About The Trip

About The Trip

I'm joining my friends Tony & Margaret, owners of the graceful sailboat "Joalea" to be be part of the crew for the next sailing adventure:  Crossing the Pacific Ocean from Panama starting in April, 2015

I was lucky enough to sail the Caribbean Sea with them for many years, visiting all the beautiful islands from Spanish, US, British Virgin islands to the Lesser Antilles. (Which are a long arc of small islands in the Caribbean Sea extending in a north-south direction from the Virgin Islands to Trinidad and then in an east-west direction from Margarita to Aruba off the northern coast of Venezuela).

"Joalea" just crossed the Panama Canal in late February, 2015 from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Now awaiting her crew to sail further to the French Polynesian Islands,  "The Jewel of World"

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Travel Blog

  • MOOREA June 19, 2015
    June 9, 2015.           Moorea
    In the middle of the night, the light of Tahiti appeared on the horizon, from a far distance It looked weird, how can we see the island from 40 nautical miles? We were tired being up all day and nights, sleeping only couple hours here and there. As we sailed closer to Tahiti we had to be more alert. Tahiti has the biggest port in the French Polynesia and not mentioned the fishing boats out in the middle of the night. 
    With our slow speed it felt an eternity to pass Tahiti and finally to get closer to Moorea. 
    As we waited for the sunrise to help us to navigate through the coral reefs to get into Baies de Cook in Moorea the engine did not want to  start. without engine power we were useless. Slowly started drifting westward until we solved the battery problem. Took about half an hour to roar up the Yanmar again, but at this time we drifted away from Cook bay. However on our beam a breathtaking bay called Baie d’Opunohu with its turquoise water, palm trees on the shore and the impressive bulk of Mont Tohieva along the spire of Mont Mouaroa behind the bay. This bay is not just famous of being the one of the most photographed bay in the world, but also the backdrop in the film version of “South Pacific”. 
    We dropped anchor behind the reefs, where the white sandy bottom was clearly visible and the shore was a short dingy ride. As soon as we finished washing the boat from the heavy sea salt, a friendly neighbour introduced himself. We learned a lot from him about the area since he and his family is a permanent picture of the bay. They have been anchoring there for couple years. They sailed out of St Petersburg about 10 years ago and since they live-aboard. As soon as he found out that I have a Hungarian background, he pointed to the sailboat behind us. The Hungarian flag was flying on her stern. What a small world. They left Europe almost a year ago on a self build 38 feet sailboat “Dora” it took him 7 Years to build his boat in his backyard. What a wonderful family. 
    Not to far from us the luxurious Polynesian style bungalows were standing in the turquoise water, surrounded with colourful corals. It was so inviting that we had to take a dingy ride there. It turned out that, that was the Hilton Moorea Resort. After couple of month of sailing I was starving for that kind of luxury and for a delicious mojito. Fortunately the happy hour started at 4pm so the timing could not been better. Also, they had a Polynesian night with live entertainment that night and a mouth watering lam was rotating on an open fire barbecue, so going back to the boat for dinner would have been a terrible mistake. The show stared right after dinner and about hour and a half latter it finished with the fire show on the beach. I just love the Polynesian culture.
    The following morning started like every morning on the anchorage right after I got out of bed, I was diving into the water for a refreshing swim around the boat. Followed by my favourite Panama Joe coffee. While I was sipping on my hot coffee, I remembered of Max the Russian neighbour’s comment about feeding the Sting rays nearby. This place was a half an hour dingy ride towards the Intercontinental Resort. As we arrived there I just could not believe in my eyes. Hundreds of sharks and sting rays were swimming in a crystal clear water. it was scary at first sight, fortunately some locals were in the water playing and feeding the Rays with fish by hand. We joined them shortly after and that was one of the most fun ever. We were laughing, screening like children, when the sting rays were swimming up to our neck after they took a peace of fish from my hand while the Sharks were circling around us peacefully. We left some fish for them as well but it was only given to them from the dingy, it was exciting to see the way the sharks were fighting for our fish. It was a perfect and unforgettable afternoon.
  • HEADING TO MOOREA June 19, 2015
    June 7, 2015.  Heading to Moorea
    We had seen everything on the North part of atoll and after the eventful Saturday evening we decided to pick up the anchor and set sail. We had to time the slack tide to avoid the strong current at the North entrance and at 1500hr we set the course to Moorea which is the 5th. island of Fakarava’s biosphere reserve, located west of Tahiti and part of the Society Island groups.
    As soon as we hoisted the sails and the boat got into the soft motion the famous Rod Stewart’s song “Sailing” sounded from the speakers. This is our tradition, anytime we start our crossing under sail power. The sea was calm and the South Eastern light breeze on our beam carried us into the night. I felt like sailing on the lake in Europe in my early age of sailing. The waves were in our stern all night long, that was the most pleasant sailing since we left Panama.
    The wind picked up in the following day gusted to 30knt but the waves remained gentle and the boat was racing to her maximum speed. Incredible sailing experience. We enjoyed it for a while but we had to slow her down because timing our arrival to Moorea was important. Where the island is surrounded by coral reefs and arriving in the evening or middle of the night is not an option. It was painful sailing in this condition with 6knt of speed, but this is the speed needed to arrive to our destination just before the sunrise.
  • FAKARAVA, TUAMOTUS June 19, 2015
    Jun 2, 2014            FAKARAVA, TUAMOTUS
    We were hoping to catch the tail of the yesterday’s strong wind to fill up the sails all the way to Fakarava. We woke up to light wind, which means motoring again. 
    Fakarava is the second largest Tuamotus atoll 32nm long and 15nm wide. The northern, northeastern and southeastern have lots of small island covered by palm trees. Ratoava the main village is located on the northeast of the atoll.
    After motoring 42 nautical miles we dropped anchored beside of our South African friends who we met in several bay in the Marquesas.
    May 28, 2015.    KAUEHI ATOLL, TUAMOTUS    
    The timing was right we arrived at 0800 to Arikitamiro pass at Kauehi atoll. This small atoll is in the heart of Fakarava’s Unesco classified biosphere reserve, in the NW part of Tuamotus archipelago. 15nm (24km) long and 11nm (18km) wide. Water level coral ring formed around the summit of a 50 million year old emerged volcano. Some of the islands have two entrance, Kauehi has only one 200 meter wide pass to sail into the deep water lagoon. As we approached the SE side of the reef, the dark blue sea turned into a beautiful turquoise water and provided easy anchorage near to the line of small coral islands filled with  coconut palm trees and shallow tiny bays between. It turned out latter that those bays are the favourite place for the Reef Blacktip Sharks.
    We dropped anchor in 15 feet water in a good holding sand near to the shore. Only one boat near by. This is the way I imagined the South Pacific. 
    The first two days we had picture perfect days, lots of snorkelling, exploring the underwater world. The South Pacific still have the colourful sea life with all kinds and colour of coral formation and tropical fishes, compared the  Caribbean Sea.
    Since we had seen so many groupers earlier Jessica & Jason (J&J) decided to go spear fishing on the second day hoping to get a fish for lunch. Apparently on the second attempt Jason got the fish and while hurrying it to the kayak Jessica got chased by a small shark. Their adventure turned out a lesson to learned. As they returned with the grouper the fish’s sharp fin  punctured the inflatable kayak, and after opening the fish there was a sign of ciguatera (fish poisoning). So, that was the end of the great sport of spear fishing in the future as well. 
    However, we founded a new fun. As the tide/current is changing in every 6 hours, the water running out of those small bays with incredible speed so the “speed drift snorkelling” became a daily activity.
    Day 3
    On the third day when every one decided to take a break from fun, I ventured out on my own to discover those small islands. The shore from the boat looks like covered by white sand, but as soon as I set foot on the island it turned out to be small shells and corals, hard to walk on with bare foot. The islands are heavily grown in with palm trees and bushy bottom grows. The heavy Pacific waves are constantly pounding the outside reef and in certain area flooding the reef creating speedy current. This current really makes the snorkelling more enjoyable. I was glad to have my wetsuit on, I spent close to 3 hour drift snorkelling with all the colourful tropical fishes, amongst fascinating coral formation. I know there are lots of reef sharks around and in back of mine mind I was wishing to see one or two. Most of the coral heads accommodate those incredible colourful clams what not recommended to touch because it can close in powerfully. As I deeply enjoyed the underwater life and while I was submerging to get a closer look at the corals, all of a sudden I found myself face to face with a Blacktip Reef Shark. Needles to say my heart rate increased immediately. It was scary but fascinating in the same time. He gave me a good look and slowly swam away. Well, this is it? I thought, I need more excitement, start chasing him but he was long gone. My obsession increased for an other experience and I did not have to wait to long to see an other one. 
    The rum & coke never tasted as delicious as my story telling drink, after I returned to the boat.
    Day 4
    In the morning we decided to sail to Tearavero the only village in the Motu. It took about one hour of motoring to get there. The average depth of the water on the way is about 150 feet deep, however from that depth, still coral heads are towering up to keep the navigators alert. Some of them has a size of a small coral island, surrounded with breathtaking turquoise water. There is a sign of pearl farming in the past on those coral islands (small Motu) with abandoned houses and broken docks. Apparently the pearl farming diminished due to government regulation s and taxation. The locals switched to copra (coconut) it is timely procedure, growing, harvesting, husking, drying, shipping to Tahiti for processing. Coconut oil has a great health benefit.
    Once, the village had 700 habitants, nowadays, only 140 remained on the island. Polynesian people celebrating Mother’s Day on the last Sunday of May and we were lucky to be part of it. On our first visit to the village we got invited to the party where the locals celebrated the Mother’s Day. They shared their drink with us and the sound of the romantic Polynesian music. Men were playing on ukuleles, while the ladies were singing their favourite songs. What a treat was that.

    Day 5

    The weather called for strong wind. It was blowing up to 35knt all day long. Only four sailboats anchored in the front of the village and a French couple, the husband is operating his diving business from his sail boat and his wife is teaching in the local school. We all anchored in deeper water about 800 meter front of the village because of the crystal clear shallow water is full of coral heads.
    I had a mission that day to find the pearl farm and learned about pearl farming. I only found the reminder of pearl farm with empty shells. Our next destination is Fakarava where pearl farming is still in full operation.

  • “SO LONG” MARQUESAS June 3, 2015
    May 25, 2015.          “SO LONG” MARQUESAS
    Due to the weather we had to postpone the original plan. At least we all had a good sleep which is useful before a long passage. The weather looked promising until we got out of the bay. Squalls after squalls packed with 35knt wind. Start questioning it either back to the harbour or ride it through and continue? The good old 15 minutes rule always applies. 
    As the island started fading behind us the blue sky appeared on the horizon. As we were heading south, Ua Pou’s majestic peaks and spirals showed in the distance and stayed in the sight for a while. 
    We were heading to the Tuamotu archipelago the group of 78 islands, two of them are coral atolls. The Tuamotus stretches in an arc more than 1000nm (1800km) long from South East to North West.
    The first day and night sailing was unusually rough, specially for Jason who is first timer, but he slept day and night so his system slowly got adjusted. The weather called for strong wind and high sea. Unfortunately that was accurate at this time. Wind gusted up to 35knt. all day and night and the white caps became permanent seen on the horizon.
    If we had left on the previous afternoon as we scheduled, we were there in two and a half days with this speed. 
    The currents are running strong between and the entrance of the motus (atolls), so timing the slack tide is essential for navigation to get inside of the motus safely. For that reason next day we had to slow the boat down to 7 knots to catch the morning slack tide.
    Actually, the slower speed made the rest of the crossing more comfortable, even we got a small tuna on the hook.

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The Sailboat "Joalea"

JoaleaJOALEA is a 2010 Hylas Raised Salon. The highly regarded Hylas 54 designed by German Frers is one of the premier semi-custom quality performance cruising yachts in the world.  
Joalea (2) 003

JOALEA is a 2010 Hylas Raised Salon.

The highly regarded Hylas 54 designed by German Frers is one of the premier semi-custom quality performance cruising yachts in the world.

Hull #59 was the last of the Hylas 54’s built offering a luxurious 3-stateroom interior arrangement featuring contemporary style varnished teak woodwork with custom details, large navigation center and galley, full width master suite aft, two guest cabins forward and spacious salon amidships. The raised main salon provides a bright, airy living area
with settee to port and straight settee to starboard. DSC_0122 DSC_0119 DSC_0097 DSC_0077 DSC_0074 DSC_0696 The exterior very strong Hylas 54′ fiberglass hull is reinforced with Twaron (similar to Kevlar used in bullet proof vests). On deck there is a comfortable cockpit, wide side decks and a raised salon trunk cabin with large fixed windows and multiple deck hatches and stainless opening ports. The transom has wide built-in steps and swim platform with hot and cold shower and drop down swim ladder. Her long list of builder options includes: Fischer Panda 8KW generator and three zone Cruise Air reverse cycle air conditioning, Selden Electrofurl mainmast, Antal electric primary winches and Side power bow thruster. JOALEA is registered in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. How did JOALEA’s name come about with a Portuguese good luck rooster? We were sitting around the dining room table with family members July 1st Canada day and were trying to come up with a good name for our brand new purchase that would be meaningful to the two of us. There were many ideas given of which some names we wouldn’t dare mention. Then we had a very special thought both of our parents had passed away at the same time and are resting in the same special place and we believe they were instrumental in us coming together. Tony’s father’s name JOAO and Margaret’s mother’s name LEONA, thus JOALEA came about.

As the Legend of the Barcelos Cockerel goes…

A pilgrim was leaving Barcelos on his way to Santiago de Compostela when he was accused of stealing silver from the landowner. For his alleged crime, he was sentenced to death by hanging.

He prayed to Our Lady and St James, the patron Saint for Protection, that justice be done. As a final effort to save himself, the prisoner pleaded for a meeting with the judge. The judge was about to tuck into his roast cockerel, when the pilgrim said to the judge that as proof of his innocence, the cockerel would stand up on the plate and crow three times. The judge ignored the pilgrim’s claim and pushed aside his meal. But, as the pilgrim was hanged, the cockerel jumped up and crowed. Realizing his mistake, the judge rushed to the gallows and found that the pilgrim had miraculously survived due to a loose knot. According to the legend, the pilgrim returned many years later to carve the Cruzeiro do Senhor do Galowhich is now housed in the Museu Arqueologico in Barcelos. Of course there are many variations and embellishments to this Portuguese legend, but the Rooster from Barcelos has become one of the national symbols of Portugal and is said to represent faith, justice and good luck.  

"Joalea" Sailing the World