Fri Nov 1 6:33 2019 NZDT
GPS: 35 43.4742S 174 19.6086E

Position report sent via Iridium GO

Mon Oct 28 13:46 2019 NZDT
GPS: 35 19.2S 174 07.1E
Run: 0.2nm (0.4km)
Weather: Sunny 5kt w

The Final Post

Well the good news is we made it back in time to watch the rugby (and what a great win it was by England). In fact, we made such good time, we arrived at the Opua quarantine dock (known as Q-Dock) by 10am Saturday morning after powering down the coast and entering the Bay of Islands at dawn which was a magnificent sight.

There is a race known as the Coastal Classic from Auckland to the Bay of Islands which had started on the Friday and boats were still finishing as we arrived, so we made sure we went through the finishing line, just to confuse the race committee 

Once the fenders were out and the lines secured to Q-Dock, it was time to crack open the rum; we’d had a policy of being a dry boat ‘from anchor to anchor’ throughout the 6 months and the 8 days at sea had made us very thirsty. On Q-Dock the customs, immigration and biosecurity folks did their thing and were very thorough. There was a sniffer dog named Anika who came onboard looking for drugs and they looked in all our lockers, the bilge, as well as our bottom (outside of the hull under the waterline). NZ is very strict on biosecurity and would impound your boat if you had any growth on the hull. We’d spent a couple of days in New Caledonia diving and cleaning the hull before we left preparing, so we passed with flying colours.

Then we were free to leave Q-Dock and enter the marina where Nickie was waiting for us; it was a great reunion, as I hadn’t seen her since Port Vila on 31st August. The Bay of Islands has special memories for us, as it was where we did our first NZ courting 13 years ago. We even had a photo of us in front of the Duke of Marlborough in Russell and recreated it the day after we arrived. Do you think we’ve changed?

So now we’ve have come to the end of our 6-month South Pacific odyssey, and what an adventure its been. It’s been 5181nm (>10,000kms), 4 countries, 27 different crew, and over 900 tea bags. Would I do it again? Hell yea. I’ve just signed up for the 2020 rally which will do Vanuatu and New Caledonia in greater detail. Crew spots are filling fast, so if you’ve liked what you’ve read, drop me a line.

Until next time … Au Revoir

Sat Oct 26 1:38 2019 NZDT
GPS: 34 44.7S 173 43.9E
Run: 0.9nm (1.6km)
Avg: 10.8knts
24hr: 260.1nm
Weather: SW 15kt cold

The Journey Home

With remaining crew members Simon and Jeff (known as Inky) arriving on schedule at 3pm Friday, I had them clear immigration by 4.30pm making their stay in New Caledonia a whole one and half hours (a world record I think). The boat was fully prepared (fuel, water, food, passage plan etc) and we left a sunny Noumea at 7am on Saturday morning with the rest of the fleet. But which route to take? Our meteorologist was suggesting going west, our weather routing software was saying go down the rhum line (straight from A to B).

Weather systems in the southern hemisphere move from west to east (due to the rotation of the earth) and like water down a plughole, depressions (low pressure) rotate clockwise and high pressure anticlockwise. High- and Low-pressure systems typically pass in weekly cycles, so the trick would be to get on the back of a High to take us south and arrive before the strong wind associated with the front of a Low pressure. The journey should take 6-8 days being close to 1000nm (2000km). This is how our passage went

Day 1: With a High sitting south of New Caledonia, light Easterly winds and sunny skies, we decided to take a more westerly route to the majority of the fleet with the aim of setting ourselves’ up a better approach into New Zealand at the end of the passage. We left the tropics, passing through the Tropic of Capricorn just as the All Black’s opened the scoring against Ireland in the rugby quarter final. (157nm)

Day 2: Another sunny day effected by the High; light winds had us motor-sailing in a SSE direction heading for Norfolk island with the rest of the fleet to our east at a similar latitude. (138nm)

Day 3: Starry Starry night with both Jupiter and Saturn shining bright; fantastic cosmic sky, followed by another stunning sunny day under the High. Caught a 1m long Mahi Mahi just after sun rise, one of the best eating fish in the sea (a second Mahi was landed but escaped over the side). The wind finally kicked in after lunch and we port tack west for the rest the afternoon and night (148nm)

Day 4: Daybreak saw the wind move to the SSW, so a tack onto Starboard put us on the rhum line for New Zealand. Everyone else was now to leeward of us, which proves to old adage “west is best”. The pink lure scored again, this time hooking a 5m swordfish, but after a 10min fight, the line snapped, and the pink lure is no more. (142nm).

Day 5: When timing your arrival window, not only do you have to consider the wind (caused by the Highs and Lows), but also the sea state. Large swells get left over after depressions move through, and that is exactly what is happening off the northern cape of NZ Wednesday/Thursday this week with 4-5m seas. The rally organizers recommended the fleet to hove-to (stop sailing and sit stationary in the middle of the ocean) waiting for the swells to pass; so, this we did. The trick was working out when to set off again. We elected to reduce sail (3 reefs) and set off at dusk and reassess the situation in the morning (106nm)

Day 6: The wind was lighter than expected and the swell had dissipated quickly, so at dawn we shook out the reefs and headed for home. The critical question ow was could we cover the remaining 350nm in time to clear customs on Saturday afternoon (before they closed) to enable us to watch the New Zealand v England rugby semi-final? It is going to be close (180nm)

Day 7: As they say in Golf, “today is moving day” the day when you position yourself up the leader board for the final day ahead. It’s all about knocking off the miles and hope the wind gods are favorable to you. Coming in from the west has given us a good angle to reach North Cape (the most northerly point of NZ) on a fast reach, all that remains after that is 100nm down the coast to the Bay of Islands. Customs have confirmed with our rally organizers that they clear any boat who can get to Q-dock by 1600 hours. Here’s hoping.

Day 8: As we enter the midnight watch, we have passed North Cape and are heading down the east coast and the breeze is holding. To be continued …….

I am posting this blog when we come into mobile coverage range off the NZ coast and before we reach Opua. An arrival post will follow shortly after we’ve cleared customs and consumed the rum provisions (we are a dry boat during passage). Did we get to watch the rugby?

To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Fri Oct 18 14:53 2019 NZDT
GPS: 22 16.7S 166 25.9E
Run: 0.2nm (0.4km)
Weather: Sunny SE 5kt

The final Preparations

Final preparations for the return home have been in full swing since the Skippers meeting on Tuesday. A lot of the young families are flying home and boats are taking on delivery crews for the trip back to New Zealand, so the leaving party was the last chance to say goodbye to some great new friends we’d made over the last 6 months. It seems only yesterday when we were all introducing ourselves to each other back in Opua in May.

The thought on everyone’s mind at the Skippers meeting was weather windows. The great thing about cruising is that if the weather looks bad, you simply delay your departure until you have a window of good weather to make the passage in. Remember we waited 10 days in Opua until the weather was right before we left New Zealand, and even then, there was some bumps along the way. This time the Rally organizers were looking at window from the 18th October onwards (a couple of days earlier than the original plan back in May). The earliest a couple of my delivery crew could get to Noumea was the 18th, so I thought I’d be OK logistically. What I hadn’t realized was the 18th was a Friday and French immigration knocked off for the weekend at midday and don’t return until Monday; my crew’s flight gets in at 3pm.

The weather has been good for the last week or so, and a number of yachts have made their return from the islands to NZ already (including a couple of rally boats). Tragedy stuck on Monday when a boat returning from Fiji was sunk just 30nm off the NZ coast and the skipper drown. It’s too early to diagnose the cause, but the local weather was bad for a short period of time with high seas and gale force winds; the maritime rescue services saved the other 3 crew members, but it’s a sobering reminder that you have to respect mother nature and passage plan accordingly.

At the Skippers meeting a tentative date of 19th was set for departure with 12 hourly reassessments each time the weather forecast was updated. On Thursday it was decided that Saturday was the right weather window to go with the winds forecast to be <20kts for our entry into the unforgiving NZ waters. This presented Libertalia with a problem as the fleet would clear customs on the Friday when half my crew weren’t there; the prospect of sailing home alone was a real possibility and something I was really nervous about.

Fortunately, Nigel and Amanda (the rally organizers) had established a really good working relationship with the New Caledonian authorities and they offered us ‘after hours’ clearance of my crew which has allowed us to leave with the fleet on Saturday, much to my relieve.

Libertalia has already covered 4000nm (8000km) since she left Waiheke in May. So we set sail on Saturday with 4 of us onboard myself, Chris, Simon and Jeff for the ~900nm (1800km) journey that will take us west of Norfolk Island and hopefully have us back into New Zealand in time to watch the semi-finals of the rugby (having missed the quarter finals). It’s a 6-8-day journey, so you can follow us on the tracker below. Here’s hoping for an uneventful passage.

To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Sat Oct 12 11:38 2019 NZDT
GPS: 22 17.6S 166 17.4E
Run: 0.1nm (0.2km)
Weather: Fine 10kt SE

Noumea and the inter lagoon

One of the highlights of the southern lagoon was Ilot Mato which I’ve talked about before and visited with Douggie. Chris hadn’t seen it, so we decided to visit it again on a slightly circular route to Noumea; it didn’t disappoint. There was a pair of nesting Ospreys, 7 black tipped sharks basking in the shallow waters as well as the specular view from the top of the hill overlooking the reef. The wind had dropped away to a zephyr and the sun was shining so it was a beautiful motor/sail to our next location Ilot Amedee and its famous lighthouse.

The lighthouse is 54m tall, made in Paris in a similar style to the Effel tower and was transported to Noumea and reassembled. Mari - one of the other rally boats radioed us to take some photos of her as she sailed past flying her new parasail (a combination of a spinnaker and a wing similar to a kitesurfer). So, we climbed the 247 steps back up the lighthouse for a second time and took a few shots for them in exchange for some beers at sundown, as our supplied were depleted by that stage – a fair trade I thought.

Then it was onto Noumea, the really 1st world town of this whole trip. The had a very French feel to it with patisserie shops, 3 large marinas and best of all a love of rugby. There were 12 big screens setup around the town for the public to watch the rugby world cup in Japan, including one dockside a few hundred meters from where we moored. We watched the fantastic Wales v Fiji game and were planning to stay to watch the All Blacks and England games on the weekend, but as you know, both were cancelled due to typhon Haribis. We hired a scooter for the day and drove around and saw the sights of Noumea including the Aquarium which had a colony of nautilus’ a wonderful shellfish creature from the dinosaur era, one species of which is only found in New Caledonia.

There is a Skippers meeting and leaving dinner next Tuesday, so we decided to take advantage of the wonderful weather and head out again into inter lagoon. The Noumeans have all these idyllic desert islands right on their doorstep; within a couple of hours they can be anchored in paradise. No wonder there are 3 marinas in Noumea as everyone gets away for the weekend. We’ve visited Ilot Maitre, Ilot Signal (which is French for ‘marker’); here was where they placed the first leading marker (limestone tower) on the island to line up with a hill on the mainland to show the passage through the reef. This was later superseded by Amedee lighthouse.

We will return to Noumea for the Skipper meeting in a couple of days and start the final preparations for the 850nm (1700km) trip home and hope the weather gods are kind to us.

To view all the photos associated with blog


To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Sun Oct 6 18:44 2019 NZDT
GPS: 22 21.5S 166 50.5E
Run: 0.1nm (0.2km)
Weather: 10kt SE Sunny

The beautiful Ils des Pins

Arriving in Kuto bay on the Ils des Pins (Isle of Pines) reminded you of a typical tropic island in paradise. It had beautiful white sandy beaches, palm trees, crystal clear waters and turtles swimming everywhere in the sun. We decided to stay for a while. Best of all was that there was a restaurant/bar right on the beach front facing west with a balcony just made for picturesque sunsets and sundowners.

The Isle of Pines was one of France’s first penial colonies with the prison on the headland at Kuto the destination of offenders from the 1800’s. Their hard labour involved providing timber from the numerous pine trees (hence its name). Nowadays the weekly cruise ship anchors in the bay and spoils the serenity for a few hours, but otherwise it’s just a few locals, a couple of resorts and a bunch of us yachties. There’s a single bakery about a 1km walk from the anchorage and you have to get up early as the supply of baguettes is strictly limited; each yacht took it in turns to make the bread run in the morning for the fleet. The Supermarket (read, very limited corner store) was the only other source of nutrient; worst of all was there was nowhere to buy alcohol, and our beer ration was running low.

The highest point on the island was a 262m hill just beyond the bay, accessible by a steep gravelly track which the ‘mad dogs and Englishmen” climbed during the heat of the day, but the views were well worth it.

The 2nd Oct was Jen’s birthday and my change of crew day. Dougie flew out and Chris (after being bumped off his morning flight even though he had a valid ticket) arrived in the afternoon to a beach party in full swing, with many rums consumed into the wee hours.

We’ve also been trying more local delicacies in the form on giant land snails (unique to the Isle of Pines) and 7 fingered welks (the 30th September marking the end of the season, so we were just in time). Both were considerably nicer than fruit bat.

Since then, we’ve moved onto the Baie du Prony back on the mainland; we travelled far upstream with the red iron earth providing a total change from the crystal-clear waters of Ils des Pins, but did give some terrific reflections first thing in the mornings. We also visited Ilot Casey within the Baie; there used to be a resort there, but when it closed the caretakers dog Moose wouldn’t leave and he remained there alone for 14 years and used to show visitors around in return for some dog food. Sadly, Moose passed away in 2017, but he is fondly remembered by yachties and local alike.

My adventure is almost at an end; Chris is part of my 4-man delivery crew home to New Zealand, the others will arrive in a little over a week’s time, so it’s onto Noumea to watch some World Cup rugby and prepare for the return trip.

To view all the photos associated with blog


To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia) />


Sat Sep 28 8:48 2019 NZST
GPS: 22 33.1S 166 47.8E
Run: 0.1nm (0.2km)
Weather: SE 18kt Overcast

Some more windward work

There was a strong wind warning the weekend Dougie flew into Lifou, so we decided to wait it out and sail across the mainland of New Caledonia (known as Grand Terre) on the Monday. This allowed us some time to explore the island, taking in a vanilla farm and have a local meal put on by the baker of the village where we were moored. We sampled 2 of the traditional delicacies I’d never tried before; coconut crab and fruit bat. The crab was fantastic, the bat not. It still had it’s (rubbery) wings on and tasted like rat; not a big hit with the yachties.

Monday proved to be a great day to sail the 60nm to Grand Terre with 20kts of breeze on the beam. The whole fleet set off in unison at 6am and made quick time, entering the outer reef at different passes depending upon which anchorage they had selected for the night. We selected Port Bouquet as our stop over and had ourselves settled in by late afternoon. Grand Terre is like no other place in the pacific, its high hills are a deep red from all the iron and nickel in the soil. In fact, 25% of the worlds Nickel is mined in New Caledonia. The stuff gets everywhere and stains your boat if you’re not careful.

Grand Terre is a long thin island which runs NW-SE. Having arrived at Port Bouquet, we then had to work our way south down the east coast, and you’ve guessed it, straight into the SE trades. It took us 3 days of slow motoring, stopping at another couple of locations along the way. The highlight was Cap Tonnedu where we met 10 (mainly) bikini clad kayakers paddling up the coast. They’d stop for the night where Dougie demonstrated his coconut collecting skills with the good use of a gaff hook.

The jewel in the crown of New Caledonia is the Southern Lagoon; it’s the largest lagoon in the world and has hundreds sandy atolls surrounded by beautiful coral reefs. To enter it from the east, you need to go through channel de Havannah. This you have to time carefully as there are 5kt tides that flow through the entrance. Low tide and slack water are 2 different things as the large volume of water takes time to flow into/out the lagoon. We got to the entrance an hour after low water, but still had 2kt of outflow against us which made things interesting; lesson for next time.

I’m not sure if it’s the time of year, but the rally seems to have the seas all to ourselves at the moment with not many other cruising yachts around. Noumea is a yachting mecca, but they all seem to be hiding at present. This means that we are getting access to all the best anchorages. The best yet being Ilot Mato; it’s one of the tallest points in the lagoon, standing a massive 40m high and has a beautiful reef system around it. The anchorage is in the centre of the reef, with a small 100m wide pass to get to it. After the 50m wide, 450m long pass in Fulanga, Fiji, this proved relatively straight forward although you can never get complacent. Always have a spotter on the bow, wearing polaroid sunglass and go through with the sun high (preferably at your back) between 10am and 4pm.

We’ll continue to explore the Southern Lagoon and head to the Ils de Pins, where we’ll do one last crew change with Dougie leaving us and the first of my NZ delivery crew arriving. Then its onto Noumea and preparations for the big journey home.

To view all the photos associated with blog


To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Thu Sep 19 14:29 2019 NZST
GPS: 20 55.3S 167 04.8E
Run: 307.2nm (556km)
Avg: 2308.8knts
24hr: 55411.4nm
Weather: Sunny/Cloudy SE 15kt

A Tough Windward Passage

As I’ve said before, the most dangerous thing on a boat is a calendar. Having to be in a certain place at a certain time, makes you make decisions you otherwise would not. The rally had arranged for us to clear into countries on the windward side, allowing us some fine downwind cruising once we got there. In the case of New Caledonia, normal clearance as in Noumea on the western side of the island, but we had arranged for customs to meet us in Lifou in the Loyality islands on the east and closer to Vanuatu. The only issue was we had to be there on 17th Sept.

We cleared out of customs in Villa (Vanuatu) on Friday 13th as they don’t work on weekends. Sailors are a very superstitious lot and would never set sail on Friday the 13th, so with a 210nm passage ahead of us, we could either go Saturday or Sunday and still make the clearance on the Tuesday. Heavy rain had set into Vanuatu since the Thursday, so people were keen to get going but the only problem was the wind angle – it was going to be an upwind passage, which no one likes, especially catamarans who can’t point as high as monohulls. If we could wait 48 hours, the winds would have swung around and made it a reach, but the French authorities were waiting for us and we had to go.

Libertalia, along with 4 other rally boats set off at 7am Saturday morning, after dropping Hellie off at the dock in the pouring rain. Onboard were Nick and Bruce. Luckily the seas were only about 1m, so we pointed as high as we could into the wind but were heading well west of our destination. We continued on throughout the day and the following night, emerging 24 hours later 40nm miles west of where we wanted to be. Amphitretee, another Leopard catamaran was with us and we decided to tack over and try and make our way east towards our destination. There’s something called VMG (Velocity Made Good) which gives you an indication of how fast you are approaching your destination. In the case of sailing upwind, you have to zig-zag as you can’t sail directly into the wind. So even if you are going fast through the water, your VMG is considerably less. When we tacked onto starboard and tried to head east, we found we had negative VMG, which meant we were sailing away from our destination; in fact, we were heading back to the volcano on Tanna!! Much as I enjoyed the volcano, I didn’t want to see it again this year.

This situation persisted for 6 hours, before we could finally tack over onto Port and head for Lifou. But that wasn’t the end of it; the island of Ouvea sits to the west of Lifou and there is a narrow channel between them which we had to pass through. Wind was against tide which meant the seas developed into a short sharp chop making Libertalia bounce around wildy and the wind swung right into our face. We tried 3 tacks to get through the channel but couldn’t make it around the top of the island, so in the end, with 10nm to go, we dropped the sails and motored the remainder of the way into the anchorage arriving at 2am. What was supposed to be a 210nm/34 hour passage turned out to be 275nm and 43hours. That’s what happens when you have a deadline imposed upon you.

New Caledonia has a completely different feel to any of the other islands we’ve visited in the South Pacific. Being a French territory, funding comes directly from the EU and they have actual infrastructure like tarmac roads, cars and the ability to go on the dole and get French unemployment benefit. There is some friction between the indigenous population (Kanacks) and the French and there was an incident on the neighboring island of Ouvea recently which has resulted in an advisory to yachts to stay away, which is a shame because Ouvea is really the jewel in the crown of the Loyality islands and a place we were looking forward to visiting.

Bruce having completed the passage and enjoyed a few days R&R will return the NZ and be back to work on Monday and Douggie will join me for the next 2 weeks for our travels around the great Southern Lagoon, the biggest coral reef system in the world.

To view all the photos associated with blog


To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Thu Sep 12 17:28 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 44.7S 168 18.7E
Run: 0.1nm (0.2km)
Weather: Raining no wind

A Changing of the Guard

We’ve come to the end of our time in Vanuatu and it’s time to move onto the final country in the rally – New Caledonia.

After far too shorter time in some of the northern islands, a weather window opened up for us to travel south back to Port Vila, so we took it. It was the first time that Emma and Hellie had done a night passage on a yacht, so we paired the up with Clive and myself respectively and organized a 3-hour on, 3-hour off watch. The passage had light winds and a beautifully starry night, so it was a gentle introduction for the girls. As the sun came up, we put the fishing rods out again and saw a 100kg Black Marlin jumping, possibly the same one that Clive had hooked a couple of days previous, only to have it take all his 500m of line and snap it like it was a toy. We were then accompanied by dolphins on the bow, the same day that Team New Zealand launched their new America’s Cup boat Te Aihe (maori for dolphin).

The fleet assembled back in Port Vila and paperwork preparations got underway to clear out of Vanuatu and clear into New Cal. The fleet will be reduced in numbers as there have been a few family health issues with 3 boats having elderly parents passing away and having the return home. Clive’s 97-year-old father was also taken to hospital and he and Emma decided to also return home early to be by his bedside. Our thoughts are with all their families at this difficult time.

I’ve had a bit of a health scare myself; I was cleaning the bottom of Libertalia and got a cut on my finger with the antifoul. They always say that in the tropics you need to be really careful with any cut and get onto it straight way. Unfortunately, mine became badly infected, but luckily there was a good doctor in Vila whose put me on a strong course of antibiotics which looks like it’s going to do the trick.

So for the delivery to New Caledonia, we are clearing into Lifou in the Loyality islands which lay on the Eastern side of Grand Terre, the main island of New Caledonia (once again the advantage of having the rally organize for the officials to come to us rather than having to go all the way to Noumea). It’s a 207nm journey which will take 30-36 hours. The weather forecast isn’t the best as the wind is forward of the beam which catamarans don’t like. For the trip I’m going to be joined by Bruce (who flew in last night) a guy I race with at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS). Bruce has restocked the rum bar onboard, so we’re all set to go. Being a French protectorate, New Cal has lots of wonderful cuisine, a small taste of which has spilled over to Port Vila (also invaded by the French) with a great chocolate shop using Tanna coffee and Cocoa from the Maskelyne islands.

Vanuatu has been an amazing experience; from the sheer beauty of the islands, the power of the volcano, the abundance of interesting wildlife and the friendliness of the people. We havn’t really done it justice with our 30-day visa; apparently the islands further north are even more spectacular. There is a smaller rally planned for next which will take in only Vanuatu and New Cal, but spend more time in each place, something Libertalia is definitely interested in.

To view all the photos associated with blog


To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Fri Sep 6 7:22 2019 NZST
GPS: 16 28.4S 167 49.0E
Run: 4.1nm (7.4km)
Avg: 5knts
24hr: 120.5nm
Weather: Overcast SE 10kt

Swimming with the Mantas and Dugongs

With the new crew safely off the plane and able to find the boat in Port Vila harbour, it was a short 4nm sail across to Mele Bay to watch the circus show put on by the same team that did the fire show on Friday night. A good introduction to Libertalia for everyone.

The Rhinoceros Beetle ban has been extended with the government now threatening to impound any boat in the exclusion zone around Port Havannah, so it meant sailing the long way around to get to northern Efate. Luckily, we caught a dog tooth tuna on the way which has provided us food for 3 days.

Clive, Emma and Hellie only have 2 weeks with us, so we wanted to see as much of northern Vanuatu as possible in the time; the issue being the SE trade winds. You can get north easily but have to pick your weather window to get south again. So, we set sail for Emae, a small island 35nm to the north where we found a bay with stunning coral, crystal clear waters and Manta Rays cruising the shallows at dusk feeding. We were able to take the paddle board and glide within metres of these majestic creatures for half an hour or more.

Next it was onto the island of Epi and a very rolly night in Leman Bay. There was a resident Dugong there which buzzed the boat in the evening, but we were keen to get across to the Maskelyne islands which lay on the south Eastern corner of Malakula.

Cyclone Pam devastated Vanuatu in 2017; each of the schools we visited in the islands had a map of the country on the wall which was used to track the cyclone’s destructive path. The Maskelyne’s consist of a series of low-lying islands which were in Pam’s path but didn’t take the full impact. You could tell as the 50-year-old, 100-foot coconut trees were still standing. We anchored in a secluded bay on Uliveo island and went ashore and met Phillip who spoke good English and offered to show us around. The island consisted of 3 villages but had no cars. The villagers kept the place immaculate and took pride in all their surroundings. The paths were smooth and well drained, and the beaches were raked every morning. There was no crime and the nearest policeman was on the mainland 3 hours away.

There seemed to be a building boom going on using traditional building methods of bamboo walls (split longitudinally and weaved into a crisscross pattern) and roofs made from coconut leaves.

Phillip had just opened a yacht club and kava bar the previous week and insisted on giving us some. The rest of the crew had never tasted kava before, and being the fresh Vanuatu variety, was very strong. Maybe that accounts for the low crime rate.

The highlight of the visit occurred the next day; Phillip had organized with the traditional owners of the next island, Sakeo, to swim with the Dugongs. Four other rally boats were already in the bay, so with a bit of VHF radio organizing, we rendezvoused with the fleet with Philip onboard and met the local owners in their long boat. We took a flotilla of dinghies to a coral reef close to Sakeo and anchored and got into the water with our snorkeling gear. Within minutes 2 Dugongs appeared through the clear waters; both had sucker fish attached to their bellies, along for the ride. Dugongs are often called Sea Cows and were mistaken for mermaids by the sailors of old. Being mammals, they need to breath every 6 minutes, so cruised up and down not too bothered by the 15 snorkelers above them. One of the locals even swam down and cuddle one. A very unforgettable experience.

Today is pay day for the government workers (school teachers, Health workers etc). Each village nominates a couple of people to get into a boat, travel 3 hours to Port Sandwich and then a further 2 hours by bus to get to the government pay office on Malakula. They collect the cash and then head home again. Needless to say, I’m sure Phillips Kava bar, along with the many others will be busy tonight.

To view all the photos associated with blog


To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Sat Aug 31 10:19 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 44.2S 168 18.7E
Run: 0.6nm (1.1km)
Weather: Overcast 15kt SE

A Change of Crew

Well after nearly 10 wonderful weeks, it’s time to say goodbye to my very able crew Nickie. We’ve had an amazing time together; she landed by small plane into a remote land called Vanua Balavu in Fiji back in late June and immediately took on the role of chef, anchor wench and general crew member. She’d never done a night passage before and was a little nervous of the strange noises that catamarans make (which we’ve come to call “bum and thigh slapping” when the waves hit the underside of the platform between the 2 hulls). Since then she’s grown in convenience and skill level and even got the boat virtually single handed overnight into Vila when I was sick. It’s going to be strange not having her onboard.

The first 7 weeks it was just the 2 of us and we had time to reconnect with each other and share some incredible experiences together. The last 3 weeks we’ve had other crew onboard including Nickie’s kids and done some pretty amazing things; the volcano in Tanna being the highlight I think.

Nickie and the kids last night was spent at an awesome Fire Show, put on by a group of young locals who are now so successful they can make a living out of their performances. The Friday night performance is the big event of the week and it is staged on the beach at the Mele Beach bar. We anchored off there a few nights previous as its next to Hideaway Island which has great snorkeling and diving and home of the underwater postbox. The place was packed with at least 6 other rally boats in attendance. Just up the road was Mele Cascades; a beautiful set of waterfalls which you could swim in; a great way to cool off.

Exploration of the island of Efate has been curtailed due to a biosecurity emergency. Someone gave an exemption to a Chinese boat arriving from PNG which was infested with Rhinoceros beetle. The authorities in a knee jerk reaction have banned yachts from going to Port Havannah as they say our anchor lights will attract the beetle and spread it around the country!!

So instead of taking Libertalia, a couple of us hire a car for the day and drove around the island. There was a cruise ship in, so we had to compete with lots of over weight tourists again. They were all taken to a Turtle and Shark attraction which we also stopped at. It was very sad to see such beautiful creatures in such small cages; I’d much rather see them out in the wild (as we have done throughout this trip). We did manage to get around to Port Havannah and take a look at “The Havannah” a 5-star resort some friends of ours had recently stayed at; we’re hoping the Rhinoceros Beetle ban will be lifted soon as the harbor looks a great place to anchor.

And so, my new crew, Hellie, Clive and Emma arrive today, and we’ve got almost 2 more weeks exploring the northern islands of Vanuatu which promisse Dugongs and more turtles.

To view all the photos associated with blog


To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Sun Aug 25 15:46 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 44.2S 168 18.7E
Run: 0.6nm (1.1km)
Avg: 2.8knts
24hr: 66.5nm
Weather: 15kt SE Cloudy

The power of the Volcano

One of the beauties about being on the rally is being able to clear customs in places you normally can’t. In the case of Vanuatu, we had customs fly into Anatom and clear us; this meant that we could use the SE trade winds to work our way from the southernmost island (Anatom) northwards. One of the jewels in the crown is the next island up called Tanna. Tanna is home of one the most active volcanoes in the world called Mount Yasur. We day sailed the 50nm between the islands and you could smoke rising as soon as we left (others night sailed and said the glow was spectacle).

We moored in a bay called Port Resolution, named by Captain Cook about a 1-hour bumpy UTE ride from the mountain. From there we paid the 10,000 vatu (NZD$130) entrance fee and taken by another UTE to the craters base, then it was a short walk to edge where you could peer right in the heart of the volcano. There’s no Occupation Heath and Safety here; one slip and you’d find yourself sliding into the molten lava pool below. It was the preverbal Bucket List item, and experience I’d thoroughly recommend.

Port Resolution is a popular stopping off point for yachts wanting the do the volcano, so they’ve got a local Yacht Club which collects flags from all over the world. Needless to say, we left them an Island Cruising NZ pennant.

Unlike Fiji with its Sevusevu tradition, Vanuatu likes to trade with its overseas visitors. Things that are highly prized are fish hooks, tools and anything for the kids, especially clothes. They’ll trade with beautiful local produce, bananas, grapefruits, custard apples, limes and kumara. The village in Port Resolution offered to put on a feast for us, but when close to 50 people said they’d like to attend they said they didn’t have enough food to feed us. So, the organizer from our side suggested we do pot-luck and each boat bring a dish and put in some money in for a pig to be roasted and a donation to the village. This is what we did, with the villagers also supplying so yummy local dishes. The village was very basic with only a couple of solar lights; the food was placed on mats made of Pandanus on the ground and everyone brought their own plates. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening; one of the locals spoke about what they needed most was building materials (nails etc) and tools for the village as well as money to send their kids to secondary school. Really lovely people. Bill and Paula left us in Tanna, flying to Port Vila and then back to NZ leaving 5 of us onboard.

Then it was on again to the next island 50nm north Erromango. They too had a Yacht Club and David took the crew (I was down sick unfortunately) to a fresh water swimming hole and the location they ate their first missionary back in 1830. Cannibalism was alive and well when the missionaries first visited these shores and this unfortunate chap had his outline chipped out in a rock where he was eaten so they could get their portion sizes right for subsequent visitors.

Then it was an overnight passage to the nation’s capital Port Vila on the island of Efate. I was still sick, and the kids had never done a night before, so I was a bit nervous. We agreed to shadow one of the other rally boats for safety and Nickie and I were going to do 3 hours on, 3 hours off during the night. This proved too much for me and Nickie took the lion’s share of the watches coping admirably with the situation. Its great to see how much more confident and skillful she’s becoming since joining the boat some 9 weeks; a very able crew member.

Port Vila has a lot of moorings right in the middle of town; unfortunately, there was another rally were still there and no moorings were available, so we had to anchor. We went ashore and next minute other rally members were calling us to say Libertalia was dragging. They’d taken the initiative and gone aboard and secured her by the time we’d got back which was what a great rally community does. When we pulled up the anchor, we found a large pair of shorts wrapped around it. I guess that’s a new variation of skid marks. Luckily the marina found us a free mooring after we reported the incident, so we can now relax with a little R&R for a few days.

To view all the photos associated with blog


To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Thu Aug 15 9:47 2019 NZST
GPS: 20 14.2S 169 46.6E
Run: 203.1nm (367.6km)
Avg: 10.8knts
24hr: 258.1nm
Weather: 12kt SE

Vanuatu – a whole new country and culture

Fiji to Vanuatu is the biggest inter-island crossing of the rally, a distance of 450nm which at an average of 150nm per day would be a 3-day passage. With four of us onboard (Nick, Nickie, Bill and Paula) we divided into 2 watches and set up a 4 hour on, 4 hour off watch system between 4pm and 8am and a relaxed approach during daylight hours.

The first day was pretty light winds so we had the fishing lines with no success, even with Bill’s special ‘woody’ lure. The second day saw and increase in wind and then at 10pm the bottom batten popped out, so we to houve-to and make repairs in the pitch dark.

When you’re out at sea, the only way to communicate with the outside world is via satellite. We use IridiumGo for email and weather routing. At 3pm on the third day our IridumGo stopped working. A couple of the other rally members had had device failures earlier in the trip and I feared the worst. Looking on AIS I could identify boats around up to 10nm away; I saw 2 other rally boats and called them up on the VHF. I found that they were also having problems and it later transpired that the whole global satellite network was down; a rare but scary thought for all the mariners out there. Luckily service was restored 3 hours later. The third night saw the strongest winds and the need for a 2nd reef, but the beginning of the 4th day saw the sun come out and the wind decrease, so back to 1 reef, but still no fish.

Bill’s fishing reputation was on the line, and at 2.30pm we sited the island of Aneitym (or Anatom as its sometimes called) in Vanuatu. All of a sudden and after 447 nm, we had a Yellow Fin tuna on line, quickly followed by another reeled in by Nickie. Then there was a pod of whales and giant turtle. What a great welcome to Vanuatu.

Anatom is a destination on the South Pacific cruise ship circuit. There is a coral islet called Mystery Island which provided a protected anchorage for the fleet and the 24-hour stopover point for the cruise ships. An Australian cruise ship arrived that evening and dwarfed fleet. The demographic of cruise ship passengers is quite unique; the next day they all piled on Mystery island and lay like beached whales on the beach or bought overpriced souvenirs from the very obliging locals.

Into this environment, our next set of crew arrived; Nickie’s and Bill&Paula kids (Hannah, Tommy and Meg). Mystery Island has a small grass airstrip, and their plane arrived as the cruise ship melee was in full swing.

Thankfully, the ship left that afternoon leaving the rally fleet to visit the local village. They explained to us their traditional way of life and culture which is quite different from Fiji. They don’t have any of the first world conveniences and live sustainably from some of the unique fruits and vegetables of Vanuatu. Something we’d come to experience more as we head north through the other islands of Vanautu

To view all the photos associated with blog


To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Sat Aug 10 15:01 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 18.5S 177 17.3E
Run: 26.6nm (48.1km)
Avg: 159.9knts
24hr: 3836.8nm
Weather: Dam Hot; no wind and sunny

Exploring Western Fiji and Reflections of the Country

We are just about at the end of the Fijian leg of the rally. Our delivery crew, Paula and Bill arrive this afternoon in time to watch the Bledisloe Cup at the Pirate Bar in Vuda Marina, attend the Skipper’s briefing on Sunday and then we set sail on Monday for Vanuatu.

We’ve had Tracy and Aileen with us all week and we’ve explored some of the western isles (Mamanuca’s and Yasawa’s) starting off with Monuriki which was the place where Tony Hanks was marooned in the movie Castaway. Needless to say, we found Wilson and the “HELP ME” sign. Then it was a rollie night at Navandra and then onto Waya. We had some excellent snorkeling at Octopus Resort before moving onto a small village called Yalobi. We did Sevusevu with the 78-year-old chief Tom before visiting the boarding school that serviced the whole island. The boys were playing a game not dissimilar to Marbles, but they were using bubblegum papers instead. There seemed to be over 150 papers between them, so they must consume a hell of a lot of bubblegum!! Finally, it was back to Vuda Marina to start preparation for the ocean passage. There was no wind and dead calm, glassy conditions, so we stopped the boat in 41m of majestic sea and sent the girls in for their last Fijian swim.

The six weeks we’ve spent in Fiji have been fantastic. The people have been so friendly; everyone says Bula (welcome) to you everywhere you go. There used to be tension between the native Fijians and Indian populations resulting in a military coup in 2006, but since the current government has been in power there is now “just one Fiji” as our muslim taxi driver told us going into the mainly Indian town of Lautoka. Tourism and the yacht industry in particular are very important to the Fijian economy, so we’ve been welcomed everywhere we’ve been, but with a genuine warmth you don’t see in other countries. The remote islands, especially in the Lau Group are unspoiled and the generosity of the Host families who look after you throughout your stay with them has been quite touching. The sevusevu process of giving a gift of Kava (Fiji’s unique drink) in exchange for being able to anchor in their bay and visit their island really personifies the whole Fijian cultural experience.

The resorts have been fun, and we’ve allowed ourselves a few little luxuries (spa’s, cocktails, swimming pools), but it’s been the people that have made our time in Fiji so memorable.

And so, it’s onto Vanuatu and whole new experience awaits us. Nickie’s kids are joining us, and we’re going to be climbing some volcanoes. Let the adventure continue

To view all the photos associated with blogg


To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Mon Aug 5 8:52 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 46.1S 177 11.6E
Run: 0.3nm (0.5km)
Avg: 18.3knts
24hr: 439.3nm
Weather: Overcast SE kt

Its Resort Time

The Yasawa’s is in the lee of the main island (Viti Levu) and is protected from the prevailing SE trade winds. Unfortunately, what goes down must come up; the beautiful sail down the islands meant we had the head back straight into the 20kt SE and short choppy waves. We had intended to make Musket Cove, but after 10 hours and only doing 35nm, we had to put into Vuda Marina again before it got dark (my least favorite passage of the tour).

Serendipity is a wonderful thing; we’ve been having trouble with our house batteries not holding charge. The worst thing was that we’d wake up in the morning and the freezer would be starting to thaw out, so something had to be done. We’d ordered 6 new batteries from New Zealand (through the company that Nickie’s son works for) and scheduled them to be shipped a week before we were supposed to be in Vuda. Remarkably as I sat on the dock looking at some soggy frozen peas, there was a toot toot and a van turned up and delivered the new batteries right to the boat. How good was that.

So, with the new batteries onboard we set sail for Musket Cove and a rendezvous with the girls. Mololo Island has a number of resorts and is home of the biggest sailing regatta in the South Pacific – Musket Cove Race Week (which is preceded by the Auckland to Fiji Ocean race). We arrived at dead low water springs which meant at least we could see all the reefs but made the navigation a bit tight. We dinghied into the resort in time to meet the ferry which Tracy and Aileen were on; they’d already had a champagne breakfast in Denerau and were in the mood to party, so we spent the rest of the day around the pool with cocktails.

It’s been great to stop in one place for a few days and just relax. Tracy and Aileen both brought boat spares, so I’ve installed the new batteries, repaired the Wind Generator and replaced the Alternator belt, so the boat is fully operational again.

We’ve still got a couple days in Musket Cove before doing the Mamanuca islands. The Rally BBQ went off well at the Beach Bar in the resort; we played a game called Kubbs which is a variation of skittles, but with ‘boys v girls’, it turned out to be quite competitive.

We’re off to a place called ‘Cloud9’ today; it’s a floating bar on the outer reef serving beer and pizzas which should be a lot of fun with the girls and then eventually onto Vuda Marina for our Vanuatu departure next week.

To view all the photos associated with blogg


To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Tue Jul 30 11:49 2019 NZST
GPS: 16 56.7S 177 22.0E
Weather: ESE 5kt overcast

The other side of Fiji – in more ways than one

Since my last post we’ve done a lot of miles and seen the character of Fiji change as we’ve moved further west. We had a pleasant day sail across to Beqa, the home of the famous fire walkers. They perform once a week, and we got there 2 hours after their performance, so missed out unfortunately. We decided to cut our losses and head west; the choice was a night sail to cross the Navula pass in the early morning, or a day sail and stop at an anchorage somewhere on mainland’s Coral Coast. The crew opted for the latter, so we found safe looking bay and pulled in with our 2 rally companions, only to find it was the Shangri-La Fijian (5 star) resort complete with inflatable waterslides in the lagoon. A dinner ashore was in order and then onto Vuda Marina the next day in light winds.

The west coast is on the lee side of Fiji, so offers protected waters and many islands ideal for charter sailing, and resort style holidays easily accessible from Nadi International airport. It’s a 5-star paradise with lots of options and so many people. A complete difference to the Lau Group.

We spent 2 nights in Vuda Marina to sit out a passing rain depression, watch the All Blacks v South Africa in the Pirate Bar and visit the markets in Latouka (Fiji’s 2nd largest city) to re-provision, then it was onto the Yasawa islands.

The Yasawa’s are a chain of islands containing lots of resorts catering from Backpackers to 6-star exclusive retreats. The first night we anchored next to one of my dream boats, a Gunboat 60 Catamaran, the next night in Blue Lagoon (where the Brooke Shields movie was shot) we were next to The Beast (Michael Hill’s (of jewelry fame)) 39m Superyacht which you can charter for USD275K p.w.

We’ve had mixed luck with the fishing. We’ve hooked 2 Mahi-Mahi, the most amazing of game fish which are all colors of the rainbow, and great fighters. Both we managed to loss (one 5m from the boat) due to some rookie errors of the captain. Nickie did however redeem the boat with a small tuna and a fantastic Walu (Spanish Mackerel) which was delicious.

Friday sees the arrival of a couple of good friends who will sail with us for a week, starting with a Rally party at Musket Cove. Let the adventures continue.

To view all the photos associated with blogg


To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Mon Jul 22 12:43 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 00.5S 178 09.5E
Run: 0.1nm (0.2km)
Weather: Overcast ESE 10kt

Survivors and Manta Rays

So, we’ve left beautiful Matuku and embarked upon another short (75nm) night passage to the Astrolabes/Kadavu area. Conditions were much calmer this time and much more to the crews liking. We entered at the northern end and did Sevusevu at Dravuni island. It was quite a contrast to where we’d come from, as the villagers just took the kava and said you can walk on our beach and those 3 small islands over there, see you later!! No host family, no friendly welcome.

We didn’t stay and moved south to next island which had a 6-star resort on it which was supposedly yachtie friendly. Unfortunately it was full with reality TV series “Survivor”contestants. They’ve franchised the series to multiple countries so there’s almost a permanent stream of would be survivors shipped onto a sandy island for filming each day and taken back to the resort in the evening!!

We’ve been traveling with 3 other rally boats, Amphitreete, Close Encounters and Willpower and were told we could we could visit Buliya island and swim with the Manta Rays in the afternoon, which we duly did. What an experience; they are so graceful in the water, gliding effortlessly with their 7 foot wing span, filter feeding on tiny jellyfish. Afterwards, a little party was in order; so, after many gins and dance playlists later we retired to bed, only to be rudely awoken early the next morning by the film director asking us the get out of his shot. He couldn’t have the Survivors surrounded by yachties because after all they were supposed to be on a deserted island fending for themselves.

Time to move on again, so we headed to a dive resort (recommended by our sailing guide) on Kadavu managed by a South African ex-military guy called Storm. The owners hadn’t invested any money into the resort for a number of years, so we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Unfortunately, some of the rally fleet who got there before us had drunk all the beer, so a trip to the local town was in order, not only to restock the bar, but also our boat as well. The diving however was what we’d come for. The outer reef had a drop off to many hundreds of metres with hard corals, swim throughs and myriad of topic fish. It had been a while since I’d dived, so the experience was well worth it.

With light wind weather window tomorrow, it’s onto Beqa and the firewalkers.

To view all the photos associated with blogg


To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Mon Jul 15 11:34 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 09.1S 179 45.1E
Run: 0.7nm (1.3km)
Avg: 4.2knts
24hr: 101nm
Weather: E 16kt a little rain

Back in Eastern Longitudes

Fiji straddles the line of 180 degrees on Longitude, the opposite place on earth to Greenwich in the UK where Longitude was accurately measured by the British Navy. We left Fulanga at 178W and arrived Matuku 179E after a night crossing of 109nm (trivial factor #1 – 1nm is defined as 1 minute of Latitude). The international dateline roughly follows 180 degrees of Longitude, but skirts around islands, so all of Fiji is in the same timezone as New Zealand despite being in both East and West Longitudes. (Trivial factor #2 – American Samoa and Western Samoa are only 50nm apart but are 24 hours apart because the American’s wanted to be on the same timezone as Hawaii).

The reason we’ve been doing night crossings is so we can arrive at our destination in daylight and able to spot the coral reefs. We are now trade wind sailing (the prevailing winds come from the South East in the South Pacific) which is why we started in Tonga and are working our way westward (Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia). This meant a broad reach (15-20kts) with following seas (2.5m) which I called champagne sailing for a catamaran; Nickie thought it was more Lindauer sailing (a cheap NZ fizzy imitation) as we rocked and surfed down the waves much to her discomfort.

The reward however was to arrive with just one other rally boat at amazing Matuku. A high mountained volcanic island where the crater exposed to the sea on the western side making a beautiful sheltered harbor. The coral had grown over the approaches, so whilst the channel was over 60m deep, it was just 1m if you strayed to the left or right. We did sevusevu at the village of Lomati with only 47 inhabitants; both boats were assigned a host family and it was agreed to show us the sights in the morning.

Matuku is one of the few outer islands which is capable of growing Kava (due the rich volcanic soils) and it provides the villagers with their main source of income (much like carving does for Falunga). It takes at least 3 years for the plant to mature and we had arrived in the week that the new crop was being planted. They get up every morning for 5 days at 4am to pray (and sing) for a potent crop (some of the strongest in Fiji) as well as abstaining from drinking over that period. We were taking to the Kava fields, half way up the side of the 1000ft mountain, before climbing it to ‘see the nice view’. Apparently, it’s a bit of a rite of passage for visiting yachties.

Nickie and I can attest that Teva’s not suitable footwear for scrambling up near vertical topic jungle when it had rainy heavily the night before. There is a ‘visitor’s book’ at the top which you can sign if you make it, but just like Everest, there is a “Hillary’s step’ just 10m from the summit with shear drops on both sides. My guide from our host family turned to me at the step and told me the pen he’d brought with him for me to sign the book had fallen out of his pocket on the way up, so I took some nice pictures of Libertalia below in the bay, and left the final assault for another visit.

Our host family were incredibly generous; they provided us with local produce including coconuts, papaya, cacao (chocolate), bananas and oranges, as well as a home cooked meal of fish curry, chicken and stuffed taro leaves – delicious. We reciprocated with Macaroni cheese and sum tum salad (made with the local green papayas). A fabulous and most unexpected stop over.

To view all the photos associated with blogg


To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Tue Jul 9 11:21 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 08.5S 178 33.0W
Run: 1.2nm (2.2km)
Weather: ESE 12 kt, overcast

The magic and remoteness of the Lau Group

The great thing about being able to do customs clearance at Vanua Balavu (uniquely organized by the Rally administration) is that the rest of the Lau Group is at your fingertips, rather than having to go to the nearest customs port of Savusavu and then beat back against the tradewinds.

We decided to go to the southernmost island first and work our way back up; this meant an overnight passage of 130nm on a close reach resulting in a bumpy crossing in a 13-18kt breeze. This was Nickie’s first night passage on Libertalia and her first solo watch for 23 years (having done it previously in the Caribbean). We did a 3-hours on, 3-hours off rotation and had all the waypoints plugged into the chartplotter; 4 other rally boats did the journey with us, and we could see their navigation lights throughout the night to keep us company. A great shakedown with the crew performing admirably.

Fulanga is a volcanic atoll 4nm wide with 50m cliffs around its rim and a beautiful lagoon inside with lots of mushroom islets (the tide undercuts the islets between the high and low water marks). The only difficulty is the entrance; it’s a 450m long, channel cut into the coral only 50m wide. All the water from the lagoon has to flow through the channel each turn of the tide and slack water occurs half way between high and low tide (delayed due the time it takes for the water to flow in/out). Timing is everything and the reason for the night passage, allowing us to arrive at the pass in daylight at slack tide @ 10am. The waypoints in the cruising guide were spot on and we navigated the pass without incident; not that it stopped us from having a stiff rum once we dropped anchor.

Fulanga is very remote, only getting a supply ship once a month, so they welcome visits from yachties. So much so, that after presently Sevusevu to the chief (explained in a previous blog), each yacht is assigned a ‘host family’ for the duration of their stay. Being Nick and Nickie, Libertalia was assigned Nico and his wife Lucy. They entertained us with some “Royal British Tea” in their home and show us the woodcarvings Nico makes and reed mats Lucy weaves. They have a village collective system where by their woodcarvings and mats are traded for supplies from the mainland via the supply ship. Nico and Lucy have 2 sons studying in Suva and any cash they make goes to their education.

As there were 10 rally boats in Fulanga (the rest of the fleet have scattered all over Fiji, to re-group on the western side at the beginning of August) the village put on feast for us with the customary pig, kava drinking, dancing and singing. What a fantastic cultural experience.

The next day we hosted Nico and Lucy for lunch on Libertalia and cooked them Shepherd’s Pie, followed by tinned Peaches and Yoghurt; all flavors they had never tasted before.

The way of life in the Lau Group is quite unique compared with the rest of Fiji; western Fiji is where all the main stream tourism is located, with 5-star resorts and westernization. It’s been a privilege to sample this way of life and well worth the effort to get here. Now it’s our turn to head westward on the next stage of our adventure.

To view all the photos associated with blogg


To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Thu Jul 4 15:34 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 10.2S 179 0.9W
Run: 0.3nm (0.5km)
Weather: Intermittent rain E 15 kt

The other Bay of Islands

If you thought the Bay of Islands in New Zealand was special, then you should take a trip to Vanua Balavu. Accessible only by boat, their Bay of Islands has a similar feel to Halong Bay in Vietnam, but the undercut rock formations are volcanic in origin and you can (carefully) navigate your boat into some amazing deep-water locations (see attached photos taken from one of the Rally participants drone). An absolute “Bucket List” place.

It is customary when visiting islands in Fiji to give Sevusevu. This involves making an offering to the chef of the village, which if accepted, will allow you to anchor in his bay. The offering should be Kava (or Yagona as it is known in Fiji); an intoxicating root which has sedative and anesthetic properties. In the olden days, the women of the village chewed the roots and spat them into a collective bowel (Tanoa) where water is added. These days, its ground into a powder form and filtered through hibiscus fibres. Current Yagona prices are USD$200 per kilo and each yacht is expected to offer 0.25kg per island visited.

The Kava ceremony itself involves a strict pecking order (starting with the chef) of clapping (Cobo) and drinking from communal bowel (Bilo); visitors must be appropriately dressed with no knee’s showing and women’s shoulders covered. Once the formal part is over, the exchanging of Talanoa (stories) can occur. A very unique Fijian experience.

The rally had arranged a visit to Susui village, a community of 67 people, which more than doubled with our fleet of 100+. It was a big event for the village, something they’d looked forward to since our last visit in 2017. Sevusevu was performed followed by a dance performance by the local school and then a magnificent feast of breadfruit, cassava, crab, pork, oysters and fish. A great way to end our time in Vanua Balavu.

To view all the photos associated with blogg


To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Fri Jun 28 8:58 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 11.2S 179 00.0W
Run: 0.1nm (0.2km)
Weather: Rainy SE 20Kt

Bula from Fiji

Another day, another country and another crew. We had a beautiful 2 day (300nm) crossing from VaVa’u to Vanua Balavu; the largest of the islands in the northern Lau Group. Over the centuries the warring tribes of Tonga and Fiji have fought over these islands, but for now it’s Bula from Fiji.

We set off a day ahead of the fleet as we had to meet the once a week flight that was delivering Nickie and whisking Alison home. The trick was to get customs clearance to allow Alison to sign off the boat and make her flight. The only problem was the customs guys were supposedly on the same flight. A classic catch 22. It turned out that customs were already here clearing another rally (called the worldwide ARC), so they were getting an all-expenses paid 2-week holiday in paradise and sorted things out for Alison.

Nickie arrived with her full baggage weight allowance – lots of boat spares, rum and 2 bikinis!! We’ve got 5 weeks to explore the Fijian islands together, before some more friends will join us – time well spent.

First stop was a 3-hour journey up the coast to Bavatu Harbour, a beautiful secluded spot where we climbed to the top of the hill and enjoyed the fantastic views and rainbow showers.

Fiji has a completely different feel to Tonga. The people are much more friendly; a proud race with welcoming smile. They have a wonderful custom called Sevusevu; more on this in future posts.

To view all the photos associated with blogg


To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Sat Jun 22 15:35 2019 NZST
GPS: 18 39.5S 173 59.0W
Weather: Overcast 10kt SE

Who knew I had a Joker Valve

Today is our last day in Tonga; we set sail for Fiji after breakfast tomorrow. The wind gods have been kind; the forecast is for 15-20kts SE Trade winds on a broad reach which hopefully will allow us to do the 300nm in ~ 48hours. The most important thing is that we arrive in daylight, as we have to go through a narrow coral reef to get into the island of Vanua Balavu at the northern end of the Lau Group. The rule is to approach a reef crossing with the sun behind you, wearing polaroid sunglasses between the hours of 10am and 4pm. That way you can see the coral as the charts in these areas are still the originals that Captain Cook drew up and are not always accurate.

We’ve had ongoing toilet issues on the guest side of the boat, with interesting objects reappearing in the bowl after flushing. The great thing about being part of a rally is that people have vastly different levels of experience and are never short in coming forward with an opinion. Over a quiet sundowner the other night, I explained my problem, as quick as a flash Ray told me it was my Joker valve. I didn’t even know I had a Joker Valve. Apparently, it’s a one-way valve on the outlet of the Head (nautical name for a toilet) which stops all the poo coming back when you pump it out. I rummaged through my box of spares I had purchased from the previous owner of Libertalia and would you believe it, there at the top of the box was a Joker Valve!! A rather messy operation was then undertaken (just before dinner) to swap out the aforementioned Joker Valve, which at the time I didn’t find very funny. I guess that’s where it got its name from; some joker has to change it. Nickie called me later that evening, and upon recounting my afternoon’s exploits, she reminded me of our 3rd meeting in the Caribbean where she visited the St Maarten dock where the boat I was working on was moored, only to find me doing a similar repair, only this time in Speedo’s and Marigold gloves. Nothing changes it seems in the Yachting World.

VaVa’u has been great place to cruise; we had a Tongan feast on the beach with a number of other rally participants and then discovered a floating ‘Fish n Chip and Margarita Bar’ right in the middle of Neiafu harbor – the Canadian who runs it has only been operating 3 weeks but I think every rally member tried him out and Alison’s girls provided a ukulele accompaniment.

The final night is the Rally farewell party at the Mango Café, a bit of an icon in Neiafu. This followed a Rally picnic a few days earlier at Port Maurelle where Andrew got some amazing Drone footage.

And so, onto Fiji; Alison and I will do the 2-day crossing and Nickie will be there to meet us on arrival with another Joker Valve for good measure. You’ll never know when you might need one.

To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Wed Jun 19 8:58 2019 NZST
GPS: 18 42.5S 173 59.1W
Run: 0.1nm (0.2km)
Weather: rainy SE 10kt

Birthday on the High Seas

We’ve been in the VaVa’u group of Tongan islands for the last few days, after a beautiful 10 hour, 68nm sail in SE trade winds (15-18kts) from the Ha’apai’s. We were here a couple of years ago to watch the whales, which as an amazing sight. This time, we’re a little early for them, but we did have one breach about 50m in front of the boat when we were doing 8kts, which was a bit of a surprise to say the least.

We picked up Alison’s family (husband Simon, and daughters Sophie (12) and Bella (11)) and have been checking out the sights. The jewel being Swallow Cave; best in the late afternoon as it faces west, you can swim inside a look out into the beautiful clear blue waters and be surrounded by thousands of fish.

It was my birthday yesterday and I was treated to pancakes for breakfast with bananas and Cointeau; not a bad start to the day. There’s a famous Spanish restaurant which we went to last time which I had my eye on for birthday dinner, but unfortunately the owners were on holiday in NZ until the end of the month, so we made do with impromptu birthday drinks on Libertalia. We were moored with 10 other rally boats, so a good time was had by all.

Tonight, we’re off to a Tongan Feast with local host David and his wife; feeding the Yachties is a good income for them and they are always hospitable. We went coconut foraging with them yesterday.

There are a couple more rally events later in the week and then it’s time to say goodbye to Alison’s family and Alison and I to do the 2-day sail across to Fiji where Nickie will be arriving with various spares for the boat. But more on that later

To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Fri Jun 14 15:44 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 43.21S 174 17.14W
Weather: Sunny with intermittent showers W 3kt

There’s beer in the Bilge

It’s amazing how thin aluminum beer cans are these days; leave them for a couple of weeks in contact with a little salt water and bingo they erode away and deposit their contents into my bilge!! Oh well, the only thing to do is drink them quicker, I guess.

We’ve continued our island hoping in the Ha’apai’s moving further north. Firstly, we went to Uoleva and had sundowners at the Sea Change Eco Resort. The place had no guests at theh moment but are fully booked from the end of June to October when the Humpback Whales arrive. It’s a pretty short season and Ha’api’s shallower waters make the whale encounters more interactive and less crowded than VaVau.

Then onto the capital Pangai (population 250); not really a metropolis but big enough to get some gas, bananas and organize a taxi for Alex to take him to the airport the following morning (which turned up on time and at the agreed price, well done Tonga). Alex’s last night was at the Ha’api Beach Resort, a place where the rally used to come with an owner who looked like an actor from Australian Underbelly. Pizza’s and beers were a fitting send off for Alex, who flew back to Australia this morning.

Alison and I continued on up the coast to Foa Island where we had some of the best snorkeling yet. The sand was so fine, it floated on the surface tension of the still waters in the lagoon and the fish were amazing.

Tomorrow it’s onto VaVau, a 60nm mile passage to meet up with Alison husband and 2 kids for the week. Onward and upward

To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Mon Jun 10 16:09 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 54.4S 174 24.8W
Run: 0.1nm (0.2km)
Weather: Overcast 20kt E

Discovering the Ha’apai Islands

The southernmost island in the Ha’apai is called Nomuka and is 55nm north of Tongatapu, so to ensure we arrived in daylight, we set the alarm for 11pm and motored out of Big Mama’s for a night sail on Friday night. It meant missing the Welcome party (which had been rescheduled to the Saturday), but with Alex having limited time with us we decided to push on. We caught a lovely blue fin tuna just after dawn, which has kept us fed for a couple of days.

From Nomuka we day sailed to a small deserted island called Limu the following day and had the chance to snorkel in the 28-degree beautiful clear surrounding waters. The islands main inhabitants were hermit crabs, which made interesting tracks all over the beach and had a liking for coconuts

With strong NE winds forecast for tomorrow, we’ve taken shelter on the western side of Uiha island. A trip ashore allowed us to walk between the 2 villages in time to see all the kids come out of school and met a fisherman who was busy mending his nets to catch sharks to sell to the Chinese for shark fin soup. Even here the All Blacks are very much revered and most of the young people move to Auckland leaving their aging parents on the islands

To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Thu Jun 6 16:40 2019 NZST
GPS: 21 7.52S 175 9.72W
Weather: Hot and Sunny 5kt NE

We’re on Tongan Time

After a week of 4 hour watches it’s been nice to unwind and have a whole night of uninterrupted sleep. Most of the fleet are now at Big Mama’s (there are a couple of stragglers still on route due to repairs etc) and we’re enjoying the local hospitality and doing a few odd jobs around the boat. Alison and Alex have joined the crew and we’ve inflated the Stand-Up Paddleboards and tested those out.

We’ve also discovered that despite Nuka’Alofa being the main port in Tonga, it does not have refueling facilities on the dock. Therefore, we’ve taken the initiative and loaded the dinghy up with Jerry cans, zoomed across the bay and got a taxi to the local Gas Station. After getting 120 litres of diesel, a much lower dinghy made the return journey and we are all set for the next stage of our travels up to the Ha’aipi group of Tongan islands

To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Wed Jun 5 10:05 2019 NZST
GPS: 21 7.52S 175 9.72W
Weather: Sunny 15kt SE

We made It – Tonga here we are

Wow what an adventure. After 7 days and 1113nm (just over 2000 kms) Libertalia has arrived at Big Mama’s in Nuku’alofa in Tonga

The second half of the journey was very kind from a weather point of view. We had 15-20kt winds from the NW which tracked around to the SE over the course to 2 days enabling us to sail all the way. We had a close encounter with one of the other boats during a squall in the night, but apart from that, it was only when we approached the Pass getting in Tonga that we saw other members of the Rally.

A couple of boats arrived on Monday, but there was 21 of us that cleared customs on Tuesday. Being a dry boat (anchor to anchor), the first thing that was done when we sighted land was put the icemaker on, such that by the time the anchor was dropped, the rums were ready to be poured

Marcel, Clive and Robin (the delivery crew) leave tomorrow and Alison and my son Alex join me today. Time for a bit of R&R and a bit of boat maintenance.

The one thing that surprised me was the amount of wear and tear you get on passage. Nuts, Bolts, Shackles, even self-tapping screws wiggle loose. When we left NZ, I’d left the anchor remote in the forward anchor locker; half way through to passage, it had bounced loose and was trailing in the water for a couple of hundred miles before we noticed it!! Remarkably when we came to Tonga it still worked, but we did have to splice together a new anchor bridle between the Pass and Big Mama’s as we discovered that previous one had been badly chaffed and needed replacing. Anchor stowage will be reviewed before our next blue water outing.

It’s been awesome sailing with Team Waiheke (Robin, Clive and Marcel), a great learning experience and a lot of fun. Clive will rejoin the boat with his wife Emma in Vanuatu later in the voyage. The adventure continues

To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Sat Jun 1 9:29 2019 NZST
GPS: 28 37.0S 179 01.5W
Run: 43.9nm (79.5km)
Avg: 528.6knts
24hr: 12685.5nm
Weather: Sunny 12kt W

Half Way There

The weather window said we had to get north as soon as possible, which meant leaving Opua as soon as there was some west in the wind indicating the departure front was upon us. We left at 11am in the rain for the 2-hour motor from Opua Marina to the inner Bay of Islands where we put the sails up (2 reefs as it was already blowing 25kts). At last we were leaving New Zealand waters with the fleet heading for our initial waypoint some 191nm to the North East. What a first night it turned out to be; 35kts and 3m seas. The noise on a catamaran is incredible as the waves come up between the hulls and crash on the underside of main saloon giving our monohull crew quite a shock. The 4-hour watch system kicked in and by the next morning we’d covered 180nm in the first 24 hours.

Then as expected the wind went light as we passed through the sub-tropical High. This resulting in 39 hours of motoring; we had the fishing lines out and caught a Tuna which made a very good sashimi lunch. The motoring was almost due north to get us out of the way of the next depression hitting NZ in 24 hours’ time. The strategy worked; the winds eventually filled in we set off in an ENE direction on a beam reach using VMG (velocity made good) which is the fastest route to a destination even though you are not actually heading directly for it. The wind was predicted to swing around the SW and we kept waiting a waiting and we were only 50nm from the Kermadec Island before the change occurred bring with it a 33kt rain squall which allowed Libertalia to reach her fastest speed to date of 11kts.

We are now into day four and have just passed the half way mark with less than 500nm to go. It’s champagne sailing conditions of beautiful sunshine and a 15kt broad reach pointing straight to Tonga.

As they say, lets “Send it”. See you in Tonga

To track the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia)


Tue May 28 7:59 2019 NZST
GPS: 35 19.037S 174 07.17E
Weather: Overcast and rainy NE 15kt

Departure Day

Today is the day; it’s going to be a bit wet this morning, but sunny topical days are ahead

You can watch Libertalia from here

or the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia) from here

See you in Tonga


Mon May 27 13:15 2019 NZST
GPS: 35 19.037S 174 07.17E
Weather: Overcast NE 5kt

The Ready for Departure

Last night I enjoyed my 3rd Sunday Roast at the Opua Cruising Club; much as I enjoyed it, I don’t want another one any time before November!! The good news is that departure is set for tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday 28th May.

All is prepared, the boat is ready, and the crew are arriving this evening. It’s going to be an interesting crossing.

There is a low passing over the north of New Zealand tonight/early tomorrow with rain and 20kt+ winds straight in our faces (NE). The plan is to get on the back of that low and take the NW winds and head north. The next couple of days have light winds forecast and we’ll be motor sailing with the aim of covering 150nm per day (300km). Our weather guru is telling us to get as far north as possible to get out of the way of the next depression coming across from Australia. There’s going to be a 12-18-hour period over Friday night/Saturday morning where the front will pass over us and things could get a bit sporty. After that it should be moderate SW winds to take us straight to Tonga. All being well we should be there on 3rd/4th June.

You can watch the whole rally fleet (including Libertalia) from here

Here’s to a safe passage and a celebratory rum at Big Mamma’s in Tonga


Sat May 25 11:10 2019 NZST
GPS: 35 19.037S 174 07.17E
Weather: Sunny, 2kt SW

The Weather Window Opens

This is the end of the 2nd week in Opua Marina and the troops are getting restless. We’ve been watching our weather GRIBs every 12 hours waiting for a window to depart and there hasn’t been one. The good news is if we’d have left on the scheduled day (20th), we would now be sitting in Minerva reef in large swells with plenty of other boats all riding out 25kt winds. A good decision to stay put.

The weather in the Bay of Islands continues to be glorious, light winds and sunny; time for a spot of fishing. I went out with Nev and Sheryl, fellow Leopard Catamaran owners on the rally. Nev caught us lunch, but my efforts were less than satisfactory as all mine were undersize and I had the throw them back. Anyway, the sunsets have been spectacular, and the rum rations has taken pounding.

There’s a great 2 hour walk along the riverbank between Opua and Paihia which kept me amused one of the days this week, but the good news is we’ve got a glimmer of a weather window.

All being well, next Tuesday or Wednesday, we should get on the back of a low coming across the Tasman sea from Australia which will send us northwards. The plan now is to go straight to Tonga where my son Alex and other crew member Alison should be waiting for us. The delivery crew from Waiheke (Clive, Marcel and Robin) will return on Monday for customs clearance and hopefully departure.

Fingers crossed.


Tue May 21 15:04 2019 NZST
GPS: 35 19.055S 174 07.105E
Run: 0.1nm (0.2km)
Weather: Overcast Southerly 5kt

A Waiting Game

Well we the fleet is still here in Opua (we should have left yesterday) and it looks like we going to be here for a least another week!!

There is topical depression over Fiji which is causing a squash zone between Minvera and Tonga. A squash zone is created when a blocking high pressure (over northern NZ) comes close to a low-pressure system (over Fiji) and the air is squashed between them creating strong winds and large waves. Boats in Minvera are reporting 25kt winds and 4m seas (remember the reef is only 10cm above the high-water mark and offer little protection for the boats anchored inside). The call made by the organizers is to wait where we are – a very wise decision.

My crew arrived on Sunday bringing Zucchini slice, whiskey cake and edam cheese (we have a Dutchman onboard). They stayed for the group photo, drank some of the ship Rum ration and I sent them back home to Waiheke today to be on standby in case the weather window opens.

Looks like I’ll have to download some more books to my Kindle as I sit this one out


Sun May 19 15:47 2019 NZST
GPS: 35 19.055S 174 07.105E
Weather: Sunny 10kt SW

Here's another site you can track my progress, but the advantage of this one is that I can post to it while on passage over the Satellite

Sun May 19 13:45 2019 NZST
GPS: 35 19.056S 174 07.102E
Weather: Sunny 8kt Southerly

Rally Preparation Week

We’ve been up here in Opua (the Bay of Islands) for a week now, meeting the rest of the Rally members (there are 38 boats here with 2 joining us later) and getting to know one another. There are 15 kids on the rally (one family has 3 onboard!!); a really nice bunch of like-minded people.

The week has consisted of lots of tutorials to help the newbie’s like me on what to expect on the rally with useful hints and tricks of the trade. This included SUP safety (I’ve got 2 onboard), SSB radio (which I don’t have), IridiumGo satellite communications (which is fantastic), weather prediction software from PredictWind, fishing tips to catch the big one on the trip north and passage planning. We even got up at 5am one morning to have a breadmaking demonstration at the local bakery who have supplied us with frozen dough. I didn’t realize anyone could be that happy at that time of the morning, but Kevin the baker was very pleased to talk passionately about his craft.

I’ve had a few teething problems with the boat (which I won’t bore you with), but needless to say, the fact that they happened before we departed NZ was a god send and the Marine Services guys in Opua have been awesome.

The favorite occupation of all the rally skippers has been weather watching this week and as departure time draws closer, we’re all been downloading our GRIBs from PredictWind and discussing the best route and whether we’ll stop at this amazing circular reef called Minerva (only 3 miles in diameter and 10cm above the high water mark) in the middle of the Pacific ocean, some 200nm (400km) SW of Tonga. If the wind and waves are up, the ocean washes over the top of the reef and into the lagoon which can result in an 11kt outflow through the very narrow entrance!!

So, I’m writing this report on Sunday morning, 24hours before our scheduled departure. Unfortunately, there is a as yet un-named depression forming north of Fiji and its projected path would put it right over Tonga for our arrival with predicted 4m-6m waves. Therefore, we have decided to delay our departure; at this stage we’re unsure how long as the different weather models has the system moving in different directions.

The weather in Opua is fantastic for the rest of the week, and with Libertalia’s crew due to arrive later this afternoon, the fleet is planning some exploring of the Bay of Islands and a few beach parties. More to report later


Sat May 11 15:06 2019 NZST
GPS: 35 19.03S 174 7.17E
Weather: Calm 5kt Southernly

The Voyage Begins

Well the day finally arrived to set sail on this South Pacific sailing odyssey. I’d been watching the weather all week, with a planned departure of Saturday 11th May and had organized farewell drinks for the night before at the new place on Waiheke Island called Found. But like all good plans Mother Nature has her own ideas; there was a rain front scheduled, the timing of which kept moving around on all of the weather models. So rather than waiting for it to pass, I decided to go early and take advantage of the light spell ahead of it on the Friday.

With Alison, Bruce and (another) Nick onboard we set up from Westhaven Marina @ 2.15pm only to have an alarm warning for the Port SailDrive to come on part way down the harbour. After a few frantic phone calls to mechanics and an inspection of the oil, we determined it was a faulty alarm rather than a more potentially major problem and we continued on our way.

The winds were very light, and we ended up motoring the 130nm up the coast overnight, getting to Cape Brett (and the famous Hole in the Rock) just on dawn. The moon was out for the first half of the night and the stars were wonderfully bright once you got away from the light pollution of the city. Hopefully plenty more nights like this ahead (but perhaps with a little more wind). All in all, a gentle introduction to the journey and we got into Opua Marina a little after 10am to be met with other participates on the Rally

With the change in schedule, it meant I was going to miss my own leaving party. Nickie was undaunted and quickly turned it into a Left Party and went ahead anyway. Apparently, everyone had a great time, and I videoed in briefly from my 1st Watch somewhere off Omaha Beach.

This coming week is Prep-Week with activities planned most days; Nickie will drive up on Wednesday, so we’ll have a car to run around to do any last minute chores as well as meet the rest of the Rally members and no doubt plan the next party


Tue May 7 14:25 2019 NZST
GPS: 36 50.4S 174 45.011E
Weather: Overcast, Drizzle NE 8kt

Libertalia Departure date set - Friday 10th May @ 2pm

With some bad weather forecast later in the weekend, I've decided to bring forward my departure up to Opua in the Bay of Islands to this Friday

Not long now

Fri May 3 15:08 2019 NZST
GPS: 36 50.40S 174 45.01E
Weather: Sunny, no breeze

One Week to go

With only 1 week to go, we’ve passed an important milestone – Category 1 certification. In little over an hour, all the necessary safety requirements were ticked off making the 6 months of preparation certainly worthwhile. We also made the local Waiheke paper; they did a piece on the 4 lads from island setting sail for Tonga

The fleet are starting to assemble and a PredictWind page has been set up where you can track all the boats on the Rally from a single location

Provisioning continues, but we’re down to the luxury items such as the Ice Maker and Nespresso machine. Fresh food purchases will be done in the Bay of Isles during the prep-week, along with meeting the rest of the flotilla on the Rally. There is a full agenda of fun activities planned.

The 10-day forecast is looking like the 100nm (200km) trip up the coast from Auckland to the Bay of Isles is going to have winds right on the nose with a potential rain front coming through as well, so it should give Libertalia (and her crew) a good hit out. Alison, Bruce and Jack will be joining me on this first leg, with each of them re-joining me on later legs in Tonga, Vanuatu and New Caledonia respectively.

I’m really looking forward to setting sail; not much longer now

Fri Apr 26 10:26 2019 NZST
GPS: 36 48.4S 175 1.6E
Run: 0.4nm (0.7km)
Weather: Overcast 15kt SW

Two Weeks to go

With only 2 weeks to go, the ‘to do’ list still doesn’t seem to be decreasing, it just seems to be getting longer.

Libertalia spent the Easter weekend around Waiheke, hosting a wine tasting for all my colleagues @ Mudbrick vineyard, as well as going to the Jazz festival. A very welcome distraction from provisioning.

Talking of provisioning, the leg to Tonga is anywhere between 6 -10 days, so I’ve been busy cooking and freezing some yummy evening meals for the crew. Luckily Libertalia has an excellent fridge/freezer so at least we’ll be well fed during the crossing

My Cat 1 inspection is scheduled for 1st May and I think I’ve got everything on the checklist, so fingers crossed. Some of the things I’ve got I hope I never use (Lift Raft, Storm Jib, Sea Drogue etc), but it’s good to know you have them.

Libertalia is heading back to Westhaven Marina tomorrow, where she’ll stay until departure date of Sat 11th May. I have a couple of the crew (Alison and Bruce) sailing her up to the Bay of Isles overnight (a distance of 96nm) where we’ll assemble with the rest of the flotilla in Opua for a week of pre-rally preparations, with lots of activities planned

Thu Apr 11 10:08 2019 NZST
GPS: 36 50.4S 174 45.01E
Weather: Fine

Five Weeks to go

Since the last post, we’ve been very busy getting Libertalia ready for the Pacific Rally, which is now only 5 weeks away. New Zealand has some of the strictest safety regulations in the world; for any NZ registered yacht (which Libertalia is), it has to have a Category 1 safety certificate before customs will allow it to leave the country.

This not only involves a whole list of safety equipment such as EPIRB’s, life rafts, Storm sails, flares, first aid kits, satellite communications etc, but also an experienced crew.

I am dividing the rally into Legs, with different crew joining me for each leg. There are “delivery legs” where the boat crosses ‘Blue Water’ to get between countries, and “cruising legs” where we sail within the island groups themselves.

The first leg is a 950 nautical mile (~2000km) leg between New Zealand and Tonga. The crew for this leg will be 4 of us from Waiheke. Clive, Robin, Marcel and myself all have Blue Water experience, competing in a number of regatta’s including the Sydney-Hobart, Fastnet and Transpac, so I’m really pleased to have “Team Waiheke” onboard.

Departure is scheduled (weather dependent) from the Bay of Islands on 20th May, but there will be a ‘shakedown’ week immediately prior, where the whole flotilla will gather for the first time (40 boats). The week will be action packed, with lots of activities planned, including last minute provisioning and the all-important duty-free grog run (more on that later).

For now its trips to the Supermarket to purchase 3 months’ worth of food (which certainly surprised the checkout staff) and refresher diving courses

Fri Mar 1 8:48 2019 NZDT
GPS: 36 52.707S 174 54.073E
Run: 0.1nm (0.2km)
Weather: Sunny, no wind

Perfect day for refitting the mast with the new rig

Mon Feb 18 14:10 2019 NZDT
GPS: 36 52.708S 174 54.071E
Run: 8.8nm (15.9km)
Avg: 16.8knts
24hr: 402.9nm
Weather: Lovely Sunny Day

With just 12 weeks to go to the Rally and the boat coming up for its 10th anniversary, it's time to get a new rig

Mon Feb 11 10:52 2019 NZDT
GPS: 36 50.40486S 174 45.01209E
Weather: 3Kt S 1018

Located on my berth @ Westhaven

Libertalia - Pacific Rally 2019

This year I am taking part in the Island Cruising New Zealand (ICNZ) Pacific Rally in my yacht Libertalia, and thought I would record my adventures in the form of a blog (this being the first entry).
The ICNZ has been around for about 10 years and organizes yacht rallies in the Pacific every other year. In 2019, the biggest fleet ever, some 40 boats, will be setting sail from New Zealand at the end of May to visit Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia over a 6-month period, returning at Read more...

the end of October before the cyclone season.
We purchased Libertalia last year with the intention of doing the rally and have been steadily upgrading her to meet stringent Category 1 safety standards, a requirement of all NZ registered vessels leaving New Zealand.
She is a 2009 Leopard 40 Foot Catamaran with an owner?s configuration (meaning the whole Starboard hull is for the owner; double berth, large en-suite bathroom and office), while the Port hull consists of 2 double berths and a separate bathroom. She is ideal for cruising the Pacific as she has a large covered cockpit and main saloon which is great for pirate parties.
Libertalia was a legendary free colony of pirates, founded and ruled by Captain Mission, and reputed to have be located on Madagascar. Their motto was said to be ?for God and liberty?, and thier flag was white, in contrast to the Jolly Roger. The citizens were anarchists, waging war against states, attacking ships, sparing prisoners and freeing slaves. Not a bad name for a boat I thought. As we get nearer the time of departure, I?ll give an overview of the rally and what?s instore on this grand adventure.

Exciting Nick - 6 months!! Amazing. As per previous comment, if you need some Ballast/company

Loading map and updates ....
Loading track, please wait ....