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Not on a mission - Nor with a mission - Just simply IS the mission

by John Curnow, Global Editor, SailWorldCruising.com 28 Mar 22:00 UTC
Moana when I picked her up in La Rochelle © Renate Klocke

So if life is an adventure, and we are here to master the addiction, Renate 'Rena' Klocke might have the keys to success for us all. Having first stepped onto a boat six years ago, she has already amassed some decent sea miles, and crossed the two big oceans in the process. That's definitely one hell of mission right there. You could put the sailing gloves away immediately, and hold your head high forever more.

Yet there was something more on offer in the discussion with our new friend who had been introduced to us by Pantaenius Sail and Motor Yacht Insurance. We're really glad we listened intently, for the other two elements to the headline became clearer and clear as we went on.

Just like the islands appearing fuller and greener as you glide over the horizon to them. What starts as a treeline ends up as lush forestation, sand beaches, lagoons, rolling breakers, dolphins jumping, and gentle, warm, breezes keeping the sails full.

Despite what might seem as a short runway to some, Rena has indeed taken to being a liveaboard cruiser wonderfully.

"I've had breaks in between, but I lived on a cruising cat for one and a half years, aiming to eventually circumnavigate. However, just before that circumnavigation was to start in the Caribbean, my skipper decided he could not do it any more. So, I changed boats and went from the Caribbean to Tahiti with a Kiwi Skipper instead.

"That was the end of that particular trip, but I returned back to the same vessel after a trip home. It was lying in New Zealand, and the aim was to get back out into the Pacific. That thing called Covid came along and we ended up discovering New Zealand for six months.

"I went home for 18 months and worked after that. One of my brothers passed away during that period, and subsequently I decided to undertake the voyage I am now on."

"So, I purchased my own boat and went back to the Pacific to discover the islands that I wanted to see. Having my own boat was never really part of the plan, but the opportunity was now there, and my skipper was now very much out of sailing, so it was a case of getting the job done on my own.

"I bought a brand-new Lagoon 450S as I knew the brand quite well, and with the help of my Kiwi Skipper we got it all set up in La Rochelle, then sailed it to the Canaries with some of my family on board.

"The Canaries was a great spot to have as a first destination. I had time to get used to the boat, and also wait for my family to come and cross the Atlantic with me. November is the earliest month to begin an Atlantic Crossing, and I wanted to be in the Pacific by the beginning of May, in order to avoid both named storm seasons."

"My daughter and I had been in the Caribbean on the previous trip, and so we wanted to get back there again. That time we had to wait out from January to March, after stepping off the first boat, before our ride to Tahiti arrived. We both did some volunteer work in Dominica after a hurricane had been through. The shelter we were at supported all of the locals. My daughter was with the school kids, and I helped out the seniors," said Rena, who is both a Dermatologist and Geriatrician.

"I had asked them to write me a wish list for when I returned on this second trip, as it is a very poor island. They are independent now, and it is quite the life of subsistence. We delivered everything that we could to them."

The Pacific beckoned and it was now time to get to Panama and through the canal.

A mere sentence, nor even paragraph is not enough to cover off the appreciation that Rena has for the Polynesian culture and their festivals and competitions. Suffice to say she enjoys all the singing and how far their ancestors travelled to spread out across the ocean, most likely from Samoa, before their art of celestial navigation was lost to time.

Their maritime skills may not have been written down to pass on to the next, but the distinct nature of their attires and songs shows how much they all developed and changed along the way, to say nothing of their crafts, food and art. Curiosity piqued; drive for mission found; sailing the only way to make it all happen. Good thing she loves that too.

A lot of sailors make for the Galapagos Islands after departing the Panama Canal. Clearly Rena had already seen them, as well as the 'absolutely stunningly beautiful Marquesas' (Rena's description), but she was most keen to make for the very much lesser known Gambier Islands, which are seriously in the middle of the Pacific, as well as the Austral Islands that are the Southernmost group in French Polynesia.

"I had seen Raiatea, Huahine, and Tahiti, but very few make for these other islands. The Gambier and Austral groups are soooooo different. They were beyond my expectations!"

Rena has come to Australia for the cyclone season, and her contacts with Michaela Claes and Jamie MacPhail at Pantaenius Sail and Motor Yacht Insurance not only helped her with finding a place to moor, but also with a number of trades that were required for maintenance jobs, one of which was the great Phil Smidmore OAM.

You know, apart of the religious aspects, there is almost a missionary aspect to her adventuring. Rena is busily sourcing all manner of equipment to take back out into the Pacific when she heads off in just a little while, after making her way up to the Gold Coast to not only get fresh antifoul, but also have a better angle of attack into the islands.

Vanuatu is the objective, which is Melanesian, and so very different to Polynesian, which suits our explorer just fine given her interest in culture and people. Rena had a short visit on the way over West, just to make sure of what she would be seeing on her way East once more. "It is certainly worth it," she said.

"Mount Yasur is an active volcano on one of the very Southern islands, Tanna. At its foot is Port Resolution. The villagers are used to sailors there. I found a woman who is trying to empower other women to help themselves. They live very basically, and barely have fresh water. They do not have power, except for generators, and of course they have a lot of natural disasters, so are always sort of rebuilding, given they are the country in the world that has the most catastrophes.

"They gave me a long wish list and we are fulfilling a lot of it. Clothing, tools, and baby items are the main things. We have also taught them how to use dried legumes for when their gardens do not provide foodstuffs. Last time I almost stripped my boat, so we have loads on board for this trip. Perhaps they will know what to ask other sailors for from now on."

"We are really looking at providing long term solutions, not short-term fixes. There is one man trying to fix the 'Yacht Club'. It was a straw hut with a few chairs, and he wants to make a table and so forth. He brought out a broken circular saw, and we took it with us to Australia, it is now fixed, and we are going back with spare cutting discs, as well.

"We are trying to support their ability to help themselves. They do not need a lot, just help, for when there is food, they prepare the most delicious meals. They used to eat with banana leaves as plates and bowls. Now there are a lot of plastic wrappings, so the rubbish is everywhere.

"We are taking bags for them to fill, and in this way are asking for something back for what we have brought along. They can give some of the rubbish to all the sailors who come and ask them to take it back to places where it can be disposed of thoughtfully, or recycled."

"The remote Fijian islands are a calling after that. There are a lot of islands East and Southeast of the main island that nobody goes to. There are islands that probably don't see a sailor in a year or two. So pretty remote islands and because it's a bit awkward to sail there.

"After that I will return to Australia. It's so lovely here, and definitely not the worst place to return to, at all."

Moana (Ocean in Polynesian), the Lagoon 450S, will have taken her crew to many a locale by then, and delivered wanted goods, and returned with plenty of tales.

"I gave myself three years to decide if I was through with sailing or not. As a matter of fact, right now, it looks like I'm totally not through with sailing. I may be happy with this side of the Pacific, but you know I may go and join another boat to see the remote and oh-so-hard-to-get-to places in the Austral Islands. They are my five favourites, for sure."

Rena is happy to assist others get to these most remote of places, and to bring the best supplies for the communities. You can reach out to her through us at editor@sail-world.com and we'll put you in touch.

Part of her mission when she bought Moana was to give people, especially younger souls, the chance to sail, just as she had been given herself, which normally she would not have been able to achieve or afford. There are a lot of 'hitchhikers' in the Caribbean that can attest to that, and Rena still carries the joy of sharing those adventure to this day.

So then, you might be asking just what is the big mission? To grow and learn, and not just take, but return as well. Life is a symbiotic circle after all...

OK. We have stories, lessons, inspirations and history to regale yourself with. Please use the search window at the top of the homepage if you are after something specific, as only the latest news appears on the website as you scroll down. We enjoy bringing you the best stories from all over the globe.

If you want to see what is happening in the other Hemisphere, go to the top of the SailWorldCruising home page and the drag down menu on the right, select the other half of the globe and, voila, it's all there for you.

John Curnow
Global Editor, SailWorldCruising.com

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