.The rescue of Avanti
.2017 whale research in Niue
.2016 Tikopia expedition and documentary
.2019 planned Pacific itinerary
2017 Dona Catharina is used as a whale research vessel to assist in the annual whale research program of Oma Tafua in Niue. But Dona Catharina makes world headlines before she even arrive in Niue.
Here is a link to a video summery of our 2017 pacific expedition. Thank you Sofia, for putting it together.
The voyage from New Zealand to Niue via Beveridge Reef was one of the toughest trips we had ever made. Twice we had to heave to as the winds would not want to ease. The Genua blew to bits, and the day before our arrival at Beveridge Reef we also lost the mainsail.
Limping into the lagoon we where hoping for a few calm relaxing days with some diving and snorkelling, but this was not to benavigation instructions from the crows nest help to avoid the numerous coral heads
On our first night in Beveridge Reef I went on deck at 2:30 at night, and saw a light , only about a mile away from our anchorage to windward. Believeing that the vessel is still in deep water outside the breaker line and to be able to warn them ,I turned the VHF on, only to receive a Mayday call from the 50’ catamaran Avanti Avanti half submerged on the Reef
They went right over the Reef, and by sheer luck did not pitch pole or break up. And where now sitting high and dry on the rocks, in an outgoing tide.
A family of four, mum an dad, and their 11 year old son and 13 year old doughter. None where injured, and for the time being they where save. Anyway, it was still dark, and there was nothing we could do at this time of the day to help them, except offer morale support via the radio, and work out a rescue plan for the morning.
A satilite call went out to the NZ Rescue Coordination Centre in Wellington . The Avanti crew had set of their EPIRB, and we wanted to inform the NZRCC that we belived, that we could get the situation under control without further assistance from NZRCC. The Dona Catharina crew could not have been more suited to organise and launch the early morning rescue mission . We had experienced sailors, Greenpeace veterans, and a marine biologist on board. First daylight saw our two ribs head for the wreck of the Avanti. Our priority was to get the two children of the wreck, and onto the saftey of Dona Catharina.
We got within a few hundred metres of the outer Reef with our tenders. but the final contact with the stricken vessel had to be made by wading across the corals . It took Manu some time to fight the currents and waves, but he managed to walk to the wreck, piggyback the kids of the boat into the Avanti tender, and the drift them downwind to our waiting dinghies .
Once the kids were save on board Dona Catharina, where the were looked after by Monika Tina and Kylee, we headed back to get their parents of .
The next three days all crew on Dona Catharina was occupied with salvaging what ever we could on personal belongings of the shipwrecked family, cooking for now eleven on board, or patching up our shredded sails. However, The kids weren’t to sad, that most of their school books could not be saved.Avanti, incredibly still afloat after both her hulls have been ripped open
Remains to say, that the reason for the stranding would lay in poor passage planing, and the reason for this are some personal problems that would have preoccupied the mind of the Avanti skipper.
We have left the wreck of Avanti in Beveridge Reef unstripped and unplundered, with the hope the the Avanti insurer, Pantaenius , will make sure on their promises, to remove the wreck completely. Beveridge Reef is a unique and pristine environment and it would be sad to see the wreck break up and pollute the lagoon
2017 Whale Research in Niue
We are proud, that Dona Catharina has been chosen to act as support vessel for the annual whale research program on Oma Tafua in Niue
After arriving in Niue, where we had been expected not only by Oma Tafua, but by several reporters who wanted the story about Anvati and our involvement around the rescue of their crew,. And could finally rest for a few days . Oma Tafua director Fiafia made sure the we had all we needed, fresh provisioning, washing machines and even a mini bus to tour the island.A breaching humpback is quite a sight. and we learned, that adults male breach to communicate their presents But our main focus was in helping Oma Tafua to identify individuals, by collecting skin samples and collecting photos of flukes.
Recording whale song, swimming with them, and watching their powerful displays was just an added bonus for the crew. Data collecting was the main focus.
2016 Tikopia expedition Tikopia rising over the horizon
We have been asked by the reknown French film maker, Corto Fajal, and on special invitation of the chiefs (arikis) to deliver and accomodate his team to the isolated island of Tikopia.
our special mission was also, to deliver and install ,two water purification systems on the island so the locals would have access to clean drinking water in the event of tropical cyclones. These units had been fundraised thanks to the help of Corto and his team, and where eagerly awaited on the Island.
What a very special place with some very special beautiful people
Corto’s trailer of the jet to be completed film will give you a glimpse. We can’t wait to see the finished product. Last news is that the first screening will be held at the pacific film festival in February 2018 on Tahiti
2019 planed Pacific Itinerary
Thanks for your interest in joining us on a part or all of our 2019 voyage to the pacific island . Here is the draft itinerary with estimated times and flight options.
We are open to suggestions, but would like to visit it Tanna and our special secret island destination in any case, as we have already some arrangement with the locals regarding our next visit.
Of course all departure dates, destinations, and arrival dates are subject to weather, and may have to be adjusted accordingly .
Please pass the following information on to your friends , as the upkeep of Dona Catharina depends on funding via networking.
15/08 depart Opua bound for Tanna in Vanuatu. This will be an open ocean voyage of
About 10 days, and will suit people who’s dream it is to cross an ocean under sail.
25/08 port Resolution in Tanna. We are good friends with the paramount chief of the
And are expected to deliver some donated goods from NZ to his people. We will.
be therefore honoured with privileges the average tourist, visiting the island, may
Not enjoy. But in any case, the highlight of visiting Tanna will be a climb up the
Very active volcano Mt. Yasur.
01/09 Arrive in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, and proably the most interesting qcapital “City” of all the pacific Islands.. There are direct fights from Port Vila to NZ.
All the populated islands of Vanuatu have small airstrips, and there are regularly
From Port Vila or Santo.
05/09 Port Vila to Epi island. Again an Island where we have made friends with some of the locals, so we will like have to offload some cargo for them. There is a very good chance
To snorkel or dive among sea turtles in Leman Bay.
09/09 short sail to the Maskelyne island on Malekula. This, and the next island of the
Vanuatu chain, as we continue our way nort, are new to us, and we have so far only sailed
past them, wishing to stop there , on earlier voyages.
11/09 Maskelyne to Ambrym the island that consists of a large active Vulcan.
13/09 Ambrym to Pentecost . It is on this island where the famous land divers live, that Have inspired the idea of bungy jumping.
15/09 Pentecost to St Maria .Latest by now we will be of ‘the beaten track’, and St Maria Is unlikely being visited by other yachts wile we are there.
17/09 We will leave St Maria to our very special destination, and I am deliberately not spelling out its name, as we have an interest its to keep it existence out any lime
light. All I will say, that we have been there before, and that the island itself, and
People on it are very special.
25/09 we hope to arrive in Luganville . The second largest city in Vanuatu, with good
flight or shipping service to Port Vila. Famous amongst divers for million dollar
Point , the place where the Americans sunk a large amount of their ships, tanks,
aircraft, no longer needed after WWII.
27/09 From Luganville , depending on crew wishes, we will either revisit some of the
northern island of Vanuatu, and then make our way south towards Port Vila.
Or we may go for plan B, and clear customs and leave for Noumea .
We expect this to be a upwind trip, that may be not so easy, but the reward will be
a relaxing few days in the stunningly beautiful lagoon of New Caledonia , with its …………many uninhabited Islands and sand cays and fantastic diving opportunities
And of course there are regularly flight from and to NZ out of Noumea
15/10 weather window dependent, we hope to be on our way to New Zealand, and
This may be the more interesting passage fore those, who’s dream it is to
experience the adventure of crossing an ocean under sail. There is also a chance
That we may be able to stop on Norfolk Is. but this is very weather dependent,
as Norfolk has no save anchorage, and one has to be on high alert for any shif
In wind direction.
instead of Plan B we may also be back in Port Vila after visiting Aoba Is, Ambrym,
and Epi Is
04/10 we should then be in Port Vila again, were we can refuel, and prepare Dona
Catharina for the crossing to NZ. But we would like to clear customs on the
15/10 on Tanna Is to say goodby to our friend , the chiefs family of Tanna, and to check
On the progress of the large canoe, that they hope to build with the help of the
donated goods from our earlier visit.
25/10 ETD NZ. but bear in mind, and that includes all dates around the island cruises,
that Dona Catharina can not be run to a exact schedule as her speed and
headings are dictated by wind and sea.
As the header suggests, this is only a draft itinerary . We are always open to change of plans, and if you or your friends wish to see a special place in the Pacific, carry out some research or plan a documentary about a particular subject and you need an affordable platform to operate from, please contact us via our contact page. We are happy to help you make it happen.