Sandy and Rankin have sold Gypsea Heart and returned to North America where we plan to travel by Camper Van for the time being. We hope to return to New Zealand in the Austral summers. In the meantime, we plan on listening to Gulf Harbour radio via the internet.
Back in Whangarei to attend the annual swap meet. We usually end up buying more than we sell.
After enriching the New Zealand economy with three weeks of maintenance work in a marina, we escaped to the Bay of Islands. We are anchored between the islands of Waewaetorea and Urupkapuka. Both islands have hiking trails, but we are not allowed to use them until we can pronounce the names of the islands. While we practice, we are enjoying the melodies of the land and sea birds all around.
Arrived at the Bay of Islands Marina. Tried to check in with New Zealand Immigration but were told there had been too many Americans applying for asylum over the last few weeks and we had to move on to Australia. We pleaded that we were not responsible since we had been at sea for the last three weeks and were given permission to stay for three months.
All kidding aside, the New Zealand Customs and Immigration officials in Opua and Whangarei have been the most professional and courteous officials we have met in our world travels.
Lovely sailing day yesterday with wind and waves gradually diminishing. The ocean was as calm as a lake last night reflecting the half moon as it rose. Lots of sun charged the batteries and the flat whites are flowing on board. 163 nm to Opua, NZ. ETA is Thursday afternoon NZ time.
It is unusual to have four days of consistent winds in this part of the world so close to the Southern Ocean. Except for shortening the sails at night, we have hardly adjusted them for four days. We told "Otto", our auto pilot, to keep the apparent wind at 55 degrees and take us wherever it leads. However, due to wind fluctuations during the day, our "bread crumb" track looks like it was made by a drunken sailor (appropriately) and Otto will be given a breath-a-lizer test when we arrive in New Zealand. Otto also has a tendency to interrupt our short wave radio conversations on some frequencies. Luckily, we have "Mini Otto", our back-up auto pilot, as a designated driver on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, Mini Otto cannot steer according to the wind or even GPS signals, but can only use magnetic waves from near the North Pole to take us where we want to go. In any event, it is better than driving ourselves and Otto and Mini Otto don't eat much, other than battery power.
Made 202 nm last 24 hours. Expect to sail into the heart of a High Pressure System later today and lose the wind. 294 nm to Opua, NZ. ETA is early Thursday NZ time.
Great sailing conditions. Made 185 nm last 24 hours. Would heave to and fix the generator, but no sailor could tolerate being passed by other sailboats. However, should the batteries fail to power the espresso machine, we would have to declare an emergency and stop to repair the generator. 473 nm to Opua, NZ.
12 foot waves yesterday reduced to 6 feet overnight. Generator stopped working - probably a broken water pump impeller which is difficult to replace in these sea conditions but not impossible. In the interim, will use engines to supplement solar panels for charging batteries. Made 175 nm in first 24 hours with 637 nm to Opua, NZ.
Planning to leave North Minerva Reef in a few hours bound for Opua, New Zealand. Should take 5 days. Many boats left Minerva Reef yesterday and many more, if not all, leaving today. Watching weather system currently predicted to cross New Zealand on Friday.
Happy Birthday Rankin
NORTH MINERVA UPDATE: 21 boats anchored at North Minerva Reef waiting for a large High to arrive over New Zealand this week. Thank you Gulf Harbour for the interesting and entertaining special Minerva report on Sunday. And we had pizza delivery last night by the children on boats here with proceeds to help the kiwis in NZ.
NORTH MINERVA UPDATE: Front with rain passed through early morning with sunshine now. Fifteen boats anchored at North Minerva Reef waiting for large Low to pass over New Zealand next week. Some boats may leave on Tuesday or Wednesday and head West to stay North of the Low before turning South to New Zealand, but that adds hundreds of miles to the passage. Other boats my wait until Friday or so when a High follows the large Low and go direct to New Zealand which will require more motoring (with no gas stations) but possible calmer sea conditions. We will all see how the weather systems develop.
A beautiful 22 degree halo visible from North Minerva last night. Does it portend a coming storm? Three boats anchored at North Minerva Reef, but a dozen or so arriving today. The world is getting smaller.
Still anchored at North Minerva Reef. Three boats left and two arrived for a total of three boats anchored. Expect several boats arriving from Tonga in the next day or so. We hear there has been a recent huge interest in Americans immigrating to New Zealand for some reason.
Seven boats anchored at North Minerva Reef. The sun returned yesterday. We decided to delay our departure until a more reliable weather window appears - hopefully next week. In the meantime, we will have to make do with beautiful water and pleasant temperatures.
Five boats anchored at North Minerva Reef. Looking forward to seeing the sun again, if it still exists. Weather forecast in New Zealand not looking comfortable for a passage, so may delay departure until a cold front crosses NZ and a new High is about the longitude of Tasmania whenever that might be. No problem as long as weather at Minerva Reef continues to be fine. Having trouble finding a place to cast our ballots, however.
Seven boats anchored at North Minerva Reef. Considering a departure to Opua tomorrow or Wed with arrival Monday 14th before Low arrives, but we may stay here to harvest crayfish instead. The fleet was shocked to receive the news about the Irish rugby team defeating the New Zealand All Blacks in Chicago yesterday. If such an unbelievable thing can happen in America, what does it portend for the U.S. elections in two days?
Anchored at North Minerva Reef yesterday (Friday) at 5 pm local time (if Minerva Reef has not switched to daylight savings time). Sandy caught a Rainbow Runner in the pass as she was reeling in the line. The wifi is a bit spotty here since dry land is 250 miles away. At least we cannot receive any "news" about Donald's emails or Hillary's groping ... or maybe it was...oh, never mind. If we stay until Tuesday, we might have an election party, but we will have to check guests for picture I.D.s.
Our blood red spinnaker struggled for 12 hours to drag ten tons of boat through the water like a race horse plowing a furrow in the sea. The light wind danced around the sail with no sense of direction. In the end, the fickle wind deserted the sail and left it hanging limp from the mast. We solemnly lowered the sail and placed it in its dark crypt with the hope that someday soon it would rise again and fly in the sun. Now, the engine is running and the auto pilot is driving us to Minerva Reef 45 miles away.
Fine sailing conditions last 22 hours, but wind diminishing and backing now. May fly a spinnaker after the radio net. 170 nm to North Minerva. ETA Friday (tomorrow) local time.
Anchored at Ha'afeva island in Tonga and ready to sail to Minerva Reef. If we stop there, it looks like the weather in New Zealand may keep us there for a week or two. Hopefully, there are enough crays to sustain us.
Anchored at Uoleva Island last night. No bad weather as expected. Highest wind 15 kts and Baormetric Pressure no lower than 1010. What happened?
May move to Ha'afeva or Nomuka today and head to Minerva Reef tomorrow.
Moving from Foa Island to Ha'afeva Island in the Ha'apai Group of Tonga for protection from effects of a Low expected later today. Planning on departing to Minerva Reef on Wednesday with arrival on Friday.
Nice day of sailing and now anchored in Northern Haápai Island group (Haano Island)
Sailing from Vavaú (Tonga) to Haápai Group should arrive later today.
Had a pleasant 10 hr broad reach sail north from the Haápai Island Group of Tonga on waves under 1 meter and 10 - 15 knot winds back to the Vavaú Island Group of Tonga. Fewer whales seen en route on this passage.
Anchored at Nomuka Ika Island in the Haápai Island Group of Tonga after many hours of motoring. Looking forward to more whale encounters with Whale Discoveries.
Returned to the Ha'apai island group in Tonga after a leisurely 10 hour, close hauled sail from the Vava'u island group. The humpback whales seemed to welcome us back with displays of breaching. Enjoyed fresh tuna for dinner on board. Anchored near Matafonnua Lodge on Foa Island.
Sailing along from Vavaú to Haápi with about 10 knots SE winds 30-40% cloud cover, 1 meter seas. Just caught a nice size yellow fin tuna, so it looks like sushi tonight.
Back in the Vava'u Island Group of Tonga for fuel, vegetables and internet.
Motor sailed 20 nm north from Nomuka to Ha'afeva Island in the Ha'apai Island Group of Tonga yesterday. Had several days of close encounters with humpback whales with Whale Discoveries on Nomuka Island which is operated by a couple and their daughter who used to be "yachties" and still sail their catamaran "Wildlife". The Royal Nomuka Yacht Club was dedicated by the crown prince of Tonga a few months ago and construction is scheduled to commence momentarily on Nomuka Iki and should be open for business next year. No Digicel phone service in Nomuka or Ha'afeva - only TCC.
Anchored at Nomukaiki Island in the Ha'apai Group of Tonga to wait out the unsettled weather systems for a few days. On Sunday at noon local time, the wind switched from the NW to South in a couple of minutes and blew 30 knots for 30 minutes before settling down to 20-25 knots for 8 hours with some light rain.
HMS Bounty stopped at nearby Nomuka Island to pick up water for the breadfruit plants it was carrying to feed the slaves in the Caribbean and the mutiny occurred just 5 days later.
We see many humpback whales in the area. Whale watching and even swimming with whales is a major tourist attraction.
Dog gone it got the wrong position from iPad or read it wrong perhaps I should have been wearing my glasses. This is what happens when I (Sandy) submit the report instead of Rankin. SSHHH! Don't tell anyone. Cheers!
Hope all is well with everyone! Looks like it might be a rainy day, so time to bring out the board games or read a book both sound good. Cheers!
So far all is well and quiet here in Uoleva Island with some rain, wind around 9-10 knots from N slowly backing to NNW, 75% cloudy sky and barometer reading 1011. Hope all is well with everyone in New Zealand and all the islands. Cheers
Arrived in the Ha'apai Group of Islands in Tonga after an 8 hour close reach sail from the Vava'u Group. The humpback whales in Vava'u waved their fins in the air when we left as if to say goodbye. Finally caught a Mahi Mahi upon arrival . Wind: E7 kts; Baro 1017; Cloud cover 9% with some rain overnight.
Sailing from Vavaú Group to Haápai Group and expect a 10 hour trip. Wind: E10 knots; Baro: 1016; Cloud cover: still dark but looks about 20% cloud cover.
Port Maurelle was a bit busy, so we dropped a hook nearby. We currently have E 5-10 knots of wind. Hope to do some snorkeling and possibly a dive today.
Anchored at Vakaéitu Island (#16 - near coral gardens) in Tonga. SW winds about 10 knots + gusts. 80% cloud cover. Snorkeled near coral gardens yesterday and saw 2 octopi. Now this morning just testing the YIT iPad app!! Cheers
Arrived in Vava'u at about 11 pm NZ time last night. The wind between the Ha'apai Group and Vava'u last evening increased from 20 knots mean to about 27 knots with gusts greater than 35 knots. It made anchoring in the pitch black an interesting proposition. All turned out well, however. We can celebrate the Tongan King's birthday today (or maybe American Independence day). We are bringing out the bubbly!!!
Successfully avoided the reefs and recently formed volcanic island in the Ha'apai Group and did not hit a whale. Have turned for the Vava'u island group of Tonga. 85 nm to go. Plan to arrive before dawn on Monday morning NZ time. All well on board.
Passed Tongatapu in the night and turned toward the Ha'apai Group. Will navigate our way through the reefs during daylight hours trying to avoid whales. Expect to arrive in the Vava'u island group of Tonga Sunday night or Monday morning. All well on board.
Left North Minerva at 1430 hrs NZ time yesterday after cold front passed through. Caught a yellow fin tuna near the pass. Expect to arrive in the Vava'u island group of Tonga on Monday, but understand there may be some unsettled weather there then, so may slow down or stop on the way and arrive Tuesday or Wednesday.
Tired of eating crays. Looking for weather to sail to the Ha'apai or Vava'u Island Groups in Tonga. Maybe when winds back to the SE on Saturday.
Motored from South Minerva Reef to North Minerva Reef yesterday. Walked on the barren reef for crays last night. Waiting for weather to sail to the Ha'apai Group in Tonga.
Yesterday(Tuesday NZ time) at 2 pm, we arrived at South Minerva Reef = 800 nm from Marsden Cove in 5 days. Three other boats here. Weather permitting, we will stay here for several days trying to eradicate the crayfish (Florida Lobster) infestation. Then on to Tonga. All well on board (and the crew is smelling better). Ha, ha!!
Strong wind and gusts have propelled us further along than expected although it has been a boisterous ride with the beam seas. We should reach South Minerva at midday today and then perhaps decide to continue on to North Minerva. 40 nm to go to South Minerva and 61 nm to North Minerva. All is well on board. We are each looking forward to the other person taking a shower upon arrival.
Wind gusts are strong - 10 to 15 knots higher than sustained winds - and last 5 to 10 minutes. If we average more than 7 knots for 36 hours, we can arrive in South Minerva Reef before dark on Tuesday. 230 nm to go. All is well on board.
Sailing along with Southerly (cold) wind. Looks like arrival at Minerva Reef will be on Wednesday morning, NZ time (Tues afternoon USA time) since we do not want to enter the pass at dark although there is a lovely moon. 395 nm to go.
After 25 hours of running the engine since leaving Marsden Cove, we started sailing at 1 pm Friday local NZ time. We changed course 30 degrees to the east a day earlier than planned to avoid northerly winds associated with a low moving east faster than anticipated. We hope to arrive at Minerva Reef on Tuesday, NZ time. 555 nm to go.
We have been motoring for 18 hours since leaving Marsden Cove at noon on Thursday, local time. We have been spewing more fumes than a VW diesel automobile - well, not THAT much. Hopefully, the wind will pick up later today, but we may be like John Travolta (Urban Cowboy) and looking for "wind" in all the wrong places. All well on board.
Sandy and Rankin have returned to Marsden Cove Marina. The two of us plan to leave for Tonga, possibly via Minerva Reef, in a few hours with a new main sail. We should head North for a couple of days to about 30 degrees South before turning toward Tonga. We plan to monitor Gulf Harbour Radio every morning.
Returned to Whangarei Town Basin where there was frost on the docks this morning. Hoping for a weather window in two weeks after receipt of a new main sail. Apparently, we were not allowed to leave the country with money in our pockets. At least we will see two more episodes of Game of Thrones before we leave.
Returned to Marsden Cove due to torn main sail. Hopefully, will have it repaired and try again next week.
Leaving for Tonga from Marsden Cove Marina today (Wednesday) at 1700 hrs.
We are motoring along making the long passage from Town Basin Marina to Marsden Cove. Hope the weather holds (ha, ha!).
In Whangarei preparing for passage to Tonga via Minerva Reef next week - maybe Thursday, May 19.
West Bay - Hen and Chicken Islands (the Chickens part). Nice small anchorage in calm conditions with lovely song birds on shore and clear water below for diving amongst the kelp and small schools of fish and baby squid.
Tacked against 10 - 15 kt SW winds to Smokehouse Bay to weather coming easterlies.
Sailed to Rakitu Island Cove, a lovely anchorage for a few boats. No cell service, but clear water, caves and walking on the island. Wish we could stay longer but easterlies coming this way.
Sailed to Rangiwhakaea Bay on NE side of Great Barrier Island. No cell phone service and the 25 kt plus SW winds found a way over or through the hills, so we stayed on the boat.
Finally had the wind for a nice spinnaker sail to Great Barrier Island. Plan on sailing to the east side tomorrow.
Working our way North while waiting for wind to go to Great Barrier.
Anchored in the Coromandel for the first time. Lovely with cow, sheep and turkeys ashore.
Anchored at Kawau Island and attended the Music Festival at the Mansion where Michael on Astarte won a bottle of wine for being
the Best Dressed.
On the hard at South Pacific Gateway Marina for the winter. Wishing fair winds and calm seas to everyone sailing north.
Sitting out wind and rain at Smokehouse Bay by Great Barrier Island with a current barometric pressure of 995.
Wing on wing sail to Mercury Island. Lovely anchorage secluded for the time being.
Enjoying the Man O" War vineyard and the local trails on Waiheke Island.
Under the heading, "Better safe than sorry," we left our "hurricane hole" at Great Barrier and sailed to Gulf Harbour Marina near Auckland. At least we were able to watch the all female crewed boat in the Volvo Around the World race win the in-port race in Auckland harbour before they head off to their next stop in Brazil in a few days.
Had a lovely sail to Great Barrier Reef and anchored in Namaru Bay on the NW side. Relocated the next day to Kaiarara Bay near Port Fitzroy. The youth training tall ship Spirit of New Zealand is anchored nearby. We are watching the forecasts for Tropical Cyclone Pam as it heads toward New Zealand after projected landfull in Vanuatu.
After three enjoyable months in Whangarei Town Basin, we chopped off the roots and motored to the Hens and Chickens Island wildlife sanctuary and anchored in Boulder Bay. Nice to be rocked to sleep by the gentle swell.
Arrived in Whangarei Town Basin in time for the Meet and Greet party Friday evening. Should be staying here a couple of months boosting the New Zealand economy.
Arrived at the Bay of Islands Marina Friday afternoon and checked in with Customs, et al.
Someone in Opua left a fan on and we have been fighting a 15-20 knot headwind all night. Looking forward to a hot shower (for the other crew member). We have 40 nm to go to the Bay of Islands (if we could sail straight there) with an ETA of Friday afternoon, Nov. 21, NZ time (Thur night USA time).
The wind clocked just enough yesterday to allow us to sail close hauled and go south with a boisterous ride. We have 159 nm to go to the Bay of Islands (if we could sail straight there) with an ETA of Friday morning, Nov. 21, NZ time (Thur night USA time).
Motor sailing ESE in order to get south against a southerly breeze. Hoping the wind clocks to the west soon. Crossed 30 degrees Latitude and had to pull on a jacket and socks. We have 320 nm to go to the Bay of Islands (as the albatross flies) with an ETA of Friday morning, Nov. 21, NZ time (Thur night USA time).
eta AKL friday pm or am
all else same as Astarte. We have hvy interference on 20m
After running the engine for 30 hours, we were able to turn it off at midnight and sail down wind. It could be a spinnaker day. We have 565 nm to go to the Bay of Islands with an ETA of Friday morning, Nov. 21, NZ time (Thur night USA time).
position as at this morning 2100utc
We left Ile des Pins at 10:30 am local time and had an enjoyable sail until 6:30 pm when the wind died and we had to use the "auxiliary" engine. There was a 1 knot adverse current yesterday but a 1.5 favorable current currently. The seas look like a lumpy mattress. We have 713 nm to go to Bay of Islands with an ETA of Friday morning, Nov. 21, NZ time (Thur night USA time). SSSSHHH don't tell anyone, but it's Rankin's birthday today!!!
currently on route to Isle of Pines with Astarte and will leave Sat for NZ. Are on ham net 14315
We are anchored by Kouare Island in the Southern Lagoon. We plan to stay here and in the Five Isles for a week or two as we prepare the boat for the passage to New Zealand in early November. The water looks great in sunlight, but is still cold to the Texas crew.
Relaxing at Ilot Bailly before heading back to the South Lagoon.
Paddle Boarding in light drizzle NW of Noumea at Baie Maa.
As we were anchoring in Five Islands after a pleasant sail from Iles des Pins, we heard Noumea Radio announce in English a forecast for 40 knot winds which was about double the winds forecast 6 hours earlier. We immediately weighed anchor to sail to a protected anchorage before dark. On the way, we realized that the announcer confused knots with kilometers per hour and the wind would be as originally forecast. We went ahead and anchored by Ile Quen since the Five Island anchorage had a foot chop in E wind...
Had a nice wing on wing sail from Ile des Pins to the Five Islands in the South Lagoon on Sunday despite a 2.5 meter swell from the south and a 1 meter wind chop from the east for half the passage.
Motor sailed to Baie de Kuto on the Ile des Pines where a dozen boats are anchored.
Spent two days in Baie du Prony. Heading for Ile des Pins today (Wednesday).
Back in Noumea. Will soon depart to SW New Caledonia or the Southern Lagoon.
Left the marina and rain in Noumea. Anchored in Baie des Kaoris in the northern branch of Baie du Prony. Haven't seen any small horses yet.
A west wind in New Caledonia? Of course, since we were going west. Arrived at the Port Moselle marina in Noumea and going to dinner to celebrate Sandy's significant birthday.
After granting us a 24 hour passage from Port Vila to the Loyalty Islands, the wind gods amused themselves by reducing the wind to less than 10 kts and making it directly astern. As a result, we motor sailed most of Monday afternoon and entered the Havannah Pass at 9:00 p.m. on a dark and cloudy night with wind increasing to 25 kts from the North and anchored at Port Boise. We will proceed to Noumea on Tuesday.
Sailing between New Caledonia's Loyalty Islands of Lifou and Mare 24 hours after leaving Port Vila on Vanuatu. Weather exactly as predicted over the period with E winds at 15 kts allowing an average speed over 8 kts. Anticipate arriving at the mouth of Havannah Pass after low tide at 1900 hrs today.
Moved to Port Vila. Decided to pass on this weather window to New Caledonia because it was too difficult to do everything necessary to check out in a few hours. We will wait around Efate Island for the nexI weather window.
After a boisterous passage around Devil's Point with 10 ft. waves 6 seconds apart and 25 knot winds in the early morning, we anchored at the Mele Island Hideaway Resort and Marine Sanctuary. Some of the best snorkeling we have seen in Vanuatu although there was a fee of about US$15 each to supposedly support the marine sanctuary. We are waiting for a weather window to New Caledonia, but it doesn't look good for the forseeable future.
Left Havannah Bay to stage at Paul's Rock for the windward "passage" around Devil's Point to Port Vila on Efate Island.
Another fast passage hard on the wind for 8 hours from Epi Island to Havannah Bay on Efate Island. We will wait here or in nearby Port Vila for a comfortable weather window to New Caledonia. The forecast for Monday indicates an east wind which would be helpful for the SSW passage, but it may not have strong enough winds to sail or last the two days required for the passage. We will have to watch as the forecast is updated during the next few days.
Had a fast, close hauled sail from Port Vato to Revolieu Bay on the west side of Epi Island.
In order t work our way south to Port Vila against the SE trade winds, we had to make some easting, so we sailed from Banan Bay on Malakula Island to Port Vato on south Ambrym in the morning. The anchorage is fine for catamarans, but it would be uncomfortable for monohulls due to the roll.
Continued beating down the east coast of Malakula Island and anchored in Banan Bay. Traded T-shirts, fishing line and rope for fruit. We have been asked for rope on almost every island in order to tie up cows. Without yachties supplying rope, the islands would be overrun with free range cattle.
After being entertained for hours by the changing colors and textures of the cuttlefish at Ratua Island and after removing some more crown of thorns from the reef, we said goodbye to Slip away and beat down the east coast of Malakula Island to Port Stanley where we anchored near Uri Island.
The east wind was causing boats to roll at anchor at Aore Resort, so we moved to Ratua Island.
Had a nice downwind sail from Pentecost Island to Aore Resort by Luganville. We dived on the SS President Coolidge wreck and enjoyed the independence day celebrations with Slip Away.
After seeing a lovely dance troupe by the waterfall at Asanvari Bay and a nice dive north of the bay we had a nice close reach sail to Bwatnapne Bay on the West coast of Pentecost Island. We listened to several days of music and speeches celebrating Children's Day and had a nice wall dive on Naombil Point.
Left Port Olry with Evergreen and Blue Rodeo and sailed to a surprise rendezvous with Slip Away at Asanvari Bay,, Maewo Island.
Motored north to Port Olry and experienced good snorkleing on two different reefs. Removed some crown-of-thorn starfish that were munching on the reef.
We eased out of the Oyster Island channel and sailed north to Hog Harbour. on the east coast of Espiritu Santo. The water is very clear with phosphorescent animals causing the water to appear full of stars. Champagne Beach is nearby.
The Oyster Island anchorage can be difficult to enter due to a shallow channel, but it is very protected from bad weather. There is a very nice resort owned by Kiwis who also own a vineyard near Opua, NZ. There is also a nice fresh water "blue hole" with rope swing about a mile up a river.
Anchored next to Aesi Island which appears uninhabited. It has many lime and lemon trees. The water is clear, but the snorkeling is not spectacular.
Stopping at Luganville on Espiritu Santo for reprovisioning before heading north.
Sailed from Vanihe Bay on N Ambae to Ratua Island just south of Aore Island. The anchorage is very nice and protected with two free moorings available courtesy of the very nice resort on the island. Snorkeling around the anchorage and Purumamasa Island a mile west was fantastic. Eric and Anne on the boat Reflections showed us how to remove the reef eating crown-of-thorn starfish.
Sailed from Asanvari on SW Maewo Island to Vanihe Bay on N Ambae. The island was the inspiration for Michner's Bali Hai and the anchorage was beautiful.
Sailed from Loltong on NW Pentecost Island to Asanvari on SW Maewo Island. The local village is nicely landscaped and the residents are working hard to be a tourist destination. An attractive waterfall flows into the anchorage.
Sailed from Londot, SW Pentecost Island, to a very protected anchorage at Loltong on NW Pentecost Island. Enjoyed meeting local villagers Matthew and Mary who run the Vatulo Beach Yacht Club and helped us buy local vegetables. Took a tour of the village and saw the community center next to the well groomed soccer field where the young men have been watching the soccer world cup starting at 3 a.m. thanks to solar panels and a satellite television.
Sailed from NW Ambrym Island to Londot, South Pentecost Island. It was a fast passage at 9 knots between the islands and Evergreen caught a Mahi Mahi which they shared with the boats in the anchorage and the village ashore. We watched the land diving presentation (predecessor to bungy jumping but with vines instead of bungy cords) at about $120 per person and were very impressed. The villagers put on quite a show in traditional costumes in addition to the jumpers.
Sailed from Lamen Bay on Epi Island to NW Ambrym Island and anchored between the villages of Ranvetlam and Ranon. We caught a 4 ft Mahi Mahi on the way and Blue Rodeo caught a 4 ft waloo, both of which were shared with the boats in the anchorage and Chief Joseph from Ranvetlam. The crews from Blue Rodeo and Evergreen hiked 8 hrs round trip to the rim of the Mt. Marum volcano and the crews from Gypsea Heart and Astarte joined the villagers in their preparation for a double wedding the next day.
Moved north a mile to Lamen Bay on Epi Island where there are many turtles and a dugong (manatee).
A nice and fast reach from Tongoa to NE Epi Island that turned into a three way race wing-on-wing. Enjoyed a large Mahi Mahi caught by Blue Rodeo on the way. The monohulls in the anchorage rolled a bit despite wind from the S to E. A nice snorkel and dive spot nearby.
Sailed from Emae Island to NW Tongoa. We could not safely land a dinghy on the rocky shore to find someone to pay our 500 VT (US$ 5) fee each for diving there, so we had to let Jon from Evergreen swim ashore through the surf to do the honors. The wall dive was quite nice.
Sailed from Lelepa to Emae Island with 15-20 kt wind making for a fast passage. Caught a 7 kg (15 lb) mahi mahi near Emae and shared it with Blue Rodeo, Evergreen and the villagers on shore. Delicious.
After a 5 nm sail from Paul's Reef, anchored in the NW lagoon of Lelepa where there is a narrow opening between the reef and numerous coral heads in the lagoon. The bottom was mostly 10 - 15 ft deep with some bommies rising to within 5 ft of the surface. The local village has started charging VT 1,000 (US$ 11) per night which may entitle you to use of the snorkel moorings.
We dived at 17.35.496S, 168.11.873E on the W side of Lelepa where several large underwater hills almost reach the surface. It is possible to place a dinghy anchor in a rock crevice on the side of a hill to avoid damaging coral. There is a good amount of live coral and several crevices/canyons through which to dive, but did not see many large fish. The southern hill has many soft corals and fans. There is a snorkel spot close to shore with a couple of mooring buoys and a sign that states not for use by the public. We saw a catamaran anchored or moored in the cove, but it looked dangerous without local knowledge.
We spent 6 days in Port Vila on a Yachting World mooring to get fresh provisions, fill up with diesel, check in with Immigration for our one month visa plus 4 month extension, obtain a required cruising permit replacement for the one we received in Aneityum, and a little internet access. We sailed about 15 nm and anchored near shore by Paul's Reef on the SW side of Efate.
We dived on Paul's Reef (17 39.876S, 168 10.860E) where there was a plastic milk bottle tied to a mooring line for dinghies
After a 23 hour downwind sail, half of which was with the spinnaker, from Port Resolution on Tanna, Vanuatu, we arrived at Port Vila on Efate, Vanuatu. We are attached to a Yacht World mooring and catching up on housekeeping chores along with internet access. We managed to catch a small yellow fin tuna and mahi mahi on the way. We may pay the price for all this nice this downwind sailing when we turn around and head back into the wind toward New Zealand.
Had a nice 8 hour spinnaker sail from Port Patrick on the north coast of Aneityum, Vanuatu, to Port Resolution on the SE coast of Tanna, Vanuatu, except that we had to lower and raise the spinnaker 3 times due to unavoidable rain showers. Visited the Port Resolution "Yacht Club" and the Mt. Yasur volcano where we stood on the rim and watched the exploding lava in the cone. We also attended a local village celebration where three boys were honored after spending a month in seclusion following their circumcisions. Luckily, we were a month late for the actual circumcision ceremony.
Anchored in Anawamet Bay (Port Patrick)on the north side of Aneityum Island, Vanuatu. A reef is in the middle of the Bay and the east channel is much easier to navigate than the west channel around the reef. Anchored between the reef and the town in 20 ft. The chief's grandson paddled to the boat and asked us to download movies onto his thumb drive in exchange for a basket of oranges. We instructed him on copyright law.
Anchored in Utche Bay, SW Aneityum Island, Vanuatu. This anchorage is only 2 miles from the main anchorage at Anelghowhat (Analgawat) Bay and is 1 mile from Jnmal (Inmal) Reef where there is supposed to be good diving. Even with a SE wind of 15 kts, a slight swell entered the bay which might make it more suitable for catamarans than mono hulls, but it is more protected from SE wind waves than the main harbor. The waves on the Jnmal (Inmal) reef were too large with 15+ kts of wind to dive from a dinghy, but might be comfortable in less than 10 kts of wind.
We arrived at Aneityum, Vanuatu, yesterday morning 5 minutes behind Blue Rodeo with no repairs necessary and no lost lures - a record. We caught a skipjack as we arrived as a consolation prize. There are 8 boats in the harbor. We plan to stay here for a few days soaking up some sun. Thank you Gulf Harbour Radio for all the assistance on our passage.
It is 11 am on Sunday and we are 125 nm from Aneityum, Vanuatu. The forecasted winds of 8-12 knots for last night turned out to be 15-20 kts which allowed us to sail at 8-9 knots and make up ground previously lost to light wind and downwind sailing. There is a low pressure trough between us and our destination which will cause variable wind of undetermined strength and rain showers. However, we expect landfall on Monday. Blue Rodeo is doing a good job of keeping up with us :-), but the fish apparently cannot catch a lure moving at this speed.
Motored most of the day in light winds until 1600 when able to sail close hauled. Fish still shy.
Our 24 hour spinnaker sail ended at 1100 hrs when the wind died (RIP). Ever since, we have been motoring(92%), sailing(8%) with another day of light wind forecast. ETA in Aneitym, Vanuatu, on Monday afternoon. 392 nm to go. Apparently, there are no fish left in the ocean.
getting closer to Blue Rodeo!
Sea swell diminishing and temperature slowly rising. Lovely day spinnaker sailing with plans to fly the spinnaker all night if the wind doesn't die and the squalls stay away. Trying to catch Blue Rodeo (Shhh, don't tell them).
Sailing along with reefed main and poled out jib.
Though we are motoring, it is a very pleasant evening and the sun is just setting
waiting in Paihia to leave Monday, May 19th for Vanuatu
In Paihia, New Zealand, preparing for passage to Vanuatu.
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