The Return Home Part I
Te Hokinga ki te kainga (The Return Home) pt 1
For Te Matau a Maui the journey home has been an on going process. Like any processes it can be quick or it can be long. With sailing you never expect to get anywhere that quick, say, in comparison to driving a car or flying somewhere in a plane but generally you can estimate your approximate arrival time based primarily on weather, wind strength and direction, distance, and sailing characteristics of your vessel. Add in a little optimism, and an 800 nm voyage, say between The Solomon Islands and New Caledonia, could take you around a week.
So as the fleet departed Honiara looking to arrive in Noumea in a weeks time, we were a little unprepared for what was lurking around the corner. Perhaps it was the exuberance we all felt having completed a major mile stone of the voyage, the arrival and participation in the Pacific arts Festival. Perhaps it was the realization that we were all finally heading home after so many months away from family and friends, or the optimism we felt because we had such a good run from the Galapagos Islands right across the vast Pacific Ocean to the Solomons. Whatever it was, we were soon to find out that Tanagroa and Tawhirimatea had a few suprises install for us yet.
Not long after departing Honiara darkness surrounded us revealing an electrical storm in the distance.This was a foreboding sign as we were heading in the general direction of the lightning. During the night the wind strength increased, and started coming from the wrong direction ( the general direction we were trying to go) and proceeded to beat us up a little, splitting the fleet in two and forcing us all to lay up in two different locations for 5 days. When we finally made a run for New Cal, the winds again became unfavorable pushing the fleet towards Espirito Santos island in Vanuatu where we took shelter again. This proved to be a blessing in disguise however as we were invited to beach our canoes in front of the Beachfront Resort in Santos where owner and manager Dave and Dave opened their property for us to enjoy. Much thanks goes out the Beachfront Resort for the hospitalities offered. I definitely recommend The Beachfront to cruising yachts as a location to Anchor as they offer excellent facilities to boaties and holiday makers alike.
We finally tore ourselves away from the rest and relaxation we were enjoying in Vanuatu to continue our journey homewards. The break had been much appreciated and with new enthusiasm, tinged with a little sadness due to the fleet breaking up, we said our farewells and boarded our waka for New Caledonia.
Once again we were put to the test by the weather as strong squalls and headwinds drew down on us splitting our little fleet. Te Matau a Maui, Okeanos, and Evohe, continued eastward, managing to tack towards the northeastern pass into the reef that surrounds much of New Caledonia. We were glad to finally have arrived and looked forward to the stay in Numea after working so hard to get there.
Anchoring overnight alongside our support vessel Evohe just inside the reef, we all reflected on the last 3 weeks of sailing, some of the wettest and roughest we have experienced all year. Perhaps Tangaroa and Tawihimatea were testing and preparing us for that final leg home. Whatever the case. As we contemplate the last part of our journey…We are ready.
‘Te hokinga o Te Matau a Maui me ona tuakana, teina, ki Aotearoa’