Good morning good people Another of our amazing voyages has been completed. We are at rest in the beautiful Port Denarau Marina, on the main island of Viti Levi, Fiji. Very close to the bustling community of Nadi (pro-Nandi) and of course the international airport.
Let me describe the final leg of our journey. Our friends on ?Muse? sailed about 5 nm behind us and on arrival at Volivoli they presented us with another artisan loaf of bread baked by their daughter Hannah.
We had a wonderful night at the Volivoli dive resort on the north coast of Viti Levi. The skipper negotiated our entry and participation in the Fijian cultural show, a night of feasting, singing and dancing. The skipper was of course the feature dancer of the visitors known as Big Jim and The Boatboys.
On Friday morning we up-anchored and departed Volivoli at 06:15am bound for Port Denarau via the inner channel which weaves along the north coast,inside the surrounding coastal reefs, and passes nearby the industrial port of Lautoka.
Port Denarau has been a magnificent ending to our voyage from Tonga to Fiji.
On Saturday we did a walking tour of the Denarau shopping precinct, followed by a bula bus tour of the nearby resorts, then finally we caught a public transport bus into Nadi for a eyeball tour of the provincial capital. All very interesting.
Yesterday, Sunday, Jim and Bill went diving in the vicinity of the world renown surf spot - ?Cloudbreak?. What a great experience; the water was warm, sky clear, sea calm visibility about 30m and fish and corals aplenty. The surfers were out in their numbers rivalling a good day at Seaford or Middleton. Jet skis and tending boats were everywhere. We actually had an incident when one boat infringed our dive area, which was marked by our tender with the appropriate ?danger divers in area? pennant displayed. The captain was a local and our Dive Marshall admonished him, took his details and will notify the authorities.
Apart from that, the diving was fantastic with a swim through tunnel, stingrays, plenty of fish, one small black tip shark and the unusual worm-fish.
Oh, I should mention one dive boat/ship stood out it was the CEO?s of Google! Compete with helicopter and a mass of jet skis.
This morning at 06:30am The Kaiser departed and Jock and Bill will leave about lunchtime. Bill rejoins Ambler on 21 July after the skipper and family have celebrated his significant birthday. Until then, regards to all, Jim, Bill(scribe), Kai and The Jockey.
Good morning customers, May I apologise for some tardiness in reporting; I fear that sometimes we/I lapse into ?islander syndrome?.
We arrived at Savusavu at 01:30am last Monday morning and anchored in the suggested quarantine area until 08:30. Shortly after speaking with the Copra Shed Marina we were alongside in a very short floating berth, stern in to the berth, with a securing anchor forward in to the channel. (Half of Ambler was protruding, like the other larger vessels, into the channel). That was the very first time we have tried this trick marina method of securing a yacht. The rest of Monday morning was taken up by officialdom. In the afternoon a couple of technicians and the skipper attended to a minor generator concern. I say minor because it was not a ?mission critical item? but nevertheless time and money was necessarily expended. On Tuesday the generator was serviced and we started to prepare for a Wednesday departure. But, not before a magic young lady by the name of Hannah baked another artisan loaf for the captain and crew of Ambler II.
Savusavu was a pleasant stop mainly due to the Copra Shed Marina and it?s facilities. Savusavu is a beautiful port with a handful of resorts and excellent diving areas. However during our stay the dive companies weren?t diving, preferring to conduct inventory activities during the unseasonal rainy weather.
Wednesday morning saw us at both Immigration and Customs at 08:00, finally organising our departure for 10:00.
With about 45nm to Makogai (pronounced Makongai) Island we could not dither, lest we arrive in the dark, consequently the yanmar sail (read motor) was used for quite some time. Makogai was another wonderful anchorage. Formerly a leper colony the island now hosts government controlled turtle and clam breeding projects. I have been there twice before on the Fijian cruise vessel MV Reef Endeavour; diving on each occasion.
Our friends on the catamaran Muse were already there and we were welcomed in on the VHF radio by the very competent Hannah.
At 07:00 this morning we cleared the Makogai anchorage and set sail for the entrance to the Nananu channel which will take us, along with Muse, to an overnight anchorage off Volivoli Beach Resort.
At the moment we are sailing ?goosewinged? at a very pleasant 6.5-7.0kts heading north west along the shoreline of the main island of Viti Levu and we expect to make our anchorage before dark.
Fondest regards to all, Jim, Bill (scribe),Jock and the Kaiser.
Good evening friends and families of Ambler II, Friday saw us finalise our shopping and official duties in Neiafu and at about 4:00pm we departed the Customs wharf, negotiated the port channel and set sail at around 4:30pm for Fiji.
For an hour or so we motored in light winds, then just on dusk the wind steadied at 10-15kt from the south east. We continued through a comfortable night of shift working with the jib and main gliding us gently toward Fiji, on a heading of 280 degrees magnetic.
Today saw us zipping along at 8.5kt with the jib being polled out on one side with the mainsail set on the opposite side; a configuration known as ?goosewinged?, that is, like a startled goose raising both wings in alarm or surprise. This configuration is only achievable when the wind is coming from an astern/rear quarter. We had anticipated arriving in Savu Savu early Monday morning but with such good sailing conditions we now expect to pass through the easterly Lau Group of Fijian Islands about dawn and with a little luck we may make Savu Savu before nightfall, Sunday evening.
We are all travelling well, in good spirits and are about to tuck in to one of Jim?s spaghetti bolognaise.
Until next time, take care and needless to say we miss you all.
Regards Jim, Bill (scribe),Kai and Simon.
Hello Sportsfans, welcome back to the adventures of Ambler II.
We are still hard at it in northern Tonga, sailing and exploring the Vava?u group with occasional sorties into the capital, Neiafu, and The Mango Bar and Restaurant.
The last correspondence was from our arrival in Port Maurelle on 04 June. Since then we ventured to Kenutu island which involved a touch of expertise in boat handling and navigation. Kenutu is about the most easterly anchorage in the group and from there, beyond the fringing reef, is the open ocean and French Polynesia.
On Thursday 06 June we decided to enter Neiafu, pay a courtesy visit to Customs and check out the scene. Wow, what a scene. The Mango, The Tropicana, The floating Gin Barge/floating fish and chip shop/late night boozer is about it; save for the fresh produce market and a couple of general stores.
We agreed The Mango was more our style and we have frequented the establishment on the odd occasion (good wifi).
Peter and Bob left us on Saturday 08 June and Simon and Kai replaced them; so after a day of introductions to Neiafu and The Mango we departed that location for more thrill seeking.
Our first port of call was an island lagoon at the south west tip of Vava?u which required us to enter via a surging rock entrance no wider than three boat widths. Captain Jim steered us into a magnificent lagoon where two other yachts were anchored including, believe it or not, a large South African flagged yacht which was crewed by a couple of.....wait for it ......nudists!!!! We kid you not. Two suntanned blondes who simply went about their chores with no special regard for our presence.
Sorry, I didn?t mention a couple, as in man and woman. Nevertheless, they did attract some modest attention.
After ?Nudist Lagoon? we headed east again to another fabulously sheltered bay where we spent last night. As we headed east we crossed the path of a large contingent of the Island Cruising Rally from New Zealand who are travelling together as far as Noumea and returning to NZ before the cyclone season.
Today, Tuesday, we ventured to Swallow Cave and while Kai and I circled the entrance in Ambler, Jim and Simon explored the cave in the tender. However, we did not hang about because the endless traffic heading to Neiafu continued and we feared not getting a mooring/anchorage within a reasonable tender distance of The Mango.
Now here we sit at anchor in the rain hoping it stops soon because we have booked our table for dinner at The Mango. Neiafu harbour and surrounds is chockablock full of yachts and catamarans from around the world.
We await good winds at the moment and we are likely to leave on Friday for Fiji. When we have made that decision we will of course advise you all, until then take care and, as always, our thoughts are with you.
Regards, Jim, Simon, Kai and Bill
Hello family and friends, Our stay anchored off Sandy Beach Resort has been brilliant! We shared the anchorage with a lovely family from Sydney who have their young son and daughter out of primary school for a year and are sailing their catamaran around the islands.
One morning father and daughter paddled alongside to deliver a loaf of bread the young lady (about 10years old) had made for us. Fantastic.
The snorkeling, swimming, weather, and all round ambience of the resort on Foa Island, Ha?apai Group, has been beautiful.
The resort also has a dive shop and yesterday (Monday)Jim and I had two scuba dives each. The first was a pleasant tropical reef dive with a sea temperature of 30 degrees celsius but the second dive featured a large reef area with caves, canyons and swim through tunnels which created a simply magic diving experience. We were taken to the dive spots in the ?dive boat? and as the only divers we had the undivided attention of the dive master. Good stuff.
Today we set sail about 08:00am for the northerly Vava?u Group of Islands and we have had fabulous sailing all day with the asymmetric spinnaker set for most of the journey. We are now anchored alongside two catamarans and three mono-hull yachts at Port Maurelle. A lovely spot but with no visible habitation.
This journey through the Tongan archipelago has been very satisfying indeed but unfortunately it is coming to a close with us planning to enter Neiafu harbour either Thursday afternoon or Friday morning. The crew changeover is Saturday.
For the next two days we anticipate enjoying the many islands of the Vava?u Group.
Fondest regards, Jim, Bill(scribe), Pete and Bob.
Hi to you dwellers in the cold,
After a very pleasant overnight tied to the wharf at the village port of Pangai we departed at 08:30am and headed north along the Ha’apai Group to Foa Island.
At the northern tip of Foa Island is Sandy Beach resort. From this resort they conduct the world acclaimed snorkeling with Humpbacks program. Unfortunately we are too early for the whales presence but we are anchored in the most beautiful lagoon not far off the beach. Shortly after arrival this morning we all had a snorkel in the lagoon which was followed by lunch at the resort. We have ordered the pork belly for dinner at 7:00 tonight.
This is by far the best place we’ve found so far and we intend to stay tomorrow (Sunday) and continue with our snorkeling.
I can say no more, other than we are anchored in a beautiful place in great weather and we are a very happy little crew.
But, we still think of you all at home.
Jim, Bill (scribe), Pete and Bob
Good afternoon all,
What a beautiful morning’s sailing we’ve enjoyed today.
We pulled the anchor at Peapea Isl at about 08:00 am and turned slightly east of north with an eight knot easterly breeze driving us along at about 5.5kt.
We arrived at Pangai port at 1230 and now sit comfortably alongside the main wharf.
This afternoon after lunch ashore we retreated to the yacht and whilst going about our business youths from the local high school rugby team entertained us. They had just finished playing another youth team and came for a swim at the wharf. Spontaneously they burst in to song. MAGNIFICENT indeed!!! After plenty of diving and swimming they again gave us an animated performance which included Pedro, who shouted them all an ice cream. With their teachers permission of course.
We hope the attachment of the boys works out.
Jim, Bob, Pete and Bill (scribe)
Hi there folks, Further to yesterday?s stop press announcement we did in fact catch two tuna. One, the chef turned into beautiful seasoned tuna steaks served with a rice and vegetable pilaf like dish. The other I have prepared as a fish and vegetable curry (of sorts), for tonight?s dinner.
We had a very peaceful night, not at an un-named island (as was previously indicated) but at Kelefesia Island in the Nomuka Group. Surrounded by breaking surf, except for our entry passage, the anchorage was excellent.
Ambler pulled anchor and departed Kelefesia at a very civilised 0900 this morning, shortly after morning prayers. Noon saw us past Nomuka as we sailed beautifully with both main and jib looking for our chosen anchorage at Oua Island. That was not to be. The entrance information was a little light on and it was extensively protected by a shallow reef so we continued a little further to Peapea Island, where we now sit calmly at anchor.
The Skipper has done some minor running repairs to the auto helm system that we may have to re-calibrate in the morning. However, the system does appear to be working as advertised.
Tomorrow we will probably head for Pangai port, the ?capital? of the Ha? Apai or central group of Tongan Islands. Unbelievably, we must clear in and out again despite having an intra-island itinerary approved in Nuku?alofa! Since all jobs have now been done and we?ve all had a swim and shower Pete is moving for an early opener. Far be it for me to miss out. The curry is on the stove. I?ll second that motion.
Cheers all, Jim, Bob, Pete and Bill (scribe)
Hello to all you beautiful people, Today we have left the Tongatapu, or southern Tongan island group, and we are motor sailing north towards Nomuka in the very south of the Ha?apai, or central Tongan island group.
The weather is pleasant and our new crew members Bob and Pete seem to be coping with the cultural adjustment of this demanding life.
Flying fish are plentiful but that?s about all we are seeing, apart from Islands and the occasional surf breaking on reefs along the way. We have been sailing on the eastern (seaward) side of the archipelago and a long barrier reef or a series of atoll reefs has continued north, paralleling our northerly route, for much of the way.
However, as we are now between the groups and in deeper waters there is no more surf and we have the fishing line out hoping for mahi mahi, tuna, Spanish mackerel or perhaps a swordfish. We have decided we will take shelter tonight in the lee of an unnamed small island just south of Nomuka and all going well we expect to be secure there an hour or so before dark.
Must go now, lunchtime is calling.
Until we chat again, regards from Jim, Pete, Bob and Bill (scribe) STOP PRESS adventurers? luncheon disturbed as tuna jumps on to skipper?s line.
Tuna for dinner tonight.
welcome back sports fans, how sweet it is to be back communicating with you all and highlighting details of this amazing voyage.
Last Wednesday after a brief rest at Atata Island we entered Nuku?alofa harbour (flying the yellow quarantine pennant) and commenced the clearance procedures.
Overall the whole process went well, with us being tied up at the Customs wharf. We stayed on that wharf until Friday when our Dutch friends aboard NOK entered and needed our position to do their clearances.
Ambler moved to a nearby wharf where we sat out the continuous rain and wind.
Saturday night we farewelled Steve and Tim and welcomed Pete and Bob.
On Sunday the weather slowly improved and as forecast, on Monday we made final preparations (shopping and matters bureaucratic) for our journey north, leaving today to sail among the islands of Tonga.
Well may you wonder, ?how far did these adventurous fellows make?? The answer is about 3nm! Again, the wind is not quite as listed in the brochure and so we are having a very pleasant day at anchor in the lee of a lovely island in the outer Nuku?alofa Bay area rather than motoring or beating into wind.
A couple of highlights from our stay in Nuku?alofa: One, the Waterfront Lodge and Restaurant, where we spent considerable time - excellent food, service, internet and other facilities (read toilets).
The second was having NOK rafted up to us with Heinze and Anne close handy. They were an affable couple who left Holland a couple of years ago and Heinze gave us a few tips from his experience. Those tips ranged from navigation through mechanics to rigging advice; all well received and in some cases implemented.
That is about our lot as we sit here anticipating tomorrow?s adventures.
Fondest regards , Jim, Bill (scribe) Pete and Bob
Good morning one and all, The Bay of Islands, NZ, to Tongatapu Island, Tonga, an eight day voyage including one beautiful day at South Minerva Reef. We had a glorious first six days sailing and a not so glorious last two. In particular, the last 30 hours were initially spent motoring into a stiff 20-25 kt nor-easterly breeze, followed by a gusty reach toward the end. But, Huey had more in store for us; conditions deteriorated to winds gusting 40 kt with heavy rain showers. Most unpleasant, especially in the dark of night. As a prelude to this unseasonal tropical depression developing we saw a waterspout, which in hindsight was an indicator of the unstable atmosphere.
However, not to be deterred the gallant crew of Ambler II manoeuvred her at first light through the channel and in to a safe anchorage at Atapa Island, part of Tongatapu. Some might say ?well done those men?. We simply take it in our modest stride.
We have made contact with the authorities who understandably are allowing us to stay here until the conditions abate and we can comfortably enter Nuku?alofa harbour. I did forget to say that the Skipper caught a 2m shark at Minerva. We believe it was a Long Nosed Grey Shark and in the interests of the environment we let it go.
We have seen quite a lot of small flying fish along the way with two of them flying aboard; one was alive and we rejoined him/her with the school, the other unfortunate individual had a bad case of rigor mortis and was buried at sea.
I?m now struggling to not enter the realm of verbal garbage.
May I leave you with the same: thinking of you all, always, Jim, Steve, Tim and Bill(scribe)
Good morning viewers Huey has stuck to his word and whilst the conditions are unpleasant they are well within the capabilities of Ambler II. The 2-3m large chop from just 30 degrees off the starboard bow is giving us an uncomfortable pitching with some rolling motion as we advance toward Tonga. Sleeping was not easy last night. However with our crew roster of 2hours on and 6 off. We are all adequately rested.
The Yanmar engine has been purring now for about 9 hours and it looks as though we will stay motoring for about another 30nm until we are clear of a small islet and shoal. We then anticipate setting course and reaching for the western tip of Tongatapu where we will anchor and spend the late night/early morning hours before entering Nuku?alofa harbour.
No complaints; ocean sailing is not all smooth seas and following winds! But, given the beautiful days we?ve had thus far we cannot complain. Arriving a little earlier In Nuku?alofa may also allow us to partake of other tourist activities - perhaps even exploring the caves and/or fishing, diving and snorkeling.
Meantime, we will keep beating into this wind for another few hours then we should be able to enjoy a more pleasant beam reach.
Thinking of you all, Jim, Bill (scribe),Steve and Tim
Good morning customers, Huey has threatened us with less than perfect weather towards the end of the week so we have decided to bypass North Minerva Reef and set course for Tonga. We need to be cleared into Tonga at Nuku?alofa before the weekend.
Our reef expedition returned to Ambler yesterday afternoon without any delicacies however they did invite them crew of an adjacent catamaran for dinner, as long as they brought their own tuna steaks. Great initiative. Not only did they bring tuna steaks but they also brought a beautifully presented plate of fresh sashimi. Great dinner, pleasant evening.
Today we are enjoying an easy reaching sail with the main and jib pulling us through the water at 8.5 kts. The sun is brilliant, the sky cloudless and the temperature warm.
We acknowledge the hard life but we are prepared to shoulder the burden.
Of course our thoughts always return to our family and friends.
Hoping all are well, Jim, Tim, Steve and Bill(scribe)
Hello smilers and frowners, Well, apparently it?s all over? The smoke signals we are receiving at anchor in the lagoon of South Minerva Reef are indicating that Bill Shorten has beaten John Hewson by a considerable margin in this last election! There is some word that JH will be handing over the Lodge?s wooden spoon to BS later this week at a wake in NSW ALP HQ in Sussex St Sydney. Feeling surprised and amazed! We are very comfortably at anchor in a lagoon nearly 300nm from anywhere; sharing an unbelievable peaceful coral lagoon with three catamarans. Tomorrow we will venture 30nm north to the adjoining North Minerva Reef and after a full day there our intention is to press on to Tonga on Wednesday aiming to clear in before the weekend.
Again, missing you all and take care, commiserate or celebrate carefully.
Jim, Bill(scribe), Steve and Tim.
Hello voters, Saturday morning finds us in a very pleasant east-south easterly breeze of generally 10-15kt with occasional gusts around 18kt.
Friday?s weather was again as forecast with the morning south westerly winds backing through south to the south east later in the day. Towards dusk we decided to pull down the assymetric spinnaker and set the main and jib, in anticipation of reaching (with the predicted beam winds) through the night. That sail configuration and south easterly wind produced a beautifully steady reach and a restful night; which continues to this time. With about 150nm to go and sailing at about 7.5kt we expect to arrive at South Minerva Reef early tomorrow morning.
We are all reading and sleeping when not on watch, discussing the elections (not) and the captain continues to provide us with excellent nourishment, ie, minus any alcohol of course when oceanic cruising. Oh what healthy lives we live! The only thing missing is of course the regular conversation and company of yourselves??. That?s enough of that sentimentality we?re supposed to be rugged adventurers. That being said, Regards from Jim, Steve, Bill(scribe) and Tim
Hello sports fans, Another wonderful day sailing with the assy spinnaker. We are now of a similar latitude to Brisbane and the temperature is warming. The wind has held steady through the night from the south-south west, as forecast, and we expect later today it will back around to the south east.
The spinnaker has been performing well and in these conditions it is the sail of choice (for the moment at least). That is not to say that, like all spinnakers, they can?t rapidly turn the mood from one of pure pleasure to one of serious concern.
Last night with the spinnaker and main both up we had some moments of concern but with the near full moon, starlight and feverish crew work we were able to recover the situation, pull down the assy and continue our journey on the jib alone, albeit with some rocking and rolling.
This morning we repacked the spinnaker, re-hoisted it and today the assy spinnaker continues as the sail of choice.
At our present rate of progress we expect to arrive at the Minerva Reef South during Saturday night. Given the narrow entrance to the lagoon we expect to hold off for the evening and enter in good light on Sunday morning.
We hope you at home are as well as can be; we certainly are.
Regards from Jim, Steve, Tim and Bill(scribe).
Hi all, The last couple of days have seen us coping with very light winds that have swung about the stern, never quite settling to enable an ideal ground track course to be set.
However, no complaints! With the sun breaking through for prolonged periods of warmth we?ve never been more than 5nm of course as we?ve chased the wind using the asymmetric spinnaker.
Yesterday on sunset, with the moon already into a clear sky and with the promise of a steady sw wind we changed tack and switched the assy to the starboard side. That fortunate decision resulted in Ambler II sailing through the night at a modest 5plus kts in a 5-10kt sw breeze. (NB Spinnaker all night) This morning the breeze has increased to 10-15kt and we are now sailing beautifully with the assy combined with the mainsail to produce a steady 7-8kt speed on course for South Minerva reef where we anticipate spending Sunday. The crew are rested and coping well with conditions.
Cheers from Jim, Bill, Tim and Steve
Ambler II is motoring at 7.8 knots, having used an asymmetric spinnaker for part of the previous afternoon and evening.
All four persons on board are all well and rested but looking forward to a stronger breeze.
590 miles to South Minerva Reef. No complaints about the tucker. In any case the cook is not listening!
Hi all, Departed Opua this morning, bound for the Minerva Reefs, after enjoying the community and hospitality of the Marina over the last 4 or 5 days.
All well on board, sun is shining but light on for breeze. Hoping this will improve as the day goes on.
Hello Readers, We continue to be impressed and delighted by the Bay of Islands with its cornucopia of safe and commodious anchorages.
Actually James Cook described these bays as ?commodious ?so there?s s little plagiarism happening here.
Last Friday we arrived into Opua and were able to do laundry, collect provisions and refill gas bottles.
A very kind gentleman loaned us his van to get us into Paihia thus making life a lot easier.
Opua is a clearance port and this is where the next crew will clear Customs en route to Tonga ( hopefully the officials will allow an excess of good Australian Red to depart with the vessel) The last few days have been spent hopping in and out of the dinghy , exploring on terra firma , walking a few trails drinking a latte or two and sampling NZ ice cream The museum in Russell was well worth a visit as was the French cafe ( with internet ad handmade chocolates.) Russell was described as ?The Hell Hole of the Pacific ?in the early 1800?s until a vigilante group , the missionaries and the Temperance Society instilled some changes and now it?s a beautiful little town of law and order.
Zane Grey?s name frequently pops up usually accompanied by a photo of a huge sword fish .
He fished a lot in these waters and hence its popularity for deep sea fish .
Tonight we are anchored in Paradise Bay( aptly named)on Urapukapuka Island. We will sleep well having walked up to the Haruru waterfall from Pahia earlier in the day. Fern glens with some mango swamp and kiwis( non sighted probably because they are nocturnal) Apparently Kiwis use their whiskers like a barometer to check the weather !! Libby
Moody sea and sky
Looking from the sailors eye When out upon the sea Many moods have sea and sky So read them cautiously These two they live together In symbiotic glee To tease and tempt and terrorise The sailor endlessly From balmy warm serenity You?d rove the globe to see Through playful bright frivolity To tempestuosity These moods can swing so suddenly So scan for every clue For if you sail carelessly This day you?ll surely rue It?s much a judge of character The sailor must perfect To avoid abject disaster To avoid the tragic wreck But, if he reads the moods right A sailors life is grand So go out there, sit tight And strive to understand.
Contribution from Poets collection
Here are the latest goings on from Ambler .
2 days spent in Westhaven Marina in Downtown Auckland along with the other 2,400 boats...
Jim holed up in the library on WiFi ( forward planning)while I cleaned up boat and Graham did Chandlery shopping ( more fun cleaning the boat than doing that genre of shopping) Discovered Cafe Hanoi for dinner .
We sadly farewelled our poet and experienced sailor Graham and headed North to another stunning island called Kawau. Went ashore to Mansion House whose owner in the 1860?s shipped all sorts of plants and trees from around the world for his garden. Impressive to say the least. I suspect he had a lot of time to garden because his wife had her eye turned by a young sailor and ran off to Rio de Janeiro .
Today was a 12 hour sail to Bland Bay ( nothing bland about this beauty spot) It took us slightly longer than expected because while the skipper slept I managed to take us off course !!!! Enough of my rantings. Libby
It is with great good fortune we made it here at all What brought us to this moment? Can you now recall? And can we take full credit for being here tonight We started on this journey with the absence of insight With an appetite for knowledge for stimulus and love The rest has been a process of didactic push and shove We recoil from the painful and we crave a life of ease We hasten for a tablet at the first sign of a sneeze Our life is a deep mystery, why are we here at all What is our life?s purpose and why is it so cruel Perhaps the only purpose is to navigate a course To shine a light for others and eliminate remorse To tread so very lightly and not squander a resource And to focus our minds inward on what our senses feel Not open up the floodgates to the thoughts that are not real To build a human network to savour and to nourish And to see that every single one of us can have a chance to flourish. Poet (now safely arrived home in Port Lincoln)
Hello from the crew on Ambler this fresh ,sunny Monday morning.
We are as I scribe ,sailing into Auckland from a rather beautiful , green island called Waiheke where we anchored last night in Man of War Bay.
The skipper is in need of internet and some provisions wouldn?t go amiss. I can never say No to a laundromat and we do need to deposit Graham near an airport... so Auckland here we come.
Will be very sad to farewell our resident poet. We?ve made a deal, he shares his poetry with me and I share my play list with him. ( a man with musical taste as well as literary style .. not to mention his exceptional sailing abilities.) Not meaning to become too technical but we enjoyed a 20 mile Spinnaker sail yesterday at about 9 knots. Everyone was happy.
The day before we dinghed ( is that a real word?)ashore to Bush Beach on Great Barrier Island with a view to ?bagging? Mt Hobson.
No mean feat more like sore feet.
It was a relentless climb up with over 2,000 steps accompanied by the production of a load of lactic acid.
As always an absolutely magnificent view from the top so well worth it.
We ambled down the South Fork Track and were somewhat delighted to eventually spot the boat mast .. only one more step up onto the boat.
Graham?s poems included in today?s update capture the walk in its essence.
Actually he had plenty of time for poetry cogitation on the walk as he was back at the dinghy waiting a long time before the older members of the party reached their destination.
My evening was spent luxuriating in a shower / library all in one .
I could multitask ( a female thing) whilst conditioning my hair I was able to browse the shelves for a interesting book and soak in the most beautiful sunset view of our anchorage at Smoke House Bay.
Whilst I abluted to my hearts content( water heated by a wood stove which a rather feral but extremely pleasant young kiwi gentleman kept loading up.) the boys drank beer near the wood fired oven which was cooking our spuds and patiently waited for a sweet smelling lady to return from her anti fouling procedures.
This little bay is a sailor?s delight.. only boat access to this heavenly spot and equipped with oven , fire pit, tables ,chairs , bath and shower and even some old wringers and washingline ... set up by a family of sailors called the Websters and kept going by volunteers and donations...
I?ll be donating ,my shower was worth a packet( maybe an Island packet???) On that note ,tootle pip my hearties, From the only sweet smeller on board.
X Sent from my iPad
Scribe Bill has disembarked and I?m taking over his job with strict instructions from Skipper( aka husband) to keep it short.
Apparently my title is boss lady which I think is a bit rough... a lady through and through but Boss on the Boat I am not ! Anyway back to our journey so far..
We left Whitianga ( pronounced Fittyanna) On Wednesday and tootled up the most stunning coastline to the Mercury Islands where we overnighted.
Thursday we continued North to Great Barrier Island under sail so there was wind( no idea about direction of this wind) I believe we were traveling at around 8 knots. My sort of sailing when you can drink a cup of English Breakfast without it spilling into your lap.
Anchored in Smoke House Bay(recommended by fellow sailor in Mercury Bay) Beautiful spot with shore facilities set up by a sailor for other such types .. only water access.
An open air bath ( rain water heated by a wood stove)library of well read books and an oven for smoking fish or cooking a pizza or in our case baking our spuds.
A pleasant evening was spent ashore chatting to other boaties.
Today we enjoyed a wee tramp( in Australian, a short walk)in a protected area free of possums , stoats and Norwegian rats .. not sure about rats of other nationalities.!! Saw a few kauri trees ( actually climbed one of said trees with the help of a swing bridge and a ladder)and some Moho Pererus( banded rails ) Amazing dinner at a run down boat club in Fitzroy.. all organic with freshly baked bread... I purchased a lunge scarf made from alpaca wool by a lass on a boat from Guatemala.
Hmm better close here as maybe I?ve gone over my word limit.!!!!! Libby There?s white caps on the water The clouds are low and grey The wind is in the mainsail We?re rolling home today There?s landmarks are familiar Slip by the larboard side And meanwhile in the cockpit The crew enjoy the ride Their heads are full of memories Laid down in recent days Of the sea and all it?s wonder It?s crafty, fickle ways It?s a cruise of self discovery Of ones capacity for awe Of simple truths of nature Of what a life is really for! Poet
Arrived at Tauranga at about 2300 hours on Friday 19th after sailing (motoring) past the actively volcanic White (Whakaari) Island, about 50 miles east of Tauranga and picked our way against a very strong tide into the visitors berth of the Tauranga Yacht Club.
After overnighting we decided to move to the Bridge Marina which was closer to the city centre and more convenient for a couple of blokes without wheels.
Spent sometime at the local Jazz Festival which has been an annual event for 30 plus years, walked to and climbed Mount Maunganui for some spectacular views and had a meal out with Libby’s cousin Christine and her husband, Andy.
Monday spent most of the day sheltering from rain below decks but later moved out to anchor near the harbour entrance, ready for an early departure for Whitianga today where we plan to meet up with Libby on Wednesday.
We arrived at Napier at 13.30 hours on the 17th in plenty of time to offload Fred who had a flight to catch to Queenstown to meet old friends.
Our berth at the Napier Yacht Club was extremely well located, right in front of the club rooms and less than 50 metres from their facilities and a short walk to shops, bars and restaurants. The staff were very hospitable and welcoming and it would have been great to stay a day or so longer.
Given the forecast, however, decided to move on and currently making our way to Tauranga where we anticipate waiting for a few days and also to meet Libby.
Had a great sail under spinnaker yesterday morning but had to motor for about 12 hours after rounding Portland Island. (Jim) And now the sun has ushered in Good Friday and it?s bathing our windward coast. Sailing along under its lee we have a glorious view of thrusting sunlit peaks and shadowed plunging valleys that fan out to short, verdant coastal slopes - dropping at last in low rocky cliffs to the sea. This is the prominence at the eastern end of the Bay of Plenty. We are twenty four hours sailing from Napier and happily the wind returned this morning as we rounded East Cape so we are now sailing again - real sailing, with sails! Eighty something miles to go to Tauranga and the wind is forecast to take its leave of the Bay of Plenty so our current circumstance, as ever in this sailing lark, may change! (Graham)
We spent our first night as legally entered aliens in the Waikawa marina, toward the southern end of Queen Charlotte Sound. The skipper had his first night off from cooking duties as we made a bee line to the local tavern, the ?Jolly Roger?. A memorable and adequately lubricated night ensued followed by our first gloriously uninterrupted nights sleep since departing Tasmanian shores. The following morning after rising at a respectable hour, we ambled a little further up the Sound to Picton.
Picton offered a supermarket for revictualing, cafes with wifi for eating, coffee drinking and a frenzy phone messaging, email checking and the like. Picton also saw the piping off of Bill ( the Commander and scribe). Bill boarded a small plane to Wellington, being the first leg of his travel back to Australia. We three remaining cast off the warps after lunch to proceed north and east out of the Sound to an anchorage within the Tory Channel. This channel provides an alternative route back into Cook Strait, exiting from a point much closer to Wellington. Our night was spent in a glorious little inlet close to the channel?s northern opening into Cook Strait. We slipped the mooring at about 0415 to re enter the Tory channel and out into the Strait on a course to the south eastern corner of New Zealand?s north island. The wind, being fresh SSE had us rollicking along through seas that were being thrust into steep peaks by the tidal flow. We made good, albeit wet progress out of Cook Strait in the conditions but reflected on how treacherous this waterway must be with southerly gales and tidal flows working in opposition. The following days ( Tuesday 16th) sail north was steady progress against the spectacular western backdrop of thrusting peaks and verdant plunging valleys. Steady progress continued through the night with the breaking out of our big green and gold gennaker at daybreak and as I write this update we are closing with Cape Kidnapper at seven knots - bellies full of breakfast, mild sea and sky, life aboard Ambler is grand! We are making for Napier where will stop for at least a night. Fred will leave the team here to fly south to visit old mates hiding in the SW fjord lands. Jim, Fred and Graham (scribe)
Rounded Cape Palliser en route to Napier
Update 4 from Ambler II Sunday 14 April 19
Hello Sports fans,
We have completed the final stage of the inaugural Trans Tasman race for Island Packet yachts and we are now in the beautiful Picton Marina.
Thursday 11 April was a beautiful sailing day with a following southerly sea and a pleasant 15 kt breeze with sunny skies.
Late in the afternoon the breeze picked up and we managed to surf a couple of swells and achieve 15.8 kts. The yacht handled the conditions superbly.
One great feature of Ambler is the dropdown side curtains which keep the cockpit dry and warm.
During the early hours of Friday 12 April we encountered the last of our significant low pressure events and again Ambler excelled and produced a new top speed of 17.7 knots speed over the ground. Had it not been dark we could have wake surfed!
Friday was again a beautiful sail; hardly changing the set and just cruising/surfing along.
With conditions easing in the early afternoon it was time for the spinnaker with the South Island now clearly visible. What a beautiful sight: Ambler II with main sail and spinnaker and NZ in the background. The image that makes the effort worthwhile.
Well, we thought we were home and hosed; thinking Picton in the early afternoon, but not to be!
A late afternoon headwind, followed by a veering wind that went from northerly to south easterly with an opposing Cook Strait current delayed our arrival until 4:30 pm. Might I say, still a record for Ambler II.
Customs and Quarantine??? No sweat, easy going - four honest men. Done deal!
Regards to all ,
James(skipper and cook),Graham(poet),Frederick (counsellor)and William(scribe).
A sailors job upon a boat
‘S to keep the bloody thing afloat
And to cast an eye upon the seas
To check for any signs of breeze
To hoist the sails and swab the deck
To plot a course and hope like heck
Not to be a sunken wreck
Notes from Ambler II, Thursday 11 April 2019 Hi folks, Our forecasts continue to be quite accurate and Tuesday unfolded much as was expected with winds and swell gradually increasing in velocity and size from the west south west. During the afternoon the weather and the associated sail configuration changed little and the evening shift work started with smooth sailing. We had anticipated the ?worst ? weather to hit us about midnight but, no problem - easy going. That was until 4:30 am Wednesday morning, on the Skipper?s shift, when the wind rapidly increased to a sustained 30 knots with gusts observed to 38 Kts. Of course the sea state changed just as quickly to a mass of white caps which developed further into rollers. The worst aspect of the ?change? was the accompanying heavy, continuous, rain. ?Water, water everywhere....? In an instant our sleepy warm evening with one watch keeper changed, and would stay that way for almost 12 hours until about 3:30 pm Wednesday afternoon. But, with excellent seamanship, management and leadership the Captain and crew sailed Ambler II into a glorious sunny late afternoon complete with a colourful pink sunset.
Today, Thursday 12 April: quite good conditions - some sun, some cloud, some light sprinkles of rain but generally pleasant. Twenty knot winds with a moderate south west swell of about two and a half metres producing 7 kts over the ground (plus or minus two knots depending on.....).
*****Newsflash, the original estimate of nine to ten days sailing is likely to be slashed with Ambler II now predicted to cross the finish line in a record breaking eight days. Experts predict Ambler will be in Picton by early Saturday afternoon. The inaugural Shedantucjoh cup is likely to be presented to the owner and crew at the quarantine holding station. In fact several cups are likely to be presented to this otherwise abstaining crew. Cheers?? In the meantime as we approach the coast of NZ we leave with this simple poem: Weere out upon the Tasman sea Sex days now afloat Weere hudding for New Zealand In our funcy sailing boat Weeve had fair winds Weere sailing fast Weere very nearly theere You meebe can teel that From the inflection in this note All for now from Ambler II, Jim, Graham (poet),Fred and Bill (scribe)
Notes from Ambler II, Tuesday 09 April 2019.
Today we find ourselves approaching the halfway point mid Tasman Sea.
Since our last message on Sunday morning 07 April we have had a mixed bag of sailing conditions but overall we must say Huey has been kind to us.
For much of Sunday we generally had winds from the north quarter but with an unpleasant north easterly swell giving quite a lot of rocking and rolling.
A highlight of the day was a near miss with a Sunfish, a very unusually shaped large fish which often basks on the surface of the open ocean. (google sunfish).
Monday 10 April saw us with an early period of head winds from the north east which necessitated the use of the engine for a couple of hours. However, the day settled down to ideal sailing conditions with the wind slightly forward of the port beam and Ambler sporting three sails: jib, staysail and main. This pretty configuration produced 8 knots speed over the ground with only a 12 knot breeze. With the sun out - picture perfect! To complete the picture, late in the day we were visited for a long time by a very large pod of dolphins; many of them being juveniles.
Those pleasant conditions stayed with us through the night (two sails, jib and main) until about 4:30 am when abating conditions called for use of the engine.
Today, Tuesday, we await the passing of our most likely significant weather. At about 9:30 am we encountered the first of the pre-frontal cloud-banks which rapidly increased to 25 knots from the north. We expect that from about noon, though to just after midnight, we will encounter a wind shift through north to south west. The wind velocity is likely to be up to 30 knots.These conditions will be accompanied by a rising south west swell of about three metres.
After the cold front passes we settle into a beautiful sustained period of moderate south west winds and swell; all heading in the right direction.
All for now from Ambler II, mid morning Tuesday 09 April 2019.
Regards to all, Jim, Graham, Fred and Bill (scribe)
At 3:00 pm on Friday 05 March Ambler II and her crew were cleared by the Hobart Border Force officials to leave Australia (much like the airport really, checked faces to passports). However, the clearance was issued on the assumption that we would not be leaving the yacht; if we had an unforeseen need to get off the boat we would need to advise Border Force of the circumstances.
Ambler sailed south down the Derwent River and turned at the ?iron pot? to head north east toward a safe overnight anchorage in the vicinity of Dunally. We settled for a restful evening at Primrose Bay.
Saturday 06 April at 7:55 am Ambler sailed for Dunalley and the Dennison Canal; a very interesting narrow canal with a swing bridge to allow us through. On exiting the canal and sailing through another bay we were at the entrance to the ocean where we negotiated the channel and the surf to begin the real journey. The highlights of the trip to this point were undoubtably the Dennison Canal with all the traffic at the swing bridge watching our passage, and the surfer on a surf-foil cruising past us on a wave, with his jet skiing photographer in close pursuit.
The afternoon and evening of Saturday 06 morphed into the morning of Sunday 07 April as we all took our turns on shift through an uncomfortable night of mixed wind conditions, rocking and rolling through various sail configurations supplemented by the engine.
However, at about 2:00 am (Sunday morning) the wind shifted in our favour and since then we have had pleasant sailing with the wind abeam and the foresail up and producing a reliable 7.5 knots heading in the right direction. Albeit still with a lumpy sea.
Having changed our clocks from daylight saving time and having eaten breakfast we thought it timely to let you folks know of our progress, which is about 1000 nm to go. All good on board Ambler II.
Regards to all, Jim, Graham, Fred and Bill.
We have just finished antifouling the boat after two days in the Cleanlift yard and are now back in a berth at the RYCT in Hobart ready to have the engine serviced and to attend to providoring prior to our planned departure on Friday afternoon. Destination Picton NZ.
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