Amazing Grace

Tue Nov 26 18:32 2019 NZDT
GPS: 36 37.397S 174 47.298E
Run: 57.2nm (103.5km)

Six months, 18 days, and 10.5 hours after untying the dock lines at Gulf Harbour to sail to Fiji, we arrived back today. Another motoring day, but beautifully sunny, so can't complain. Well, we do have one complaint. Found our car had two rear flat tires. Looks like the valve stems were intentionally broken, letting out all the air. Since the tires sat flat for who knows how long, they are probably beyond repair. So tomorrow I go to get them replaced. Welcome back to civilization.

This is my last post. If you want to know what's going on with us, you can check Leilani's Facebook.

Hope you all have wonderful weather and fun times wherever you are or are going.

Cheers, John

Thu Nov 21 11:57 2019 NZDT
GPS: 35 50.219s 174 28.107e

As at 1000 hrs 21/11/19. There is one subject that encompasses every fibre of your being when you prepare to go cruising, while you're cruising, and after you arrive safely. It's the first subject discussed at every cruiser bar. It's the most opinionated subject with the least definitive answers. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're not a cruiser. For my landlubber friends who spend most of their time encapsolated within four walls and only look out windows at it, the subject I'm talkiing about is - drum roll here - the weather. As in, whether the weather today will be kind or cruel. If the former, then it will be a nice day. If the latter, well the saying, the worst day on the water is better than the best day in the office, does not apply. A bad weather day on the water is never better than being somewhere safe, warm, and dry. All cruisers want to know what the weather is going to be. Partly so they can avoid the bad stuff, but also, and just as important, so they can prepare themselves and their vessels if and when the bad stuff arrives. To that end, cruisers are constantly searching out the most knoweldgeable sources. At this time I would like to acknowledge the source that helped us the most, and I know is a major source of weather information for many, many South Pacific cruisers. And that is none other than Gulf Harbour Radio.

Every morning, 5-days per week from 1 May to late November, David and Patricia on GHR broadcast on SSB and live streaming on YouTube. Patricia does roll call to track as many boats sailing around the Pacific to make sure all is well. She also broadcasts news items of interest to give a sense of connection to the "real" world that we cruisers have left behind. Then David comes on to give a knowledgeable and informative weather synopsis and forecast. We on Amazing Grace listen as often as we can with rapt, undivided attention. David often says, one of the things he hopes his broadcasts do is enhance our abilities to "read" weather information so we can make our own more informed decisions of whether to "go or no go". Over the years he has certainly been succeeding in my case. Not that I'm an accomplished meteorologist, but my level of how to read weather maps has increased many-fold. I'm now at Kindergarden level. However, I still rely on David to make sense of all those lines, and numbers, and other information from professional weather sources. And if this is not enough, David & Patricia do all this work for free. That's right, no charge. However, they have expenses to run their very professional operation. Patricia does not do a very good job of this, so I will help her out - I think she's just too shy to ask. GIVE A DONATION ON A REGULAR BASIS. If you cruise every season, give a donation every season. Go to their website - GHRADIO@XTRA.CO.NZ - and you will find how you can give to help them stay on the air. Don't encourage the view that cruisers are cheap. Give generously. From Leilani and John on Amazing Grace, we thank David & Patricia very much for all their hard work and valuable help.

In preparation for and during our trip to NZ we met and communicated with other boats to get any weather information they could help with. If for no other purpose than to be comforted in knowing that we were not the only ones getting hammered with lousy weather. It's true - misery does love company. These included, in no particular order, Scoots, Velic, Panache, Aghavni, and Andiamo. Thanks to all, and we wish you safe sailing wherever you go.

Finally, there is always the safe haven of a welcoming marina at the end of a long and tiring trip. Marsden Cove Marina is such a place. And llike any "place", it's only as good as the people running it. For us Leanne could not have been more helpful with providing us with accommodations, particularly after we kept changing our plans on almost an hourly basis as we approached NZ. Yes, we're coming to Marsden. No, weather forces us to go to Opua. Weather changed, we're coming to Marsden after all. No, wait . . . Through it all Leanne displayed the patience of Job, understanding of our predicament from being a cruiser herself, and good cheer because she is a very nice lady. Thank you Leanne.

To all those who sail from shore, AG wishes you fair winds and following seas.

Cheers, John & Leilani

Wed Nov 20 13:45 2019 NZDT
6.2kts (our personal best)
GPS: 35 50.219s 174 28.107e
Run: 86.9nm (157.3km)
Avg: 4.8knts
24hr: 115.9nm

as at 1230 hrs 20/11/19. We made it! At 0930 dock lines were tied up to the customs dock at Marsden Cove Marina for formal check-in. Right after, we moved into a marina berth to await a weather window for the day sail to Gulf Harbour Marina, our home port. The best part of arriving is knowing that tonight, and countless nights hereafter, we don't have to get up in the middle of the night to do watches. All of you who were vicariously suffering sleep deprivation with us can breathe a sigh of relief that you'll get a good night's sleep tonight.

And now for the all important trip statistics.

Total Trip Time: 8 days, 30 minutes - 192.5 hours

Total Miles Traveled: 1189nm

Average Speed:  6.2 kts - a personal best.

Average Total Engine Run Time: 109.3 hrs (57% of trip - 4.6 days) - another personal best if you can call it that. As I said in a previous post, we are a motor boat with auxillary sails.

Total Sailing: 83.2 hrs - 43% of trip.

All up Amazing Grace performed amazing for the entire season. In no small part due to pouring unlimited amounts of money into her before heading to sea. Those that don't should stay at home and watch TV. She had no major systems breakdowns, aside from having to replace the 8-year old house batteries. No one we spoke to about this could believe the batteries lasted so long. So I don't consider that a systems breakdown. That was just my cheapness to try and stretch another year out of them. Does that mean I should have stayed home watching TV? Two systems require special mention. The most important crew member, Mr Auto, performed flawlessly. The only time I touched the wheel to drive was when I was anchoring or going into or out of a marina berth. As I always say, If God had meant us to steer a boat, He would not have invented the auto pilot. Mr Auto doesn't require sleep, food, or toilet breaks. All he asks for is a kind word once in a while. How can you not love such a crew member.

The other system is Mr Yanmar. Some say our engine is past its use-by date with 8612 hours. My mechanic begs to differ. I say Mr Yanmar is gracefully mature. The mechanic points out that these small diesel engines should provide at least 15,000 hrs, and more, if properly pampered. Regular servicing is a must. The engine being 32 years old, means I won't have to worry about replacing him until I'm about 102. I can live with that. I know yachties who replace their engines after 3000 hours. Either they didn't take care of them, or they have way more money to burn than we do. Mr Yanmar never had a hiccup, burp, belch, or fart during the entire season, including the virtual non-stop use on the way to NZ. He got a big hug from me after we arrived, that's for sure.

And that brings an end to another exciting year sailing the fabled South Pacific. A continuing dream come true that we've been experiencing for the past 25 years. Now I'm going to sleep.

Cheers, John

Tue Nov 19 19:45 2019 NZDT
GPS: 34 36.052s 174 11.034e
Run: 35.4nm (64.1km)
Avg: 6.7knts
24hr: 161.8nm
Weather: as at 1915 hrs 19/11/19. Wow, what a difference several hours make. All the horrible weather discussed in my last post lasted about 6 hrs. Then early this afternoon we punched through the front. It was like going through the looking glass. One side was dark, windy, uncomfortable bumpy seas. On the other side conditions could not be more different. Wind shifted from SE to now being SSW, all under 10 kts, even as low as 5 kts. Sea has become flat with 1 mtr SE long period rolling swell. There is 50% cloud cover, with patches of blue between, and the sun is out. COG 165T. SOG 6.2 kts.

as of 1915 hrs 19/11/19. Now, the real reason for this second post of the day. In my last I said we were headed for Opua to check in. Things have again changed. Hey, it's cruising. We're now headed for Marsden Cove, our original destination, because of the favourable change of weather conditions. From Marsden it is an easy day sail to our home port at Gulf Harbour Marina. Due to lack of wind we continue to motor - with a sail up that doesn't do much except keep the boat from rolling. With 85 nm to go, our expected ETA at Marsden is 1030-1130 tomorrow morning. Leilani and I are looking forward to watchless nights of sleep.

Cheers, John

Tue Nov 19 14:30 2019 NZDT
GPS: 34 07.030s 173 58.876e
Run: 171nm (309.5km)
Avg: 6.8knts
24hr: 162.9nm
Weather: as at 1345 hrs 19/11/19. In a word, HORRIBLE. Up to yesterday we enjoyed motoring in light winds and calm seas. Last night we hit the front, or I should say it hit us like a brick wall - that's accepted meteorological terminology. Winds SE 18-25 kts. Swell SE 2 mtr, but somewhat confused, lumpy & bumpy. 100% cloud cover. Baro plummeted to 1010 from 1015 24 hrs ago. Temperature has dropped to point I can't sunbathe in the cockpit anymore. Welcome to NZ.

as at 1345 hrs 19/11/19. As you can see from the weather report, we are getting some uncomfortable weather. Nothing we, and the boat, can't handle. But after so many calm days, it is a bit of a culture shock to be bounced around as if we are in wash cycle. Our plans to enter NZ at Marsden Cove Marina have been dashed. The wind is pushing us away from there and if we tried to make it we couldn't arrive tomorrow. So, as happens in cruising, plans changed solely due to weather considerations. We are headed for Opua., only 72.6nm away. We will be banging into this weather front most of the way, and based upon our current speed and course, our GPS has miraculously calculated arrival at the check-in dock at 0630 tomorrow morning. That time could slip, but it shouldn't be by much. That means breakfast at the dock. Once checked in we will go out to an anchorage at one of the islands in the Bay of Islands and wait for a good window to head south to home port. I did end up bringing a Fiji souvenior with me - a head cold. I haven't had one in years. I'm convinced the Customs lady gave it to me. I went to the customs office at the marina, which is a small temporary building. Throughout the check-out procedure she coughed, hacked, sneeezed, and spewed constantly into a hankerchief. Now I'm coughing, hacking, sneezing, and spewing constantly into my shirt sleeve. Okay, I know, TMI.

Next post from land. Yeeee Ha.


Mon Nov 18 13:18 2019 NZDT
GPS: 31 38.641s 174 02.187e
Run: 173.1nm (313.3km)
Avg: 7.3knts
24hr: 176nm
Weather: as at 1200 hrs 18/11/19. Wind N 10kts. Swell SW 1.5 mts long periods. Bright sunny day with 0% cloud cover with exception of a very few wisps of cirrus cloud. Baro 1015 down from 1020 yesterday. COG 180T. SOG 6 kts

as at 1200 hrs 18/11/19. It's official. Or at least it feels like it. When we left Fiji our boat was a sailboat with an auxillary motor. It's now a motor boat with auxillary sails. Of the 147 hrs at sea so far, we have motored 65 hrs. Based on the latest weather forecasts, there is still more diesel burning to come. We're not making a carbon footprint. We're a carbon stampede.

Many of you are waiting with suspensefull anticipation to learn the outcome of the night watch resolution. Or not. You may recall, I thought it unfair that Leilani got the first night watch when it was still daylight. With a magnanimous jesture to stilling the turbulent waters, Leilani agreed to trade night watches with me - after I threw a temper tantrum. This morning, Leilani felt the same sleep deprivation I have been feeling the whole trip because of having to do in effect, two night watch shifts to one. So she asked to go back to the original schedule. I sat her down, and using the most logical and persuasive arguments I could muster, I said: "Nani-nani pooh pooh. I'm not changing back, and you can't make me." With a deep contemplative look, she rubbed her chin while nodding understandingly, responded, "Gee, I never thought of it that way. Sure, you can keep my watch." Being the skipper and having to deal with many crrew issues in order to maintain a happy ship is a difficult and thankless job. I don't know how she does it. I forgot to mention yesterday that we saw a whale. Actually we saw it spouting twice, and its backside once. No wonder I forgot to mention it. Of equal mention I found a very small dead flying fish on the deck several days ago. As you can tell, we've been at sea too long if this is all we have to write about.

You guessed it. Time to go back to sleep.

Cheers, John

Sun Nov 17 13:42 2019 NZDT
GPS: 29 08.382s 173 57.556e
Run: 172.7nm (312.6km)
Avg: 6.9knts
24hr: 165.5nm
Weather: As at 1230hrs 17/11/19. Wind variable 0-4kts. Swell SW 1mtr with long rolling periods. Sea state silky smooth. Bright sunny sky 0% cloud cover. Baro 1020. COG 167T. SOG 6.25kts.

As at 1230hrs 17/11/19. Another 24 hrs of glorious weather. Still warm enough to lay in the cockpit to work on maintaining my George Hamilton bronzeness. The only issue is lack of wind. But getting lots of exercise turning on motor when wind dies, then turning off motor when enough wind comes along to sail. Then there are the attendant sail changes for each of the conditions. Coupling all the excerise with my lack of appetite, I should be buff when I arrive in NZ. Or not.

This morning was an extra workout. We transferred 98 litres (25 gallons for my metric challenged American readers) from deck jerry cans into the main ship's tank. That topped up the main tank. This represented 40hrs engine run time since leaving Fiji. We carry 100 gallons in the main ship tank, and 45 gallons in deck jerry cans. Based on years of my religious fuel consumption calculations, we burn about 0.64 gallons per hour. So we can almost motor the whole way from Fiji to NZ. After what we've consumed so far on this trip, we have about 6.5 days of fuel left. With only 2.5 - 3 days left to go, we are fuel happy. And with the way the winds are going, we may have to motor much of that time.

Now for the latest trip statistics. We have 411nm to go to Marsden Cove Marina. Our average speed since leaving Fiji has been 6.25 kts. For us this is ahead of all previous years of 6 kts. Using 6 kts, our ETA is 0900 hrs on Wednesday 20/11/19. If that time holds, we will match last year's trip of exactly, and I mean exactly, 8 days & 0 hours. With sun setting at around 2030, it has screwed up our watch schedule, Up to now, for night watches we do 3-hr watches starting at 1800 and ending at 0600. Day watches are 4-hrs. Leillani has been doing the first night watch which means she'd be up in any event because it's still light. The result is she is really doing only one night watch, and I have to do two. As the captain, I find that wholly unacceptable. I offered to do all the day watches and she could do the night. That's fair. Every one of my watches would be 4-hrs, and her's would only be 3-hrs. Somehow I couldn't get her to go along. I'm sure we'll work out something mutually agreeable as soon as I issue the order. Or not.

Now for my favourite passage pasttime - sleeping. Cheers, John

Sat Nov 16 12:39 2019 NZDT
GPS: 26 41.189s 173 25.392e
Run: 167.7nm (303.5km)
Avg: 7.1knts
24hr: 170.5nm
Weather: As at 1200hrs 16/11/19. Wind negligible, and what there is is variable. Sea state is silky smooth with long rolling periods of SW 2mt swells. Bright sunny day with 50% cloud cover of mostly cumulus, some cirrocumulus, and a few cirrus clouds. COG 174T. SOG 6.2kts average. Baro 1019, having risen last 24hrs. Believe we are in middle of the high. Don't have therometer but still warm enough to sun bath iin the cockpit.

As at 1200hrs. Hallelujah! It's a miracle! Praise be to the satellite gods, EGNOS & GLOSNOSS. After two days laying in what I thought was a condition called, "dead", Mr Garmin rose up today and began navigating. For chuckles, this morning I turned it on, and through modern technology known as, "I haven't got a clue", it worked. So now I don't have to interrupt my sleep during my watch to trapse to the cockpit to confirm we're going in the right direction. I can go back to opening one eye every so often, but not too often, and glance at Mr Garmin at the Nav Station. That's a relief. As the weather report above says, there's no wind, no waves, and silky smooth sea condition. That means we've been motoring for past 24 hrs. A trough that showed up on our weather grib yesterday that showed ugly weather in our path on Sunday / Monday, has broken up. That's good. I really don't like big wind and seas and rain. Especially while I'm out in it in a small boat in the middle of the ocean.

We stay in email contact with several other boats, including Panache, Andiamo, Bright Moments, and Aghavni. All of us left Fiji together, except Panache, who left a day after. We're too far apart to see each other or talk on VHF. But with Iridium Go, you can reach out and touch anyone anytime. Say, I should copyright that and sell it as a marketing jingle to Iridium Go. Or not.

Yesterday I found two small pumice stones on deck. They're probably from the pumice island that is making its way to Australia from the Tongan volcanoe a few months back. It was Leilani's impetus to get us back on the rhumbline to NZ.

I'll end with some trip statistics so far. We are averaging 6.25 kts for the overall trip so far. As 6kts is our target, that's good. With no wind for the time being, we are able to sail, or I should say motor, a rhumbline to Marsden Cove. Barring any surprise weather coming up, our ETA is Wednesday, 20 November.

Okay, I'm on watch, so back to sleep.

Cheers, John

Fri Nov 15 13:03 2019 NZDT
GPS: 24 15.897s 173 35.060e
Run: 174.4nm (315.7km)
Avg: 7.1knts
24hr: 169.8nm
Weather: as at 1200hrs 15/11/19. Wind SSE (157T) 10-13kts. Swell SE 1mtr and less. Bright clear sunny sky. Baro 1015 rising since yesterday from 1012. COG 202T since about 1 hrs ago. Before that 220T. Function of wind back some. SOG 6.2 kts.

as at 1200 hrs 15/11/19. Had wonderful, fast sailing yesterday afternoon to this morning. Today continues with very nice conditions - see weather above. Only issue is wind direction is not ESE or even SE. Wind has been SSE to S since we started. Not what GFS gribs show. Result is we have been pushed farther west than anticipated. This isn't bad if we get the E to NE to N to NW winds as we approach NZ that have been forecast. However, the wind direction forecasts to date have not been that accurate. There's nothing we can do about it but continue on and hope we don't miss NZ. Australia destination is worst cast scenario. Almost forgot. We had a death at sea last eveniing. Although I haven't yet done the burial as I'm hoping for a revival after I get to NZ. Our Garmin GPS chart plotter at the Nav Station stopped all navigation functions. It still turns on, and I can move through the different windows. It could be the built-in antenna died. I'll bring it to my electonic expert in Auckland, who has resusitated a number of my other electronic instruments when the manufacturer said only cure was to buy a new one. Of course. There's no money in it for them to fix anything. Fortunately my new Garmin at the cockpit pedestal is working. But now I can't lay in my sea bunk and merely open one eye to check all is okay with our course. Now I have to actually completely wake up during my watch, go out into the cockpit, and look at the GPS there. It really interferes with my sleep during watches. Cheers John

Thu Nov 14 12:24 2019 NZDT
GPS: 21 51.090s 174 23.085e
Run: 163.2nm (295.4km)
Avg: 7.4knts
24hr: 177.6nm
Weather: As of 1200 hrs 14/11/19. Wind SSE 14-16 kts. Swell less than 1.5 mts SE. Clear blue sky. COG 212T. SOG 6.5 - 7 kts. Baro 1012.

For past 24 hrs, sailing has been fast (for us) with winds 18-22 kts late yessterday into last night. This morning winds eased to 14-16 kts. Still SSE which explains our continuing to sail SW. Now 73nm west of rhumblline. Looking at our paper chart (yes we actually still use them), I noted we are only 45nm west of our position at the same time into the passage on our 2018 NZ passage. Since we got to NZ then, I'm confident we'll the same this tiime. After tomorrow, the winds start to back eastward, so we can follow them. Then they continue to NE & N, and we'll be able to do a rhumbline into NZ at that time. But the last few days look to be light and we'll be motoring. In meantime, we're enjoying some outstanding sailing conditions.

Cheers John

Wed Nov 13 14:21 2019 NZDT
GPS: 19 44.200s 175 30.600e
Run: 111.2nm (201.3km)
Avg: 6.8knts
24hr: 163.2nm
Weather: as of 1400 hrs 13 November 2019. Beautiful clear blue sky. Wind SSE 14-18 kts. Swell SE 1.5 mts long rolling period. COG 212T. SOG 6.5 - 7.5 kts. Baro 1011 steady.

What a difference a day makes. Great sailing. Took down the staysail and put up the headsail. AG took off from a meandering 5.3 kts, to a galloping 6.5 to 7.5 kts, even touching 8. Seas are way down with long periods making for pretty smooth sailling. Only problem is direction. Wind has been virtually S until late this morning when it began backing slightly to SSE. Until then our course kept moving west until we were going 335T, and currently we're about 50nm west of our rhumbline. I'm confident we'll make that up over the next couple of days as wind continues to back E. Later in trip wind will die and we'll be motoring, and then will go north. At least that's the prognosis. With weather, one can never be 100% certain what tomorrow will bring. Otherwise, all good on board.

Cheers John

Tue Nov 12 22:00 2019 NZDT
GPS: 18 36.981s 176 43.967e
Run: 72.2nm (130.7km)
Avg: 2.5knts
24hr: 60.6nm
Weather: as of 2130 11 Nov 2019. Wind SSE 20kt. Swell SE 1.5 - 2 mts long period. 100% cloud cover. Baro 1011. No rain since leaving Denarau this morning. COG has been ranging 215 - 225T. SOG 5.7kts

2130 hrs 11 Nov 2019. Left Denarau at 0930. Has been a lumpy start. Wind is more sse than se so our course has been more ssw. A number of boats have zoomed by us throughout the day. As is our habit we under sail the boat, so our speed is not great. Trying to get used to being at sea again, but I much prefer anchorages and marinas. Just started my first night watch. I'm already looking forward to its end. Sailing would be great if there wasn't so much sailing. Time to sign off and get some sleep. I mean, tiime to look around. I'm on watch, remember.

Cheers, John

Mon Nov 11 17:25 2019 NZDT
GPS: 17 46.370S 177 22.952E
Weather: 100% cloud cover. Raining off and on all day. Wind N-NNW 0-5kts. Baro 1010

We've said this before - twice. So I won't blame you if you don't believe it this time. So here goes. We're leaving for NZ tomorrow. Us and a gaggle of others. Denarau Marina will be almost empty after everyone unties their dock-lines. Not a bad weather window forecast. A bit bumpy on the start. Will keep you appraised as we sail south. As always before a passage, I'm anxious to get on with it, and at same time would rather stay put. Since we've had two false starts within past week, we're not running around getting this and that done like some of the other boats. Leilani is finishing up making a couple of passage meals to replace ones we ate waiting to leave. I'm busy getting psyched up to take a shower. If that doesn't impress you, I'm at least writing this post. Okay, I'm psyched. Off to take a shower.

Sototale, John

Sat Nov 9 11:11 2019 NZDT
GPS: 17 46.370S 177 22.952E
Weather: 50% cloud cover. Winds N 10-15 kts. Last night had a short thunder / rain storm. But sunny today.

Yesterday was a double News Flash. Today - News Flash, News Flash, News Flash. At this rate my posts will be easy to write. They'll consist of ever increasing numbers of "News Flashes".

Another delay. Yesterday I made reservation with Customs & Immigration to check out at 0900 today. Being a weekend, we were to pay F$185 after hours fee. This being a 3-day weekend, Monday is Mohammed's B-day holiday, the C & I ladies didn't look too happy about coming in this morning. Well, in typical government employee fashion, they simply decided not to come in. Civil servants (there's an oxymoron) are the same the world over in their efforts to "serve" the public.

Not all is bad. Who wants to leave warm, balmy Fiji to return to cold, wet NZ. Not us. So we are watching another potential window on Tuesday to leave. Will be more certain as time approaches. Right after us, you'll be the next to know when we leave. Or there could be a quadruple News Flash. Who knows. That's cruising.

Sototale, John

Fri Nov 8 10:41 2019 NZDT
GPS: 17 46.370S 177 22.952E

News Flash! News Flash! Departure delayed 24 hrs. Now leaving on 9 November. Today's departure winds are a bit blustery. Tomorrow nice and calm. Anticipated ETA is 17 - 18 November. Will post regularly on our passage so you can vicariously enjoy the same sleep deprivation, loss of appetite, and constant stress about weather we so relish about ocean travel.



Fri Nov 8 9:04 2019 NZDT
GPS: 17 46.370S 177 22.952E

Today is departure day. We leave Fiji this morning bound for NZ. I will keep you up to date on our journey.



Tue Nov 5 8:28 2019 NZDT
GPS: 17 46.370S 177 22.952E

Good morning. Still in Denarau. Still waiting for a weather window. The boats which left last Friday in what we'd call snotty conditions are finally getting comfortable conditions. Very happy for them. There is no window to leave this week. Listening to Gulf Harbour Radio this morning, David mentioned a possible good arrival time in NZ would be 19 November. Working backward 8 days (our usual travel time to NZ) would mean a possible departure on 11 November. We'll just have to see as the week progresses and the forecasts firm up.

The super yachts have been steadily leaving. When you're 40, 50, 60, 70 meters long, you don't have to wait for the same weather windows that 13 meter yachts do.

As always, we keep you informed. In the meantime we wait for David on Gulf Harbour Radio to come up with the perfect weather window. Are you listening, David?

Sototale, John

Tue Oct 29 13:24 2019 NZDT
GPS: 17 46.370S 177 22.952E

Bula from Denarau. Yes, still here waiting for weather window. Will bring you up to date on latest from the marina. Remember when I told you our windlass broke. Exercising superior engineering skills that even surprised me, I fixed it. Won't bore you with details, but suffice to say it was because I was looking for something to do when I decided, just for chuckles, to dismantle the above deck portion of the windlass. Turned out to be nothing more than a key in the shaft fell out and was jamming the gypsy. Am I good, or what? The answer is: or what.

As is usual there are several super yachts, both power and sail, berthed here. I'll mention just two as they are fairly interesting. The first is Hemisphere. At 44 mtrs it's the largest sailing catamaran in the world. For those of you who'd like to do a S. Pacific charter, it's yours for just US$280,000 per week plus extras. For those of us living on the NZ peso, that converts to NZ$8,000,000,000. The extras aren't detailed, but usually include fuel, booze, and crew gratuities. It comes with a 45' fishing boat if you want to catch your own dinner. You can find out more details by googling SVhemisphere.

The other yacht is really two. One is the ultra luxury 50 mtr motor yacht, named Legacy. It is not for charter. Owner doesn't want riff-raff on board. Because Legacy is pure opulence, there's no room for toys, like a very large 30' RIB, 35' fishing boat, or even a helicopter, just to name a few of the not so insignificant.. So the owner has, as you'd expect, a 52 mtr companion super yacht, named Pursuit, to carry all those toys. Both are currently berthed in the marina. Hey, when you can afford a luxurious 50 mtr yacht, why not have another 52 mtr yacht. Again, you can google these yachts for more jaw dropping info.

As I write this, there is a crew of 5 washing, waxing and polishing our entire yacht. I feel like a super yacht owner with a full crew to do all the work. I just wish Amazing Grace was 50 mtrs.

Sototale, John

Fri Oct 25 18:22 2019 NZDT
GPS: 17 46.370S 177 22.952E
Run: 12.5nm (22.6km)

Denarau, we have arrived. For about an hour as we approached, a large rain cloud moved over the marina. Just as we arrived the cloud passed. We were able to berth the boat in dry conditions. Once tied up, another rain system closed over us and hasn't left. Welcome to the dry side Fiji. At least we're catching lots of tasty, pure rain water.

Leaving Momi Bay this morning we experienced our first major system failure. The anchor windlass jammed. I think I know how to fix it, but need to remove the entire windlass and reinstall. That's not going to happen until NZ. No problem as that was our last anchoring for the season. To raise the anchor and 35mts of chain, I got out for the first time the manual handle that fits into the windlass. The idea was to simply use the handle to turn the chain gypsy. Why doesn't anything work the way it's supposed to when I try it for the first time in the 10 years I've owned the boat? It's probably the only system I've never tested. The handle fit perfect onto the gypsy. However, the handle was made for the windlass, not the boat. The staysail stay blocked the handle from rotating 360 degrees - too close to the windlass. So I cut off a section of the handle arm and it worked pretty good. Glad I didn't have the whole 100mts of chain out, though. When I get back to NZ, I'll have the handle end welded onto a shorten handle arm, and everything will be as it's supposed to be.

Cruising is sailing from port to port to pick up parts, or improvising until it works. From a maintenance standpoint, this has been an exceptionally good season. Although I better not speak too soon as we still have a 1200nm sail back to NZ.

Don't know how long we'll be here until the next good weather window. But there are several good burger joints, so all is not lost. I can recharge my body fat content after all the wholesome veggies and canned goods we ate in Fulaga.

Sototale, John

Wed Oct 23 18:37 2019 NZDT
GPS: 17 54.931S 177 15.985E
Run: 46.2nm (83.6km)

After 10 hrs and 54.5nm we arrived at Momi Bay. This is the side of Viti Levu that is hot, humid, and hot. Right now it's 100% cloud cover, no wind, and humidity weighs on you like ton or bricks. Trade winds are a rarity on this side of Viti Levu. In fact it's rare to get any wind. That's because it's on the lee side of island. Trades coming from the east are blocked on this western side. Cabin fans are working overtime. Cold showers are a must. Sweat rags a required fashion accessory. And it's still winter in Fiji. We'll stay here until Firday, and then move a few miles up the coast to Denarau and into a berth. There we'll wait for a weather window to sail back to cold, wet NZ. Sweat rags won't be required. After the long sail, I'm ready for the bunk.

Sototale, John

Tue Oct 22 17:38 2019 NZDT
GPS: 18 15.700S 177 52.108E
Run: 13.1nm (23.7km)

This morning we finally cut away the growth anchoring us inside Pacific Harbour Marina. Following a long and exhausting 17nm, 3-hour trip we are safely anchored in Vunaniu Bay. A large open bay that would be disastrous in southerly winds. But we had 15-20 kts easterlies - right up the bum- the whole trip. Easterlies continue tonight and throughout tomorrow. Tomorrow we are getting up extra early, 0600 - ugh, to do an all day sail to Momi Bay, about 55 nm. Will be there tomorrow afternoon. Then stay 2-days until Friday, when our berth at Denarau becomes available. That's it. I'm beat after our long sail today.

Sototale, John

Tue Oct 15 12:24 2019 NZDT
GPS: 18 15.336S 178 04.036E

Yesterday we visited Suva for the first time since 2003. My goal was to take the modern bus with windows and air con for the 1-hour ride. I got half my goal: windows, all of which were open, which I guess acted like air con. Actually it was more like being in a NASA wind tunnel experiment. Upon arrival my hair was standing straight up in a Don King look-alike. Because the bus had absolutely no suspension system, my internal organs turned to jello. Sitting towards the back, everyone in front looked like bobbleheads as we bounced along. The other feature that helped turn the trip into a nightmare was music. It's piped through speakers at an ear drum piercing level that makes standing behind a fully revving Boeing 747 sound like a muffled whisper. There's nothing more challenging than riding buses in 3rd world countries. And we were on the upgraded model. For the return trip I was bound and determined to ride a fully enclosed, air conditioned model. And so we did. At least my hair was manageable upon arrival. But music was still played. Huh, did you say something?

I guess there were changes to the city. There were some new buildings. Cars were newer. Yes, traffic congestion was definitely 1st world, but then you have to remember we'd just spent 3 months where the only wheeled vehicles are wheelbarrows.

One store Leilani simply had to visit was Cost-U-Less. Think Costco after being on the Jennie Craig Diet - assuming it actually worked, unlike it does for you and me. Looking at it from the other side, Costco is Cost-U-Less on massive steroids. Arnold Schwartzeneggar versus the 95lb weakling. Although, compared to regular markets in Fiji, C-U-L is what Countdown (Safeway for my US readers) is to 7-11. So it was pretty awe inspiring to us Two items at C-U-L that made me believe it is part of the Costco chain were Smuckers jam in the family size jar so long as your family is at least 10 strong, and artichoke hearts in jars big enough to swim in. Both of us were blown away by the choices of food and non-food items. Clearly we have been in the bush waaaay too long.

But the attraction that has not changed, and is still a reason to visit Suva, is the veggie market. It covers a city block selling every conceivable fruit and veggie grown in Fiji. There's also a fish section. The second floor is nothing but kava from every corner of the country, and Indian spices over flowing from large gunny sacks that make you wish you knew how to use them. It's sensory overload. All in all it was a fun cultural change.

Here's an example of how I've coped with being back in internet-land. During the 3-months in Fulaga, I had accumulated 450 unread emails. I know some of you get that many everyday. But I don't have that many friends - which is good because I'd kill myself if I got 450 emails more frequently than every 3-months. Anyway, after scrolling through the list, and keeping only 2 that had important information, I deleted all the others without opening, let alone reading, any. It was orgasmic hitting that delete key.

Another way I've coped with internet is not reading one news story of what's happening in the world. For a devoted and devouring news junkie, that's like the Kardashians forgoing being a poster family for all that is wrong with the US.

On that note, I'm signing off to read about the next sports car I want to buy should we decide not to continue cruising.

Sototale, John

Sun Oct 13 12:02 2019 NZDT
GPS: 18 15.336s 178 04.036E
Run: 117.7nm (213km)

0945 hrs 13 October 2019. Some are probably worried we didn't make it to our destination since I didn't send confirmation yesterday. Others didn't care. Well, to all, we made it into the Pearl Resort Marina throwing dock lines to shore help at exactly 0600 yesterday morning. Our timing was so accurate that the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which operates the atomic clock, contacted us to verify its clock was on time. We needed to make the river entrance within 30 minutes of high tide, which was at 0530, and after sunrise so we could see, which was at 0540. After 36 hours, and 200 miles, am I good, or what? Don't answer that, my ego won't take it.

The resort is very upscale, and sits on a beautiful property overlooking Beqa (remember the pronunciation from last post?), about 8 miles away. The 12-berth marina is first class, built about 5-years ago by Bellingham Marine Industries, on of the best known international marina pier construction companies. There are two other cruising yachts here - Double Trouble, and Blue Whale. The other berths are occupied by fishing and diving boats, and one large booze-cruise barge, run primarily for the hotel guests,.

The second half of our trip was somewhat a continuation of the first half; gentle wind and sea right up the bum. As we approached Suva, in the middle of the night, we had to dodge an inter-island ferry and 3 more fishing vessels. I even saw them. I think it was when I awoke to use the head. But the most thrilling part (read, stressful) was negotiating through reefs when we turned north from the Beqa Pass (which is easy to navigate) into the large bay fronting the actual entrance to the river to reach the resort - in dead blackness. The bay has a series of reefs bordering it from Beqa Pass. Then there are several large and small reefs in the bay. Thank goodness for GPS. But to be sure it was accurate, I looked on the GPS accuracy screen and saw my boat position was accurate to within 4.97 mtrs. I'll let my metric challenged American audience look up the conversion themselves - it will be good education for them. Since the reef gaps were anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 mile wide, I felt pretty confident I wouldn't have to activate an SOS. The moon had set, the sun hadn't risen, so it was the blackest part of the early morning. I couldn't see the boat's bow. Even with the aide of GPS it was still a bit thrilling.

Once tied up, and after washing the boat inside and out, and washing ourselves with showers, the first phenomena of being in civilisation immediately set in: spending huge amounts of money. We were in Fulaga so long I forgot what Fiji money looked like. We had to pay boat berthing deposit, cab fares to drop off and pickup laundry, laundry, and lunch out. Phew, our wallet gushed money like a broken water main. Speaking of not remembering what Fiji money looks like, Leilani tried to use NZ money for cab fare. The cabbie pointed out her mistake. But really he didn't want a currency that has fallen to comparable spending value of 3rd world countries. Yes, we miss Fulaga where you can survive on a small fixed income - or no income.

Tomorrow we're going to take the bus (the one with windows and air conditioning) to Suva. The buses without windows and air conditioning are just too traditional for us. We're told it takes about 45 minutes. That being Fiji time, it could take anywhere up to 8 eight hours. Looking forward to seeing the place again. Our first visit was in 1995, and last time was in 2003 when we were crewing an Oyster yacht. It's one place we have assiduously missed on all our other Fiji trips.

Today is church day. Speaking of church, Leilani went for a walk this morning and as she's inclined to do put her foot in her mouth. A couple stopped her and inquired if she was from Amazing Grace. They asked, with such a boat name, if she was part of a religious sect sailing around spreading the gospel. If they had seen me they never would have asked such a question. Anyway, Leilani said, "No, we just liked the name when we bought the boat and kept it." Continuing, she said, "We're not Bible thumpers." That's a direct quote. Then she asked what they did. The man said, "I'm a pastor." Open mouth, insert foot. Just shows, I can't let Leilani speak to anyone without my intuitive presence. Right.

Okay, time to meet on the fantail to sing a spiritual rendition of, what else, Amazing Grace. Not

Sototale, John

Fri Oct 11 12:45 2019 NZDT
GPS: 18 43.775s 179 47.500e
Run: 110.4nm (199.8km)
Avg: 4.2knts
24hr: 101.3nm
Weather: 1130 hrs 11 October 2019. COG 286. SOG 5.7 kts. Wind E 7-10kts. Sea E 1.5 mtr. 50% Cloud cover. Baro 1012. Sunny.

1130 hrs 11 October 2019. We passed two milestones: Half-way to destination. Moved from W longitude to E. Does that mean today is yesterday? Or is it the other way? Why should I care when I'm laying in the cockpit wearing only shorts and vigorously working on my tan. We also just passed between Moala and Matuku, the last of the southern Lau group. Nothing in front except Beqa (pronounced "Bengga", just the way it's spelled".). Sailing conditions, or I should say motoring conditions since departing last evening have been uncomfortably rolly. With the wind and seas right up the bum, it's to be expected. We altered our course to try to sail, but there just wasn't enough wind to keep the sails full. Plus our speed fell so much we would not make destination in time for high tide. Within the past hour the wind and sea state have dropped even more so that we are not rolling from rail to rail as much. No more being thrown about like clothes in wash cycle.

Leilani saw a 160 mtr ship loast night. She always sees them. I don't because I'm usually fast asleep during my watch. That's why I'm much more refreshed than Leilani whenever we arrive at our destination.

Okay, I'm on watch, so I'll sign off, climb into my bunk, and will let you know when we arrive.

Sototale, John .

Thu Oct 10 10:36 2019 NZDT
GPS: 19 08.375s 178 34.533w

0900 hrs 10 October 2019. Well, folks, after 3 months, 2 days it's finally time to move on. Today we depart Fulaga. Believe me when I say both of us are not looking forward to it. We absolutely love it here. Is it our last visit? The answer is: "?". We won't the be able to answer until well after we return to NZ. Two big ifs will have a direct affect on the answer: If my back comes completely right? If we want to continue cruising? We'll get back to you on those life altering questions. In the meantime, sufficit it to say, we had a wonderful time these past 3-seasons in Fulaga. From the chief to all the villagers, they sincerely want us to return. Of course they do. They want more sunglasses and bras. We said our goodbys yesterday, and will depart at 1700 this afternoon. The reason for that departure time is to arrive at the destination in daylight, and at high tide to make it across a bar at the entrance to the river we have to navigate. Our destination is the Pearl Resort Marina. You can google it for more information. It's on the main island of Viti Levu on the south side, just west of Suva. There are just 12 berths which are part of the Pearl Resort - google that, too. Reports we've gotten from a fellow cruiser have been excellent. Not sure how I'll make the transition from relaxing village life to glarmous South Pacific resort. I think Leilani is looking forward to it. At least we can again eat meat that doesn't come out of a can.

Since my last post, the yacht population exploded to 4, with a 5th arriving two days ago. Today one left, and we leave this afternoon. If want Fulaga to yourself, come late in the season. Three events dominated these past couple of weeks. First was the second visit this season of a cruise ship. Yikes, is tourisim featuring sunburned, pink tourists going to take over from yachties? At 93 meters, the ship was too big to make the pass. Tourists were ferried in by several ship's tenders, about 80 of them. The village put on a traditional sevusevu (chief accepts them into the village), a meke (dancing), lots of kava drinking, and a $5,000 visitor fee. When you consider yachts are charged $50, that's considerably cheaper per capita than what we poor yachties pay. And we don't get any of the welcoming festivities except sevusevu. While I understand the village wanting the cruise ships because of the money they bring, I see it as another encroachment of civilization. Oh well, can't stop progress, if that's what it is.

The next event was another picnic. Only two of us yachts attended. But we still had a wonderful time with the villagers. However it was a pigless picnic. Instead the villagers provided boiled land crabs as the featured dish. Much smaller than mud crab. The benefit to struggle-to-eat ratio didn't make it my favourite species of edible crab.

Yesterday we attended the funeral of one of the villagers. Actually we attended the wake after burial. The men sat on a huge tarp spread on the ground with a temporary cover drinking kava all day. The women sat elsewhere serving the wake lunch which consisted of dahl soup over rice. Not a casserole in sight.

Our trip is 201nm, with winds expected to be right behind us at about 10-13 kts. I think we'll have the motor on much of the way. Wind up the bum is not the best point of sail. At least the conditions will be gentle. We expect the trip to take 33-36 hrs, depending on speed. I'm sure other yachties will think we are sailling a tank. I guess we are.

Leilani is making passage food, including chile & rice, salmon spread, banana bread, and white bread. Rice and two kinds of bread. No one has ever accused us of going light on starch in our diet.

This is it from Fulaga. Next post will be from civilization (civilisation for our Kiwi friends).

Stototale, John

Mon Sep 30 15:09 2019 NZDT
GPS: 19 08.375s 178 34.533w

1000 hrs 30 September 2019. I?m sure you?re all anxious to hear about my B-day party in the village. Or not. The school headmaster and his wife, mainly his wife, hosted a nice tea & cake get-together on Saturday afternoon. Their main room and dining room are in a ?L? shape, the main room occupying one leg, and the dining room the other. When we arrived at 1400, there were 10 men in the main room drinking Kava since that morning. The dining room was occupied by 5 ladies and a gaggle of children. Leilani brought my chocolate B-day cake and a freshly baked banana bread. The headmaster?s wife had prepared a couple of different cakes. As the only partial invalid and oldest one there, I was offered the sole chair to sit on. In fact, the chair was the only piece of furniture in sight except a dining table where all the cakes and tea cups sat. Everyone else, Fiji style, sat cross legged on the floor. It always amazes me to see old, overweight villagers being able to sit for hours in the lotus position. If I tried it for more than 30 seconds, I?d be unable to unfold my legs. I?d have to walk around on my knees forever thereafter. Anyway, throughout the next 2 hours the men continued to drink kava nonstop, while the women, children, Leilani and I ate cake and drank tea. When men drink Kava, they never, and I mean never, eat. Don?t want food to interfere with the Kava effects. Unlike a cocktail party atmosphere where there is constant noise from talking and laughing, nibbling on food, and moving around from one group to another, a Kava party is absolutely quiet with no eating or moving around at all. You?ve heard of a bar-room brawl. You?ll never hear of a Kava-room brawl. I was in a bit of a stupor because of strong pain pills I took to fortify my walk to the village. So my general demeanour and state of mind fit right in with the Kava drinkers - quiet, mushy brained, and unable to get up out of the chair. After setting up the cakes, and putting a single candle on my cake (72 would have burned down the house), the ladies and kids sang the irritating diddy. The men were physically unable to sing. I didn?t realise Happy Birthday had so many verses until I heard the Fijian version. It seemed to go on forever. All of us then had cake. A couple of the men even had a piece. The rest of the men looked at them like outcasts. I even got gifts: a wood-carved turtle, and a huge pandamus mat larger than the inside of our boat. Not sure what I?m going to do with it, but the thought and work that went into it were over the top. All told, it was a great way to spend a B-day - in a remote, faraway village with very generous and nice people. Because we got back so late from the party, Leilani and I agreed to forego a B-day dinner until last night. As it turned out, Leilani had been holding out. We left NZ 5 months ago, we?ve been in Fulaga 3 months, our frozen meats are virtually gone, or so I thought. Yesterday, Leilani disclosed she had not one, not two, not even three, but six scotch fillet steaks from NZ in the freezer. I asked, so why have we been eating pumpkin curry so often? Anyway, we had a treat for dinner: pan fried steak in butter, smothered with sautéed onions and re-hydrated shiitake mushrooms, and fried potatoes. I felt like we were at a fancy restaurant. Leilani really out-did herself. But I did check out the freezer to see if there were any other hidden treasures. Have the massages worked; you ask? Or not. Yes, is the simple answer. My right-side pain is virtually gone. My left-side pain is minimal. That pain had been unabated for almost a week. The day after the massages the pain subsided considerably overnight. I still wake up a bit stiff. Like a rusty machine, I move back and forth while applying generous amounts of WD40, and voila, I?m moving without any squeaks. Well, almost no squeaks. Until next post, which I know you look forward to. Or not. Sototale, John

Sat Sep 28 20:24 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 08.375s 178 34.533w

0700 hrs 28 September 2019. Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday dear John, happy birthday to me. There, I got that out of the way. The 72nd time I?ve heard that most irritating diddy. Since my last post where I said we were leaving Fulaga on Monday, 30 September, we?ve changed our minds. As a septuagenarian I can do that. Septuagenarian? I used to think only mummies were referred to as that. As in, ? I believe this mummy is from the late septuagenarian epoch.? With all the back pain I?ve been suffering these past couple of months, I feel as spry as a mummy. Speaking of back pain, Leilani and I, after detailed study of chapter 23 of our onboard First Aid book titled ? DIY Vertebrae Surgery ?, have definitely, positively, maybe diagnosed my low back pain as...well, low back pain, and not kidney stones. Although we may be wrong. Anyway, we decided to stay here. I can rest and recuperate much better in Fulaga than in noisy, hustle-bustle, megalopolis Savusavu. We still need to be in Denarau on 25 October to await a weather window to jump off to NZ. But that?s only 280nm away, and we can sail that in a few hours. So we?ll stretch it out here as long as possible. Can?t think of a more relaxing, therapeutic location. On Monday our lone existence will end. Our Dutch friend, Humberto, is arriving. I may have told you a bit about him last year. He sailed for several years on his catamaran with his invalid mother. She also developed dementia about a year ago. Humberto, who has been a cruiser for many, many years, and clearly a devoted son, took on the awesome responsibility of caring for his mother. His is, without a doubt, one of the most unusual and heart rendering cruiser stories we?ve run across. She died earlier this year at the ripe old age of 93 and is buried in Savusavu. She was much loved in Fulaga, and the villagers were very disappointed that she could not be buried here. In any event, it will be great seeing Humberto again. He was in Fulaga when we arrived, but left shortly thereafter to Suva. He stayed in Fulaga throughout cyclone season last year. Lucky one didn?t hit as there is really no safe cyclone hole here. Yesterday I was finally talked into getting a back massage from the village masseuse. Everyone kept telling me he could greatly improve my back problem. I had two sessions yesterday, and I?ll have two more today. Then I?ll see what improvement occurs. He learned massaging from his father, who learned it from his, back several generations when the art was primarily limited to massaging captured enemies to soften them up before putting them in the cooking pot. After yesterday?s sessions, I can imagine those ancient enemies probably came out like tender grade-A Angus beef steaks. Got to sign off now to attend my third session. If you don?t hear from me again, think of me whenever you sit down to a steak dinner. Sototale, John

Thu Sep 26 16:42 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 08.375s 178 34.533w
Run: 2.2nm (4km)

1530 hrs 26 September 2019. At this moment we are enjoying Fulaga like few other yachts since the Lau group was opened to yacht visits in 2012. Up to today, about 90 yachts visited here this season. For the past 2 weeks there have been only 5 of us. About an hour ago that changed when the last of the 4 others left. We are the only yacht in all of Fulaga. To have the entire place to ourselves is eerie, exciting, and absolutely wonderful. Of course, the villagers are still here. We plan to leave on Monday 30 September, returning to Savusavu. With the weather as it is, we?ll probably have the place to ourselves until then. When we leave, we?ll have been here a few days shy of 3-months. Last year we left Fulaga sooner than we wanted, and again this year it?s the same. Last year it was our water-maker breaking down. This year it?s my old body breaking down. As you know from prior posts, I fell and injured my back just over 8-weeks ago. I suffered right low back pain with some sciatica. About a week ago my right low back finally came right to the point of being essentially pain free. The next day, for no apparent reason, I developed sharp pain in my left low back and side. So, we?re headed to ?civilisation? to get some x-rays and ultra sounds to determine if I have kidney stones. If so, I may have to fly to NZ to have them removed and return to wait for a weather window to sail back to NZ. If no stones, and just a continuation of my back injury, then I?ll continue to take pain meds and get my prescriptions refilled when I get back. Not much I can do other than that. On 25 October we have reservations at Denarau Marina on the west side of Viti Levu. We?ll make our way there from Savusavu to await a window to go to NZ as we did last year. Last year we had to wait a couple of weeks. Going to Denarau from Fulaga is like moving from the garden of Eden into surburbia. Ugh. There?s internet in Savusavu and Denarau, so I?ll be able to catch up on all the news. Actually, not looking forward to that. Can?t believe I just said that - being a news junkie I?ve always been. That?s what living in the garden of Eden does to you. Sototale, John

Fri Sep 20 14:33 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 06.483s 178 34.809w

1400 hrs 20 September 2019. Today we moved to what we call the ?big wind? anchorage on the NW corner of Fulaga. Starting tomorrow evening and through the following couple of days we?re expecting SE 25+ knot winds. All next week it is expected to be a bit blustery averaging SE-E 20 knots. This anchorage is a very good all wind anchorage except for S - SW. With only 5 boats in Fulaga, including us, it will be interesting if anyone else joins us. There are some other anchorages that would be suitable, but I don?t think they are as good as here. Late yesterday afternoon the monthly (sometimes less frequently) supply boat arrived. It was the third different one I?ve seen in all our time here. It was about 100? long and had a 3-deck bridge-cabin structure in the aft half, with the front being an open cargo deck. The bow dropped down like a WWII landing craft. Visits by the supply boat are always a hustle-bustle affair for the three villages. Village long boats hover around the supply vessel like worker bees around a queen. They load cargo from the village bound for Suva, and take off arriving cargo. Also, a few passengers disembarked, and a few embarked. Leilani has been anxiously awaiting the cargo boat for replenishments of some staples. Today Leilani went ashore and saw her contact who loaded her up with all kinds of goodies, including: papaya, eggs, flour, apples, a couple of first-of-the-season mangoes, onions, sweet potatoes, and an entire stock of bananas - still on the stock. Unfortunately the sirloin steaks somehow missed the boat. Heaven forbid, I?m turning into a vegetarian. I haven?t looked at my email since arriving in Fulaga 2.5 months ago. Not knowing what?s happening in the world, and particularly the US, has calmed my nerves, lowered my blood pressure, and generally made me a nice guy again. Okay, the last one may be a bit of an overstatement. But it has been nice ?living in a cave? without any outside news. Okay, time to bury my head in my kindle where I?m reading a couple of books on the secret CIA wars in Afghanistan. That?s history, not news, okay. Sototale, John

Fri Sep 20 14:33 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 06.483s 178 34.809w
Run: 2.2nm (4km)

1400 hrs 20 September 2019. Today we moved to what we call the ?big wind? anchorage on the NW corner of Fulaga. Starting tomorrow evening and through the following couple of days we?re expecting SE 25+ knot winds. All next week it is expected to be a bit blustery averaging SE-E 20 knots. This anchorage is a very good all wind anchorage except for S - SW. With only 5 boats in Fulaga, including us, it will be interesting if anyone else joins us. There are some other anchorages that would be suitable, but I don?t think they are as good as here. Late yesterday afternoon the monthly (sometimes less frequently) supply boat arrived. It was the third different one I?ve seen in all our time here. It was about 100? long and had a 3-deck bridge-cabin structure in the aft half, with the front being an open cargo deck. The bow dropped down like a WWII landing craft. Visits by the supply boat are always a hustle-bustle affair for the three villages. Village long boats hover around the supply vessel like worker bees around a queen. They load cargo from the village bound for Suva, and take off arriving cargo. Also, a few passengers disembarked, and a few embarked. Leilani has been anxiously awaiting the cargo boat for replenishments of some staples. Today Leilani went ashore and saw her contact who loaded her up with all kinds of goodies, including: papaya, eggs, flour, apples, a couple of first-of-the-season mangoes, onions, sweet potatoes, and an entire stock of bananas - still on the stock. Unfortunately the sirloin steaks somehow missed the boat. Heaven forbid, I?m turning into a vegetarian. I haven?t looked at my email since arriving in Fulaga 2.5 months ago. Not knowing what?s happening in the world, and particularly the US, has calmed my nerves, lowered my blood pressure, and generally made me a nice guy again. Okay, the last one may be a bit of an overstatement. But it has been nice ?living in a cave? without any outside news. Okay, time to bury my head in my kindle where I?m reading a couple of books on the secret CIA wars in Afghanistan. That?s history, not news, okay. Sototale, John

Sat Sep 14 8:21 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 08.375s 178 34.533w

0730 hrs 14 September 2019. Pumice update. As regular readers of my posts will recall, about 2 weeks ago Fulaga lagoon was flooded with pumice from the Tongan volcano. Since that time much is no longer floating in the water. No more islands of the stuff. Instead there are small isolated bunches of it still bobbing around. That?s the good news. Now the bad. Since the pumice has not actually left the lagoon, it has accumulated on most every beach. Some have only a ribbon of pumice deposited at the high water limit. On others the once pristine sand has been completely covered with it. While not environmentally damaging, at least the villagers don?t think so, it certainly has changed the aesthetics of beaches. It will be several years before the pumice becomes one with the land and things return to what was. In any event, it still gives me pause when I bump into small pebbles while swimming because I can?t get the ?turd? vision out of my mind. Sototale, John

Wed Sep 11 10:06 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 08.375s 178 34.533w
Weather: 0900 hrs 11 Sept 2019. Wind 3-5 kts W. 100% cloud cover, Drizzly. Baro 1012. Expect wind to clock today to S - SE with speed increase.

0900 hrs 11 Sept 2019. Have you ever had a day when you didn't want to get up because you were facing a potential catastrophy? You know you have to face it, so you hope it will pass quickly and be as painless as possible. For the first time in 39 years of marriage I was facing such a day. For the first time in her life, Leilani was going to do something she'd never done. It was a day I had been mentally preparing for and agonizing over for a long time. A day Leilani had done absolutely nothing to prepare for. Yesterday was that day. It was the day Leilani cut my hair. It'd been 5 months since my last cut. I was looking shaggy, and had too much grey showing. Fulaga has a dearth of hair stylists. So I bit the bullet and let Leilani cut it. I was expecting to look like a chemotherapy patient afterwards; tufts of long and short hair sprouting about my head. But I must grudgingly admit it turned out pretty good. And this was improvising by using a teasing brush because we had no comb, and scissors that I had used exclusively for years to trim nose hairs, and Leilani to trim . . . well I won't go there. Not wanting to get hair all over the deck, we went into the village. Our host brought out a chair and I sat behind his kitchen under a breadfruit tree, next to a pile of coconut husks, and an open fire pit used for cooking. Very tropical setting. I look 10 years younger, and well groomed once again. Right.

Sototale, John

Sun Sep 8 8:57 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 08.375s 178 34.533w
Run: 2.2nm (4km)

0800 hrs 8 Sept 2019. You may have noticed that we moved from the eastern side of the lagoon to the western and back. That's because there was a front that moved through several days ago bringing strong westernlies. Our usual anchorage is good for all wind directions except westerlies. Lucky we moved. When the front come through, we had winds that spiked to 40 kts. Luckily the excitement was over in less than 5 minutes. Then it was like we were in the eye. No more big winds came through. Yesterday everything returned to SE trades and we moved back. Speaking of our anchorage. We have had this particular anchorage to ourselves since we arrived in Fulaga more than 2-month ago. It's a bit west of the places yachts traditionally go to. We feel like we have the whole island to ourselves since we don't see other yachts. There's even a separate trail to the village right from the anchorage. However, it's much more primitive and requires some climbing up and down rocks. I'm not comfortable trying that path yet, although we used it regularly before my injury. Not a smooth pathway like the main village path where ironically I slipped. Our anchorage (we think of it as ours since no one else uses it) is about a mile from the main village landing, so we can easily dingy to it. Speaking of the village path, yesterday I walked to and from the village for the first time completely drug free. Wasn't too bad, pain-wise. Last week a yacht arrived and for first time I heard there had been a volcano eruption in Tonga. Pumice has inundated the lagoon. It floats around individually and in small islands. Size ranges from marbles to fist. They're grey in colour, almost weightless, and can be crushed by squeezing it in your hand. The first time I saw it last week my initial thought was, "Where are all these turds coming from?" Then I heard another yacht on VHF radio talking about the volcano and how they had sailed through islands of it on the way to Fulaga. Said it sounded like the boat was sailing though rocks, but it cleaned the waterline. Speaking to villagers, they say this has happened before, and can take 1-2 years for the pumice to fully wash ashore. Because the lagoon is virtually fully enclosed, except for the small entrance through the reef, once the pumice gets inside it doesn't leave. The upside is it's good fertilizer - according to one villager I spoke with. Can be crushed and sprinkled throughout their small veggie gardens.

Today is Leilani's B-day. I'm not supposed to tell anyone, so don't say you heard it from me. To celebrate we're having our host for lunch. He is home alone as his wife is in Suva. Speaking of our host, in early August he went to Suva for his annual Jehova Wittness convention. Before leaving he threw us a party featuring a whole pig roasted in a lovo (underground oven). A number of our close village friends, along with couples from 4 other yachts, attended. It took place at a beautiful idyllic beach on one of the islands in the lagoon that could be a motion picture setting of what a South Pacific beach should look like. He did this for us last year, too. Because he was going to be gone one month, he didn't know if we would still be here when he returned. So he considered it a farewell party. We're still here, so I think we're going to get another pig feast when we actually do leave. I know one of his remaining pigs is not too happy we're still here.

Thank you to those who sent get-well wishes. I appreciate your kind thoughts. Sototale, John

Thu Sep 5 9:21 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 06.483s 178 34.809w
Run: 2.2nm (4km)

0800 hrs 5 September 2019. I'm back. I hear your groans all the way in remote Fulaga. Did you miss me? Maybe not. The reason for my absence is for the past 6-weeks I've been recovering from a Fulaga war wound. After I describe my terrible injury and painful recovery, you'll forgive me for not writing sooner. Maybe not. In the last week of July (I don't remember exact date), Leilani and I were walking the foot path from the dingy landing to the village. The path gradually rises up from the landing and about half way to the village you reach the summit. Then there is a gradual downhill to a flat that leads into the village. The path is tramped down sand & dirt wide enough for walking single file. Under normal conditions the village walk takes about 20 minutes. It had lightly rained the day before so the path was a bit damp. Just as we crossed over the summit, I slipped on the damp, slick path. My left foot shot out in front, my right leg crumpled under me so I initially fell in a squating position on top of my bent knee and then tumbled and rolled down the path calling out the whole way, "Oh sh-t, oh sh-t, oh sh-t." I knew right away I hurt my back. Once I came to a stop, Leilani had to help me stand. The pain in my low back was immediate and intense. It felt like someone stabbed me with a 12" butcher knife and it was still sticking in me. I was having a hard time breathing because of the pain. My right knee felt like it'd been clubbed with a baseball bat. In short I was in bad shape - to go along with being old and out of shape. Being the trooper I am, I hobbled bent over to the village. The first hut arriviing in the village is the nurse's aid station. Outside is a wooden bench - the waiting room. I sat, and the nurse immediately noticed something was wrong. I think it was the mud all over my clothes and body, and me continuing to mumble, "Oh sh-t, oh sh-t, oh sh-t." After describing my injury, she went into the hut and came back with some paracetamol tablets. I thought, bring me some real drugs. Like, is there any of the 38 kilos of cocaine found on the beach last year left over? Anyway, I took the paracetamol, shuffled back to the dingy taking twice as long as normal, returned to the boat, and starting downing codeine like it was candy. For the next 4-weeks I laid in bed or on the settee, popping codeine, applying ice packs, and rubbing voltaren cream on my back. During my entire recovery period Leilani took care of me by doing all the cooking, laundry, and cabin cleaning. This is compared to before my injury when she did all the cooking, laundry, and cabin cleaning. Hey, I did an oil change while recovering. I'm now on the mend. The last couple of weeks I've been swimming around the boat which is great therapy. I expect being able to make more regular posts in the future now that I'm off codeine. Maybe not.

Sototale, John

Wed Jul 24 12:21 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 08.375s 178 34.533w

0800 hrs 24 July 2019. Yesterday, being Tuesday, was women?s weaving day in the main and adjoining villages. They meet in a community hut in each of the villages and weave with pandamus leaves, mostly large mats for their bures (huts), but decorative items like purses, fans, and turtles to send to Suva for sale. While women were doing that, the men who carve chipped, sawed, plained, and sanded creating their beautiful and intricate wood carvings to sell to the yachties that come to Fulaga, and send to Suva to sell in the tourist shops. We added to those activities by doing a bra, sunglasses, and children clothing giveaway. I know I mentioned in earlier posts that we had about 1000 bras, 6-700 sunglasses, and a large wardrobe of girls clothes donated by our friends, Billie, Kris and Craig. Leilani and our host, Bali, managed the bras and children clothing, and I and our other host Alifretti the sunglasses. It was so much fun seeing all the smiling faces after they took away their items. One of the ladies from the adjoining village invited us to lunch. I always have trepidations about going to lunch because I?m not a big Fiji cuisine fan. The biggest worry is how my digestive system will react. Many times it?s not a good reaction. After sitting on the floor and listening to my knees screaming at me not to fold them too much, and me telling them I couldn?t fold them if my life depended on it, our host put out several dishes that was our lunch. Two plates immediately had my stomach punching me in...well, the stomach, to be careful. One consisted of four very large plantains, bright yellow in colour that made a yellow canary look dull, submerged in water. When I tasted one, I was pleasantly surprised. They had been boiled in sugar water, and had a very nice sweet taste, and the consistency was like a soft banana. It could have been a dessert. The other suspect dish was land crab. Four were presented in their half shell with what looked like curdled coconut cream poured over them. They were smaller in size than my cupped palm. All the meat and body insides were extracted, then diced with onion, and put back in the half shell, smothered in coconut cream, and baked. I told myself to taste a bit, and if it didn?t agree with me, then I?d feign a heart attack or something as an excuse for not being able to finish. But, again, I was pleasantly surprised. The crab was delicious. In fact, I had two. Even Leilani, who is a more finicky eater, enjoyed the dish. The plantains and crab dishes showed you can?t always judge a taste by its looks. The remaining dishes consisted of ubiquitous cassava, which tastes like a boiled potato with no seasoning, and a spinach-like vegetable boiled in coconut milk with bits of fish, which was not bad tasting, but I wouldn?t order it in a restaurant. There were also home baked buns. As if the luncheon wasn?t enough, we were invited into the community hut where the women were weaving, and presented with two large baskets (made of palm leaves) full of papayas, bananas, plantains, sugar cane (which I didn?t know was grown in Fulaga), oranges, husked coconuts, and a large lobster. In addition, Leilani was presented with a beautifully woven basket-purse, and three woven fans. Finally, we received a small replica of a traditional Fijian war club with intricately carved designs. The ladies told us that it was their ?thank you? to us for our ?generous gifts?. I can tell you, we felt their gifts far outweighed in value whatever we gave them. Their gesture brought tears to Leilani?s eyes and a lump in my throat. I?m always sensitive to the fact that all food items have to be caught, collected, grown, and/or harvested before any can be prepared to be eaten. Certainly not as convenient as popping down to the local grocery store and simply buying it. Fulaga is truly a subsistence fishing and farming society. Yesterday was why we love Fulaga and see no reason to leave.

Sototale, John

Mon Jul 15 8:39 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 08.375s 178 34.533w
Weather: 0700 15 July 2019. Presently 100% cloud cover. Had light rain off & on last night, and it looks threatening right now, but not presently raining. Wind was E-ENE 10-15 last night. Presently ENE 15. Baro 1010 - dropped 5 hpa since yesterday.

0700 15 July 2019. Yesterday's birthday party was a Fijian feast. Vegetarians can skip this next part. A pig was slaughtered and fixed three ways. Fortunately this was done before we arrived. The fact a pig was slaughtered meant the meal was a big event. One part was slow roasted in a lovo (buried underground over hot stones - a method found throughout north and south pacific islands). Another part was slow boiled in a curry sauce. And finally, a part was simmered in a barbecue-like sauce. All were delicious. In addition we had fish in coconut milk (a staple), nama (aka sea grapes - a type of seaweed that are tiny berries), spinach in coconut milk, and two root starches- casava and dalo, both of which taste like cardboard. Leilani made the only palangi (white person) food - macaroni salad with canned tuna, shredded carrot, and canned peas. All this was finished off with a birthday cake. There were 10 of us at the party, with Leilani, me, and one other yachty being the only non-Fijians. The party was for the school prinicipal's wife, her 33rd. An unusual difference from our western birthday custom is "Happy Birthday" is sung before the start of the meal, not when the cake is brought out. In true Fijian generosity, we and the other yachty were given left-over pig to take with us. Guess what tonight's dinner is.

I'm always a bit uncomfortable taking food, whether it be at the table or away. I always take small helpings, and try resisting accepting food to take back to the boat. The latter is not always successful because the villagers can be quite insistent. The people here, as at other isolated areas, are subsistence fishermen and farmers. They work extremely hard to feed themselves. Virtually everyday they go out fishing to put protein on the table, and have very limited veggies and starch items. While their custom is to be extremely generous, this sometimes is misinterpreted by some yachties as an invitation to ask, ask, ask for food items. Not all yachties are like this. But there are enough instances to show some yachties do not understand the subsistence lifestyle and the effort it takes villagers to feed themselves. For instance, some yachties actually put in an order for food items to be delivered, such as coconut crab (which is an endangered species), papaya, sweet potato, eggs like they were going through a McDonalds drive-thru. There is a small store in one of the villages that stocks very basic staples like potatoes, onions, flour, sugar, eggs, all of which come in on the rusty, leaky cargo boat every 4-6 weeks. It's their only source of supplies other than what they can catch and grow. Some yachties land here, find out about the store, and buy out the store supplies as if they're at a supermarket. And this is knowing that in a very short time they will be back someplace that actually has a supermarket. I wish they would show a bit more restraint in taking the villagers' supplies. As a fellow yachty it's embarrassing and disconcerting to see this happen. Okay, that's enough preaching.

Last year, spending almost 4 months here, it rained about two times. This past week it has been drizzling off and on, not quite daily, but almost. In fact it's drizzling right now. Not pouring down rain like in Savusavu. But enough drizzle to make it difficult for leilani to do laundry. I'm running short of underwear. I know, TMI.

Sototale, John

Sun Jul 14 8:18 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 08.375s 178 34.533w

0700 hrs 14 July 2019. It's been a week since we arrived. The first couple of days were spent cleaning the boat iinside and out, converting the interior from passage making mode to living mode, installing all the cockpit sunshades, putting the dingy in the water, mounting the engine and fuel tank, and generally getting ourselves comfortably enscounced in our little corner of paradise. Although there were heaps of ICA boats in the village landing anchorage, we laid down anchor in a small cove no one else knew about. It has been delightful to be off by ourselves. There's a path from our anchorage to the village that is little used. Of course, it is substantially more difficult to traverse than from the main landing. In fact, we had to ask one of the villagers to mark the path with tape so we didn't get lost in the thick jungle never to be seen again. Today we've been invited by one of our village family friends to the wife's birthday lunch party after church. The operative word is "after". No, we are not attending church. During our first Falaga visit three years ago we attended a church service. That was enough to last me a lifetime. Leilani has made a nice dish of food to bring as our contribution. Last year we attended a couple of lunches hosted by this same family. Based on those, one thing we can expect is about five different dessert dishes. Yes, sugar is one of the main food groups enjoyed by islanders.

The weather has been a bit blustery most of last week. Winds in the high teens to low twenties. Next week the forecast is for much calmer conditions. So, on Tuesday, we're planning to unload our cargo that's taken up the entire aft cabin, including 1000 bras, 700 sunglasses, and a whole wardrobe of beautiful children's clothes donated by our friends Chris, Craig, and Billie Hughes. The clothes are those outgrown by Billie. We also have a sundry of my old clothes (that I, too, have outgrown), pots and pans, plastic food containers, baby clothes Leilani bought from Trademe for a couple of newborns we learned about while in New Zealand, and miscellaneous bits and bobs. For transport to carry everything for the 20 minute hike from the landing to the village we are lining up a caravan of, and drivers for, the only longhaul vehicles in the village: wheelbarrows. I'm estimating about 5 should do it. Whatever doesn't fit, and isn't too heavy, we'll carry in backpacks. Leilani and the wife of our host couple will organise the bra and clothes giveaway. I and the husband of our host couple will do the sunglass giveaway. These are always fun events. Sort of like a Black Friday sale, but much more civilised - no one punches, shoves, scratches, gouges, or shoots anyone trying to get their share.

Now for breakfast and to get ready for the B-day party.

Sototale (see you later), John

Mon Jul 8 19:18 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 08.375s 178 34.533w
Run: 138.1nm (250km)

1600 hrs 8 July 2019. Finally! We arrived in Falaga this morning at the pass at 0915, and had our anchor down one hour later. All total it was a 24 hr trip, mostly motor sailing because the wind was SE virtually the whole way, with only a few hours of ESE. Fortunatly it was relatively light averaging 15 kts. When we arrived at the village landing there were 12 ICA boats anchored. Looking for more solitude, we are at an anchorage all by ourselves we discovered last year.

Getting to the village was like a homecoming. As we walked the trail from the landing to the village we passed villagers who all remembered us and gave a big welcome hug. Same when we entered the village. They came running out of their bures to greet us in their warm, friendly Fijian way - hugs and bula vinakas all around. After doing sevusevu with the new chief, who remembered us from prior years, we went to see our host. He heard we were coming and collected some oranges, and a delicacy only a few yachties have enjoyed - a humongous mud crab. Leilani will post pictures on facebook when we get internet next. Mud crabs have an unfortunate name. IMHO they are far more delicious than lobster. Because we are too tired today to prepare it for dinner tonight, it will be the main course tomorrow. All in all, we are very happy to be here once again.

Cheer, John

Sat Jul 6 7:27 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 10.986s 179 00.076w
Weather: As at 0700 hrs: 40% cloud cover. Wind E 5kts. Baro 1013. This is inside Nabuvatu Bay. Wind in the bay will be considerably less than outside. Day looks llike it will develop into a fine, clear one.

0700 hrs 6 Julyl 2019. Four ICA boats left yesterday morning, They were replaced in the afternoon with two non-ICA boats, and one ICA boat. One of the boats is Rebell who is a veteran of the Minerva Reef Yacht Club with us. Had sundowners with them on their boat last evening. Still looking for weather window to go to Falaga. Currently there are mixed reports. As of yesterday's forecasts, Gulf Harbour Radio (GHR) and the European model (EC) were saying Monday-Tuesday are going to be NE 10kts. If so, that is perfect. However the US model (GFS) says E to SE, but light about 10 kts. That direction is not as good, but strength would be manageable.. We tend to trust GHR and unless there is a dramatic change today or tomorrow, we will be going Monday morning. Stay tuned.

Cheers John

Thu Jul 4 17:54 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 10.986s 179 00.076w
Weather: All day clear sky with only a couple of passing episodes of light sprinkle. Currently clear skies have yielded to 80% cloud cover. Starting to sprinkle again. Wind 5-8kt E-ESE. Baro 1012. This is weather inside Nabuvatu Bay. Have no idea what it's like outside.

1630 hrs 4 July 2019. After having the bay to ourselves all day, within the last hour, like bad pennies, 4 ICA boats returned. Glad we're not at the Bay of Islands where the vast horde of them are. However, rally boats like to be close to one another. So we moved to another part of the bay. With them congregated on the other side of bay, I feel much safer. Didn't do much except rest and read and rest. In that order. Leilani pressured cooked a whole chicken, and de-boned it so we can several meals from it. Tonight is Tex-Mex night - enchiladas - chicken, of course. Ole! Cheers John

Wed Jul 3 17:27 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 10.986s 179 00.076w
Run: 113.6nm (205.6km)

1630 hrs 3 June 2019. Imagine being anchored is a beautiful fiord-like bay surrounded by 100 mtr high cliffs filled with warm emerald green water that matches the cliff-clinging trees, and all of it sun drenched from a clear blue sky. Now imagine being the only yacht there. Well family and friends and jealous yachties, that's where we are. Woke up this morning around 0700 and found the 4 left-over ICA yachts gone. There we were, sitting in the middle of Nabuvatu Bay all by ourselves. And it's been that way all day. This is exactly what I come to Fiji for. Having a bay all to myself. Okay, there was one other boat. But that belonged to Tony, who owns the planatation that sits atop the cliffs. He also owns the Copra Shed in Savusavu, and Vuda Point Marina on the west side of Viti Levu. He has a small work party of about 3-4 guys from a village several miles away working on the water-side "yacht club" that was destroyed a few years ago in cyclone Winston. Other than that, we have the whole bay to ourselves.

There was one visitor today: the Fiji Navy. The patrol boat roared in hailing us on the radio. They were very polite, wanting to verify we are properly checked into the country. After asking us questions over the radio, and satisfied we have complied with all requirements to visit, they wished us a pleasant stay in Fiji, and left. After putting the dingy in the water, I had to take a nap to recover from the strenuous exercise. Hey, it takes about an hour to lift the dingy off the deck, load the fuel tank, and mount the engine. After the nap, I jumped into the water. It was as pleasurable as a Geisha gently massaging my whole body with the finest first pressed olive oil. Guys, I know you know what I mean. Then I scrubbed the boat's waterline.

Being the only one here, do I put on the anchor light? That question reminds me of a similarly perplexing one: "If no one is around, does a tree make a sound when it falls?" Cheers, John

Mon Jul 1 7:52 2019 NZST
GPS: 16 46.698S 179 20.015E

0745 hrs 1 July 2019. Finally! After a month, a weather window to leave Savusavu and head east. We're going to Vanua Balavu, the northernmost Lau island. From there, we have a much better opportunity to sail to Falaga which is due south from there. All we have to do is wait for easterly winds around 15 kts. However, looking at the weather forecast out a week, there will be strong (18-23kt) easterlies, and then SE winds. SE winds are not good because they will be too much in the face. This year has been very difficult wind strength and wind direction-wise to get to Falaga. But we'll carry on and eventually get there. The trip to Vanua Balavu is 110nm and should take around 18 hrs. We'll leave mid-afternoon today, and arrive tomorrow morning. Forecast is for very light winds, so it looks like a motoring trip. That's it for now. Time to get boat ready to untie from the dock. Cheers, John

Tue Jun 11 17:18 2019 NZST
GPS: 16 46.698s 179 20.015e

1500 hrs 11 June 2019. You must be wondering, what the heck are we doing since I last reported our arrival in Savusavu on 2 June. We're doing was cruisers do most: sailing from port to port to buy parts. Since arriving I noticed our house batteries would charge up, but would not hold the charge. As it turned out, I made a calculated mistake by trying to massage another cruising season out of them. They're 8 years old. While that's a good run, the mistake not replacing them in NZ is costing us about 40% more to purchase the batteries here. They've been ordered from Nadi, the western side of Fiji (we're on the eastern side). I expect them to arrive via ferry probably early next week. And that's why we're still in Savusavu. Fortunately the batteries are Trojan T-105's, a model that is available pretty much throughout the world. I need six of them. In order to protect Fiji's own battery production, US made Trojans attract a 30% import duty. So much for free-trade agreements. Other than food shopping, and eating out at the small hole-in-the-wall restaurants, we haven't been doing too much else. The weather hasn't been exactly flash. Been raining a lot. That makes for hot, humid days and nights. My sweat glands have been working overtime. The hatch and companionway mosquito netting I bought in NZ has been great. Around 5pm every evening we put them up, and don't have to spray the boat with repellent. Can sleep throughout the night without mosquitos buzzing our ears and us slapping ourselves silly while half-asleep. Of all the years I did that, I don't think I ever hit one mosquito. But I woke up looking like I went the distance with Mohammed Ali. If you'd like to communicate with us, we have internet. So you can send us emails to our land email addresses.

Sototale (see you later). John

Mon Jun 3 9:45 2019 NZST
GPS: 16 46.698s 179 20.015e
Run: 42.1nm (76.2km)

0900 hrs 3 June 2019. We're here. Arrived Savusavu 1600 hrs yesterday, 2 June 2019. You can let out that breath you've been holding for the trip statistics. Here they are: OVERALL NZ - FIJI TRIP STATISTICS Distance - 1256nm Time - 220.25 hrs - 9 days 4.25 hrs Engine On - 95.5 hrs - 3 days 23.5 hrs Average Speed - 5.7 kts (including slowing down to arrive Minerva & Savusavu at correct time) NZ - MINERVA LEG STATISTICS Distance - 829nm Time - 142.5 hrs - 5 days 22.5 hrs Engine On - 42.5 hrs - 1 day 18 hrs Average speed - 5.8 kts MINERVA - FIJI LEG STATISTICS Distance - 427nm Time - 77.75 hrs - 3 days 5.75 hrs Engine On - 53 hrs - 2 days 4.8 hrs Average Speed - 5.5 kts SEA LIFE STATISTICS - No dolphins sighted. One flying fish on deck. No fish caught.

The whole trip actually lasted 19 days because of the 10 days spent in Minerva waiting out storms produced by tropical depressions roaming around.

MOST AMAZING STATISTIC OF ALL: Thoughout the entire 1256 nm trip we never once took a wave onto the boat. This was the most benign passage from NZ to Fiji ever. The major factor for this was Gulf Harbour Radio.

In that regard, Leilani and I want to give a big thank-you to David & Patricia of Gulf Harbour Radio. Their comments about the weather (they don't give advice) helped us determine weather windows, and avoid sailing in the tropical depression weather. We encountered several yachts first hand, and heard about others, who did not heed their comments, and they paid the price by being caught out in horrendously awful weather. If you're sailing in the S. Pacific, you should be listening to GHR regularly. And if you're a regular listener, you might want to give a voluntary donation to help defray equipment cost and internet and electic charges incurred by GHR to provide their invaluable service. Go to their website for info on how to make a donation. Again, thank you David & Patricia.

Bula Vinaka John

Sun Jun 2 7:54 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 21.448s 179 31.898e
Run: 84.8nm (153.5km)
Avg: 6.7knts
24hr: 160.3nm

0730 hrs 2 June 2019. Good morning to our last day at sea. Last night was exhausting. We actually had to stay awake during each of our 3-hour watches. Since we were in the midst of islands, and potential other traffic, we couldn't even catch catnaps as we do at sea. Additionally we had to constantly monitor our speed to arrive on time. It's actually easier to sail at sea than around land. In any event, we'll be in Savusavu by 1600.

Bonaire trailed us throughout the night and continues to follow. Actually, they've been with us since leaving Minerva. First time we've had another yacht sail along during a passage. Normally we don't see anyone.

Yes, there's still no air. Yes, we continue to motor, and will do so all the way in. At least it's not blowing 30 kts like at Minerva.

Next post will be from the dock - with our all important and always interesting passage statistics. I can hear you holding your breath all the way out here. One statistic to hold you over: no sealife, porpoise or flying fish, spotted. Sad. Cheers, John

Sat Jun 1 19:12 2019 NZST
GPS: 18 34.093s 179 44.341e
Run: 71.2nm (128.9km)
Avg: 6.1knts
24hr: 145.4nm

1800 hrs 1 June 2019. Welcome to our last night at sea. ETA Savusavu is tomorrow afternoon at 1600 hrs. We are keeping the boat at about 5.2 kts so we arrive no sooner and possibly incur overtime charges should the officials wish to come early afternoon. With very light 5-7 kts winds, and motoring, it's relatively easy to control our speed. We've been motoring since 1500 hrs yesterday. Will be glad to get in and turn off the engine.

Dragged two fishing lines through the Koro Sea for 9 hours today. Sadly no fresh sashimi. Will try again tomorrow. For the astute naigators among you, you'll notice we are back in the eastern hemisphere, having crossed the E-W longitude meridan very early this morning. So we're back to today from yesterday, with tomorrow coming soon, which until recently would have been today.

See you in Savusavu. Cheers John

Sat Jun 1 7:27 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 34.347s 179 59.117e
Run: 81.6nm (147.7km)
Avg: 7.3knts
24hr: 174.1nm
Weather: 0700 hrs 1 June 2019. Beautiful sunny morning. Wind, 3-5 kts NE. Sea flat. Cloud cover 30% with big cumulus clouds all around on horizon. Baro 1012 having fallen from 1015 in last 24 hrs.

0700 hrs 1 June 2019. While the weather has been exceedingly calm, we've had an otherwise eventful last six hours. At 0100 this morning, Leilani spotted a vessel that turned out to be a stealth Asian fishing vessel. I say stealth because it didn't have AIS, and wouldn't answer my radio call. I say fishing because it had a large white spot ight swinging around. I say Asian vessel because they are the only ones that would have been that far out of Fiji waters. At 0500 Leilani spotted another fishing boat, but this time someone actually answered my radio call. Definitely Asian. Hardly understandable, but he acknowledged seeing me, and said he would turn starboard to pass port-to-port. I really hate meeting them at night because you never know (and can't see) if they have long nets trailling right across our path. In any event, all went well.

Second event was right after sunrise, at 0630, I got to sing out all mariners' favourite call - Land Ho! I spotted the southern Fiji island of Matuku at 25 miles away on our port bow. It would have been seen sooner, but not in the dark,. The next island we'll see will be Totoya, on our starboard bow.

It's been a long trip, but we're finally in Fiji waters. It feels like we have arrived home. Copra Shed, the marina facitility in Savusavu, has a berth reserved for us. The same one we always get whenever we are there. Leilani over the past years has showered the manager with gifts, so she pretty much gives us what we ask for. And all the workers there know us, and are probably looking forward to the cakes Leilani makes for them. We've asked that Siterie, the laundry lady, put aside all her washing machines because we have heaps of dirty clothes. Peo and Siti, the two dock helpers will be waiting to help us tie up on the berth. Yes, it does feel like homecoming.

Cheers John

Fri May 31 20:12 2019 NZST
GPS: 20 43.050s 179 42.506w
Run: 74.3nm (134.5km)
Avg: 5.9knts
24hr: 141.5nm

1900 hrs 31 May 2019. Today was a mixed bag of sailing and now motoring. Had superlative sailing conditions up to 1500. The wind was slowly melting away and it finally was not enough to maintain speed above 4 kts. We have a 4 kt rule: if boat speed drops below that, the motor comes on. I know there are purists who will sail no matter how slow. But I subscribe to the idea that weather comes in patterns: good is followed by bad is followed by good, etc. While it might seem good to bob around sailing 2-3 kts, but sooner or later, you will get run over by the bad. So when it gets slow going, I put the peddle to the meddle and get going to wherever I'm going before the bad arrives. The downside is not being hypnotised by the sound of water streaming by, and the woosh of air propelling the boat along. Instead it's the deadening drone of the engine. Oh well, at least I'll get in before the storm arrives. Our goal is to arrive in Savusavu between 1600 & 1700 Sunday. Even though that is after hours for official check-in, and would be subject to overtime charges, the check-in officials will not come to the boat at that time. They're not going to interrupt their Sunday evening family time just to fill out papers with some yachtie. So we'll sit on the dock at the Copra Shed until Monday morning when the officials show up. And since that will be during normal check-in time, no overtime charge. Now that the motor is on, it is much easier regulating our speed so we arrive at the correct time. If we arrive too early, the officials could come to the boat, even though it's a Sunday. Arrive too late, and it's dark. So we have to arrive juuuuuust right.

It's definitely warmer. I'm now sailing shirtless and in shorts only. I love the tropics. And with that, I'll send this and get back to my watch. Cheers John

Fri May 31 7:36 2019 NZST
GPS: 21 45.544s 179 25.233w
Run: 79.3nm (143.5km)
Avg: 6.4knts
24hr: 154.7nm

0715 hrs 31 May 2019. Okay, here we go again. We had a perfect night of sailing with beam or slightly aft of beam ESE 10-15 kts winds, and SE 1.5 mtr swell. Yacht Bonaire is abut 3 nm to our starboard, and well in sight. She left about an hour after we did and caught up throughout the night. It's a much fast 16mtr yacht, so that was expected. Another, Anahada is over the horizon headed for Suva. Sunday is our ETA. It's just a matter of what time of the day. Our average speed up to now has been 5.5 kts, so if that continues it will be late Sunday. I'm on my watch, so it's time to catch up on sleep - ha ha ha. Cheers John

Thu May 30 19:18 2019 NZST
GPS: 22 52.445s 179 07.500w
Run: 55.2nm (99.9km)

1900 hrs 30 May 2019. We departed Minerva Reef at 1030 this morning. Since then the weather has been magic S. Pacific tradewind sailing: SE 10-15 kts, seas have decreased steadly from 2 mts to 1 mtr, and we're ghosting along at a stately 5.6 kts average. There is no moon or clouds, so the stars are out in all their glory. When you look up at the uncountable twinklings, you fully understand how insignificant we are. This is the kind of night that poet sailors have waxed on about down through the ages. Not being a poet, and barely a sailor, I am wholly unequipped to adequately describe the existential beauty of it all. To say it is beautiful is an understatement like saying the Grand Canyon is a hole in the ground, or the Mona Lisa is a nice picture. To say it's awe inspiring is just too cliche. It transcends awe inspiring as Mt. Everest transcends a child's sand castle at the beach. I feel priviledged to be a witness to it all. I hope we have a couple of more nights like this before we reach Fiji. Cheers John

Wed May 29 10:54 2019 NZST

0830 29 May 2019. This is our last post from N. Minerva Reef. We depart first thing tomorrow morning for Savusavu, Fiji. It's about 425 nm and will take about 72 hr, give or take. Weather is forecast to be light ESE winds, 10-15 kts. when we depart. If so, that's perfect. We're expecting light winds the whole trip, and will probably be doing some motoring. I'll post as we proceed so you can keep up with us.

Today, in fact right now, there is 0.0kts of wind, the entire lagoon looks like a mirror, and the water is so clear we can see our anchor chain laying out in about 13 mts of water almost to the anchor, and we have 70 mts of chain out. What a difference to the several days of 30-34 kts winds, and many other days of 25-28 kts after we first arrived 10 days ago. Where once we had 22 vessels here, over the last 3 days many have left. About half are going to Tonga, and the rest to Fiji. There are 3 boats (including us) leaving tomorrow for Fiji. A couple of Tonga boats left today, and probably the last will leave to tomorrow. Then the reef will be empty awaiting the new arrivals.

Last night we had our last N. Minerva Reef Yacht Club radio trivia game. I hosted the questions on Fiji history and culture. I took the information from the unimpeachable history book titled, Lonely Planet Fiji. Hey, when you're sitting in the middle of the ocean, it's tough getting to a better stocked library. All up we had 4 trivia nights, and they were enjoyed by all. BTW, the most interesting question / answer was: The Guinness Book of World Records names Ratu (Chief) Udreudre as the holder of the record for most people eaten - 872. Don't know how that was confirmed. Maybe Hannibal Leichter and Jeffrey Dahlmer might contest it.

On that yummy note, I will get back to work on my tan, and await lunch. Leg-of-man anyone? Cheers, John

Mon May 27 11:48 2019 NZST
GPS: 23 38.617s 178 53.599w

0800 hrs 27 May 2019. Sorry about missing a post yesterday. I tried all day to send using my Winlink program with no success. Also tried this morning with same result. I believe there is something wrong with Winlink. Anyway, I?m sending this via Leilani?s Iridium Go program. Nothing like having backup programs to send/receive emails. Yesterday the wind was up and down between 20 & 26 kts. This morning so far, the wind is the lightest since arriving, around 14 - 17 kts. It?s supposed to come down through the week. Latest weather forecast calls for possible departures on Thursday or Friday. Will confirm that as the week progresses. This morning a single-handing lady on Careena called for help to enter Minerva. She sustained damage in the horrendous weather the last few days coming up from New Zealand. Her headsail curling system is broken so she can?t fully take down her headsail. She also ran out of water as her watermaker broke and couldn?t replace the small water capacity in her tank. She wanted help to come through the pass, and put someone on board with water and help drive the boat while she takes down the headsail so she can anchor. Of course, vessels jumped up to offer assistance as you?d expect. Two vessels are meeting her at the pass, and by dinghy, will put two people on her boat. Fortunately, conditions are ideal for her arrival: light winds, sunny skies, and low water, making the entrance boundary clearly visible. Never a dull moment. For the last two evenings the N Minerva and S Minerva Cruisers Association has held radio Trivial Pursuit games. What happens is a host boat picks a subject, asks the questions then gives multiple choice answers. At the end, answers are given, and kudos given to the winner. The first one was on the history on the Minerva reefs. It was very informative. For instance, after Tonga and Fiji argued over ownership, including blowing up lighthouses each would construct, Tonga finally won ownership recognition through international consensus. Then Tonga, being the ever shrewd bargainer, offered to trade the reefs for the Lau Group. Fiji declined and both countries have since fallen into mutual recognition of their territorial rights. Last night I hosted the Trivial Pursuit game on seamanship trivia. Tonight, another yacht is hosting on the subject of Polynesia. Our stop has not only been relaxing, it?s also been educational. That brings you up to date. Stay tuned for further adventures in paradise. Cheers, John

Mon May 27 11:45 2019 NZST
GPS: 23 38.617s 178 53.599w

0800 hrs 27 May 2019. Sorry about missing a post yesterday. I tried all day to send using my Winlink program with no success. Also tried this morning with same result. I believe there is something wrong with Winlink. Anyway, I?m sending this via Leilani?s Iridium Go program. Nothing like having backup programs to send/receive emails. Yesterday the wind was up and down between 20 & 26 kts. This morning so far, the wind is the lightest since arriving, around 14 - 17 kts. It?s supposed to come down through the week. Latest weather forecast calls for possible departures on Thursday or Friday. Will confirm that as the week progresses. This morning a single-handing lady on Careena called for help to enter Minerva. She sustained damage in the horrendous weather the last few days coming up from New Zealand. Her headsail curling system is broken so she can?t fully take down her headsail. She also ran out of water as her watermaker broke and couldn?t replace the small water capacity in her tank. She wanted help to come through the pass, and put someone on board with water and help drive the boat while she takes down the headsail so she can anchor. Of course, vessels jumped up to offer assistance as you?d expect. Two vessels are meeting her at the pass, and by dinghy, will put two people on her boat. Fortunately, conditions are ideal for her arrival: light winds, sunny skies, and low water, making the entrance boundary clearly visible. Never a dull moment. For the last two evenings the N Minerva and S Minerva Cruisers Association has held radio Trivial Pursuit games. What happens is a host boat picks a subject, asks the questions then gives multiple choice answers. At the end, answers are given, and kudos given to the winner. The first one was on the history on the Minerva reefs. It was very informative. For instance, after Tonga and Fiji argued over ownership, including blowing up lighthouses each would construct, Tonga finally won ownership recognition through international consensus. Then Tonga, being the ever shrewd bargainer, offered to trade the reefs for the Lau Group. Fiji declined and both countries have since fallen into mutual recognition of their territorial rights. Last night I hosted the Trivial Pursuit game on seamanship trivia. Tonight, another yacht is hosting on the subject of Polynesia. Our stop has not only been relaxing, it?s also been educational. That brings you up to date. Stay tuned for further adventures in paradise. Cheers, John

Sat May 25 11:00 2019 NZST
GPS: 23 38.617s 178 53.599w

0930 25 May 2019. Boats are like living things. When everything is working, and the boat is moving as it should, the crew will know it and feel at ease. However, it there is a new, strange noise, or the boat moves unnaturally, the crew will immediately know, and jump up from wherever they are and dash around to determine the cause. Of course, problems usually happen in the middle of a black, dark, night, howling wind, pouring rain, and choppy, bouncy seas causing the boat to hobby-horse. That's what happened to us at 0100 last night. Both of us were sound asleep when we heard a loud bang, and the boat started to vibrate. I leaped out of my bunk in my sleeping attire and charged topsides. I immediately made my way to the bow to check the anchor system was holding. Confirming all good there, I returned to the cockpit and noticed horrible vibration. Quickly surveying the wind generator, which was spinning full speed in the wind, it was obvious one of the three blades was missing. I got the generator turned away from the wind, and sure enough one blade was gone. While climbing up on the top of the stern rail to reach the generator with a rope to tie off the the remaining blades, I accidentally hit the Iridium GO antenna, breaking the plastic cover off, exposing the actual antenna inside. Murphy's Law.

Being a well stocked sea-going yacht, I have necessary repair items. For the generator, I have 6 spare blades, so I can make two sets of blade changes (all 3 blades need to be changed simultaneously to remain balanced). Due to the bouncy conditions at Minerva, I will wait until I get to Fiji to make the repair. The blades are the same ones that were on the boat when I bought the boat 10 years ago. So they are over ten years old. Over time the sun and salt enviornment degrades the blade material. Coupling that with all the high winds we have had over these past 4 days, I believe the blade simply broke off. I discount it having been hit by a bird (which can sometimes happen) because I haven't seen any birds here since arriving. Although it could have been a flying fish.

The Iridium GO is our satellite modum used to text, and send & receive email with our computers. So it was essential I repair the antenna. For that repair, I have heaps of a general repair kit no yacht should leave the dock without: duct tape. I taped the cover back on and it works great. Once in Fiji, I may look to make a more permanent fix by using underwater epoxy putty to glue the cover on.

With the boat essentially well again, there is a good chance we will leave for Fiji tomorrow. Virtually all the boats here are of the same mind. We'll wait for a final weather report tomorrow morning just to confirm no negative change.

Now I'm going to catch up on all the sleep I lost last night. Cheers, John

Fri May 24 11:03 2019 NZST
GPS: 23 38.617s 178 53.599w

1000 hrs 24 May 2019. Throughout yesterday winds were E 26-29 kts. Around 1800 hrs they piped up to sustained 30-34 kts for more than an hour. Then back down to an average of 28 kts throughout the rest of the night. This morning we awoke to (relatively) balmy 22-24 kts. Weather forecast has winds slowly coming down over next couple of days. According to this morning's Gulf Harbour Radio forecast, Sunday may be a do-able time to sail to Fiji. We're keeping an eye on this.

Yesterday afternoon we had another 2 arrivals; one yacht, and a Tongan navy vessel - which could very well be the entire Tongan navy. Interestingly, both left this morning. I could almost understand the navy vessel leaving. But the yacht? It turned out it had arrived from Tonga, stopped here overnight, and is going to S. Minerva today for a few days, and then on to New Zealand. That's right, going the wrong way for this time of year. Glad I'm not on that boat. Had the inaugural N. Minerva Reef cruisers net this morning. It turned out to be very informative. Got some good info on a couple of navigation apps I've never heard of. As soon as we get to Fiiji, and internet, we're going to download them. For our cruiser readers, they are: OVITALMAP, and Atlas of Fiji for Mariners. The former is world-wide cover, and the latter only Fiji. They come highly recommended and endorsed by several members of the NMRCN. What more authoritative source than the NMRCN is there? One other app mentioned was Orbit. It tracks in real time the position of the Iridium Go satellites relative to your location, so you know when they are overhead. That can be valuable to know so you can maximise download effectiveness of your IG.

One yachty on the net asked if anyone wanted to dive the pass today. Another noted in these conditions, and the fact throughout the day the tide is going out, if they dived, they'd probably end up in New Caledonia. I believe there was a re-think on diving the pass.

That's it for today. Stay tuned for further adventures at N. Minerva Reef. Cheers, John

Thu May 23 11:21 2019 NZST
GPS: 23 38.617s 178 53.599w

1030 23 May 2019. The dominant issue continues to be weather. Whether and when the weather will moderate. Since yesterday and up to now, and what looks to continue through tomorrow we have 25-29 kts E winds. Has gusted to 33 kts. During low tide, when the reef is exposed and blocks the incoming surf and surge, the boat sits comfortably still, only sailling around on the anchor chain because of the wind. High tide is a different matter. The water surges over the reef causing very choppy conditions and the boat bobs, sways, jolts, and rocks around as if at sea. After 3 days of these conditions, we are used to it. Forecasts don't show much of a break in the weather until after the weekend. I guess there are worse places to be. Give me a moment and I'll come up with a few.

Since yesterday, our community has grown by 4, to a total of 23 yachts. The 3 who came in yesterday and 1 today all got thrashings in the horrible weather conditions. They would have all left 2 - 3 days after we did. At that time the weather forecasts would all have shown conditions to be unfavourable to depart NZ. One has to wonder whether the yachts were actually watching the weather. We know of one more yacht trying to make Minerva. Yesterday at 1600 hrs it was 180 nm S of us and taking a beating. We have been told conditiions were so bad the yacht hove-to (meaning it stopped its progress and is essentially drifting). It's a heavy weather technique to wait out storms at sea, give the crew a rest, and minimise possibility of boat damage. Unfortunately conditions will not be improving until after tomorrow. I really feel sorry for them. As we who go to sea all know, but for the grace of Neptune, there goes us.

Tomorrow one of the yachts is starting the N. Minerva Cruiser's Net. Cruiser's radio nets are popular in many places where yachties congregate. The moderator gives weather, social, and any other kind of announcements that would be of interest to the yachts. On some nets, there is a "buy-sell-trade" section. Leilani realised she hard boiled all our eggs. Now she wishes she had saved a few raw ones to make a cake or brownies. So tomorrow she is going to offer to trade hard boiled eggs for raw ones, but only if they will deliver. I'm hoping to find out where the lobsters are hiding.

Again, with no opportunity to get off the boat, it's reading, movies, and nappiing on our crowded agenda. Cheers John

Wed May 22 9:09 2019 NZST
GPS: 23 38.617s 178 53.599w

0830 22 May 2019. Last night can be described in one word: wild. Throughout yesterday winds were SE 18-20kts. Looking back now that was downright calm. Last night sometime before midnight winds went E and blasted up to 30-32kts. The boat rocked and rolled as if still at sea. Wait a minute. We are at sea. With the sun this morning the winds have come down a bit to 25-26 kts. Latest weather report has it this way for next two days. Doesn't look like anyone is leaving until early next week. The weather was so wild last night, and the water in the lagoon so choppy, this morning I found a flying fish on the deck. The first and only one this season to gasp its last breath on our boat. Amazing. We sail 840 miles without one landing on the deck. And then at anchor one jumps aboard. Or maybe it was blown aboard. Another amazing fact, we sailed 840 miles without any water coming onto the deck. Last night the deck became awash with spray from the winds blowing water horizontally across the boat. With everything wet on deck, tt looks like we sailed through a storm.

I'm always amused, intrigued, or downright mystified by names people give their vessels. Today I heard one that has become a favourite. It belongs to a yellow catamaran here named, Banana Split. It makes me chuckle just saying it. I love it. She's owned by a Frenchman who has cruised on her for 45 years. That is not a misprint. He says his girlfriend of 40 years doesn't like doing passages. So she flies home to Paris and returns when he gets to a port. Maybe that's why their relationship has lasted so long. Banana Split - chuckle, chuckle. No reef walking today. Looks like another movie day, some reading, and of course, keeping up my napping muscle memory training. Cheers John

Tue May 21 14:39 2019 NZST
GPS: 23 38.617S 178 53.599W

1100 hrs 21 May 2019. Second day in Minerva. Our little community has grown to 19 yachts, all snugly bobbing in wavelets washing over the reef in 20kts of E breeze. Actually it's quite comfortable. Our boat is moving just enough to remind us we are anchored in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight. We've tossed around more at our marina berth. The only down side today is it's clouded over so the weather is a bit dour with no sun. But as the saying goes, the worst day anchored in the middle of the ocean is better than the best day at the office. Of course, that onlyl applies until the worst day actually shows up. Speaking of which, the weather looks like it will keep us here through the weekend. The tropical depression persists in milling around N of Fiji. Weather models differ as to its future track. One shows the TD moving eastward and thus missing our vicinity. Another shows it moving more southward coming close to us. At least forecasters are not as bad as politicians. Forecasters sometimes actually agree.

Because of brisk weather and bumpy sea, no one is putting their dingy in the water to go ashore to play. We've been watching movies, and doing a bit of reading. Later this afternoon, I might attempt the ever popular activity of napping. If I don't keep up with that regularly, I lose muscle memory. Cheers John

Mon May 20 12:51 2019 NZST
GPS: 23 38.617s 178 53.599w
Run: 77.2nm (139.7km)
Avg: 4.9knts
24hr: 118.8nm

Welcome to Minerva Reef. Remember from a post or two and a couple of hundred miles ago wherein I said I wanted to control boat speed so we would arrive at the pass as close to sunrise as possible? Well, we sailed right up to the entrance at 0700 just as the sun broke the horizon. Am I good, or what? Had a beautiful full moon night of sailing with 12-14 kt winds on the beam. As we turned up 30 degrees to head toward the pass, the wind magnamously backed 30 degrees so we could keep our beam reach. Yes, I guess I am good. This is our third trip to Minerva, I guess that makes us Minerva Reef veterans. The weather today was another perfect S. Pacific day of clear blue skies, just as clear blue water, balmy 13 kts wind, and comfortable anchorage. Comfortable for now, at least, until the bad weather hits, if it does. There are 13 boats here so far, but believe more are on the way. With a 2.5 x 3 mile lagoon, there is plenty of room for everyone. After 6 days at sea, we're enjoying our first day of true rest and relaxation without contorting our muscles with isometric energy to get around the vessel. We can actually walk the length of the boat without holding onto something. It's the little things that making landfall enjoyable; even if landfall is a reefed lagoon in the middle of the ocean with no land for hundreds of miles.

Speaking of bad weather, the latest from Gulf Harbour Radio is the tropical depression is still hanging out, but no one knows quite for sure where it will head. GHR suggests to stay in Minerva until further notice. Could be a couple of days, or week. That's cruising.

I know you all are waitiing with anxious anticipation for our trip statistics. So here they are: Arrived at Minerva Reef pass at 0700 hrs.

Anchor down 0830 (with 100 mtr of chain - we don't intend to drag in big winds) Total trip miles - 829 nm Total trip time - 142.5 hours (5 days, 22.5 hrs) Average speed - 5.8 kts (would have been higher except we had to moderate speed for arrival time.

Total engine run time - 42.5 hrs Dolphine sightings - 0 Flying fish sightings - 2 Now's time to catch up on all that lost sleep. Cheers John & Leilani

Sun May 19 21:15 2019 NZST
GPS: 24 32.700s 179 36.913w
Run: 74.5nm (134.8km)
Avg: 5.3knts
24hr: 127.3nm
Weather: 1815hrs 19 May 2019. Wind SE 12-14kts. Swell SSE 2 mtr. Cloud cover 30% cumulus. Baro 1016 steady. COG 026T SOG 6 kts.

This is last post until after we are anchored in North Minerva Reef tomorrow. Today was another superlative sailing day. Beam reaching in 12-14 kts wind, with boat speed consistently in 6-7 range, and even going into 8 kts. AG glided through the water like a curling stone over ice. It's going to be hard giving up that for sitting out a possible gale in Minerva. Latest weather reports are not encouraging. The tropical depression is still above Fiji and moving S slowly. Over next 72 hrs it could go SE and come close to Minerva. I'm sure I speak for everyone out here when I say I hope the weather people get this forecast wrong like they do so many others. I don't relish sitting in Minerva for several days in strong winds.

The more observant of you will notice a couple of things about our current position. First, we are above 25s latitude, so officially in tradewind territory. Second, we crossed the date line and are now in W longitude. Minerva is just over the line. Since we don't plan to be here long, we're not changing our calendar. We'll just pretend it's yesterday. Or is it tomorrow? Who knows, and who cares when you're sailing the salty seas.

With that, I'm going to catch some sleep until it's my turn on watch. Cheers John & Leilani

Sun May 19 7:12 2019 NZST
GPS: 25 30.819s 179 51.692e
Run: 82.5nm (149.3km)
Avg: 6.5knts
24hr: 157.1nm
Weather: 0630 hrs 19 May 2019. Wind SE 8-10 kts. Swell SE 1.5 mts. Cloud cover 0% overhead, but cumulus on eastern horizon, and cumulus & cirroculumus on western horizon. Baro 1016 steady. COG 026T SOG 5.5 kts.

Last night was a bit bumpy as the wind for the first time this trip was forward of the beam. Early this morning the wind has gone more SE and dropped in speed considerably, though it is now again on the beam or slightly aft. Last evening yacht Atla was nearby, but has disappeared off AIS. She said she was headed for Minerva. This morning yacht Rebel has appeared. Haven't spoken with her yet, but she is on a course to Minerva. From radio contact we know Exocit Strike, Loupan, and Mi Corazon are just over the horizon out of AIS range also headed for Minerva. There is a considerable armada converging on Minerva over next 24+ hours. As I'm writing, a cargo ship is passing well astern headed for Brisbane, Australia (I say Australia for benefit of my geographically impaired US readers). Vessel-wise, it's been quite active. In fact, I can't remember another trip where we have seen so many other yachts. It's almost like rush-hour traffic out here. Our speed is down considerably in order to time our arrival at Minerva tomorrow morning after sunrise. That will be our main job throughout the next 24 hrs. Okay, time to get some sleep. Cheers John & Leilani

Sat May 18 18:36 2019 NZST
GPS: 26 35.005s 179 16.422e
Run: 75.4nm (136.5km)
Avg: 6.5knts
24hr: 156.7nm
Weather: 1800 hrs 18 May 2019. Although these are current conditions, they prevailed throughout the day. Wind SE 12-14kts. Swell SE 2mtr. Cloud cover 0%. Baro 1017 steady. COG 026T. SOG 6 kts.

I know you are getting tired of me saying what perfect sailing conditions we are having. So I won't. Okay, I lied. Today was another perfect day of S. Pacific sailing we all dream about. Perfect 12-14 kts wind on the beam. Swells on the stern quarter. No water over the rails. Spent the day lying in the cockpit enjoying the sun licking me all over with warm rays greatly iimproving my tropical suntan. All couldn't be better.

But . . . There's always a but in the toilet.

The but in this case is a developing tropical depression over Fiji. TD's are storm ratings just below Cat 1 cyclones. It's predicted to move SE over eastern Fiji on Monday, and continue a SE track that will probably affect Minerva Reef. Predicted packing 30+ kt winds, and big seas. I feel like George Clooney approaching the perfect storm. There are a number of boats, I've heard up to 20, which are headed to Minerva to ride out the storm. That's where we're going. Our ETA is Monday morning. In fact much of today's perfect sailing was trying to keep the boat speed down so we don't arrive before sun-up. Will keep you informed as situation develops.

I want to take this opportunity to thank David & Patricia who run Gulf Harbour Radio. David is a retired meteorologist, and they have sailed around the world on their own yacht. They are well known and respected throughout the cruising community. They broadcast every morning M-F between 1 May and 30 November (the cruising season) giving highly informative weather forecasts. Yachties listen in with rapt attention to get the latest forecast to help them make sailing decisions. Because of the impending TD, David has graciously sent out forecasts via email today and will do so tomorrow (their usual off days). While there's nothing we can about the weather, it is nonetheless immensely helpful to know what is coming. By combining what David publishes with looking at our own weather charts we download, can make better informed decisions about how to best meet different weather conditions. Thank you, David & Patricia.

Cheers John & Leilani Cheers John & Leilani

Sat May 18 7:03 2019 NZST
GPS: 27 33.650s 178 43.668e
Run: 86.4nm (156.4km)
Avg: 6.4knts
24hr: 152.5nm
Weather: 0650 hrs 18 May 2019. Wind SE 12-14 kts. Swell ESE 1 mtr. Cloud cover 90% overcast with intermittent drizzle. COG 030T. SOG 6 kts. Will be slowing down over the day to time arrival at Minerva after sunrise.

Finally cut the engine last night at 2300 after 23 hrs. The quiet has been nice. Had a calm, gentle sail throughout the night with 7-9kts SE winds on a broad reach, and no seas. Wind has come up this morning - see above weather section. Will time our arrival at Minerva as soon after sunrise as possible. Yacht Meerbaer has been sailing with us all last night, but is falling farther behind this morning. Probably headed for Minerva lke all the other yachts out here to avoid that nasty storm over Fiji on Monday / Tuesday. Will be iinteresting to see how may yachts actually turn up. Time to get some sleep. We do more sleeping in the day than at night because we keep a slightly looser watch during the day. Will be good to get to Minerva so I can catch up on all the missed and interrupted sleep since leaviing NZ. Cheers. John & Leilani

Fri May 17 17:27 2019 NZST
GPS: 28 40.237s 178 04.585e
Run: 77.8nm (140.8km)
Avg: 6.6knts
24hr: 158.2nm
Weather: 1700 hrs 17 May 2019. Wind S 12-14kts. Swell S 2.5mts. Cloud cover 30% cumulus. Baro 1016 steady. COG 027T. SOG 5.8 kts

Our fantastic sailing ended last night at 2400. Been motoring since. A combination of too light wind for a while, but mostly today the wind began to move from SW to S where it has stayed. That puts the wind directly behind us, making it as difficult to sail as if the wind was directly in front of us. Waiting for the wind to move more SE which should happen late tonight, early tomorrow morning. Then we can sail all the way into Minerva Reef which we anticipate reaching on Monday morning before lunch. As I mentioned in last post, there is very ugly depression scheduled to hit Fiji on Monday or Tuesday. One could call it a mini cyclone. We'll wait for that to pass before heading to Fiji.

Wild life observed: Dolphins - 0 Flying fish - 0 Ocean birds - 4 (we're 480 miles from NZ!!) Cheers John & Leilani

Fri May 17 5:39 2019 NZST
GPS: 29 39.875s 177 28.312e
Run: 82nm (148.4km)
Avg: 6.7knts
24hr: 160nm
Weather: 0515 17 May 2019. Wind SW 7-9kts, swell SW

0515 17 May 2019. Wind dropped off last night so at 2400 hrs the engine went on. Just turned it off, but wind not really up enough. So the engine will go back on when I finish this post. Weather-wise, it was another glorious, clear, starry, moon-lite night. Speaking of weather, there is an ugly depression forecast to hit Fiji the day before, or day of, our arrival. So we made a command decision to head for Minerva and wait it out. We expect to arrive Minerva Monday morning (after sun-up). That's after having to slow down because if we went usual 6kts average speed, we'd arrive around 0200 Monday morning. Speaking of speed, up to now we have been averaging better than 6kts, and had our best last 24 hours of 154nm. Oh, I almost forgot. I am reintroducing a feature of my posts from our last trip. Counting the number of dolphins and flying fish spotted. Unfortunately, the numbers have not improved. So far, the counts are: Dolphins - 0 Fyling fish - 1. PS. None have landed on our deck in these past 413 miles.

One other thing that has not landed on our deck is water. That's right, we have taken absolutely no wave water on deck. Just shows the magnificent sailing conditions we've had.

Cheers John & Leilani

Thu May 16 17:21 2019 NZST
GPS: 30 45.423s 176 56.198e
Run: 90.3nm (163.4km)
Avg: 7.7knts
24hr: 183.7nm
Weather: 1700 hrs 16 May 2019. Wind W 12-15kts, swell SW 2mtr, cloud cover 20% and clear, baro 1015 falling steadly throughout day, SOG 6kt, COG 015T.

Another great sailing day. Still trying to decide whether to stop at Minerva Reef, or carry on to Savusavu. Getting reports of some dicey weather in Fiji around time we would arrive if we carry on. Will give it another day of analysing weather reports before making final decision. This morning we encountered a cargo ship headed our way. The captain kindly altered course so as not run us down and passed safely port-to-port. The catamaran Mi Corazon passed us about the same time as the cargo ship headed to Minerva. That about encompasses all the news today. Cheers John & Leilani.

Thu May 16 5:33 2019 NZST
GPS: 31 57.170s 176 19.243e
Run: 86.5nm (156.6km)
Avg: 7.2knts
24hr: 173.7nm
Weather: 0500 16 May 2019. Wind W 14-16kts. Swell SW 1.5 mtr. Cloud cover 5%. Baro 1017. COG 025T. SOG 6kt

Enjoying some of the best sailing ever. Winds first half of night up to midnight were gentle 9-12 kts. Since midnight they have increased to 14-16kts, Direction perfect at about 100-110 degrees. We averaged 6.25 kts for past 12 hours with speed high 6kts into the 7's steady. For us that is great consistent speed. Really putting the miles under the keel. Seas are gentle from our stern. Boat movement is miinimal. Bright moon all night. Since setting about an hour ago, the stars are out sprinkling the sky like fairy dust. Let's hope it continues. Cheers John & Leilani.

Wed May 15 17:36 2019 NZST
GPS: 33 08.379s 175 51.008e
Run: 78.5nm (142.1km)
Avg: 6.5knts
24hr: 155.1nm

1700 hrs 15 May 2019. Today has seen a continuation of very benign sailing conditions. Light SW winds 8-12 kts. Highest we saw was 15 kts. Long period rolling SW swell of 1.5 - 2 mtrs. With wiind and swell behind us, we haven't taken any water on deck. We're averaging about 5.8 kts speed, which, considering the light conditions, that's not bad for our heavy vessel. Sun out all day, but still too cold to disrobe enough to work on my tan. All I can say is I hope Neptune continues to grace us with his kindness.

Saw another yacht this afternoon - "Takata" which left from Opua yesterday. It's headed for Minerva Reef.

Leilani's got dinner ready, so will sign off now. Stay tuned tomorrow.

Cheers John

Wed May 15 5:27 2019 NZST
GPS: 34 15.532s 175 37.362e
Run: 74.2nm (134.3km)
Avg: 7.1knts
24hr: 170.4nm
Weather: 0500 hrs 15 May 2019. Wind SW 8 - 15kts. SW swell 1 - 1.5 mtr. 100% cloud cover. Baro 1010. SOG averaging 6 kts. COG 003T.

0500 hrs. Been sailing since 0215. Boat movement much nicer - not so rolly. Winds have been up and down between 8 & 15 kts SW, but boat speed has averaging 6.1 kts since leaving yesterday. Sleep deprevation already setting in. We're doing 3-hr watches through the night. At my age I miss 10-12 uninterrupted hours sleep. Only 7-8 more nights until I get those kind of hours again. Although I'll be catching up during the day when we do much more relaxed watches. Only 1 more hour until my watch is over. Looking forward to jumping into a nice warm bunk. Cheers John

Tue May 14 19:00 2019 NZST
GPS: 35 14.477s 175 05.737e
Run: 54.2nm (98.1km)
Avg: 5.7knts
24hr: 136.7nm
Weather: 1830 hrs. nil wind. 1-1.5mtr NE swell. 0% cloud cover. 1002 baro. COG 031T. SOG 6kts

It's 1830, and been at sea 8.5 hrs, motoring the whole time in nil wind. Sea a bit rolly. Weather chart shows motoring through tomorrow morning, with wind to fill in by lunch time. It'll be nice to turn off the motor in exchange for the sound of sea and wind. Nights should be bright with the moon waxing to full in a couple of days. Due to the benign weather start, neither of us are seasick, and feel pretty rested. Speaking of rested, I'm off watch so I better get some sleep before going on watch at 2100. Cheers John & Leilani

Tue May 14 9:28 2019 NZST
GPS: 35 50.199S 174 28.089E

Farewell NZ. We just checked out with customs. As soon as I send this post, we will be untying from the dock, and head for Fiji. Weather has come down from 25-30kts last night to 0 this morning. Makes for nice motoring so we can get our sea legs again. Cheers John & Leilani

Mon May 13 10:29 2019 NZST
GPS: 35 50.199S 174 28.089E

Weather window finally. Jumping off tomorrow, 14 May, headed for Savusavu, Fiji. Usual trepidation before any ocean crossing, including whether the weather will actually be as good as forecast; will all boat systems continue working throughout the trip; how seasick will we get; will my tan be filled in by time we arrive. Forecast for first 24 hrs is motoring. That always makes it easier to get used to being at sea. Then, hopefully, comfortable winds from the southern quadrant as we head north. Wouldn't know it from the big storm that came through last night where winds in the marina regularly hit 30kts, with gusts to 40. The storm front continues its march across NZ today. Even in 25-30kt winds now prevailing, there are some hardy souls (using as polite term as possible) still going to brave the conditions by leaving today. Stay tuned as I will be posting regularly throughout the voyage, when I'm not working on my tan.

Cheers, John & Leilani

Thu May 9 10:21 2019 NZST
GPS: 35 50.199s 174 28.089e

Yesterday (8 May) filed a post which I understand some of you may not have received. Se here it is again.

We officially began our trek northward today (8 May), leaving Gulf Harbour and checking into Marsden Cove Marina, about 60nm away. The purpose is to be ready to leave at moments notice when the next weather window opens. For those who don't know, Marsden is an official checkout port from which to leave NZ. There is some indication that a window may open on Monday or Tuesday. If so, we're now poised to jump off. Will keep you apprised when we actually leave. Cheers, John & Leilani

Wed May 8 17:18 2019 NZST
GPS: 35 50.199S 174 28.089E
Run: 57.2nm (103.5km)

We officially began our trek northward today (8 May), leaving Gulf Harbour and checking into Marsden Cove Marina, about 60nm away. The purpose is to be ready to leave at moments notice when the next weather window opens. For those who don't know, Marsden is an official checkout port from which to leave NZ. There is some indication that a window may open on Monday or Tuesday. If so, we're now poised to jump off. Will keep you apprised when we actually leave. Cheers, John & Leilani

Fri May 3 8:42 2019 NZST
GPS: 36 37.397S 174 47.298E

3 May 2019. Greetings. We have reactivated our iridium satellite system in preparation of departing for Fiji. This email is a test that all is working. If you're so inclined, you can send my an email at following address acknowledging receipt of this one: We're sitting in Gulf Harbour Marina, our home marina, waiting for a weather window. Next week doesn't look good, so hoping for following week. Once we leave, we'll start regular posts of our progress.

Cheers John

Fri Nov 16 18:30 2018 NZDT
GPS: 36 37.397S 174 47.297E
Run: 57.2nm (103.5km)

1830 hrs 16 November 2018. We finally made it to our home port here at Gulf Harbour Marina at 1600 hrs today. Had a comfortable 9.5 hrs motor. Where is the wind when we are out there?? The main event of the day was Lonely Fred spent almost 30 minutes frolicking while riding our bow wake. Fred is a lone dolphin. I call him Lonely because there were no other dolphins. Being animals that usually travel in pods, I can only surmise Fred is alone because fishermen have gotten his family. Really sad, but at same time it was joyous watching him play. I am convinced he saw me on the bow sprit because he would be riding the wake and turn sideways and his big eye faced straight up. No way he could have missed me. As a fellow mammal, I think we bonded. Other than Fred, it was an uneventful trip, which is not necessarily bad. Now that we're home, I'll probably not being making entries on this site until next May when we prepare to go back to Fiji. Until then, you can keep up with us on Leilani's Facebook.


John & Leilani

Tue Nov 13 9:33 2018 NZDT
6 kts
GPS: 35 50.216s 174 28.128e
Run: 76.9nm (139.2km)
Avg: 5.3knts
24hr: 128.2nm

At 0800 13 November 2018 WE ARRIVED at Marsden Cove Marina. Weatherwise it was one of our better passages. Knowing you are waiting breathlessly for trip statistics, here they are: Total miles: 1137 Total time: 189 hrs - 7 days, 21 hrs Average Sailing time: 112 hrs Engine time: 77 hrs Dolphines spotted: 0 Flying fis Our plan is to stay at this marina a few days to clean up and decompress. Then head to home port, Gulf Harbour. From there we will begin process to fix several items on the boat, including depth sounder, leaking shaft seal, a engine vibration which may be due to propellor and/or drive shaft. After that, we expect to do some cruising around NZ before heading back to Fiji in May 2019. Will let you know when you can communicate with us via land based internet. Waiting for customs to show up to check us into NZ. That is all.

Cheers John & Leilani

Mon Nov 12 19:09 2018 NZDT
GPS: 34 43.759s 174 36.300e
Run: 80.7nm (146.1km)
Avg: 6.4knts
24hr: 153.1nm

1900 hrs 12 November 2018. This is coming to you 75 nm from our destination, and our last night at sea. We are still motoring, and otherwise it has been a glorious final day before landfall. The sun came out,, wind dropped, and sea is flat calm. We're still a bit too far off shore to be able to shout, Land Ho. We'll probably see shore lights after the sun goes down. This has been one of our better crossing from the islands to NZ, weatherwise. That makes everyone on board happy. Have a good evening, and good night.

Cheers John & Leilani

Mon Nov 12 6:30 2018 NZDT
GPS: 33 33.753s 174 34.818e
Run: 78nm (141.2km)
Avg: 6.9knts
24hr: 165.7nm
Weather: Situation as of 0600 hr 12 November Wind: SE 10 kts Sea: long SE 1-mtr swell 100% cloud cover COG: 179T SOG: 6 kts 144 nm to entrance to Marsden Cove Marina ETA Marsden Cove: 0630 hrs 13 November

0600 hrs 12 November. Without looking at the chart plotter I know I'm finally in NZ waters. How? No sun. 100% cloud cover. Water is more greenish than blue. But the real telltale - it's cold. No more naked sailing. Bring out the woolies - whatever they are. Had to get out an instruction manual to figure out which way to put on socks I didn't know there was a left one and a right one. I pulled out a t-shirt that had been buried deep in a cabinet for months and couldn't remember what the two long things on each side were for. I miss the tropics already. Time to crawl under the duvet to do my watch. What is a duvet? Cheers John & Leilani

Sun Nov 11 19:12 2018 NZDT
GPS: 32 26.100s 174 32.406e
Run: 78.8nm (142.6km)
Avg: 7knts
24hr: 168.9nm

1900 hrs 11 November 2018. Another day of motor sailing. Motoring, with little sailing. While the wind is a light E -ENE 5-7 kts, there has been a SE swell that makes the boat hobbie horse. This morning a 60 mtr superyacht, Dream, which was berthed with us at Denarau Marina, zoomed by traveling at 13.2 kts. I could have waterskiied behind it. This compares to our stately (read, slow) 6 kts. At our speed, we are hoping to make it to Whangarei in 8 days. Dream is going to Auckland, and at her speed she will take only 3.5 days. She was just showing off. Still can't believe how warm it is. Being only 200 miles from NZ, I was expecting to be wearing long johns, long pants, long sleeve t-shirt, and a jacket. Instead, I'm still relaxing below decks in my underwear and no shirt. On deck I put on a t-shirt. Wait, am I actually heading to NZ??? Cheers John & Leilani

Sun Nov 11 8:00 2018 NZDT
GPS: 31 17.715s 174 30.573e
Run: 114.4nm (207.1km)
Avg: 8knts
24hr: 192nm
Weather: Situation as of 0745 11 November: Wind: 5 kts E Sea: Long NE swell 1 mtr Sunny 50% cloud cover COG: 179T SOG: 6.5 kts 280 nm to Marsden Cove Marina ETA 13 November by mid-day Motoring

0745 hrs 11 November. Continue to motor. Yesterday sea was glassy. Today a bit choppy surface. Not much to report other than getting anxious to arrive, properly clean ourselves and boat, and get full night sleep.

Cheers John & Leilani

Sat Nov 10 17:42 2018 NZDT
GPS: 29 38.444s 174 28.103e
Run: 66.9nm (121.1km)
Avg: 7knts
24hr: 168.1nm

1730 hrs 10 November 2018. Another glorious day at sea. Sunny, warm, flat seas, however no wind. We continue to motor, and will do so probably until arriving at Whangarei on Tuesday. Only good thing about motoring is I don't have to do sail changes in the middle of the night. I'm surprised how (relatively) warm it is. Not Fiji warm, but I haven't started shiveriing yet. I'm still wearing only shorts - no shirt- below deck. On deck I put on a t-shirt. And with the sunshine that has followed us south, my tan hasn't started fading yet. Leilani's getting dinner ready - sloppy Joe over mashed potatoe- so have to go. Cheers John & Leilani

Sat Nov 10 8:09 2018 NZDT
GPS: 28 40.359s 174 27.420e
Run: 182.2nm (329.8km)
Avg: 7.3knts
24hr: 176.3nm
Weather: Situation as of 0800 hrs 10 November 2018 Wind: 7kts ENE Sea: less than 1 mtr E 30% cloud cover SOG: 5.5kt COG: 179T Intended Destination: Marden Cove ETA Tuesday 13 November

0800 hrs 10 November 2018. All good things usually come to an end. For us the perfect sailing day ended at 0310 this morning when the wind died to 7 kts and we turned on the motor. So much for wind whooshing past my face and the sound of water running by the boat like a cascading waterfall. All we hear now is the drone of a diesel engine. Of course, in these conditions, that is a sound to cherish. It's the sound of silence that would send chills through our bones. Three days to go. Yee haw.

Cheers John & Leilani

Fri Nov 9 20:39 2018 NZDT

2000 hrs 9 November 2018. Some people are fortunate to experience a day when everything goes perfect in whatever they are doing. Take the bowler who bowls a perfect 300 game, not once but every time during an evening's tourney while munching a double delux bacon cheeseburger with extra mustard during each bowl of the ball. Or the golfer who hits not one hole-in-one during a round, but two and then birdies every other hole even though he's wearing turquoise and pink plaid pants matched with a green, orange, and blue striped shirt. Or winning the grueling Indiannapolis 500 at the age of 12 driving her father's borrowed Prius. In each of these endeavours, those people felt an exhilaration and satisfaction knowing everything went perfect even if it was the one and only time. Today was one of those days for us. Sailing conditions were . . . well, perfect. The day was sunny with huge white billowy clouds spread over a calm blue sea. Wind was a steady 12-14kts. It was still warm enough to be wearing only underpants and a T-shirt. All three sails were up, heading 60 degrees into the wind. In these ideal conditions, Amazing Grace glided across the water at 7.5 - 8.0 kts. Down below I had to keep watching the chart plotter speed indicator to make sure we were actually moving, it was so quiet and smooth. On deck, however, is where the exhilaration of the sailing came to the fore. The wind whooshed across my face. The water rushed by the hull making a sound like a cascading water fall. This continued hour and hour throughout the day. This is the kind of day sailing in the fabled South Pacific poems are written about. Or descriptive, pithy blog entries. The perfect sailing continues as I write. So I have to get back to listening to quiet down below, and the cascading water on deck.

Cheers John

Fri Nov 9 7:21 2018 NZDT
GPS: 26 02.358s 174 18.455e
Run: 161.3nm (292km)
Avg: 6.9knts
24hr: 166.5nm

0700 hrs 9 November 2018. Yesterday and most of last night we were finally sailing in the right direction. Up to the time, because of the SE winds, we were on a rhumbline for Sydney, Australia. Then early this morning, the wind went from E to SE again, and we are sailing off the rhumbline once more. But the wind has dropped from 20 kts to 12-13 kts, and the seas are down, too. So it is the most comfortable sailing we've had. So far averaging 6 kts for the trip. Still ETA on Tuesday. While it's a bit chillier, I'm still in shorts, but now have to wear a T-shirt. Not yet the full NZ weather requiring long pants and jacket. Began eating yesterday, so feeling more alive. Filet mignon, baked potatoe, Waldorf salad, and creme burlee on the menu today. Not.

Cheers John

Thu Nov 8 8:06 2018 NZDT
GPS: 23 42.636s 174 28.233e
Run: 147.3nm (266.6km)
Avg: 6.1knts
24hr: 147.3nm

0800 hrs 8 November 2018. Last 24 hrs wind has progressively dropped from low 20's to currently 13-15 kts. In last couple of hours the wind has backed a few degrees from SE to ESE, but still unable to lay a rhumbline to Whangarei. We may change our destination to Opua. Will give another day or so to make decision. Currently sailing in nice conditions of 13-15 kts, 1 mtr SE swell, making 6.5 kts in sunny 0% cloud cover. Per weather forecast, the wind should continue to back over next 3 days, but will drop in speed, so that we will probably be motoring for some of that. Still not eating right. Too tired to bother. Time to go on watch and catch up on my sleep.

Cheers John

Wed Nov 7 8:06 2018 NZDT
GPS: 21 50.857s 175 35.610e
Run: 166.4nm (301.2km)
Avg: 6.9knts
24hr: 166.7nm

0800 hrs 7 November 2018. Had a fast ride last night in 20-22 kt SE winds. But this morning felt we were a bit over powered, so we took in some sail. Speeds down from 7's to 5's. Still same wind but a smoother, albeit slower, ride. Seas down a bit to SE 2 mtr. Still warm enough to be in shorts. With all the SE winds, we have not been able to make our route. We are now 59 nm west of the rhumbline. Per weather forecast, SE winds all day today, and then finally tomorrow they go E. Will start to make up ground then. My ETA calculation of Tuesday is in doubt. Could be the next day. Will wait and see as time goes on. Otherwise all good on board, except not eating. With my round shape, that's not a bad thing. Cheers John & Leilani

Tue Nov 6 8:09 2018 NZDT
GPS: 19 35.713s 176 30.194e
Run: 138.5nm (250.7km)
Avg: 3.5knts
24hr: 83.4nm

0800 hrs 6 November 2018. Been at sea for 21 hrs. Departed at 1100hrs. Had a blustery start with SE 25-29kt winds, 3+ mtr seas. Only good thing was it was sunny. It was uncomfortable and wet. After dark winds came down to 20kts and sea moderated. Still SE, so our direction has not been good as we want to go due S. Last few hours winds have backed at bit to ESE, so we're now running almost parallel to our rhumbline which is 25nm east of us. I will be looking at a weather fax soon, and will then know when the wind will go E which will help us get east of the rhumbline. Speed has averaged 6 kts which is good for us. There are 3 other yachts just behind us which left at same time - Mazu 2, Soteria, and Anahata. Two 90' luxury yactht, one a cat, zoomed by us last night traveling at 9kts. Many yachts which checked out with us yesterday never left. Don't know what happened to them. That's all. Time to climb back into my watch bunk and stare at the nav station instruments to make sure all is well.

Cheers John

Sun Nov 4 16:18 2018 NZDT
GPS: 17 46.368S 177 23.015E

sadly tomorrow we depart Fiji for New Zealand. Our plans to spend cyclone season in the Marshall Islands is put on hold. We have a couple of boat issues that need attention that can only be done in NZ. The weather window looks about as good as it gets. There are some eight boats that will depart tomorrow. If you want to contact us from tomorrow until we arrive (in about 8 days) please do so on following email:


John & Leilani

Sun Oct 21 9:09 2018 NZDT
GPS: 17 46.368S 177 23.015E
Run: 6.4nm (11.6km)

Yesterday we moved from Vuda Point Marina to Denarau Marina.


John & Leilani

Mon Oct 8 17:28 2018 NZDT
GPS: 17 40.841S 177 23.199E
Run: 29.7nm (53.8km)

1615 hrs 8 October 2018. Arrived Vuda Point Marina this afternoon at 1300. The entire 6-hrs motor trip was in hosing down rain. Still overcast, and more rain expected tomorrow. Welcome to the dry side of Fiji. Now about Vuda Point Marina. It's a big circle. Boats are crammed up against each other - similar to Mediterranean style. A marina tender comes out to tie two stern lines from our boat to permanently anchored mooring balls. Then you drive toward a tiny wooden finger sticking out from a concrete wall. Two fellows are there to take port and starboard bow lines to tie to the wall. In our case our bow sprit came up next to the tiny finger. Whenever you want to get on or off, you have to pull a separate line I call the get on/off line from the bow to the finger to bring the bow close enough to climb on and off. At low tide our sprit lines up with the finger. However at high tide you have to be a trapeze artist to get on and off. Leilani simply couldn't do it. She had to get one of the workers to bring not one, not two, not three, but four stepping blocks to stack up so she could climb up on and hoist herself onto the boat. We'll be here for one week to get some repairs done, including our watermaker. Then we're outta here. I have to start my upper body exercise routine now to be able to get off the boat - high tide is coming up.


John & Leilani

Sun Oct 7 14:08 2018 NZDT
GPS: 17 25.195S 177 44.747E
Run: 26.1nm (47.2km)

1399 Hrs 7 October 2018. Just arrived at Vatia Wharf - actually the bay next to the wharf. Been motoring all morning. While it is easy going through the Viti Levu northern inner reef passage, the countryside is very dry, and not tropical at all. Water is greenish. Anchoring sites are a soft, gooey mud that required lots of chain rinsing while raising the anchor. In fact the water itself leaves a muddy silt to anything submerged. In all honesty, the north side of Viti Levu is the least attractive part of Fiji. Will be at Vuda Point marina tomorrow. Then will have to pull the water maker pump for repair. Hope the spend one a few days there. Then get out into some clean water and good anchorages.


John & Leilani

Sat Oct 6 16:12 2018 NZDT
GPS: 17 20.791s 178 08.074e
Run: 50.4nm (91.2km)

1500 hrs 6 October 2018. After a delightful trip of half motoring and half sailing across the channel between the two main Fiji Islands, we are anchored at Rakiraki Bay on the north side of Viti Levu. The bay is large, but not particularly noteworthy otherwise. In the background is a mountain chain that looks exactly like the Koolau range on Oahu. We're both a bit tired since we've been going since 0600 for nine hours. So time for a nap. Tomorrow we will work our way across the top of Viti Levu inside the barrier reef to the west, home of the sunburned tourists.

Cheers John & Leilani

Fri Oct 5 15:51 2018 NZDT
GPS: 16 58.227s 178 47.294e
Run: 38.4nm (69.5km)

1430hrs 5 October 2018. Departed Savusavu this morning at 0730. Weather charts showed winds SE 4-6 kts. However the winds were WSW 4-6 kts, right in our face. But no matter. With such light winds, and glassy seas, we motored, which we had planned to do even if they were SE. A mile out of Nasonisoni Pass we caught a beautiful 1.4 mtr wahoo. You can see pictures on Leilani's Facebook. No sooner than we had the fish on board the winds instaneously shot up to 25 kts right in our face. Query: did catching the fish anger King Neptune? Glassy seas became white capped, short period, choppy 1.5 mtr rollers. We punched into the mess with the bow plunging downward, and then rising skyward with walls of water rushing down the decks. Our wahoo just laid on the starboard side getting a good cleaning. The massive weather change was not forecasted on any of 3 different weather sources we use. We made it to Nadi Bay on the western side of Venua Levu, in the lee of the weather. The bay is dead calm with smooth water. Very comfortable after a bumpy & wet ride the last half of today's trip. Tomorrow has SE 9-11 kts forecast. Hope it stays that way because we cross the channel between the two main Fiji islands. That is not a place we want to encounted 25 kts winds from any direction. Have to help Leilani dress all the fish. Hope it fits in the freezer.

Cheers John & Leilani

Thu Oct 4 18:03 2018 NZDT
GPS: 16 46.699s 179 20.016e

1700hrs 4 October 2018. Tomorrow we leave Savusavu headed for Vuda Point on the western side of Viti Levu. We'll take 3-days to work our way over the north side of Viti Levu. There we'll have our watermaker repaired. After that we'll do some final cruising before looking for a weather window to return to New Zealand. We have decided to give the Marshall Islands a miss this year. A faulty depth sounder is the primary reason. Can't get it repaired in Fiji. No problem as we'll do some NZ cruising we haven't done before. I hope to stretch our stay in Fiji into November before beginning the NZ return leg. I'll post from the several stops we make going to Vuda Point so you can follow our progress. Cheers John & Leilani

Wed Sep 26 15:51 2018 NZST
GPS: 16 46.699s 179 20.016e
Run: 166.9nm (302.1km)
Avg: 3.2knts
24hr: 76.2nm

1350 hrs 26 September 2018. Bula from Savusavu. Arrived this morning at 0930 after a 26hrs trip. Left Matuku at 0730 yesterday (25 September). Sailing throughout the day and the night until about 0230 was what people dream of when thinking of sailing in the South Pacific. Had 12-14 kts of wind on the beam the whole way. Amazing Grace was galloping through the water at max hull speed. After dark, a bright full moon appeared making the water sparkle like diamonds. Weather forecasts said we would have such wind conditions until reaching Savusavu. Well, the weather gods just weren't going to make the forecasters look like they knew what they were talking about. At 0230 the winds decided to leave the scene, sea turned glassy, and we were left to motor the rest of the way. Better than if the winds piped up to a gale.

Savusavu is about 3 degrees higher in latitude than Falaga; 16 versus 19 degrees. The temperature and humidity are makedly higher here. I don't think I sweated during the 3.5 months in Falaga,even when there was little wind. I haven't stopped sweating since arriving today. It's been nice seeing the people at the Copra Shed Marina. All remembered us. Went out to Lias Restaurant for lunch. Will be going out for dinner tonight. Treating ourselves to non-Fijian food off the boat for first time since leaving Savusavu back in early June. Also, looking forward to a good night sleep. But will have to leave the fans on. It's hot, real hot, but mostly hot.

Cheers John & Leilani

Mon Sep 24 11:18 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 09.585s 179 45.085e
Run: 109.9nm (198.9km)
Avg: 3.9knts
24hr: 93.5nm

1100 hrs 24 September 2018. After a wonderful 18 hrs sail from Falaga, we arrived in Matuku at 1030. No sooner was our anchor down, when Chico, the village chief, came out in his long boat to greet us. Too bad we can only stay overnight here. While the weather is overcast, the island is beautiful. The anchorage is safe in all wind directions, with good holding in mud, but a bit deep. In Falaga we usually anchored in not more that 3-4 mtrs. Here it's about 15 mtr. I'm estimating because our depth sounder, which has been broken since NZ, only reads down to 6-7 mtrs. Okay for Falaga, but no where else in Fiji. That's one of the new parts we are picking up in Savusavu - a new transducer. Will leave for Savusavu around 0800 tomorrow morning, and will be in Savusavu about 25 hrs later. It's 150nm. The weather looks good for the trip.

Now to catch up on the sleep we missed last night.

Cheers John & Leilani

Sun Sep 23 7:06 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w

0630 hrs 23 September 2018. With great reluctance, and a heavy heart, we leave Falaga today. After 15 weeks and 1-day, we must return to "civilisation". Our watermaker stopped working on 8 September, and we just can't go any longer without it. So off we go to Savusavu to pick up parts, and then on to Denarau to have the repair made. We leave today at 1700 due to tide to get out of the channel and so we arrive in daylight. Will do an overnight trip to Matuku Island 105 miles away (Google Earth it). Due to weather issues, we can stay at Matuku only one night and then leave for Savusavu on Tuesday. Again, an overnight trip of 125 miles, arriving in Savusavu Wednesday mid-day. Had it not been for the watermaker problem, we would not be leaving. After Falaga, with its easy-going life, clean air, clear waters, no vehicles, no internet, returning to Savusavu, with all the people, traffic, noise, exhaust polution, and trump news, will be a culture shock, and not in a positive way. That's why I put civilisation in quotation marks. We have come to see Falaga as the real civilisation.

Have to now get the boat ready to set sail after 3 months laying at anchor in the most beautiful lagoon in Fiji. Also, have to review my how-to-sail books to refresh my memory on how to do it.

Our next post will be from the "other side".

Cheers John & Leilani

Sun Sep 9 7:06 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w

0640 hrs 9 September 2018. First, I thank all of you who sent Leilani B-day wishes. She really appreciated them.

Two days ago the main village threw an island-wide (encompassing all three villages) food and dancing extravaganza. A 79' luxury yacht arrived last week and brought the village a new generator for the school, and donated $5000 to the school. In appreciation the villages put on a great feast, including roasted whole pig, lobster, fish, clams, root and green veggies. A formal sevusevu ceremony was held for the yacht owner and his crew. All topped off with traditional female dancing, and even male warrior dancing. The fly in the ointment was it poured down rain - the first time in our 3+ months in Falaga. No one seemed to mind. That's just the island way. Rain or shine, everyone has fun. It was one of the top festivities I've attended either last year or this in Falaga. However, I did note we did not get the same royal treatment for delivering 1000 bras and 700 sunglasses. Yesterday, as you know, was Leilani's B-day. It was dampened by our watermaker going on the fritz. There are various systems that can go down, and we can soldier on without. But the watermaker is not one of them. We carry 570 ltrs (150 gal) in our tanks, which are full. Our Dutch friend who is traveling with his 92-year old mother has offered to give us 20 lts per day to keep us going. At that rate, based on our consumption, we could conceivably last about 30-days. I doubt we'll wait that long before returning to Savusavu. In the meantime, I'll be communicating with my watermaker mechanic in NZ to determine just what is wrong with the watermaker, and whether it can be fixed in Fiji. I think I know the problem, and there is a place in Fiji which advertises it deals in my matermaker brand, so there is hope. I'll keep you posted. However, I'm already not looking forward to leaving.

Sototale John & Leilani

Fri Sep 7 6:51 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w
Run: 1.1nm (2km)

0640 hrs 7 September 2018. Tomorrow (8 September) is Leilani's birthday. In lieu of inviting all of you who subscribe to this post to a b-day party, I ask that you please send Leilani birthday greetings. You may use the following email address: Interestingly, Leilani was in Falaga for her last birthday. Who knows. she may be here for her next.

Many thanks for helping me celebrate Leilani's birthday.

Sototale John

Thu Sep 6 7:09 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 32.945w
Run: 1.1nm (2km)

0620 hrs 6 September 2018. Today is a gloomy, overcast, rainy-drizzly, day. Remencent of Auckland, but a lot warmer. It's a change from day after day of gloriously sunny, warm, balmy, tradewind, days. In fact, I took advantage of those sunny days on Monday and Tuesday to lay two coats of varnish on the deck caprail. While it was a bit of work, I was able to improve on my suntan at the same tiime.

We were told a Fiji navy ship is due to arrive next week for several reasons: (1) To pick up the cocaine brick I told you about in my last post; (2) to check yachts that they have requisite cruising permits; and most importantly (3) to deliver yacht food orders. That's right. The Fiji navy is being used as a food delivery service to yachts in remote islands. The village headman told us if we placed orders, he would arrange for the ship to deliver. So we ordered much needed essentials like tomatoes, cabbage, pineapples, flour, vodka mix, peanuts, and popcorn. You know, foodstuffs for a well-balanced diet. And what safer delivery service; no one's going to hijack a navy ship.

Several days ago a 79' luxury yacht arrived. Yesterday the owners arrived via seaplane. I think they were just showing off because they could afford to.

The yacht population is down to a long time low of only 9 boats. It's quite nice to again have an anchorage to ourselves.

Leilani is now going to work on recipes for our anticipated food delivery. The choices are limitless. I'm going to work on preserving my suntan through this overcast day.

Sototale John & Leilani

Sat Sep 1 7:51 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w

0700 hrs 1 September 2018. On the day of our third month in Falaga, greetings from the cocaine capital of the South Pacific. That's right. Today we have been in Falaga 3-months. Food, water, and cooking gas are holding out. Boat is in great shape. Villagers friendly as ever. In fact, our longevity here is now known on the neighbouring island of Ogea. Everything is going well. I know. You're thinking, enough of that insignificate drivel. What's this about cocaine. You may remember my telling you a couple of months ago about the discovery of more than 30 kilos of cocaine semi-buried in the sand on one of the motus in the lagoon. Two days ago a yachty couple, friends of ours, were beachcombing just down from the main village. Instead of beautiful shells laying on the beach for easy picking, they find a water-proof packaged one-kilo brick of cocaine laying in some washed up seaweed. Shells, schmells. Who needs them when cocaine is easier to find. It's the new buried treasure of the 21st century. Arrrgh, ye ole mateys. Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum. At this rate, the villagers may soon abandon kava for another drug of choice. At the frequency and amount cocaine is washing up on the beach, it will be a heck of a lot cheaper than kava, which has gotten outrageously expensive ever since cyclone Winston in 2015. Alas, I think the only thing that will come of this latest find is another helicopter visit from Suva. But that is a village-wide fun event, so all is still good.

Signing off now. It's time to go beachcombing.

Sototale John & Leilani

Sat Aug 25 8:48 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w

0730 hrs 25 August 2018. Today is our 11-week-aversary in Falaga. No other boat comes close to our tenure. Speaking of other boats. There are some 20 here. With this crowd, Falaga has lost a bit of its sparkle as a quiet, private destination. Many of the boats are remnants of the Island Cruising Association (ICA) rally that originally went to Tonga where the official rally ended. Usually rally groups move on quickly so as to stop in as many places as possible. Shortly after we arrived a number of World Arc rally boats came, but left after less than a week. As this season progresses, I believe less boats will be arriving because most of the fleet will already have moved westward. Two days ago our friend who travels with his 92-years mother arrived. Met them last year here, so it was very nice seeing him again. Haven't seen the mother. She's more disabled than last year, and stays mostly inside the boat resting. I'm a lot younger than she is, and that's what I do mostly.

I sustained a serious and debilitating sports injury. As a result of playing the board-card game, Sequence, for about 6-hours over two days earlier this week, I suffered OOS in my left thumb & forefinger due to holding playing cards. Laugh if you must. It's a real injury and I've been in great pain, not to mention having difficulty buttoning my shirt and zipping up my shorts. Try doing that using only your middle, ring, and little fingers on one hand. And to make matters worse, my partner and I lost the tourneys both nights. I really hate contact sports.

The cargo boat from Suva came two days ago. Fruits & veggies we ordered arrived, so it was almost like Christmas. I say almost, because one item we anxiously awaited wasn't exactly what we ordered. We ordered five packets of stove-top popcorn. We received microwave popcorn instead. Buttered flavoured. Nonetheless, we cut open a packet, and scraped out the kernals that were drowned iin a yellow-orange, gooey mess, that was no doubt the butter flavouring, and cooked it in a pot with some oil. It actually turned out okay; if you don't mind your fingers afterwards dripping more than had we eaten a juicy T-bone steak with our hands. Cooking tip - if cooking microwave buttered popcorn on the stovetop, do not add oil. Living on a sparsely inhabited South Pacific Island visited by a supply boat once a month, you have to make do with what you get. Particularly when relying on a Fijian living in Suva to buy popcorn for you, which, if you don't already know, is not a staple Fijian foodstuff.

After almost a week of calm, clear, windless days, today is overcast and the wind is up to 12-14 kts. The breeze feels good. Just waiting for the sun to appear. As we do that, I'll sign off.

Sototale John & leilani

Sun Aug 12 7:51 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w

0730 12 August 2018. As expected, the pig-feast was delicious and fun. The table of food accompanying the roasted pig looked like a 5-star hotel restaurant all-you-can-eat smorgusborg. I'm always amazed by the array of delicacies villagers can come up with using what we would call "basic" foods. But I also know that the banquet put on last night was special and did not represent what they usually ate. The whole evening was another example of the generous giving nature of the villagers. And you ask why we've stay so long.

Wind is predicted to be light and westerley today until tomorrow. It's a perfect weather window to come from virtually anywhere in Fiji to Falaga. Truely a rare occurrance.

Sototali John & Leilani

Sat Aug 11 7:18 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w

0630 hrs 11 August 2018. Today is our 9 week-aversary. We've been in Falaga longer than any other yacht this season - by several weeks. We're applying for citizenship and passports. Still enjoying it and so long as our food holds out we'll stay. Of course, we've forgotten what fresh veggies look like - are they still green things? However we can get potatoes and onions from the one-room village supermarket. Are they considered veggies even though they're not green? Yesterday two super yachts arrived: Mystere and Dardanella. At 40 and 43 metres, they're about as big as can negotiate the narrow entry pass into the lagoon. Guess they're buddy-boating. Just to show off, they flew in customs officials by helicopter from Suva to check themselves into the country. Today our village host is hosting a farwell pig-fest. They are leaving next week for a month in Suva for their annual Jehova Witness country-wide convention. Alifretti (that's his name - I guess there was an Italian somewhere in his past) is doing it now in case we leave Falaga before he and his wife, Bali, return. At the rate we're going, that may be questionable. We, along with another yacht, and a bunch of close village friends and relatives, are invited. There'll be lots of local food to go with the roasted pig, kava, and music. Should be a fun night.

As farewell gifts, Alifretti gave us three beautiful kava bowels, and 6 small wooden dophines decorate our boat with, all of which he carved. Bali gave us two hand-woven mates. Their generousity is overwhelming. We're giving them money to help defray their Suva trip.

Sototali John & Leilani

Sun Jul 22 7:45 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w

0700 hrs 22 July 2018. News flash. Invasion mystery revealed. In last post I told of the NZ Navy invasion of Fulaga. After discussing the matter with a villager in the know, we have discovered the reason a heavily armed warship would brave an amphibious landing against a completely undefended S. Pacific island: to counsel residents to forego catching and eating turtles. Causalties were heavy in the landing. The success of the invasion is still very much in doubt. In doubt the villagers will heed the warnings not to eat turtles. The black clad, ninja looking invaders, were actually representatives of the Fiji and NZ fisheries departments. Their message was catching and eating turtles were subject to a multi-year moratoium. Am told the villagers smiled, nodded their understanding of the moratorium, and went back to drinking kava. As a full-fledged NZ taxpayer, I am proud how NZ is spending my tax dollar. Telling subsistence farming & fishing villagers on a remote S. Pacific island not to eat turtle is like telling Eskimos not to eat whale. Sure, we city inhabitants cringe at the thought of eating such things, but the villagers cringe at the thought Americans could be so stupid as to elect a dangerously incompetent dim-wit to lead their country. I guess the score is tied.

We've been here for 6-weeks. Pretty soon we can apply for a Fulaga passport.

Sototale John & Leilani

Fri Jul 20 8:18 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w

0730 hrs 20 July 2018. Two days ago a couple of Fiji policemen arrived from one of the other Lau group islands. It appears 3 one-kilo bricks didn't make the trip when the helicopter came to retrieve the cache a week or so ago. One of the villagers says he "discovered" the oversight after the helo left. As you can imagine, eyebrows were raised to the hairline over that excuse. Supposedly, Fulaga is once again drug free. If that wasn't enought, yesterday we were invaded. A NZ warship arrived outside the lagoon (too big to enter). The yachts were abuzz with rumours, ideas, opinions, but mostly cluelessness as to reason for the visit. The ship launched a large, black, stealthy RIB packed with ninja looking seaman dressed in black, wearing helmuts - presumably to protect them from falling coconuts. Think, Seal Team 6. While not in obvious view, I'm sure they were armed to the hilt for their iinvasion of Fulaga. The RIB sped past the anchorage where we were, and then went into the village anchorage. Fortunately they didn't stay long enough to take prisoners. Thinking about it, it was pretty keystone cop-like. Here comes a boat load of warriors dressed to kill, cruising past six yachts with us sitting on deck in shorts, tank-tops or shirtless, suntanned, and just finishing breakfast in a gorgeous S. Pacific island lagoon of sun-soaked, clear azure water. When we waved, instead of opening up with their machine gun, they waved back. Pretty surreal. Some thought they were there at the invitation of the Fiji authorities because of the huge cocaine cache found about a week ago that I wrote about. No one was boarded. No one was questioned. The RIB never landed on the beach. My own, clueless belief is they were enjoying the beautiful setting just like us. We might get more info when we go into the village over the next few days. If I discover more, I'll report.

More examples of "never a dull moment" in paradise.

For a time over the past two days, the yacht population surged to 15. It's getting to make Hong Kong look deserted. Two yachts left yesterday, so that was a minor relief to the over population. Let's face it, a 5-mile wide lagoon can hold only so many.

Sototale John & Leilani

Wed Jul 18 8:27 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w

0815 hrs 18 July2018. While the call of roasted pig certainly created a big pull, in the end it wasn't enough to draw us to the village yesterday for the chief's post burial feast. I decided instead to finish polishing all the bronze and brass, and even taped and sanded the cabin-top eyebrow teak strip for varnishing. Leilani baked banana bread. And then our friends Rick & Sarah off Halo came over for a tournament of Sequence (our new game of choice). Today we go to the village so Leilani can collect a gift from one of the villagers as a thank-you for bringing bras.

By my latest count, there are now 12 yachts here. Phew, this place is drowning in yachties.

Sototale John & Leilani

Sun Jul 15 7:42 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w

0700 hrs 15 July 2018. Yesterday my sugar level went through the top of my head. We attended a birthday party of a close village friend. Her husband is the school principal. Including us, there were 3 yachty couples. She prepared enough different cakes, scones, and breads to feed the whole village, or so it seemed. The eight-place dinning table was completely covered with fresh baked goodies. No one-cake birthday for this birthday lady. I counted 7. Lucky we didn't have candles for each of them, or we would have burned down the hut and started a forest fire outside. There were enough sweets to kill off an entire diabetes hospital wing. To top that off, we brought a cake. That was needed as much as another Trump tweet. And what sugar fueled extravaganza is complete without kava. Afterwards, four villagers joined us yachties and our hosts to embibe. Leilani and I don't drink kava.. However, Leilani handed out Fiji tobacco to the villagers, which went nicely with the kava cocktails. It was a most enjoyable afternoon.

Tuesday is scheduled a Falaga-wide feast as part of the post chief funeral. Apparently the main course will be several pigs. If it's anything like the feast we attended last year for the church minister's daughter's first year old party, then I'm looking forward to it. The pigs were cooked and roasted several different ways, and each one was delicious. Can't wait.

Yesterday 2 more yachts arrived. This place is getting "Grand Central Station" crowded with 8 boats.

Today is Sunday. Lots of chores. leilani is doing laundry. I'm changing the watermaker filter and will begin the multi-day polishing of the 13 bronze ports, two brass clocks and one barometer, 7 brass reading lamps, and 7 stainless overhead lights. Yes, cruising is work, work, work.

Sototale John & Leilani

Fri Jul 13 8:48 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w
Run: 1.1nm (2km)

0730 hrs 13 July 2018. Yesterday we attended the chief's funeral. It was similar in many respects to a funeral one would attend back home, except I wore a sulu. Since my own funeral sulu was at the cleaners, and my host thought my work-out shorts, though black, were a bit too casual, he loaned me one of his sulus. I looked quite smart, in an island sort of way. All the men wore dark colouired sulus and shirts. Women wore black chumsas, a two piece outfit that covers from neck to ankle, but are short sleeve. Around their waist was worn a wide woven belt that went from under their breasts to below their waists made from pandamous leaves. Men gathered separately from the women around the ubiquitous kava bowl drinking kava mostly provided by us yachties. Leilani joined a group of women picking small leaves from vines. At first I thought the leaves were going to be thrown in the path of the funeral procession in place of rose petals, No, they were part of the post funeral menu. I watched the men prepare a take-home gift for each funeral attendee. These gifts were made from a mixture from 50kg of flour, hand ground cocount meat, sugar, salt, and water in a 2mtr hollowed out tree trunk that looked like a hull from a native outrigger canoe. It had the consistency of glue, and looked like plaster used to mend broken limbs. Taking a handfull of the mixture the size of a grapefruit, it was wrapped in palm leaves and put into a lovo (undground oven), and smoldered for 2-hours. The result was a hardened, mishapened lump of bread-like substance that tasted like plaster used to mend broken limbs, but more coconutty. I was given permission to enter the chief's hut to take photos of the solemn ring of mourners sitting on the floor facing the casket draped in a lovely white embroidered linen cover. While Leilani attended the church service I visited the grave site with 3 women who were laying out a beautiful, large pandamous woven mat upon which the casket was to be placed before putting it into the ground. Then I heard the furneral procession. It was announced by two counch-shell blowers blowing a melancholy tune of one note. I hurried back from the cemetary to see the march of the casket lead by village and church elders, followed by the casket carried on the shoulders of 6 men flanked by two fierce Fijian warrior honour guards dressed in traditional grass skirts, painted faces, and carryiing deadly war clubs. Next came the village men, followed, as usual, by the women, and bringing up the rear were school children. The funeral path from the church to the cemetary, several hunderd metres long, was lined by other school children on both sides standing at military straight attention, with some even saluting as the casket passed by. All in all, it was an event not often seen by yachties. A rare and enjoyable (if I may say that) event. Afterwards we were invited to a village hut to partake in a modest post funeral lunch of dahl soup, which was delicious, and casava, which was like a boiled potatoe, but with less taste. When we left we were given two of the lovo cooked mishapened breads to take with us. And so ended the funeral of a Fijian village chief.

We have been invited by the school principal's wife to attend her birthday party luncheon tomorrow. Leilani has been obsessing about what to give her for a gift. It's hard when you can't just pop down to the closest shopping mall. She ended up deciding on a crochet headband she made and an artifical plumeria flower she can wear in her hair, and a hand-made birthday card.. Another yacht came in yesterday, making 6 of us here. With some good weather coming over the next week to make the sail to Falaga in, I'm afraid it will get crowded. But it does mean more kava for the village.

Sototale John & Leilani

Thu Jul 12 8:33 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 32.945w
Run: 1.1nm (2km)

0815 hrs 12 July 2018. Sad day in Falaga. Yesterday the 92 year old chief died. Today is the funeral. On a remote tropical isle without refrideration, bodies are quickly put into the ground. There are 5 yachts here and all have been invited, mainly to bring kava as the village is virtually out. With all three villages on the island attending, it will be a massive gatherinig - even bigger than when the helicopter landed to pick up 42 bricks of cocaine. While the death was not unexpected (the chief, aside from being 92 and way past the average Fijian male life span) had been bedridden for some time. The villages did not have time to collect enough fish to have a big send-off feast. That has been postponed for a short time while sufficient food is collected. We are wearing our only black clothes - Leilani a black shirt with a black patterned skirt; me black work-out shorts and a dark grey shirt. We've been given permission to take photos, but asked not to post on Facebook. So you'll have to personally visit us to see them. We're off to the village. Sototale John & Leilani

Sun Jul 8 8:21 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w

0730hrs 9 July 2018. As of today, we've been in Falaga for one month, the longest of any boat this season, so far. The yachtie fleet is down to 4 boats, including us, from a high of 14. Due to strong, persistent SE-SSE 17-24kt winds no boats have arrived in the past 2-weeks. That's fine with us. The less the merrier. Our whole object visiting remote locations is the remoteness. For the past 2 days I have been crafting a jury-rig repair on our host's water tank. It's a large plastic tank given by the government as part of a program to change over villagers' tanks from old concrete ones. Our hosts got their tank about a year ago along with the rest of the villagers. There is only one mechanical part to the tank - the faucet valve. Guess what broke? All that is required is to tighten a plastic nut on the inside of the tank and a plastic nut at the same time on the outside of the tank to secure the plastic through-pipe. Well, they overtightened the inside nut and broke it. We truly love the villagers. They're wonderfully friendly and generous people. But giving them something mechanical to take care of and last is as likely as Trump being a great president, or even a mediocre one.. I think my fix will be good. But we now have to wait for sufficient rain to fill the tank to the level of the valve to see if it doesn't leak. This being the dry season, and Falaga not known for copious rain during any part of the year, it may be a long wait.

Yesterday Leilani got to do what she likes best. Shopping. That's right, she went to the shopping mall at two of the three villages on Falaga. She was happy as a pig in mud. Both stores are spacious huts the size of a walk-in closet stocked with all the latest onions, potatoes, flour, vegie oil, rice, sandpaper, matches, and socks. She didn't know where to start. So she bought essentials - oil, rice, flour - to give as presents to our hosts. We kept the onions and potatoes. She thought about getting them socks, but didn't know their size.

After all the repair work and shopping, we're glad it's Sunday, a day of rest. We really need it. Until next time.

Sototale John & Leilani

Thu Jul 5 10:33 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w

1000 hrs 5 July 2018. Lest you think visiting a remote S. Pacific island is all about lounging in a lagoon-side hammock gazing at the sea while sipping from coconuts, attending village picnics, and being invited to mekes, you are wrong. Fulaga is also an island of intrigue, mystery, and drugs. Drugs you say. Well, that's been the intrigue and mystery. About a week ago 42 kilos of neatly packaged white powdery substance was found on one of the motus (islets) in the lagoon by fishermen. It had been buried in the sand but became partially uncovered at low tide when the cache was found. Intrigue - what was the white powdery substance? Mystery - who left it and who did it belong to. The village headman tried to keep the find quite, but word got out and it became the talk of the village and the 8 yachts. Yesterday a helicopter from Suva landed in the village with customs officials on board. As you can imagine, the helicopter landing was a major event. We happened to be in the village at the time repairing our host's water tank. Hearing it overhead coming in for a landing in the village square was a siren song that called every villager, young and old, man and woman. The customs officials were taken to the headman's hut, along with some testing equipment. Soon the hut was surrounded by villagers, all anxious to see what went on. The powder was tested, and we learned from those in the know that it was cocaine. After about an hour of the ground, two village men exited the hut carrying two bundles of 1-kilo bricks to the helicopter, followed by the customs officials. The helicopter took off, villagers waved, and everyone sauntered back to their huts to look at the pictures they all took on their smart phones. We've been told this is not the first time drugs have been found on a Lau Group island. Because of their remoteness, and the fact some are unihabited, they are attractive transfer points for international drug smugglers moving their product across the Pacific. At least one of the yachties voiced a concern that if yachties are found to be involved it could result in the Lau Group being closed to yachts as it was until about 5-years ago. Today island life is back to normal. For me normal was doing an oil change on the boat. Work never ceases. And intrigue and mystery continues.

Sototali John & Leilani

Mon Jul 2 8:30 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w
Run: 1.1nm (2km)

0745 hrs 2 July 2018. Luncheon with our hosts was fun. Both Alifretti and Bali have great senses of humour. We really enjoy their company. And we learned more village politics. Being here has taught me that no matter how big or small the community there are always power struggles, shifting alliances, with the economy an overriding concern. The only difference between Falaga and the US, for example, is scale. Also, Falaga doesn't have a completely incompetent leader. The 91 year old chief is very ill. Interestingly the choice of chief is through a combination of hereditary and representative democracy. In this village, the nominal first choice for the next chief would be the current chief's eldest brother. However, he is head of the Fiji Development Bank in Suva and does not appear to want to give up his position. So it will fall to the next brother. But theoritically, he's not a shoe-in. There is a council of elders who have the final say. And the council's say can be dictated by the villagers' say-so. If the villagers express a resounding no, then another person would have to be chosen. However, it would be from the current chief's family, direct or extended. And the ladies will appreciate this. A female could be chief. In fact there are female chiefs in Fiji. However, there are no current female contenders on Falaga. Stay tuned for the next episode of House of Cards.

For the past 36 hours we have been pummled with strong trade winds SE 25+ knots. Last night had a few gusts over 30 knots. The latest forecast shows it continuing for another 24 hrs, and then dropping to SE 20+ knots. Not a big improvement. That's to last a day or two, then a further reduction to SE 17 nots for a few days after that. Rain is forecast for Friday. Light, balmy trade winds are not on the foreseeable horizon for the 7-days that my forecast goes out. There are worst places to be hold up - like New Zealand in the dead of winter. At least it's warm and sunny here.

Sototali John & Leilani

Sun Jul 1 8:00 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 32.945w
Run: 1.1nm (2km)

0715 hrs 1 July 2018. Yesterday the big winds started. Been blowing SE 25kts steady. Expected to last for another 2 days, and may increase to +25kts during that time. Some weather forecasts go to 30kts. Then will moderate to SE 15-20kts through at least next Friday. Anchor holding has been excellent, but it does not keep me from frequently going to check the anchor line, and triangulate our position against landmarks around us to make sure we're not moving - like closer to land where we could crash, sink, and die. Yes, cruising is exciting. There are two other boats in the anchorage. We're all bobbing in small wind created wavelets. The anchorage is surrounded almost 360 degrees with islands that keep large waves from developing. Dispite the strong winds, it's still pretty comfortable on board because the wavelets are too small to bounce the boat around. One thing about the strong winds is our wind generator is pumping out copious amounts of electricty to the batteries all night long. During the day it slows down when our 5 solar panels are working with it. No electricity shortage on AG.

At 1230 hrs I go into the village landing to pickup our hosts, Alifretti and his wife, Bali, for Sunday lunch on the boat. Menu includes mud crab dip on Leilani's homemade bread for starter. Thai chicken curry for main. Finishing with orange drizzle cake for dessert. Just your typical South Pacific island luncheon. Until next time.

Sototali (see you later) John & Leilani

Sat Jun 30 8:42 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w

0700 hrs 30 June 2018. Yesterday was meke day. Fijian dancing. Dancing is a bit of overstatement. When thinking of Pacific island dancing, most of us envision the wild, sexual Tahitian style, or the beautiful, graceful Hawaiian version. Hips jiggling and swaying suggestively, feet moving, hands and arms swarying serpentine-like, all to the throbbing beat of traditional gords being rthymically pounded. Fijian dancing is not this. Fijian dancers, women only, sit cross-legged and move only their hands in minute, stop-go gestures while turning their heads ever so slightly from left to right, and then right to left. This they do repeatedly to the accompanyment of a chorus singing what sounds to my foreign ear the same refain over and over again. All of this is in time to several people beating traditional Fijian drums that include an empty 20 litre plastic petrol container, cardboard box, and empty water bottle. Okay, we're not at some Waikiki hotel viewing a Polynesian extravaganza with a large back-up band, but plastic petrol containers? Come on. These people are master wood carvers. They could at least have used Fijian wooden drums. Four villages each supplied groups of 8 dancers with a chorus of half the villagers. During each village's routine, villagers from rival villages would try to distract the performers by dumping baby powder on their heads, rubbing their faces with the powder, or jumping around them. While the audience roared with laughter, the performers did not look amused whatsoever. I consider myself culturally sensitive. But sitting on the ground for 5-hours watching this, I both failed to see the humour in the performances, and feel my legs once the blood stopped flowing to them. But there was a bright time of the day - lunch. And this was traditional remote Fijian island style. The ladies set out a true feast enjoyed by the children, ladies, and us yachties from 7 boats. Notice I did not mention the men. Men do not eat. They drink kava. And drink kava they did. They were at it at 10am when we arrived, and were at it at 4pm when we left, and based on the amount of kava still left to drink, they were at it until the wee hours of the night. Eating anything dilutes the effects of kava. Or so the men think. Anyway, lunch consisted of grilled fish covered with a thick coconut cream; boiled fish heads in coconut milk; shredded casava cooked in coconut milk; a fish and something green vegetable-like substance they call cabbage, but I call something green vegetable-like substance, stewed in coconut milk; and casava dough formed into irregular shaped balls and wrapped in coconut fronds and cooked in a lovo (underground oven covered in hot stones and sand). To drink was fresh coconut milk straight from the nut. You might ask if all the coconut milk/cream had an effect on us. I call the effect, colon blow. I'll leave it to your imaginations what that is.

Today, and for next two days, strong 20-25kt winds are expected. So there won't be alot of off the boat activities. Just watching that we don't drag our anchors. However, tomorrow we are having our hosts to the boat for lunch. We're planning Thai chicken currey made in, you guessed it, coconut cream. Only difference is our cocount cream will come out of a can - not a nut.

Cheers John & Leilani

Wed Jun 27 8:42 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w
Run: 1.2nm (2.2km)

0745 hrs 27 June 2018. Our social life is never ending. Last night we attended a post-dinner cocktail party where the cocktail of choice and exclusivity was kava. Another yachie couple and us brought the kava, which was transformed from ugly long roots to finely ground ugly powder. It was at our host family's bure attended by a select few family and friends. Lest you think kava parties are free flowing boozy affairs, think again. There is much protocol and formaility. First, we yachties sat on the floor facing our hosts and his guests, and, most importantly, the kava bowl. Fijian music played from a boom box powered by an inverter that had been hooked up to a solar panel all day, A handful (Fijians have huge hands) of kava powder is dumped into a square of cheese cloth. Water is added to a large kava bowl. And then the cheese cloth is sunk into the bowl and massaged by the designated kava server until the water turns a just right hue of muddy looking water with a bouquet of wet hay. A half coconut shell is used as the communal gulping vessel. That's right. Kava is not sipped. It's gulped down. And you hope no one has any communicable disease spread by sharing the half coconut shell. The drinker chooses "half' tide" (half a cup) or "tsunami" (full cup). Few Fijian would be so delicate as to order anything than a tsunami. The person tending the kava bowl, before serving, must await the formal cry from the person chosen for this auspicious job. And that job fell to me - probably because I was not driinking the kava - which was just fine with the guests as it meant more for them. Everyone sits around with unreserved anticipation until I cry out, in a loud, bold voice the magic word - Takei! Then, like turning on a light bulb, the crowd comes alive waiting their turn for a tsunami. Once the cup has made the round of all guests, everyone falls back into quiet anticipation until the cryer boldly yells out the magic word agasin. The problem relying on me, a non-drinker, was I would forget to regularly belt out, Takei. After awhile I would note a quiet falling over the gathering, and see everyone looking at me as a starving child would look for a bite to eat. Then it dawned on me. Takei!!! Laughter would resume, talking reverberated through the bure, guests would sway with the music, and the cup would make its rounds. Then all would slide back into anticipation mood for me to remember the next magic cry. The party went on for about 3 hours until all the kava was gone. By that time my legs were permanently bent into pretzels from sitting cross-legged on the floor. Leilani lifted me up and it took several mintues before I could stand on my own. And several more minutes before I could take a step. Once I could walk we started our 20-minute hike back to the dingy landing through the quiet village, over a footpath lighted by a beautiful almost full moon shining through palm trees on a remote Fiji island. It doesn't get any nicer than that.

We now await for Friday when the four villages will have a massive party with each village puttiing on mekes (dancing), food, and, of course, kava drinking. Takei!!! Sototalay (see you later - spelled phonetically) John & Leilani

Sun Jun 24 7:57 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 09.912s 178 33.945w
Run: 1.2nm (2.2km)

0730 hrs 24 June 2018. It's been 14 days since landing in Falaga. And it's been everything we expected: spectacular scenery, gentle winds and no rain, perfect anchoring conditions, and most of all, warm, inviting, friendly villagers. In our opinion, Falaga is the best place in Fiji. When we arrived on 10 June there were 3 other boats. Since then, the number has swelled to 15. A number of them are drop-outs from the Around-the-World Arc rally. They drop out to take a year off of racing around the world. Racing, as in moving from place to place so fast they hardly savour any one place. If you stay in the rally it's a 15 month trip from St Vincent to St Vincent in the Caribbean. There are about 30 boats that move in a gaggle like ducks. It costs US$27,000 which covers check-in fees and parties along the way. For that kind of money, I hope the parties are memorable. Had a couple of dinners and game nights on Exit Strategy, the $1M catamaran that followed us into Falaga. Yes, it's worth every penny. The nicest cat I've ever seen. Yesterday the village sponsored the first cruiser picnic of the season. Four cruisers went to the village landing to pick-up the villagers, and ferried them around to what is known as the Sand Spit, about 2 miles away, where the picnics are always held. Those of us already at the Spit used our dingies to ferry them ashore. A fun day as always. Our sponsor, Alafretti, took us to see his turtle pond. It's a salt-water fed pond 50 metres in from the shore through some bush. There are 11 good size turtles, all of which he caught by hand from the wild swimming around the lagoon. He now advertises turtle viewing to yachties for F$5 per person. For that price you can come and look at the turtles as many times as you like while in Falaga. Another enterprising villager has started a laundry service. For F$15 per "large" bag, he will pickup the bag from the landing, wash, dry, fold, and return the bag to the landing. No washing machine is involved. Clothes are put into a large metal tub and then hand scrubbed, hand wrung-out, and dryed on a clothes line. At least the clothes are not beat against rocks. Haven't tried the service - yet. Speaking of washing, today is laundry day on Amazing Grace. So I'll sign off now.

Bula Vinaka John & Leilani

Wed Jun 13 18:30 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w

1745 hrs 13 May 2018. Question of the day: "Is it possible to get sick of mud crab?" Been here 3-days and we thought today would be the last day of our 2 gi-normous mud crabs given to us upon arrival. (See our last posting.) Wrong. This afternoon Alifretti, our village sponsor, and master mud crab hunter, brought us another. And this one surpassed gi-normous as definition of size. It was prehistoric huuuuge. Even Alifretti confided it was one of the biggest he's ever caught. In some ways it was almost ashame to cook it up - almost. It should last at least two days for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Giving Alifretti a spear gun, Hawaiian sling, and fishing pole has paid seafood dividends beyond our dreams. Who needs to hunt when the hunter delivers right to the boat. Other than the mud crab, it was a beautiful south pacific day in the loveliest lagoon in Fiji - blue sky puntuated by white fluffy clouds over emerald green water so clear it was like looking through a window at the soft sand bottom, accompanied by a gentle breeze just to take the heat off. Leilani and I did some walking over a spectacular sandbar that arises at low tide. Waded and swam in warm 26 degrees C pools. Then went over to say hello to Exit Strategy, a $1m catamaran that is the nicest I've seen. Plus we think the name is great. Other than us there are 4 other boats here. Can only see two of them, The others are in different bays. Got to go now. Leilani says our mud crab dinner is ready. Tonight is mud crab chow mein. Answer to the question: if it's possible to get sick of mud crab, we aren't there yet.

Cheers John & Leilani

Sun Jun 10 17:48 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 08.912s 178 33.945w
Run: 214.3nm (387.9km)
Avg: 4knts
24hr: 96.9nm

1700 hrs 10 June 2018. Arrived in Falaga at 1500 hrs. 34 hrs, and 196nm after leaving Savusavu Dock. It was both a benign trip weather-wise, but tiring. The easterlies never really filled in. Instead we had SE, but light. The first quarter of trip was hobby-horse bumpy with the S swell. Then the wind began to back to E, and early this monring to NE, and in our final couple of hours into Falaga it actually went W. Out of the 34 hrs, we motored 27.5 hrs. I'm beginning to wonder why we have a sailboat. Maybe we should buy a motor yacht. Last night after sailing for a few hours, I went to start the engine and no water came out of the exhaust. Why don't these things happen in the day with no wind and smooth seas. I immedicately thought, air lock in salt water side of engine. Checked the salt water intake. Good there. Then I thought the impellor may have gone bad because we smelled a burnt rubber smell. Opened up impellor casing, and it was good. Didn't surprise me because it was new in March. After fiddling around for about an hour trying to get the O-ring properly installed - one side kept coming out when other side was fitting into slot - I finally had success. Then I decided to simply start the engine and rev it up and hope by pure force of the engine the air lock would blow out. Success. I can only surmise that after heeling over for a few hours sailing caused the lock. Another reason to only motor and not sail. Our arrival weather could not have been better. Absolutely glassy sea, no wind, but it is cloudy. Still as beautiful as we remember from last season. Tomorrow morning we go do sevusevu - give the chief kava and $50 - and we'll be admitted to the whole island to do what we wish. Then it's setting up logistics to give away 700 sunglasses, 700 reading glasses, and most interesting, 1000 bras. No I'm not participating in the latter giveaway. Will let you know how that goes. Now for dinner and an uninterrupted night of sleep.

Sealife sighting Dolphins - 0 Flying Fish - 0 Cheers John & Leillani

Fri Jun 8 12:42 2018 NZST
GPS: 16 46.699s 179 20.019e

1230 hrs 8 June 2018. Been in Savusavu since arriving on 31 May waiting for a weather window to go to Falaga. This weekend is a good one. We plan to leave at 0530 tomorrow. Voyage is 195nm, and we calculate arriving at the Falaga pass by 1500 on Sunday - a 33 hrs trip. It's virtually a straight rhumbline at 142 degrees true (SSE), with the wind being very favourable. Winds predicted to start NE about 12-15kts, and throughout the trip slowly back to N, and NW by arrival, easing in strength the whole way. Will be good sailing in beginning, but probably will have some motoring last half of trip. Better than crashing & bashing. We're told there are currently 5 boats in Falaga. I anticipate several may leave with us as northerly quadrant winds are not usual, so boats take advantage to get south in such conditions. Next post will be from Falaga.

Cheers John & Leilani

Sun Jun 3 14:18 2018 NZST
GPS: 16 46.699s 179 20.019e

1230 hrs 3 June 2018. Those of you who have been waiting breathlessly for our voyage statistics will be releaved your wait is over and you'll soon be able to leave the front of your computer and go to bed and get some well deserved sleep. So, here are the stat NZ to Minerva Reef - 859nm. Time at Sea - 6 days 4.5 hrs. Average speed - 5.78kts Minerva Reef to Savusavu - 444nm. Time at Sea - 3 days 2.5 hrs. Average speed - 6kts Total Trip - 1303nm. Time at Sea - 9 days 7 hrs. Average speed - 5.84kts Total hours at sea - 223 hrs.

Total Engine Run time - 111.5 hrs (you can see we motored exactly half the trip.

Total Fuel consumed - 380 lts / 100 gal.

Average fuel consumption - 3.4 lts/ hr 0.9 gal/hr.

Sealife Sightings Dolphins - 0 (folks this is both amazing, and absolutely disheartening to think after beiing at sea for over 9 days not to see one dolphin.) Flying Fish - only a few - just as disheartening.

These two statistics are examples of how man is destroying animal life at an alarming rate. And this is NOT fake news.

This is the first day since arriving that the sun has been out. It's wonderful. With that I'll get to working on my suntan.

Vinaka Vakalevu John & Leilani

Thu May 31 18:24 2018 NZST
GPS: 16 46.699s 179 20.019e
Run: 0.1nm (0.2km)

1800 31 May 2018. Bula Vinaka. Welcome to Fiji. We arrived in Savusavu at 1400 today after a thrilling and fast day of sailing. All downwind in 18-20kt ESE breeze. Was surfing down 2.5mtr seas and at one point the thrill meter pinned out at 9.74kts. That's our record. Consistent 7's and 8's was the standard of the day. What an end to an otherwise hard working passage. We're both unwinding at the Copra Shed Marina in our same berth we've gotten for the past two years. Everyone working here came out to say hello. It was a wonderful reunion with wonderful people. Over the next day I'll put together some passage statistics, which I know all of you are breathlessly awaiting. I just want the suspence to linger longer. And I'm too tired to put it together right now. So, good night for now.

Sea life sighting Dolphins = 0 Flying fish = 1, actually found on our deck after we tied up to the dock. The first and only one that made it on board. Who knows, it may be the last know one of its species.

Cheers John & Leilani

Thu May 31 7:41 2018 NZST
GPS: 16 46.670s 179 20.110e
Run: 52.5nm (95km)
Avg: 120.7knts
24hr: 2896.6nm
Weather: ESE14-16, 1011, S swell 2m, 50%cc

looking forward to sleeping in tonight. Great wx to end the passage

Thu May 31 7:15 2018 NZST
GPS: 17 30.894s 179 31.718e
Run: 89.8nm (162.5km)
Avg: 6.6knts
24hr: 157.9nm
Weather: Currently we have 95% cloud cover. SE to ESE winds of 12-15kts. 2.0 mtr SE swell. 1011 on the Bar. 43nm from entrance to Savusavu Bay. SOG 5.8 kts. COG: 350T. Sealife Sightings Dolphins = 0 Flying fish = 0 on the deck Next posting will be from the Copra Shed in Savusavu, Fiji. YeeeHaaah Cheers John & Leilani

0545 31 May 2018. Mother nature decided to give us most memorable last night on this voyage. First, she provided perfect 13-16kts tradewinds out of the SE to ESE all night long. This combined with a following SE 2.0mtr swell made for our fastest sailing times, averaging 6.5 kts with lots of 7's and some 8's on the thrill-meter. For a heavy displacement, full-keeled 40' yacht,, she was galloping along in full stride. Lastly, a bright full moon tracked us the whole way. Around 0500 she lowered a veil of clouds giving a glow like through a curtin of gauze. We are in a timing delemma. There is some opportunity for us to arrive at the Q-dock around 1500. If we miss that and come in at 1630, we have to pay after-hours overtime. Based on best speed & distance calculations, we can make it in time..

Wed May 30 17:36 2018 NZST
GPS: 18 47.096s 179 48.999e
Run: 73.7nm (133.4km)
Avg: 6.6knts
24hr: 157.9nm
Weather: Laaaaand Hoooo. It was Matuku Island. Leilani bounded up to the cockpit, took a look, and went back below into her bunk to sleep. Pretty eventful. I had our course set to take Matuku on the port side, and slide up to Moala on our starboard side, and then come up towards Savusavu Bay. About half way to Moala the trade winds decided to thwart our plan by taking a 30 degree hike clockwise to the S. We had to come up into the wind thus heading directly at Moala. As I write, we have turned on the motor to go westward to miss the island. Pretty inconsiderate of the wind, and pretty inconsiderate of Fiji placing Moala right in our way. It has been a beautiful sunny day, clear skies, and we look forward to a gloriously bright full moon tonight.

1700 hrs 30 May 2018. Had a good day sailing in the fabled S. Pacific trade winds. We officially entered Fiji waters at 0830 when I alerted Leilani in the traditional sailors' style for eons of time. I called out in a hardy voice with the wind in my face and pointing N As the dolphin swims (if there were any more dolphins) we have 125nm to go. We're not going to make it to Savusavu in time for regular check-in into the country tomorrow. Refusing to pay (like we did last year) off-hours overtime of more than F$500 instead of less than half that amount for regular check-in, we're going to anchor off Cousteau Resort tomorrow night, and go in Friday morning - like we just arrived. The Resort is about 5nm away from Savusavu town where check-in occurrs.

Wed May 30 6:24 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 50.256s 179 59.642e
Run: 6.9nm (12.5km)
Avg: 6.9knts
24hr: 165.6nm

0545 hrs 30 May 2018. News flash. News flash. News flash. Just after sending last post the wind went enough SE and gained in strength to 13-14kts that we could turn off the motor after 25hrs and put up sails. We are sailing! Can't believe it. I can actually hear myself think.

Another milestone. We passed back over the 180th meridian where tomorrow is today, yesterday never happened, and the future is near.

Cheers John & Leilani

Wed May 30 5:24 2018 NZST
GPS: 19 56.203s 179 59.848w
Run: 85.5nm (154.8km)
Avg: 7.2knts
24hr: 171.7nm
Weather: Winds starting to back SE, but wind speed still low at 8-10 kts. Sky clearing and had great full moon last night. 1010 on the Bar. COG: 352T. SOG: 5.8 kts. ETA Savusavu Friday. Cheers John & Leilani

0515 hrs 30 May 2018. Continued to motor throughout the night. Gribs show SE, or at least ESE, winds setting in soon. Hoping to be able to put out sails soon.

Tue May 29 17:27 2018 NZST
GPS: 21 08.333s 179 40.976w
Run: 78.1nm (141.4km)
Avg: 6.9knts
24hr: 166.6nm

1700 hrs 29 May 2018. The sailing frustration continues. Southerly winds persist. This means it is directly behind us as our course is 348T. They are light at 7-10 kts. The 2.5 mtr southerly swells cause us to roll in an arc of up to 50 degrees. Even if we set the sails, there's not enough wind pressure against them to remain full in the constant rolling. We tried and the headsail would go completely limp with the roll to one side, and when the boat rolled to the other it would flap explosively jarring the whole boat. No way we can keep that up and also keep the rig up. We've been waiting for winds to set to the eastern direction. Based on latest weather forecast, it doesn't look like that will happen until sometime tomorrow morning. We've been motoring since 0430 this morning. The rain has subsided and blue sky is threatening to show itself. I guess that is a plus. There are many things Leilani and I do not agree on, but we do on one: ocean passages in a small sailboat suck. Anyone tells you they enjoy them is either lying or a masochist.

Sealife count: Dolphins = 0 Flying fish = 0 That's all for now. I'm going to crawl back iinto my sea bunk and try not to be thrown across the cabin.

Cheers John & Leilani

Tue May 29 6:12 2018 NZST
GPS: 22 13.187s 179 19.769w
Run: 69.6nm (126km)
Avg: 5.6knts
24hr: 133.6nm
Weather: Southerly W 10 kts. 100% cloud cover. Sporadic drizzle. 2 mtr Sourtherly seas. 1009 on the bar. COG: 345T. SOG: 5.8 kts Forgot to give a sealife count yesterday: Dolphins = 0 Flying Fishi = 0 Other than being tired, all is well here. Cheers John & Leilani

0545 29 Msy 2018. Had a wet, busy and tiring nigjht. Drizzled much of the night, just enough to keep everything wet. Busy gybbing back and forth across the rhumbline because the wind was directly behind us, and still is. Tiring because the boat rolled heavily making sleep difficult. Don't let anyone tell you having the wind directly behind you is good. Wind is southerly. Most of the night is was 15-18kts which helped keep the sails full and not flopping and snapping in the rolling motion. But around 0430 the wind dropped to 10kts and the headsail couldn't keep full unless we sailed either due west or due east. So it was rolled up and on came the motor. For past hour we have been going the rhumbline for the first time since leaving Minerva Reel.

Mon May 28 17:42 2018 NZST
GPS: 23 13.140s 179 11.361w
Run: 34.1nm (61.7km)
Avg: 3.2knts
24hr: 76.1nm

1700 hrs 28 May 2018. We departed Minerva Reef today at 1130 hrs. A day earlier than originally planned because the weather (at least the wind) was favourable. It was rainy, overcast, dreary, just like NZ in the winter. Winds have been difficult because they are directly behind us; Stherly 12-14 kts. We have to sail off the rhumbline to keep the sails full. But we are doing 6-6.5kts, so can't complain too much. Not much else to report. Cheers John & Leilani

Mon May 28 6:57 2018 NZST
GPS: 23 39.088s 178 55.908w
Weather: Since yesterday about 1000 we have a non-stop light drizzle. It continues now. Winds yesterday were ESE - SE 5-7kts most of the day, rising to 13kts for a time early evening. Last night to now it was ESE 5-7kts, with is slightly rising to 10kts now. 100% cloud cover. 1011 on the Bar. Cheers John & Leilani

0600 28 May 2018. Weather has been dismal. See below. No sun. Just enough drizzle keep us in our boats, but insufficient to add any meaningful amount of water through the rain catchment to our tanks. Thankfully, the watermaker is working just fine. Spent yesterday watching 3-movies, reading, and eating. Two boats came in raising the Minerval Reef Yacht Club fleet to 8. One, a converted fishing vessel to a crusing power boat had, for an anchor light, a solid red light under a flashing all around white light. Obviousily, the skipper has never taken a basic boating class as that is not a recognised anchor light under the International Rules for Prevention of Collisions at Sea. And the anchor drop was typically amateur. It slowly came to a stop while two men went forward to the anchor. Boat stopped, anchor was dropped, and the two men returned to the pilot house without the boat backing down to set the anchor. Fortunately, this boat of knuckleheads parked well behind us. Yes, it's scary how some of these vessels survive.

Weather still looks like we leave tomorrow morning for Fiji.

Sun May 27 7:57 2018 NZST
GPS: 23 39.088s 178 55.908w

0700 27 May 2018. Yesterday spanned the wind strength spectrum Woke up yesterday to gentle 5-7 winds, completely flat water within the lagoon. While there was 100% cloud clover, benign wind and water conditions, we knew from weather forecasts, were only the calm before the storm. Throughout the day the winds grew, and were blowing a respectable 15kts by sundown. With those increased winds, and rise in tide, the water became chopping which caused a bit of bouncy boat condition. Last night the wind increased to a high of 22kts, and stayed that way until sunrise today. Winds are back down to 15kts. With the increased winds last night the lagoon became very choppy. Boat was hobby-horsing, but all in all it was not too bad. Forecasts show winds continue in the 15kts range and even drops to 10kts for awhile over the next 24 hrs. Then on Monday they go back up to 20+kts for about half a day. Tuesday looks to be the day we leave and run up to Fiji, 420nm away. Should take us 3-days.

With the lumpy conditions, we'll spend the day reading, playing Sequence, and watching a movie or two. Another tough day at the office.

Cheers John & Leilani

Sat May 26 7:24 2018 NZST
GPS: 23 39.088s 178 55.908w
Weather: 100% cloud cover. Light 5-6 ESE winds. Will post against this eveniing. Cheers John & Leilani

0715 hrs 26 May 2018. Not much to report since last post as all we did was eat dinner and went to bed for a good night's sleep at anchor. Today will be day of rest, and probably a game of Sequence, a game introduced to us by our dear friends, Warwick & Lani. A team game best played boys against the girls. Since there's only two of us, there will be no teams, but still boy and against girl.

Fri May 25 18:51 2018 NZST
GPS: 23 39.088s 178 55.908w
Weather: Another bright, sunny day with balmy 10 kts E winds whispering over the anchorage. In front of us 1/4 nm away we are entertained by the subdued roar of the ocean curling up in a line of white breaking waves along the reef. We're anchored in 15 metres of water so clear I can see my anchor chain laying on the seabed of mostly white sand interspersed with coral heads. And you ask, would I rather be golfing? Until tomorrow. Cheers John & Leilani

1800 hrs 25 May 2018. I know. You're all anxiously awaiting word on my crayfish hunting expedition. When yachties say, all you have to do is reach under rocks and grab them, that is nothing more than a cruiser legend. So the short answer is we did not find cray. What we did get was lots of leg exercise wading against 10kts of streaming, gushing, bubbling water running into the lagoon from the ocean. When I say "we", I did not mean Leilani and me. I went with Graham & his crew, Peter, from Toronui. This afternoon, Minerva got crowded with the arrival of 3 boats. Now there are 6 of us crammed on the SE side of the 3.8 nm diameter lagoon, all awaiting the big blow that is forecast for Sunday - Monday.

Fri May 25 6:30 2018 NZST
GPS: 23 39.088s 178 55.908w
Weather: 7-10kts SE wind, Currently 50% cloud cover, but if like yesterday, that should clear off once sun fully up. 1013 on the bar. Cheers John & Leilani

0615 hrs 25 May 2018. First night at Minerva Reef. Had more boat movement than at sea. That's the one down side of this place; it's always bouncy at anchor, especially at high tide when the reef is covered and the ocean pours in unabated. And it was calm 7-10 kt winds last night. Can hardly wait until Sunday when the big blow starts and we get up to 20kt winds. We'll have to strap outselves in with safety harnesses to keep from falling overboard. As I mentioned in last post, going crayfish hunting today. Then I will pour our 45 gallons of jerry cans of deck fuel iinto the main tank. Expect to have about 2-days of fuel for the 3-day trip to Fiji. So we should be good on fuel. After that it will be prep the crayfish for dinner, I hope. Yes, days can be hectic at Minerva.

Thu May 24 18:48 2018 NZST
GPS: 23 39.088s 178 55.908w
Run: 113.4nm (205.3km)
Avg: 8.9knts
24hr: 212.6nm

1800 hrs 24 May 2018. Arrived North Minerva Reef today at 1330 hrs. Glorious weather conditions of light 4-6 kt SE winds, clear, sunny sky. Only three boats here, including us; Toronui, and a French yacht, Arbutus. N. Minerva is almost a perfect circle, 3.8nm in diameter. With only 3 of us here, it does have an "end of the earth" feel. Toronui caught 2 yellow fin tunas and came over this evening to share sashimi. Nothing like fresh sashimi a few hours out of the water. Tomorrow we go crayfish (lobster) hunting at low tide. Wish us luck. A minor milestone was passed today. Our engine rolled over 8000 hrs. Some think that is alot. For a diesel well cared for, it really isn't. Sea life sightings for today: Dolphin - 0 Flying Fish - Leilani saw about 20. I guess they all live around Minerva.

It will be nice to sleep a complete night for the first time in 5 nights. Will be back tomorrow.

Cheers John & Leilani

Thu May 24 6:00 2018 NZST
GPS: 24 11.827s 179 22.490e
Run: 96.6nm (174.8km)
Avg: 7.8knts
24hr: 187nm
Weather: 95% cloud cover. SW winds 5-7kts. Bar 1012. COG 021T. SOG 6.1kts. Been motoring since 0915 yesterday morning. Will be back this evening. Cheers John

0545 hrs 24 May 2018. Just 45 nm to North Minerva Reef. At current speed, 6.1kts, should be at entrance about 1300. Then 2nm across to the southern end of the lagoon as the prevailing winds will be from SE to SW. There we'll stay until at least Monday, possibly Tuesday, to wait the passing of a low before proceeding to Savusavu to check in. That leg should take about 3 days. As I'm just awakening from my 0300-0600 watch, there isn't much else to report now.

Wed May 23 17:36 2018 NZST
Here is first one:
GPS: 25 26.000s 179 54.416w
Run: 60.5nm (109.5km)
Avg: 6.1knts
24hr: 146.9nm
Weather: 0% cloud cover; W wiind 3-5kts, 1 mtr SW swell. Course 021T. Speed 6kts. That is all Cheers John & Leilani

1700 hrs 23 May 2018. Two milestones crossed today: made it to 25th parallel (latitude 25s) so we are now officiallyl in the tradewinds sector of the fabled S. Pacific; and crossed the 180th meridian (dateline) from E to W longitude where yesterday is today, now is tomorrow, and the future is near, Yes, I've been out here too long. Weather-wise, it's been a glorious clear, sunny day. Leilani did lots of chefing. Her philosophy has always been that it's important to provide a variety of good tasting, wholesome dishes in order to prevent being thrown overboard by hungry, disgruntled crew. To that end she has always succeeded.

Been motoring since 0945 this morning as the wind abandoned us. The upside is we will make Minerva Reef tomorrow mid afternoon. Toronui is joining us there. Will wait until at least Monday before sailing to Fiji after an ugly low passes between Minerva & Fiji on Saturday - Sunday. Decided to go to Savusavu to check into Fiji. Then to Denarau to haul out and fix the shaft seal.

New addition to these missives will be daily dolphin & flyiing fish sighting Dolphins - 0 Flying Fish - 4

Wed May 23 8:33 2018 NZST

0700 23 May 2018. Last night is why we cruisers keep ourselves in top shape. Those who know me, know exactly what I'm saying. In my case that shape is round, which a shape. The wind was up and down and up and down which meant engine off on off on; sails out sails in like a yo-yo. Was running up and down the companion way steps so much I felt like Rocky Balboa. All this meant little sleep both on or off watch. Finally at 0130 the motor went off and we have been sailing on a broad reach with gentle 9-11 kts SW winds, with moderate speeds of 5.5 - 6 kts on a course of 021T to Minerva Reef.

Following on my dolphin observation, another hit me like a wet fish in the face (when there were more fish) as I surveyed the deck this morning. Since leaving NZ 5 days ago we have not had one flying fish on the deck. In the past there was always one or more laying on deck in an advanced state of rigor mortis. Just another example that we (i.e. the human race) are quickly depleting the earth of wild life.

With that we sign off.

Cheers John & Leilani

Wed May 23 7:43 2018 NZST
GPS: 26 14S 179 42E
Run: 91.6nm (165.8km)
Avg: 6.5knts
24hr: 156.3nm
Weather: SW8-10, 0%cc, 1011

good radio signal from John

Tue May 22 17:39 2018 NZST
GPS: 27 29.172s 179 12.991e
Run: 62.7nm (113.5km)
Avg: 5.7knts
24hr: 136.2nm
Weather: Today was overcast with 100% cloud cover all day and continues now into the night. Wind was very light E and we motored most of the day. This afternoon about 1600, wind picked up to 9-12 ktrs E and we have been sailing at a stately 4.5 - 5.5 kts. Anticipated arriving Minerva on Thursday, but with slow sailing, we probably won't get there in daylight. So we'll slow down Thursday to arrive Friday morning. Call me "chicken", "scaredy-cat", but going into a reef in the middle of the ocean at night is not my cup of tea. That's all for now. Cheers John & Leilani

1700 hrs 22 May 2018. After being at sea for 4.5 days I must report a depressing observation: we have seen absolutely no dolphins. When Leilani and I first sailed from Hawaii through the S. Pacific, we were greeted daily by sizeable pods. When we sailed on the Oyster yacht we managed in 2002-2003 from NZ to Fiji, New Caledonia, Brisbane, and back to NZ, we saw dolphins almost daily. When we sailed from Hawaii to NZ in 2010, we saw some dolphins. Sailing between NZ and Fiji these past 3 seasons, we saw occasional dolphins in small pods. So far this year none sighted. Do you get the picture? And what do you guess is the reason dolphins are diappearing. In the Pacific it is primarily Asian (mostly Chinese) fishing fleets. They use nets that are miles long which indiscriminsately scoop up everything in their way. Dolphins are considered trash catch. By the time they arrive on board they have effectively drowned, and then are chucked over the side. So next time you sit down at a restaurant to a fancy fish dinner, at least give a moment of silence for the dolphins who didn't make it. That's my enviornmental / political statement. Otherwise all is good here,

Tue May 22 6:36 2018 NZST
GPS: 28 20.123s 178 51.276e
Run: 138.2nm (250.1km)
Avg: 5.7knts
24hr: 137.1nm
Weather: E7-9, 1012

0600 22 May 2018. Motor went back on at 0330 this morning. Up to then we were getting sailable llight E winds of 7-10kts. Then we fell into a windless hole. At 0600 we arose out of the hole to light E winds of 7-10kts. Once again we're sliding along at 4-5 kts, which is comfortable, but, yes, a bit slow. Bar has dropped to 1012, lowest since leaving NZ. 100% cloud cover, so no bursting sunrise. We are working out a strategy for the ugly low that is forecast this weekend to pass across our path. Need to study latest gribs today and hope to have something planned later today. Of course, whatever we plan will be subject to change as the low forecast is still 3-4 days away. Whether we actually go into Minerva Reef depends on how far down in latitude the low goes, ie whether the worst of it rolls across Minerva, or whether it stays mostly above Minerva. If the former, we may turn W well before and ride below the low and come up to Fiji behind it. If it just touches Minerva, then we'll ride it out there. Decisions, decisions. And you thought cruising was just sitting on the fantail sipping pina coladas. What the heck is a fantail? All's well on board.

Cheers John & Leilani

Later on air. What about staying in Minerva to wait out the trough?

Mon May 21 6:24 2018 NZST
GPS: 30 11.765s 178 01.011e
Run: 86.7nm (156.9km)
Avg: 6.9knts
24hr: 165.1nm

0600hrs 21 May 2018. Been motoring 14.5 hrs, with more to go. Zero wind, ocean inky smooth, clear, cloudless sky, 1014 on the Bar. Course is 022T on the rhumbline to Minerva. Averaging 5.8kts.

Developed leak in drive shaft "dripless" Blue Water Shaft Seal. Eventually I'll have to go to Denerau to haul boat to replace the lip seal. Fortunately, I'm able to make repair at sea to stop leak, but seal will have to be ultimately replaced. Also fortunate I have spare seal. Trying to decide whether to proceed to Minerva and make repair there and then to Denerau for final fix, or make repair now and proceed direct to Denerau. I'll make decision once I get updated grib to see how soon sailable conditions set in. I don't have fuel to motor all the way to Denerau. But I do have enough to get to Minerva with a couple of days worth to spare. Stay tuned.

Just goes to show that (1) no matter how well you plan you can always miss a problem, and (2) lucky I carry spares for most eventualities, like this one.

Otherwise all is well on board.

Cheers John & Leilani

Sun May 20 17:48 2018 NZST
Micrologic. I know, because I bought one in 1992.
GPS: 31 20.147s 177 24.41e
Run: 74.9nm (135.6km)
Avg: 6.5knts
24hr: 156.3nm

1700 20 May 2018. The day started with more sterling S. Pacific sailing. W wind 9-13kts, gusting to 15kts, beam reaching. Clear skies, flat seas, 1014 on the Bar. You're probably getting tired of hearing this reptitive story of great sailing. Okay, here's a change. At 1530 the wind died, boat slowed to a standstill, and on came the iron gennie. For landlubbers, I turned on the engine. Based on weather forecast, looks like motoring for next day or so. There might be enough wind tomorrow to put up the cruising spinnaker. We'll see. Not Leilani's favourite sail, but even she has agreed to let me fly it if winds are down enough for her comfort. Notwithstanding having the motor on, it's been fantastic conditions out here.

Learned of a "trivia net" on SSB from Rewa. Came up for it and we were the only two on. He thought Toronui would be up, but wasn't. In any event, Rewa's trivia question was, what is origin of the saying, being black balled? Since you all have Google, I'll let you look it up. My question was, what brand GPS was the first to break the US$1000 price, and when? Hint, it was sold by West Marine. Google may not have answer, so here it i That's all for now.

Cheers John & Leilani

Sun May 20 6:18 2018 NZST
GPS: 32 16.929s 176 47.208e
Run: 94.7nm (171.4km)
Avg: 7.8knts
24hr: 187.1nm

0600 20 May 2018. I have to keep pinching myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. Another night of wonderful sailing. W winds on the beam at 12-15kts, smooth seas with just 0.5mtr swell, clear sky, 1013 on the bar. Course is 015T, and averaged 6.5kts for last 12hrs. For us that is very good. Toronui has been out of VHF range since yesterday. Now Rewa is in range, and sited her a few miles to our west, also heading for Minerva Reef. With the great sailing, needless to say all is well onboard.

Cheers John & Leilani

Sat May 19 18:09 2018 NZST
GPS: 33 35.026s 176 16.757e
Run: 82.6nm (149.5km)
Avg: 7.2knts
24hr: 173.1nm

1800 18 May 2018. Another great sailing day. A bit livelier today than yesterday. Had 15-18kts WNW with gusts to 21kts. Made great headway. Toronui is paralleling us within VHF range, so spoke with them today and gave them info from my morning grib. Winds have dropped within last hour to 10-13kts. That will make tonight comfortable if it holds. Neither of us like boistrous winds at night. But we're reefed down in any event. Just had dinner (chili & salteen crackers - a gourmet delight & easy on the stomach - right). Will check in tomorrow morning.

Cheers John & Leilani

Sat May 19 6:42 2018 NZST
GPS: 34 38.072s 175 35.605e
Run: 85.3nm (154.4km)
Avg: 6.8knts
24hr: 163.8nm

0600 19 May 2018. After benign first day, had a busy first night which included about 7hrs motoring from 1900, and then several sail changes rest of night, from putting up to taking down sails as wind went up and down from 8-10kts WSW to 15-20kts W to WNW. Both of us are ak bit tired from being interrupted from our off-watch sleep time.

Currently, weather is fine, Difficult to determine cloud cover % as it's still dark, but I do see stars. W swell 0.5mtr, wind W 15-17kts apparent. Averaging 6.2kts, heading 024T. Bar is steady last 24 hrs at 1016.

We're running parallel 12nm east of rhumbline in anticipation of NW winds that our grib chart shows for 21 & 22 May.

It's pretty comfortable sailing on a beam reach. Both of us are well.

Cheers John & Leilani

Fri May 18 18:12 2018 NZST
GPS: 35 49.843S 175 13.317E
Run: 59.9nm (108.4km)

It is 1800hrs 18 May, and we have been out for 9hrs since leaving Gulf Harbour. Could not have asked for a nicer start. Have had 10-13 kts wind from W so have been on beam reach all day with all 3 sails up. Clear sky, following sea, less than 0.5mtr sea. Have traveled 55nm on a course of 021T. Our next waypoint is N. Minerva Reef. All is well aboard. Will check in tomorrow.

Cheers John & Leilani

Tue May 15 16:25 2018 NZST
No position sent.

Hello all. We continue to wait for a weather window to sail to Fiji. Nothing looks flash at this time. Will keep you advised. In meantime, I was interviewed on Hawaii program called Law Across the Sea hosted by a former law partner. Here is link.

Sun May 6 8:06 2018 NZST
GPS: 36 37.397s 174 47.297e

The house has been emptied and cleaned to rent out; all our wordly possessions are crammed into a 3.5m x 4m storage box; boat is stuffed to the cabin top with 18-months of supplies, we've moved onto the boat; and now we do what cruisers do alot - wait. There are three things cruisers wait for: (1) good weather; (2) boat parts; and (3) arrival of boat contractors to do work. We're waiting for number 1. It looks like we won't be getting away before next weekend. Expecting northly winds all this coming week. Hopefully the wind will shift around the following week. Will keep you posted. Cheers. John & Leilani

Sun Nov 5 15:37 2017 NZDT
GPS: 36 37.4S 174 47.3E
Run: 97.2nm (175.9km)

Finally arrived home today. Left Bay of Islands at 1500 yesterday. Motored all night 103nm, in flat seas and light breeze, arriving in our Gulf Harbour marina berth at 0730. The big clean up of Amazing Grace starts tomorrow. This brings an end to a wonderfully exciting season in Fiji. Cheers, John and Leilani

Wed Nov 1 8:14 2017 NZDT
GPS: 35 18.8S 174 09.3E
Run: 538.2nm (974.1km)
Avg: 5.6knts
24hr: 134.9nm

Arrived Opua at 0900 on 31 Oct, exactly 8 days after leaving Savusavu. It was our fastest passage to date. Couple of stats: 1175NM, ave speed 6.1 kts.

Sea conditions after first 2 days were lumpy and bumpy with 2-3 mtr swells generated by wind speeds of 20-30 kts, fortunately on the beam. With all the wind, fuel consumption was no longer an issue.

Now back to land lubber life.

Thank you Patricia and David at Gulf Harbour radio for all you do for yachties. Great work!


John & Leilani

Mon Oct 30 8:26 2017 NZDT
No position sent.

arriving midday tomorrow in sporty conditions.

Sat Oct 28 8:29 2017 NZDT
GPS: 27 44S 176 15E
Run: 105.1nm (190.2km)
Avg: 8.8knts
24hr: 211.1nm
Weather: 100%cc, SE19-22,no rain, 2m se swell

Have had these conditions for two days and would realy like an improvement. Hoping for Tuesday pm arrival in opua

Fri Oct 27 20:33 2017 NZDT
GPS: 26 13.5s 176 28.1e
Run: 241.5nm (437.1km)
Avg: 10knts
24hr: 239nm

It's now 1700hrs 27 Oct. For last 24 hours we've had steady 17-21kt winds from 140. Heading has been 200T, with average speed 6-6.2kts. In order to keep sails full and not beat too much, we have been gradually sailing westward of the rhumbline so that now we are 22nm west of it. 2mtr SE swell. 100% cloud cover. Been waiting for winds to back and reduce as our last grib and weather forecaster have said. That's when we hope to get back to rhumbline. Nothing happening yet. While it's been bumpy ride, we're getting good miles under the keel - and not having to motor. Otherwise all's well onboard.

Today at 1200hrs we reached milestone - halfway point. Can see end of tunnel, finally.

Cheers John & Leilani

Thu Oct 26 20:18 2017 NZDT
GPS: 22 55.8s 177 44.8e
Run: 75.8nm (137.2km)
Avg: 1507.6knts
24hr: 36183nm

This is being sent with my updated 1800 report as propagation was bad this morning. It's 0500 26 Oct. Last night went through front. Had rain with wind speed in low 20's with a few gusts to 27kts and direction E so were able to sail on beam reach. As front passed, wind backed to ENE. Our course at time was 194T so was able to get some good sailing in. But lasted only a couple of hours when wind died to 5-7kts and the motor went back on. Now wind is 5kts from S, right in on our nose. 100% cloud cover, calm sea with 1.5 long N swell. Still motoring. Current course is still 194T, speed 5.6kts. While comfortable, we can't keep motoring due to fuel limitation issue. Started with slightly ov3r 5 days, have used close to 2 days, and still have about 4-5 days before arriving NZ.

Other issue of note last night was right at start of front. A Chinese fishing vessel came within 1.5nm passing in opposite direction. Tried calling it, but no answer. Shortly thereafter it turned off its AIS. But knew it was a Chinese fishing vessel because of the name, it's size, turned off AIS upon being hailed, and that the AIS vessel description was "Pleasure Craft". Chinese fishing vessels are now using that description on their AIS. This is 3rd one we've run into this season using the same ruse. Other two were in daylight where I got good look at them. They definitely were not "pleasure craft".

It was a tiring night with tending the boat in the front. So will get some sleep now. Cheers, John & Leilani

Thu Oct 26 20:15 2017 NZDT
GPS: 23 59.7s 177 27.7e
Run: 62nm (112.2km)
Avg: 5.2knts
24hr: 125.5nm

It's now 1800 25 Oct. You're getting two of these today. An earlier one I did at 0500 this did not go out due to bad propagation. So this one will cover what's happened since this morning.

Motoring continued throughout the day. After front passed we had 100% cloud cover but no wind. Fuel is starting to be more and more concern. We're not half-way, and we used just over 2 days worth of fuel out of the 5 days supply. And more windless days are forecast. As day progressed, surrounding squalls on the horizon disappeared, and by late afternoon wind finally filled in. We have SE winds 14-18kts, with SE swell 1mtr, but building as wind sets in. Hoping the wind will continue as we need the miles under sail and not motoring. Current course is 208T speed is 5.3kts as Leilani always wants sails reefed down for night. We're only 2.5nm west of rhumbline, but that will grow unless winds back towards E.

We calculate our 24 run stats from 0900 to 0900 (as we left Savusavu at 0900). Our 24-25 Oct run was worst yet at 113 miles, down from 156 and 154 the first 2-days. Weather is definitely cooling down, but not cold yet. All good onboard. Cheers, John & Leilani

Thu Oct 26 8:23 2017 NZDT
GPS: 23 08S 177 44E
Run: 193.2nm (349.7km)
Avg: 5.4knts
24hr: 129.5nm
Weather: 100%cc, drzzle

got the front last night.. very light radio transmission

Tue Oct 24 20:36 2017 NZDT
GPS: 20 25.2s 178 27.42e
Run: 91.3nm (165.3km)
Avg: 7.6knts
24hr: 181.6nm

Able to sail first 12 hrs after leaving Savusavu yesterday. At 2100 last night wind went very 6-8kt out of NNE with a 2mtr E swell. Motoring since then until now (1930 24 Oct). With good sailing and motoring, we had a good first 24hrs run of 158nm. For a heavy sea-going yacht, that is pretty good for us. We're maintaining average speed of 6.5kts - so far. May be motoring tomorrow. Wind since this afternoon has gone variable and even lighter, swell reduced now to less than 1mtr, so no more aggravating roll. Course is 193T and going essentially on a rhumbline to NZ. Only 920nm to go to Opua Marina in Bay of Islands. Stay tuned.

Tue Oct 24 8:32 2017 NZDT
GPS: 19 06S 178 25E
Run: 96nm (173.8km)
Avg: 7.8knts
24hr: 186nm
Weather: var 7-8, se swell

Hard to hear john

Mon Oct 23 20:09 2017 NZDT
GPS: 17 51.5s 179 04.4e
Run: 76.6nm (138.6km)

Departed Savusavu 0900 today (23 Oct). Now it's 1900. Had a great, fast start. Averaged 6.8kts in balmy 14-16kt winds out of the E. One mtr E swell. Driving right down the rhumbline to NZ. May this weather last. And to top it off, had porpoise join us twice today. All's well onboard. Will check in tomorrow. Cheers, John

Sun Oct 22 10:16 2017 NZDT
GPS: 16 46.7S 179 20.0E

The time has come to leave Fiji and return to the cold & damp. Tomorrow, 23 Oct., we depart Savusavu for Opua in the Bay of Islands. Distance is 1200nm as the porpoise swims, and ETA is Tues or Wed, 31 Oct or 1 Nov, depending on the weather gods. Current weather forecast is for a relatively good trip, which on this leg can mean anything from 0kts to 40kts on the nose. I always look forward to this run. Right. Will try to post positions along the way so those interested can follow us. Otherwise, see you in NZ. Cheers, John & Leilani

Sat Oct 14 17:06 2017 NZDT
GPS: 16 46.7S 179 20.0E
Run: 36.7nm (66.4km)

After our last post from Buca Bay, we moved to Viani Bay. Jack Fisher was down to 2 moorings, and we got the vacant one. The other boat left the next day. We spent the next two days enjoying the flat calm weather. Then on Thursday (12 Oct) the wind came up to 17-22kts. A 40' yacht came onto the remaining mooring. That night in blustery winds and bouncy water conditions, the other boat's mooring broke and it went aground. Jack and others came out to help it get off the reef - fortunately no damage. For rest of night I couldn't sleep because I feared our mooring would break. Jack is down to 1 mooring, but who knows what its condition is. Friday went to Dakuniba for peaceful night. Today, had a beautiful sail to Savusavu. Met up with friend who was in Fulaga the whole time we were there. He is sailing on a cat with his 91 yr old mother. Quite unique in the sailing world. Don't know who long we'll be here. Stay tuned. Cheers.

Mon Oct 9 12:26 2017 NZDT
GPS: 16 45.0S 179 53.2E
Run: 6.6nm (11.9km)
Avg: 6.7knts
24hr: 160.6nm

Buca Bay was beautiful, but not much to do there. So this morning (9 Oct) we motored around to Viani Bay, home of Jack Fisher. Only one other boat here. Weather is sparkling - light breeze, and clear skies with lovely white pillowy clouds. Put dingy in the water, so we're committed to stay a few days.

Mon Oct 9 11:27 2017 NZDT
GPS: 16 40.4s 179 49.6e
Run: 18.7nm (33.8km)

Left Paradise Taveuni Resort this morning (8 Oct) after spending only one night. Was windy and rolled. Went to Sau Bay Eco Resort, but found the anchorage a bit exposed to roll and wind. Ended up at back of Buca Bay. Beautiful. Great anchorage in 9mt with mud bottom so holding is great. There are villages that dot both sides of the bay. Will go into the one at the extreme back of bay where we are anchored tomorrow to find out where to do sevusevu. Will stay here a few days. Stay tuned. Cheers. John & Leilani

Sat Oct 7 15:39 2017 NZDT
GPS: 16 56.1s 179 53.9e
Run: 13.1nm (23.7km)

Motored a short 15nm from Dakuniba to Paradise Taveuni today. Again, no fish. Paradise is a dive resort on the SW corner of Taveuni, the 3rd largest Fiji island. There are about 6 free mooring balls offered by the resort for visiting yachts. While we are safely tied to one, the wind has been blustering 18-22kts. Paradise Taveuni was completely destroyed in Hurricane Winston two years ago, but has been rebuilt. However, the individual Fiji-styled bures with grass-thatched roofs that once were the guest rooms have been replaced with box-shaped huts with flat wooden roofs. Not as attractive as before. If the wind doesn't come down tomorrow, we'll move on to another less windy anchorage.

Fri Oct 6 20:09 2017 NZDT
GPS: 16 45.1s 179 51.0e
Run: 34.2nm (61.9km)

Departed Savusavu and headed east to spend night in Dakuniba. This is just short of the eastern-most corner of Vanua Levu. Around the corner is Viani Bay, a popular cruiser anchorage - home to the well known and colourful character, Jack Fisher. We'll be stopping there. Another place we plan to visit is Sau Bay, or on some charts, Nasau Bay. An eco resort is there owned by a person we met in Fuluga. Stay tuned.

Tue Oct 3 7:23 2017 NZDT
GPS: 16 46.7S 179 20E
Run: 64.7nm (117.1km)

Arrived Savusavu marina dock at 0700 yesterday, 2 Oct, exactly as predicted. Had to motor whole 39 hrs as no wind. But it was easier maintaining 5kts average speed so to arrive at first daylight. We don't go fast enough to have comfortably made the trip in daylight hours. So we had to slow down and stretch out the trip. Anyway, Savusavu is relatively empty of cruisers this late in the season. Everyone already on west side of Fiji, or moved on to Vanuatu and/or New Cal. Spent yesterday renewing visas, food shopping (not yet finished), rising down boat, and taking well deserved long afternoon nap. Will begin planning remainder of stay. Leilani will probably post on FB more details of our trip so far. Cheers.

Sun Oct 1 19:51 2017 NZDT
GPS: 17 33.3s 179 52.8e
Run: 150.4nm (272.2km)

Left Fulaga at 1600 yesterday, 30 September. Spend a wonderful 6-weeks there. Have been motoring the whole way as there is no wind and will continue to do so until destination. ETA Savusavu is 0700 tomorrow 2 October. No fish. Haven't made any concrete plans on where to go after getting visas renewed for last 5-6 weeks in Fiji. Will keep you advised. Cheers

Wed Sep 27 11:39 2017 NZDT
GPS: 19 08.6S 178 33.2W

Sadly, after 5-wonderful weeks we must finally leave Fulaga. Will travel to Savusavu via Matuku. Our visas need to be renewed by 10 Oct. This place has been absolutely wonderful. Virtually everyone knows us. We've been saying good-by's and everyone is genuinely sadden to see us leave. Leilani has been shedding tears. Will send more detailed info about our stay, along with pics once we return to Savusavu where internet is faster than dial-up speed here.

Fri Aug 25 7:30 2017 NZST
GPS: 19 08.6s 178 33.2w
Run: 3.1nm (5.6km)

Arrived Fulanga on 20 August. Our initial impressions upon entering the lagoon after a rather challenging entry through the pass were WOW!!! Without a doubt this is the most beautiful place we've visited in Fiji, bar none. It has a lagoon 6 x 5 miles dotted throughout with mushroom looking islets. There are 3 villages with a total of about 350 people. There are only 5 yachts here. After doing sevusevu with the chief (who is 94 years old), each yacht is assigned a village sponsor to help you throughout your stay. The sponsor introduces you around the villagers, takes you to interesting places around the island and lagoon, invites you to village functions, has meals at their houses (and we have them to the boat for meals). Will write more when we return to "civilisation" with internet (this is being sent via SSB radio) and more bandwidth.

Sat Aug 19 9:12 2017 NZST
GPS: 19 07.949S 178 36.001W
Run: 137.3nm (248.5km)

Left Vanua Balava at 0700 on 19 August. Headed to Fulanga , the southern most Lau island. ETA is morning of 20 August. This is last internet access we have until we return from Fulunga. No internet there. The Google Earth picture to this message is Fulunga. See you when we return to civilisation.

Wed Aug 16 7:23 2017 NZST
GPS: 17 10.9S 178 59.8W
Run: 113.9nm (206.2km)

After 4 weeks in Savusavu recovering from my back injury, we finally leave to return to the Lau Group. Once there, we will be mostly out of internet range - that's how remote it is. Our location shown on the Google Earth picture is Vanua Mbalava, where we are first headed. Our ultimate destination is Fulanga at the southern most end of the Group. Will try to keep you advised of our travels through SSB radio transmissions. But sometimes propagation will be spotty.

Thu Jul 13 14:33 2017 NZST
GPS: 16 46.7s 179 20e
Run: 112.1nm (202.9km)

Cut our Lau Group tour short and returned to Savusavu on 13 July. Reason: John injured his back. Will be seeing a doctor. Don't quite know what can be done here except get pain pills. The pain is quite severe. It feels like a re-occurrence of sciatica last had a few years ago after trying to do intense gym work-out. This time pain came on after about 20-minutes of vigorously and continually pulling the start cord on our secondary dingy engine, which wouldn't start. The saying, "I'm getting too old for this", applies here. Didn't want to try and tough it out in one of the remotest part of Fiji in case I ran out of pain pills. So back to "civilisation" we came. I'll be laid up onboard while Leilani stocks up our severely depleted supplies. Then off we go again.

Wed Jul 5 16:39 2017 NZST
GPS: 17 10.9S 179 01.4W
Run: 1.7nm (3.1km)

From our last entry, you will know we arrived at Vanua Mbalavu on 24 June after an overnight motor. We went to Nabuvatu Bay. Talk about an all weather anchorage. Probably one of the most scenic, and calm anchorages we've ever stayed in. In fact, we toyed with idea staying for the whole season, it's that peaceful. The caretaker, Filipe, was wonderful to us. He, his sister, uncle, and 4 others who I'm sure are related, live in a group of small huts on the property. The property is owned by the same people who own the Copra Shed and Vunda Point marinas. They are still rebuilding the owners' two houses that were completely destroyed in Winston, 2-years ago. Their huts were also completely destroyed, but were re-built within 3-months after the storm. After giving Filipe and his family sunglasses, shirts, and fishing lures, he brought us 3 lobsters. From our standpoint, it was a great trade.

After 11 days, we reluctantly moved today (5 July 2017). Went around the other side of the island to better known "Bay of Islands". This is the bay with many mushroom looking islets. It's nice, but not as secluded as Nabuvatu Bay. We'll wait for a weather window to sail due south to Fulunga, and other remote islands to assist as many villages as we can. All is well on the boat. Hope all is well with everyone back in the "world".

Wed Jun 28 7:18 2017 NZST
GPS: 17 10.935s 178 59.828w
Run: 116.3nm (210.5km)

Today is Tuesday, 27 June. Left Savusavu on Friday at 1200. Dropped anchor at 0945 on Saturday at Nabuvatu Bay on Vanua Mbalavu (pronounced Balavu), in the northern Lau Group. Since then we have been getting our head around how spectacularly beautiful it is. Imagine Waikiki before one hotel, or condo, or road, or house, or restaurant, or shopping mall, was built - and before internet. There is absolutely no tourist accommodation whatsoever! The only evidence of the outside world are about 30 or so yachts anchored in lovely sites around the island. Nabuvatu Bay is a fiord-like bay of blue-green water surrounded by 180mtr high cliffs of jungle greenery. We hiked to the top of the cliffs that give a magnificent heart-stopping view of much of the island. There we distributed some of our glasses and t-shirts and children's stuffed toys to the small settlement of islanders. Everyone was very appreciative of the gifts. Cyclone Winston damage was still visible in the form of destruction of the coconut plantation the settlement managed. Were told it would take about 5-years for the trees to come back and be productive. One of the locals has promised to come by the boat tonight at 7pm with some lobsters. We're waiting for some of the yachts to leave before moving to another anchorage. Long term plan is to work our way south through the Lau Group. I'm out of adjectives and superlatives to describe this place and the people, so I'll sign off for the time being. Stay tune.

Fri Jun 23 10:20 2017 NZST
GPS: 16 48.80293S 179 17.20058E
Run: 3.9nm (7.1km)

Been in Savusavu for 2 weeks resting from our trip up and waiting for a weather window to go to the Lau Group. For the last 3-days we've anchored in front of the Cousteau Resort Hotel, about 5-miles from the main town of Savusavu. It's been lovely, and today we have our weather window to go to the Lau Group. It's 100nm. Because the window is open only until tomorrow night, we will make a straight motor/sail. We'll leave at 1pm and expect it to take about 19hrs. That'll put us in tomorrow morning.

Thought you might be interested in some data of our NZ-Fiji trip:

Total Nautical Miles = 1321

Total Time = 235.5hrs (9days, 19hrs, 26min) (doesn't include several days stop at N & S Minerva Reefs)

Average speed = 5.6kts

Total Engine Run = 111.5hrs (47.3% of total trip)

The most amazing fact is we never took a wave over the deck. In 10 trips we've made up and back, this is a first. A real fact (not fake fact) that it was the most benign trip ever.

Stay tuned for more after we get to the Lau Group.

Wed Jun 14 7:03 2017 NZST
GPS: 16 46.7s 179 20e
Run: 486.7nm (880.9km)
Avg: 2.5knts
24hr: 61nm

Today is Wednesday, 14 June. We actually arrived in Savusavu at 1215 on 10 June. But our first stop in Fiji was Koro Island on 9 June where we spent the night. This stop was necessitated by the fact we couldn't reach Savusavu in daylight. In Fiji, one never, ever goes into a harbour at night. Anyway, we arrived safely, and actually refreshed after the Koro stop. I will post a more detailed synopsis of the end of our trip on Leilani's Facebook. So tune in there - in a day or two when I actually get around to writing it.

Tue Jun 6 7:36 2017 NZST
GPS: 23 37.8s 178 55.8w

We're planning to leave Minerva Reef today (6 June) for Savusavu. Will let you know when we arrive. It is expected to be between 75 & 95 hrs depending on wind. Because of our fuel issue, we will not be using the motor on an unlimited basis. "Chris Legan" <>

Tue Jun 6 6:00 2017 NZST
GPS: 23 37.8s 178 55.8w
Run: 0.1nm (0.2km)

We're planning to leave Minerva Reef today (6 June) for Savusavu. Will let you know when we arrive. It is expected to be between 75 & 95 hrs depending on wind. Because of our fuel issue, we will not be using the motor on an unlimited basis. "Chris Legan" <>

Sun Jun 4 16:09 2017 NZST
GPS: 23 37.8s 178 55.9w
Run: 53.5nm (96.8km)

Since our last communication here is what's happened. On 2 June 2017 at 1230 we arrived at South Minerva Reef. Here are some statics of our passage: Total Miles - 838nm; Total time - 6 days 4.5hrs (148.5hrs); Average Speed - 5.6kts. And here is the most usual statistic: Total Engine Run Time - 94.8hrs (a whopping 63.8% of the trip!!). This has led to our fuel supply issue. After a night of uncomfortable rolling, we left yesterday and arrived at North Minerva Reef after a 6.25hr, 29nm sail in very light winds right up the bum. Not our favourite point of sail. Light winds are predicted over the next week. We will stay at least today (4 June), but that can change once we study the weather charts. There were 18 yachts in S. Minerva. There are 21 yachts in N. Minerva. N. Minerva is essentially a circle with a 2.5nm diameter. If you remember your high school geometry, you'll be able to figure out the interior volume, which I don't and which I can't. But it's huge. So 21 boats is nothing. And there is no rolling here. While it was overcast all yesterday, the sun is coming out now, so we look forward to a lovely day with gentle 10kt winds out of the SW. All is well onboard.

Fri Jun 2 6:12 2017 NZST
GPS: 24 17.4s 179 22.4w
Run: 82.2nm (148.8km)
Avg: 6.2knts
24hr: 148.9nm
Weather: 80%cc, light 5-6NE

We are 22nm from South Minerva Reef and expect to arrive around noon. Once there we will be waiting for the first available weather window with sufficient wind to sail to Fiji. According to latest weather maps we have, that could be several days. We are very short of fuel due to all the motoring we've done getting this far. As such we will not be sending or receiving any emails (like this one) until we get to Fiji. The reason is we need to conserve our fuel. To send and receive emails, we need to operate out ship's radio, which takes lots of power. That means we need to run the engine to keep up the battery power. The less we run the engine, the more fuel we conserve. So don't be concerned when you don't hear from us for the short foreseeable future.

Later at net time/ Motoring with sv Pixie beside them. Minerva this morning

Thu Jun 1 16:57 2017 NZST
Last 25 hours 139nm averaging 5.8kts (pretty good for motoring). Today we've been averaging so far 6+kts.
GPS: 25 26s 179 44.1w
Run: 64.9nm (117.5km)
Avg: 7knts
24hr: 167.7nm
Weather: 100% cloud cover with sun coming through. Breathless wind. smooth seas. Getting warmer as we're both now wearing shorts and t-shirts.

This is being written as of 1630hrs on 1 June. Or is it 31 May? Since we crossed the 180 degree meridian today, the date line, it is yesterday. But not to cause confusion, we maintain NZ time onboard, so it's 1 June, day 6 of our passage. Been motoring since early this morning before sunrise, and will motor all the way to Minerva Reef, which we calculate arriving at about 1300 tomorrow, 2 June. At that time we estimate to have only 1.5 days of motoring fuel left out of over 5.5 days of fuel upon departure. This has been the most wind deprived crossing we have ever experienced out of now our 10th passage up to and down from the islands. Today we had essentially zero wind, resulting in inky smooth seas. We'll have to stay in Minerva until enough wind fills in between there and Fiji to sail the 3-days to Fiji. Based on current weather charts we're getting, we may be at Minerva 3-4 days. But I'm looking forward to checking off from my bucket list catching and eating Minerva Reef cray (that's lobster for the norte americanos). All's well onboard. We're eating regularly, taking daily showers, and otherwise enjoying a very benign trip.

Thu Jun 1 7:39 2017 NZST
GPS: 26 20S 179 58E
Run: 98.8nm (178.8km)
Avg: 6.6knts
24hr: 159nm
Weather: 3-5W, no seas, 100%cc, 1024?,

Minerva tomorrow pm

Wed May 31 16:45 2017 NZST
6.5kts average today
GPS: 27 42.3s 179 31e
Run: 162.8nm (294.7km)
Avg: 6.6knts
24hr: 158.2nm
Weather: NW winds, 8-15kts, 1mtr sea swell.

With no wind, and having motored all night, the first job of the day was to transfer the fuel in our deck jerry cans into the main ship's tank. That added 140lts (36.8 gals for our metric challenged norte americano friends & relatives) to the ship's 380lts (100 gals for you know who) main tank. After 60hrs of motoring since leaving on Saturday, we were starting to have to do some serious fuel consumption calculations. But at noon, things really changed. Unpredicted by our weather charts we download everyday, wind began filling in. Immediately we turned off the engine, and the sound of silence was music to our ears. Initially the winds were light 6-10kts from the NW which gave us a beautiful point of sail of 60 degrees off the bow. Our 3 sails filled and we slid across flat seas at a stately 4.5 - 5 kts. As the afternoon wore on the winds built to 12-16kts and our speed jumped to 6.5-7kts. For our heavy boat, that is trucking along. It's now 1600 and the winds are starting to subside a bit, but we continue to cruise along comfortably. I can't remember better sailing conditions. Flat seas, perfect wind direction and strength for fast and comfortable passage. If it was like this all the time, I might begin to actually enjoy these long passages.

Tue May 30 16:03 2017 NZST
5.5 kts
GPS: 29 53.3s 178 30.5e
Run: 140.1nm (253.6km)
Avg: 6knts
24hr: 144.6nm
Weather: Clear with light and variable winds as of 1400hrs.

Another gloriously sunny, clear day. This morning had great sailing. With the light winds we used the cruising spinnaker. Not Leilani's favourite as it can get out of control easily if the winds pipe up. Good only in winds less than 12kts. Winds in afternoon went very light and variable so the "iron genny" went back on - that an "engine" for you landlubbers. Figure we have about 4 days worth of fuel left, and tomorrow looks like a motoring day again.. But after that the winds should be back enough to sail - otherwise we start thinking about rowing. Temperature keeps rising as we get farther away from NZ. Today the jackets came off. Won't be long before we're in shorts and t-shirts. All good onboard.

Mon May 29 16:48 2017 NZST
GPS: 31 45.5s 177 35.9e
Run: 73.6nm (133.2km)
Avg: 7.1knts
24hr: 169.8nm
Weather: 8-15kts winds out of west. sea swell 2mtrs wsw, barometer 1025. clear sky, 10% cloud cover.

third day at sea. sailing conditions continue to be storybook great. gentle winds, calm seas, glorious sun, clear sky punctuated by fluffy balls of cloud. how about that for poetry. it's dinner time now, and we just had our daily hot shower. of course we have hot water. last 24 hrs we did 152nm averaging 6.3kts. for us that's a very productive day toward our destination. tomorrow is forecast to be very light variable winds, so looks like motoring. stay tuned.

Mon May 29 6:24 2017 NZST
GPS: 32 45.21s 177 09.09e
Run: 299.3nm (541.7km)
Weather: clear. wind wsw 14-18kts. sea swell 1mtr sw.

sorry about delay getting update sent. noticed i had wrong email address. anyway, it's now our second full day out. left at 0800 saturday morning in thick fog and no wind, motor on 9hrs. since then it's been light winds calm seas resulting in both sailing and motoring. last night wind was strongest we've had but great sailing. all's well with us. just starting to get our sea legs. stay tuned.

Fri May 26 10:03 2017 NZST

Finally!!!! We're leaving tomorrow, Saturday 27 May (Friday 26 May for the Norte Americanos). Looks like a nice ride ahead with no particuarly bad interludes of storms and head winds. Of course, just by saying this, we'll probably get some. We'll try to send an update daily, unless I'm too tired, lazy, or just don't feel like it. Minerva Reef next stop.

Thu May 18 9:02 2017 NZST
GPS: 36 37.41S 174 47.22E

I feel like a ping pong ball. Yesterday I pinged and said we're leaving on Friday. Today I ponged - departure delayed. As in past, it's the weather. The low that develops SSE of Fiji on Tuesday is just too uggggly to consider sailing into. While current weather models show it moving SE, it is too big and those kinds of weather patterns too unpredictable to rely on models this far out in time. We'll wait throughout the weekend to follow the prognosis. Hopefully it won't be a long wait. Stay tuned. Your serve.

Wed May 17 16:35 2017 NZST
GPS: 36 37.41S 174 47.22E

Looks like we're finally going to leave. Departure set for Friday morning, 19 May (Thursday for all you Norte Americanos). Hopefully I won't suffer too much from sleep deprevation to update you all regularly on our progress. Stay tuned.

Sun May 14 17:17 2017 NZST
GPS: 36 37.41743S 174 47.21795E

Could it be? Could there be a weather window at the end of next week? Looks that way. Presently Friday or Saturday (NZ time) look like possibilities. Will get a firmer handle on the day by Tuesday. This is has been the longest weather wait we've experienced. Global warming must be keeping the waters warmer for longer which in turn causes cyclones. At least that's my simplistic view. Or maybe Neptune has been in a testy mood. Stay tuned.

Wed May 10 9:20 2017 NZST
GPS: 36 37.41743S 174 47.21795E

Our travels so far can be summed up in one word: anxious. Anxious to leave. Anxious about gaining weight from going to bon voyage dinners. Anxious that bon voyage dinner hosts think we are just mooching free meals off them. That's right. We're still stuck in NZ because of bad weather. Cyclone Donna has been creating havoc this past week. As she dies out over next couple of days from a cyclone into a depression moving SE toward NZ, it continues to cause terrible weather conditions to sail away. So we sit tight, watch the weather prognosis daily, with the latest not showing a window to leave until at least late next week. Today we're off to the Auckland Maritime Museum to see how the ancients did it in their outrigger canoes. BTW, we're still available for bon voyage dinners.

Fri May 5 8:34 2017 NZST
GPS: 36 37.41743S 174 47.21795E

Yesterday the deep depression NW of Vanuatu was officially named a Tropical Cyclone (hurricane for your northern hemipherers), named Donna. The name doesn't do the destructive potential justice. Anyway, according to latest weather models, Donna may dissapate around Thursday, next week, making Friday, Saturday or Sunday, next week potential for jumping off - finally. Will keep you advised.

Tue May 2 9:48 2017 NZST
GPS: 36 37.41s 174 47.23e

Completed my morning survey of several weather sites. It's official: Weather still too grim to leave. The weather models show the depression/potential cyclone NW of Vanuatu definitely migrating SE to below Fiji over next week, making any departure soon out of the question. Latest long term prognosis is no weather window until 13 May. But that being so far out, it could change. Unless there is a material weather change between now and then, I'll refrain from sending these messages out. Will get back when we have a definite "go" date.

Mon May 1 14:54 2017 NZST
GPS: 36 37.41s 174 47.23e
Run: 15.7nm (28.4km)

Weather has turned against leaving. The beginnings of a potential cyclone just NW of Vanuatu has put us on hold. Boats up and down NZ are anxiously awaiting a weather break to begin the trek northward. Our weather guru is saying not looking good until at least late this week, and then maybe not. Everyday we check the weather on a website called Check it out. Can see weather anywhere in the world. Will keep you advised as the days roll on.

Fri Apr 28 8:54 2017 NZST
GPS: 36 51s 174 46e
Run: 159.6nm (288.9km)

Not leaving Gulf Harbour for at least a week as weather deteriorated.

Sun Oct 18 22:36 2015 NZDT
GPS: 34 43.667s 173 38.700e
Run: 104.5nm (189.1km)
Avg: 7.1knts
24hr: 169.8nm

This is our last posting. We've had the best sailing of the trip since this morning when we passed North Cape. We're now about half way between North Cape and Bay of Islands coasting along at 5.7kts in 8-10kts of gentle SW breeze on the beam under a clear and beautiful starry sky with a bright crescent moon. It's magic compared to the horrible trip down from Noumea. ETA Opua is 0600 NZDT. After clearing customs, we'll tank up the diesel, park in a berth we reserved for a day or two for a well deserved rest, and then head home to Gulf Harbour.

We wish you all a safe and smooth trip to wherever your next port-of-call may be. If coming to NZ, please feel free to call in on us.

Fair winds, and following seas.

John & Leilani

Sun Oct 18 7:50 2015 NZDT
GPS: 33 58.169s 172 03.677e
Run: 91.3nm (165.3km)
Avg: 7.5knts
24hr: 180.8nm
Weather: 6-8kts wind variable no swell 100% cloud cover.

Had another windless, calm sea night. Now 0730 NZDT and driving by Three Kings Islands where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea. Still grey and overcast before the sun breaks through the clouds so the place has a foreboding and other-worldly atmosphere. Lucky it's windlass and calm seas. This is no place in bad weather. We're in NZ waters.

Sat Oct 17 19:43 2015 NZDT
GPS: 33 24.256s 170 37.577e
Run: 152.9nm (276.7km)
Avg: 6.6knts
24hr: 158.9nm
Weather: 6-9kt wind SE 1.5m swell from the SE 50% cloud cover. Based on present course and speed, are new ETA Opua will be before noon on Monday, 19 Oct. Developed auto pilot problem. Goes off about every 30 minutes, so we have to babysit it continually. Better than driving continually. Two car carriers passed on way to Brisbane. Both were right on our rhumbline to North Cape. But we're on their rhumbline to Brisbane. Now that we are closing NZ, we will be looking out for lots of ship traffic. All this is as of 0630UTC 17 Oct 2015

Light winds to no wind, calm seas, motored all day and will do so throughout tonight and probably tomorrow. 135 mile day.

Fri Oct 16 20:37 2015 NZDT
First 12 hours was 4-4.5kts into waves, wind, and current. Since 1800 speed has increased to 5+kts wind, waves, and probably current diminish. Could not have picked a worse window to NZ.
GPS: 32 23.780s 168 16.800e
Run: 107.8nm (195.1km)
Avg: 4.5knts
24hr: 107.8nm
Weather: 13-15knts SE 1.5m swell from the SE 100% cloud cover. At current speed our ETA Opua is 0600UTC 19 October. All info as of 0730UTC 16 Oct 15

Another 24 hours of se winds driving us more westward. Started motor at 0600 this morning making a rhumbline to North Cape.

Thu Oct 15 20:37 2015 NZDT
GPS: 31 08.709s 167 11.141e
Run: 114.3nm (206.9km)
Avg: 4.7knts
24hr: 113.7nm
Weather: 15-17knts SE sloppy 2-3meter swell from the SE 100% cloud cover. All in all a lousy trip so far.

Last 18 hrs has been difficult. 8hrs of 25-28kt winds SE. The rest 20-22kts SE. Have had to go SW thereby adding many miles to trip. Currently drifting along at 2=3kts so as to not get more westing in while waiting for wind to back as forecast.

Wed Oct 14 20:29 2015 NZDT
GPS: 29 41.675s 168 06.466e
Run: 168.7nm (305.3km)
Avg: 7.2knts
24hr: 172.2nm
Weather: up to now wind has been very light, less than 5kts SE, slight seas. Seas starting to build for last couple of hours out of SSW, but wind still light at 6-8kts. Expecting wind to pickup this evening to 20+kts SE-SSE per latest weather forecast from Commanders Weather. All of this info is as of 0600UTC 14 October 2015.

Motored all day 129T. Been motoring now for last 38hrs. Averaging 155nm for each of last 3 days

Tue Oct 13 20:58 2015 NZDT
GPS: 27 57.667s 166 08.820e
Run: 989nm (1790.1km)
Weather: 8kts SE 0.5m swell from the SE 0% cloud cover. All this info valid as of 0748UTC Tuesday 13 Oct 2015.

Had a boistrous 24hrs start Sunday. By Monday pm for next 24 hrs had good fast sailing conditions. As of 0300 Tuesday been motoring.

Wed May 27 18:03 2015 NZST
GPS: 21 24.19S 179 50.25W
Run: 145.9nm (264.1km)
Avg: 15.2knts
24hr: 364.8nm
Weather: 10-15knts SE 2m swell from the SE 10% cloud cover and sunny. Above is effective as of 1630 27 May 2015 NZST

Today has been good sailing after a trying yesterday leaving Minerva. Gybed all day/night yesterday in light 6-8kt S-SSE winds before ending up 30nm west of rhumbline to Savusavu. Around 0900 this morning the wind went more SE so we've been on a nice broad reach heading of 340M.

Wed May 27 8:27 2015 NZST
GPS: 23 12.4sS 178 58.6WE
Run: 28.8nm (52.1km)

Amazing Grace left North Minerva Reef yesterday 26 May at 0800. Slow sailing. Position listed as at 4pm yesterday. Will post updated position today as I receive it.

Sun May 24 13:53 2015 NZST
GPS: 23 37.2SS 178 55.1WE
Run: 199nm (360.2km)
Avg: 3.8knts
24hr: 90.4nm

Arrived N. Minerva this morning 1100. Weather 15 kts from NW. 13 boats currently anchored with one more coming in. Crew and boat all good.

Fri May 22 9:05 2015 NZST
GPS: 26 24.4S 179 42.9E
Run: 6.1nm (11km)
Avg: 4.2knts
24hr: 101.5nm
Weather: No wind, glassy seas, 40% cloud cover, but sunny. Above is as of 0815 NZST 22 May 2015

No wind but clear weather. 147 mile day. Major issue is fuel capacity. As of 0730NZST have enough for 2.4 days motoring. Will probably have to turn off motor late this afternoon and simply wait for wind to fill in. I don't want to leave myself short for remainder of trip to Fiji after Minerva.

Fri May 22 7:38 2015 NZST
GPS: 26 29S 179 40E
Run: 170nm (307.7km)
Avg: 7.1knts
24hr: 170.1nm
Weather: no wind and flat seas

The pacific Pacific!.

Thu May 21 8:32 2015 NZST
Weather: nil wind, glassy seas, 50% cloud cover with lots of sun showing through

Had a pleasant night, with nil wind, glassy seas, starry night. Been motoring since 0400 hrs on 20 may except for about 4 hrs of sailing. 154nm last 24 hrs.

Thu May 21 7:39 2015 NZST
GPS: 28 47S 178 41E
Run: 295.3nm (534.5km)
Avg: 6.3knts
24hr: 150.8nm
Weather: 50%CC, FLAT SEAS, no wind

on rhum line to Minerva

Wed May 20 9:22 2015 NZST
6 kts
Weather: 5 kts W 1-2m swell from the s 10% cloud cover. All's well on board.

winds died through out night until finally at 0400 this morning turned on motor

Wed May 20 9:10 2015 NZST
6 kts
Weather: 5 kts W 1-2m swell from the s 10% cloud cover. All's well on board.

winds died through out night until finally at 0400 this morning turned on motor

Tue May 19 8:40 2015 NZST
GPS: 32 44.1s 176 47.4e
Run: 177nm (320.4km)
Avg: 7.3knts
24hr: 175.3nm
Weather: AS of 0800 19 may nzst 12-15knts ssw 2m swell from the 2 100% cloud cover no rain.

Had good sailing night with 16-22kt winds ssw-sw thru out night. 150mile day. All's well onboard.

Mon May 18 16:58 2015 NZST
Weather: 12-16knts sw-ssw 1-2m swell from the sw clear cloud cover thru out day, but 60% cover now.

1700hr now. great day sailing wing on wing in good winds. took pole down for the night.

Mon May 18 8:26 2015 NZST
GPS: 35 07.8s 175 41.7e
Weather: wind 10-14kt ssw-sw, 1-2mt swell from the 80% cloud cover.

Finally started sailing at 2100. Had busy night jibing as wind was DDW to rhumbline. Otherwise a pleasant night.

Mon May 18 6:13 2015 NZST
GPS: 35 07.8s 175 41.7e
Run: 81.5nm (147.5km)
Avg: 5.8knts
24hr: 139.2nm
Weather: wind 10-14kt ssw-sw, 1-2mt swell from the 80% cloud cover.

Finally started sailing at 2100. Had busy night jibing as wind was DDW to rhumbline. Otherwise a pleasant night.

Sun May 17 16:10 2015 NZST
GPS: 36 13.4s 175 09.2e
Run: 47nm (85.1km)
Avg: 4.9knts
24hr: 117.5nm
Weather: 5-10kt winds sse clocking ssw late afternoon. Rain in morning, clearing by 1100, no seas. This message sent while passing Little Barrier at 1600.

Left Auckland this morning (17 May) and have motored all day.

Sun May 17 6:34 2015 NZST
GPS: 36 50.58s 174 48.35E
Run: 15.7nm (28.4km)

Leaving sunday morning from Orakei Marina following customs check out by customs. Bound for Minerva Reef and then Fiji.

Wed May 13 19:30 2015 NZST
GPS: 36 37s 174 47e
Weather: 15kt NW, clear.

At Gulf Harbour waiting for weather window on Sunday, 17 May. Will be leaving then

Mon May 11 15:54 2015 NZST
No position sent.

Planning to check out and leave on Saturday, 16 May. Would like to know your thoughts if that's a good window.

Amazing Grace - Amazing Grace - 621 Jun 2019

6 June 2019. 0730 hrs. This begins our 4th day in Savusavu. Got the wind generator fixed by installing 3 new blades. Yesterday refueled with diesel. Still waiting to get our laundry done. Big backup of cruisers with 2-3 weeks of dirty, salty clothes awaiting a run through the washing machine at the Copra Shed Marina. At this rate, the laundry lady can retire soon to a nice apartment overlooking Monaco. While it's still a long way out, mid next week looks like a potential weather window Read more...

to make the Falaga run. Us and a swarm of others. With all the boats saying they plan to visit, I give the place another year at most before it's overrun, and the character and serenity will be lost. I remember first visiting Savusavu in 1995. There were 3 boats here, one was us. Now 50 or more boats can be here at any given time. A couple of years ago, I counted almost 100 before I lost sight of them down the creek. I guess that's progress. And a new super yacht marina is being built here. In a few years Savusavu will have all the character of Denerau - if you think McDonalds brings character to a location. Right now we're enjoying Savusavu like in years past. Sototale (see you later), John

Amazing Grace - Amazing Grace - 403 Jun 2019

  4 June 2019.  This is a test of a new feature on YIT - Blog.  Thank you.

Amazing Grace - Awaiting good weather

At Gulf Harbou Marina; watching weather.

Amazing Grace, Tashiba 40
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