Our Track

Friday, 22 June 2018

Vanuatu to Bundaberg 
October 20, 2017 - October 27, 2017

After 6 fabulous weeks spent in Vanuatu it was time to start the journey back to Bundaberg, Australia.
We left Aore Resort in company with SV Cruising Kitty, at 5.30 am October 20, 2017, we had main and headsail up running port motor. Winds were 15 knots SE with a 2m seas, it was very sloppy and uncomfortable for the first four hours, we then settled for a few hours of good sailing. during the days that followed we had 3 to 3 1/2 m seas at times with plenty of water coming over the sides and into the helm. Our crew member Geoff took a bath sitting in the cockpit after he had just showered and changed his clothes. A first for Sans Souci taking on that much water.

Sans Souci on the way home from Vanuatu
Our sailing company Cruising Kitty decided to stop at Chesterfields, we decided to push on as we had a good weather window for the next couple of days.

The weather didn't do as it was forecast which is pretty unusual Oh um! we had a day of glass with no wind then 25k NW kicked in for the last 24 hours. The seas were 3 1/2 m and they were coming over the side of Sans Souci giving our cockpit a bath. Hugh dropped the main sail and we had a half headsail for the rest of the journey.
We arrived at Bundaberg at 10pm dropped the anchor in the river with great relief.....we broke out the rum and coke and had our first drink for 7 days.
The trip took us 7 days, 16.5 hours. We were under full sail for 43.5 hours and motor sailed the 141 hours, total 184.5 hours,  1097 nm, averaged 5.96 knots, used 436 litres of diesel.


Getting through customs the next morning was pretty uneventful even though we had two dogs going through the boat. The young dog in training found vinegar in a cupboard and thought it was heroin....apparently they smell the same.....we had a bit of a laugh.

We had joined the Go West rally to come home so we had a week of festivities at the marina and a great time was had by all.

Our welcome entertainment Go East rally
The storm that hit us Cup Day in the marina saw gusts of winds reaching 67kn, our side covers on our boat were shredded from the wind and rain coming horizontally into the back of Sans Souci.

Storm at Bundaberg Cup Day 2017

Awesome looking clouds
On the end of our marina finger two other boats broke away, one of them hitting the finger on the other side and ended with a great hole in the side which caused her to sink. People came from everywhere in dinghies and pushed the catamaran over to the boat ramp where they were able to float her. The owners and friends worked through the night pumping out water and trying to salvage the boat. Two cranes attempted to lift her out but she was too heavy being full of water. they ended up towing her down the river. She was written off in the end and by the insurance company, the owners were able to buy another boat. It was a very traumatic time for the couple who were overwhelmed with the support they received from everyone.

SV Felix  being dragged up the bank at Bundaberg

Lady Musgrave
November 1, 2017

We spent 4 days at Lady Musgrave with SV Zofia, they had onboard as guests Sue and Paul SV Supa Trooper who did the rally to New Caledonia along with SV Zofia, Brian and Eva.
On one of our nights ashore for sundowners we were lucky enough to see a turtle laying eggs.

Sundowners on Lady Musgrave

Turtle preparing to lay eggs.

Hervey Bay
November 16, 2017

Catching up with good sailing friends Judi and Warwick Suttor SV Bamboozle, meant a night at the Yacht club for Shaggers, always a good opportunity to catch up with many friends.

Judi and Warwick Suttor..Warwick's looking very excited about something,
 must have been the fact he was seeing us.
 November 18, 2017

We left Hervey Bay 5.45 am and decided to head straight home to Mooloolaba, we crossed the Wide Bay bar and headed back to our home port taking 18 hours, 100 nm to arrive  just before midnight tying up to our jetty in the river.
It was nice to be home safe after being away for  7 months.

Sans Souci at home at Mooloolaba

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Another gem in Vanuatu

An amazing find at Suranda Bay on Santo Island. We spent 10 glorious days exploring the bays and restaurants then hired a driver for the day to take us to the Blue Hole, Champagne Beach and Port Alwry, where we had a fabulous seafood lunch and saw our first live coconut crabs. 

Our anchorage at Suranda Bay
The village children from Suranda Bay on Sans Souci

Catching a ride to the restaurant for lunch
Another great spot that we found
The beach at Port Alwry was awesome

In front of seafood restaurant at Port Alwry

Sundowners on the beach at Suranda Bay
Kayaking in the river at Suranda Bay
Paul and crew off Skellum coming ashore for sundowners
A live Coconut Crab
Our Crew Geoff enjoying his crab
The seafood restaurant at Port Alwry

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Islands in Vanuatu

Had a fantastic visit to Dillon's Bay, Erramonga, one of the highlights was a visit to the ancestral caves were the last five village Chiefs bones and skeletons laid side by side, what an awesome experience, we had to rock climb hanging onto tree roots to climb up to the cave.

One live chief amongst 5 very dead ones.

We were also treated to a pot luck dinner at the home of our guide Donald and his wife Lotti. Had a guided tour of the kindergarten-cum primary school. At the secondary school we were treated to a tour of the year 7 and 8 students classes. We left a cricket set with the principal for the students, along with some personal hygiene packs for the senior girls (compliments of WWSA). Donald also took us on a Guided tour of the village, we had gifts of rice, tinned tuna, children's clothes (provided by my sister Josephine) coloured pencils, books, we wanted to give them to the very needy and it was heartbreaking to see some of the elderly widows and widowers who were handicapped in many ways. The children loved our gifts of clothes, not sure about the toothbrushes and toothpaste. The joy on their faces when my Husband Hugh gave them a tennis ball each warmed our hearts.

A young boy was given a soccer ball which we traded for crayfish (yum).

The children all wanted to come aboard our Catamaran, so we invited them on board for their very first visit on a boat. They were all very excited and offered us a gift of Papaya and coconut in return.

The village children on Sans Souci in Dillon's Bay

We moved on to our last village at Malua Bay before heading to Santo, Luganville. We were met by the chiefs daughter-in-law Margaret in her dug out. She invited us to her village and said she would bake us some bread. We gathered the rest of the goodies we had to give to the people and went ashore to be met by the chiefs son sho took us to their village.

The chief and his kids

We visited the secondary school and handed over the Health bags for the teenage girls provided by WWSA.

Toni off Cruising Kitty pictured with the teachers and students

This young fella was given a tennis ball.
This is Josephine expecting her first child very soon

Some of the kids at the village at Malua Bay

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

A little bit of Paradise

Sans Souci on her way to ill de Pin

Sans Souci left Noumea headed for Baie De Prony June 14, 2017' we stopped over at Ilot Maitre, picked up a buoy outside the resort. Frozzie picked up a buoy next to us. We went ashore for a walk around the island and checked out the resort. Bought an ice cream and headed back to the Sans Souci. We decided at 12pm to continue on to Baie Ouen, Songlines were headed there and we picked up on AIS that Bossa Nova and Easy Tiger were also going there. We had a great sail until we had to tack to Port to miss Amadee Isle, from then on it was tough going and we had to miss several reefs lying to our port side. The sea picked up and we were bashing into 20 knot winds and 2 metre seas, we arrived at Baie Ouen in the dark at 6.30pm anchored on the port side of Songlines. It  was a good feeling to get the anchor down. We were greeted by Easy Tiger who invited us to share their fish for dinner along with the Bossas. It was very welcome after our 6.30 hours at sea. It was also great to catch up with them as they had spent the last couple of weeks at Isle De Pin.

Easy Tiger anchored at Baie Ouen

Had a bonfire on the beach the next day it was overcast and drizzling, Leanne from Easy Tiger decided it was the best way to spend a day around a camp fire, so we set to and helped collect wood. We all set up tables and chairs and had our dinner around the fire, Potatoes, Zucchini  and we ate the fish we had caught a green Fob fish also known as king Snapper

Moose taking us for a walk around the island

After a couple of nights it was time to head for Isle de Casey, took us 4 hours to get through the Chanel as we were pushing wind and tide. Arrived at 12pm and picked up a buoy, Cruising Kitty were already there. We had 5 boats from the Rally altogether. It was spectacular, had our first swim and snorkel from the back of Sans Souci. We then went ashore to be greeted by Moose who led us on a walk around the island showing us the cemetery and his water hole. Moose had been left on the island by his owners a few years ago ( he did not want to leave) , the water taxi people looked after him with food and all visitors to the island took food for him in return for a guided tour around the island.

Kayaking around Casey Island

We had sundowners on the Jetty that night and the next morning it was yoga on the Jetty with our Yoga guru Leanne Hembrow ( Down Under Rally leader),  then a kayak around the island, it was a perfect morning that changed very quickly when a westerly came in. We all left for Baie De Caranage, a well protected Bay from all weather conditions. Anchoring was another matter in 12-15 metres of water with lots of shoal around and very quick drop offs going from 20m to 2m. After a couple of attempts we were anchored safely along with half a dozen other boats. The bossas, tigers, kitty's and sansoucians dinghied to the Jetty near the Prony village, dropping off our rubbish in the large bins provided at the boat ramp. We then walked to the Prony Village, a steep track which leveled out to a fairly easy walk. The Village was no longer occupied, but was kept very neat and used for occasional tours. It was once a penal colony for prisoners shipped from Paris during the uprising. Later used to house mining families when the iron ore was discovered. It was a very pretty Village with a lovely stream running through the middle and had a quaint bridge for crossing. Still some ruins remaining of the convicts buildings.  It was back to our boats for sundowners on Bossa Nova.

The Prony Village

Had a lazy morning then followed Easy Tiger and Bossa Nova by dinghy to the hot springs which were a little tricky to navigate through all the rocky boulders caused through landslides over the years. The springs were no longer maintained as the resort on Isle de Casey has been closed for many years. It was still amazing to find something of this nature in the wilderness of a deep rocky ravine. Sundowners on Sans Souci 15 people, we had been joined by La Jorga and Zofia. It was a great impromptu night. The liver is starting to suffer a bit though.

Hugh, Neville and Amànda at the hot springs

It was Amanda's 59th birthday and a party was organized on Bossa Nova, we all took a meal to share. Neville rewarded us with his singing and guitar skills, it was a most enjoyable night with plenty of birthday cake. We were woken at 2.30am by an anchor chain being pulled up. It was Easy Tiger re anchoring. All was good.
Amanda celebrating with champagne and special birthday cake provided by Zofia

The next morning we left for Isle de Pin along with Zofia, Cruising Kitty and Squander. We had a great sale anchoring after 5 hours in Baie de Kanumera Isle de Pin. We were invited for sundowners on La Jorga followed by dinner on Cruising Kitty.Next morning we pulled up anchor it was rather rolly we had a southerly blowing in. Moved around to Baie de Kuto. I went for a walk and found the bakery along with Eva and her visitor Anna. Stocked up on a few grocery items and some nice crunchy baguettes. The local pub was closed and resorts seemed fairly quiet. Found a small boutique selling hand painted sarongs and shirts and some old ruins that used to be a part of the prison.

Hand painted sarongs and shirts at the Botique

Next morning we took a taxi with Cruising Kitty to the market at Vao, 3000 francs which we  was a bit steep. There was a music festival being held on the grounds. Vegetables and fruit were very basic, we managed to get a few items that were useful and that we recognized. Sundowners on Cruising Kitty.

Market day at Vao

We booked a large taxi for 9 of us to go to Baie de Oer we were to go out on one of the KUU-ORO traditional sailing canoes on the lagoon, we were a little disappointed that the skipper did not put the sale up, however we were lucky to be going as someone important had died on the island and everyone was attending the funeral which was a large celebration. We had a snorkel around the reef it was crystal clear water and only used by the sailing canoes. Our taxi driver then took us to the Natural Springs and dropped us with instructions to call him when we needed to go back to Kuto where our yachts were anchored. We had quite a walk to the springs but it was worth it on arrival. The springs were pristine and full of fish, we had a lovely snorkel then a walk back to the Meridian for a well deserved cocktail and French fries. We rang our driver Alex and he picked us up and took us on a tour of the airport, military cemetary and a lookout giving us an amazing view. The whole day cost us 6000 francs each including our very expensive cocktail, we had a fabulous day.

Our skipper on KUU-ORA

The next morning we moved on to Isle de Brosse which turned out to be a piece of paradise. We had Zofia, Cruising Kitty, Squander and Touranga turned up the next day. Spent 3 nights socializing from boat to boat, snorkeled and walked the beautiful beach.

Hugh on the beach at ill de Brosse

We have to keep moving, lots to see, left this morning to visit the west side of Isle de pins to a place called Baie de Ouameo it was 23 nm and we had to motor all the way. We checked out the resort and beach the next morning made a booking at the restaurant for 10 of us the next night. We had to choose between fish or beef as they had to go into Kuto for the supplies. The meat and fish were served with a traditional pumpkin and coconut rice. I didn't mind the fish as it was Atlantic salmon the meat eaters said it was a bit tough. We had a great night a bottle of bourgelais was 2000 francs and our meal was under 2000 francs which was very reasonable.

Eva showing us her skirt shorts

We  hired a car the next day with Eva and Brian we shopped around the island heading to the bakery first at Kuto which was sold out of bread, just as well the local grocery store didn't open till 9am, we were waiting on his door step at 8.45 am for our baguettes and further supplies. We drove around the island had a coffee at another small resort, fueled up our drums at the garage then went to the Meridian for another cocktail. Brian our chauffeur handled the driving in a very safe manner whilst hugh did all the waving to the locals as they went by.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Around Noumea

​​May 31,2017

The Wiki Wiki train loading up for our tour
Our day started at the marina where we all gathered at 8.30 am for the Noumea City Tour, we were all herded into the Wiki Wiki train which took us on a two hour tour of Noumea. We covered all the surrounding areas and were shown the best night spots and restaurants, tapas bars etc. the scenery was breathtaking and gave all aboard a great experience covering the mainland of Noumea

The Wechecha Wechecha  dancers, entertaining us
Our first social evening was the "Bonjour Les Marins" (Hello Sailor) dinner with smashing entertainment by a great rock band and a special cultural show presented by the Wechecha performing music and dance group.
The place rocked and the view from the upstairs function Centre "Le bout du monde" over the marina was spectacular

overlooking the city of Noumea from our stops on the train trip
Over the next few days we became familiar with the city and managed to get a SIM card for our phone from the Post Office, most people spoke some English or were able to get someone who did. The Patisseries was one of our favorite places, loading up with baguettes, they were delicious. We also found the supermarket (Casino) which had an amazing supply of everything including wines and champagne. The cheese section was frightening and the Pate's were yum. The market was only a 100 metres from the marina and had a large supply of fresh fruit, vegetables, and a huge fish market. We sampled the green prawns a few times 2100 francs  ($30AUD) a kilo. Really getting the hang of the money here now.
Greg and Josie at the Masquerade  farewell party
We took ourselves off to the Aquarium by taxi, 1000 francs ($12AUD) each way. Josie and Greg were still with us and we were trying to fit in as much as we could as they were flying back to Melbourne in a few days. It was awesome and they had a large section on nautilus shells originating from New Caledonia and The history of Dugongs and how they assimilate with mermaids. Apparently there are plenty of them around New Caledonia, Dugongs that is!

Friday, 9 June 2017

New Caledonia here we come

Sans Souci getting ready to leave the Gold Coast
Our sailing adventure started May 23, 2017 when we left the Gold Coast seaway with our crew Josie Lowther and Greg Hollis on board SV Sans Souci. We were all looking forward with in-trepidation to enjoying the exciting crossing to New Caledonia. In all there were 20 boats participating in the Down Under East rally led by John Hembrow SV Songlines, all heading out at the same time.

The Boys having fun
Me with the warriors

it didn't take long for the boats to disappear as they all headed on a different course. We had radio contact with all the boats to start with but as the distance between us widened we found we could no longer transmit, we were receiving so could listen to all the conversations going on but could not participate. We were lucky we at least had the Iridium Go which most of the 20 boats had installed and were able to email and message each other over the next 5 days. We also has our AIS operating so could see many of the boats traveling with us.

Josie (my sister) was our galley bitch and was to prepare all our lunches and dinners for the rest of our journey. Unfortunately she became seasick on the first day, however she still managed to feed us. We had the best meals provided around the clock. No alcohol however until the third day when my sister and I decided we should have a glass of wine for lunch.

The first night out on the water was a bit uncomfortable, we had a two metre swell happening with 15-16 knot SE we motor sailed through the night reaching 8.8 knots at times. We had our watches arranged for 4 hours, I started the first watch at 6pm followed by Hugh at 10pm then Greg at 2 pm. I always find it difficult to sleep on the first night and so be it, I went 24 hours before I finally got to sleep.

Day 2

The next morning the winds had eased and were around 8 knots SE, we were motor sailing with both motors. The boys put the screecher out around lunch time, it ran for a couple of hours giving us 6 knots with the Port motor running. It was fun and games a bit later when they decided to give the spinnaker a run. We had not used it before as it was a swap with Tony and Vicki Little from L' Attitudes. It was bright yellow and a tad too small for our boat but the boys managed to get a bit of mileage out of her until we saw a storm heading our way and decided it was time to come down. Alas the sock got stuck and they were unable to retrieve it in the normal manner. One had to winch in on the port side whilst the other had to lower the halyard. Greg then dived on the spinnaker and pulled it safely to the trampolines. When things had settled down and spinnaker safely tucked away the main and headsail went up again and the winds now at 20 knot southerly allowed us to enjoy our first sail which took us through the night. Our galley bitch was fully recovered from her sea sickness and was in great form making us scones jam and cream for morning tea.

Day 3

We covered a lot of ground overnight and still had good winds 15 SE for most of the day we continued to enjoy a good sail and our galley bitch produced a lovely salmon salad for lunch with coleslaw and our first glass of wine (girls only). Caught a striped tuna....had to throw it back. Vindaloo curry for dinner...keep it coming Josie
Day 4

Still moving along nicely we had a good reach 15-18 ESE. Only 180 NM from Noumea. We did our washing which was a bit of fun trying to peg things on the line. The whole cockpit was full of washing blowing in the breeze.

it was time to send our parents ashes and message in the bottle that our youngest sister Vicki had put together 18 months ago. We sprinkled most of mum and dads ashes at Bridgewater Bay, Portland Victoria, at a huge family gathering. We had all written a brief message and our contact email addresses on the message in the bottle, we also included some of our parents ashes and $5 which was to help with their traveling expenses. We were hopeful that if someone found the bottle and opened it that they would once again send them on their journey.

We had a meeting at dinner time to decide whether we pushed on to get to New Caledonia early afternoon the next day. It was decided that we would give Sans Souci everything she had to save spending another day on the water. We gunned both motors and full sails and made good time through what was a rough sleepless night.

Day 5

We are now on the last leg of our journey only 30nm to go to Noumea.

We washed our sheets and towels whilst making our way to the lagoon at New Caledonia, we had ships everywhere and a P&O passenger ship came into the lagoon just behind us.

We celebrated with a luscious lunch of smoked chicken and antipasto, coleslaw and baguettes cooked in the oven. Washed down with a delicious bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne.

We made our way into the Harbour at Port Moselle playing our Down Under music as we circled all the boats that had arrived ahead of us. It had taken us 5 days 6 hours and 27 minutes to reach the lagoon of New Caledonia.

Our leader of the Down Under East rally, John Hembrow SV Songlines instructed us to contact Port Moselle by VHF radio 67 and he told us to be patient. Apparently apart from our 20 boats there were also several other large groups all trying to get cleared through customs. The skipper of the boat Hugh,  had to take the dinghy into the marina and fill out all the paper work for customs. He then returned with a dinghy number that allowed us to take the dinghy into the marina for three days. We then had to wait for customs who were being transported around the Harbour by our leader John Hembrow, he had arranged for all our boats to be cleared on the day. When customs finally got to us we had to surrender our single potato, a few onions, garlic, tomatoes, cucumber and any other fruit or vegetables we may have had. We saved our cabbage and carrots by making coleslaw and cooked potatoes eggs and onion  to make potato salad. Also squeezed our lemons and limes and threw away the skins. Customs were very good and quick and before long we were cleared to go ashore for the first time in 6 days. We had to remain in the Harbour as the marina was full to bursting. we met many other members of our group ashore and had a celebration at the bar for sundowners.

After we all settled in and most boats arrived, we attended the Bonjour Les Marines welcome dinner organized by our leader DUR, John Hembrow and Herve. It was a pretty spectacular night with a special welcome by Wechecha traditional music and Kanak sounds and rhythm.