Indonesia’s final boss

(¯﹃¯) I. JUST. WANT. TO. SLEEP! That bad, that loud. Just one full uninterrupted night to recover of our 2-month Indonesian marathon which ended with a medal-worthy final sprint. After another long leg of motoring on Zephyr’s birthday on 30th November, although agreeably spent celebrating twelve years of parenthood flipping through family photo albums withContinue reading “Indonesia’s final boss”

Honouring friendship in Ubud

“Mum, there’s someone here to see you!” How sweet the sound of these words, knowing Zephyr was no doubt talking about Juliana. How sweet and nearly alien after several months spent in isolation in our bubble of four, to be expected by someone. My eyes swelled with joyful tears. Yes, in the middle of sailingContinue reading “Honouring friendship in Ubud”

Insta-strophe at Pura Lempuyang

« Sorry Miss, are you menstruating? – None of your business, I crave to retort, but instead I shake my head with a polite half-smile.” My patience for religious lunacies is waning after nearly a month of calls for prayers all day long and disturbing my precious sleep in the middle of the night too. ItContinue reading “Insta-strophe at Pura Lempuyang”

Glamping at Mt Rinjani

Sometimes meeting people makes you take a brand new perspective on things, and experiences once thought of as out-of-reach suddenly become a possible horizon, as was the case with climbing Mount Rinjani (Lombok’s star volcano and highest peak at 3,676m), initially dismissed on financial, logistical and lack of fitness grounds. I’ll never understand what motivatedContinue reading “Glamping at Mt Rinjani”

Spying on Komodo dragons

Brandishing my kayak paddle ready to defend myself, I am inching towards the forest. Legs trembling and heart pumping, how should I not be intimated when I’m alone on the beach where, a minute earlier, a Komodo dragon was taking a morning stroll before withdrawing to the bush where it came from. I don’t haveContinue reading “Spying on Komodo dragons”

Excursion into deep West Timor

“You need to see traditional West Timor” insisted Frenky, our local agent, who was keen to show us around and make us feel at home in his country, never wanting to leave again. So, he organised a day trip for Pascal, Marie-Laure and us, passing through various villages and featuring some of the traditional activitiesContinue reading “Excursion into deep West Timor”

Stamping festival in Kupang

Obelix has landed in Terra Indonesia. Here are some first impressions on East Nusa Tenggara’s (one of Indonesia’s 34 provinces) capital: Moon resisting in the sky despite the sun’s appearance behind electrical polls and other man-made metallic structures which mark out the island’s low skyline which remind us we’ve arrived in an urban settlement, contraryContinue reading “Stamping festival in Kupang”

Darwin to Kupang crossing ending in tears

After three days almost exclusively motoring our way to 285 degrees towards Timor island, on our last night, just 60 miles from our goal, when we thought nothing could happen between then and our imminent arrival the next morning, a treacherous squall took us by surprise and caused monumental adrenaline rush and material damage, costingContinue reading “Darwin to Kupang crossing ending in tears”

Bunny-sitting in Darwin

“Oops, the rabbits are looking at me naked” announces Azur as he sneaks into our bed for a morning cuddle. A large rectangular bed, where the feet can protrude at the end if you slip, with a high ceiling, perfect for the gallivanting, and space all around to lie down or get out of itContinue reading “Bunny-sitting in Darwin”

Gratitude Day 2022

* THANKS * MERCI * DANKE * GRACIAS * NGA MIHI I recently read in “Trois amis en quête de sagesse” (“Three friends in their quest to wisdom”) that when you hold a piece of paper, you have no less than thirty-five countries to thank for their contribution to its existence. Likewise, when I amContinue reading “Gratitude Day 2022”

Vanuatu to TI, Torres Strait

Fate wouldn’t let us reach Thursday Island, locally referred to as T.I, on any given day, and after ten and a half days at sea, we drop anchor in the Torres Strait shortly after midnight on a Thursday, following James Cook’s footsteps who named the surrounding islands after the days he landed on them. Technically,Continue reading “Vanuatu to TI, Torres Strait”

Zooming through Vanuatu: wrap-up

One day I may write in more details about our arrival in Port Vila and our first encounter with written Bislama (the English-based creole language spoken in Vanuatu) on the city’s billboards, our brief stay in Lamen Bay playing hide and seek all day with a dugong, our afternoon with the hord of children inContinue reading “Zooming through Vanuatu: wrap-up”

Zooming through Vanuatu: Tanna

The sail to Tanna is the most unpleasant we’ve had so far with strong winds and messy chop hitting us from the side way too often. I am sea sick the whole time and, like Azur, between two bouts of retching, spend it devising a way to announce to the family I’d rather catch theContinue reading “Zooming through Vanuatu: Tanna”

Thirty-eight weddings in Lifou

Between May and September, it is wedding season in Lifou (or Drehu, pronounced Djehu, in the local dialect of the same name), and, this year, thirty-eight of them are being celebrated. So when we arrive unannounced at Wè Marina on the first day of the school holidays and try to hire a car, we areContinue reading “Thirty-eight weddings in Lifou”

New Cal: Sunday at Amédée

“Mum, can we go back to the place we were the other day (Amédée Island)?” asks Zephyr every now and then. When I enquire why exactly, he admits he enjoyed swimming with sharks! Friendly ones, not scary ones. Small whitetip or blacktip reef sharks, a couple of them swimming serenely in the coral, another coupleContinue reading “New Cal: Sunday at Amédée”

Another rainy day in Noumea

They say it’s because of La Niña, all this rain. But after a year and a half of dreadful weather occasionally interrupted by some sunny days – one must time their laundry right for it to have a chance to dry – locals agree that la Niña has extended its welcome to New Caledonia. AndContinue reading “Another rainy day in Noumea”

New Cal’s Far South

America has its Far West, New Caledonia has its Far South. Where Westerns could have been filmed if cow-boys rode canoes and didn’t mind getting their feet dirty in the slippery red earth staining everything it touches. Then they’d probably have turned red skinned which would have confused the audience, and “Southerns” is not asContinue reading “New Cal’s Far South”

Moce Fiji, bonjour Noumea!

It’s supposed to be better the second time, isn’t it? Well, that certainly isn’t the case with our second ocean passage from Fiji to New Caledonia. With 685 nautical miles to sail from Vuda Marina to Noumea, we’ve taken the preparations more lightly than last time. No passage meals other than our dry risotto jars,Continue reading “Moce Fiji, bonjour Noumea!”

Makogai: a night at the village

We arrived in Makogai (pronounced Makongai) yesterday, following the advice from Vivace’s crew, hoping that, like their daughter Tia a couple of years ago, our boys would have the opportunity to tend to the baby turtles. But turtles there were no longer as we learnt that it was too much work, but that they wereContinue reading “Makogai: a night at the village”

Multi-sensory experience in Yalobi

Love at first sight As soon as we passed Southern tip of Waya Island, we took in the tall and majestic cliffs of Yalobi, often described as one of the most iconic Fiji villages for that very reason, and fell in admiration with the black barren rocks, contrasted by the gold of dry grass growingContinue reading “Multi-sensory experience in Yalobi”

Drawaqa manta rays’ encounter

Some people think that by sharing what you have, you are deprived. This is not always the case. On the contrary, sometimes, by sharing you get more. Think of joy, inspiration, love, wisdom, etc. And that goes for manta rays too, which is of course what inspired the famous saying: “Share the manta rays andContinue reading “Drawaqa manta rays’ encounter”

Malakati semolina-like sand

If it hadn’t been for the wind chasing us away from our too exposed Sawa-i-Lau anchorage, we might have missed out on the picturesque sandy beach of Malakati Bay. That would have been a shame, as we enjoyed there a relaxing afternoon playing in the water, walking on the beach (a change from our countlessContinue reading “Malakati semolina-like sand”

Obelix’ crew turns 100

Friendship is definitely one of our family’s primary values, and one has to admit friends come particularly handy when comes time to celebrate one’s birthday. Azur being Mr. Future, as soon as his 8th birthday party was over, he started drafting up invites for his 9th and was somehow troubled when he realised our plansContinue reading “Obelix’ crew turns 100”

Fiji: Obelix goes bananas!

Some days we don’t even set foot on land, we’re either in the water (snorkeling, kayaking, stand-up-paddling), on the boat (reading, teaching, eating, playing, chilling), or between the boat and water, suspended in mid-air practicing our dives, flips and somersaults. My body misses its daily steps to activate its digestive system, as I’m reminded whileContinue reading “Fiji: Obelix goes bananas!”

Minerva Reef: A ring in the ocean

From the get go, during our passage from New Zealand to Fiji, we’ve formed the hope to stop at Minerva Reef, but only if it was reasonable, weather-wise, to do so. Our hopes are crushed time and again by the models and our weather router (MetBob) who advises the detour will unlikely be achievable withContinue reading “Minerva Reef: A ring in the ocean”

My first time with the ocean

Like all first times, perhaps, it lacked foreplay. We rushed it a bit and went straight to the meaty part, too eager to know what “it” was about. I was giving myself willingly, for I knew beforehand that it would be painful, with a rough couple of days in the weather window and route weContinue reading “My first time with the ocean”

Pre-departure impressions

Nervous like a university student before a big exam, or more accurately thrilled yet dreading THE moment, as things are set in motion and I’m about to give birth to a life-long dream. I’ve done the antenatal classes, gathered advice from everyone who’s done it before, and yet, I am bereft before leaping into myContinue reading “Pre-departure impressions”

Ka kite ano New Zealand!

“I wish we could throw a party like that, when it’s our turn to leave” says Gaspar when we have our last dinner together. Which fills me with pride and joy and nostalgia all at once, remembering with fondness the great week-end we’ve had a few days ago, in the company of fascinating, diverse, andContinue reading “Ka kite ano New Zealand!”

Early birds catch the Cat I certificate

Three knocks on the hull. Have I dreamt them? Lying in bed, half awake, liters of tea drank the day before pressing on my bladder desperate to get out, is it morning yet? Quick check through the door, daylight timidly brightens the main cabin, it is. Are we expecting anyone? Then I remember: our safetyContinue reading “Early birds catch the Cat I certificate”

Yes to 40!

“Yes!“ What a sweet, warm, yummy, soothing feeling this word brings… Especially when heard repeatedly, throughout an entire day, from friends and family as a reply to whatever I suggest. As if I have bewitched them by the mere fact I have woken up that morning, exactly forty years older than the day I wasContinue reading “Yes to 40!”

Obelix shower ceremony

Hot showers are now possible on Obelix! But, beware, far from a modern life entitlement, taking a hot shower on our boat is a well deserved reward that comes only after following a precise protocol, involving lots of steps, and a fair amount of pumping, which has, let it be said, the side benefits ofContinue reading “Obelix shower ceremony”

Giving Obelix a break

With a South Island road trip! For a week we deserted Obelix and ran in the arms of Mrs Geriatrix, our Jucy campervan, to embark on a winter South Island adventure, take a breath of fresh air, marvel at Southern Alps dramatic scenery, and teach our kids a bit of Aotearoa geography, which latest conversationsContinue reading “Giving Obelix a break”

How many Jedis can Obelix swallow?

Eager to find out, we organised Azur’s birthday party at the marina, with no other plan B than using Obelix and the marina lounge for shelter in case of extreme weather. Needless to say that as the week-end approached, and, with it, its sub-optimal forecast, the weakness of our plan B kept me up allContinue reading “How many Jedis can Obelix swallow?”

Open heart surgery (part II)

Magic happens when I’m out dancing! In the last few weeks, while I was indulging my parallel life as a dance addict (3 classes and 3 social dancing events of salsa, bachata, kizomba, tango and african dance in the last week alone), Thomas has been hard at work, coordinating and finalising the install of ourContinue reading “Open heart surgery (part II)”

Sun kissed for 31 days (part II)

12 January: Kahangaro, Cavalli Islands Departing from the idyllic Okahu Passage is not an easy thing, but we’ve been promised wonders in the Cavalli Island and the much praised Whangaroa harbour, so, as soon as we’re up, we hoist the sails to venture further up North, and when the Cavalli Islands are in sight, weContinue reading “Sun kissed for 31 days (part II)”

Sun kissed for 31 days (part I)

Memories of bliss times on the water slowly recede, while the tide brings back the daily routine of land-bound life. Let my heart not sink but stay buoyant, by recalling the vivid impressions of heightened senses, absence of commitments, and communion with nature. 500 miles, 34 anchorages, 12 islands, 7 hikes, 1 night navigation, 1Continue reading “Sun kissed for 31 days (part I)”

La Obelix vida es un carnaval!

Time to farewell 2020, a full-on year on so many accounts… Despite unexpected global circumstances which culminated, in New Zealand, with a couple of lock-downs, near-closed borders, and ever changing game rules, we’ve managed to make new friends, reconnect with old ones, sail the Hauraki gulf quite extensively, get Obelix a new jib, staysail andContinue reading “La Obelix vida es un carnaval!”

Sunset-moonrise double-bill

Sometimes the stars align, and all you need is to be outside to witness it. Like spontaneously casting the lines after work on a Friday, to honor the gentle breeze, still water and clear skies, with no other reward in mind than, trying our new jib, leaving the hustle and bustle of the week behind,Continue reading “Sunset-moonrise double-bill”

Making our bubble great again

Free-range kids As lock-down 2.0 was announced on August 13th, Auckland schools closed, and we retreated back to our bubbles, we decided not to add any complexity to the ever changing and (sometimes) absurd rules that governed our strange world, and let our children be free-range. No virtual hui. No homework. No schedule. No pressure.Continue reading “Making our bubble great again”

It takes a special kind of person

After a full week-end saving lives, I am exhausted! Ok, this was all pretend play, but I swear that NZ Coastguard /MedAire coastal medic course is not for the faint-hearted. Between gore pictures and videos of a femoral artery gushing blood (albeit very pixelated, thank God), de-gloving fingers (I learnt a new word), or woundsContinue reading “It takes a special kind of person”

Obelix meets Zampa in St Heliers

Imagine paying a visit to your old neighbourhood, meeting long-time-no-see friends, and doing a bit of treat-shopping… by boat. That’s what we just did last week-end, taking Obelix for the first time to Saint Heliers Bay! Not as exotic as many places in the Hauraki Gulf, for sure, but an idea that kept nagging me,Continue reading “Obelix meets Zampa in St Heliers”

Scrapes, scratches & silver linings

“It’s alright mum, our boat isn’t badly damaged, just a few small repairs and we’ll be off again”, wrote Zephyr on the day of our incident… (cf. Obelix on the rocks) The small repairs took three weeks, and, thankfully, no one dared tell me at the time it would take so long! Apart from theContinue reading “Scrapes, scratches & silver linings”

Meeting Obelix’ two dads

It’s not a beautiful boat, but it’s a good boat! Uwe Tolks Obelix is the brain child of Uwe Tolks, former Master Mariner & Marine Construction Engineer, and Erwin Haag, Naval Architect, both German established in Whangarei, New Zealand, since the 70’s. “December 1976, he comes to my office and asks can you draw meContinue reading “Meeting Obelix’ two dads”