Had an absolute cracker of a sail down from Ballina to Yamba yesterday. 14-15k just aft of the beam with a lovely current lift saw Kiapa flying along to her 'resting spot' for summer. Yes, we are going to call Yamba 'home' for the next few months.
An early start saw us going through the Gold Coast seaway at dawn's crack and after a fairly slow 60nm passage to Ballina we crossed the river mouth bar around 4pm. Off to the RSL for dinner now.
Moved from Bum's Bay to a much quieter spot on the western side of South Stradbroke Island - the continuous helicopter joy rides made us feel like we were in a war zone! Now we can only hear bird calls!
Motor-sailed down the inside channels (on the western side of South Stradbroke Island) to Bum's Bay on the Gold Coast. Had a brief nervous moment when we had to pass under the overhead powerlines, but the weather instruments on top of the mast seemed to clear them quite easily. Phew! Now happily anchored with all the other 'bums', with sea planes, helicopters and jet skis completing the Gold Coast atmosphere!
We arrived at the fabulous Royal !! Queensland Yacht Squadron on Friday, and have been enjoying familiarising ourselves with all that is on offer at this fabulous club/marina. We plan to stay here for about a month.
We cleared Wide Bay Bar first thing this morning - phew, no dramas. And what a totally FABULOUS sail we had down to Mooloolaba today. Not only was the sailing itself great, but boy, did we see some whales! In the distance, right next to the boat, leaping, broaching, cruising....... we saw it all. Where we are anchored right now has to be in the middle of suburbia as it is possible to be on a boat. See pic!
Anchored in Pelican Bay ready to, hopefully, cross the renowned (sometimes treacherous) Wide Bay Bar first thing tomorrow morning. This is the 'opening' from the sheltered waters created by Fraser Island back out into the open ocean. This morning, before sailing here, we visited the quaint settlement of Tin Can Bay. Tin Can Bay town is known for the dolphins which come to shore to interact with people, so we went along to participate. It's all very controlled, but I suppose it has to be for the safety of these beautiful animals. The bird life in the surrounding trees was also fab!
Motored through the very interesting shallow channels of the Great Sandy Straits to the west of Fraser Island this morning. Thank goodness for accurate charts and GPS's! The red line on the 2 photos below shows the route we took. Now happily anchored off the small settlement of Tin Can Bay.
Celebrating our first coastal sail in Aussie by sipping on a glass of bubbles while watching sunset. We are anchored off the World Heritage listed largest sand island in the world - Fraser Island. Who knows, we might spot a dingo while exploring ashore tomorrow..
We are enjoying playing 'Tommy the tourist' in the Bundaberg region while going through the process of importing Kiapa into Australia. Have you heard of Bert Hinkler? No, nor had we! Well, he is a famous Australian aviator who back in the 1930's was the first person to fly from England to Oz! And he hails from Bundy. The museum that pays tribute to him is well worth a visit. And of course we have also visited the rum distillery. But perhaps most enjoyable was walking through Australia's largest bird aviary.
We arrived safely in Bundy late on Friday afternoon, which meant we had to clear in on Saturday. Contrary to all the stories we'd heard, clearing in was effortless, and NO weekend overtime fees were charged. Oh it is so so lovely to hear all the birdcalls again. So far we've heard lorikeets, maggies, butcher birds, shags, welcome swallows, and even kookaburras. Lovely lovely! This morning we are heading off to the fresh produce markets in Bundy - time to reprovision with some fresh stuff after our fabulous stay in Chesterfield. I'll attach some pics of Chesterfield here, now that we're back online.
Tuesday's gallop was slowed down to a comfortable trot yesterday - due to lack of wind and still the strong counter-current. But last night the wind picked up and swung around to the north so now we are happily cantering again. Our rhumb line is Bundaberg rum line.
It was a sad farewell to fantastic Chesterfield Reef yesterday morning - what a brilliant time we had there. We are now underway to the land of koalas and kangaroos, the final leg of Kiapa's Pacific Ocean Crossing which started 5 years ago. While the sailing conditions are good, the 2k counter-current is slowing down the gallop somewhat!
2-3m Tiger shark at Chesterfield reef. I felt much much safer swimming in the water with this shark than with John Hembrose from the Go West Go East , Go F yourself rally. A peaceful yoga picture on Longlines. The picture should be a cage fighter or Last Man Standing"
Lionel is a happy chappy - he has ticked something off from his bucket list. A swim with a tiger shark! Yip, you read that correctly! We had just returned to Kiapa after a most enjoyable kite session when we saw a shark swimming around the stern. It came up shallow enough to be identified, so quick as a flash Lionel grabbed his mask and slid in off the back steps to have a closer look. A tiger to be sure, about 2m long, ever so gracefully mooching around. And we've got video footage to prove it!
We have moved to the SE anchorage to check out the snorkelling and little island here. The last few days have been fantastic in many respects, but especially with reference to whales. Any and every time we glance 'out' and watch for a few minutes, we ALWAYS see whales. 2 days ago while dinghying over to a bommie in the lagoon for a snorkel we had a mum and bub practicing their aerial gymnastics with tail and pectoral fin water-slapping about 100m from us. Then while snorkelling half an hour later we could hear them singing to each other. And to top if off last night while watching the sun dip over the horizon we had another stellar performance - full breaching. Can you tell we are having a whale of a time?
Man-oh-man, Chesterfield Reef truly is paradise. The sandy islands are covered in birds, and their song fills the background such that we don't want to listen to music. After snorkeling on pristine reef in the afternoon we enjoyed a bottle of bubbly on a coral cay while watching the sun setting and the full moon simultaneously rising. As I said, heaven!!
Very VERY happily anchored in the most turquoise of waters here at Chesterfield Reef after a very easy passage from New Cal. It is so unbelievably beautiful here - Kerry, Lionel and I think we are in aquatic paradise. The bird life is amazing with their constant 'chatter' in the background, and we have already snorkeled with whales. We're looking forward to exploring this little slice of heaven.
'Hiding' up The Carenage in Prony Bay as we wait for the strong westerlies to pass. Had a lovely swim in the small waterfalls a bit further up the creek. It's been a L O N G time since we swam in fresh water!
Oops, missed a couple of updates. In the last week since sailing from Isle de Pins we have stayed at Mato Island, Amadee Island, Anse Majec and now in Prony Bay. A strong westerly is forecast, so we are taking shelter in Baie de la Somme for the next couple of days.
Anchored in Kuto Bay, Isle de Pins, where the sand on the beach is as fine as talcum powder. Hitched a ride to the local fresh produce market this morning (~10km away) where we stocked up on bits and pieces, including some local honey. Hiked up the nearby mountain Pic Ngo yesterday to be rewarded with stunning 360 degree views. Loving this beautiful island paradise.
Still in Gadji, and loving it. Went scuba diving yesterday and saw some AMAZING sea life, including something none of us had seen before, let alone heard of - an electric, flashing, disco clam. You Tube it!! Also saw a Pygmy seahorse, a lacey scorpion fish and an enormous school of barracuda. Loving it here!
Anchored in stunning Gadji Bay, on the north-western side of of Isle de Pins. Even though it's cloudy the water is the most stunning turquoise. The snorkelling is fantastic around here, and catching a crayfish for dinner is a guarantee.
Had a lovely sail down to Ouen Island yesterday - gotta love this sailing inside a huge barrier reef thing. 13-18k in flat water had Kiapa flying along very comfortably. Then, with sunset G&T's in hand we watched some whales breaching in the distance. How lucky are we? There's a huge reef close by which we're told is good to dive on, so plan to do so a bit later.
We welcome Kerry on board. Sailed out to Isle de Maitre, and enjoyed a lovely snorkel. While the corals weren't too colourful we did see a lot, including huge coral trout, 3 turtles, a tropical crayfish and a very well camouflaged octopus.
Had a slow cruise from Ilse de Pins to Mato Island yesterday. Were lucky enough to spot 2 whales on the way, and because conditions were calm, we decided to "pull over" and see if we could swim with them. And we did!! They seemed to be resting, and didn't move away at all! How spoilt were we, to swim with these gentle giants out in the middle of nowhere!
Had a gloriously slow sail from Prony Bay to the northern bay of Gadji at Isle de Pins, where the water is the prettiest turquoise. Sadly didn't see any whales on the way, but did catch a nice size fish as we came through the pass.
Anchored in Prony Bay. Yay, the decks are getting a lovely rinse. We're on anchor watch in these strong gusts, so it's a day for board games.
Back in Port Moselle to partake in the Bastille festivities tonight and tomorrow.
Back at Mato Island. Weather not the best today - grey and blustery, but hey, at least it's still warm. Lionel is a happy chappy though - he has borrowed a fellow cruiser's hot knife so is having fun with that!
Enjoyed a glorious day of light wind spinnaker sailing yesterday to reach Kouare Island, New Cal's southern most island bar one other tiny one - yes, we are further south than the famous Isle de Pins! Kouare is the island closest to the outer fringing reef so if the wind stays settled we hope to head out to this reef to snorkel and snare some dinner. Here with 2 other boats - we enjoyed their company while sipping 'Kiapa Cocktails' at sunset last night.
Anchored in between the reefs surrounding cute little plum-pudding Mato island. This island is unique as the sea snakes slither ashore to shed their skins and lay their eggs. We had one sharing the rock we were sitting on right up at the top for sunset drinks last night. We've been snorkeling a few times, looking for crayfish, but no luck so far.
There is such a wonderful choice of islands close to Noumea to visit - and all with safe and comfortable spots to anchor/moor. Today we woke up with teeny tiny Ilot Mbe Kouen just there!
Anchored in extremely peaceful Baie Maa - with our 'cat team' of 6 other Aussie cruising boats. We enjoyed a beach fire and bbq last night, sharing jokes, stories and a sing-a-long with Neville on the guitar. Heading back out to the islands later this morning.
Anchored off Uere Island which has the most amazing fist-sized-pebble beaches, not sandy beaches like we have found so far. Mont Dore forms a pretty impressive backdrop.
Anchored off Port Moselle. Thoroughly enjoyed watching the AC racing the last couple of mornings. GO KIWIS!! No wind or surf forecast for the next few days, and it's pretty grey with rain threatening, so instead of heading back out to the islands are going to stay here and do some more exploring on the bikes.
Moored off Ilot de Maitre, the 'kiting island' our friends have told us so much about. While the wind howled through the night it has now sadly, backed off. This means more swimming and snorkelling today. The image included here shows the extensive reef and sea grass beds that surround the island, which makes for excellent snorkelling. We've seen quite a variety of big and small fish, as well as turtles grazing on the grass. Later today we plan to head back to Port Moselle so that we can watch the AC tomorrow.
Oops, missed a couple of days of position updates! Since the AC Challenger Cup is over we have headed out to the islands for a few days (until the AC begins on Sunday again). We are LOVING the marine life that comes and lives between our hulls as soon as we are settled - yesterday we had an enormous barracuda, emporor fish, ramoras, a bludger trevally and a turtle. And stunning sunsets, oh my goodness.......
Anchored off Port Moselle for the next couple of days. Needed to stock up on fresh produce, wanted to come and watch some of the America's Cup, and also to catch up with some friends. Poor Kiwis - hope they manage to fix their racing machine quickly! Have to include a pic of my favourite little fish I saw when out snorkelling at Ile Laregnere yesterday.
Moored off the tiny little island of Laregnere, not too far from Noumea. There's good snorkelling to be had close by, so that'll be the order of the day.
Spent a couple of nights out at nearby islands and then came back in to Noumea to pop Don and Hugh on the plane back to NZ. BIG thanks to them both for their help with our passage. Tied up at Port du Sud Marina, mainly to have access to that ever precious resource, water! Done all the laundry and have washed all the salts off the deck, but still need to rinse halyards etc. Another reason for coming in to the marina was to try and get to a telly where we could watch the America's Cup. Success, the yacht club across the bay is showing it. Happy days!
We love New Caledonia! We have already had more swims than we had in our 5 months in NZ!! Checking in with Customs, Immigration and Biosecurity this morning was a breeze! We thought we may be 'boat bound' until Monday because we were told the government authorities don't work over the w/e here, but oh no, one phone call later Mr Immigration turned up in boardies, singlet and thongs, and 10 minutes later we were all set to go ashore! Right now enjoying a sunset drink and dinner on terra firma.
Nearly there! What a glorious night's sailing - 100% the opposite to the night before! The screecher is out, the hairy chests are also out, and we are looking forward to checking in later today.
You know the song "Oh what a night"..... well that describes last night for us. We had a good day's sail yesterday and covered a lot of ground, but by sunset the sky was an ominous black and the swell had picked up, and yikes, the radar was showing an awful number of squalls around! Just as well we had bangers and mash for dinner - provided you stuck your banger in the mash it wasn't tempted to fly off your plate!! The boys did an AWESOME job keeping Kiapa trucking along safely, hand steering through gusty squall after gusty squall. Around 3am the wind switched to "on the nose" for the direction we are heading towards, so we made the decision - a first ever for us on Kiapa - to 'heave to' for a couple of hours which meant we all got some shut eye. And now it's daybreak and we can see again, always so much nicer! 145nm to Ile de Pins.
As I write this the sun is rising, and what pretty pinky orange hues are highlighting the horizon. The winds have 'settled' in terms of both direction and strength, so as there's no sail adjustments to make, 'the games have begun'. Not the boat speed games of yesterday, but board and card games. So far Lionel is champion. We also enjoyed "Don's Scones" for lunch yesterday. Can you tell all is well on board? 305nm to go. (This msg is not being composed by IridiumGo.)
Yeehah, we are not wearing socks or slippers - well not during the day anymore. We had a good day's sailing yesterday and an even better night last night. Haha, boys will always be boys! As the swell picked up they decided to turn off the autopilot and take the helm to surf the waves to see who could get top speed. Hugo was the 'winner' with 16.8k. The sky was rather black and ominous looking at sunset, so we reefed the main in the event of the odd squall, and just as well! They marched through around 2-5am, just when Captain Kangaroo was on watch. 520nm to go to Ile de Pins. all very well on board.
We had a great start to our passage to New Cal yesterday. After motoring for a couple of hours to get out the Bay we motor-sailed and then sailed into the night. The wind was light and variable for most of the night which resulted in Lionel eventually unfurling our kick-arse screecher - yeehah. All good on board.
Yeehah, we are off the dock and underway to the tropics. New Caledonia here we come. We hope the passage will take 4-5 days, all going well. Thanks to Don Salthouse and Hugh Stocker for crewing with us.
Like everyone else, we are still 'relaxing' in Opua, waiting for the weather gods to organise a nice weather window for us to head north. Looks like the end of this week may be okay - we are looking at Saturday, in the hope the predicted 4.5m swell will have dissipated somewhat when we round Cape Reinga. In the meantime horse and bike riding keep us fit. Oh and of course there's LOTS of lovely socialising going on......
Moved up to the Bay of Islands, waiting for the next weather window to head north to New Caledonia. While we wait for Cyclone Donna to dissipate we are enjoying getting out on the bikes - today we a going to do a section of the Twin Coast Trail.
Hanging in at Marsden Cove, waiting for the weather further north to improve - like everyone else, we don't like the look of the tropical depression near Vanuatu! This morning we woke up to an interesting new neighbour at the end of our dock - a 2-3m long leopard seal! It's unusual for them to be this far north, but apparently this big mumma has been hanging around for a while!
Tacked up in Mimiwhangata with 5 other boats, after a beaut sail from Whangaroa today. We are headed for Marsden Cove and next week we are flying to Nelson to do the Grape Cycle ride with our Aussie mates.. We hope our yachty legs can pedal us around the course. Else we might have to stop at winery.
On a mooring at Mangonui. Enjoying chasing the kitesurfing wind and waves on the northern tip of New Zealand.
We had a relaxing sail from Whangaroa Harbour to Mangonui - powered by the screecher only - a couple of days ago. This historic whaling town will be our base for the next couple of weeks. We have renewed empathy for hitchhikers because once we had Kiapa here we hitched a ride down to Paihia to pick up our car. It's been ages since either of us stuck out our thumbs!! Thank the lordy it didn't take too long - lovely Kiwis are such friendly and helpful peeps! We are now totally mobile, ready to find the wind for kiting or the waves on the west coast for surfing. Bring it on!
Saw the unusually shaped sunfish sunning itself at the surface yesterday while underway from Paihia. Quite something!! Now snugly anchored in a very protected bay here in Whangaroa Harbour as buckets or rain wash the decks. We read there are winds of 30k + 'out there', but you wouldn't know it here where we are tucked in.
Anchored off Paihia in the Bay of Islands. Today is Waitangi Day and we are enjoying watching the various celebrations to mark this auspicious historical event, including about 70 guys manoeuvring the Ngatokimatawhaorua (g'arn, have a go at pronouncing that one!!), the world's largest ceremonial canoe.
KIAPA, THE MORELLI MELVIN GUNBOAT CATAMARAN, IS FOR SALE
Call Lionel on +64 (0)204 024 4212
Kiapa, The stunning aqua-coloured Morelli Melvin designed 52ft (15.8M) catamaran, is for sale. Custom built in Schooner Creek Boatworks, Oregon, she is widely recognized as a fast, strong, sleek, performance-oriented cruising cat. Her simple but ingenious design enables true off-shore long distance cruising in saftey, comfort and style.
Fast? Is she ever! Her elegant, light hulls combined with her powerful rig and high tech sails easily push her along at near wind speed or better in light air. And the high bridge-deck clearance means she does so ‘quietly’ and in great comfort, even in the lumpiest of seas.
Professionally custom built to the highest standards and subsequently meticulously maintained, Kiapa is in immaculate condition and ready to sail you away on your next adventure.
Kiapa is perfectly suited to a couple or family. Her spacious interior is appointed with style, combining a traditional nautical theme with a modern European look. The large and well-appointed galley includes a two-door fridge, separate freezer, oven, cooktop, microwave and double sink. The saloon has a gorgeous mahogany fold-open table, easily seating up to 8 guests.
To starboard is the ‘owners hull’ with an airy ensuite which is also accessible from the transom.
To port is a double bed, 2 bunk beds, and a spacious ensuite.
Kiapa is fitted out with high quality electronics, winches, fittings and sails. She has a 12v 40 litre per hour Spectra water maker; 720W solar array (6 panels); sizable 11ft dinghy with 20hp Yamaha 4 stroke outboard, gas BBQ, inflatable kayak, 2 EPIRBs and all the safety gear you need, including a ‘ditch bag’ that the US Coastguard commented on as the “best equipped ditch bag he had ever seen”!
A full colour systems manual is also provided.
She is kitted out with all you need for blue water cruising, but great care has been taken to ensure that there is nothing ‘unnecessary’ and that all her systems are as simple as possible to keep maintenance to a minimum.
Kiapa is currently lying in Mardsen Cove Marina, Whangarei, 140km north of Auckland, New Zealand. This is a great launch destination for Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia or Australia.
The decision to sell has not been an easy one for the current owners. Having lived on board full time and cruised extensively from San Francisco to Mexico, across the Pacific and to and from New Zealand for the past 5 years they are ready for their next adventure. Added to this is that the captain/owner has an old recurring hip injury which is causing some discomfort.
If you would like to be a high performance catamaran owner who does not compromise on speed or quality, and understands what it would take to build such a high quality performance boat from scratch, this is certainly a very special opportunity.
To arrange a showing please contact Lionel Bass (owner) on:-
phone +64 204 024 4212 or +64 21 02216106.
or email:- email@example.com
A marine lawyer or closing (settlement) agent will be appointed to ensure the documentation is correct.
Kiapa additional specifications, equipment and information-
Designers; Morelli Melvin
Hull and Engines
Breadth; 7.70 m
Air Draft; 21.6 m
Depth; 1.2 m
Place of Construction: Schooner Creek Boat Works, Portland, Oregon, United States 2007
Build; FRP Vinylester and foam sandwich
Engines: Two 3 Cylinder Diesel Universal M40B (40hp) ,Approx 1830 engine hours each
Displacement 9.9 metric tonne
Tankage Holding; 75 ltr stb. 150 ltr port
Tankage Fuel; 2 x 246 ltr (2 x 65 gal)
Tankage Water; 2 x 190 ltr (2 x 50 gal)
Propane Gas; 3x9kg cylinders= 27 kg
Spectra Catalina Watermaker 12v 40ltr /hr
1.Propane gas on demand
2.Webasto Diesel HWS
4 x 130W Kyocera solar panels
2 x 100W Schutten solar panels Total 720W
Honda 2000eu 110 petrol/gas generator. Unused
Dolphin 90-265 VAC 220v-110v charger 80Amp
Alternators 100AH Belmar
Blue Sky Energy IPN Pro Remote battery monitor
Projecta 1000W sinewave 220v inverter
Xantrex 1800W sinewave 110v inverter
6 by 230ah AGM batteries = 690ah Discover EVCH6A-A
Furuno Navnet VX2 Radar Chartplotter
B&G Hydra wind and autopilot 2000
Furno GPS – GP32 back up with separate antenna and chartplotter crossover switch
Basic roller ruler and dividers
Miltech AIS transponder and receiver
Richie 5in Binnacle compass
Paper charts from USA to West Coast of Australia
Cruising guides from USA to Australia
Rig: Cap Shroud: 15T Aramid , Lower Shroud: 7T Aramid
Mast: Ballenger Aluminium. Boom : Ballenger Aluminium
Carbon forward beam and prodder
Mainsail: Hydranet Radial 383 Spectra Area 92m2
Jib: Blade Hydranet Radial 383 Spectra 35m2
Small Headsail: New
Screecher: bi-radial, luff 59.5ft, foot 30ft, leech 51ft,7oz 80.6m2
Assy Spinnaker: luff 56.9ft, foot 30ft, leech 50ft 150m2
Dinghy: AB 11ft aluminium,Rigid aluminium inflatable, Yamaha 20hp 4 stroke outboard New:- May 2016
3 cabins, sleeps 6
Starboard hull: Queen size double bed
Port hull: Queen size double bed
Port hull: 2 over/under single bunk beds.
Flooring Douglas fire on composite sandwich
Finish: Awlgrip painted surfaces
Mahogany foam sandwich saloon table
2 teak folding chairs
Leather saloon couches, seats 7
4 hanging lockers
Navigation station with inside steering
Navigation table and navigator’s chair
Plenty storage lockers
Glacier Bay 9.5 cubic foot refrigerator 12v
Glacier Bay 2.5 cubic foot freezer 12v
3 burner Tasco propane stove
Tasco oven and broiler
Countertops are honeycomb core aircraft granite
110v microwave oven
Winches: Andersen 2x58, 3x52, 2x48
Various Harken blocks, Spinlock jammers and clutches
Galleymate stainless BBQ
Deck shower with hot and cold water
Custom bimini design
Custom lazy jacks
Primary anchor: Manson 32kg (Rocna)
Secondary anchor: 10kg CQR
Tertiary anchor: Fortress folding.
Primary anchor chain: 250ft 3/8in stainless chain and 50ft 3/4in nylon rode
Secondary anchor chain: 20ft galvanized 3/8in chain and approx. 300ft of 3/4in nylon rode
Windlass: Lewmar V3
Trampoline: Spectra open weave 2007
Bumpers: 4 tubes 2 balls
Various dock lines
Open swim steps allowing for fins
2 sets of UV window screens, one for bright sun, one for mild grey days
Portata inflatable dinghy rollers to roll the dinghy up the beach
1in Straight shafts with PSS seals
Flexifold props and PRM counter-rotational mechanical transmission
Flares USCG minimum
6 Adult life vests
MOB gear; life ring and strobe
Waterproof comprehensive ditch bag including hand water maker
Galerider drogue and lines
Manual fog horn
Electric float switch bilge pumps in engine bays
Manual bilge pump
Laminated emergency tiller
Comprehensive tool kit
Inflatable 2 person kayak and paddles
Personal effects, clothing, pictures, fishing gear, fishing poles (rods) and reels, surfboards, kiteboards, kites, bicycles.
Back at Marsden Cove Marina, Whangarei, after 2 lovely weeks out at Great Barrier Island. Tomorrow we drive down to Tauranga to pet/house sit for some good friends of ours. Yay, some doggy and kitten time!
Anchored in Kaiarara Bay the last couple of nights - another beautiful spot here at The Barrier. Hiked up to Mt Hobson, the highest peak on the island yesterday. Wow, what awesome views from the top. But the 'ole legs are feeling it today - nice and stiff!
What wonderful Kiwi hospitality we enjoyed last night. Went ashore here at Smokehouse Bay, Great Barrier Island to go for a short hike and do some hand washing (there are specially set up laundry tubs with old fashioned wringers attached) and the next thing we are invited to try some freshly smoked (hence the name of the bay) snapper and king fish by a couple of successful fishermen. And on top of that we came home with bags of both fresh and smoked fish! Gotta love the Kiwis.
Although it's a super windy day today we are snugly anchored on the eastern side of Great barrier Island, just off the miles long white sandy Whangapoua Beach. Not really the weather for playing outside, so we are doing a few chores indoors.
Anchored in pretty Nagle Bay at Great Barrier Island. Close by is little Oyster Island, so of course we had a little 'hunting and gathering' session for hors d oeuvres last night. Yum YUM!! No luck catching snapper off the back step for 'mains' though. Will have to keep trying.
Oops, suddenly 2 weeks in NZ have flown by and Christmas has come and gone! Hope Santa's sack was full of all sorts of lovely goodies for you! We sailed from Marsden Cove to one of the stunning bays in Port FirzRoy at the Barrier Island today. Glorious conditions - nothing like beam-on 18-22k winds and flat(ish) seas. We calculated our average speed at 10.2k, with my max speed while on the helm at 16.6k and Lionel's 19.1 - bastard! It's pretty busy all around - good to see the Kiwis out and about enjoying their boats too.
Just had a glorious 5 hour sail from Moturua Island in the Bay of Islands to Mimiwhagata Beach. And we can see crazeeee Kiwis swimming in the 18 degree water. Brrrrrr, a bit too chilly for us wimps, having enjoyed water temps of 27 degrees for the last 6 months! Lionel is going to try and catch a snapper for dinner again.
We sailed out of Opua Marina this morning and are now anchored off a small island in the Bay of Islands. Once settled Lionel casually cast a soft bait off the back step and I kid you not, within 3, no make that 2 seconds flat we had dinner on the line. A decent size snapper which we will bbq for dinner. yum YUM!! This island has had a fairly intensive revegetation program and consequently the bird song as we sit here is lovely.
Here we are, back in the land of beautifully flowering pohutukawa trees.. All in all our passage from Vanuatu went very well - ending by being spoilt with a pod of dolphins surfing our bow waves in the dark of night. The only reason we could seen them was because of the phosphorescence trail they left behind them. Nature's glory, to be sure. We plan to spend a few days here in Opua and will then make our way southwards.
It's 3am and we have just pulled up on the Customs dock in Opua. Enjoying a lurvely cuppa tea before we head to bed. Had a great few hours of sailing earlier - even had the spinny up for about 4 hours - but ended up motoring the last little while as the wind died off and came more and more from behind. All in all a fabulous passage from Vanuatu. Big thanks to Jo and Mods for helping make it so.
Hooray, throwing 'skippy' back yesterday worked! At lunchtime the forecast light ENE wind filled in beautifully, which saw us fanging along too fast to put the lures in the water. This morning the Captain woke up having thought of a slightly different way to configure the screecher - a new attachment point for the sheet - which has resulted in a closer-haul sailing angle. Right now, at 8am Kiwi time, we are consistently cruising pretty close to wind speed....... aaaah, this is the life. With the benefit of hindsight we are pleased we were initially so far west - consequently we are now in this light northerly flow of air, and on the rhumb line. With 150 nm to go we are looking forward to spotting Cape Reinga at some stage this afternoon. Oh and the jury is out as to who is the rummikub champion!!
Aaaaaah the old "catch a fish at sunrise" yarn...... well it's true! We've just landed a nice size skipjack tuna but decided to try and bribe the wind gods by releasing it - I say that 'cause we are hoping for more wind than the 3-5k we've had through the night. We've had very light winds to sail with for the last 30 hours, so the iron genoa has been ticking over. Hopefully the forecast ENE fills in, otherwise it looks like we'll be motor sailing the whole way back to Opua (305nm away). Hey but at last we are on the rhumb line, not heading to Tassie anymore! We should arrive in the early hours of Thursday morning. Our buddies Sel Citron are back over the horizon somewhere, not too far away, but we miss seeing their mast light through the night.
What a fabulous day of sailing we had yesterday. Kiapa was in her element, gunning along at 8-9k in 11-14k of breeze and so munching up the miles - pity it was still in the wrong direction! We spotted Norfolk Island around midnight but now, at 6am the island is way back on the horizon. During the night the breeze had a tad more east in it, so we were able to change course and head a bit more towards North Cape. Phew! Right now we are motor sailing, which is good as it gives us the opportunity to make some water, charge stuff etc. Yesterday conditions were comfortable enough to play a few rounds of different board games - Rummikub and Pictionary. One thing's for sure - the 4 of us are hopeless at drawing. When a leopard looks like a spotted cow, a guard dog looks like a pig, a bolt is thought to be a tornado, and a bathing suit a fox we realised none of us would ever earn any $$$ from our sketching. Can you tell all is very well on board??
Glorious sailing right now - the wind has backed off a tad and the sea state is a bit more settled, and we have a gannet catching the thermals off our heady looking for breakfast. The wind is supposed to get a bit more east in it today, which will be nice - means we can aim a bit closer towards Opua! Our passage buddies Sel Citron are about 10nm behind us and we could see their nav lights during the night. Our crew, Jo and Mods, really are the crew from heaven (sorry Maunies!). Yesterday we were treated to Jo's freshly baked date scones, and a delicious meatball dinner created by Mods.
The trades have set in, as forecast, which means Kiapa is slowly zig-zag tacking south. While we are covering good ground we feel like we've got the handbrake on 'cause our DTW (710nm) doesn't reflect this! Currently we are pointing to Norfolk Island!
Yeehah, we are underway to Opua. Waved goodbye to Vanuatu with our beautiful turquoise spinnaker which we doused at sunset. The wind dropped during the night so we are currently motor sailing. Sel Citron is about 5nm to port. Saw 2 huge vessels in the night, neither of them on AIS!! Jo and Mods are great company to have on board! Lots of laughs! 831nm to go.
WE'RE OFF. NZ, here we come. Looking forward to it!
The forecast tropical depression has arrived here at Aneityum - it's a calm, grey drizzly day. Our water tanks are overflowing with collected rainwater - yah. So we are relaxing some more, doing a 'wasgij' jigsaw while we talk some more shyte! Looking at the forecast ahead we may leave on Friday and do a detour via Norfolk Island........ we'll see how the forecast shapes up after the worst of the TD passes, supposedly tonight.
Mmmmmm, a few sore heads this morning, I'm thinking. We had a mixologists' "cocktail competition" last night between Sel Citron and Kiapa. SC created the 'Salty Lemon', fancily decorated with bright red hibiscus, and Kiapa mixed up a 'Mango Magic' and a 'Kiapa's Coconut Painkiller', decorated with frangipanis and little umbrellas. The verdict is still out as to which creation was the yummiest. And then the dancing began!
After conferring with The Lemons over a coffee this morning we have decided to stay put here at Aneityum for a few more days. The forecast is for light winds for the next 2-3 days and then big swell .......... also it's a whole lot warmer here!! Aaahh well, that means time for more mangoes and pawpaws!
Arrived in Aneityum in time for lunch. Had a fast and bumpy sail yesterday arvo, then a slow motor sail through the night (the winds were fluky between Erromongo and Tanna Islands and we had a strong adverse current), but a ripper of a sail this morning which saw Jo getting 14k when on the helm! We will wait here for our mates The Lemons on Sel Citron to arrive, and then we plan to depart for NZ buddy boating together.
The Captain has made the call......... we are off! We plan to sail out of Port Vila shortly and will do an overnighter to the southern most Vanuatuan island, Aneityum. We'll wait there for a weather window to NZ - early indications dictate that may be by the w/e. Will keep you posted.
Moored in Port Vila, doing last minute provisioning, clearing out with Customs and Immigration etc. Our crew Jo and Anthony are on board, so all in all we are ready to begin our passage south to NZ. From here we plan to go to Erromongo, then to Aneityum (Vanuatu's southern most island) where we will sit and wait for a good weather window.
Anchored off Hideaway Island, not too far from Port Vila. Our good friends on Sel Citron are 'next door'. Must be the nearby local school's swimming lessons here in the bay as we can see and hear lots of kids having fun! Just had a lovely snorkel.
Motored in to 'the big smoke' of Port Vila this morning - time to do some laundry, drop off a few bags of rubbish, buy some fresh fruit and veggies and access better internet. Caught a whopper of a wahoo along the way so guess it'll have to be 5 star fresh fish for dinner for the next few nights!
Still anchored off Lelepa Island, and at the minute listening to beautiful singing from the church choir as it carries across the water. Had a swim/snorkel earlier and were treated to a dugong mum and her calf slowly swimming past us. What a treat as it's not often these shy animals come close. Also saw huge huge clams.
Moved to the southern tip of Lelepa Island, close to the village. Went ashore to have a look at the ENORmous limestone cave which forms part of this area's World Heritage listing together with nearby Eretoka Island where Chief Roimata and his 25 wives are buried. Planning on going scuba diving later today.
Now anchored in 8m over white sand
We are leaving our happy kiteboarding grounds today heading for Havana harbour 10 miles downwind.
Sadly we are saying goodbye to Bart and Lil from Tranquilo after breakfast . They are headed to the northwest passage and over the top of Canada. Brrrrrr
We haven't moved very far in the last week as conditions have been excellent for kiting. The wind cranks up around 8am and then backs down around sunset, there's a perfect white sandy beach to launch from, there's no reef to avoid, and it's not tide affected. Oh and the local villagers give us more fruit than we can consume! Heaven!
Anchored in very calm conditions off Nguna, Kakula and Pele Islands which are small islands to the north of Efate. These are also pretty volcanic islands, but extinct volcanoes, so phew, no ash fall around here!! We had a great 6 hour sail to here yesterday - flat water with a nice breeze which had us tacking for the last couple of hours, but hey, who minds when conditions are so comfortable.
We arrived in Port Vila yesterday afternoon after a great overnight sail from Tanna. Huh, the ash that changed Kiapa from her pretty aqua colour to grey grey grey chased us away. We had to use buckets and buckets of salt water to try and clean the decks, and luckily we have had a soft drizzle for the last 12 hours to wash the salt off. But boy, the spectacle of the volcano made it all worth while. My bucket list is now one item shorter.
wow Wow WOW!! The active volcano, Mt Yasur, which we all come to see when anchored here at Tanna, is truly quite something. We had postponed heading to the summit to wait for 'perfect' weather conditions - our patience paid off BIG time. All day yesterday we could hear rumbling and roaring from the anchorage and when we arrived at the base of mountain we spotted tephra/pyroclastic debris (aka big lava bombs) flying 100's of meters into the air. What a spectacle! Our guide warned us to keep an eye on where these landed....... a timely warning because about 10 minutes later a sizeable piece landed about 25m away from where we were standing. Yikes!! And then the sun set and the real fireworks began (due to the darker sky). Photos will have to follow at a later stage (due to this report coming in via sailmail).
Snugly anchored in Port Resolution Bay, Tanna Island for the last few days with our friends on Tranquilo, Speakeasy and Marilyn. We have been made to feel very welcome by the people in the nearby village, having already experienced a little 3 year old boy's special ceremonial birthday party amongst other things. Yesterday some of us took a truck ride to the bigger town of Lenekal on the western side - quite an experience, while Lionel and Bart helped a local fellow install/connect his solar panels to his batteries and inverter. He was SO chuffed because they don't have power here, but now he will have lights at night. I am sure he is going to be the envy of his mates! Today one of the ladies is going to teach me how to hand wash some laundry "the local way". Hopefully the weather will clear a bit so that we can make our way up the volcano.
Arrived safely yesterday and now happily anchored in the bay near Mystery Island, Aneityum, Vanuatu. It's lovely to see an island nearly totally covered in virgin forest! Went ashore to 'clear in' this morning, and plan to go for a snorkel this afternoon.
The wind has backed right down and is now mostly from behind - even the spinny won't stay up, so we have just started motor-sailing. All very well on board.
This cat is lapping up the milk..... oh I mean miles ..... in purrrrrfect cruising conditions. Have covered 218 nm in the 24 hours since we left Fiji yesterday morning. Yesterday we lost a monster fish right at the back of the boat, but then at sunrise this morning the good ole squidly-jig-thingo caught us a fab size tuna. Guess we'll be having fresh tuna for the next few meals!! We're on our way to Aneityum, Vanuatu.
Farewell fabulous Fiji. Thank you for the AWESOME time we have had in your beautiful island nation. We have departed for Vanuatu.......
On a mooring at Port Denarau Marina getting all those last minute things done before heading west to Vanuatu. We plan to clear out by the weekend some time.
Boo hoo, it's our last morning at Musket. Had a great farewell potluck ashore last night - sad to say goodbye to so many great friends. Later today we will go to Denarau Marina and fill gas bottles, do laundry, provision up....... and generally get ready for our crossing to Vanuatu in a few days time.
After a fabulous 5 days of Regatta activities we are happily anchored off one of our favourite islands, Namotu, searching for that elusive wave. Probably just as well there's not much surf - we need a couple of days to recover from all the fun!
Hoping to leave for Vanuatu soon, but there's no wind forecast for the next week......
Suddenly our time in Fiji is nearly over! Boy, the 4 months have flown by! But not before we enjoy the shenanigans of the regatta here at Musket Cove. Pirate Day, Coconut Olympics, hobie cat racing, hairy chest competitions.....We also welcome Georges, our crew from Paris, on board Kiapa.
Back at Musket Cove after 5-6 weeks of exploring. Lovely to see everyone again. This morning there were around 75 boats moored/anchored here, and while kiting this afternoon about 10 more pulled in. Let the Regatta party begin!
Yip, it's windy here all right, and that's why we plan to stay here for the next little while! Kiters heaven!!
Up early this morning to get a head start on the typically strong breeze across Blight Water. Spent the night at Nabouwalu (aka Coconut Point) after a great sail down from Savusavu. Nothing like sailing in 15k of beam-on breeze in flat water (due to nearby fringing reefs)!! I suspect today's sail across to Viti Levu will be a tad more boisterous!!
Quick overnight stop in Savusavu - did the laundry and offloaded a bag of rubbish last night and this morning will visit the market to buy fresh fruit and veggies before heading out again. 'Twas lovely catching up with various cruising friends last night, but on on.....
We are now at Fawn harbour, anchored up with Bart on Tranquilo. Great kitesurfing to be had!
After 4 fabulous days of diving in Viani Bay we're thinking of moving on...... the wind's up so we'll probably sail down to Fawn Harbour. But what a memorable time we've had here - Rainbow Reef certainly deserves its reputation. The world renowned White Wall was spectacular, as was Jerry's Jelly and the Cabbage Patch, but even more breath taking (in our humble opinion) was the Purple Wall. A true underwater feast for the eyes. Thanks to a fellow diver for sharing his photos (out little camera doesn't go to the depths we dived to).
Woke up to glorious 100% blue sky, a rarity here in the tropics. Off to dive the Purple Wall and Cabbage Patch later today. Yeehah!
As they say in the classics......OMG!!! The scuba diving has been quite simply FRIGGING AWESOME. Those of you who have dived sections of the Rainbow Reef will know what I am talking about, but for those of you unfamiliar with this area of Fiji know that it is recognised as one of the best diving locations in the world - a worthy reputation. Have done 3 scuba dives: The White Wall, Jerry's Jelly and The Fish Factory. All mind blowing. If you read this and are still in Fiji and haven't been here....... you should come!
After a great few days in snug Naiviivi Bay, Qamea, including a rather adventurous dinghy ride across the straight to the eastern side of Taveuni to do the scenic Lavena Coasteal Hike, we upped anchor to move on. We had a great (mostly) aft-of-beam sail to Viani Bay, and are looking forward to some scuba diving, including on the famous White Wall of Rainbow Reef.
Just WHERE does the time go? Maybe something happened when we sailed over the International Dateline? Suddenly it's the end of the week and we have moved from Paradise Resort on Taveuni to stunning Naiviivii Bay on Qamea Island. It's a deep bay surrounded by mountains - very scenic indeed. Went searching for surf yesterday, but it was a bit too windy. So went and socialised in the village instead. Loving life!
Had an 'interesting' sail across to Taveuni. Stared off motoring in 0.5k of breeze, but the it picked up to a very nice 15k half way across which had us blitzing - all the while in low cloud drizzle which meant very poor visibility. Luckily we caught dinner before we got cracking. Now on a free!! mooring in front of small but stunning Paradise Resort (on the southern tip of Taveuni) where we are allowed to use all the resort's amazing facilities.
In Savusavu for a few days - nice to be back after a couple of years. It's been raining quite a bit, so Kiapa is squeaky clean and our water tanks are full. Hired a car and went on an 'off the beaten track' road trip to hunt down some ancient petroglyphs I'd read about. Awesome inland scenery with wonderfully friendly villagers along the way. Could see evidence of Cyclone Winston here and there.
Another great day's sail. After an early start (6.15am) we dropped anchor just off Cousteau's Resort 9 hours later. Caught a nice fish for dinner. Tomorrow we'll head in to Savusavu.
Had an absolute rip-snorter of a sail across the notoriously rough Bligh Passage (between Fiji's 2 big islands) today. 20-25k beam-on winds saw Kiapa flying along at an average of 10k, as she (and we) loves to do. Luckily the sea state wasn't too bad, and even though we were prepared with a double reef in the main all went really well. And a bonus was being escorted part the way by a big pod of spinner dolphins - but they whispered to us it was a bit too rough to show off with spins and twirls. Now happily anchored in tranquil Bua Bay, en route to Savusavu.
Arrived safely at the northern end of Viti Levu earlier this afternoon. This spot, Nananu-i-ra, is well known for its windy conditions, so we hope to enjoy a few days of kiting. The forecast looks promising. After the "busy-ness" of Musket Cove it's delightfully peaceful here.
Yeehah, we are on our way north! Motor-sailed this morning and are now anchored, very peacefully, off the only stretch of sandy beach in 200km on this NW side of Viti Levu. Even caught a 'mystery' fish for dinner.
Anchored off Denarau, waiting out the rain. (it's been 3 days now of rain). Kiapa is washed clean and the water tanks are full.
Tomorrow we head around the top of Vitu Levu, the big island and to the NE kiteboarding corner Nanu-i-ra.
Back at Musket Cove for a few days, waiting for the predicted 4 day "rain bomb" to pass. We were hoping to head north after dropping Steve off on Friday, but the weather gods won't allow this. Hopefully we can watch some Olympics at the resort.
Happily anchored off the world famous Cloudbreak. Well, not quite at the surf break itself, but just behind the reef which picks up the swell. The blue dot in the photo shows our location and to the 'left' is Cloudbreak. It's a gloriously windless day and the surf looks good (but a tad crowded), which is lovely for Steve 'cause he leaves tomorrow.
Had a totally AWESOME spinnaker sail back to Musket Cove. We'll be here for a couple of days before Steve flies back to Western Australia.
Have been anchored off Likuri Island (better known as Robinson Crusoe Island) for the last couple of nights. Went to the spectacular "cultural show" last night, which, through dance, told the story of Fiji's history from the early cannibal days to the arrival of 'palangis'. Then today we went exploring up the mangrove-lined creek in the dinghy, followed by a stint of estuary fishing - but no luck.
Back at Denarau Marina for a couple of days to farewell my sister as she flies back to Holland and to welcome Steve who flies in from Western Australia.
Anchored in 8m on a sandy bottom in a very protected little bay which forms part of the larger Somosomo Bay. Visited the chief of the nearby village with our bunch of kava and to our delight discovered the chief is a 91 year old lady!! Did a beaut snorkel and happy to see evidence of 'coral farming' on 3X4m lattice work, and also to see my favourite little fishies that I haven't seen in ages - the Longnose Filefish. But bummer, not too far from that saw quite a few Crown of Thorns, so donned gloves, bbq tongs and with big breath holds and managed to nab 12. Into a big bucket they went, to be buried on the beach.
Arrived back in beautiful Blue Lagoon yesterday - Lionel is still looking for Brooke Shields! Quite a windy day which meant Vera and I had loads of time to gas-bag while Lionel went kiting. But we did go for a nice snorkel in the lee of the island. Saw a moray eel, a school of squid, clownfish and lots of very colourful little reef fish.
What a FABULOUS place this is, way way at the 'top' of the Yasawas. It is incredibly beautiful, and oh so peaceful. We have snorkelled, explored the surrounding area in the dinghy, the village chief took Lionel fishing at his favourite spot, his wife invited us to her birthday afternoon tea....... we certainly hope to come back.
So now we are anchored up at beautiful Champagne Beach (Yasawairara) and the eager chief of the village has requested kava tonight. I just hope the Kava does not turn our legs into lava...
Tomorrow its diving and kiting...on jelly legs.
Here is a pic of happy fisherman Irene gave free Sunnies on behalf of the Lions Club New Zealand
After a beaut few days of 20-25kn winds at Blue Lagoon, we are headed up to Champagne beach on the northern most island of the Yasawas. Blue Lagoon provided kiting, kiting, and more kiting, as well as a visit to Toki and Meri's fabulous veggie farm and a cuppa with chocolate cake at Lo's Tea House. Oh, and a fun sunset 10 dinghy raft-up. And best of all, my sister Vera is here with us.
Well, Kiapa has finally broken free of its mooring at Musket Cove and collected Vera, Irene's sister who is visiting us from Holland. We are now anchored off the manta ray pass , waiting to interact with these gentle giants..
What a fantastic day! For the better part of this morning we were out at Cloudbreak watching the men's Fiji Pro Surf Competition. The conditions were perfect: big surf, no wind, warm sun, and a very festive atmosphere. For those who don't know, Cloudbreak is a reef break, far far offshore, and the only way to watch is from a boat, so we took Kiapa out there, anchored her safely nearby and dinghied over. Together with scores of others! Brazilians and Aussies dominated the quarterfinals, with Gabriel Medina vs Aussie Matt Wilkinson in the final. Much to the delight of the very vocal Brazilian supporters, Medina won.
Snakes Alive!! Happily anchored off beautiful Namotu Island, combining going for a surf with watching both a beautiful banded sea snake sniffing out Kiapa's back step, and going out in the dinghy to watch the Fiji Pro Surf Comp at Cloudbreak. All in all an awesome day.
surprise surprise, back in Musket. Waiting for surf
We're baaaaaccckkk at Musket Cove, our winter home, and loving it already. On the way out here from Denarau Marina we deviated to Namotu to check out the surf, and consequently Lionel and I both had 'spaghetti arms' last night! The result of not having surfed/paddled for quite some time! But the water was 27 degrees, everyone was mellow in the surf, and we both managed to catch some waves. Then arriving at Musket Cove we were promptly invited to a pot luck dinner with all the other "old timers" of Musket. It was lovely to see them all again, and to hear their summer-time stories. Yes, it's great to be back.
BULA!! Oops, we missed a day's log! Must be because we have quickly moved on to 'Fiji time'. Well, what a totally fantabulous ending to our passage back to Fiji. We furled the screecher, dropped the main, and hoisted our beautiful turquoise spinnaker for the most glorious 6 hour finale just about right up to where we dropped the anchor for the night. In 6k of wind we ghosted along and since we weren't going to make the 3pm cut-off with Customs and Immigration we decided to 'detour' past the world famous surf break, Cloudbreak. OMG!! The enormous swell we had been sailing with/over (?) since Minerva had reached this reef and while I was sort-of nervously in charge of helming (a bit too close to the break for my comfort) trying to keep wind in the spinny, Lionel was watching the guys being towed in to the huge surf. As the sun started setting we celebrated with beers and champagne. The stuff dreams are made of. Big BIG thanks to Norm and Ian for helping us on this passage.
We cleared in with Customs, Biosecurity, Health - no problemo. Rather than pulling up to the purpose-built dock at Vuda Marina in Kiapa herself, Lionel asked permission to anchor outside and dinghy in with all the filled in paperwork, our passports, etc. (The dock is too small for Kiapa, and the turning circle to get out again is uber- tight!) Usually all these officials want to step on board to check everything for themselves, but he was given the 'okay' to do this. Awesome!! Lionel managed to clear us in very quickly, all good. Norm and Ian disembarked, we sailed to Port Denarau Marina, and here we are, back in our winter home. Smiling Fijians, lots of Bula-ing, frangipanis, warm breezes, Fiji Bitter........ We'll stay here on the dock for a few days, washing the salts off, servicing/checking a few things, refuelling, doing the laundry...... and then we'll head back out to the islands.
Vinaka Fiji, thanks for welcoming us back.
One of the frequently asked questions asked of cruisers is 'How do you spend the time when it's your watch?' Over the years I've heard all sorts of responses: from sitting diligently at the helm keeping an eye on the horizon and the instruments, to reading, to doing puzzles, to snoozing (with the alarm clock set), to baking, to doing a routine of stretches, to practising knot tying...... Can you work out what I do for part of my shift? "Hello There. Life Beyond Work is Offshore, Sailing So Far Away. Changes in Latitude. All I need are Dolphins and Albatross, Aquamarine. Anything is Possible. It's Almost Full Moon and it's a Starry Night, So Beautiful. Feeling Good, a Change is Going to Come, as i Farewell the Darkness with a Little Ray of Sunshine. So Happy Together." Yip, you guessed it, I enjoy listening to music.
What a rip-snorter of a run we had from Minerva yesterday up until 4am this morning! 202nm in 22 hours! But bugger, wouldn't you know it, as I came on to my shift at 4am the wind died, so we are bobbing around - I hesitate to start the motors which would be a horrible alarm clock for the crew! But maybe I should, as the sunrise is looking pretty 'spekky' at the moment! But hooray, we had a GREAT day's sailing yesterday.
After too a short stay at Minerva Reef we are just about to get underway again, and while we would have preferred to stay for a few more days, as is often the case, the weather dictates our movement. A breeze associated with squally conditions has been forecast for today, Sunday, so after the very light wind conditions of last week there is going to be a mass exodus - at last count yesterday there were 24 of us anchored here. I can hear the crayfish breathing a sigh of relief. We had a great day yesterday - very social, with morning tea here, afternoon tea there, sunset drinks with the neighbours..... but best of all was the AMAZING snorkel we had just outside the pass. Stunning corals 'decorated' with antheas, royal angel, clown, trigger and job fish, a school of trevally, peacock trout, sweetlips, and of course sharks. The visibility was around 30m. yip, AMAZING.
Happily anchored in Minerva North with about 16 boats. Domino kindly offered the entire fleet drinks on board. What a party! Kiapa may head off to Fiji tomorrow morning. We are hoping for a two day passage....in a perfect world.
How lucky was I yesterday? I went on an International Date - not only with Lionel, but Norm and Ian as well!! And now I am all confused, is it today, or is it yesterday?? (Is there the equivalent of a Shellback/Pollywog in this case?) We hope to make landfall - oh, oops, there isn't any land!! - at North Minerva around lunchtime today.
After listening to various SSB net schedules yesterday and this morning, what I am picturing right now is not quite the ITCZ, but the NMCZ - the North Minerva Convergence Zone. Yip, it sounds like the proverbial 'ants to the honey pot' as those of us who left NZ last weekend get closer and closer to what, I think, is going to be rather a festive anchorage. Those poor crayfish, they must be crawling further back in their holes.....
Yesterday was a combination of a yoga/pilates/aerobics/tai chi day as we reached this way and that, squatted down to retrieve this, stretched out to grab that as we changed sail configurations again and again, trying to maximise boat speed in light and variable wind conditions. (I'm convinced this is the Captain's way of keeping his crew strong, supple and flexible!)The heady was furled, the screecher went out, the screecher was furled, the spinny went up, the spinny was doused, the heady and screecher were goose-winged, then furled, the spinny went up a second time...... all in gloriously warm conditions under blue skies. By dinner time a few squalls threatened, but with these came a gentle SE, so our muscle-building/maintenance routine came to an end. Another good passage-maling day.
You know the mental image some people have of cruising....... that it's all about the wind in your hair, sailing off over the horizon to a coconut tree lined white sandy beach in the tropics, a nice breeze from behind with a gentle swell to push you along, curled up with a good book while one of the crew keep an eye on the instruments, freshly caught fish bbq-ed for dinner, good company, all the while listening to soothing instrumental music like Ocean Radiance by Ken Davis and Starry Night by Jo Satriani......well if you can imagine that scene, that's what it's been like on the good ship Kiapa for the last 24 hours. Enough said! Long may it last.
What a fabulous start to our passage. Blue skies, mountains off to port, and while still in the Bay of Islands we landed our first fish - a nice size bonito, but oops, being 'fussy' fish eaters we decided to release it. And just as well, 'cause WHAM, an hour later, a monster strike. This time a big big-eye tuna! Light and variable wind conditions continued, but with delicious homemade fruit cake (thanks Doreen), visiting albatross', noise-cancelling earphones to make listening to the iPod even more enjoyable, yummily cooked on the bbq (I kid you not) tuna steaks for dinner, followed by an entertaining game of DOH Cranium (thanks Maunie), who can complain?? We've seen quite a few AIS targets, all enormous commercial cargo carriers, so it pays to be vigilent.
We cleared with Customs nice and early this morning and are now officially underway to Minerva Reef. The soft grey fog has lifted and we are motoring out the Bay of Islands in beautiful sunshine. Hopefully the wind kicks in soon. There are 4 of us on board: Lionel and Myself, and our trusty crew, Ian and Norm. Here's to a safe and comfortable passage.
The weather gods still say Sunday morning, so Sunday morning it is!! Winds should be no more than 18kn...in theory
After looking at the forecast once more we have decided to delay our departure to Minerva Reef (and then Fiji), so no longer leaving today but now on Sunday. Thankgoodness NZ is still enjoying relatively warm weather - mostly still in thongs, sorry, jandals, and boardies.
On a mooring in Opua. Waiting for a departure to Fiji on Thursday 12 May.
We are now in Marsden Cove, Whangarei enjoying some social activities before heading to Opua in the next few day
Nice and snug with Fusio last night in Omaha cove. Today we both sail to Whangerei. Winds should be light.
Very happily anchored in a scenic bay off beautiful Sandspit after a pleasant sail from Great Mercury Island. Solo sailing was fun! Irene back on board, as is Brian (aka Brainy), one of our crew for the passage to Fiji. Welcome back on board, Briany, it's good to see you again.
Ok, so today we got our new dick grip for Kiapa. All the way from the good ole USA. We will fit the grip to my dick tomorrow and then head north to Whangeriei over the weekend, Then off to Opua to wait for a weather window to Fiji. The crew heading up with us are Brian, Norm and Ian.
Back in Tairua after a lovely week out exploring the Coromandel Coast, all the while enjoying freshly caught seafood. Now for our next adventure on South Island - we fly to Queenstown later today.
Anchored at Opito bay. 6 miles south of the Mercs. Tomorrow back to Taiua which is 18 miles away. Tonight is fresh snapper and scallops again. Ho hum
At last in Great Mercury Islands. Last night we ate Thai spiced scallops and the best snapper EVER. The cook was Dave Chrisp on Furtuna . Well done Dave. We will head back to Tairua on Wednesday and leave Kiapa there while we fly of to South Island to do a cycling, kiting and a great white shark dive. We will be back on Kiapa at end of March
Happily anchored off privately owned Slipper Island, not too far from Tairua on the Coromandel. Have just returned from a scuba dive where we gathered some paua for dinner. Yum YUM. Lionel is cleaning them as I type this.
After an early 5am start (to ensure we "crossed the bar" coming into the estuary mid morning at high tide) we are now berthed in the spectacularly located, brand spanking new Tairua Marina. We'll be based here for the next month, giving us the opportunity to explore the Coromandel by boat, bike and car.
Comfortably anchored in Kennedy Bay on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula after a very pleasant sail from Fairway Bay. Saw quite a few whales along the way - we think they were Bryde whales. Plenty of wind here, but feeling snug, with aerobatic gannets diving for their dinner all around us. Two other yachts anchored close by.
Back in our old stomping ground, in the small but fab Fairway Bay Marina - with Sel Citron. Had another great day's sailing down from Whangarei, using both the screecher and the spinny, but not at the same time, haha!! Wanting to catch up with Fusio for a few rumbos.
Snugly tucked into Marsden Cove Marina for the night. Went diving for scallops for dinner - overall very successful, harvesting some beaut big juicy ones. Sel Citron aka Kerry and Damian are joining us for dinner.
All jobs nearly done. Rudders checked, checked the shaft drive seals, checked and tefgelled the sheaves, polished out some scratch marks, re-tensioned the steering bridle, and antifouled the bottom. We will splash tomorrow and then begin to head to the Hauraki Gulf, looking for Santa.
Out on the hard in the brand spanking new Port Whangarei Marine Centre. Nothing 'wrong', just want to do a general looky looky, checking in-takes, rudders etc. Will antifoul the bottom too since quite a few Kiwi marinas are worried about the spread of the introduced Mediterranean fan worm and want proof of a clean bottom before you can stay with them.
In Tutukaka with Kapai and Maunie. Catching up with Ian and Doreen of Sea Bride tonight.
Happily anchored in very peaceful Urupukapuka Bay, Bay of Islands. Enjoyed a tasty dinner of freshly caught fish last night with our good mates Graham and Di from s/v Maunie. We are SO looking forward to harvesting all sorts of tasty delectables from the sea!! Off to Tutukaka today.
Yeehah, managed to fly our spinnaker until just before sunset and would you believe it, just after dousing, we landed a nice size big-eye tuna which we promptly enjoyed for dinner. We pulled up on the Q dock around 10pm with the full moon helping see what was what. Big thanks to our (not so) motley crew Ken and Leilei for helping make our passage very enjoyable. It's great to be back in beautiful NZ for summer - we look forward to some land based adventures.
Morale continues to be high, so no flogging necessary today. With less than 90 nm to go to Hole in the Rock we are hoping to make the Q dock tonight some time. The wind has almost totally disappeared, and after sailing comfortably until midnight, we decided to start the iron genoa around 2am. Hoping the (predicted??) northerly boots in so that we can finish this amazing passage with the flying colours of our turquoise spinnaker.
Aaahhh, at last, at last. It's been a long time coming. Three years A GOOD PASSAGE! Kiapa has had a great passage. I could open the sails up and "let her go!" The winds from Fiji to NZ between November 22 and 26 2015 were gentle, not menacing. We flew the spinnaker for 10 hours, the screecher (after I give it open heart surgery ) for days. Kiapa was sailing along at 9-10kn in 10-15 winds.
The normal crashing and slapping during passages stopped, replaced by a gentle hiss of water skimming and caressing the hulls.
I could look out to the ocean's distant horizon, and not look up to the next huge wave about to drench the boat. I am practising my 1000 mile stare again.
The Pacific, at last, lived up to it's name .Peace.
Yesterday I lay on the trampoline and the sun gently warmed me, and I thought there is no other place I would rather be ..out here with my best mate,,,, Queen Irene
Had a great day yesterday - had the spinny up from sunrise to sunset. In the meantime I worked out we have 2 champions on board! Lionel the champ captain who fathomed a way to fix the screecher, and Ken the card champ who won all the card games! At sunset we 'replaced' the spinnaker with the screecher and consequently enjoyed another comfortable night's sail. Had a pod of dolphins around the boat at daybreak this morning.
Spinnaker up... yeehah
Reefed the main for the night, just to be sure...... to be sure. Popped the spinny at daybreak and now happily cruising along. About to enjoy our last fresh tropical-fruit brekkie for a while, yum yum!
This is cruising at its best. Kiapa the Cruiser has become Kiapa the Champagne Cruiser. Up until a few moments ago we had a couple of reefs in the main, but we've "shooken" them out and are now steaming ahead. Can you tell all is well on board??
Blew the brand new scheecher. The head of the sail was not properly attached. Kiapa is under headsail again, under a beam reach
"Kiapa the Cork" (after last night's rather lumpy and boisterous conditions)has morphed into "Kiapa the Cruiser" (in the comfy current conditions). Had Ding and Greg on s/v Chiquita next to us for a little while but they had to 'hove to' to attend to something, so we can't see them any more. All good on board, except that we'd like to have a fishing line out, but going a bit too fast.
Departing from Fiji today, just waiting for Customs and Immigration to come and clear us out. It seems like we will be buddy boating with a few others, which is always nice. Hoping for a 5-6 day passage, but as always, safety before speed. Looking forward to catching up with all our friends in The Land of the Long White Cloud.
Now In Denarau, after many days of purfect surf. Tomorrow Ken and Leilei from NZ arrive as our crew to help us passage to NZ. Not too sure when we will depart, but soon mama soon.
Happy Hindu New Year! Yesterday was Diwali Day, the most revered of festivals celebrated annually by Hindus. We were lucky enough to be invited to Anjee and Kamlesh's home last night to join in the festivities, which included exchanging home made sweets, sharing a delicious meal, and finishing the evening with an almighty and pretty spectacular fireworks show. We felt honoured to share such a special day with our Fijian friends.
Heading from Musket to Denarau today, and back to Musket tomorrow. Winds 10KN SE
Back on mooring in Musket Cove after 3 days of good surf at Namotu
Northerly winds, 15 kn. We said goodbye to Sel Citron after sleeping on their boat to watch the Australian Wallabies just win the rugby at 3 am in the morning.
Back at Musket. Winds 25 in, solid. Kitesurfing is the order of the day.
We did the shark dive yesterday. AMAZING fish life. Even more amazing sharks. The predominant shark was the Bull shark, but we also saw Lemon sharks and Tawny Nurse sharks. And we saw two 300kg giant cod, or Queensland groupers. What a totally awesome experience which we will highly recommend. Today we are watching Oz vs England with Di and Graham from Maunie in Suva. Go the Wallabies!
In Denarau, with Kerry and Damian, off to Beqa shark dive by car today.
Back in Musket. Off scuba diving today as there is no surf or wind.
Fire on the dock at Musket last night! Yes, the new 57ft Jeanneau Mimu apparently decided to get drunk and then play with his rocket flares at 2am. He succeeded in letting one loose in the cockpit causing a fire. This only damaged Mimu and not to the neighboring boats. The cockpit and bimini has burnt bits... What kind of guy does such things?
Regatta Week finished last night. Big party with rum and fireworks. Kiapa raced on both the regatta days. Coming 2nd in both races. We had only Kerry, Craig Hewlett ( of hewlett sugar in SA) , Irene and I on board. We planned to start last over the start line so as to avoid argie bargie with other boats. Then we sailed past all the boats to creep up to 2nd, I was the best racing I have done and having a small crew proved to be less stressful than running 6 or seven people.
So now its back to chasing the surf and Kitesurfing again. What a tough life!
In the midst of regatta week. Today we organised the coconut Olympics.. Fun for all!
Kiapa is back in Musket, after Blue Lagoon and Manta Pass. Rob has now left to go back to San Fran. We welcome Adele and Duncan from NZ today
Exploring Blue Lagoon for the first time. Had an awesome sail up from Waya North, but as Rob said, advanced navigation skills are needed to negotiate the myriad of reefs. Caught another fish, but in the light of what we caught yesterday we let him go. Lionel and Rob enjoyed a nice kite session soon as we arrived. Tonight we're off to enjoy a 'cultural show'' at a nearby island. Tomorrow Rob and Lionel plan to go searching for Brooke Shields! I'm going to look for Christopher Aitkins!!
Today is no wind and low swell. We are going to take Kiapa out the back of the reef and look at Desperations surf which is out the back of Cloud9 bar. We will also try to catch a fish!
Kiapa welcomes Rob Novak from Mexico days. Rob is a kiter and keen to improve his surfing. He has come to the right place.
Got our woolly socks on for this cold spell. Global warming! Humph
At Mana island, going for a shark dive this morning.
So, Kiapa is still hanging around musket and the surf breaks. My rib is slowly healing , and I am able to surf again.
We welcome Terri on board today. Terri is from USA ans she surfs, kites, and scuba dives.
Hopefully, soon we will see Robyn and Paul from NZ
At Namotu, going surfing with the Hitchcock family
Going kite surfing today, with Mike Maincheese
Back in Musket, going surfing today
Anchored off lekileki, had a scuba dive in 27 C water. Yeehah
Back at Musket Cove, waiting for big surf to arrive on Sunday
Anchored off Namotu Island on a beautiful sunny day. Brian is having a surf on Namoto lefts. We are going for a snorkel and then off to Cloud 9 for drinky poos
happily moored off Musket Cove Resort. Brian had a 'dawn patrol' surf this morning, Irene had a kite this afternoon. Mmmmmm, think we'll head to the Island Bar tonight for a bbq.
We arrived safely in this Fijian paradise just in time to clear in with Customs yesterday afternoon - phew! After a 6 day 'roller coaster lumpy bumpy ride' we were happy to step off onto terra firma for a cold beer or 2 - the champagne had already been quaffed when we first sighted land. And for Lionel not being thrown around means he is now much more comfortable with his rib. Big BIG thanks to Anthony and Brian for their fabulous company and help.
Yeehah, we can see Fiji, only 30 miles to go! The boys could not sleep last night as they were so excited. The boat is sliding along averaging 9 kn with top speed of 14.9kn when Brian was on the helm. It's great to have some good sailing water after the washing machine we have been in for the whole trip. The sail configuration has been triple reefed main and full headsail all the way. The winds were 20-30kn east the whole way. All done on one tack, starboard. Many thanks to the crew who have done a great job, while I lay on the couch groaning when the rocking boat gave my rib acupuncture with rusty daggers!
250 miles to go to Nadi. We can smell the spume coming out of the barrels from Cloudbreak. Brian has his surf board on deck and is amping to try paddle faster than Kiapa to get there quicker. We should be there by tomorrow. Anthony is the super helmsman and managed to catch another flying fish straight into the dinghy during the night while staying on course. (Our autopilot is on strike.)
The sea state has settled a bit. Winds still25-30k E with some stronger gusts. The auto pilot has gone on permanent holiday now. Its only 432 miles to go and we should be in by Friday or Saturday.
The crew are giving the poor old captain a ribbing because he is slacking out of all duties..
Conditions have not changed much - 25-30k ENE with some stronger gusts and 4m+ swell is making for a very boisterous passage. Autopilot is struggling so we have been hand steering - our crew, Anthony and Brian are heaven-sent, doing an AWESOME job. Yesterday Lionel took a tumble while putting a third reef in the mainsail and landed on the corner of something and has broken a rib, poor bugger! He is okay, but understandably on light duties.
Fabulous start to our passage to Fiji. lovely breeze, good speeds, all in all very comfortable. but no fish yet.
All well on board. Have dropped the main sail and going along under headsail only due to strong gusts and lumpy seas. Have had an albatross keeping an eye on us.
Fabulous start to our passage to Fiji. lovely breeze, good speeds, all in all very comfortable. but no fish yet.
. Motoring out of Opua in 2kn of wind , headed for Fiji 1044 miles to go. Irene, Lionel, Anthony and Brian on board
On a mooring in Opua, getting ready for a Saturday departure for Fiji. Welcome to both our crew, Brian and Anthony.
Anchored up in Opua. It's good to be part of the cruising community again. Lots of social activities going on.