Resetting to back home. Getting ready for our next years voyage with home grown crew.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nearly there yay!
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.
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!
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.
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.
Great day out with family racing in the Evans Bay Yacht Cruiser Division.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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 character†experience 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 downtime†reading 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
On the move to swim with manta rays!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 we†dropped 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.
left wellington for d'urville island at 9:30pm.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
steady southeasterlies all day, good sailing. cloudy with moderate =96 slig=
woo! wind, glorious wind. moderate breezes arrived with the sunrise and
slowly gaining a bit of strength and seas building, we are sailing once
no wind, still on motor.
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.
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.
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.
wind dropped to light-gentle breezes so switched to motorsailing after
breakfast. blue skies and flat seas.
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.
arrived in suva to hang out, resupply and wait for a weather window for the
journey back to nz.
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.
sailed through the passage in dark and now arriving in savusavu, fiji at
moderate breezes from the southeast, good sailing.
spent the morning investigating alofi island, pretty rolly anchorage so at
midday we headed off, destined for savusavu, fiji.
anchored in the tiny harbour of futuna=92s main island.
departed anchorage between luaniva and fungalei at 10am with good southeast
fantastic anchorage sheltered from all weather.
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.
entered the uvea lagoon at 0940 this morning and happily followed the
extremely well marked and charted route in, arriving at mata utu just
good sailing with southeasterly winds.
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.
arrived in niuatoputapu, greeted by a mother and calf pair of humpback
whales, good birdlife too.
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.
left ha=92ano island early this morning and arrived in neiafu, vava=92u lat=
afternoon, picked up a mooring for the night.
went for a dive here and a nice walk to one of the extremely tidy and well
fantastic anchorage here in uoleva with room for plenty of boats but
fortunately it is mostly empty while we are here.
arrived at ha=92afeva. three other boats here when we arrived but all left
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.
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.
good sheltered spot, interesting snorkelling. saw a couple of dolphins.
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.
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
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.
we=92re here! entered egeria channel about mid morning and dropped the hook
off big mumma=92s yacht club, pagiamotu island just after lunch
blue skies and fresh breezes, if only it were like this always.
great sailing conditions once more, wind from southeast averaging 15-17
knots and calm seas.
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
arrived at raoul island in the kermadecs! awesome feeling watching the
sunrise and raoul island coming into view as we approach.
ticking along nicely, lovely calm seas, just riding the southwesterlies.
beautiful sailing conditions again today, had the motor on for a bit this
morning but just to charge the batteries.
great sailing, steady winds from southwest, kermadec islands here we come.
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
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.
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=
watched the sun rise over the poor knights islands this morning, nearly at
the entrance to the bay of islands
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.
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.
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.
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
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 ‚ÄúAnchorage‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôs Eve and watched the impressive fireworks show put on by the local, and very wealthy, Talley‚Äôs family. New Year‚Äôs 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...
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...
Mirabilis - Vava'u has kidnapped us!
So we reluctantly left the beautiful and deserted Ha¬íapai islands and arrived in Vava¬íu about a month ago and aren¬ít showing any signs of budging. Vava¬íu seems to have taken hold of us and Mike is threatening to apply for residency.
This place is completely different from the Ha¬íapai group and as Mike puts it, I get homesick for the outer islands or ¬ďNeiafu fever¬Ē 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...
Vava¬íu 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¬ís Cave and Mariner¬ís Cave are particularly amazing for snorkelers.
Swallow¬ís 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¬ís is a trippy experience and quite magical. Once you find the cave that is... We found ourselves searching for Mariner¬ís Cave one day in our dinghy laden with us and three young trainee doctors who we had met a week earlier at Tonga Bob¬ís (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¬ít 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¬ís Cave was immediately placed at the top of our list of places to take any visitors to.
If you ever come to Vava¬íu make SURE you don¬ít miss Mariner¬ís 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¬íu 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¬ís one of the quieter anchorages in Vava¬íu 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¬íre off to pick up my uncle who is visiting for a week. Then it¬ís off to the Niuas for us ¬Ė 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!