Sat Nov 9 20:21 2019 NZDT
GPS: 41 6.0666S 174 52.0704E
Run: 0.4nm (0.7km)

Position report sent via Iridium GO

Sat Nov 9 17:05 2019 NZDT
GPS: 41 5.77171S 174 46.63512E

That's a wrap folks. We have made it home after a rather slow but pleasant sail (mostly motor sailing for the want of another 5 knots of wind). Enjoying the sounds of the birds on Mana island busily going about their evening business while we wait for the tide to rise so we can safely cross over the bar. We have one week to ease ourselves back into society before resuming the 9-5 routine. I can feel our tans fading already.

Moored at Mana Island
Sunset scenes last night - east
And west
Tue Nov 5 10:44 2019 NZDT
GPS: 35 11.77526S 174 1.60280E

After an all to brief pitstop in the Bay of Islands we are about to set sail again, likely for the last time this trip. To catch you up, we had a fantastic final week in New Caledonia with a friend popping over from Hawaii to spend it with us. We drank cocktails on the beach with waves lapping our feet, partied like locals on the islands just outside Noumea, hiked the red hills of the southern mainland, paddle boarded, kayaked, snorkelled, strolled etc. etc. And then just like that, it was all over. Mike's brother flew in and Arlo and I flew out, expecting to be reunited again in Picton. However after encountering a rather belligerent wind, Mirabilis rerouted to Bay of Islands. So we find ourselves a cruising family again for just a weensy bit longer. We have now had a gorgeous few days with friends here in Kerikeri but sadly the weather window already looks too good to pass up and we are setting off for a race down the west coast chased by a good northerly wind. But first a slow wee motor north to clear the cape. Fingers crossed for a comfortable passage with no seasick baby.

Sun Oct 27 18:03 2019 NZDT
GPS: 28 35.947s 165 21.905e
Run: 2.1nm (3.8km)
Avg: 5.3knts
24hr: 126nm
Weather: 8knts ne flat seas 5-10%cc

Seeing as the wind was favourable we thought we would stop in Brisbane and go-to Australia zoo as I haven't been there since Steve Erwin passed. The crocodile shows are truly spectacular. We gave up in the end s it was going to blow or schedule out so headed for Norfolk instead but then decided there were probably to many Australians there as well so now we are heading for fiordland for a spot of wild life sight seeing because there is none out here in the deep blue. The ocean is nearly totally dead.

We'll get home eventually! Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Thu Oct 24 13:54 2019 NZDT
GPS: 22 16.64132S 166 26.41685E
Weather: Hopefully ok

We are off. Heading home straight into Picton. 1200 miles ( 2160 kms)

Someone email me the ab vs England game updates :-)

Tue Oct 1 12:09 2019 NZDT
GPS: 22 28.511S 166 27.858E
Run: 25.5nm (46.2km)

Stopped in at New Caledonia’s iconic lighthouse island Phare Amedee on our way back to Noumea. To my delight, despite being highly touristy, this wee island is riddled with sea snakes and even has an out of bounds area where terns and puffins nest. The lighthouse here is beautiful and reportedly has a fantastic view over the lagoon though we will have to wait before confirming that part as it was closed for lunch… it’s a French thing.

Tue Oct 1 0:00 2019 NZDT
GPS: 22 21.412S 166 50.540E
Run: 4.9nm (8.9km)

We spent a lovely day exploring Casey Island with Kaia, a Kiwi/Hawaiian couple (who we first met in Tonga in 2012) and their gorgeous wee 3 year old who non-stop tells you stories of all his adventures and LOVES to explore rockpools - love that kid!

Mon Sep 30 0:00 2019 NZDT
GPS: 22 22.880S 166 54.848E

After passing by here a couple of times already, we finally entered Baie de Prony. First stop was Anse Majic where we were smartly greeted by the crew of Ranginui, a YIT boat. There is nothing like arriving in a new place and instantly making new friends (this time the crews of Ranginui and Panthera - both fellow YIT boats). We have found cruising this year to be even more social than our first season. I think due to a combination of us being more seasoned cruisers (who no longer shy away from bowling up to other boats and introducing ourselves), the new YIT logo on Mirabilis attracting YITsters (most of whom want to thank Mike for the site and help he has given them), and our wee magnet Arlo charming all who meet him. We came to Anse Majic for the walk on offer up the hill to the top of Cap N’Dua for promised spectacular views over the bay and out across the southern lagoon. It delivered! It was a decent climb up a very steep road (we missed the turn off to the walking track despite being warned not to take the steep road - oops) and Nana did herself proud making it all the way to the top despite a dodgy knee. The views really were supberb with the red mineral-rich earth of the mainland contrasting against the blue of the lagoon and sky, dissected by bright green foliage creating vividly coloured scenes. The water in this bay is also incredibly clear despite being a mainland anchorage. In the still of the morning with no surface ripples, we were able to clearly see the coral forest below us (we were on one of the many free moorings supplied in popular NC anchorages).

Sat Sep 28 0:00 2019 NZST
GPS: 22 20.61681S 166 45.25803E
Run: 22.2nm (40.2km)

We spent the night in Baie Ue after being stopped in our tracks heading to Base de Prony by a 25kt headwind and 4kt current coming out of Havannah Passage against us. Before moving on we jumped in the dinghy and putted up the river at the head of the bay. These river trips are always magical experiences, especially when you cut the engine to enjoy the stillness penetrated only by birdsong.

Fri Sep 27 0:00 2019 NZST
GPS: 22 19.94535S 166 24.42243E

Ilot Maitre is a lovely wee island close to Noumea with free moorings so is a perfect first stop once you finally escape the shackles of port life. The island is popular with the kite surfers with a large shallow area with a sand and seagrass bottom. We spent a bit of time watching the kites and think we might be hooked. It really seems to be the thing to do if you are a cruiser, a great way to make the most of windy days. Better still, there is a popular kite surfing spot just outside the entrance to the marina where we live. The rest of our time here we spent lazing on the beach (while being serenaded by two Tahitian girls and their ukelele), paddling in the shallows with Arlo, stalking sea snakes, and sneaking into the resort pool.

Wed Sep 25 0:02 2019 NZST
GPS: 22 16.62459S 166 26.42108E

Picked up a very special guest, Mike’s mum (and more importantly Arlo’s nana) and spent a lovely day in Noumea enjoying the tourist attractions. Mike was also able to fix our anchor windlass. Yay, no manually hauling the anchor we thought. Except straight after fixing the windlass, the alternator (which we need to charge the battery that drives the windlass) gave out. It really is one thing after another with Mirabilis this season. Luckily our trusty Captain and Chief Engineer was able to diagnose the problem - a plug had burned out on the external regulator. A quick rewiring job and we were back in action and ready to venture south.

Starting him young
Petrol head like his dad it seems
Sun Sep 22 10:26 2019 NZST
GPS: 22 16.62323S 166 26.41316E

Back in Noumea after a gorgeous sail from Ilot Mato enjoying town comforts and awaiting our next guest and delivery of boat parts - this time Mike’s mum and parts for our windlass which has just carked it. We are also coming to terms with the idea that 6 weeks in the French territory of Nouvelle Caledonie means we will very likely come back with considerably more padding around our middles as we delight in devouring our way through small mountains of French bread and pastries, while at the same time recoiling at the astronomical prices of local produce. The papaya and bananas that had become staples in our diets in Vanuatu (largely freely gifted to us by locals as they are so abundant) are now pricey treats and of inferior quality. Tant pis - bread, cheese and cured meats it is!

Fri Sep 20 7:00 2019 NZST
GPS: 22 33.19417S 166 47.76613E

We have spent the last week scooting down to Ile des Pins (named for the tall narrow pine trees that dominate the coastal landscape) to pick up friends and then working our way back. We stayed in Kuto Bay, a large horse shoe shaped bay with luxurious fine white sand making it a fabulous swimming beach and popular destination for the cruise ships (though fortunately not while we were there). We did not spend long at Ile des Pins as the local chief has declared the anchorages around all but the southern part of the island to be closed to yachts. Those that have anchored anyway have either been told to leave or in some cases boarded in the night. This seems to have arisen out of unrest following the independence referendum last year. While the overall vote swung in favour of remaining with France, the numbers in the less populous outer islands were much further in favour of independence. With this in mind, we decided to head instead to the uninhabited Ilot Mato in the southern lagoon and get in some sailing time with our friends. Our decision paid off with Mato delivering spectacular views, good snorkelling and stars of the show - ospreys, sea snakes and black tip reef sharks. Though the combination of the sharks circling Mirabilis and the 8 large shark suckers (remora) we managed to pick up in Kuto Bay meant none of us were game for swimming off the mother ship. Even sitting in the cockpit got a bit hairy when a rather large shark actually leapt out of the water behind Jase (one of our VIPs) so close that it actually thudded against the hull when it landed. Reef sharks are actually about as harmless as they come but even I would have thought twice about popping in at that moment - though the fear of a shark sucker selecting me as its new host was far greater. We did all snorkel by dinghy though and while the viz was rather rubbish by the time I got in (delayed by a head cold), the corals were the healthiest I’ve seen in a good while.

Ile des Pins
Kuto Bay
A slice of New Caledonia's World Heritage lagoon and extensive reef system
Not a bad spot to watch ospreys soaring above the reef
Watching black tip reef sharks cruise the shallows
Tricot raye
Black tip reef sharks
Sun Sep 8 8:20 2019 NZST
GPS: 20 24.31210S 166 8.71036E
Run: 217.8nm (394.2km)
Avg: 6.2knts
24hr: 148.7nm

We are back on the grid for better or worse. We had a dream run on our crossing (Arlo's first open ocean passage) from Vanuatu to New Caledonia sailing the whole way with no pesky engine and smooth enough conditions that Arlo was able to join us in the cockpit a bit - much better than being stuck lying on the saloon floor with him trying to keep his stomach contents contained. After about 36 hours we glided in to a wee uninhabited island on an atoll at the top of the Loyalty Group (Beautemps-Beaupre) that oozed with serenity. The island is largely bordered by short but sheer rock faces and hosts a small brown booby colony. A few boobies would regularly fly over to check us out with the intense colour of the lagoon reflecting on the white feathers of their undersides making them appear blue. On closer inspection by kayak, the rocks also came alive with a multitude of large rock crabs which would scramble over each other in their frantic dash for cover in response to my rude intrusion as I paddled by. We had the atoll to ourselves and passed the day swimming and endlessly marvelling at the breathtaking colours and vistas around us. We topped it all off with cocktails as the sun seemingly melted into the ocean. Pleasure sensors overload.

We inadvertently smuggled in this illegal immigrant
Sun melting into the ocean
Training up the new crew
Fri Sep 6 21:10 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 53.20S 168 09.05E
Run: 14.3nm (25.9km)

Off into the night we go. We have spent a fabulous two months exploring Vanuatu which has exceeded expectations which were high to begin. We will be back as there is so much more to see. New shores beckon though, as do promises of crusty bread, gooey cheese and voluptuous wines.

Sun Sep 1 20:38 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 44.97844S 168 18.76753E
Run: 104.5nm (189.1km)

Back in Vila after a rather boisterous overnight sail from Malekula. The forecast 18kt NE revealed itself to in fact be a 25kt E for a good while there. Strong wind and very rough sea the entire way but otherwise relatively uneventful. Mike was not too pleased when he had to go and drain a flooded sail locker at 3am though. Walking up to the bow in those conditions is gnarly enough as it is let alone when you are carrying a car battery and bilge pump with you. Arlo did great for the most part, seems to do well on the saloon floor - the most stable part of the boat. Hoping to head to New Cal next weekend.

Fri Aug 30 1:39 2019 NZST
GPS: 16 29.64172S 167 25.82574E
Run: 15.7nm (28.4km)
Avg: 3.9knts
24hr: 94.6nm

Finally got in around midnight. Had good wind, no wind, wind with big waves, no wind with big waves ( that one sucked ) and right when the finish line was in sight, ie the Anchorage, strong winds roaring out of it further delaying bed time grrrr

Thu Aug 29 21:40 2019 NZST
GPS: 16 17.470S 167 19.345E
Run: 55.7nm (100.8km)
Avg: 4.7knts
24hr: 112.9nm

Beautiful day for sailing today. We had planned on just a day sail but the going was too good so we are pushing on. Will pull in at Southwest of Malakula tonight and await the promised northerly to jump down to Efate and ready ourselves for the sail across to New Caledonia.

Thu Aug 29 9:49 2019 NZST
GPS: 15 29.33485S 167 14.98352E
Run: 25.5nm (46.2km)
Weather: 20knt se 100% overcast, 1-2m se swell.

HOMEWARD BOUND!!! We are heading home at long last. It's just that home is a bloody long way away.

Stopped here for the night, very calm non rolling Anchorage even in a decent se blow. Just sailing past the president coolidge ww2 wreck and million dollar point ww2 dumping grounds. Will blaze through luganville and down West coast of Malakula heading back to Vila. Some NE winds have our name written all over them. Arlo is still getting Sea sick, so it looks like I'll be sailing back to NZ by myself!

Fri Aug 23 20:33 2019 NZST
GPS: 15 8.60094S 167 6.95396E
Run: 17.1nm (31km)

We've arrived at pretty much or northern most point of the trip. We were meant to head across past the Amabe volcano ( ACTIVE ) but it would have been a night sail in a strongish southerly with a sw swell so not ideal. With that passing through, we will have pretty much missed our opportunity to get to Pentecost. We will have to head against the trade winds to get back down to Port Vila ready to head to New Caledonia shortly. But first we will wait out some weather and chilax abit, although that might be a bit hard now the COT warrior ( crown of thorns ) has arrived and got Dani all rarked up with talk of diving walls etc. There goes my lounging on the beach with the book!

Wed Aug 21 14:55 2019 NZST
GPS: 15 22.75314S 167 11.69244E
Run: 16.1nm (29.1km)

Sailing Vanuatu is continuous shifting baselines of my definition of paradise. We are now on the east coast of Santo Island tucked in between two islets inside a reef happily sheltered from the whitecaps outside it. We had a barbeque ashore on the first night we were here with another boat with fireflies in the trees above us. We are here for Vanuatu's famous blue holes. Yesterday we visited Riri and today, Matevulu. What an experience. We went by dinghy (paddling would be amazing but we didn't think Arlo's tolerance for our indulgence would last that long). After entering the river mouth you make your way up through the increasingly narrow and verdant river banks keeping an eye out for rocks and logs which gets easier as the water changes from murky and brackish to so incredibly pure that you feel like you are flying. After a kilometre or two of this magic carpet ride, the river opens up again to reveal an intense blue at the source of this clear spring water. And they have rope swings!

Anchored in paradise
Wheeee! Matevulu
No need for oars to cross the shallows
Crystal clear
Wheee! Riri.
Fri Aug 16 13:00 2019 NZST
GPS: 15 36.72833S 167 10.59298E
Run: 34.4nm (62.3km)
Weather: 20-25knt SE 2-4m steep waves.

Well that was a rather interesting sail up the coast. Total downwind sailing with the boat hitting 9knts with the help of a wave! We were constantly surfing between 7.5 and 8.5 knts, while I was standing on the duckboard rinsing nappies. A couple of times I had to hand on as water rose to just under my knees as the back of the boat was hit by the next wave. I did notice the top of the mast bending quite a lot between the top stays and the lowers, might have to google how to re-adjust the stays to prevent that. It was a bit harder than the day before due to Arlo not being able to sleep in a bed due to the boat lurching as our course was not directly as the waves were going but rather 15 degrees to starboard which caused us to wander a fair bit. I had to hand steer for quite a bit as we were running close to the point where the main would back wind and try to jibe. (which the auto pilot liked to do often). At 7-9knts the miles disappeared quickly, so it wasn't all bad. We headed down the channel and tucked in behind a resort island and picked up a mooring. We will head round to Luganville tomorrow morning and hopefully go to a resort for the day swimming with Arlo as windyty says it will be as windy again, and that's really only fun for the wind generators!

Thu Aug 15 19:12 2019 NZST
GPS: 16 3.54541S 167 24.33455E
Run: 30.2nm (54.7km)
Weather: 20knt SE Squally 2-3m steep chop.

Almost decided to continue on to Santo yesterday and arrive in the dark but decided against it and instead Anchor behind this little island to get out of the building wind and waves. A bit of a roll but nothing the stern anchor didn't fix. It was just a pit stop nothing more nothing less, didn't even leave the boat/swim incase the sharks from port sandwhich were still peeved we didnt stop there and followed us up the coast!

Wed Aug 14 21:15 2019 NZST
GPS: 16 20.12047S 167 45.47352E
Run: 32.4nm (58.6km)
Avg: 8.5knts
24hr: 203nm
Weather: 15kt SE, buckets of sunshine

Lovely day sail to Banam Bay on the east coast of Malekula Island today. Just a short pitstop as we continue to push north tomorrow. It's Mike's birthday tomorrow so by god we better have good sailing conditions or I (and no doubt you all) will be hearing about it for sure.

It's hard to breed good crew
Captain & First Mate
Don't look grandmas!
Wed Aug 14 17:25 2019 NZST
GPS: 16 35.756S 168 09.882E
Run: 9.3nm (16.8km)
Weather: Roasting hot

Don’t listen to anyone who says to skip Lamen Bay! This bay is the ultimate turtle experience. The bay is full of large turtles feeding on the seagrass. We were not lucky enough to snorkel with the dugong that was here, though Mike did spot it a couple of times form the surface. The turtle action more than made up for it though. While they are generally lovely placid lumbering things, they are not averse to a little play it seems - I saw one grab hold of an anchor chain and ride it as it moved with the gentle swell. I even got a video of the action. We departed this morning for the east coast of Malakula after a family paddle outing. Arlo seemed quite happy wit the view from his throne with the added bonus of being able to keep a dry tush now as he rides in comfort and style.

Baby on board!
Turtles dominate at Lamen Bay
Evening stroll
Stingray friend
Morning paddle
This way please driver.
Mon Aug 12 17:14 2019 NZST
GPS: 16 43.726S 168 08.537E
Run: 0.2nm (0.4km)
Weather: Glorious

LOTS of nudis! Revolieu Bay for the win! We tucked in inside the reef in this beautiful bay and met the lovely people of the yachts Pilgrim and Kupere (both YITster boats). We introduced our selves and were very glad we did. Ron off Pilgrim is my dream man - sorry Mike. He opened my eyes to the oodles of nudibranchs on the reef here and is a one man COT killing machine. In three days he killed around 400 of these starfish which while fabulous looking, are an absolute menace to the reefs now their populations have exploded unchecked due to few of their natural predators remaining. He also made for the perfect dive buddy being just as engrossed in all the invert life as I was. When I hit my 70s, I want to be Ron! I was sad to leave as would very happily continued diving this spot for a week if I could. Especially given how lucky we were to have Brazil off Kupere offer to hang out with Arlo while we were gone. Arlo loved his time with Brazil and we returned to an extremely happy wee boy having had two solid hours of play with his new buddy - he didn’t miss us one bit the little toad!

Anthias and great viz
My fav nudi find of the dive
Coral fan
Ron the COT Warrior
Holothurian? Anemone?
Gorgonian fan
Crinoid twinsies
Sat Aug 10 16:42 2019 NZST
GPS: 16 43.79783S 168 8.73294E
Run: 26.7nm (48.3km)

Moved here, my God it's hot today

Sat Aug 10 6:00 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 02.973s 168 22.280e

Nudibranchs! I saw my first nudi of the season while snorkelling at Sulua Bay, Emae Island. Emae was a delightful unscheduled stop. Nudis alone would have done it for me of course but this spot had much more to offer. After the obligatory snorkel we all jumped on the paddleboard for a sunset stroll along the beach, weaving between jet black volcanic rocks, sending crabs scuttling for cover as we went - though it was the shells that needed protecting from me. I was in shell heaven. I promised myself a while back I would stop collecting shells - not really practical things to have floating around a boat. I have found though that 'They're toys for Arlo' is a rather convenient excuse to continue my beach combing. We ended the day drinks aboard Tutkum with a lovely couple of longterm cruisers originally from Turkey and departed early the next morning as dolphins moseyed through the bay. Emae, you are a bit of alright.

Fri Aug 9 21:12 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 2.986S 168 22.268E
Run: 48.1nm (87.1km)
Weather: nice sunny day

It took us a little longer to get to the turtles and duegongs so we stopped on the way and had a little stroll along the beach. All three of us jumped on the paddle board and paddled ashore and even caught a wave but I had to throw up the handbrake as a rock popped up right in our path while we surfing. Will have to try this surfing on the paddleboard some more, it was pretty fun but maybe not with Arlo and Dani in the backseat hanging of for dear life. (Actually I think Arlo was nodding off)

24 mile sail tomorrow to the next reef that needs snorkelling.

Water temp: 26 degrees, Air temp 27 degrees.

Wed Aug 7 21:48 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 44.59435S 168 18.81423E
Run: 4.6nm (8.3km)
Weather: Finally sunny

After a miserable two days of rain we moved into the marina to get the nappies, water and power sorted. We now have full power, full water and clean nappies except one, which was quite spectacular and such a joyful experience to prepare for the washing machine. Arlo we love you but please no more of those in public, especially at the pool while mummy and daddy are trying to drink their cocktails and enjoy the first sunny day in ages.

We left Paddy and Anna out at hideaway Island to effect repairs to the engine, clean some nappies and prepare to sail north but....... the weather turned even more miserable so there was no sun, no wind and only drizzle so no real water either. We made the call to hit the marina, plug in and return to being a liveaboard with full AC power where we could run the washing machine with the dry cycle! (great on the rainy day) I think we washed about 50,000 nappies. Our batteries are still charging at 10amps a day and a half later since they went on shore power, they were obviously pretty depleted.

We stayed an extra day in the marina just to get said washing done and hit the pool - where Arlo unleashed his surprise on the world. Luckily there was an Ausie family with 4 kids there who were more prepared than us with wipes. On the boat, we just have a salt water - water blaster for emergencies such as that - hang surprise from hell out the back from the davits and blast till clean ( both arlo and nappies ) - they love it, no really they do.

Tomorrow we drop our lines around half 6 in the morning and head north into crocodile and malaria/dengue mosquito infested waters. I just found out there are a few sea snakes up that way as well - great! I saw a shark as big as the boat heading away from Hideaway Island the other day, yes as big as the boat - well sideways that is, so there was no paddle boarding in anything deeper than 30cm of water and I didn't even go swimming ( how do you know if it was only bluffing and about to pull a sneaky u-turn!)

Time to pull 5th gear out of Mirabilis tomorrow, we have to get in by dark and have a long way to go!

Sat Aug 3 13:06 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 41.62385S 168 15.95545E
Run: 4.9nm (8.9km)
Weather: Too windy to paddle board

Back out at Hideaway Island. Went to the fire show last night with Paddy and Anna. Was a great show and this time viewed from shore with Arlo enjoying the beginning and end with a little snooze inbetween while Dad confronted the person that boarded our dinghy and nicked our torch. It's a funny feeling standing on shore with your son sleeping on you, next to a group of youths who were clearly shining your torch back out to the pier spotlighting their mates with their new high powered torch, acquired from your dinghy down said pier. Needless to say they were good about returning it when I pointed out that I need the torch to get my sleeping son back to the boat safely. Might go visit the crystal pools today.

Fri Aug 2 9:09 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 44.97798S 168 18.76552E
Run: 13.4nm (24.3km)
Weather: Raining, 0 wind

We spent a cool couple of days back around Havannah harbour. We went to an Independence day celebration with local live music, snorkeled a ww2 plane wreck that non of the cruisers seem to know about and is located right under our noses just a short dingy ride away from the anchorage. The plane is in excellent condition in 4-5m of water so an easy snorkel. Saw an amazing lime stone cave that was so big that naturally I thought it was going to cave in on me every step I took, even though there are cave drawings in there that go back 3000 years.

We stopped in at the famous wahoo bar and had a nice relaxing beer with a couple from a neighbouring boat called Restless whom had been sailing in one form or another around the world for the last 20 years! Naturally his description of devil's point was spot on. I suspect we were a bit too slow in getting round it as true to form it turned into the karori rip with washing machine conditions and thoughts of motorhomes entering my head again. Why does the wind always come from where you want to head to? We are tucked up on a private mooring( merci Anne-Marie ) next to the super yachts in Vila, in the second day of rain since arriving in Vanuatu, waiting for the pasties Paddy and Anna to arrive.

Sun Jul 28 20:24 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 33.59046S 168 16.47158E
Run: 3.5nm (6.3km)
Weather: 5knts SE 20% cc

Moved back to Port Havannah for a non rolly nights sleep. As nice as it was in the other anchorage with the fantastic snorkelling, gorgeous beaches and water the same colour as the blue in Mobil signs (you know, the same place as you buy fuel for motorhomes ), not hearing the diesel sloshing around in the tank all night will be a godsend!

Off to the ww2 museum tomorrow. Turns out before last night, we happened to have been anchored in a "cleared" minefield from ww2!!! On the chart it says any vessels engaged in submarine, anchoring, fishing or underwater activities are at risk of finding the one mine they didn't manage to clear. We were engaged in Anchoring and snorkelling. Lucky I only saw the warning on exiting the mine field after being there for 4 days!

We head to a massive lime stone caves with some old artwork in them and then to Port Vila to await the arrival of my Race engineer who has some replacement race **cough cough** parts for the yacht. Of course the real reason is to hang out, drink beer, swim and dive and watch a wicked fire show!

Every third day is a washing day for us now. We have resorted to using the washing machine as it takes too much time to manually do the 2 million nappies Arlo gets through in three days. We use reusables which is just as well as Vanuatu has banned disposables so everyone is forced to use reusables, which is right up our alley as Dani has used them full time from 7 weeks. Once you get the system going, it is great, saves money and most of all the planet. All those still using disposables, hope you have your tickets to planet B sorted ;-) So running the washing machine uses way more water than I was anticipating. We are having to run the water maker for a day and a bit just to make up the extra usage. The last two times we have gotten away with it on wind and solar all day, but I'm not sure how that will last. No rain as of yet to top the tanks and if it stays like that there maybe shortages. Arlo will just have to wander round starkers.

Fri Jul 26 21:58 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 31.08486S 168 23.79615E
Weather: 18kt SE

We are having a lazy afternoon here in Undine Bay and Arlo is happily playing on the saloon floor so I thought I’d take some time out to reflect on our journey so far.

We have now been here for a month and are well settled in to the cruising lifestyle. It is quite a different experience from our last season back in 2012 pre-baby. Back then we were novice sailors making it up as we went along - we see that all too clearly now with a bit of experience under our belts. We were a bit nuts! But we had some incredible adventures for it.

We are now a little more cautious in the weather we head out in and the anchorages we choose, as being thrown about in a floating steel tub with a 7 month-old on board is not nearly as much fun as you might think. Our pace is also quite a lot slower as it takes so much longer to do things what with naps, feeding, packing the baby bag for every foreseeable circumstance and seemingly entire days dedicated to washing nappies...

And yet, the whole experience has been incredible and better than we could ever have hoped for. And we still have so much to go. Vanuatu is tremendously diverse with every drop of the anchor treating us to some new delight. We have met wonderful people - cruisers and locals (they adore Arlo) alike, seen things that have taken our breath away and left us in awe, swam, floated and dived from boat and shore, strolled along beaches and through villages (including an exceedingly eerie nighttime nakamal faux-pas), climbed a volcano, dived an offshore pinnacle, and bounced along in the back of trucks marvelling at the scenery and serenity of island life as we pass by.

The sense of community and simple living here just make so much sense and once again have us questioning the madness we have created for ourselves in modern developed societies. For all our technical and political advances, we really don’t leave ourselves a lot of time to just stop and enjoy life. I digress though.

Where was I, dolphins, turtles, dazzling arrays of fish, gorging on tropical fruit, cocktails at sunset yadda yadda. You get the picture. It’s pretty epic. And best of all is experiencing every part of it with the sweetest little boy we waited so long for. Everything just works. And seeing him drink it all in and grow so quickly - every day, together as a family, is such a gift. And completely makes up for the stress and exhaustion in the lead up to get here. 100% worth it.

Before Arlo was born and we talked of our plans, we encountered numerous well-meaning people who would raise their eyebrows, tell us we were mad. We couldn’t. Shouldn’t. Well we are, and it is wonderful and wouldn’t give this up for the world. I hope this will help them better see the positives and opportunities that surround us all in our lives.

I know Arlo won’t remember this, but I feel this has got to be setting him up for a an incredible future. Shooting across the bay in the dinghy together this morning with dolphins bow-riding and leaping all around certainly can’t be bad for him anyway.

Thu Jul 18 20:25 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 34.67509S 168 12.85246E
Run: 0.1nm (0.2km)
Weather: 29.3knts last night with a 2.3 mile fetch. water over the bow on anchor!

well that was fun! water over the bow on anchor in 29.3knts of wind with a 2.4 mile fetch! We thought about moving but couldnt as the windless would not work at all. Turns out all the bad weather we had intially on the way up, which caused our front hold to be flooded had caused some bad connections, which just happened to present themselves last night. It wasnt that bad, we've had much worse back home in windy welly/Marlborough sounds ( 66 knots on anchor springs to mind) so we were pretty ok with the surf going past the cockpit. I did close Arlo's window as the waves were starting to reach it along the side of the boat.

Anyway, we awoke to paradise this morning and spent the day enjoying it. Swimming in near 28 degree water with unlimited visibility ( great for spotting those nasty sharks a mile away ) and perfect beaches. An unexpected bonus was I got to see a WW2 crashed aircraft.

Where we are anchored was a big strategic US Navy port during the war, which is great for me but blah blah blah ZZZzzzZZZZzzzzZz for Dani. So I get to see the odd occasional leftover piece of WW2 awesomeness , and she gets to see a couple of sea shells and a crab.

So far the boat is holding together - just. We haven't needed to run the motor for power yet, so the extra solar is doing great even with the washing machine having to be used for nappies more than we realised. In fact, we had so much power left over from yesterday (after running the water maker all day on solar alone) that we turned off the wind gennies. The twin wind gennies are making a huge difference over night. We even had a move night on the 43" tv and were still charging (with fridge and freezer going, plus lappie, plus Dani's smoothie maker, plus the baby intercom).

Depth sounder in the dinghy is the bees knees! If you don't have one GET ONE! So much better for finding cool snorkelling/dive spots, anchorages to sneak big bertha in and general recon. Ours was $99 and is mounted permanently but just unclips, and the battery is a $39 burnsco 12v jobbie that never seems to need charging.

Highlight of the trip so far was today's swim. It rivalled the mid ocean swim when the crew (Reece and Andre) jumped overboard and a gigantuan (probably a megaladon) shark was just beneath us. (later turned out to be the shadow of the boat - but you can never be too careful!). Still both epic swims. It's taken this long to have another one.

We have 2-3 more nights in this harbour and then we head north to pele/kakula island where we will never leave as it is paradise (unless there is a shark around, then I'm gone burgers)

Havannah harbour, Main US WW2 harbour for fight for the Solomons.
Arlo staring to love the water
Our current anchorage. The water is actually that blue!
Wed Jul 17 16:30 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 34.62980S 168 12.86992E
Run: 6.5nm (11.8km)
Weather: Got up to 25kt earlier but easing now. Good laundry day.

Arrived in Port Havannah. Spent a lovely lazy afternoon swimming and hanging on the beach yesterday with new friends. We will stay around here until the weekend at least when we will catch up with old friends again.

Mon Jul 15 14:06 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 40.0404S 168 11.1636E

Diving!!! Mike found this magic anchorage on a stunning bit of coastline with a reef 300m offshore rising up to 1m depth. We revved up the compressor, filled the tanks and took turns diving while the other hung out with Arlo in the dinghy. It worked brilliantly. Proof of concept - you can have a baby and still go cruising and diving. Yippeee!!! Result: one VERY happy Dani.

Perfect anchor location - until we heard waves crashing on the shore at 4am.
Handsome and very chilled turtle
Diving Paul's Rock
Happy Dani! Arlo happy as hanging in the dinghy
Watching the sunset after a perfect day
Fri Jul 12 18:06 2019 NZST
GPS: 17 41.62142S 168 15.89945E
Run: 4.4nm (8km)
Weather: Cloudy c. 15kt and perpetually warm

Finally dragged ourselves away from Vila where we were spoiled rotten by friends Adham, Anne and Nils who live there. Have now ducked around the corner for some snorkeling and a reportedly fabulous fire show. Nice to join some other boats we know too.

Sun Jul 7 23:22 2019 NZST
GPS: 18 43.696S 168 56.453E
Run: 4.5nm (8.1km)
Avg: 10.7knts
24hr: 257.1nm
Weather: 15kt breeze, slightly overcast

Leaving Erromango after three lovely lazy days. No other boats here despite the attraction of a superb freshwater swimming hole and caves...albeit with human remains. Perhaps the island's reputation for cannibalism is keeping others away. Mike was able to make himself useful fixing one of the locals' freezer. That's 2/2 for my hire a hubby business as he also fixed the generator at our last stop. Will keep him around I think. First sail through the night with just the 2.5 of us. Happily it's a balmy one with a nice breeze and gentle swell...so far anyway. Next stop is Port Vila.

Matchy matchy
Dillon's Bay
Ready for bed in his sea berth for our overnight sail
Mon Jul 1 12:09 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 31.61074S 169 29.71475E
Weather: Fine but for the ash rain...

Still in Port Resolution of the stunning Tanna Island. Today we said goodbye to Dre and Reece, our epic crew who helped us get here. What a phenomenal start to our cruising season. We have only been here five days and already had some out of this world experiences. Highlights have been walking through the eerily quiet village nakamal at night (mid-kava session) to the local 'restaurant' for the most exquisite island cuisine, and the feeling of absolute awe as we stared into the belly of Mount Yasur volcano as it was erupting. We have also met some wonderful people already - both fellow cruisers and locals a like. Today we take it easy and catch up on chores - key being installing a washdown pump to clear the thick layer of gritty ash that is continuously accumulating all over Mirabilis. Will likely start heading north in the next couple of days. Side note for MCC friends - such a crazy small world, we joined the tourists yesterday to go up the volcano and among them were fellow MCC club peeps including Ross Fenton and Helena, our favourite sometimes bar lady.

Old lake at base of the volcano which drained around 2009
Ash all over Mirabilis
The belly of Mount Yasur
Another terrible photo of the lava - when it exploded though it was incredible.
Crew photo with Mount Yasur and Port Resolution behind
Popped over to Lenakel to get some cash out of the ATM - this was our ride and the scenery
Wed Jun 26 9:55 2019 NZST
GPS: 19 32.05060S 169 15.93660E
Weather: Warm and muggy. Time for a swim!

The boys finally made it in yesterday at 3 with Dani (me) and Arlo joining shortly after following a brief stay with a lovely local family. Lads now back ashore to clear immigration and stick up on tropical fruit before we head around the other side of the island to escape the roll. Thanks so much for all your love and support for the boys on their adventure. They assure us there were some unforgettable stunning moments out there to balance out the frustrations of weather - curious whales, leaping tuna, dolphins, stunning sun sets and rises, and jumping off the boat into pure blue water in the middle of the ocean.

Sun Jun 23 9:00 2019 NZST
GPS: 24 21.265s 170 26.556e
Run: 1nm (1.8km)
Avg: 4knts
24hr: 96nm
Weather: still no bloody wind!

Still bloody motoring - day 5 of providing karma to mother nature by burning diesel for refusing to give us wind!! Lessons learned from this trip: 1) Don't change your prop to a sailing enhanced one, you won't be sailing end of story. Instead get the biggest prop for burning lots of diesel, because that's all you'll be doing.

2) On that note, convert all your water tanks to diesel tanks so you can carry more of the good stuff.

3) That brings us to water, get a 140l/hr water maker so you can just make water when you need it, as you'll have your engine running anyway.

4) Don't worry about trying to get antique self steering going ever, you won't need it, as those things require wind to work and since you'll be motoring everywhere due, to no wind, dump it or take it to the scrap metal dealers to get some more diesel money. But what about power savings I hear you say, well you'll be motoring and that 200amp alternator will be able to supply a small island nation with enough power to put them into space, let alone cover the needs of the auto pilot and other non sailing systems aboard.

5) Get rid of all solar panels and wind generators. You are not sailing since you are motoring and have all the power you could ever want. Run the microwave, use the bread maker, use the washing machine (remember water on demand) and even run the dry cycle!! And in their place put some deck chairs or recliners, as this is prime relestate with a view. And now those pesky winds generators are gone, relax and crank the stereo right up to max amp draw, which is not actually possible to achieve as you will be motoring with enough power to send a small island into space.

5) Onto the mast, don't replace the rigging it's a waste of money, which would be better used in buying massive amounts of diesel to fill your tanks for three or more seasons, because that's what you'll be using - diesel. Your mast is really just an aerial and radar holder and nothing more. If you think it's a good idea to put sails up on it, don't. While they may look pretty, they achieve absolutely nothing and have the functional equivalent of a painting on the wall. 6) When buying a sailboat don't believe the marketing spiel...ie the word sail in sailboat is a misrepresentation, you will actually be motoring and only ever be able to achieve that feeling of sailing by reading sailing magazines or watching sailing videos on YouTube. Everything else is a lie. 7) Someone else figured this out before me, and using the sage advice above decided to build a boat and called it a launch.

Still motoring, even after writing this novel on a tablet.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Thu Jun 20 20:12 2019 NZST
GPS: 28 48.730s 170 56.570e
Run: 2.3nm (4.2km)
Avg: 5.1knts
24hr: 122.7nm
Weather: flat calm no wind, give me some wind! First too much now not enough!

We have been converting diesel into two parts wind and one part water today. We've filled our tanks, had showers, made washing buckets, filled Jerry containers and anything that will hold water. We've charged camera and laptop batteries, used the 240v drill with hole saws to cut new holes in the boat and anything that requires power as we have a 180amp alternator just sitting there twiddling its thumbs. The crew were in the suicide seat today, bow riding away. Andre thought he was on the Titanic and was pretending to fly, he just needed a strawberry milk in one hand and it would have completed it.

The bean bag made it on to the dodger roof to provide an epic view for whale watching, but alas there were none, the Japanese must have been through this way recently.

A car carrier decided to make a beeline for us, 1st it was 15 miles out heading on an intercept and then it was passing 1.3 miles in front which my may sound far, but given the size of those things had us all a little worried, except Reece who was down stairs snoring away. We would have saved him a spot inter life raft I'm sure. The ocean is a big big big BIG place, so really 1.3 miles away! We were on wind hold at the time in very light winds, and once it crossed into where our wind was coming from, Mirabilis manged to do a 90 degree turn due to turbulence - unless dolphins were messing with our rudder, yeah that's more than likely it. Meant to be an even nicer day tomorrow, perhaps we will stop the boat and go for a swim, well at least I'll go down the boarding ladder for a dip. Those sharks are sneaky bastards and probably have been waiting for us to take a quick dip the whole time, ready to pounce. We actually saw a shark today, well the others think it was a dolphin but I think a shark in disguise. It was alone and I'm pretty shore it's only sharks that are Nigel no mates.

Not even half way.......Are we there yet? Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Wed Jun 19 11:51 2019 NZST
GPS: 31 04.154s 169 47.102e
Weather: 6knt n. 40% cc 1m e swell

It was almost impossible to go east or get some easting all I managed to do was go less West than the mother nature wanted us to go. Maybe we are meant to stop at Norfolk for a muffin! Right now the wind is coming right from where we want to go, so can't go that way.

Just heated and finished the chicken pie, yum. It's only a week old so let's hope it stays down. We made sure only 2 of the 3 crew are it so one could live to tell the tale.

Least night was pretty much hell on Earth in terms of waves, wind, sleep and comfort. We were prepared but it turns out you never are really fully prepared for the fury of mother nature. A motorhome really is a great alternative to being out here! I can tow a 4wd or racecar (517hp Merc :-) ) with a motorhome.

We had sustained 35knts with a gust of 41 while trying to furl the headsail in some more as we had a tad too much rag out. So after that died back to 30 for the next 5 hours or so the waves started to hit. Several flooded out cockpit even though we have full cockpit clears. There was just so much water it was coming in the roof holes as if someone put a hose in every gap and let rip.

That only happened 5 or so times even when we had decided to run off down wind. We broached a couple of times resulting in getting hit. I turned the a Auto pilot onto full power which stopped more of those. We had oodles of power due to the trip wind generators pumping it in.

And now we are motoring, just like motorhomes do. Motorhome Current temps: Air 20 c Water 19.36 c Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Tue Jun 18 10:45 2019 NZST
GPS: 32 54.549s 171 41.949e
Run: 5nm (9.1km)
Avg: 7.1knts
24hr: 171.4nm
Weather: what the hell is that?

Ummm ...... That's not daunting at all! Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Riders on the storm
Tue Jun 18 8:18 2019 NZST
GPS: 33 09.545s 171 42.068e
Run: 1.7nm (3.1km)
Avg: 4.9knts
24hr: 116.6nm
Weather: 14knt e. 100% cc flat seas 2m long long s swell

Red sky morning sailors hang on tight! Motored all night and hosted the main about 5am. Nice gentle breeze which will no doubt steadly climb into the ferocious beast that we are usually accustomed to around Wellington. Around midday from what I can tell till tomorrow morning. At least this time there will be no stupid oil rigs jumping out right in your way.

Prop is working well both motoring and definitely the best with sailing. I think it has enabled us to break free from NZ :-) Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

sunrise this morning.
Mon Jun 17 13:36 2019 NZST
GPS: 34 38.007s 172 02.169e
Run: 3.5nm (6.3km)
Avg: 5.4knts
24hr: 129.2nm
Weather: 9knt sw. 60% cc 1m sw swell

image: crew posing.

We had quite an off and on night with bursts of high speed and slow patches so we kept 2 reefs in from new Plymouth with squalls coming through with gusts up to 26knts but mostly 17-20knts steady breeze but constantly moving the sweet spot on a course towards the shore. If we tightened up we were then crashing into waves more, so we choose to suck up some of our sea room to the coast in the hope the weather changed and allowed us to track parallel again which it did thankfully.

Seas are slight and the sun is out, the wind is nearly gone. We pulled out our awesome light air sail that was gifted to us and is as old as me! We are now drifting between 4.5 and 6 knots in 9 knots of wind, great for Mirabilis.

1st order of business today figure out why we have pooling water near the companion way hatch in the cockpit, normally it runs out the back. This usually means we are bow down, which means 1\2 ton of water in the front hold which totally is flooded. Bilge pump wire had corroded and broken in the rough weather. I tested it before we left, and quickly checked the connections, but guess not carefully enough. We busted out the emergency bilge pumps and pumped it out, emptied the locker of all the stuff we tried to give away at the marina and no one wanted and repaired the connection.

And the then we noticed we were being covertly shadowed by a medium sized highly camouflaged submersible whale of which Dre wanted to ride it! This guy was truly nosy and surfaced around us 3 times while we were changing to the light air sail. The last time was no further than 5m away. What type of whale was it I hear Dani asking, well it snorted, had fins was large and swam.

It's a low power day today, little wind, sun hiding behind sails and rigging and starting to get cloudy. Determined not to run the engine but might have to give in if wind dies to nothing so then it will be a high power day yay!! Soooo or house has now officially circumnavigated the North island of New Zealand.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

Sun Jun 16 19:00 2019 NZST
GPS: 36 04.920s 173 12.299e
Run: 7nm (12.7km)
Avg: 6.7knts
24hr: 160nm

Retry the pic again, did it work this time Dad? Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.

today's sailing
Sun Jun 16 14:48 2019 NZST
GPS: 36 32.467s 173 27.771e
Run: 4.8nm (8.7km)
Avg: 5.3knts
24hr: 128nm
Weather: 20knt sw. 35% cc 2.5m sw swell

had to alter the racing sail setup to tighten up into the wind. Not a bad days sailing, still can't believe we haven't even left nz waters yet and had so many different conditions.

I've added a pic of today's sailing conditions. Anyone leaving comments just a note they are being seen and enjoyed by us and it is nice to get them, it's just a little hard to be on the tablet on a rollercoaster and not get queazy.

Sun Jun 16 8:03 2019 NZST
GPS: 37 15.142s 173 34.770e
Run: 2nm (3.6km)
Avg: 13.3knts
24hr: 320nm
Weather: 20knt sw. 30% cc 2m sw swell

We left New Plymouth yesterday about 4pm and headed back out into the deep blue. Our depth sounded stopped working at 450m deep and Waikato is 55 NM off our starboard bow ( we are 99kms out to sea from Waikato for those land lubbers agmonst you).

We had a relatively fast sail last night with 25-30knts the whole night so not much sleep was had. Things are calming down today so a good chance to catch up on sleep, eat and see if anything needs fixing on the boat after what feels like a 16hr rollercoaster ride.

Are we there yet?

Fri Jun 14 3:56 2019 NZST
GPS: 39 3.47918S 174 2.65265E
Run: 7.2nm (13km)
Weather: Calm no wind ..... Yet

Arrived and anchored. Crew managed first food since departure ( chicken pie yum).

Thu Jun 13 23:13 2019 NZST
GPS: 39 5.62780S 173 55.13021E
Run: 6.7nm (12.1km)
Avg: 3.7knts
24hr: 88.4nm
Weather: Now calm thankfully

Heading to New Plymouth for repairs. Self steering gear failed yet again. I swear if it had a quick release pin it would now be 40 leagues below. I'm not sure when it happened but most likely before the two uncontrolled jibes in 30 gusting 40 ,(due to the autopilot freaking out as something else was controlling the boat). The self steering gear has again bent the shaft and now tube and is locked sideways causing a hard turn one way. It was not safe to remove in 4-6m hence new Plymouth here we come. Main needs some new cars as they popped during the jibes eeek!!

Wed Jun 12 10:58 2019 NZST
GPS: 40 58.88566S 174 19.58207E
Run: 29.4nm (53.2km)

On our way. Sea sickness plagued our first few hours but most coming right now and just had our first dolphin sighting.

Sun Jun 9 21:04 2019 NZST
GPS: 41 6.06352S 174 52.07243E

Went out for a quick sail today - sea trials for both Mirabilis (new rig, prop and self-steering gear) and Arlo (our new human). Looking good for a Wednesday departure for Vanuatu. Giddyup!

Wed Jun 27 20:00 2018 NZST
GPS: 41 6.06382S 174 52.06697E
Run: 62.7nm (113.5km)

Resetting to back home. Getting ready for our next years voyage with home grown crew.

Tue Jan 23 15:54 2018 NZDT
GPS: 41 02.355s 173 40.020e
Run: 32.2nm (58.3km)

We have finally left Abel Tasman and spent last night in a new favourite Whangarae Bay, Croisilles Harbour. We had great fun kayaking the coastline this morning, surfing white water between gaps in the rock and poking our noses into wee caves along the way. Now underway headed through French Pass for Whareata Bay on the east coast of D'Urville. Stunning day out here made all the better with icecreams from the Okiwi Bay holiday park shop.

Whangarae Bay
Fri Jan 19 15:45 2018 NZDT
GPS: 40 57.237s 173 03.587e
Run: 9.8nm (17.7km)

Back at Anchorage for a few days. First day back we explored Falls River mouth by kayak and then walked up to the impressive falls themselves in the afternoon. Mammoth boulders and deep pools sent this straight to the top of Mike’s all time favourite walks. We were then rewarded with a full day of rain to replenish our energy levels and our water tanks.- filling 200 litres in an afternoon.

Mon Jan 15 12:57 2018 NZDT
GPS: 40 49.048s 173 00.629e
Run: 2.7nm (4.9km)
Weather: Perfection.

Stunning afternoon and dead calm evening at Totaranui spent swimming and lazing on the beach and then watching the sun set to reveal a clear starry night from Mirabilis.

Sun Jan 14 12:48 2018 NZDT
GPS: 40 51.241s 173 01.707e
Run: 8.8nm (15.9km)

The last few days have been stunning here in Abel - these photos are from kayaking Awaroa estuary and river at mid tide (feeding time for the oystercatchers) and high tide (up river excursion).

Thu Jan 11 10:24 2018 NZDT
GPS: 40 58.76832S 173 3.09991E
Run: 19.5nm (35.3km)
Weather: NE 10 90% cloud cover

Had an interesting night as we had been stern anchored in to keep the bow into the wakes of the masses of tourist boats/ferries during the day and at 1am the wind changed to 20, gusting 30's so I had to get out and release the stern anchor and it was about that time I was wishing we had raised the dinghy. I seriously thought the line was going to break. I put another three painters on and also fashioned them into a bridle to stop the jerking from the waves, gusts and especially the voices in my head telling me we are about to loose our brand new dinghy! On the plus side, we started the day with full batteries after the twin wind gennies pumped in so much power I thought our old batteries might go into meltdown, so naturally I put on everything that needed charging. Off to do a walk to Marahau and back after lunch.

Tue Jan 9 15:36 2018 NZDT
GPS: 41 13.755s 173 13.570e
Run: 3.6nm (6.5km)
Weather: 90% cloud cover. 10-15 NNE. Warm and calm seas.

All stocked up and on our way to Adele Island in Abel Tasman for a week or two!!

Mon Jan 8 0:00 2018 NZDT
GPS: 41 15.61652S 173 16.86463E
Run: 27.4nm (49.6km)

Spent two lovely days being tourists in Nelson. Such a great little city.

Sun Jan 7 0:00 2018 NZDT
GPS: 41 2.44707S 173 43.23612E
Run: 7.3nm (13.2km)

Set down in Croisilles Harbour for the night. Will have to explore next time as it looked like there were some nice spots at the southwest end of the bay and good wildlife. We saw penguins, seabirds, seals and dolphins on our way out.

Sat Jan 6 16:34 2018 NZDT
GPS: 40 56.63977S 173 46.55262E
Run: 6.7nm (12.1km)

Anchored for the day south of Sauvage Point at the south end of D'Urville Island to explore the steep craggy coastline down this end. Had a great paddle and walk to the top of the Point to view poor abandoned Mirabilis. Met one seal and had some big fish swim under us out at Paddock Rocks - to which I was alerted by Mike's squeal.

Sauvage Point
Wetland in Te Puna Bay
The locals whose poop we part successfully dodged on our barefoot hike
Happy with our reward of this view
Mirabilis all alone
Looking north to Paddock Rocks
Sat Jan 6 10:02 2018 NZDT
GPS: 40 54.450s 173 53.656e
Run: 4nm (7.2km)

Crossing Admiralty Bay as the cloud lifts to a beautiful day ahead. Headed through French Pass.

Fri Jan 5 14:18 2018 NZDT
GPS: 40 55.58676S 173 57.96228E
Run: 16.5nm (29.9km)
Avg: 4.1knts
24hr: 98.8nm
Weather: awaiting the big blow!

We have moved on out to the outer sounds in preparation for the big blow coming. We got internet coverage on the way out and jumped online to see pictures of NZ being flooded and lashed. Last night for us was quite pleasant, a lot of rain and no wind ( we were expecting 40 knts ). Tonight we are expecting 50knts, probably get 5knts knowing metservice.

Fri Jan 5 10:18 2018 NZDT
GPS: 41 8.40745S 173 49.51527E
Run: 11.1nm (20.1km)

Walked part of the Nydia Track yesterday from Nydia Bay campsite past magnificent old rimu laden with epiphytes up into striking tall stands of beech to a breathtaking view over Ngawhakawhiti. Stern lined in in Chance Bay last night we didn't feel a puff of the 40kts we were hiding from. Lovely clear water yesterday before the rain (great views of rays parading past our doorstep, including a big one while Mike was swimming - hehe, enjoyed pointing that out and watching how fast he can move). Now headed further out the Sound. 50kt SW forecast. Eep!

Ngawhakawhiti from Nydia Track.
Wed Jan 3 11:16 2018 NZDT
GPS: 41 11.403S 174 1.729E
Run: 8.6nm (15.6km)
Avg: 3.2knts
24hr: 75.6nm
Weather: NW 10kt

Pretty spot in Portage Bay. Wee gem in Kenepuru with native bush throughout Portage. Take Home Bay is lovely and quiet, hidden from Portage itself. Short walk over the saddle to Queen Charlotte Sound. Stick to Portage for swimming though, a good few degrees warmer.

Cockpit view
Looking over Portage from saddle over to Queen Charlotte
Queen Charlotte side looking toward the saddle
Big tides here are a wee bit nerve-wracking
Mirabilis in the distance, view over Portage and Take Home Bay
Kayaking expedition
Wed Jan 3 8:33 2018 NZDT
GPS: 41 13.61748S 173 52.29103E
Run: 9.9nm (17.9km)
Weather: Calm

Spent the night here and dinghyed to Havelock for a perfect but short reunion with old sailing friends turned landlubbers. Now off to explore Kenepuru Sound.

Sat Dec 30 19:01 2017 NZDT
GPS: 41 5.99146S 173 47.13089E
Run: 20.8nm (37.6km)

Ngawhakawhiti Bay, our happy place! Virgin bush and all day dawn chorus. Photo at nearby island scenic reserve.

Mirabilis and her friends.
Sat Dec 30 9:21 2017 NZDT
GPS: 40 59.149s 174 09.273e
Run: 35.9nm (65km)
Weather: 90% cloud. 5kt NE

Made it to anchor inside Aligator Head at midnight last night. Great southerly breeze carried us swiftly most of the way dying out on queue at 11 for a still night. Now feasting on a full cooked brekkie motoring down deeper into Pelorus to our favorite spot in World's End to join our friends on Pebbles.

Fri Dec 29 18:24 2017 NZDT
GPS: 41 04.716S 174 49.961E
Run: 1.3nm (2.4km)
Weather: Nice sunny southerly

Finally left the berth after having sorted the boat for a month away. First Pelorus, then D'urville and finally mosey onto Abel Tasman and Golden Bay.

Wed Oct 18 22:49 2017 NZDT
GPS: 41 05.124s 174 48.581e
Run: 3.2nm (5.8km)

And we are off across the cook. Not sure why we do it but everything is always last minute getting the boat sorted. Start engine, no charging, go to put steering wheel on, important bit missing so can't steer, go to check wind speed, bird stole spinny thing. At least the fridge is still working for the beer.

Thu Mar 2 17:44 2017 NZDT
GPS: 41 6.08180S 174 52.08269E
Run: 48nm (86.9km)

Quick update - We are back at home in the marina. If you have got some strange emails, that is just me testing the new app functionality out. Please ignore them, nothing to see here move along.

Sat Jan 7 8:34 2017 NZDT
GPS: 40 55.440s 173 58.706e
Run: 45.7nm (82.7km)
Weather: Clear skies and little wind...for now.

Crossed Tasman Bay and through French Pass yesterday followed by a stressful evening in a gusty Port Ligar threatening to swing into a couple of launches after our anchor windlass packed itself and we dropped the better part of our hundred metres of heavy chain. Mike had to manual haul a bit until he managed to fix it well enough with a bit of plastic chopping board to get the rest up. All our moorings full, we decided it was late enough and to chance it on a charter boat mooring. We have now had a good sleep and are prepared for what promises to be a rough crossing home.

Thu Jan 5 8:57 2017 NZDT
GPS: 41 01.815s 173 06.846e
Run: 6nm (10.9km)
Weather: 9 knots from South, clear skies

Leaving Kaiteretere after a great day out with Mike's brother and kids up at Bark Bay. Now headed for French Pass as we make our way home to Mana.

Fluffy friend at Bark Bay
Niece Caitlin has the ship
Nephew James warming up after kneeboarding
Wed Jan 4 14:32 2017 NZDT
GPS: 40 57.281s 173 3.429e
Weather: Blowing

Have been anchored here the last three days, no cell reception and only just discovered the free limited wifi. Didn't miss it at all, but would have been great for weather. A launch that parked half a boat length away decided to move after nearly being blown into us and I suggesting us being steel would win in an altercation.

A launch that came in and parked on top of us.
A launch that came in and parked on top of us.
Tue Jan 3 10:33 2017 NZDT
GPS: 40 57.311s 173 03.418e
Run: 9.8nm (17.7km)

A short hop and our last sail of 2016 to join the relative masses (we pretty much had Totaranui to ourselves) at The Anchorage in Torrent Bay for NYE.

The Anchorage in Torrent Bay
Wed Dec 28 20:43 2016 NZDT
GPS: 40 49.036s 173 00.592e
Weather: Gone southerly.

Anchored here for the night. Hopefully the southerly doesnt get stronger or we'll have to move in the night.

Wed Dec 28 18:00 2016 NZDT
GPS: 40 49.046s 173 00.588e
Run: 5.2nm (9.4km)
Avg: 16.4knts
24hr: 394.1nm

Crossed Tasman Bay in blue skies but sadly no wind so had to motor the whole way to Totaranui where we spent three nights.

Crossing Tasman Bay
Our sun bathed destination
Dropped anchor and abandoned ship
Wed Dec 28 17:41 2016 NZDT
GPS: 40 47.820s 173 06.345e
Run: 15.4nm (27.9km)
Avg: 22.5knts
24hr: 540.9nm
Weather: No wind, calm, blue skies

Nearly there yay!

Wed Dec 28 17:00 2016 NZDT
GPS: 40 48.251s 173 23.982e
Run: 23.1nm (41.8km)
Weather: 11kt NW, 10% cloud cover

Left D'Urville around 11am after a quick explore of the boulder bank by dinghy where we had our second encounter with Greville Harbour's friendly resident fur seal. Beautiful day but only just had the wind pick up enough to cut the engine about half an hour ago. Sailing along nicely now.

Pied shag
Fur seal
Sand convovulus?
A Danica
Leaving Greville Harbour
Tue Dec 27 17:00 2016 NZDT
GPS: 40 50.812s 173 50.278e
Run: 3nm (5.4km)

We passed through the boulder bank at 3m deep an hour after low tide, the tide rips through here at six knots at flood which must be exciting as it was moving enough when we came through. Mill Arm where we are now is beautiful, completely surrounded by native bush and chocka full (hundreds!) of eagle rays (mostly) and sting rays as our kayaking revealed. Today we went dinghy exploring trying to find walks but could only find private tracks. We did get treated to quite a show though as a fur seal ripped a fish apart in front of us, rolled around a little contentedly then moseyed off again. Met a couple who are spending six months cruising around NZ before heading offshore - jealous!

Fur seal having lunch
Mon Dec 26 12:00 2016 NZDT
GPS: 40 48.845s 173 48.073e
Run: 4nm (7.2km)

Lovely day motoring down to Greville Harbour from Port Hardy. We stopped at Moawhitu Beach to wait for the tide to turn before we could enter the pass in the boulder bank into the inner harbour. We kayaked ashore and walked around the lagoon (swans, pateke and Canadian geese) behind the beach and had a very quick swim not to be outdone by the family that choppered in for a picnic and swim further down the beach.

Sat Dec 24 16:00 2016 NZDT
GPS: 40 48.125s 173 52.503e
Run: 55.8nm (101km)

Left Mana at 0730 and had a great sail averaging 8kts across the Strait in fresh 25kt southerlies easing and rough seas but pretty comfortable as all was coming from our aft quarter. We made the most of our new cockpit surrounds lazing in the cockpit the whole way. We couldn't quite aim high enough and the wind petered out once north of Pelorus so had to motor sail around the corner into Port Hardy. Going through Stephens Passage was fun as the sea rises up out of nowhere. Great rock formations with the three sisters and an arch. Not much bird life to speak of this passage, a cape petrel, white-chinned petrel and I think a black-browed albatross. The north end of D'Urville is all farmland but South Arm where we picked up a mooring is beautiful, surrounded by native bush with great bird life and song - the perfect setting for post-passage sundowners. Explored the base of the arm by dingy and did a little beach fossicking. Cool rock formations with vertically pancaked rock, boulders that seemed to have been iced and soft rocks washed up full of holes from burrowing bivalves, the shells of some of which were still in them. Mike limited me to just two souvenir rocks...party pooper.

Jag rocks
Entering Port Hardy
Christmas day BBQ lunch
Sun Aug 21 10:25 2016 NZST
GPS: 41 17.40582S 174 52.82461E
Run: 5nm (9.1km)
Weather: NE 5-10 knts - not the best for racing an 18 tonne yacht and certainly not a typical Wellington day

Great day out with family racing in the Evans Bay Yacht Cruiser Division.

Blazing a trail
Blazing a trail
Skipper and deck hand discussing tactics
Skipper and deck hand discussing tactics
Just another beautiful Wellington day
Just another beautiful Wellington day
Wed Mar 16 11:09 2016 NZDT
GPS: 41 17.356s 174 47.056e
Run: 107.8nm (195.1km)
Avg: 6.5knts
24hr: 156nm

Feeling good to have our home home again. Just tied up back in Chaffers after a 36 hour trip from Akaroa, 24 hours of which was under sail (a nice change from our trip south). The trip was relatively uneventful apart from the 3am lurch where we were knocked down so far that the entire galley contents ended up on the floor with raw egg running down the opposite wall! Luckily we were both in safe spots on the low side so didn't go flying ourselves. Sleep was hard to come by after that though with us bracing ourselves every time we surfed down another big wave and started to broach. Fortunately the autopilot handled it the rest of the way. Thanks for following our journey, it has been incredible and lovely to be able to share a wee part of it.

Tue Mar 15 18:34 2016 NZDT
GPS: 42 38.001s 173 43.221e
Run: 94.8nm (171.6km)

Heading home.

Sat Mar 12 7:45 2016 NZDT
GPS: 43 53.153s 172 57.255e
Run: 145.1nm (262.6km)
Avg: 6.5knts
24hr: 155.1nm
Weather: Blue skies slight northerly.

Arrived entrance to Akaroa harbor after a very quick ( for us ) passage where for times we maintaining 8.5 to 9.5 knots and 7.5 to 8.5 most of the time. It looks like we will depart here late Monday night.

Fri Mar 11 9:18 2016 NZDT
GPS: 45 28.513s 171 01.457e
Run: 37.4nm (67.7km)
Weather: Aweful and cold.

Departed Dunedin for Lyttelton on the tail end of storm force winds and have now been experiencing our more normal gale winds we are so accustomed to. We even hit 11.9 knots. Not bad but it was down wave tail wind :)The only one brave enough to be outside is walle our autopilot.

Wed Mar 9 13:19 2016 NZDT
GPS: 45 52.7638s 170 30.5725e
Run: 62nm (112.2km)
Weather: Sun sun sun

Berthed in the heart of Dunedin. Fantastic coming into NZ cities via yacht, although trip up harbour was mental with 35 knot winds and waves breaking over the deck!! Coolest old buildings and train history in this city.

Last ever steam train built in NZ
Last ever steam train built in NZ
Train station
Train station
Old jail and police station 1895
Old jail and police station 1895
Old courthouse 1907
Old courthouse 1907
Berthed against Evohe
Berthed against Evohe
Mon Mar 7 7:03 2016 NZDT
GPS: 46 34.153s 169 40.748e
Run: 105.8nm (191.5km)
Weather: Just dropped and turned from W 25-30 to SW 10-15

We left the very beautiful Stewart Island behind us at 6pm last night from Lord's River sailing out of our nice protected anchorage straight into very rough and high seas with up to 44 knot winds. It was quite spectacular out there and Mike thought later we really should have had some Metallica (or other equally hardcore anthems) playing. About an hour or so out though the wind dropped right back getting down as low as 10 knots which had us wondering whether we were completely mad going out in this as that sea state and no wind is a rather dire combination. Fortunately the next front came through and the wind settled in at around 30 knots which after we had cleared the island and were able to bear up towards our destination Otago, was not all that bad and had us making great ground overnight. This is a deviation from our original plan of heading home via Fiordland but we ended up deciding not to rush and do Stewart Island justice. Fiordland will just have to be our next cruising season.The wind has dropped off just now as the new day has dawned on us and we have put the motor on to keep up progress and be in for tea. The weather is looking pretty messy for the next couple of days so we might hole up there for a bit, hopefully next to the yacht Evohe which is berthed right in town and has invited us to tie alongside should we ever need to. More on our encounter with Evohe and her wonderful crowd when I catch you up on our Port Pegasus adventures.

Thu Mar 3 10:25 2016 NZDT
GPS: 47 12.026s 167 38.337e
Run: 0.7nm (1.3km)

We spent two more days at Evening Cove. Monday saw a could southwest wind come through but we were not deterred by that, nor the hail that fell on us on the dinghy ride to the start of the track to Frazer Peaks - Gog and Magog. Ok, we were a little deterred but we had learnt from our last experience and were at least well prepared with full wet weather gear and the weather is so volatile here that it is a gamble whether it will be hailing or shining in the next ten minutes so no point waiting for the weather to come right. And we had heard the views were spectacular so decided to persevere. The three hour walk up to Magog took us nearly four after we lost the track...and then found it...and then lost it etc. with much bush bashing and soggy sock crossings along the way. Still, we were not disappointed and were well rewarded with incredible views. The sun even came out briefly a couple of times.

The next day we had a lazy start then decided to head to the very south of the arm for a short walk over to a seaward beach in Broad Bay. On the way we dropped off the kayaks at Tunnel Cove to explore on the way home. While there we walked through the tunnel in the rock to have a nosey at the other side. On the way back Mike was a little ahead back on the other side of the tunnel when I simultaneously heard a squeal from Mike at his end of the tunnel and a bark from a large male sea lion who had been snoozing just out of site just a couple of metres from me on my side. Mike had come across his girlfriend on the other side and somehow we had managed to sandwich ourselves in between the unimpressed couple. When I stopped laughing I went to Mike's rescue (I shouldn't really laugh as a few years ago I was equally wussy fending off three pups in a forest on the Otago Peninsula, but he did look funny trembling up a tree) and we headed back to the dinghy leaving the couple reunite in peace - Mike insisted on carrying the kayak paddles with us for protection! Broad Bay beach was lovely and we saw three more male sea lions (though not quite so close this time), including one particularly old looking bull, then finished off with a kayak around the southeastern side of Evening Cove.

We woke on Wednesday to a dead calm day where everything we saw above the water was mirrored on it. We weighed anchor and headed for Islet Cove to explore Seal Creeks in the north of the arm. While underway we saw a yacht heading into the south of the arm, looking through the binos it looked familiar and sure enough it popped up on AIS as Evohe, a 25m steel yacht that I first met when I was about 9 years old when they were passing through Wellington with their three kids as part of an anti-drift net campaign - we protested on parliament steps together! I had then met Steve (Evohe's captain) again just over ten years ago when I was lucky enough to sail down to Stewart Island on her for some filming of a marine awareness kids video. Evohe tends to do conservation or research cruises so I hailed her on the radio thinking I might know someone on board and to say hi to Steve. I soon found I knew half the crew with the filmmaker from my last trip being on board, Steve and another crew member from that time, and three others I knew from Undaria eradication diving I have done in Fiordland. To add to my delight they were more than happy to lend us tanks so we were able to get in a couple of dives after all - something I had all but given up hope on after the blow of not being able to get our dive compressor working despite many many hours and dollars spent on it before coming down. We wrapped up the day with drinks and dinner on board Evohe - it had been their last day of filming (Big Blue Back Yard episode) so everyone was very ready to let their hair down. Oh, and to add to the small world syndrome, while on board indulging in said drinks, two kayakers emerged out of Seal Creeks and came up to say hello, turned out one was a chap I used to work with at DOC (Mike Jacobsen) and had been out sailing on his yacht before. So from seeing no-one all week (after the hunters), we come across two parties and know almost all of them. Nuts!

Sun Feb 28 16:28 2016 NZDT
GPS: 47 12.256s 167 37.465e
Run: 2.5nm (4.5km)

Thursday morning the wind died down temporarily so we took the opportunity to head down into the south arm of Pegasus. We have secured ourselves in a great all weather anchorage up in Evening Cove, stern-tied in and with a secondary anchor out for good measure. We are experiencing day after day of very strong wind. After a good deluge of rain the clouds parted enough on Friday for us to explore the cove by kayak. The tannin in the water from all the runoff had left the sea an intense reddish brown colour and we captured our first views of the impressive Bald Cone which we intended to climb the next day. As a teaser, we went ashore Friday afternoon not far from the boat, where we climbed a track up to the ridge line to get our first tantalising views of Pegasus from on high. Even this was deemed stunning, and in cloudy, drizzly conditions too. On Saturday the wind was honking but the sky started to clear around midday and we decided to brave the white caps to dinghy into the wind down to Billy's Cove, 2nm south of our anchorage, for the walk up to Bald Cone. It was not long before we regretted not bringing full wet weather gear as the wind was far stronger than we realised and we soon found ourselves ploughing into white-capped trenches. We made it though, despite one particularly strong gust giving the dinghy far more air than was comfortable. Once we had ringed ourselves and our undies out we were on our way, and it wasn't long before the journey was deemed worth it. The walk was stunning, terminating in a rope assisted climb that delivered us atop huge slabs of magnificent wind and water-worn granite rock which had within them perfectly formed seats and hidey-holes to shelter from the wind in, while taking in a snack and the view. The wind gusts meant I was often on all fours while scrambling from vantage point to vantage point, for fear of being blown right off. Indeed I nearly lost my sunnies at one stage when they were blown right off my face and over the edge of one of the giant boulders. Fortunately, and somewhat miraculously, I was able to find and retrieve them from the manuka scrub below. Once the rate of "wow!"'s per minute had eased off, we started our descent back to the dinghy and enjoyed a much tamer down-wind ride home back to Mirabilis for a well deserved cup of tea (swiftly followed by a G&T for that crew member most partial). Today the wind is flexing its muscle even harder and so we are observing a day of rest - baking bread, reading books, posting updates to YIT (Dani) and updating YIT itself (Mike). Tomorrow - Gog!

Wed Feb 24 18:12 2016 NZDT
GPS: 47 10.828s 167 39.857e
Run: 26.5nm (48km)

After a luxurious deep sleep we wake up in Port Pegasus and discover just how close we are to some uncharted rocks. We decide to move deeper in to the cruising guide recommended anchorage and stern tie off. It is good practice for when we really need it and has the added benefit of fantastic views and birdsong to eat your porridge to. We then spent the rest of the day exploring by dinghy. The first river we creep up has the most beautiful moss covered boulders for scrambling up at its head, and on our way out we pass a sea lion and her rather wee pup - much smaller than the one we had seen at Otago a few weeks ago. We tootle up a couple more river-fed arms (rather warily after our Port Adventure experience) then head toward Belltopper Falls which were recommended by a friend. We pass an old settlement and compressor on the way, which seems totally absurd out here where we feel as far from civilisation as you can possibly get. Ironically, we then run into a group of hunters - the only other people in the entire North Arm of Pegasus as far as we can tell. They are collecting scallops and tell us they are the only hunters in the area having booked out both Pegasus hunting blocks - again, reassuring to have made their acquaintance for future bush walks. Cheerily, they also assure us better weather is on its way as it has been mostly grey and gusty. Belltopper falls wow us after all the miniature waterfalls we have gotten used to down here and we arrive just in time to shelter under a tree and admire the view with a hot drink and a bikkie. The shower passes, we admire some more, and then make our way back across the bay (a good fun bouncy ride as the wind is still up). Just outside the entrance to our bay we find ourselves surrounded by an enormous flock of titi living it up in the wind gusts. Repeatedly taking off and then crash landing again - they are hardly elegant in the latter, especially compared to the albatross that we are used to watching slowly tilt their wings and stretch out their landing gear to ski to a smooth finish. These guys on the other hand remind me of my own first attempts at water skiing - I was less than graceful I assure you. Delightful to watch. Frustrating to photograph. Back on board it's time for a sundowner. The next morning we tune in to check the weather. The forecast is for three solid days of strong winds. I much preferred the hunters' forecast. Having seen the main attractions in the north arm, we decide to move on down to the southern arm while it is calm to set ourselves up securely for carefree exploring over the next few days.

Small cave on northern coast
Small cave on northern coast
Compressor on way to falls
Compressor on way to falls
Titi riding the gusts
Titi riding the gusts
Stern-tied in Ben's Bay
Stern-tied in Ben's Bay
Enroute to mossy falls
Enroute to mossy falls
sea lion pup
sea lion pup
Belltopper Falls
Belltopper Falls
Titi taking off
Titi taking off
Tue Feb 23 18:12 2016 NZDT
GPS: 47 05.816s 168 12.838e
Run: 3.3nm (6km)

We're off, Port Pegasus here we come! It looks a bit breezy but sure, we'll be right. Let's make a nice cooked breakfast to eat on the way. Um...Dani, what were we thinking?! We left our lovely snug sheltered anchorage and are now off the coast in 30knot sustained winds - not quite the lovely 15 that was forecast. This is a full wet weather gear, life jackets and tethering straps affair. Still, it is pretty spectacular out here and boy do the birds love a good stiff breeze to play in. Maybe it's just that this Port acts as a wind factory? Half an hour later, turns out the entire Stewart Island is a bloody wind factory. We creep inside Shelter Point (again, loving how literal and accurate the place names are turning out to be) and set down the anchor to resume poaching eggs and frying kranskies and wait for the wind to calm down a little. It doesn't, it gets stronger and our calm anchorage is soon as bad as the berth at Chaffers Marina. Rather than the forecast NW, it is much closer to a westerly making a direct route impossible. We give it a bit until we at least have the tidal currents on our side and head off. If we can average five knots, we should make Port Pegasus before nightfall. We don't. With all the tacking our track on the chart plotter looks like the side of a Christmas tree, but we have go out to get a decent wind angle then come in again every time the swell (tide against swell never ends well - should be a nautical saying if it isn't already) gets too big as we move out of the "shelter" of the island. We push on and at one stage feel like it might be easing off a little so set up a lappie in the cockpit to watch an episode of the cheesiest of all TV series,Quantico (seriously it's like the McD's of TV, you know it's awful but you keep going back). 10 minutes in we get slammed by a 40 knot gust which instantly builds the sea. No more TV, tack in again. Two more hours to go. Eventually we make it and the conditions do ease slightly on the home stretch. Once inside Pegasus we are granted instant reprieve. We anchor in Ben's Bay a little after midnight and fall straight into a deep sleep.

Mon Feb 22 16:50 2016 NZDT
GPS: 47 03.641s 168 10.132e
Run: 11.9nm (21.5km)

We finally broke our Stewart Island marine mammal drought and spotted a couple dozen or so fur seals sunning themselves on the rocks on the way in to Port Adventure where we arrived to the equally out of characterexperience of actually having to share an anchorage with, not one, but two other yachts. We chatted briefly to a couple of lads from Dunners on one yacht then scooted off to make the most of the high tide to explore up Heron River. We passed a hunting gang turned seafood gatherers on our way and made ourselves known (so as not to get shot when off exploring) then carried on our way. Heron River had a massive entrance to it and unsurprisingly, plenty of herons (shags) were spotted along the way. We eventually arrived at the spot where sea turned to river proper and probed on up a little further marvelling at how the water was rushing in one moment then out the next varying nearly a metre at a time. Then in, then out, then....oh crap! It's staying out, and we had squeezed over a very shallow rock sill to get up which was now largely out of the water and becoming more so by the second! The sandflies were circling, pulsing with excitement over their soon to be trapped prey. Back in the dinghy, engine up and white water rafting we did go. Port Adventure indeed! We discovered a small tear in the dinghy later but otherwise came out unscathed and now marvelling at both nature and our stupidity. Time for refreshments and some downtimereading in the cockpit to end the day. The next morning we kayaked to the western shore where there was a tidal estuary which we walked up to yet another pretty waterfall. The wind was then getting up and we decided to make our move south. The fact that the two other boats in the anchorage had decided to high tail it north should perhaps have been a warning sign that it was not going to be a gentle trip.

Fur seals
Fur seals
The infamous river rocks
The infamous river rocks
Fri Feb 19 10:57 2016 NZDT
GPS: 46 53.506s 168 08.069e
Run: 5.5nm (10km)
Weather: Westerly 25-35 kts, 100% cloud

After Prices Inlet we moseyed on back to Golden Bay ready for our guests to disembark in the morning to catch the ferry back across the Strait. We took shelter in the lee of Iona Island to try and hide from the 35 knot gusts though still found ourselves having to battle with a poorly wrapped headsail that had started to unfurl itself. Fitting that Ali was here, as the first time this happened was when we first met Roxi and her crew. They came to our rescue after spotting the newbies wrestling with the same thing on a typical day in Chaffers Marina nearly six years ago. It is all weirdly quiet now and Scrabble for two just isn't the same. After waving goodbye we motorsailed back around into Halfmoon Bay where we are now sitting out strong winds off Butterfield Beach and will reprovision before venturing further south. The trip around was lovely as we came across huge flocks of titi (muttonbird or shearwater as you fancy), gulls and terns dining on a boil-up. There seem to be plenty of little penguins about too as we always see them as we move between the inlet and Halfmoon Bay. We even spotted a yellow-eyed penguin a few days ago. We spent last night in the pub (the South Sea Hotel) chatting a bit to both locals and visitors. I felt rather priveledged after talking to the two men who came here as part of one of their bucket lists realising how much more we get to see and do with our own boat to get around on and not having to be part of a group of tourists when you do go somewhere. It's a cruiser's life for sure. We are taking it easy today (REALLY easy - I?m taking a leaf out of Mike?s book and am on the couch in my robe at lunchtime!) while the wind gets this little tantrum out of its system then tomorrow will head to Lord's River for a day then down on to Port Pegasus. We will probably spend a week there and then head straight to Fiordland so may not have internet or phone reception again for quite some time (after we leave tomorrow) so fear not if you don't hear any more from us. We will have radio scheds with Maritime Radio on the passages to Fiordland and then up the West Coast back to Welly. See you on the other side friends and fam! Oh, and the random photo of Mike snuggled up in a blanket was from when we went to a rather odd but educational local film about island life...narrated by a dog. We were happy enough for the opportunity to snuggle up in blankets and scoff chocolates and ice creams on a drizzly day.

Boat times in the rain
Boat times in the rain
Fri Feb 19 10:57 2016 NZDT
GPS: 46 54.632s 168 02.75e
Run: 4.4nm (8km)
Weather: Overcast, wind westerly 25-35kt

After our morning treat of watching kiwi on the beach at Little Glory, we spent a wonderful final wet and wild day with our guests exploring Prices Inlet and Kaipipi Bay by kayak, dinghy and foot. The kayaking was beautiful with many cute bonsai islands and cosy coves to investigate. The dinghy ride trip to Kaipipi was wonderful with high tide letting us probe far inland; and made all the more fun by a rollercoaster ride back to Mirabilis into wind, rain and sea. I soon learned it is best not to howl with delight as you plough into a wave after I funnelled a good amount of the inlet into my gullet. The old whaling repair station was fascinating to wander around too with enormous ice-damaged props, an old boiler, building foundations and various other remnants all just walked away from after whaling became uneconomic. The size of the props testament to the size of the vessels that were pursuing those gentle behemoths of the Southern Ocean. It's hardly surprising that didn't last.

Fri Feb 19 8:31 2016 NZDT
GPS: 46 58.130s 168 09.715e
Run: 4.8nm (8.7km)
Weather: Changeable, Northeast 15kt

Snorkelled in the morning at Ulva Island with loads of lovely jellyfish which far from fazed mum as I was watching her to see if she was going to freak, but no...instead she planted her hand right into the middle of one to see how big it was! Bigger than her outspread hand was the answer. We then moved to Little Glory in the southeast of Paterson Inlet in search of kiwi and where we met a couple of lovely hunters who had been there for a couple of days but yet to spot any sign of deer. We fossicked on the western beach a little amongst the seagrass then went ashore on the eastern side of the cove for the short walk over to Ocean Beach where we promptly came across a deer in plain view about 15 metres in front of us. Ocean Beach was gorgeous and we saw kiwi tracks but no kiwi. This morning though we tried again heading ashore at 6am while it was still dark. We nipped over to Ocean Beach hoping we might be lucky enough to glimpse one in the distance, we came across one almost instantly who was as unfazed by us as mum was by the jellyfish. We spent about 20 minutes just watching him feeding in the sand. VERY cool. We then saw a much bigger one in the forest on the way back across the island. Kiwi hunt SUCCESS!

Wed Feb 17 11:43 2016 NZDT
GPS: 46 54.304s 168 07.276e
Run: 4.9nm (8.9km)
Weather: Overcast, light drizzle

Sitting in Golden Bay with internet again and at very long last with our new outboard on board having arrived two weeks after we first expected it. We have spent the last few days exploring Ulva Island, Native Island and a bit of the mainland by both land and sea, in and on. We have had some stunning days and some grey days but fortunately all very calm. We have yet to spot kiwi but were delighted with the birdlife on Ulva Island with Ali and I spending twenty minutes glued to one spot watching six mohua flitting around us (a first for both of us). Of course typically my camera battery died at the precise time when one finally settled in the perfect spot to get a photo. Unfortunately for Mike, he had gone on ahead shortly before and had decided to hide up a tree above the track to give us a fright when we came along. He spent the entire twenty minutes perched up that tree so determined he was! He did get a good jump out of Ali, I on the other hand have clearly been married to the clown for long enough to be less phased. Meanwhile mum was further ahead staking out what she had hoped was going to be a kiwi but turned out to be a cheeky weka. Still, a wonderful walk for all of us with some great views and a rope swing at the end to play on too. Yesterday we had a snorkel in the morning at Native Island in the northern part of Te Wharawhara (Ulva Island) Marine Reserve. Mum was new to snorkelling but turned out to be a total water baby. The kelp and colours were beautiful though we had an outgoing tide so the viz could have been better. We saw great numbers of butterfish and blue moki though, the former in particular evidence of the marine reserve as they are usually much more sparse being a popular target for spearos. The experience was slightly marred however when a passenger ferry started bearing down on us, blowing its horn and aggressively yelling at us that we were illegally anchored in a marine reserve (actually, NOT an offence) and that we would be reported if we didn't put our catch back (we were NOT taking anything more than photos) and move out of the area. Mike's snorkel was thus cut short as he went back to the boat to radio up to find out if there was some additional no anchoring rule for the area we were unaware of. There wasn't, the guy was poorly informed and a bit of a git in his attitude. The tourists delighted taking photos of us baddies and our boat so no doubt we are infamous on social media somewhere. I at least take heart in the fact that the locals clearly care about their marine reserve to police it, even if this one was a little zealous in his approach. Anyway, more stories to share but it is time to get off the computer and head out for a walk and to start breaking in our new outboard.

Weka, spotted shags and a red-billed gull conferencing on Ulva Island
Weka, spotted shags and a red-billed gull conferencing on Ulva Island
Ali put paddling
Ali put paddling
Loads of butterfish in the marine reserve
Loads of butterfish in the marine reserve
Mum off on a snorkel
Mum off on a snorkel
Our baby finally arrived!
Our baby finally arrived!
View from Ulva west
View from Ulva west
Sun Feb 14 16:32 2016 NZDT
GPS: 46 50.271s 168 05.220e
Run: 4.5nm (8.1km)
Weather: Light wind, mostly clear sky

Dani rewalked the Rakiura Track to Maori Beach with mum and Ali plus an extra hour to Port William where we met Mike who had sailed around on his own with just one minor drama when the autopilot started misbehaving in current and jammed on just as we were radioing from shore. This is the third time it has jammed on, but hopefully the last. We spent a glorious evening there with margaritas for the ladies and jager for the Captain followed by steak on the barbeque and kiwi calls from the shore. Today Mike and mum went kayaking back down to the lagoon at the top end of Maori beach for some seaweed appreciation and collected a few mussels while they were at it (Mum's influence). Dani and Ali went snorkelling amongst gorgeous tall macrocystis forest. It turned out to be a great spot for seahorses and Ali found us a lovely wee carpet shark chilling out on the sea floor. Next stop, Ulva Island. Stay tuned.

Fri Feb 12 13:53 2016 NZDT
GPS: 46 53.729s 168 07.994e

Anchored in Oban just off the wharf waiting for our guests and outboard engine to arrive. We went for a stunning half day walk to Maori Beach along the start of the Rakiura track when we arrived. The scenery is unbeatable and we even stumbled across some kiwi tracks! We'll be heading back there on Mirabilis to stay over night in the hope of spotting some on their dawn feeding stroll. There are tui and kereru everywhere and fairly frequent kaka too which is a real treat. We have been doing a lot of boat work since, getting to jobs that we didn't quite finish before heading off. Our big remaining challenge is getting the new hydraulic system working to drive our compressor so we can get diving. We need all your positive thoughts here, it is causing a fair bit of swearing to come out of the engine room at the moment. And having seen how clear the water is and how rich the algal communities are here, we are desperate for a dive. Yesterday we went kayaking and were lamenting not taking the camera with us. We didn't expect huge amounts just going from the anchorage here right next to the main wharf and west along the northern coast. It was incredible! We went at hight tide which allowed us to venture up two creeks feeding into an estuary we were exploring (shown in the photo at low tide from when we walked past on our way to the Rakiura track). The first was great, the second almost brought me to tears! After paddling through the sedges we entered a magical area with tall trees either side covering it right over and ending in a small waterfall. After that we kept exploring further and further along the coast with each headland we rounded revealing another cove and headland begging to be explored. That's it for now, more once we start exploring a bit further afield.

Crystal clear water even right in town
Crystal clear water even right in town
Estuary we later explored by kayak
Estuary we later explored by kayak
Oyster catcher just chillin'
Oyster catcher just chillin'
Chin ups on the Maori Beach swing bridge
Chin ups on the Maori Beach swing bridge
Kiwi tracks!
Kiwi tracks!
Mon Feb 8 8:09 2016 NZDT
GPS: 46 53.729s 168 07.994e
Run: 83.8nm (151.7km)
Avg: 4.3knts
24hr: 104.4nm

We made it!! Stewart Island 524 nautical miles (943km) from Wellington. Motored all the way ( 90% ) so we are selling Mirabilis and buying a launch, no just kidding, but seriously might as well have brought one down! Arrived to a stunning sun rise and a beautiful calm day. I fear tomorrow is going to be windy ( great for sailing the wind is I hear)

Blown away by the sun rise.
Blown away by the sun rise.
Oban - Stewart Island
Oban - Stewart Island
Anchored nice and close to those rocks hmmm
Anchored nice and close to those rocks hmmm
Sun Feb 7 12:53 2016 NZDT
GPS: 46 30.715s 169 48.594e
Run: 66.6nm (120.5km)
Avg: 3.4knts
24hr: 81.3nm
Weather: Blue sky and STILL NO WIND! Light southerly swell and calm sea.

Yesterday was a lovely day exploring the cute wee settlement of Port Chalmers before refueling after all the motoring we have had to do had sucked up the bulk of our diesel. Then out to Aramoana near the harbour entrance where we kayaked ashore and I managed to go for an unscheduled swim after an unfortunately timed set of waves crept up behind me. We had a beautiful walk along the squeakiest sandy beach and came across a female sea lion and what looked like a juvenile male lazing in the sun. We then cut through the sleepy little village only made up of a few streets and walked out over a large saltmarsh on a DOC boardwalk where we could see lots of pied stilts and some banded dotterels in close and a range of other birds further off too distant to identify. On our way back to the boat though we had a spoonbill fly overhead - a fabulously quirky looking bird if ever there was one. Back to Mirabilis, dinner made, everything secured, anchor away and...our peace was shattered. Very literally. As we were winching up the main it suddenly let go slamming back down on the cockpit roof with a massive thud and the shattering of glass as our entire front dodger window pane was obliterated into thousands of pieces. We figure one of the reefing lines must have been caught on a baton which then slipped off - at least the baton didn't break. After a bit of moping at our luck, some cardboard, rubbish bags, a roll of extra wide electrical tape and an hour and a half later, we finally left Otago and headed south once more. And once more, no wind and many more engine hours. Still, today is a glorious sunny day, the seabirds are super abundant (we just saw a lovely Buller's albatross with its striking yellow bill which Mike was impressed with) and we have just passed Nugget Point and are off the Catlins coast due to arrive in Stewart Island at day break tomorrow morning.

Sea lions at Aramoana Beach
Sea lions at Aramoana Beach
Mirabilis anchored at Aramoana, Taiaroa Head behind.
Mirabilis anchored at Aramoana, Taiaroa Head behind.
Sat Feb 6 17:13 2016 NZDT
GPS: 45 46.853s 170 42.960e
Run: 4.7nm (8.5km)

Anchored just outside Aramoana. Amazing beaches and they should really be what it is famous for, not the site of one of NZ's biggest shootings.

Fri Feb 5 20:54 2016 NZDT
GPS: 45 48.415s 170 37.608e
Run: 85.2nm (154.2km)
Avg: 3knts
24hr: 71.7nm

Things were going well, we departed Timaru with repairs all sorted, were visited by more Hector's dolphins and had lovely sailing weather which gave Mike a chance to put the finishing touches on getting our new chart plotter, radar and depth sounder all working in unison. We were even treated to an incredibly vivid sunset...And then the southerly struck us, head on. After battling into it for a gruelling couple of hours we decided to hove to rather than waste diesel getting nowhere fast anyway. Fortunately after just a few hours the southerly weakened and we were on our way again. By this stage we are getting well over being under motor but we have to push on. We continue crawling our way through the bleak grey day. Around noon I got out the camera with the intention of taking a snap for YIT to show everyone it isn't all blue sky and lollipops out here and instead ended up spending the next few hours taking photos, mostly of albatross (royals and white-capped), though try spot the shark in the grey photo below. The sky cleared up and the next thing we know we have a pod of common dolphins making a bee line for us. To top it all off we entered Otago Harbour passing Taiaroa Head (where the royal albatross hang out) while sitting on deck eating freshly baked chicken pie prepared by my wonderful mum before we left. We are now anchored in Careys Bay where we kayaked ashore to find a fuel berth to replenish Mirabilis and a cute old stone pub from 1867 with pints and chips to replenish the crew. All cheered up after a bumpy and grisly grey start to the day.

Thu Feb 4 16:24 2016 NZDT
GPS: 44 39.304s 171 15.099e
Run: 70.3nm (127.2km)
Avg: 3.4knts
24hr: 82.7nm
Weather: Sky has just clouded over, wind NE 8kt, calm seas

After a four hour icecream and repairs pitstop in Timaru we are underway again. While there we discovered one of our alternator belts was nearly split through and didn't have any spares so were pleased to be able to stroll up the road and get replacements. We sailed out of Timaru about 1:30 in perfect sailing conditions with a couple of Hector's dolphins sending us off. We have had them regularly since we first approached Banks Peninsula; I never get tired of that telltale puff of a blowhole nearby.

After a few blissful hours of lying in the beanbag this afternoon with just the sound of the water around us, we have just now had to start up the engine to keep up a decent pace and get somewhere we can shelter before southerlies arrive. We are looking at either Moeraki or Otago Harbour at the moment but will see how we go. Should be able to tuck in for just a day or two before the final leg to Rakiura/Stewart Island.

Kaikoura ranges on day one.
Kaikoura ranges on day one.
Rough seas but blue skies
Rough seas but blue skies
We were engulfed by this cloud the preceeding night getting down to less than 10m viz, Around midday it had passed through leaving us with blue skies once more. We were loving the new radar while sitting in this.
We were engulfed by this cloud the preceeding night getting down to less than 10m viz, Around midday it had passed through leaving us with blue skies once more. We were loving the new radar while sitting in this.
Hector's dolphins at Akaroa Harbour entrance where shelter was not to be found
Hector's dolphins at Akaroa Harbour entrance where shelter was not to be found
Cruising - boat repairs in not-so-exotic locations (no offence Timaru)
Cruising - boat repairs in not-so-exotic locations (no offence Timaru)
On the road again on a much welcomed calm sea (don't worry, this was not a knock down, I just can't rotate the image - who built this app?!)
On the road again on a much welcomed calm sea (don't worry, this was not a knock down, I just can't rotate the image - who built this app?!)
Wed Feb 3 20:00 2016 NZDT
GPS: 44 05.672s 172 26.341e
Run: 192.8nm (349km)
Avg: 5.2knts
24hr: 125.1nm
Weather: Wind has dropped off completely, still a bit of swell and chop but not bad.

After aborting an attempt to find shelter for repairs at Banks Peninsula we are now headed to Timaru Harbour. We have a loose nut on our prop shaft which means we have to keep the engine running to keep pressure on it or...I'm not really sure what but it sounds very uncool. I found all this out after being torn from a deep sleep to Mike yelling that he had to go overboard to take a look at the prop - not what you want to hear far out at sea! Thankfully he made it back on board fairly quickly and figured out the problem. We just need to be somewhere safe and sheltered to do it. Fun times with boats! Prior to that we had a stunning evening with incredible phosphoresence and some sort of big predatory fish investigating our rear followed by some very excitable dolphins a few hours before dawn putting on a great show for us. Loads of birdlife during the days too. So nice to be on the dawn shift as you watch it get lighter and those guys start to come into view. The silver light of the moon on the water at night makes that pretty beautiful too. Around Banks Peninsula we have had the usual Hector's dolphin escorts, including seven that tried their best to usher us in to Akaroa Harbour, unfortunately that whole coast turned out to be a serious wind factory so here we are, Timaru bound.

Tue Feb 2 7:01 2016 NZDT
GPS: 41 44.615s 174 29.333e
Run: 34.9nm (63.2km)
Avg: 5.4knts
24hr: 128.5nm

First night at sea over with, nobody sea sick or even a thought of it which is good. The Cook was pretty tame though with a nice Northerly blowing around 20 to 25 knots which allowed for a gentle broad reach / downwind motor sail. We have turned off the engine this morning and are still maintaining 6knts with no main and just the full head sail out (Your old one Paddy).

Dani is asleep after a marathon effort of working all day yesterday, until half midnight, then sailing Mirabilis just clear of Barrets reef and starting our watch rotation. I was first watch - drew paper against scissors :( - and managed to stay away till 3:30am and Dani 3:30am till 6:30am. Time for Radio Sched.

Tue Feb 2 0:30 2016 NZDT
GPS: 41 17.356s 174 47.056e
Run: 1689.3nm (3057.6km)

We've cast off. Heading from Wellington to Stewart Island, a distance of some 500 miles as the crow flies. It took one month of of full time boat chores - that we seemed to have saved up over the last three years - to get Mirabilis ready for the trip south. She still isn't complete but that is the nature of cruising, or perhaps just me. Without the help of a close friend and family we most likely would not have made our cast off date. Many thanks goes out to you guys!

Wed Aug 26 13:02 2015 NZST
GPS: 16 56.922s 177 21.952e
Run: 37.6nm (68.1km)

Spent yesterday at Blue Lagoon and snorkelled with huge schools of sergeant fish which congregate here as they are regularly fed by the locals. Now on the move down to the southern end of Waya.

scissor-tail sergeant fish
scissor-tail sergeant fish
Snorkelling with sergeant fish
Snorkelling with sergeant fish
Wed Aug 19 16:00 2015 NZST
GPS: 17 26.999s 177 08.740e
Run: 27.1nm (49.1km)
Weather: 10 knots NE HOT HOT HOT

On the move to swim with manta rays!

Fri Aug 14 13:51 2015 NZST
GPS: 17 46.277s 177 22.911e
Run: 1632.7nm (2955.2km)

Having hit Fiji for the next two weeks on the yacht Distracted. We have stocked up and are about to leave the Marina at Denerau, Fiji. Heading up north.

Distracted - the Yacht we are crewing on.
Distracted - the Yacht we are crewing on.
The super yachts in, google, michael hill etc
The super yachts in, google, michael hill etc
Best sausage rolls ever at the end of the pier!
Best sausage rolls ever at the end of the pier!
Mon Apr 20 22:18 2015 NZST
GPS: 41 17.3547s 174 47.11896e
Run: 1.5nm (2.7km)
Weather: Typical warm still Welly evening

Splash! Over two months ago we hauled out for "three weeks" to give Mirabilis a long-awaited paint job. The kind where we go all the way back to bare steel and start again. Well it took a little longer than anticipated but yesterday we finally splashed! All traces of boat cancer successfully obliterated and Mirabilis is now so brilliantly shiny white she practically blinds you! The lads at Evans Bay Marina were wonderful but we were happy to be back afloat and we had a beautiful blue sky day to motor home. Now to slowly put the pieces back together on our rather bare girl.

Shiny & new
Shiny & new
Up she goes
Up she goes
On the move
On the move
Tue Mar 10 20:04 2015 NZDT
GPS: 41 18.489s 174 47.898e
Run: 1.5nm (2.7km)

First official post using the new chrome app for YIT. We have moved! We are currently hauled out at Evans Bay boat yard doing some very long overdue painting. I think Chaffers Marina were secretly plotting to send us to the scrappies if we didn't get our gradual white to orange colour shift under control. Decks almost done, cockpit to go.

Hauling out, first time since 2012.
Taking the rust back to bare steel.
We sealed with rust bond resin.
Four layers of epoxy over the resin.
Covered up for Wellington weather!
Two layers of top on, Two to go.
Mon Jan 20 13:08 2014 NZDT
GPS: 41 17.3547s 174 47.11896e
Run: 53.6nm (97km)
Weather: -41.289245, 174.785316

thought we had better belatedly update to assure you we made it home to Wellington after another wonderful few days in the Sounds including walks all over Blumine Island (a predator free island with amazing WWII gun emplacements worth checking out fellow cruisers) and along the Endeavour Inlet to Resolution Bay section of the Queen Charlotte Track. Beautiful trip home though very light wind so motorsailed the whole way.

Mon Jan 6 0:00 2014 NZDT
GPS: 41 05.919s 173 47.122e
Run: 1.1nm (2km)

Day trip to Ngawhakawhiti Bay, the spot that won out hearts last time we were here three years ago. Nothing but native forest in every direction and we had the whole place to ourselves for the most part. Until the shore party returned from an excursion bouldering up the river to find the ski lane had been moved from the last time we were here and we were now anchored slap bang in the middle of it - oops. Luckily we realised this before we went and had a go at them for hooning around our boat. I won't get started on my feelings about having a ski lane in what is otherwise the single most beautiful natural and relaxing anchorage ever...

The best river walk in the sounds! The stent brothers and nephew.
Sun Jan 5 0:00 2014 NZDT
GPS: 41 06.158s 173 45.862e
Run: 0.6nm (1.1km)

Left D'Urville behind and headed to World's End, our favourite part of the Sounds where we are surrounded by virgin native forest. DOC do lots of pest control here too so the birdsong is amazing. We anchored in Te Mako Bay and shortly after the heavens opened and let loose until midday the next day (more Scrabble and reading) when it finally cleared to reveal a lush refreshed forest under a brilliant blue sky day. We met up with Mike's brother and family, helped them set up camp then dinghied out and all had a BBQ tea on board.

The little bay we were anchored in, just around the first point past the yacht you see anchored.
Mikes niece waiting on the warf to be picked up for the bbq in this bay.
Sun Jan 5 0:00 2014 NZDT
GPS: 41 06.686s 173 45.793e
Run: 18.3nm (33.1km)

Moved in to Duncan Bay to be closer to the boat ramp for coming and going with family. Still a beautiful spot to anchor, just didn't have this one all to ourselves. We can think of worse places to sip our Cosmopolitan cocktails and gorge on watermelon (ladies) or swing from hammock chairs knocking back a beer (gents)

Looking towards Duncan bay from te mako bay.
Cosmopolitan in the sun, what better way to spend a summers day!
Fri Jan 3 0:00 2014 NZDT
GPS: 40 51.753s 173 53.050e

Catherin's Cove storm!!! We don't have the cruising guide on board for the sounds and thus were only guessing where a descent anchorage was for the strong NW winds forecast. Turns out the anchorage we left was the best! Anyway we anchored here and got hit with 66 knots which ripped our sail cover off and one of the wind generators suffered damage (This was before the big winds hit on the earlier gusts coming down the valley). Dani trustingly read her book while Mike vigilantly monitored the gusts and every cm closer we got to the shore, which was a little too close for comfort. It turns out the anchorage we chose is a known gusty anchorage. No doubt why we got 66 knots grrrr. The boat held and the people in the resort couldn't believe we weren't on one of their moorings. Went for a nice short walk to a waterfall after the wind finally eased and came across a couple of trees blown down by the gusts.

Wind gusts in the storm hit 66knots, plenty of white water flying around.
The sunset the same day after the storm that morning!
The waterfall right beside our anchorage.
Thu Jan 2 19:23 2014 NZDT
GPS: 40 51.737s 173 53.086e
Run: 4.2nm (7.6km)

thought we would depart captain cooks departure bay and head sw to catherines cove in very gusty nw winds. as we came around the point we got hit with 48knots of wind which almost stopped us, turned us side on and nearly flipped the dinghy. while i was stopping the dinghy flipping dani was wrestling with the steering trying to bring the boat back into the wind. 4knts speed down to 1.2knts and side on in a matter of seconds. this morning at the previous anchorage we went on a walk to th top of d'urville. would be a great 4wd track and even better mountain bike track (down hill only)! it was pretty steep in places and we even found an abandoned motorbike halfway up just before an insanely steep rocky bit. i think the wind is getting stronger over the next days which should be fun! have attached a few random pictures from the last couple of days.

amazing view from halfway up durville into our anchorage.
a seal from when we dinghied around tinui island.
we found this little guy settling in for the night.
cool squadron of birds messing about.
we made it to the top - even with dani's knees!!
our anchorage here in catherine's cove.
Tue Dec 31 21:35 2013 NZDT
GPS: 40 48.833s 173 55.929e
Run: 3.7nm (6.7km)

d'oh forgot the east on the position!!!! wind went west but in the sounds that means southwest and just as we were about to go to bed swell and wind hit us and made for a shit nights sleep so we moved here to where captain cook departed nz in 1774 to head west. found out d'urville island was planned as the japanese southern base, port hardy to be exact. will have a quiet new years here and may move in a day or two.

Sat Dec 28 0:00 2013 NZDT
GPS: 40 46.495s 173 58.824e
Run: 11nm (19.9km)

Sorry about the tech difficulties, internet, site and me having minor issues :(

arrived puangiangi island in the rangitoto islands just east of d'urville. we circumnavigated the island looking for an anchorage that was not going to shipwreck us. we ended up in this nice little gap between the two islands and parked up. there were a couple of submerged rocks in the middle that we nearly wandered over as our maps are not the best around here. we watched another couple of yachts steam through and one anchor right in close to the shore, clearly locals! we kayaked around the middle island island and saw seals, penguins, shags, oyster catchers, and ventured into some deep caves on the eastern side. the caves seemed to have swarms of man eating flies or mossies that you disturbed as you went in and had to fight through on the way back out! going between the northern island and the middle there was a large current running into some very surging swell and a rock in the middle of the passage, i took the left and dani the right and naturally i nearly fell out!

birds just hanging out and a cool vein of rock.
the vista we were given that night.
reading with that amazing view in the background made me sleepy.
where we were the night before.
Fri Dec 27 0:00 2013 NZDT
GPS: 40 55.546s 173 54.830e

arrived camp bay just opposite catherine's cove on d'urville. gusty southerly winds so stayed in the shelter of this bay for two nights. trip out of the harbour was slow into the 30knots of southerly winds with speeds as low as 2knots at times. we tacked our way through barretts reef in the darkness with just radar and gps and once around red rocks we dropped the motor and sailed the rest. the sun rose as we headed past the brothers islands and wedropped anchor at midday or just before. we stayed in camp bay two nights and went for a kayak southwest for a 5 or so miles and saw lots of eagle rays.

arrived in the nice sunshine - looking north towards wellington.
our next destination, straight west from kapiti island on the map.
its even warm enough to swim over here - - - just!
Thu Dec 26 0:00 2013 NZDT
GPS: 40 55.546s 173 54.830e
Run: 51.6nm (93.4km)

left wellington for d'urville island at 9:30pm.

Mon Jun 24 14:26 2013 NZST
GPS: 41 17s 174 47e
Run: 414nm (749.3km)

experienced new zealand's worst storm in fifty years on thursday

night with a record of 80 knot winds through our marina. marina suffered a

bit of damage and lots of work coming up for the canvas makers, luckily our

homemade cockpit sides somehow survived. diesel heater was a life saver

with the power out to our pontoon for two days.

Fri Nov 9 0:00 2012 NZDT
GPS: 35 18.919s 174 07.359e
Run: 119.2nm (215.8km)
Avg: 5knts
24hr: 119.2nm

good sailing through afternoon yesterday but dropped off overnight and was

solely on motor from midnight. finally entered in through the heads of the

bay of islands mid morning and greeted by a beautiful day and with a visit

from the friendly customs patrol boat. berthed at q dock at midday. happy

to be back in nz.

Thu Nov 8 0:00 2012 NZDT
GPS: 33 46s 173 12e
Run: 123.4nm (223.4km)
Avg: 5.1knts
24hr: 123.4nm

strong winds and big seas early yesterday afternoon (including the odd wave

washing right over the solar panels!). wind dropped back a bit to more

comfortable strong breezes by evening but big seas stayed with us

throughout the night. when checking in with taupo maritime radio last night

were advised of an epirb activated southeast of minerva, and another mayday

call reported this morning on rag of the air 130nm south of toga. thinking

a lot of them and the other boats further east and in the thick of the low,

plenty of reports of a rough night and various damage on the rag check-in.

wind and seas both easing for us.

Wed Nov 7 0:00 2012 NZDT
GPS: 31 59s 173 06e
Run: 120.8nm (218.6km)
Avg: 5knts
24hr: 120.8nm

wind picked up early yesterday evening and seas followed suit, building

steadily. southeasterlies and quite a lot of cloud. reefed down and reduced

jib down too. preparing for the edge of the subtropical low, just glad

we=92re not in the middle of it.

Tue Nov 6 0:00 2012 NZDT
GPS: 30 15s 173 22e
Run: 143.5nm (259.7km)
Avg: 6knts
24hr: 143.5nm

wind dropped down around midnight to more gentle breezes, a bit of support

from the motor for a couple of hours this morning but still enough to sail

alright for the most part.

Mon Nov 5 0:00 2012 NZDT
GPS: 28 18s 174 11e
Run: 104.7nm (189.5km)
Avg: 4.4knts
24hr: 104.7nm

steady southeasterlies all day, good sailing. cloudy with moderate =96 slig=



Sun Nov 4 0:00 2012 NZDT
GPS: 27 03s 175 09e
Run: 125.6nm (227.3km)
Avg: 5.2knts
24hr: 125.6nm

woo! wind, glorious wind. moderate breezes arrived with the sunrise and

slowly gaining a bit of strength and seas building, we are sailing once


Sat Nov 3 0:00 2012 NZDT
GPS: 25 21s 174 26e
Run: 119.8nm (216.8km)
Avg: 5knts
24hr: 119.8nm

no wind, still on motor.

Fri Nov 2 0:00 2012 NZDT
GPS: 23 37s 174 25e
Run: 149.9nm (271.3km)
Avg: 6.2knts
24hr: 149.9nm

finally got some decent sailing yesterday evening but wind all but

disappeared now so solely on motor, luckily the seas are flat. a lot of

cloud hanging overhead this morning but starting to break up now. time to

paint my toenails i think =96 things could be worse.

Thu Nov 1 0:00 2012 NZDT
GPS: 21 35s 175 14e
Run: 104.8nm (189.7km)
Avg: 4.4knts
24hr: 104.8nm

light variable winds. switching a lot between sailing and motorsailing for

the last 24 hours. still beautiful calm seas and blue skies though so not

altogether unpleasant. able to have showers on the transom and even make

green mango chutney.

Wed Oct 31 0:00 2012 NZDT
GPS: 20 28s 176 20e
Run: 95.1nm (172.1km)
Avg: 4knts
24hr: 95.1nm

wind picked up again yesterday evening so were able to sail through most of

the night but dropped again in the wee hours so back to motorsailing.

Tue Oct 30 0:00 2012 NZDT
GPS: 19 15s 177 01e
Run: 107.7nm (194.9km)
Avg: 4.5knts
24hr: 107.7nm

wind dropped to light-gentle breezes so switched to motorsailing after

breakfast. blue skies and flat seas.

Mon Oct 29 0:00 2012 NZDT
GPS: 18 17.25s 178 18.65e
Run: 13.3nm (24.1km)

cleared customs this morning and said goodbye to suva around midday with on

verra close behind us. now on our final blue water passage headed for opua

in the bay of islands marking the end of our six month island cruising

adventure =96 life has been amazing but looking forward to catching up with

everyone back home.

Sat Oct 20 0:00 2012 NZDT
GPS: 18 07.38s 178 25..49e
Run: 41.3nm (74.8km)

arrived in suva to hang out, resupply and wait for a weather window for the

journey back to nz.

Thu Oct 18 0:00 2012 NZDT
GPS: 17 40.59s 178 50.10e
Run: 17.9nm (32.4km)

Mon Oct 15 0:00 2012 NZDT
GPS: 17 26.55s 178 57.16e
Run: 24.8nm (44.9km)

Sun Sep 30 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 17 06.62s 179 05.70e
Run: 26nm (47.1km)

nice half day sail from savusavu to namena island where we are now, ready

for some serious diving. we=92ve heard this place has some of he best divin=


in fiji, if not the best.

Thu Sep 20 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 16 47.39s 179 18.11e
Run: 86.3nm (156.2km)
Avg: 3.6knts
24hr: 86.3nm

sailed through the passage in dark and now arriving in savusavu, fiji at


Wed Sep 19 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 16 11.95s 179 33.04w
Run: 163.1nm (295.2km)
Avg: 6.8knts
24hr: 163.1nm

moderate breezes from the southeast, good sailing.

Tue Sep 18 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 14 19.59s 178 03.80w
Run: 6.9nm (12.5km)

spent the morning investigating alofi island, pretty rolly anchorage so at

midday we headed off, destined for savusavu, fiji.

Sun Sep 16 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 14 17.64s 178 09.61w
Run: 151.8nm (274.8km)
Avg: 6.3knts
24hr: 151.8nm

anchored in the tiny harbour of futuna=92s main island.

Sat Sep 15 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 13 16.74s 176 09.32w
Run: 6nm (10.9km)

departed anchorage between luaniva and fungalei at 10am with good southeast


Wed Aug 29 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 13 20.14s 176 13.38w
Run: 4.3nm (7.8km)

fantastic anchorage sheltered from all weather.

Mon Aug 27 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 13 22.66s 176 10.60w
Run: 6.3nm (11.4km)

moved here after being fairly blasted at mata utu. quite a deep anchorage

here and still a little exposed but amazing island and well worth it.

Sun Aug 26 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 13 17.22s 176 10.07w
Run: 130.5nm (236.2km)
Avg: 5.4knts
24hr: 130.5nm

entered the uvea lagoon at 0940 this morning and happily followed the

extremely well marked and charted route in, arriving at mata utu just

before midday.

Sat Aug 25 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 14 44.26s 174 55.36w
Run: 106.1nm (192km)
Avg: 4.4knts
24hr: 106.1nm

good sailing with southeasterly winds.

Fri Aug 24 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 15 51.06s 173 49.55w
Run: 7.3nm (13.2km)

heading away from niuatoputapu on a beautiful sunny afternoon with gentle

breezes and serenaded by whalesong through the hull as we say goodbye to

tonga, she=92s treated us well, and make tracks for wallis island.

Tue Aug 21 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 15 56.50s 173 46.09w
Run: 190.6nm (345km)
Avg: 7.9knts
24hr: 190.6nm

arrived in niuatoputapu, greeted by a mother and calf pair of humpback

whales, good birdlife too.

Mon Aug 20 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 18 41.28s 174 01.44w
Run: 3.5nm (6.3km)

after nearly two amazing months in vava=92u we are finally tearing ourselve=


away, departing from mala island and headed for the final and northernmost

group of tonga, niuatoputapu.

Wed Jun 27 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 18 39.45s 173 58.92w
Run: 73nm (132.1km)
Avg: 3knts
24hr: 73nm

left ha=92ano island early this morning and arrived in neiafu, vava=92u lat=


afternoon, picked up a mooring for the night.

Tue Jun 26 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 19 40.31s 174 17.53w
Run: 14.7nm (26.6km)

went for a dive here and a nice walk to one of the extremely tidy and well

kept villages.

Mon Jun 25 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 19 51.02s 174 24.94w
Run: 20.5nm (37.1km)

fantastic anchorage here in uoleva with room for plenty of boats but

fortunately it is mostly empty while we are here.

Thu Jun 21 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 19 56.46s 174 43.00w
Run: 14.6nm (26.4km)

arrived at ha=92afeva. three other boats here when we arrived but all left


Sun Jun 17 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 19 57.92s 174 29.60w
Run: 14.5nm (26.2km)

paradise! a small chain of three uninhabited islands, two of which are

joined by a sand bar. wonderful anchorage and just stunning place

generally. and we have it all to our selves. very happy to camp out here

for a few days.

Sat Jun 16 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 19 48s 174 21.30w
Run: 7.3nm (13.2km)

came to pangai, capital of the ha=92apai group with the hope of renewing ou=


visa and extending our stay but while you can check in here you can=92t ren=


your visa because they don=92t have the right stamp=85 luckily we got our d=


wrong so have ten more days here at least =96 turning around to go make the

most of this beautiful remote area with barely any other boats at all.

Fri Jun 15 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 19 52.40s 174 26.18w
Run: 14.5nm (26.2km)

good sheltered spot, interesting snorkelling. saw a couple of dolphins.

Thu Jun 14 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 20 03.55s 174 32.35w
Run: 22.8nm (41.3km)

arrived at limu island, should have just anchored where we are now from the

start but thought the cruising guide showed an anchorage further in that

would be more sheltered, unfortunately on investigation we found we were in

3m of water with an outgoing tide and reef all around us =96 45 minutes of

some manic navigation later and after having nudged the reef, we were

incredibly relieved to find a gap out of our nightmarish reef maze and

anchored where we had been originally cracking a very welcome cold

restorative beer each.

Sun Jun 10 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 20 16.58s 174 48.25w
Run: 16.1nm (29.1km)

a change in the weather has meant we=92ve had to leave the beautiful wee

island of kelefesia along with rongo, the other boat that was there with us

and who we had earlier met in nukualofa checking in. the skipper rohan=92s

uncle works at doc and his girlfriend is the most unlikely poker shark you

could meet!

Wed Jun 6 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 20 30.10s 174 44.38w
Run: 51nm (92.3km)

kath and tim have headed back to nz and we are now joined by lou hunt for a

week. thanks to a great game of beach volleyball with kath and tim, dani

was stuck in bed with an extremely painful knee for the sail from motutapu

to kelefesia where we are now. gorgeous spot.

Sun May 27 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 21 07.50s 175 09.65w
Run: 137.1nm (248.2km)
Avg: 5.7knts
24hr: 137.1nm

we=92re here! entered egeria channel about mid morning and dropped the hook

off big mumma=92s yacht club, pagiamotu island just after lunch

Sat May 26 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 23 06.20s 175 19.37w
Run: 170.3nm (308.2km)
Avg: 7.1knts
24hr: 170.3nm

Fri May 25 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 25 28.53s 176 03.23w
Run: 175.2nm (317.1km)
Avg: 7.3knts
24hr: 175.2nm

blue skies and fresh breezes, if only it were like this always.

Thu May 24 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 27 48.30s 177 10.33w
Run: 86.4nm (156.4km)
Avg: 3.6knts
24hr: 86.4nm

great sailing conditions once more, wind from southeast averaging 15-17

knots and calm seas.

Wed May 23 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 28 57.16s 177 44.18w
Run: 24.9nm (45.1km)

after an incredible two and a half days in the kermadecs diving and

snorkelling with galapagos sharks and enormous spotted black grouper, and

exploring the luscious raoul island, the sun has set and we are heading off

under sail with the wind on our tails, this time headed for the kingdom of


Mon May 21 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 29 13.37s 178 00.48w
Run: 123.3nm (223.2km)
Avg: 5.1knts
24hr: 123.3nm

arrived at raoul island in the kermadecs! awesome feeling watching the

sunrise and raoul island coming into view as we approach.

Sun May 20 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 30 30.30s 179 26.33w
Run: 175.3nm (317.3km)
Avg: 7.3knts
24hr: 175.3nm

ticking along nicely, lovely calm seas, just riding the southwesterlies.

Sat May 19 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 32 10.08s 178 19.08e
Run: 184.8nm (334.5km)
Avg: 7.7knts
24hr: 184.8nm

beautiful sailing conditions again today, had the motor on for a bit this

morning but just to charge the batteries.

Fri May 18 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 33 53.17s 175 52.48e
Run: 132.6nm (240km)
Avg: 5.5knts
24hr: 132.6nm

great sailing, steady winds from southwest, kermadec islands here we come.

Thu May 17 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 35 11.37s 174 09.87e
Run: 7.4nm (13.4km)

this is it! a bit slow getting off but our crew kath and tim are all

aboard, we are all stocked up with duty free, topped up with fuel and

water, customs have been cleared and we are, literally, sailing off into

the sunset!

Sun May 6 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 35 12s 174 02e
Run: 1.4nm (2.5km)

hanging out with ali and si while doing all the last minute jobs to get

mirabilis ready for the pacific =96 dive compressor, water maker, third ree=


added to main and so on.

Sat May 5 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 35 11.97s 174 03.53e
Run: 19.7nm (35.7km)

dropped the sails and heading up kerikeri inlet to moor outside our

friends=92 ali & si=92s place where we will stay until we are ready to depa=


Sat May 5 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 35 14.39s 174 24.30e
Run: 132nm (238.9km)
Avg: 5.5knts
24hr: 132nm

watched the sun rise over the poor knights islands this morning, nearly at

the entrance to the bay of islands

Fri May 4 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 36 46.58s 175 48.45e
Run: 6.9nm (12.5km)

underway again after a lovely evening with dani=92s mum who we saw off this

morning before carrying on on our way north departing whitianga around 11.

fairly light southeasterlies but good sailing.

Thu May 3 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 36 50.168s 175 42.470e
Run: 51.4nm (93km)

berthed in whitianga marina at 9pm, lovely day today though had to motor

sail from mid-morning as wind a bit light. saw more common dolphins with a

few good aerial displays from some a bit further off. discovered the self

steering gear didn=92t survive the rough weather with the rudder broken and

shaft bent. won=92t be taking that with us after all =96 sigh, we only just

installed it dammit.

Thu May 3 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 36 51.80s 176 38.19e
Run: 141.8nm (256.7km)
Avg: 5.9knts
24hr: 141.8nm

Wed May 2 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 38 20.78s 178 25.56e
Run: 139.1nm (251.8km)
Avg: 5.8knts
24hr: 139.1nm

a rough evening last night, scary at times when we had to get all sail in,

struggled to hove to and had to backtrack a little to ease some of the

strain. got trysail up and able to get back on course, was still rough but

at least we were making progress. strong wind through the night but better

speeds now so have main back up on second reef, currently 20-25kt from

south and still rough.

Tue May 1 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 40 15s 177 35e
Run: 154.9nm (280.4km)
Avg: 6.5knts
24hr: 154.9nm

quite a bit of motorsailing yesterday, saw a pod of 115-20 common dolphins.

sailing along well now with a strong tail wind and building, seas getting


Mon Apr 30 0:00 2012 NZST
GPS: 41 37.85s 175 14.74e

left wellington today on our six month cruising voyage. dani=92s mum crewin=


with us up the coast =96 dani and mum both barfing already! beautiful sunny

day though. great feeling to finally be heading off.

Mirabilis - New Year at The Anchorage

We are now anchored in the popular “Anchorage” in Torrent Bay next to our old neighbours Dan and Alex from Chaffers in their new yacht Amok on board which we spent New Year’s Eve and watched the impressive fireworks show put on by the local, and very wealthy, Talley’s family. New Year’s Day was a windy one with most of us spending most of the day on board watching the wind speed spike with gusts up to 40 knots. We were pleased to not have ventured ashore when a yacht tried anchoring Read more...

in front of us and instead picked up the anchor of another yacht leaving them tangled and bearing down on Mirabilis for a nerve-racking 15 minutes while they tried to pry themselves apart without colliding into each other, us, or the shore. Mike and another tender had to push the nose round of one of them once they were free but left dangerously close to hitting the shore. It was a huge relief to send them on their way but not 10 minutes later we watched another drama unfold across the anchorage when a solo sailor came unstuck with anchor chain and windlass dramas which had him wrapping around another very nervous yacht. The boys were back in their dinghys ready to run interference if needed and dropping manpower on board to untangle the snubber and manually haul the anchor. Fortunately everyone came off unscathed and that was the last drama of the day; though we did hear that one of the other yachts had their dinghy flip with the outboard on - not the best start to a new year. Luckily our leaky dinghy was tucked in close and had so much sea water in it acting as ballast there was no way it was going to flip. With the wind easing we finally went ashore for the first time at 4 o’clock and went for what was supposed to be a short walk over to Watering Cove but was slightly extended as we inadvertently took a diversion along a considerably less well-kept biodiversity monitoring line track after being lured in by great views across the bay. The next day summer was back and we headed off early for a walk to a waterfall and a very quick dip for me for mandatory under the waterfall photo then back in time to scoff lunch and jump in the kayaks to make the high tide for a trip across the estuary and up to Cleopatra’s pool amongst huge river boulders complete with a rock slide at the base of the Torrent River. Great fun despite a graze or two. Wai Aniwa, another Chaffers yacht, is now here (as is Montego Bay) and we had a quick chat with skipper Roger Foley before retiring to Mirabilis for sundowners which morphed into a great fun party for two of an evening. Today is mercifully a lazy rainy scrabble, reading and odd jobs day - like finally bringing YIT up to date :-).

Mike on the pretty Falls River Track
Cascade falls
A VERY quick dip
Mike and Dan helping another yacht in trouble

Mirabilis - Totaranui & Separation Point

It is lovely and warm over here and as soon as we had set the anchor it was in for a swim followed by a quick trip ashore to explore and a lazy evening enjoying the warmth in the cockpit. The next day we paddled around the estuary and did a short walk in the park including a small loop track right next to the inlet that still has a couple of magnificent towering old trees - ancient relics of the past reminding us of what the forest around here used to be like and eventually will be again. Nikau Read more...

palms added a particularly lush feel to this tiny patch of forest otherwise largely surrounded by the contrasting dry manuka scrub and slowly regenerating bush. Back on board a swell had built up and even with a stern anchor out we were in for a rolly night. Mike was kept awake most of the night with the rolling, I was kept awake half of the night with Mike's grumbling about the rolling. Unhappily for Mike though I was determined to get a decent walk in after finding no decent walks on D'Urville so no sleeping in for us and we set off for a 20km walk to Separation Point. The walk was lovely with the occasional fur seal, pied and spotted shags a plenty, oyster catchers with little fluff ball chicks and a lone gannet soaring above the point - perhaps attracted by the faux gannet models and calls being played out of a huge megaphone where DOC and Project Janszoon are trying to reestablish a colony. Though with the hoards of tourists swarming all over the point at this time of year it might be a hard sell. A great spot for lunch watching a couple of fur seals patrolling the water below us. When we made it back to the anchorage we were delighted to discover that the yacht that we had seen sail past on our walk had indeed been our friends' new yacht Oceanus, which was now anchored next to us. The next morning was my birthday (and New Year's Eve) so I got to sleep in while Mike rustled up a delicious cooked breakfast and even did the dishes straight after as an extra special birthday treat. Then time for a bit of scurfing (like wakeboarding but on a surf board) before we said goodbye to Oceanus for now and headed for the next anchorage (following a bit of a false start and unplanned swim after I managed to wrap the dinghy painter around the prop - an embarrassingly rookie move).

Kayaking around our anchorage
Totaranui inlet
Walk to separation point
A rather stinky fur seal
Oyster catchers guarding their little fluff balls
Headlands Track view over Totaranui
Fur seal swimming around Separation Point
Post swim snooze time
Ahh, Abel
Mike happily scurfing on NYE
Tucked up with Oceanus for the night

Mirabilis - Vava'u has kidnapped us!

So we reluctantly left the beautiful and deserted Ha’apai islands and arrived in Vava’u about a month ago and aren’t showing any signs of budging. Vava’u seems to have taken hold of us and Mike is threatening to apply for residency.
This place is completely different from the Ha’apai group and as Mike puts it, I get homesick for the outer islands or “Neiafu fever” if we stay in town (Neiafu) for too long. That said, we have met so many great and fascinating people and really feel Read more...

a part of the community here so do keep getting tempted back into town fairly regularly and there’s always the excuse of stocking up on fresh fruit and veg from the market.
Vava’u is known as a bit of a sailing mecca as we have discovered as the islands are all very close together and you can find perfectly sheltered anchorages in any conditions. There are some stunning places to visit too, Swallow’s Cave and Mariner’s Cave are particularly amazing for snorkelers.
Swallow’s you swim into to find you are sharing the cave with thousands of small schooling fish which you can then dive under and up through or just watch the beautiful shapes they form. The water is stunningly clear and outside the cave is a steep drop-off into the blue with coral and feather stars clinging to the wall as far as you can see and a myriad of colourful fish working their way between them.
Mariner’s is a trippy experience and quite magical. Once you find the cave that is... We found ourselves searching for Mariner’s Cave one day in our dinghy laden with us and three young trainee doctors who we had met a week earlier at Tonga Bob’s (the local pub) quiz night. We putted a mile across the channel from an anchorage on the eastern side of Kapa Island and started searching for the famous cave. However, this is Tonga so there was no big sign pointing the way, rather about a kilometre long wall of cliff for us to search for some sign of a cave entrance hiding beneath the surface. After a lot of surveying promising looking sites (including one where we surfaced in a cavelet with just enough headroom to take one quick breath!) we finally found a spot that looked like it had to be it...hadn’t it?! After much procrastinating I finally took a deep breath and dived down and in...and in... oh thank goodness, I spied the telltale sign of a large air bubble and surfaced to find myself in a huge cave. As I recovered my breath and started to take it all in, the cave started to rapidly fill with fog, almost completely obscuring the walls from view, then just as quickly it cleared and the air was crystal clear once more.
This pattern is repeated over and over with some episodes more dramatic than others depending on the size of the swell that drives this awesome phenomenon. Pretty freaking cool! Eventually the others joined me one-by-one. Mariner’s Cave was immediately placed at the top of our list of places to take any visitors to.
If you ever come to Vava’u make SURE you don’t miss Mariner’s Cave.
Other things that have been keeping us entertained here over the last month include a visit to a private island to join a three day party (complete with battle hip and poker tournaments), a bit of historic heritage with a visit to the remnants of a 400 year old stone wall for first borns, walks through a few small villages and plantations, snorkeling and diving, island circumnavigation either by kayak or on foot, beach combing, octopus stalking, pig racing (a fund raising event for the local conservation NGO which also included human horse racing, coconut husking and hermit crab racing) and a trip out to Kenutu Island, the eastern most island of Vava’u where you can anchor. The eastern side of the island is completely exposed to the full brunt of the ocean making for dramatic cliffs, blow holes and intertidal waterfalls that come and go with the surge. On the lee side, beautiful snorkeling over seagrass and shallow coral beds, and best of all it’s one of the quieter anchorages in Vava’u with most cruisers sticking to the western side of the cut so we had it all to ourselves.
Right, time to sign out as we’re off to pick up my uncle who is visiting for a week. Then it’s off to the Niuas for us – the smallest and most undeveloped of the Tongan island groups. We will update again in a month or so no doubt. Love Dani & Mike PS, if you want to pay the ransom it is payable in Whittakers chocolate, jars of marmite, cheese in all molds and moulds, vogels bread, good wine, chippies (for Mike of course) and oddly enough cauliflower and broccoli Bizarre the things you miss!

Snorkeling at Swallows Cave
Local kids from Makave village near the historic stone wall
View east from Kenutu Island
View from town out over the anchorage at Neiafu
Friday night social racing
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