Back at Manly without cleaning the bottom of the keel on the way. Very uneventful motor from the Gold Coast. We are now buried in the unpacking process.....
Chilling at the Broadwater until high tide at Jacobs Well tomorrow morning. Hopefully we will squeeze through at about 0630 tomorrow without touching the dirt. That is really the last obstacle between us and Manly. All going well, we will be back in Moreton Bay tomorrow. I guess this is the last leg of our 9 month adventure and we have a whole bag of mixed emotions. While the boys are keen to see the house, Mum and Dad would happily restock and pull the sails up again. This trip was several years in the planning and was essentially a trial run for a longer term lifestyle. Trial complete, lots of lessons learned and some experience into different way of living; simply and as a team. Moving back into a house might feel a bit sterile, bland and lonely after living in such a dynamic and close medium. No daily decisions on where to move the home so that we are safe, I guess. So the planning begins again for the next voyage. In the meantime we will feed our dreams with weekend sails and MAINTENANCE!
Just dropped the anchor after 24 hours in the washing machine from Coffs Harbour. We are now tucked in at the Broadwater (Gold Coast) and ready for some sleep!
Got to Coffs late yesterday arvo after an overnighter from Port Stephens. Coffs always reminds us of a mini version of Newcastle (which we love) although the marina is a bit of a tight affair. Here is where you get to see some masterful docking (or otherwise). Uneventful trip here. The seas were horrible for the first day out but got better as the night wore on until it was champagne motor-sailing yesterday. Wonder chunder (Nate) got it in the bag both times. This success was positively reinforced by Mum who didn't need to reacquaint herself with the ravioli meal she had prepared earlier. It's blowing a northerly gale outside right now. That will be replaced tomorrow morning by a southerly gale for a couple of days with barely a blink in between the the two winds. After mother nature has gotten that out of her system and the seas settle we will make a break for either Yamba or Southport. Possibly Sunday..... stay tuned.
Back at Port Stephens after a motor from Newcastle. Most of the way it seemed as though we were pushing through mud cake, except for the smell of dirt. Overflow from the Hunter river extends almost all the way to Port Stephens. As we rounded the corner and passed the reefs near the entrance to Port Stephens we spotted something in the water. My immediate thought went to the body of the yachtie who had gone overboard a few days ago in this area but hadn't been found (as far as we knew). With some reluctance I disengaged the autohelm and headed toward it. As we got closer it appeared even more like a body but then a pair of flippers distinctly appeared. If this was a diver he/she was a long way out and without a flag or vessel. So we got closer. The seal was lying on its back and turned to look at us before giving us a wave with a flipper. It then resumed its stretches, including pulling its 'toes' back with its front flippers. Jodi, the photo is for you. We know what you have been doing. Our cafe culture dog revealed all when a cappuccino appeared.... Just not sure if he prefers Latte, Flat White or Cappuccino at this stage.
Back in Newcastle after a crazy day passage from Sydney. We did not want for variety with the wind ranging from calm to 26 knots and coming from the N, E, S and W. The seas were very confused, producing some of the most ridiculous motion I think we had experienced. Nice "Welcome Back to the Boat" for Robbie the dog! He took appropriate action and stayed in bed with Jay all day (mostly under the doona). We look like being in Newcastle for a few days as winter seems to have caught up with us. I guess you can sail but you can't hide.
Relocated to Balls Head Bay yesterday due to the roll at Balmoral and the anticipated Easterly wind action.
Bouncing around Sydney Harbour. Xmas shopping, Manly surf, sight seeing and watching the never-ending entertainment that the locals provide when they anchor nearby. Glad we weren't the sailboat that got struck yesterday by the motor yacht! We have started to figure out how the harbour works and are currently at anchor in Spring Cove. Will move across to Balmoral later today to preposition for the next southerly buster due tomorrow. Thanks to the folks who have posted comments recently. Heidi and Nicholas - we have been watching your excellent progress and hope you guys are enjoying Tassie (we seem to always be a few steps behind). Some amazing country down there.
Nice day yesterday with the Kim and the cousins (see photo). Tied up to a mooring at Manly Bay in Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour for the non-nautical). Tried to do the right thing and called the folks at NSW Roads and Maritime about rules for mooring buoys. Wish we hadn't. Got a lecture about us being too big for Sydney Harbour and live-aboards weren't welcome or allowed but there was a special place where we could be tolerated as we were clearly in transit (Blackwattle Bay - a pen behind a swing bridge). It was important that we be locked up at this time of the year as there are BIG EVENTS on the bay and the harbour will be busy so we shouldn't be out on the water. Strictly speaking we were allowed to be on this mooring for 24 hours but we really shouldn't be in their opinion. And no, we are not allowed to anchor anywhere near Manly Bay. As I was receiving this lecture I looked across at the French yacht, of about our size, on the next mooring buoy and the Spanish yacht (twice our size) dropping anchor behind us. I felt a strong cringe of embarrassment. Visitors come to Sydney Harbour to experience the iconic Australia. Is this really how we greet them? So sad.
Relocated to Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club a couple of days ago. Restock, repairs and a bit of shore time before we head to Sydney Harbour (probably Tues). We received a master class in Apiary yesterday from Jean Claude as he dealt with a swarm of bees on a nearby boat. Kris seemed to be the resident Bee Magnet, much to her distress. Turns out Jean Claude was the Chef at Il de Pins back in the day!
Well if you get this then the HF Radio is still working fine after being out of use for a while. No internet where we are in the greater Pittswater/Hawkesbury River area (America Bay to be exact). All is well after an uneventful sail and playing a bit of mooring buoy bingo. Apparently Pink is the right colour for us. How come no-one waves here? How come no-one waves back when you do? Very strange.
Underway towards Pittwater having left Newcastle first thing this morning. Making good speed in very light air with full sails up and a push from the noisemaker. Some of the passengers in First Class are still asleep (at 9.30!). Too much to do and see in Newcastle and the surf yesterday finished us off. What an awesome town. We will have to call back in on the way north as Newcastle is a firm favourite. Expect to be in a secluded anchorage early afternoon to commence our recovery before the onslaught of Sydney.
Been a bit slack on the YIT updates. We have been at Newcastle for 2 days now after a motor from Port Stephens. Lots to see and do in Newcastle including the usual boat maintenance. Had to do a complete factory reset (again) on our Raymarine software after it lost it's mind (again) on the way to Newcastle. Nothing like entering one of the busiest ports in Australia without your navigational system working (no GPS fix etc). Managed to pick the gap between outgoing and incoming ships and dodge the tugs to make an uneventful entry into the harbour (see photo). We seem to have the Raymarine system working again, but that's what I said last time too....... Next stop Pittwater. There look to be good windows on both Friday and Monday at this stage for a day sail.
Relocated within Port Stephens as the visitors moorings are only for 24 hours at a time. It was funny to watch boats leave their mooring buoy for an hour before coming back so that the imaginary clock had restarted (I guess). The inevitable happened after my spiel on the engine. We started it this morning and it promptly died! The crew took up engine bleeding positions but after several complete bleeds of the fuel system the engine still wouldn't start (and there weren't any more air bubbles coming out). After some contemplation, and a change of the primary fuel filter, we figured that it was either a major compression problem or there was still air in the system. The first being unlikely (as our engine runs very smoothly and reliably when I am not boasting about it), we restarted the fuel bleed process again. And again. And again. It finally felt sorry for us and fired up. Where did the air come from? Will it happen again tomorrow? Where does Murphy hide on our boat? Who knows. This is why we have cold beer on the boat. All that aside, Monday is looking promising for a duck around the corner to Newcastle. Standby...
Arrived at the entrance to Port Stephens around 2pm yesterday and are now sitting very sedately on a mooring bouy surrounded by very Australian bushland. A peaceful spot with the cicadas reminding us that it is now summer in Australia. We will hang out here for a bit until we get enough of a weather window (including seastate) to day hop around to Newcastle. The trip down required a bit of motorsailing. 24 hours of running the engine was just the test we needed for the latest round of 'improvements' to the engine. The efforts of the professional mechanic further up the coast actually made the oil leak from the back of the engine worse. So the onboard mechanic pulled that bit of the engine apart again and redid the job (properly). We have now reached Nirvana. We have NO LEAKS OF ANY DESCRIPTION IN OUR ENGINE BAY!!!!!!! Now I know that a boat is a loose collection of parts all actively moving toward independent anarchy so this may not last long, all the more reason to enjoy it now......
Just about to untie from Coffs and head to Port Stephens. Should get there around midday tomorrow.
We were all set for a passage to Port Stephens yesterday morning but cancelled at 0530 due to concerns about the tight weather window and the trough overhead. It seems to be more of the same for the next several days with openings of less than 24 hours to make a 24hour trip to our next stop. Of course we did what any sensible crew would do under the circumstances and went bowling.
So this is Coffs Harbour! Timing is everything. A very pleasant and quick sail until midnight last night when the wind dropped. Wish the swell had done the same too, so it was down with the sails and on with the noise maker. Finally got to meet the East Australian Current on a south-bound trip! Got into the marina before the Northerly really picked up. It is howling now and will probably get worse. Fortunately it was only 20 knots when we tried to park our semi-trailer in the motorcycle marina berth that we were assigned. No tears and the cat in front of us still has its virtue intact thanks to our reverse gear and the two guys helping us on the dock. Sunday is looking like a chance for a run to either Port Stephens or Newcastle (we haven't yet tossed the coin). Trivia question for the day relates to the photo. Underneath those elegant feet is a holding tank. It's where we keep human faeces so that we can smother ourselves with it every couple of months under the pretence of fixing our onboard sewage system.. The black hoses used to be white when they were installed not very long ago (less than a year). They are still supposed to be white and shouldn't be permeating our favourite substances to the outside. Anyone got a guess as to why? The manufacturer sure doesn't. Too much curry?
Just about to untie the lines and head for Coffs Harbour. Another 24 hour run. We would like to keep going to Newcastle but the weather says otherwise. Next update should be from Coffs tomorrow.
Just dropped the anchor at Southport on the Gold Coast. The sail from Wide Bay wasn't too bad, although those 24 hour coastal hops are a unique form of torture. No time to get into a rhythm on the boat so it usually ends up being an all-nighter for Mum and Dad. We plan on being here for a few days until the next weather window. Given that we are parked right in front of SeaWorld, I don't think we will escape without a visit. The photo is sunset at Pelican Anchorage; where we just came from.
Motored down to Pelican Bay with the offshore lure out the back. No bites. Australian fish think we are a joke (or maybe the lure was too big for inshore fishing but probably the former). Thursday is looking like a possibility for crossing Wide Bay bar and taking a shot at Southport (Gold Coast). Friday looks even better but we risk a head on collision with a southerly buster coming up the coast. Caught up on some boat inspections and maintenance at the last anchorage. After seeing Dad up the forestay, the boys wanted to have a go (see the photo). Nate is now keen to take on the mast! We have bumped into both Southern Exposure and Kea Lani here in the Straits. Great to catch up with fellow RQYS cruisers.
Trundled down from Bundaberg to the Sandy Straits yesterday and are currently anchored at Gary's. Altogether too much motoring yesterday with Hervey Bay putting on the usual annoying swell that we seem to get every time we transit through. Completed the two step manoeuvre to cross the shallow stuff just before the sun went down. Next stop will be the Southport on the Gold Coast as we track towards Sydney. Unfortunately it looks as though we might be pinned down by southerly winds for several days before we get the chance of a break to the north. We watched the high cirrus telling us something was coming yesterday and the front is here today. We are now watching the exodus of boats rushing to catch the last of the northerlies and head south this morning. They probably have enough time to get to Mooloolaba, possibly the top of Moreton. Experience has made us smart enough to avoid East Coast sailing in a trough preceding a southerly change.... so here we stay for now.
Still at Bundy. Now rested and starting to get the itch to move again. We have taken the opportunity to complete some boat maintenance and are just waiting on the re-installation of the 140amp alternator and engine raw water pump before we can go. Likely departure early Thursday morning for a passage down the Sandy Straits. If the northerly winds don't hold (likely) we will prop at Wide Bay and wait before heading to the Gold Coast. As always, Bundaberg had a festival running. Nate just had to get a harness on and do some climbing. Frankly the rest of us were over harnesses at that point.
Return to motoring after some off and on sailing over the last 24 hours. Dropped and secured the mainsail just off the continental shelf due to a looming (and quite spectacular) storm cell in our path. No real squalls hit us but better to be safe. The lightning show has now given way to some rain as we approach Bundaberg and a very rolly northerly swell in Hervey Bay. Only 13 miles to go to the beginning of the Bundy leads. We should hit the quarantine dock in daylight although it is still a very dark 3.30am right now. All that seems to be left of this stage of our adventure is to deal with the racing current of the Bundy river and the customs formalities. Sigh.
Motoring. Calm seas, not much wind and still heading towards Bundy, beautiful big yellow moon.
No frolicking dolphins, but the skipper did notice the first whales, and tells us that "spot the whale, and they buy the ale", looks like I will be shouting first round. Overall fast passage, more wind overnight than expected. Have entered Australian waters and making the turn to head towards Bundy.
Perfect day inside the reef with a light wind blowing and crystal clear water. It seems that another few boats have turned up and anchored off in the distance. We are preparing the boat once again for blue water. Cooking, cleaning, checking safety gear, re-checking navigation/weather and stowing everything. No issues but the list of stuff that needs attention in Bundaberg might keep us there for a little while. Nothing too big and most of it is preventative in nature but we need to get it done. We are expecting quite a moderate passage to Bundy with winds mostly less than 20knots on or aft of the beam and seas below 2m. I can see it now; sipping champagne, nibbling on a cheese platter and discussing the delights of parenthood while the sparking seas slip effortless past only interupted by the occasional frolicking dolphins.
Still at Chesterfield Reef, enjoying the fishing and calm weather today. Departure date for Bundaberg is now Sunday as that is when we should get some useful winds again. PLEASE NOTE: As of today we do not have any HF Voice communications capability. Our HF microphone was broken this morning. We still have HF data and satphone for emergencies.
Well here we are! parked in crystal clear turquoise waters inside a remote reef. If you ignore the enormous shark that just swam past, this perfectly fits the tropical paradise postcard picture. A fairly lumpy ride over the last 4 days with up to 4m waves on the beam but the winds were mostly, sometimes just right (except for the 25-30 knots all last night but we can overlook that after a drink). Trip highlights 1. "win a buck if you guess where Nate will chuck" competition 2. the depth alarm going off twice within an hour in what should have been 1km deep water - this is heart attack material in the middle of the night 3. the GPS system deciding it wasn't going to talk to those satellites anymore as we closed with Chesterfield reef at 4am in rough conditions (and wouldn't be convinced otherwise) 4. Kris nearly drowning as she woke up underwater with a cubic meter of wave in the cockpit (this is why the skipper naps on the seat) 5. Of course we broke the vang again too (and have fixed it up to Ver 3.5 - should last for at least some of the next leg) 6. trying to slow the boat down in order to arrive at Chesterfield during daylight only to have the wind increase each time we did (we ended up still doing 8 knots with just a double reefed main up). But now here we are with the prosect of chilling out in the remote Chesterfield Reef for a few days before the next leg to Bundaberg. We must be due for a "Champagne Sail" right?
Captain and crew are ready for different conditions after 4 days of "5 baggie days". Arrival at Chesterfield Mon morning.
Persistent current from SSW of 1.5 to 2 knots, slowing progress. All well. Expect arrival at Chesterfield Mon morning.
Lumpy but good progress.
Departing Big Bay tomorrow morning for passage to Bundaberg via Chesterfield Reef. Will attempt to send daily updates early each morning. Bob McDavitt is doing the weather routing for us. Good to have someone who knows what they are doing on the team for a change! It is looking like a fast passage to Chesterfield, albeit a bit lumpy to start. Sad to leave Vanuatu but you can't get to where you are going unless you leave where you are. (Old skipper saying)
Visited Luganville yesterday after a 2 hour overland trip (each way)in the back of ute. Needless to say, not all of the road is paved. We had another 9 guys and cargo in the back to keep us company. I (Darren) was partly hanging over the side and facing back, the kids were hanging on by some rope so they didn't fall out the back. Normally I wouldn't be happy when someone grabs my head and slams it into my chest. Upon seeing the foliage that I narrowly avoided, I thanked my assailant who seemed to think nothing of it. This is the same vehicle that Nate flagged down on Thursday last week. Their teacher was sick so the class (years 1-5) was dismissed. This is a low admin affair on the islands. The kids all just wander off. Seeing the opportunity to avoid a walk, Nate flagged down the only passing vehicle (Bill, son of Solomon and Purity)) and asked for a lift. Soon after this his class were all in the back with a very surprised piglet on the way to the beach. I was servicing the windless when I noticed half the school playing soccer on the beach. No need for text messages here. We are actively exploring Thurs or Friday as departure dates. Standby.
Life has settled into a routine here in Big Bay while we wait for a weather window to head back to Australia (possibly via Chesterfield Reef). The boys have been attending the local school while we have been tidying the boat and doing some preparation. Yesterday it was detailed navigation planning, including contingency routes and waypoints followed by scraping the growth off the waterline. For those of you with Navionics charts; you should have low expectations regarding the detail and accuracy of these charts for this part of the world and you definitely need an alternative means of planning and navigation (just look at the Chesterfield Reef!). Kris has also been tearing the contents of the boat apart. We are certainly still well stocked, no chance of starvation here! The school has benefited from us doing a final dump of education appropriate relief supplies. To the amazement of the Principal, we turn up each day with another backpack full of stuff. The Kindergarten on route to the school now also double as an under 6 clothing distribution centre.
Still in Big Bay and expecting to be here for several more days while the wind continues to blow. If we don't get a substantial break in the weather we may miss our opportunity to get to the Bank Islands. Contingency planning for a departure to Australia from here has begun. All is very comfortable in the Bay but we don't have any internet connectivity. It is a public holiday (Constitution Day, it was signed in 1979) so it is very quiet today. Tomorrow the small boat traffic will resume with the over-the-shore logistics supply to the NW of Santo. The road (dirt track) stops here. Everything north and west relies on small boats for resupply.
After a more detailed review of the weather yesterday we decided to change anchorages. Looks like we may get upwards of 25 knots for the next several days. Hog Harbour may have been OK but we expect that the wrap around swell would have made it quite uncomfortable. More importantly,we were anchored in sand and coral (mostly coral). Not the best holding for a blow that might last a week. So we bit the bullet and moved the 35 miles around to the SE corner of Big Bay where life will be better. I suspect that we will be here for a while waiting for the high pressure systems and resultant squash zone (= stronger wind) to pass.
Continuing our final journey north along the Vanuatu island chain. We cleared out of Luganville yesterday and will complete final country clearances at Sola in a couple of weeks. We are currently anchored in Hog Harbour as either our last or second last stop on Santo. Looks like being a nice day today but were are expecting a bit of a blow tomorrow and Sunday (as of the weather download yesterday). We got a good katabatic gust coming into Hog Harbour that immediately found the limit of our boom vang block, breaking it cleanly at the attachment fitting. With a bit of creative drilling we have it back and functioning. The real cause for celebration, however, was elsewhere in the boat. Once we get offshore we typically pump our sewage holding tank overboard (into deep water). For various reasons we suspected that the pump had failed. Having fixed this pump a couple of times before we spent the 35 mile trip psyching ourselves into what lay before us. One final, desperate check before we got the gloves on showed that it was working again (or still?). Kris rushed to the fridge and grabbed a cider and a beer and the celebration began! For the GHR crew: the station was unreadable today due to persistent interference from another channel. Might have just been our position getting a skip from asia (by the sounds of it)?
Luganville seemed to have gone mad (in a nice sort of way) yesterday when we went into town. We soon found out why. The national soccer grand final was being held that afternoon in the town's one and only 'stadium'. It was the local Santo under-dog team vs the big guns from Vila. So our minds were quickly made up and off we went to the Big Game. 300 VT for adult entry (about $4 AUD) and the place was packed. The Vila team were well financed and even had ring-ins from places like Brazil and Europe! The local team started well with a confident rendition of the team song, complete with all the dance moves but were soon on the back foot as Vila scored the first goal. One of the european "white fala" on the Vila team attempted his case for a penalty with the usual theatrics, lying on the ground in apparent agony. This nearly brought the house down with laughter until the referee finally gave him a yellow card to get everyone focused back on the game (even more laughter from the crowd). Unfortunately, after three goals the game concluded and the bad guys and their financiers triumphed again (just like all the previous years). Who knows, with a bit more work on their dance moves (see the photo) the Santo team might just get the edge next year. We hope so!
Here we are back in Luganville after a very pleasant sail yesterday from Malakula. Time to start to offload some rubbish and restock with fuel, water, LPG and food. We are anchored across the bay from where we were last time which gives us better access to town. While we were at Malua Bay we donated some educational supplies and learning material to the local school. They need it. The photo is the school principal and his wife with some of the supplies. We also made a donation to cover some school fees. It is surprising how many kids are not at school because their parents can't afford it. Hopefully this makes some small difference.
Got into Malua Bay yesterday afternoon after a 35 mile down-wind motor sail. 2 knots of south setting current did a good job of standing up the swell and waves on our way north so we had a rolly ride. This might account for why everyone else is still asleep right now? That said the kids got a couple of movies in down in first class. Nice little bay here. Margaret is taking us to the local blue hole for a swim today. Just gave some rope away to a couple of lads in their canoe. As usual they need it to tie up their cow. This is such a common (and genuine) need that we actually bought a bunch of nylon rope to give away last time we were in Luganville. Nearly all of the cows we have seen in Vanuatu seem to be restrained with retired yacht running rigging. Hardly believing their luck (brand new rope!), the boys have just high-tailed it away from the boat looking back over their shoulders to make sure I haven't changed my mind. The village alarm goes off some time before 5am with someone releasing all their frustrations on the village gong (fala kilim gong). Old gas cylinders hung from a tree are the resonance vessel of choice in most villages and we can attest to their effectiveness.
Tucked into South West Bay after a morning sail yesterday from the Maskelynes. Once again we were spoilt with 8 knots nearly the whole way, though the wave action got a bit confused as we turned the SW corner of Malakula. At one stage the skipper even got splashed by a 'rogue wave' while standing at the wheel. Extreme sports-people eat your heart out. Looks like a great spot for a swim here as we are anchored in 6m of crystal clear water over black sand. Noting that we weren't seeing many locals in the water (especially for a Sunday) we held off swimming yesterday until we could get the low down from those in the know. Glad we did, as the word is "if you need to swim do it close to the beach - there are sharks". We are anchored about 350m from the beach..... so no swimming off the back Nate.
Anyhow, we are now on our final trek North. Next stop will be the top of Malakula then Santo for a re-stock. We are keeping an eye on a disorganised low pressure system to the NE of Vanuatu. It is sitting under some fast moving cool air in the upper atmosphere and could even get fed by a trough/front moving through mid-week. Potential conditions for cyclone-genesis but unlikely at this time of the year. If the worst happens and we get some tight rotation we will do a quick re-evaluation of plans.
We are settled in a very pleasant spot here in the Maskelynes after two aborted attempts to anchor yesterday. Both locations were recommended anchorages though we failed to find whatever sand patch might have been among the coral. Noting the rather large and proximate coral bombies and the absence of any nearby hull repair facilities we decided to relocate. To be fair, the weather conditions and sea state were not exactly ideal for completing a terminal test in advanced coral anchoring either. All the drama (not that there was alot - we have either become a bit more adept at maneuvering in close coral quarters or we have lost the urge to stress) was put behind us with a bake-a-thon in the afternoon. Two loaves of bread and a pile of Ginger Ninja Bread Throwing Stars (for Nate, the Ginga Ninja).
Just about to leave Port Sandwich for the Maskelynes. This place has been quite a pleasant surprise. We passed up on coming in here previously due to its shark infested reputation. While we certainly haven't been swimming here the local hospitality has been great. Rock and his wife at the Rainbow Store have been throwing a steady supply of fresh food at us and have been great to talk to. They even helped solve our questions regarding the supply of ceremonial pigs around Vanuatu (you might be surprised how many Vanuatu pigs have Facebook accounts!). The French legacy is still strong here with most of the locals speaking French (as well as their local language and Bislama and English). The fact the Rock's pig is named Jean Marc and his cat is Napoleon probably should have given us the first clue but we were thrown off by the sight of the cat, pig and dog being best friends. Also a tip for the guys visiting Vanuatu; if someone offers to change your batteries tell them that you are happy with the old ones you have (poor Jean Marc). Anyhow, when we took a walk to Lamap yesterday (the big smoke) we got to brush up on our French again. Actually Kris caught me using three different languages in the same sentence. Strangely enough, she seemed to be the only one who noticed (and the guy at the store gave me what I asked for!). Lamap is a few miles from here but has a post office and a bank. (Just to clarify; the bank is a room with a counter and a table with money on it). OBTW - my hearing is coming back and the tinnitus is subsiding. This happened immediately after I spoke to a doctor in Noumea (not that he was able to help me). I guess whatever it was knew that the gig was up.
Now in Port Sandwich (obviously a mate of Captain Cook), tucked right up the end of the natural harbour. Nice sail across from Ambrym back to Malakula. We are probably starting to take 8 knots of boat speed for granted without the big ocean to slow us down. We plan on being here for a day or two (until we get bored) before finally getting to the Maskelyne Islands at the bottom of Malakula. We crossed our previous track in Vanuatu yesterday. After the Maskelynes we will head north along Malakula back to Luganville to resupply before moving onto the northern islands. Then back to Australia (probably in October). Is it really September already? With everything else here on 'island time' it would be nice if the calendar would move at the same pace....
Tip of the day: After being away from a shop for some time, the Aeroplane brand Sweet Treat Icecream is a big hit with the crew. It comes as a powder and makes some of the best icecream we have ever had!
Saw the land diving apparatus yesterday then decided to relocate to Ambrym Island before the wind (and roll) really kicked in. Quick 13 mile trip to our new anchorage under the volcano at Ramvetlam Bay. I am still deaf as a post (but tuned into the White Noise channel) and feeling a bit flat. Maybe I am just working my way through a virus (in which case the antibiotics are a waste of effort)? We are anchored in only 8m of water but the black sand below makes it seem like we are hovering over the bottomless abyss. Seems like there might be a hot water spring around here somewhere so we may set off on the great HWS Expedition today. Kris keeps mentioning something about an 8 hour hike to the top of the volcano. To this the boys unite in their refusal to be a part of the Ambrym Death March.
We have relocated to the bottom of Pentecost Island today (Homo Bay - yes really), although we could have happily spent another week or two at Loltong. This is the village famous for the land-diving, as the locals here have already reminded us. We weren't sure exactly where we would end up today. The skipper had been experiencing hearing loss in his right ear and severe tinnitus for 24 hours. Doctors Darren and Kris diagnosed it as a probable middle ear infection but we had been waiting for the pain to kick in to confirm it. Still no pain but some guy on the other end of the phone at Santo Medical seemed to think our diagnosis was correct. So we broke out some kick-butt antibiotics and went for a sail down the island. Good decision. It was a great sail and we are stocked up with limes thanks to Sam whose hut (and canoe) is now right in front of the boat. He seems keen for us to check out the land diving apparatus tomorrow at the bargain price of only 1,000 VT for the whole family. We will see....
Mystery solved. The village is about half way through the mourning period for their recently deceased chief. Drumming is required prior to the communal food preparation at the Nakamal in the morning and evening. He was the "People Chief" (as opposed to the Land Chief or landowner) and is sorely missed. From what we have seen of the village he ran a pretty slick community. This place is well organised, maintained and they get the tourism thing (in their own down-scale way). Only another 50 days of mourning to go and then they go through the process of selecting a new chief. This will cost the lives of between 10 to 100 pigs but the pigs don't know that yet.
Marie, the wife of Matthew the yacht club manager/village tourism council chairman, gave us an extensive tour of the village and surrounds. Matthew appeared at lunchtime with apologies for his absence. The men of the village are all repairing the hydro power system. Life here is a two-way track so Matthew's Opti sail is currently undergoing a refurb in the Freyja sail loft. We will deliver the renovated masterpiece (complete with shiny new grommets) this evening before we dine at the yacht club restaurant. BYO of course if you want your drinks cold or alcoholic or anything other than coconut milk.
Yesterday was a busy day. We started with a fresh water prawn safari with Barry, diving for prawns in waterfall pools. We found ourselves back at the boat by 10.30 with a kg of prawns looking at a sparkling ocean and moderate winds. So the decision was made and preparations commenced for departure to Pentecost but not before our final duties were completed for the people of Maewo. As I prepared the boat Kris typed, printed and laminated fliers for Barry's prawn safari endeavour (500VT per person), which we then delivered before making a detour to Asanvari to drop off some diluted detergent to Erica for her caterpillar ravaged cauliflowers.
After a 'champagne' sail at hull speed across Lolvavavana Passage (yes I spelled that correctly) we anchored in Loltong Bay. A well dressed local sailed across to us in his Opti for an introductory chat and village orientation. As it turns out he is the manager of the local 'Yacht Club' directly in from us. More to follow on that today.
The highlight for Kris today was to have been a sleep in. So much for that. We seem to have found a village of morning people. The village drumming club starts before the sun is up and reception of Drum FM is very clear out in the bay. ("Hours of Ad free drumming to help you greet the sun") I assume anyone here who wasn't a morning person ended their suffering long ago.
Anchored at Asanvari, Maewo Island. Just got back from picking the kids up from school and are busily tiding the boat prior to visitors for sundowners (except for me of course). Just another day. We have been happily anchored here for 4 or 5 days now (not really sure what day it is except that it is a school day). Despite the growing sense that time is running away from us and our cruising season is disappearing too fast, we are slowing down and spending more time in remote locations. It takes about 3 days to start to get involved in village life. We have been working on broken outboards, helping out with the school's educational resources and been escorted by the locals on hikes into the mountains. The bay is very deep right up to the reef that runs all around the shore. We are anchored as shallow as we dare but are still in 18m. Swimming off the boat is a surreal experience. The water is so clear that your initial reaction is vertigo or a sense of "what is stopping me from falling!" then a feeling that maybe you could just dive down and touch the bottom? (about 12m is my best so far). One more hike tomorrow then off to Pentecost Island the following day (whatever day that is). Of course, the maintenance continues but we are back on the preventative regime. Rigging and halyard inspection completed today. All good. Nice view from the top of the mast.
Anchored in Vanihe Bay on Ambae Island after a licorice all sorts passage yesterday. We must have set some sort of record for the number of squalls encountered by a vessel in a 45nm trip. At one point we were on deck getting the mainsail down (as it was calm) and by the time we were done it was blowing 35 knots. I mentioned the wind strength to Kris once we were back in the cockpit. Her reply: "You think I don't know, look at my hair." Good point, I had forgotten about the hair wind meter. Anyhow we are now anchored on black volcanic sand underneath impressive 150m cliffs full of bats and swallows looking at some less attractive ocean action outside the bay. Off to check out the village in the bay next door later today once the crew have finished their schoolwork.
Anchored in Oyster Bay. Currently sitting at the resort typing this (internet connection is free). Lots to see and do here. In the last 2 days we have swum at the local blue hole (a fresh water spring over 10m deep and crystal clear), explored the WWII airfield and snorkelled on a crashed Corsair fighter plane. The boys are loving this place, not to mention the food at the resort. Jay is currently reading up on the WWII history surrounding us, seems this was a significant island base in the allied effort to retake the Solomons.
Hanging out in Palikulo Bay. Great little spot and very relaxing once you get past the shallow, coral bombie strewn entry. The swimming is awesome and gave me a good excuse to change the hull anodes. If I dropped anything it was only 4m to the bottom (not that I did). Met up with some locals yesterday and offered to trade some fishing supplies for bananas. Were woken up this morning by them shouting "Hello! Bananas!" from the shore. We soon remembered a lesson from earlier on - you need to set some limits on how many you want to trade. Anyhow we felt obliged and nearly sank the dinghy with all the bananas prior to getting them some clothes to even the deal. We now look like a floating banana plantation.
More snorkeling this afternoon and exploring all the WWII wrecks around us then off to Peterson Bay tomorrow. BTW, for the fishing fans out there; we caught a 5ft barracuda on the passage here yesterday. It was catch and release as that dude was not coming in the cockpit with us. And yes, we have photos.
Yesterday's update seems to have disappeared into the ether, so I will recap. We are on a mooring at Aore Resort in Luganville. We celebrated Nate's seventh birthday two days ago and successfully replaced our house battery bank yesterday. We now have full battery power again to our 'house'. We are planning on kicking back for a couple more days here in Luganville while we refill all the fuel and water tanks (by jerry). After that the big plan is to circle back around Vanuatu to see what we have missed so far then come back to Luganville to clear out before completing the northern islands of Vanuatu. If we have time we will them head to either the Solomons or Louisiades prior to coming back down the East Australian coast in Nov(ish).
Just arrived at Banam Bay, Malekula Island after a 25nm sail from a VERY rolly Lamen Bay. Awesome sail, beam to broad reaching the whole way at an average of 8 knots. Best sail of the trip so far!! Got here in time for lunch and very happy to not be rolling at anchor. Kris and Jay are sorting out supplies for us to gift (trade to their advantage, to be precise) to the local (and apparently very traditional) village here.
Great view of the two steaming volcanoes from this anchorage as well as during the sail today. They will dominate the skyline with two red glows again tonight.
Anchored in Revolieu Bay, Epi after a 25 mile trip from Emae yesterday. Our bay in Emae proved to be a bit of a wildlife jackpot. We had a visit from a whale that circled our boat a few times as well as numerous pods of dolphins (each with maybe 25 dolphins). Not sure what the whale was perhaps a juvenile humpback, though apparently pilot whales are more common here. It definitely wasn't a pilot whale.
Caught a skipjack tuna on the way to Epi and presented it to the local village chief upon arrival. The men of the village were in the middle of making an oven (it looked like a pizza oven). The two villages that we saw here at Revolieu Bay are immaculately maintained and well organised. Doesn't look like Cylclone Pam hit this place as hard as everywhere else we have been.
The maintenance issues continue and we need to get to Luganville mid to late next week to change out our house batteries. They are all on their last legs (about 2 years sooner than they should be). This state of perpetual maintenance challenges might seem odd to non-cruisers but we seem to about the norm for a well prepared vessel out here! It is an ongoing and almost full-time preoccupation. (I didn't even mention that we have re-plumbed the water system to bypass the hot water pressure tank that has corroded through at one of the fittings. No hot water! Or the fresh water foot pump that started transferring all of our fresh water to the bilge and is now disconnected.) Maybe cruising is best described as overcoming successive challenges. In this case as a family team. In that sense I guess it is similar to the rest of life.
Just parked in Sulula Bay, Emae Island for the night as we head North. Next stop Epi, we think. We may only get one night at this anchorage as it is a tad rolly for we sensitive souls. Board games aren't so much fun in these conditions (especially Risk). Just when you thought you had conquered Europe all of someone else's pieces have suddenly relocated around you from South America.
Anyhow, uneventful passage from Havannah Harbour with a tail wind and some confused seas up to a couple of metres. One swell coming from the SSW and another from the East. And us in the middle! The kids did the usual in the lumpy conditions. Nate went back to bed and slept and Jay watched movies. Mum and Dad operated the vessel and chatted (while hanging on). Just looked at the barometer. I am guessing the Low pressure system is fairly close right now, maybe directly to the NE. That would account for the Melbourne weather.
We are looking to head north tomorrow. Not really an epic voyage but the 11 mile sail to Nguna will at least allow us to stretch our legs. We will probably then head to Emae on Thurs (22 miles) during a forecasted break in the weather.
The boys have made great friends in the local village and even had Richy over for kiddy 'sundowners' yesterday (after swimming in the deep natural spring in his back yard). Kris and the kids walked to the local school yesterday for a visit and donated some schooling supplies. Once again it is hard to escape the impression that the Vanuatu people might just be the nicest people on the planet.
Repositioned yesterday within Havannah Harbour as we were concerned about wrapping our anchor chain around some coral heads. Listening to the daily Gulf Harbour Radio weather schedule as I type. Still seems to be very strange and unpleasant weather with strong tropical depressions popping up. The current one has all the hallmarks of another potential cyclone but forecasters are assessing the chances of a cyclone as low.
We attended Vanuatu Independence celebrations yesterday at the local village. Lots of dancing with food stalls and a 'swim for the pig' competition. Jay stripped down and had a good go at swimming for the pig but got beaten by some experienced locals. After being dropped out of the canoe 300m offshore the pig was supposed to swim back to shore. He had other ideas and went out making good speed with the current. Glad he Jay didn't win as the pig was the prize...
All repairs complete, final shopping done and about to push out of Port Vila for a quick stop at Hideaway Island tonight. Freyja is seaworthy again and ready for the next nautical stoush, the remote villages to the north are calling us (regardless of the reinforced trade wind conditions that continue to prevail). The volcano at Tanna put on quite a show for us. If it was any more active then we wouldn't have been allowed up there. Where else can you stand looking down into a volcano with the kids while it erupts? See, we do know how to have fun without harnesses after all! We are all feeling a bit sad to leave Vila after our extended stay. Despite the mechanical downtime, the friendliness of the people probably has us a bit overwhelmed.
Back from Fiji with rebuilt fuel injection pump and clean injectors. They all passed their final bench tests with perfect scores. Pete will put the engine back together today. Fingers crossed! All going well, it will then be oil and Tx fluid changes, a two day tourist visit to Mt Yasur at Tanna Island then on our way north along the Vanuatu Island chain. While Dad was away in Fiji, Mum wasted no time in cming to a mutually beneficial arrangement with the locals (see photo).
No change to our position unfortunately. Looks like we need either a new fuel injector pump or we will need to send our existing one off for a rebuild (to ??). We suspect that we may have picked up some low sulphur diesel in Noumea that turned our pump from perfect to a diesel sieve but we are just guessing. In effect we are expecting to be in Port Vila for a few more weeks yet. Still, there are worse places be be stuck. So in the meantime, we have been doing some touristy stuff including a trip to Mele cascades. A flight to Mt Yasur might be next...
Still in Port Vila. We have had a fairly maintenance intensive week with a bit more to come today. Hopefully we can get that behind us, get the injector pump to keep the diesel on the inside and start to explore the rest of Vanuatu. But it hasn't been all work. Port Vila has heaps to offer and super friendly people. Zip lining was lots of fun though, on reflection, we may be due for some fun without harnesses.
Here we are in Port Vila!! Fairly fast passage from Lifou to here courtesy of a consistent 20 knots (even if it had us close hauled all the way). I think the boat liked the conditions more than the crew did. We had to progressively take it down through the gears (reduce sail) during the second night as Freyja started to act like she was in a Volvo Ocean Race again. Persistent squalls and the associated wind antics kept us up all night both nights. Meanwhile, down in first class, the boys completed an all day movie marathon.
Pete from Marine Solutions has had a look at our injector pump. Most likely scenario is that the internal seal separating the pump head from the body is gone, allowing pressurised diesel into the pump body. Hence multiple leaks from around the pump. Worst case is that we get diesel into the crankcase and end up with a run away engine (then no engine). So it is coming off for repair/rebuild on Monday. The mechanics out there will know that getting the gear timing right when refitting an injector pump is no mean feat. Sounds like we have another adventure to look forward to...
Christmas in July is so passe. How lucky do we feel to have a cyclone in July! The first one ever for this region in July! This will come as no surprise to our cruising friends back in Brisbane given our reputation for attracting heavy weather. Anyhow, hopefully it will be limited to an area well north of us. Regardless we are watching TC Raquel as we push out tonight for Port Vila. Fingers crossed.
Our thoughts go to anyone caught out by the TC while sailing in the Solomons.
Spent the morning trying to stem some fuel leaks from our injector pump. Did all we can do without jeopardising the ability of the engine to function. No luck. Engine still runs fine but we now have a catchment system for the fuel leaks (yes that is plural). Seems to have started out of the blue as most good problems do. I guess it was about time we had some practice in bleeding the fuel system.....again.
Wednesday night is looking good for a departure to Port Vila. Have sent notification to Vanuatu Customs but who knows if they have received it? Might follow up with a call tomorrow to avert any fine. We should have known it was time to do a night sail with the moon waxing towards full. Should be a beam reach for about 200 miles. (yeah, I know - I have my fantasies) Need to get there before the low over the Solomons joins with the low pressure down near NZ and makes things all weird.
The photo is our rental car. The locals seem to call it "Ugly". We can't really disagree - but hey, it still runs after 200K!
Morning update. We are about to head off to explore Lifou in a hire car. Frits and Marian on Argonaut will be hanging around to keep an eye on the boat during the windy conditions while we are gone. Thanks guys!! Took some French scientists in search of flying foxes across the bay yesterday. A twilight dinghy ride in squalls, rain and waves but we did discover a new flying fox colony in a remote part of the bay! Jay was one of the first to spot them.
We have a resident army of squid hanging around the boat. Not surprisingly, squidding has become a favourite past-time for the boys. Salt and pepper squid at sunset isn't too had either. The photo is Jay cleaning the ink off the side of the boat....
Just anchored at Baie de Drueulu, Lifou Island. Quite a ride from Mare today. We both remember the forecast saying 20 knots but the wind thought that 30-40 would be more appropriate for the occasion. We decided to put a reef in in the main and bring in a bit of the headsail after we were pegging 11-12+ knots boat speed continuously. To be fair the surf may have had a part to play in this too. Actually it was probably 50/50 sailing and surfing. (We are not including wave heights in this post out of consideration for our families.) Anyway, here we are at Lifou. The kids inform us that this is "just like Hawaii!" (after a stressful day of watching movies in first class). We will head in to see the village Chief tomorrow and pay our respects. Now aiming to be in Port Vila around 6 July to hook up with Sea Mercy.
Anchored at Baie du Nord, Mare Island, in 17 metres of the most amazingly deep blue coloured water. I guess we are at the top of the bottom of the Loyalty Islands. Pleasant sail across from Yate yesterday ahead of the trough that is now raining on us. Another 5 knots of wind and it could have been close to perfect. Might be a bit of a schoolwork and maintenance day if the rain keeps up.
Arrived at Ile Casey midday and have spend the afternoon exploring the island. Nate has more express explorer points than the rest of us, having gotten lost and run back around half the island looking for the family. The rest of us deployed into a search pattern for an hour or so. The stockpile of fodder for his 21st may necessitate two........
For anyone else thinking of visiting Casey, Ile du Prony - do it! We passed it by a few weeks ago and now wish we had a few more days here. The native dog (tour guide) who greets your dingy, jumps off the jetty, catches sea cucumbers and escorts you on the walks is worth feeding. Great walks and good swimming.
The weather is pushing us on tomorrow to stage in Yate prior to a night sail across to Mare Island on Sunday night.
Cruised down to Baie Uie on our way around the bottom of New Caledonia towards the Loyalty Islands. Good place to get out of the perennial 20 knot winds. Frolicked around the bottom of the fresh water cascade and are chilling out. Tomorrow may see Baie du Prony again or we may just camp here for another day. Crew morale was very high until Mum brought out the late afternoon schoolwork session....
Change of plans. Looks like we will be heading to Pentecost Island, Vanuatu to help out with Sea Mercy Rotation 3. Will clear in via Port Vila and hopefully do the Loyalties Islands on the way. Probably looking at leaving Noumea in the next couple of days. Big Hello to Lil Explorers! will see you guys in a couple of weeks.
Still hanging out in Port Moselle pending a decent weather window. Have hired a car and driven around the island (in the rain). Fully stocked and ready for adventure....... in the meantime the schoolwork and sampling of local food continues. BTW, the Windows PC is really sick now with a busted hard drive. Either Rich will get a second bottle of champagne or we we get a new computer.
Sitting at Port Moselle Marina, Noumea. Waiting out some yucky weather and restocking while we plan for our jump across to Vanuatu as soon as the weather is right. Special shout out to Rich from Legacy for fixing our recalcitrant windows computer. I had given up after two days of fruitless geeking. The hammer was about to come out. No thanks to windows for spontaneously corrupting itself.
Relocated 35 miles or so to Ilot Uatio. Our own little island with its twin, Ilot Ua, next door. A dreary and blustery first half of the trip with 20 knots and 2m southerly swell making for an uncomfortable ride. Nate won the seamanship award during this part of the trip, holding on to a face full of stomach contents all the way from his bed to the back of the boat. His closed mouth gesticulations from the companionway for permission to come on deck without his harness on won praise from the skipper! Seems like someone clicked their fingers and the conditions instantly turned into 'champagne sailing' half way across. The swell vanished the wind went to 10-15, we opened out the rest of the headsail and glided forth at 7-8 knots. Wow! No red flag (bird nesting - stay clear) on the island so we are planning a sunset picnic on our beach.
Moved around the corner to Vao this morning after a great day touring Ile Des Pins yesterday. Over the last couple of days we have climbed the highest peak on the island (about 260m high), explored two caves, attended the local markets, been refused service at the Meridian Hotel (I think we are starting to look like Grotti Yotti's even in our best, post caving, outfits) and swam at the Piscine Naturale (Natural Pool).
The swim at the natural pool was the highlight. The number, variety and proximity of the aquatic life was mind blowing! Like swimming in an amazingly well stocked natural aquarium. Of course Mum didn't believe Nate about the eels ("I'm not going back over there. There are eels") Dad found the eel and Mum watched another eel swimming between Dad's legs while he was watching the first eel.
Parked in about 4 metres of crystal clear water off a tropical island and expecting perfect weather until we need to relocate before the expected Westerly on Tues. We have photos to upload but our internet difficulties continue to prevent that right now. Standby.
Anchored at Kuto, Ile des Pins after an all day, uphill, motor-sail slog-fest. 20-25 knots on the nose all the way here with a good showing by the swell and wave departments. A tag-team effort between boat stopping short waves and short period 3 metre swell. Most unpleasant. Jay had his first bout of Mal de Mer. The look of shock was priceless as realised that he was probably already too late to make the side of the boat. The rest of us were too annoyed at the conditions to be sick.
As it turns out, we may have come to the wrong place. The charts say we are at Ile des Pins but this isn't like any brochures I have seen. We have a 1 metre swell breaking on, what is now, a surf beach. At least we are not in any danger of losing our sea legs tonight! Lucky we waited for lighter conditions to make the trip here....... (yes, I want a refund).
We are parked right in front of a hotel/restaurant and are quite exhausted. If they could hear our order over the pounding surf we might give it a go. Alternatively we could do a black ops beach landing in the dinghy but then they probably wouldn't let us in. Looks like it is soup, cheap wine and a book.
Anchored at Port Koube, Ile Ouen. Not really a port just a big bay surrounded by large hills. The upside is that we have a bay a third the size of Sydney harbour to ourselves! Still very windy from the SE so we will wait it out until we can push down to Ile des Pins. Came down from Baie du Prony via a tight coral passage in 25 knots today. Got us back on our nautical toes but no issues.
Did some exploring, cracked open some coconuts and found that we have a new crew member today. Scrappy, the 1 metre long remora enlisted some time today and is very active in dealing with any scraps we throw over the side, including tackling open coconuts on their way to the depths. The book is currently running at odds in Srappy's favour should Nate go over the side (he is, after all, bigger swimming ability being equal).
Hanging out in Baie du Prony. Planning on breaking out of here tomorrow and trying to push Southish. Our PC computer spontaneously corrupted every usb driver and the wireless card. No HF emails or yit updates as a result. Our internet coverage is an exercise in extreme masochism so don't fret too much if the updates are sparse util we can get the drivers reloaded from the Internet (probably another week or two). Apart from a growing hatred of electronics, all is groovy on board. Lots of swimming in waterfalls and freshwater streams, baking and schoolworking.
Anchored at Ile Uere just south of Noumea. Just had to get out of the Marina and glad of it! All repairs complete (as much as they can be on a boat) and planning on pushing south a bit more tomorrow. Perhaps to Ile Ouen to wait out the persistent easterlies then Ilot Mato prior to Ile des Pins. We have a local sim card for internet and calls but it is very patchy and unreliable (numerous exclamations at electronic devices). Sailmail is still the best way to contact us unless you want to call the satphone.
School is in right now but the grand reef fishing expedition is on for this afternoon.
Still at the Port Moselle Marina. Repairs should be complete by Tues, we are fuelled up and have done most of the niggly maintenance jobs. We are hopeful of heading down to the Southern Lagoon on Tues then maybe Ile de Pins for a while. Hanging about in the marina for a second longer than necessary isn't in the plan. We still don't have internet connectivity or a sim card for our phone. Hence we have been a bit low profile. We will try again on Monday to get connectivity. The French is getting better though we did get a raw egg in our pizza last night. Egg and beef differ by only one letter. The "Italian" chef made fun of my French but couldn't speak a word of Italian! (one all)
Sitting in Port Moselle Marina. Cleared in, had a beer and tried to get an internet connection. Decided HF is much easier so sending this via the radio! The clearance process was quick and easy although we need to wait for Immigration until Monday. Quarantine were particularly pragmatic and understanding as we got to keep all our frozen meat, cheese etc. Tomorrow is a public holiday and effectively a long weekend in New Cal. We just squeaked it in. We could have been looking for an anchorage in the dark and waiting until Monday to clear in.
Happy crew who are now REALLY practicing their French. Yeah! Will keep sending updates as we embark on the cruising reality.... "another port, another part"
Motor sailing. The expected Easterly breeze kicked in several hours ago. We are taking it fairly close on the nose but have the sails up for a little extra boost. 55 miles out from the reef passage into Noumea (Pass de Boulari). Likely arrival in Port Moselle late afternoon. Low level cloud starting to build but the barometer is still buoyant. There is a slight swell pushing us towards the tasty patisseries.
Still motoring, calm with a flat sea. Have just brought our course up to 70 degrees true in anticipation of some easterly wind as we approach New Caledonia. We got the spinnaker to fill for a few hours yesterday, perhaps just as a statement to the powers that be that we are still determined to be a sailing vessel! The boys have mixed feelings about this calm weather as it means catch-up time for school work (but also movies in the cockpit). 200nm out from Noumea and no signs of mutiny.
Still motoring, calm with a rolling swell. Great bioluminesence show last night as we cut through a glassy sea. Better reaction from the boys than from any fireworks show we have seen. Waves of exploding stars rolling away from the boat. Not much else on the marine life front except the odd whale. Still headed direct to Noumea with light and variable conditions.
radio hard to understand. Like listening thru socks.
Motoring, calm with a rolling swell. Seem to be sitting under a high. All well on board. Will press on direct to NC at the risk of having to motor most of the way. We calculate that we have enough fuel and DVDs to make it from here.
Motorsailing. Apologies for missing the sked today. The headsail furler came apart at the mast dropping 1/3 sail in the drink as I sat down to join. Had to put some holes in the sail to get down as it was jammed (metal on metal) 2/3 up. No more headsail for this trip. All well on board, thought we have lost track on the weather picture.
Tracking south of Capel Bank Significant convective activity last not much sleep dealing with squalls all night. conditions have been confused and gusty up to 30k. All well on board.
Last update from Australia. Departing as the sun rises tomorrow for Noumea. Will send daily updates via sailmail just in case the HF reception is spotty for the daily skeds.
Just rescheduled for an early departure on Thursday. Fingers crossed (don't tell the weather gods whatever you do!!).
Still waiting for a weather window for passage to New Caledonia. Catching up on schoolwork and practicing our French baking.
A less favourable weather outlook as of this morning. Departure is currently delayed by another week in order to avert any potential offshore, rough weather mutiny. (The skipper has been warned previously regarding his tendency to head off into less than favourable conditions)
Pent up in Manly harbour like a tightly coiled spring. Monday departure?
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