gui: “Look at that strange trees, they have yellow leaves.” When it came to me. Aaah ! There still is that thing with seasons. – It’s autumn !! *Pfew* Somehow we already ARE a little disconnected with central Europe, it seems. Then we saw another strange thing: A paddle-cactus-tree. Never saw such a plant – and actually I learned that it’s a highly endangered species and ususally only to be found on the Galapagos Islands.

Having arrived in the south, we payed a visit to the Hitch-Hike-Heidi which we last saw in Aveiro (Portugal). The kids had fun without end and the grownups had an endless chat. It was wonderful but way to short. We hope to meet again in Cabo Verde.

Yesterday there wasn’t much happening – but we got a visitor: Klaus from the Kira arrived to meet his parents. And since it was logistically better, he used the ferry to come over from Tenerife. He’ll spend two nights on board the Rancho Relaxo after which Tim will arrive with the Kira.

Today we had big construction works on our ship: five kids were playing Lego. Unfortunately I forgot to document the creations – but I was just too engaged.

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