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 & sliver 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 & sliver 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”

Obelix on the rocks

No it is not the name of the latest trendy cocktail, although I wish. This is how I miserably ended an otherwise gorgeous long week-end sailing with friends. I’ve tried to find myself excuses, or blame others, or circumstances for the accident, nothing softens that overwhelming feeling of shame and guilt. I was at theContinue reading “Obelix on the rocks”

Fare-whale decade!

Recipe for the best day of 2019 Ingredients 1 handsome multi-talented man 2 kind, fun, resilient boys 1 sturdy sail boat 1 pinch of wind (not too strong, not too light, and preferably in the right direction) slight sea 1 whale 1 island (not too far, not too close, and preferably with an iconic bay)Continue reading “Fare-whale decade!”

Christmas in the engine room

Tuesday 24th December 2019 6:00am. We’re raising anchor from Bon Accord – Kawau, perfectly synchronised with our friends Marion & Borja on Ad Hoc, ready to sail to Great Barrier Island for Christmas. We’ve set our alarm early to strategically leave at dawn, kids still asleep in their cabin, sea still undisturbed by the sun’sContinue reading “Christmas in the engine room”

Serendipity galore

Family impressions (part 2/2) And what about us, the parents? What is our take on this new lifestyle? Thomas He’s a natural, he’s been drawn to the sea his whole life, so, one might say he’s like a fish in the water! Being on a boat, stepping on the floating deck each morning, looking atContinue reading “Serendipity galore”

Floor is lava in 3, 2, 1, 0!

Family impressions (part 1/2) One month in. Time to reflect: How is the family rating their new life aboard?To get a qualitative answer to this, I asked each one of us to come up with our top likes and dislikes. The first answer I got from Azur, was “But there is nothing that I don’tContinue reading “Floor is lava in 3, 2, 1, 0!”

Magic moments in Kawau

Initially, our ambitious plans for the Labour week-end was to go to Great Barrier Island… Thomas had even taken his Friday off to give us four full days of adventures. However, our religiously watching the weather situation the week leading up to our mini-holidays, did nothing to slow down the wind, which was still howlingContinue reading “Magic moments in Kawau”

Happy Bday Obelix!

At 8 am on Sunday the 13th, at high tide, after a full-moon night, our dear friend Naomi rocked up all dressed up with orchids and hibiscus flowers around her neck and arms ready to lead Obelix’ blessing ceremony. We showed her and Dave around, had a quick chat, and finished to prepare ourselves. OurContinue reading “Happy Bday Obelix!”

Bye-bye St Heliers!

Last week-end was one of transition, endings and new beginnings. Marcia and Camille, neighbours and friends, took the kids for a sleepover on Friday so we could have the night off and release a bit of the pressure accumulated over the past few weeks. Watching The Dust Palace and the APO’s epic production ‘Dawn’, thenContinue reading “Bye-bye St Heliers!”

Spring cleaning in progress for imminent downsizing…

Obelix may be a fat bastard, but there is no way we could fit all the stuff we’ve accumulated over the years (and that will mainly have lived through the time of their negotiation*) on board. Nor is it our intention to keep things for later, when we decide to return to landbound life. IndeedContinue reading “Spring cleaning in progress for imminent downsizing…”

Celebrating Obelix first times

With a Margaux, Château Marquis De Terme, which was waiting all those years for the right occasion… First cruise on Obelix as a family, just the four of us, for the pleasure. First time without having to go all the way to the marina toilets to pooh. First time communicating on the VHF with anotherContinue reading “Celebrating Obelix first times”

Obelix now in Bayswater!!!

Two months after patiently checking the weather forecast every day on various websites, Thomas has finally spotted a fine weather window last week, quickly gathered a crew, found someone to drive them to Whangarei, and organised everything to attempt the voyage for the second time last Saturday 17 August. As a cautious skipper, he minimisedContinue reading “Obelix now in Bayswater!!!”