Tim was sitting at the helm, he shifted sideways in the seat to take a look at the sails and then said something I can't repeat... all of a sudden all 3 of us were up out of our seats checking out what Tim had spotted... "The mainsail's gone! The mainsail is gone!" Tim said and repeated so we all heard over the wind. Sure enough a large split had appeared and a gaping hole had developed in our mainsail. Crap! It was a quick decision to turn MOONFISH around and head back to Fiji, not before we dropped the mainsail and trimming in our staysail for a depressing motorsail back to our departure destination. First time we've ever had to head back to a port after clearing out... and I can tell you morale was not high...
We rang the Fiji customs hotline and explained our situation, they were great allowing us to pick up Rhumb Coco's mooring ball in Denarau for the night (Thanks Wanda and Pete!). Customs would catch up with us in the morning to reverse our clearance and give us back our arrival documentation so we could clear again once our repairs had been sorted.
So we've been sorting out our options for repair today, removing our sail and folding it up nicely to take off the boat.
Tim will fly home tonight, so we had to fill in a 'crew Change form B'
thIs morning with immigrations so they had the documentation they required. And Mike and Sasha will most likely head back out to Musket while we wait for the repairs....
Plain sailing...... mmmm we think not! But we know it could have been worse, we are all well on board, so we have a lot to be grateful for.
The time has come to test all the old systems for our passage home. We are currently motor sailing from Musket Cove to Denarau to pick up our faithful crew Timotei. Yes that?s right!! Timotei is hopping back on MOONFISH for another passage south.. to the cold waters of the Long Wet Windy Cloud.
We listened to Gulf Harbour Radio this morning, albeit through their handy internet radio page. Lots of boats headed off yesterday from here, and the window looks okay, so we are heading out either this afternoon (if we make it in time to the customs office) or first thing tomorrow morning.
More to come as we go through the outward clearance processes here in Fiji? Let?s see if this YIT update gets through.
We've had a busy old time of late! We thought the cove would empty out after regatta and it would be quiet time, but that just hasn't happened!
We've been into Denarau and had a delicious Japanese dinner at Taka, (level two above the Indian restaurant) with a bunch of cruisers, Sarah, Alex & Matt off Black Pearl and Team Mahia. Yes Malibu and Pauline have finally arrived in the Cove after adventuring all over the northern tip of Viti Levu and the Yasawa's. So we all caught up and heard about their amazing travels.
We caught the $1 bus into Nadi so that Mike could visit a physio and get his aching upper back looked at. The physio counted 9 trigger points/knots in his upper left shoulder, she worked on each trigger point and then instructed Mike to ice it 3 times a day to reduce the inflammation and also to do a set of specific exercises each day too. Too much surfing Sasha reckons! Much to Sasha's delight the Physio made Mike promise that she would be the only one massaging him while he was receiving treatment from her, so Sasha is now off the hook.
We did a heap of food shopping, and Sasha has made three passage meals so far; Chilli Chicken, Garlic Rice, White Wine, Potato & Chicken Stew, and a Spaghetti Bolognese. The vacuum packer is sure coming in handy, as we vac pack each meal and pop it in the waeco to freeze it down. Makes for quick defrosting and re-heating while on passage too!
Mike's changed the oil on both motors, and had given the hulls a good wipe down to ensure there is no growth as that slows down the boat. The anti-foul paint we used is really good and is doing a great job keeping the hulls clean.
Last night we had a GREAT night at the Musket Cove Island Bar, Vasiti and Amelia were working in the bar, and they kept everyone with drink in hand as we had a good old catch up with the old gang, Team Mahia, Team Riada, and Team Taranui 2 are all in the bay at the moment. It was such a great night, and Jack from sailing yacht Hi C's rocked out his guitar and played a great set of songs, with everyone joining in and singing along. It was one of those amazing moments when you realise you truly are in the right place, with the right people. The wind had backed right off, the water was still and Jack was strumming away... it was just such a lovely night. Then out of the blue Team Rhumb Coco turned up too! So as the first lot of mates headed off to bed, Mike and Sasha got another beer and caught up with Wanda and Pete as well. Talk about busy! And here we thought we'd be the only ones here at Musket!
Another amazing moment that we have to share is from a couple of nights ago. Team Mahia had invited us to dinner so we headed over there with four bean salad in-hand and settled in for what is always a delicious meal! Mike was stoked as it was roast pork with the crackling! Malibu and Pauline had turned on the blue lights which light up the water at the back of the boat. Every once and a while as we sat in the cockpit enjoying dinner there would be a large knock sound, as if something was hitting the rudder at the back of the boat. Mike was first to suggest it was probably a manta ray, and then Sasha took a look over the back after a knock and sure enough there was a large Manta Ray doing somersaults grazing on the sealife that was attracted by the blue light. We couldn't believe our luck, and all stood there for some time watching this massive animal literally hanging off the back of Mahia, metres from our faces. It was (you guessed it) AMAZING!
The entry fee was a very reasonable $75 per person, this got you a regatta info pack (per yacht) and each person also receives a special wrist band which entitles the wearer to drink for free when there are designated regatta 'open' bars, and also funds two buffet dinners on opening and closing nights. Not to mention the DJ's and live entertainment, use of the Hobi cats when racing, and all the prizes (spot and winners) that are also provided. The value is fantastic, and it's important we note here just how amazing the Musket Cove team are, their entertainment, bar service and culinary skills made us feel right at home, it was the stuff of days gone by! Great service, entertainment, food and company. Simply amazing.
Kicking off on Friday (15th Sep) evening at the infamous Musket Cove Island Bar, all entered yachts were welcomed with an open bar, and various national anthems were 'passionately' sung by their respective patriotic sailors. A little drama did unfold during the singing, (in-true pirate form), but it was nothing that a cold beer and a bear-hug couldn't sort out.
After that we all headed to the delicious buffet that the Musket Cove team had put together, enjoyed many a icy cold $6 Fiji Gold and even jumped around the dance floor as the night went on. During the night Team SilverRay (one of the three Tim Mumby sister ships in the cove at the moment) offered up their 14 foot race stand-up paddle board to me/Sasha for the SUP race from Namotu Island to Musket Cove the next day. I/Sasha was notably excited to have such a speed-weapon for the race, and decided there and then to stop at 2 beers to be fresh and ready to race the next day.
Saturday (16th Sep) saw a bunch of yachts full of fancy-dressed Pirates head off for Beachcomber for fun and games and a buffet lunch. Sasha was hydrating most of the morning, and Mike was preparing himself to be water-boy extraordinaire. Team Equinox (Fi and Ian) had offered to take us to Namotu on their long boat, not before a quick snorkel for some arty underwater shots by artist in residence Fiona. We arrived at Namotu in time to enjoy the beautiful view from shady hammock swing seats, and hydrated some more while we (Fi and Sasha) waited for the start of the race. The 10km downwind race course was a little daunting for us both, with our goal being to finish... whoa were we stoked to place! Sasha was the first woman in, and Fi picked up 3rd place. We were very proud of ourselves.
Sunday (17th Sep) was a quiet day, a Golf Tournament was played in the morning, and two running races around Malolo were also held, Team SilverRay cleaning up in these! In the afternoon Sasha managed to coerce Colin from SV Lulu to race with her in the Hobi Cat sailing challenge. (Mike has a bit of a shoulder injury (too much surfing) so he had to sit that one out). The wind was really picking up, with a good 15-20knots ripping its way across the race course. Sasha was excited but also a tad concerned about capsizing as there had already been teams that had gone over due to the wind, and a few technical kinks with the mainsheet on a couple of the hobi's. When it was our turn, the race starter allowed Sasha to call the coin toss to decide which hobi we got, we won the toss, and elected the leeward hobi. Then the starter yelled go, and we hopped on quickly, Colin managing the rudder and mainsheet, Sasha up the front managing the jib. We had a great start, and were doing really well until after we completed our first tack and got a decent gust of wind which took us right... yes RIGHT over! The mainsheet had got jammed, and Colin was powerless to reduce the pressure, so we capsized. Sasha was just stoked she hadn't screamed, as Colin had said to her before the race 'What ever you do, don't scream in my ear' It was very exciting, and with the help of the Musket Cove Longboat support crew, we righted the hobi and finished the race, but came a very distant second (there were only two boats racing at a time).
Monday (18th Sep) saw Mike and Sasha aboard Lulu, a sleek Hanse 47ft monohull to compete in the Tauranga Marine Funrace to the sandbank. This was to be Sasha's first time racing a monohull, in fact it was the first time Sasha had ever raced a big yacht. It was a nail biting start with boats (not familiar with standard yacht race rules) doing all sorts of bizarre manoeuvres putting their boats, and the boats around them at risk of prangs and bangs. Unfortunately because of this crazy behaviour team Lulu was forced to do a full turn just before the start line, which disadvantaged us quite some. Once clear of the start line, after clearing the reef, Lulu settled in at a good pace on its way to the first marker. The team urging on the wind gods for just a tad more pressure, which didn't come. We headed around the marker, and back towards the sandbank, many a good tack and gybe being executed by the team on board. It was a great introduction for Sasha to monohull racing, and was also interesting to sail a yacht with electric winches (oooo lala!) and self-tacking headsails (yes please!).
Wednesday (20th Sep) the Fiji Water Round Malolo Classic, a brilliant day! Mike and Sasha were keen to get MOONFISH out and racing for the first time since they have owned her. And the loco Lulu boys were keen to be crew, so we prep'd the boat by taking our SUP's off, and picked them up with our dingy (which was on the davits for the whole race, unlike our competition) and got ourselves all sorted for the beginning of the race. The breeze was perfect for MOONFISH, and we had a great start with Skipper Mike navigating away from the scary cluster of racing yachts all circling behind the starting line. We headed around a small reef with just one other boat, and hit the start line just after the horn sounded with pace. We set the sails and started to knock off boat after boat... including our sister ship Toucan, much to their disappointment. As we rounded the corner we hit a hole, and watched some near misses as boats came to a stop and lost a lot of their ability to steer. All we could do was sit and wait as we watched all the boats we had just passed gain on us from behind, Mike on helm decided to head further out where there was more pressure on the water, instead of hugging the coast. It paid off, and we hurtled down the back of Malolo with a top speed of 15 knots! Mike said that's the closest we've ever got to flying a hull. We nailed a few more monohulls down the long back stretch, and made up ground against our nearest multihull competitor Cactus Island, a very light-looking pod catamaran with two masts. We watched as they tacked onto the home straight and there was a tense few minutes as the crew and Mike discussed when would be the ideal time for us to tack. Mike made the call, and the crew set about tacking, we headed towards the Black Rocks on a tight reach, all of us waiting in anticipation for the turn around them when we would be on a beam reach - this would be our only chance to try and reach Cactus Island... alas the course was too short for us to make the gain we needed. We were very pleased to be the first Mumby home out of the three racing. And were super proud to have received our first ever finish horn from SV Encore. The loco-Lulu boys were chuffed, so were Sasha and Mike, we all had smiles on our dials. Icy cold beers were cracked open, and Sasha popped a tray of rolled cheese toasties into the oven for a snack. Race discussions were had a plenty, with a resounding conclusion that we raced well, and made the right decisions.
After a power nap, we headed out for the closing event at Dick's. Prize giving was another great surprise with Moonfish called out for a spot prize! After photos, we settled in for a delicious buffet. Mike was very happy he could enjoy the roast pig on a spit. After dinner the sand-dance-floor was full, and Sasha headed out for a boogie with Leanne (Team Songlines).
All in all... an absolutely fantastic event! One that we will definitely be participating in again. Thank you Musket Cove, our home away from home! You have a very special place here.
We have been surfing and kiting, and hurting ourselves (ok well.. maybe that is just Sasha) and then resting and healing and then surfing and then hurting ourselves again. Great fun all round, although this pattern is tiring somewhat.
Sasha's first injury occurred when she took Mike's brand new SURF kite board for a kite. It's a directional board, so it's a different way of kiting compared to what Sasha is use to on her twin tip. Anyway, after a successful first session, nailing the carving turns on this lovely $1k worth of board, Sasha made an error in judgement and rode it straight into coral. Two of the three surf board fins (bespoke to the board) were pulled out instantaneously from the impact and lost in the ocean. And many a cut and scrape along the back of Sasha's legs also occurred. Suffice to say after Mike got her back to the boat to 'make repairs' to her and the board, he was less than impressed the board he hadn't even had a chance to try out had been done-over without his participation. That was, until he suddenly realised that this meant a new board would most certainly be supplied on arrival back to NZ as payment for damaging this one.. where does he get these ideas from? After another yo-cheesecake and a banana cake to make up for her error, life on MOONFISH settled down to it's normal cruising pace, and there hasn't been another word about new surf-kite-boards mentioned, much to the delight of Sasha's bank account.
Two days ago after not one, not two but three fun sessions in the surf at Namotu, Sasha managed to maim herself again.
After an excellent session learning how to ride backhand on her birthday present ( a brand new 8.6ft surf SUP), Sasha managed to nail her right shin into her board fin as she came off a nice soft easy right hander at Pools. Yip... nailing life! ha!
Apart from that highlights over the past month include.. finding one of the best ever cos lettuce heads at Denarau, surfing, having an avocado, feta, walnut and pear salad with last nights dinner, walking around Mana island (even if the vibe was a little weird), having leaving beersies with Seaforth and Panthera at the island bar, (even if Sasha did manage to hurt herself there too! gah!), surfing, hanging with Fi and Ian off Equinox, they surf too!, kiting, not dragging in last nights unexpected blow, getting mobile wifi on the boat with 50gb a month (winning!), and promptly wasting that data on watching all the new music video's that have been released on you tube since we left Auckland and, you guessed it.. surfing.
We headed down the coast, and as we closed in on Somosomo bay we called Cormac up, and he said he would meet us in a boat at the pass. As we got closer we saw Cormac, he?d motored out in his aluminium long boat called Yeah Buoy made by the Chris?s at Bluewater Craft. Just as we reached the cut in the reef the sun came out illuminating the pass, Mike mentioned something about how lucky Moonfish is and Sasha couldn?t help but agree ? this boat has damn good juju! We followed him through the pass, into the large bay of Somosomo, and he pointed to a large anchorage and basically said pick where you like. The holding was great, sticky, mud sand.
Once anchored Cormac went and picked up his dad Andrew and Sama one of the team who works at their resort (apparently he?s the guy who fixes everything), and they all came out to check out MOONFISH, it seems like liked what they saw, they seemed genuinely interested in our story, and the boat, it?s designer (an Australian Tim Mumby) and where it was built. Then Andrew invited us back to their Fiji beachouse resort, which we later named the jewel of the coral coast. We all headed ashore on Yeah Buoy and the boys introduced us to the village spokeman, and said we would be back to do sevusevu later. Then we hopped into the truck, which has seating in the back as well, and headed west to the resort.
Sasha and Mike couldn?t believe their eyes, as the truck turned the corner down the driveway, the Fiji Beachouse is one awesome spot! Greeted with smiles, and a really special vibe that we had not yet encountered here in the Coral Coast. The atmosphere of this place is really special, it?s alive with people doing their thing, whether that be surfing, SUPing, kiting, swimming in the pool, relaxing in the sun on one of the many hammock chairs, or sipping on a cool beverage in the bar. The common area?s of the resort were built for an American reality TV show, the bar features a pool and foosball table, there is a balance board on the bar?s porch with ?Danger? written on it ? the place is just cool. The bar overlooks the pool, which in turn overlooks the beautiful white sandy beach, there is pass a short SUP paddle away, with reef surf breaks.
We sat down with Andrew and Cormac, cold beer in hand, a few minutes later lunch arrived, a delicious marinated chicken salad with fresh crisp salad greens, it was so tasty! And such a treat after the last couple of weeks where veges have been sparce.
After lunch, Cormac (who seems to always be on the go), was up getting his kite gear, talking about a downwinder. A few minutes later, we are in the truck again, this time riding in the back (pretty cool) and heading back to MOONFISH to get our gear. We loaded up the groups kite gear into Yeah Buoy, and headed to MOONFISH, after another tour for the guys who hadn?t seen it yet, we were all sorted, and headed around the coast east. Sasha thought it was quite a long way, and wondered how her body would handle such a long downwind kite, but she sucked it up, and remembered that saying ?do something that scares you everyday?, and the distance and unfamiliar reefs, plus several reef passes was more than enough to tick that box well and truly.
It was a great downwind kite sesh, the first for Mike! We all headed back to the boat, where Cormac dropped us off, and said he?d be around to pick us up later for dinner. Yes, that?s what these guys are like they are just so chilled, welcoming and so friendly.
After showering, we headed into the village in the tender, tied it up to what is left of the old Jetty, and met Cormac, and Sama there for sevusevu. They introduced us again to the spokesman, and we did our first ever sevusevu by ourselves, well, we were very lucky to have Cormac and Sama showing us the way but we were the only yacht there. The village welcomed us, and asked us if we wanted to try the kava, we politely as possible declined, and said we were heading to The Beachouse for dinner. They seemed ok with that, and we headed off in the truck again, back to our new favourite spot.
Cormac guided us to the blackboard menu, and talked through a few menu items, like the DALO fries, which are Sasha and Mike?s new favourite thing to eat. We ordered the chicken, with dalo fries. Cormac ordered a fish dish, and it was all ready in what seemed like a couple of minutes?.. Sasha is still in awe of how quick the food comes out! Dinner was delicious, the fries are so tasty, crispy and just so moreish. The chicken was full of flavour, moist and perfectly cooked. The fish dish came out in a big white sharing bowl, and Sama and Cormac tucked into that. During dinner, Dingo Dean and Scotty popped over with Justin (who had been on the downwinder with us that afternoon), they introduced us to their crew, and the driven to drink (because of them) tour leader Tom? poor fellow haha!
It had been a big day, and Mike and Sasha were pretty tired, so Cormac organised a ride back to the village, and Sasha and Mike hopped in the tender and headed back to MOONFISH for a well earned sleep. It had been one hell of an awesome day. If you get a chance go stay at the Fiji Beachouse, it's such a special place, with so much to do and Andrew and Cormac's chilled out ways just add to the vibe of the place, it really is the jewel of the coral coast, and made our first visit to the south side of Viti Levu 100% amazing!
After the tour, Chris junior drove us back, but not before we stopped off at Lisa and Paul?s canal home for a tour, to check out their stunning treehouse right on the waters edge, with beautiful art and designer bamboo furniture. They were busy packing to head to Kadavu for a while. We said our goodbyes and Chris junior dropped us back at the Pearl to cast off the marina lines, and head back out into the Coral Coast. Our next destination was to be Somosomo Bay, to catch up with Andrew and Cormac from the Fiji Beachouse.
We awoke refreshed after the first night sleeping in a marina since we left Auckland. Surprisingly neither of us had a cocktail hangover, must be the great skills of the Pearls bartender. Today was to be our quiet day, of rest and relaxation. Our massage was booked in for 10:30am, we spent several hours there, enjoying a tropical full body massage with a hair and scalp massage to boot! Mike was so relaxed he fell asleep on the table! After our massages we were led to the fully tiled, beautiful steam room, for a good ol? steam! Then we had luxurious showers under large waterfall showerheads. Once dressed and back in the spa lounge we were greeted with bottled water and herbal tea. So we sat for a wee while longer enjoying the tranquility of it all, re-adjusting to the world in our super relaxed state, reading magazines of tropical destinations, while we sat enjoying a tropical destination.
We returned to the boat, ready for our next adventure; a dinghy ride down the canals. So we took the tender off the davits and headed down the river to take a look at the big houses on the waterways of Pacific harbour. It was a great adventure riding past large resorts, golf courses, and people sitting in their mosquito netted framed rooms overlooking the water.
Later that afternoon we watched the film crew again, unloading from their day of filming. While we were watching in the cockpit, a group of people came down onto the marina finger and introduced themselves. ?We are just admiring your yacht? said the woman who we later found out was called Lisa. ?Well would you like to come aboard for a tour? Sasha replied. Two minutes later we had a brand new bunch of friends, that?s the greatest thing about cruising, the people you meet are the best part of it all! Lisa and Paul are an Aussie couple with a house they just recently sold in the waterways, they have been coming to Pacific harbour for years, Lisa explained she would be pretty keen to get a yacht and go cruisng too. Lisa and Paul?s friends also hopped on board for a look, Chris senior and Chris junior own Blue Water Crafts, a boat yard just down from the resort in Navua, that specialises in making aluminum power boats. They were super keen to take a look at MOONFISH, as they have always been interested in making an aluminum yacht. Once the tour was over, they said they were celebrating and that we should join them up at the bar, which we did.
What a great random night, we met even more locals once up at the bar, Andrew and his son Cormac had joined the celebrations, they own the Fiji Beachouse a resort further around the coast to the west. Hilariously this is the same place where Dingo-Dean and Scotty are currently staying! Sasha first met Dingo Dean in Melbourne on a group kite surfing tour, and then ended up on a group snowboard trip in Japan with Dean and Scotty. What a small world eh!
We heard many a great sailor tale as Lisa and Paul are sailors, who race quite a bit when home in Australia. The Bluewater Craft Chris?s invited us for a tour of their boat yard the next morning, and Andrew and Cormac gave Mike directions on our ipad as to where their place was, and said we should call them and drop in for a visit too.
Around midnight we got back to the boat, so much for a quiet night! Little did we know that these new friends would be the start of an amazing week of fun and adventures, visiting places we never would have even knew existed if it wasn?t for their friendly welcoming ways. if you're reading this guys, you are AWESOME and you really made our first visit to the Coral Coast an unforgettable one.
During our stay in Beqa we emailed The Pearl Resort to see if they had room for us in their Marina, a 12 berth marina situated on the left hand side of the river at Rovodrau Bay in Pacific Harbour. The General Manager Natalie replied saying yes they could fit us in. Ah! luxury, we booked our full body tropical massages for Tuesday morning via email, weighed the anchor and set off from Beqa to explore the Pacific Harbour.
A short motor sail we were at the mouth of the river entrance, Sasha hailed the Pearl Resort on VHF but got no reply, we don?t think they have VHF either. Then Sasha called Natalie on mobile, it was promptly answered and shortly after that we were called by Frank the Activities and Marina manager and told to say to our starboard side when entering the relatively narrow river mouth. Frank met us at the marina, with a team of guys and they all helped to get us neatly and securely tied up.
That night we went to happy hour and had delicious cocktails, we met Rachel and Tiki, lovely kiwi?s having a wee break from the kids, they had also booked into the spa for massages.
That night we watched the American film crew unloading lots of gear after a long day?s filming a movie called ?Adrift?, turns out the consultant sailor on the set is someone Team Sky Pond knows, as they sailed with him on passage once. Such a small world. We met another guy from the set, we think his name was Wally, and he owns Bad Kitty, a catamaran back home in NZ.
The night before in Malumu Bay at the resort there, we had joined Jim and Linaire off SV Panthera for some sundowners. We met Blair the dive guy, and his cute little yorkie puppy Reef at the jetty and quickly found out he was a kiwi too! We headed to the bar, and talked about shark dives and we also met the Canadian managers of the resort. Jim and Linaire told us they planned to head to the other anchorage in Beqa, called Vaga Bay the next day, we thought we would check it out too.
On Sunday morning we headed west from the eastern Malumu bay, around the northern top of Beqa and found Vaga bay. It was pretty gusty looking in Vaga, and we noticed Panthera had anchored further down the coast, (18 24.587S 178 5.313E) so we headed further south around the west coast of Beqa and anchored up next to Panthera.
The Lawaki Beach House cannot be missed when you anchor up here (see photo from anchorage attached) it?s a very well looked after property owned and operated by Christine and Sam Tawake-Bachofner. At first we thought it was a private residence, as there is no signage on the beach front, but then we saw a bunch of people leave with suitcases etc. We attempted to call them up on the VHF, but later (at a delicious dinner there) found out they don?t have a VHF. BUT DON?T LET THAT STOP YOU GOING HERE because it is awesome! Give them a bell on their mobile if you have a sim card +679 992 1621, they?ll be happy to welcome you ashore.
That afternoon Jim headed ashore in his kayak to suss out the place. A great idea before you attempt to dinghy in, as the area is a marine reserve so it?s a good way to familiarise yourself with getting to land. Jim?s mission was to figure out if they were ok with us anchoring there and see if there was any dinner available, Mike had also asked Jim to find out if they had any cold beer in the fridge, as MOONFISH was plum out.
Jim came paddling back after finding out that dinner was definitely available; a set menu of entrťe, main and dessert at a cruiser friendly price! The Lawaki Beach House is cruiser friendly, and loves welcoming sailors ashore, you won?t find them in the 2017 Fiji Mariners Guide, but they are planning to get into the next edition. Alas Jim announced that there was no beer, as they don?t have a liquor license, but they were ok with us bringing our own ? even better we thought! So wine and assorted drinks were popped into the freezer in preparation.
Jim and Linaire had wanted to come and see MOONFISH, so they headed over in their tender for a sundowner and then we headed into land together on Panthera?s tender. After one hair raising moment, finding ourselves (all of a sudden) on top of a rather large coral bommie (it was dark and our torch skills were a little lacking), Christine came down to the beach with a torch and showed us the way in. There is no path through the coral to the resort, and at low tide it is shallow so bring shoes or jandals with you just in case. The area is a Marine Reserve, and there is a pole outside the Lawaki resort highlighting the sacrificial part of the reef that can be used to tender into the beach. Stay south of the pole in your tender, in other words keep the pole to your port side.
The Lawaki Beach House is such a great place, it has a lovely chilled out vibe, with beautiful lawns featuring stepping stones to the restaurant area, coconut husks have been transformed into hanging baskets with tropical plants overflowing. Christine?s dogs are very well behaved, but will protect the resort early morning and throughout the night, so we were told to be wary approaching the Lawaki Beach House early in the morning as the dogs would come to see who was approaching.
Dinner was great, we had a very tasty pumpkin soup as the entrťe with a massive load of garlic bread, then our main was reef fish (Snapper), with rice, and stir fried vegetables, and a massive side salad with fresh tomato, cucumber and lettuce was also presented for each person (Sasha was in heaven!). Dessert was a fruit salad with cute little heart shaped ginger and pumpkin cake morsels. The thing that got us most about this place is the LOVE that goes into everything, it is very well maintained, Christine took us on a tour of the accommodation which is (like everything there) well looked after and presented very well. A great stop, off the beaten track, but not for long so get in and experience it before the whole world turns up!
Mappy emailed Sasha and explained NZ has quite a cold burst creeping up the country at the moment, with sleet forecast for Mt Wellington! That?s cold for sure! We hope everyone is warm and toasty and inside! The weirdest thing just happened, the boat is anchored, and there is the odd gust, but the wheel just did a 180 by itself! That has never happened before! Must have been some current or something to turn the rudders that quickly! Bit odd eh! All well on board, will be a quiet one today, Mike is asleep and Sasha is about to watch the much anticipated Moana, of which she will probably see a quater of it before she too falls asleep.
This evening we plan to head into for a well earned cold beer at the resort just across the way from where we are anchored.
Anyway, that?s all for now, all well on board.
Firstly a wee apology for the typos in the last couple of YIT updates, I am not sure if it?s the apple auto correct, or Sasha unconsciously typing ?where? instead of ?we?re? or ?were? but she just re-read the last couple of YIT updates and is rather embarrassed by the number of errors. Ah the joys of free flow writing! Today is the day, we are leaving beautiful Fulaga (pronounced Fulanga). Sasha believes the primary reason for the departure is the distinct lack of beer left in MOONFISH?s stores. Captain Mike isn?t 100% sure WHERE we will head, but it looks like North Astrolabe Reef could be a goer, all depends how the sailing is, and how we feel when we get a bit closer.
Sasha is pretty keen to check out The Pearl Resort Marina, with is located on the south side of Viti Levu (Fiji?s main island), and is west of Suva, it?s close to Beqa pronounced Benga. Sasha is hoping there is a spa there, as she has promised Mike and herself a good sports massage. ah Dreams! When you leave a place like Fulaga it makes you think of all the memories you have made there. There are so many things we have done here, we found (in ankle deep waters) the vine like Nama, the miniature grapes that pop in your mouth releasing the salty flavour of the sea. We?ve kited at several different spots throughout the lagoon, we?ve played with whales and sharks, snorkled the most amazing pass, full with all sorts of coral as the current carried us along with ease. Sasha got to see a coral cabbage patch, finally! And it went on for ages! We?ve eaten at the village, things like grated boiled cassava, island spinach, delicate little clams and more. We?ve enjoyed sundowners in quite possible the best ever locations, white sandy beaches on our very own islets. We?ve been on paddle board safaris, and dinghy safaris, listened to the bird song in the mornings, and listened to the fish eating at night. Last night we had our leaving dinner with Team Mahia and Team Riada, Pauline had made a pork roast with crackling much to Mike?s delight. Sasha brought over a butterflied lamb with garlic and rosemary ?injected? into it. We all enjoyed an amazing dinner with roasted kumara and pumpkin, boiled new potatoes (Sasha is still wondering how Pauline managed to have so much root vegetables still), we had peas as well! And then Pauline rocked out a boat made apple and blackberry pie with whipped cream! What a fantastic night, many a giggle was had. One of the best things about cruising is these types of nights, where you get a bunch of people who are just such good sorted and you can chat and chat and have such a fun time.
Anyway, that?s all for now, Tony and Marg from Taranui 3 just arrived at Fulaga with spare eggs, so we?ve gonna head over and see if we can ?purchase? 6. oh yeah! Living the dream!
Anyway, that?s all for now, Tony and Marg from Taranui 3 just arrived at Fulaga with spare eggs, so we?ve gonna head over and see if we can ?purchase? 6. oh yeah! Living the dream!
It was an absolutely fantastic morning?. once back we moved to another beautiful spot. Soon to be YIT?d as well.
Yesterday, after several days of prep (more on that shortly) Sasha attempted to make another pineapple and lime yoghurt-cheesecake, this time not baked, and whoa darn was it a goodie. It takes a bit of time because as you can imagine the usual main ingredient cream cheese is NO WHERE to be found here in Fulaga. I have promised Lisa (who we met with her hubby Dan on SV Meari last cruising season) and Roxy (from Team Skypond) the recipe, so instead of the first baked version I am going to give you all the second attempt no-bake recipe here, and then add it to facebook/instagram once we get some internet and can get a photo uploaded of it. She was a beaut!! SV MOONFISH?S Pineapple & Lime Yo-Cheesecake TOOLS YOU?LL NEED 1. Blender (we have a nutribullet on board, and LOVE it) 2. Non-stick 20cm cake tin with a spring base (sorry not sure what to call it, it?s a cake tin where you can release the sides, and the base separates from the sides, making it a hell of a lot easier to get the cheesecake out in one piece) 3. A level of boredom or should I say a desire so strong for cheesecake that it drives you to spend several days making enough yoghurt and letting it sit and drain for days. On a boat this requires significant refrigerator space management, as well as a keen eye in the morning to ensure said yoghurt is not eaten for breakfast by a hungry Mike. Rest assured many a conversation about the gratification of delayed gratification was had.
50g of good butter (do not use margarine. Margarine is horrible stuff, and not worthy of use - this is Sasha-law) THE FILLING 1 litre of thick creamy greek yoghurt (with ALL OF THE WHEY drained out of it) 2 tsp?s of vanilla essence (use the real stuff here too, it?s just better) Two thirds of the Pineapple and Lime drizzle topping (see below) 6 tsp?s of gelatine mixed up with 1 cup (250mls) of hot water and left to swell for 10 mins THE DRIZZLE TOPPING Half a cup of brown sugar (yes you can use white, we just don?t have white sugar on the boat, we never do, Sasha figures the less processed brown sugar is slightly better for you, but has not proof of this) 5 rings of canned pineapple (use fresh if you can get it, nice work if you can get it here in Fulaga!) 3 Tbsp?s of the pineapple juice 1 Tbsp of lime juice (also from a packet, but fresh is best!) Note: We also have passionfruit pulp onboard for yoghurt and cocktails etc, this was a mighty fine addition to the topping as well, if you have it (see photos on instagram which include the passionfruit pulp) PREPARATION OF THE CREAM CHEESE SUBSTITUTE To make 1 litre of thick, creamy, luxurious GREEK yoghurt, there are several stages? INGREDIENTS 1. 800ml water 2. 12 to 13 Tbsp?s of full fat, whole milk powder 3. 3-4 Tbsp?s whey liquid (from your last drained batch of yoghurt) Step 1. In a saucepan mix up 800ml of water with 12 to 13 heaped Tbsp?s of good quality FULL FAT whole milk powder (I refuse to say the brand, but New Zealand ones are best).
Step 2. Heat the saucepan of milk until it is scalding hot - BUT DO NOT BOIL IT (this changes the proteins in the milk, or does something scientifically neat (see kids science is fun!) that means it?s one step closer to becoming thick creamy yoghurt) Step 3. Let the milk cool, Sasha often pours the milk at this point into her Easiyo plastic jar, so the milk-skin that forms, is easier to deal with. Pouring the milk after that milk-skin sets is a little more difficult.
Step 4. Use your little finger to check the milk temperature, when it doesn?t sting your little finger anymore it?s ready for you to add 3 to 4 tablespoons of the whey liquid from your last batch of yoghurt. The milk should be lukewarm, the perfect temperature for the starter culture you are about to add to breed. You can also use a couple of tablespoons of fresh yoghurt, or you can use a store bought starter.
Step 5. Boil kettle, and while that is boiling, add the whey ?starter? into the lukewarm milk and stir gently, then pop the lid on the jar of milk and starter mixture. Note: Sasha actually pours 1 cup of milk out into a cup and adds the starter to that, then mixes, and pours that back into the rest of the jar. Something she read somewhere told her to do that.
Step 6. Now follow the usual easiyo process, pop the boiling water into the easiyo maker thermos thingy, put the jar in there, and leave it for at least 12 hours? yes it takes longer for a milk based yoghurt to set.
Step 7. Once set, set up a sieve, with a cheese cloth (or muslin cloth) laid inside over a bowl, and pour the yoghurt into the muslin cloth. Chuck this whole set up into the fridge, and leave for another 12 hours. The whey liquid will drip into the bowl, leaving thick, beautiful creamy yoghurt in the sieve.
Step 8. Repeat all of these steps to create enough yoghurt to make a nice high cheesecake.
METHOD TO MAKE THE YO-CHEESECAKE 1. Blend or grind up the biscuits, and chuck this powdered biscuit into the bottom of your cake tin 2. Pour in the melted butter, and mix. Then press down the mixture to make the base of the cheesecake 3. Chuck all the (thick as cream cheese) yoghurt into a large bowl, add the vanilla essence, and two thirds of the drizzle topping mix well 4. Add the prepared gelatine, and mix well again 5. Pour the yoghurt mixture over the base and gently drop the cake tin a few times to remove any bubbles 6. Chuck the tin in the fridge for at least 8 hours, or until set. You can tell when it?s set as the cheesecake will wiggle but not slop around 7. Run a knife around the edge of the tin and the set cheesecake, then release the spring tin side and hope like hell the cake stays in one piece.
8. Pour the left over drizzle topping over the top, and it?s really well and truly delicious to eat there and then! 9. But? if you want something reminiscent of the old school KFC passionfruit cheesecake, then spoon a few tablespoons of passionfruit pulp over the top and you have what quite possible is The Best Damn Yo-Cheesecake in the whole South Pacific.
Right, we?ll leave it there for this YIT update, as Sasha is in the middle of baking her first ever cornbread to go with some good ol? american style chili that will be tonight?s dinner, and she needs to check it?s not burning in the oven.
Sasha loves cruising, loves the adventure, but definitely loves doing it with a stocked yacht, full of eggs, meat, and veg. There is something absolutely wonderful about heading out on an adventure, into an unknown sea but taking all the creature comforts of home with you. Lately however with a distinct lack of fresh veg Sasha has found it a little less inspiring to cook, something that she usually loves to do when she has all the time in the world to cook what every she would like. With only one egg left, that is being saved for another yoghurt cream cheese cake, we had chia seed (our only egg substitute) ripe plantain fritters for supper last night. We didn?t need a big dinner as we had spent the day in the village at a potluck lunch. Sasha thinks today for dinner she will rock out a traditional roast lamb with not so traditional instant mash potato and dried surprise peas, our only ?real? vege on the boat, apart from an onion or two.
We?ve been at Fulaga for quite a few days now, Mike?s been out for a couple of kites off the sand spit, but says the wind is gusty and it?s difficult to stay up wind. We have visited one of the 3 villages twice now, on our first visit we were allocated a host family, Rebecca (mum), with two boys, Dan (13) and John (17), and one little five year old girl named Eleanor. We sat with them, in their lounge room, no bigger than 3 by 4 metres, sitting on the floor on the handmade flax matting, drinking coconuts with straws made by mother nature - pretty cool! It?s hard to put into words how welcoming these people are, and how organised their village is, all the while they have so little when you look at it from a westerners perspective. Yesterday during our second and final visit we offered our host family a little care package; a few of Mike?s board shorts for the boys, as well as lures, hooks and other fishing gear. We added watercolour colouring pencils and some biro pens for Eleanor, and a few t-shirts for Rebecca etc. It was a little sad to see how expected it was when we arrived. Each host family seemed to expect something. The head elders running the village have really thought this ?host? family strategy through and seem to be doing rather well out of it. A couple of the cruisers did note that this was a village not at all in need of the basics, unlike some of the other villages in the Yasawa?s etc. There was plenty of carvings on display for sale, Mike chose a bowl in the shape of a frangipani with turtles and shells carved into it, and Sasha chose a small dolphin. The kindergarten children put on a dance, and asked for donations, then we were asked for donations for the potluck lunch by our Fleet leader, and then asked for more donations for a carved mask that one of the village men had made with all of the yachts names on it. By this point we had no money left. When it was time to leave we were asked by our host family to attend Church on Sunday, to which we declined, as we knew this would require further donations. If you can sense Sasha?s disappointment you?d be bang on the money with my current demeanour, I am all for user pays, and I have travelled enough to know that nothing is free. However I cannot help but feel we were put through the motions somewhat here, and that the path we trod was well worn. Perhaps Sasha?s expectations of the magical Fulaga were a little too idealistic? After all money is what makes the world go around, as much as we?d all sometimes like to deny it. However, there is no denying how beautiful this place is, how unique it is, and how I hope the village elders can retain control over Fulaga?s pristine environment, as this place surely is an absolute natural wonder and we are very grateful and thankful that we can be here and enjoy it.
We're here for the afternoon waiting until around 4pm where we will head out of the reef and sail south to our next destination Fulaga. The word is, it's a stunning magical place, where sailors visit intending to stay for a week, but end up there for months - must be some very pretty mermaids to have that sort of effect on the nomadic ways of cruisers. If you get a chance hop on google earth and check this anchorage out, it's just amazing!
All well on board, although we have started to miss broccoli.
Our last morning in Bavatu Harbour was a rather special one. We?ve been cruising with Mahia, Lola, Taranui 2, Sharpe Focus, and Lulu, and to communicate with them we?ve all been on a specific VHF channel so we can keep in touch, but not annoy the rest of the ICA fleet. Anyway around 5:30am on the morning of June 27th 2017, Lola announced that the Kiwi?s had done it, they had reclaimed the America?s Cup. What followed was a round of hoots and yahoo?s on the VHF, and then Mal-ibu on Mahia announced that a champagne breakfast was in order, with eggs, bacon and bubbles a must! We all headed over, Sasha had made up some special baked beans, with chilli powder and some fried onion, Pauline on Mahia had been hard at work making a lovely fruit salad and scrambled eggs, someone (Sasha is not sure who) made beautiful corn fritters, another person had bought sausages, and many had bought bacon which the boys got sorted on the BBQ. With bubbles and pineapple juice, coffees and teas in hand and a massive cruiser potluck breakfast (a first for Mike and Sasha) we toasted to Team New Zealand, and tucked into the food. It was an absolutely superb way to celebrate the win, and all enjoyed another great communal meal, with lots of different dishes to try. After breakfast it was time to head ashore to the yacht club building that was uninhabited, due to the fact it was still being rebuilt from cyclone winston 18 months ago. The flag pole required the flags to ensure the moment was appropriately acknowledged, so we all headed over on the tenders, and raised the NZ flag, and a silver fern flag, and took our photo to capture the moment. Then it was time to adventure around the yacht club building. Tony off Taranui 2 told us it had been a great place to meet, have a cold beer, and do a spot of barbecuing, alas it was still in rebuild mode when we visited it, but we did manage to jump off the dive board / plank that had been constructed over the edge of the stone cliff, which was great fun.
After that it was time to weigh anchor and head to the next anchorage further east, just as we headed out of the mouth of the anchorage, we saw a large number of the ICA fleet heading for Bavatu, so our timing was perfect to stay away from the crowds. Last night anchored here at Horse Bay, after a much needed afternoon nap Mike and Sasha welcomed team Mahia and team Lola aboard for drinks, which turned into a BBQ for dinner. Now we plan to head back to the Bay of Islands, which we skipped as the entire ICA fleet were heading there when we up?d anchor at Daliconi village. Each bay is as stunning as the next, with crabs running along the white sandy beaches. Mike and Sasha do enjoy the calm bays of the Lau, and have seen abundant fish life on their snorkelling adventures, with many a turtle, and even a Nemo or two! They are also pretty excited about getting to some of the outer islands to the amazing looking kite and surf spots around the Lau too.
We walked on, through very healthy looking cows, horses and funny looking orange sheep, which we later found out were a hybrid ?goat-sheep?. When we reached the small village, surrounded by a volcanic stone wall (reminiscent of Cornwall Park in Auckland), Colin shouted out a few ?Bula?s!? and we were greeted by Filipo a tall, slender Fijian man with a neat bunch of short dresdlocks situated at the back of his short shaved head. Filipo okay?s us to walk up to the lookout that overlooked the Bay of islands (photos to follow on Facebook and Instagram) but said if we wanted to walk around the houses on the edge of the cliff he would need to take us. A great days walk, with some epic look out photos taken, a real adventure. Team Lulu were super organised, and had brought with them a pile of neatly folded t-shirts and a cap, which they gave to Filipo after he said his goodbyes and pointed in the direction of the staircase that would lead us back down to the jetty. The staircase (photo also to follow) was like something out of a salvado dali painting, dotted with all sorts of tropical plants, it felt like we were walking through a massive bird aviary sanctuary. That evening we invited the Lulu team aboard to check out MOONFISH and have a few sundowners. Sasha made yet another great recipe from the Boat Galley Cookbook, this time one of the three refried bean dips, it?s a warm dip, with cheese, onion and some spices, and it went down a treat, and reminded Marcia and Glenys of them time in Mexico and Las Vegas, which led to a number of great travel stories, and made Sasha extra proud, because it sounds like the dip tasted just as it should have.
Well, we have to cut this short, as Mike is staring at Sasha right now, wondering why she is not ready to head over to Sharpe Focus for drinks and dinner.
Catch ya! Team Moonfish out.
As promised in the last short YIT update (posted to ensure family knew we were safe and sound) here is a rundown of the passage from Tonga to Lomaloma, Daliconi Village. Moonfish left Neiafu harbour, in Tonga?s Vava?u group mid-morning on the 20th of June in a leisurely state. There had been much radio chatter among the ICA fleet about the lack of desire to arrive at our destination in the dark, due to the unfamiliar route through Vanua Balavu?s infamous reef system. As mentioned previously, MOONFISH is not a sailing yacht that likes to go slowly, in fact her inability to do so has never really been an issue for us, until this passage. So, Sasha and Mike sat at Neiafu and enjoyed a relaxed morning, watching, as the rest of the rally fleet left, and then leisurely untied themselves from the mooring ball and headed out the harbour, to Faihava passage, where they did their 180 into the wind (close to Tungasika island) to put the mainsail up, with two reefs in. With backs to the land, they said their goodbyes to Tonga, and dreamed about the stunning turquoise blue lagoons of the Southern Lau in Fiji. A short while later as they sailed out into the big blue in togs, one of the reels let out the tell tail 'whizzzzzzz' sound and the small amount of headsail was quickly furled away to slow down the boat and better manage its position in relation to where the fish and (importantly) the fishing line went (no one wants a prop with fishing line wrapped around it in the middle of the ocean). Mike jumped on the reel and Sasha was on helm, maneuvering the back of the boat based on Mike?s instructions, so Mike could best reel in, whatever had taken the lure. Turned out to be yet another Skipjack, just as unappealing as the first one we caught. We know you can bleed them, and they can be great eating, but with a freezer full of good NZ meat, and with our taste buds ruined by mahimahi and yellowfin tuna, we threw it back. At this point we had a couple of yachts in sight, and we didn't even spare a thought to the other 28 yachts out further ahead. However, as evening succumbed to night we had reached the rest of the fleet, that is where the ?fun? began. Sasha took a photo of the chart plotter with the AIS lit up like a Christmas tree, it was one of those moments that wouldn't be believed unless there was ocular proof. To be in the middle of the ocean, the middle of nowhere and be surrounded by boats so much so, that it's like your sailing in a harbour (a really rough one) is a very weird feeling. There were yachts everywhere, and not just one or two, but twenty odd to try and avoid, in the pitch black, with no moon until the Cheshire cat's grin appeared in the early hours of the morning. At one point, we had a yacht showing up on the AIS plotter as very close to us, but with our night vision well and truly adjusted we couldn't see anything close by. At that point, Mike took out the flood light and pointed it in the direction of the mysteriously close yacht. This was to be one of the most frightening moments so far aboard MOONFISH, as both Mike and Sasha laid eyes on a boat very close to the stern, with NO lights on. Sasha got on the radio, (which had been very well used over the past several hours by a lot of the fleet checking on the courses of boats around them as their routes converged) and called the yacht on 8VHF, but there was no reply, again she called but nothing. The with angst she tried 16VHF saying the name of the boat and then repeating "You have no lights! You have no lights! Finally, a sleepy voice answered and all of a sudden, they were completely flooded with light, not just the tri colour on the top of the mast, but a bright light that flooded the entire front deck of the boat. Mike turned on the motors, increasing our speed and the space between us and the yacht, and we watched as the lights of the yacht joined the glow of the other yachts at a comfortable distance.
On the second day Sasha made a fresh pineapple and lime baked cheesecake, made with yoghurt cream cheese, a ginger nut base and a pineapple and lime drizzle. It became dinner and fresh out of the oven, it didn't really taste like the flavours melded well. Lunch was the main meal of that day, delicious fried plantain chips, Japanese cucumber salad (thanks to yet another recipe from the Boat Galley cookbook) ? which is proving to be a very worthy galley comrade) and Mexican mince and beans. During the night while Sasha was on shift, the wind up our butt, was shifting. As Mike went for a well-earned (and needed) sleep, he said to Sasha 'just keep an eye on the windex, we don't want to crash gybe'. Famous last words! About half way through Sasha's shift, as she lay in the saloon watching a movie. Caveat: she was being responsible, she had her alarm set for every ten minutes to do a visual check, and had the iPad set up with a mirror image of the chart plotter, so she could keep track of speed, heading and the boats on AIS. The one thing she couldn't keep track of in the saloon was the windex. And guess what? The wind shifted. A rookie mistake, that Sasha will never make again. MOONFISH's big mainsail (albeit with one reef in it) back winded. The preventer worked as it should have (stopping any major crash gybe from happening), however it was a big eye opener for Sasha, as the force of the sail back winded, made it impossible to steer. Sasha was forced to turn off the auto pilot and try to correct things manually, in in the hope that she could correct the yachts course and in doing so correct the sail. Alas, the sheer force meant there was no way she could correct the situation through steering. In a panic, Sasha screamed for Mike to wake up as she was holding the steering wheel as far as it would turn and it was futile. She was too frightened to let it go of the wheel to go wake Mike up in a more pleasant manner, just in case it sent the boat hurling in some other unwanted direction. Bear in mind all of this would be ok, and far less stressful if it wasn't for the large number of yachts surrounding us, at this point we had completed a right angle turn and were heading directly towards a yacht. Mike woke up, hopped up into the cockpit and slowly and smoothly eased the preventer, and then slowly pulled the traveler so the boom eased its way across to the other side, then he sorted the wheel and got the boat back on track, and turned auto back on and went back to bed. Sasha's panic slowly subsided, and tiredness took its place.
Mike took over helm around midnight as this coincided with us reaching our first waypoint, which meant we were getting close to Fiji's reefs, and navigating the boat would become more complicated with set routes required to be followed to ensure we stayed off the reefs ? our primary objective, apart from hitting other yachts.
After one early morning requirement for Sasha to get up to steer 180, (to take the wind out of the mainsail), so Mike could put another reef in, Mike woke Sasha around 7am to help look for coral bommies as we motored into the final reef system, before Daliconi village. After MOONFISH had cleared the last major reef pass, Sasha climbed down from sitting on the stack pack (one of the highest vantage points on MOONFISH) and was walking back to the cockpit where Mike was, when they both noticed a yacht motoring quickly to their port side. Way out of the line of all the other yachts. The cautious fleet was following one by one in a line navigating through the reef passes. The yacht was heading straight towards the reef, Mike had just called them on 16VHF to warn them when all of a sudden it was too late, the yacht hit the reef, it?s bow well out of the water, as it tried in vain to motor itself off the bommie. Mike slowed down and turned around to offer assistance, one of the men from the yacht jumped in the water. Sasha got on VHF8 and called to all the yachts behind, some of which had started to follow the stricken yacht. ?Do not follow X yacht! Do not follow X yacht!? Shortly after the yachts reformed the single file line, and slowly made it through the pass, while the man in the water made it to MOONFISH's transom, to discuss options, and ask what the tide was doing and discuss whether we could get a line to their yacht to tow it off. At that point, a local fishing long boat turned up, along with a large monohull with a much larger engine than MOONFISH, and offered a tow. So, Sasha and Mike moved on, as there was a bit of rubber necking going on, but not before Mike offered assistance again via 16VHF to the yacht and said we would go anchor up and sort out a plan with other yachts that could help. Just after anchoring, the yacht was towed to freedom, much to the relief of everyone. This was one of the most sobering moments we have had so far aboard MOONFISH, to make it all that way and then come unstuck in the last 30mins of the passage is heart wrenching, and Sasha couldn?t help but think about how horrid it would be for MOONFISH to be in that situation, our home? stranded, and in such an unfamiliar place. Thank goodness, the yacht in question was very sturdy, and only needed a little patch up job on the keel.
With the drama over, we surveyed our new neighbourhood, Daliconi Village, and tried to calm down a little as the adrenalin was in full force. Mahia with Mal-ilbu and Pauline (the first boat to make it to the final waypoint) were anchored off to our starboard, and low and behold in front of them was Sharpe Focus with Pip and John on the stern, welcoming us with a friendly wave, (We first met Pip and Sharpy at Swashbucklers in Auckland, New Zealand, on the evening that Mike had put his house up for auction, we were sitting in the bar, tending to a much needed calming beer, as the house was sitting with the sole bidder but had not reached the reserve, and they had 24hours to make a decision as to what they were going to do, suffice to say we were anxious as the house sale was required to fund getting MOONFISH to Cat 1 status). Anyway, Sasha was sitting on the stack pack (it holds the mainsail when not in use), to get a better view of any potential coral bommies that may cause issues if we swung on anchor. Her long-distance eyesight isn't the best, so it took her a while to figure out that it was none other than Sharp Focus. It was good to see them and while we waited to start the clearance process, Pip and John rode over in their tender to catch up, they were in good spirits and happy to be adventuring around the beautiful Lau.
A short while later the Biosecurity and quarantine officials came on board, the quarantine lady was a local from Daliconi village, but the Biosecurity man was from Suva, which must be cooler in climate than Daliconi, as he suffered badly from the same affliction as Mike, and could not stop his face from sweating. Poor man, Sasha gave him several handy towels to manage the moisture.
Next was the Yacht Help agent Eli who came aboard selling us a Fiji SIM card that we can?t seem to get working here due to a lack of coverage, then three customs and immigration women who completed our clearance and approved our Fiji Cruising Permit, enabling us to cruise all around Fiji. It was nice for once not to shell out several hundred dollars to clear a country, as it had all been taken care of via the Island Cruising Association fee we had paid to be on the rally. Once we were officially accepted into Fiji we headed over to Mahia, and enjoyed a cold beer, our reward for one of the most challenging passages (according to Sasha). We were all so tired that one beer was enough to feel the affects, and as Mike opened another, Sasha thought it prudent to get an early dinner sorted so there was some substantial food in everyone?s tummies before bedtime, (which turned out to be 6pm). Sasha headed back to MOONFISH around 3pm and started preparing yet another fuss free, awesome, cruising recipe from the Boat Galley book, plainly called Chicken and Rice Casserole, Sasha thinks it should be called Creamy baked Italian Chicken & Almost Risotto. Sasha knows she is going on and on about this Boat Galley Cookbook, but it really is such a great reference on a boat. The recipes often require American brands, but what is so good is the substitution chapter, that tells you how to make virtually any of the American shelf stable products if you don?t have them. This recipe called for something called ?Good Seasons Italian dressing mix? and a 10 ounces (yes there is a measurement conversions chapter too!) of cream of mushroom soup, two things not aboard MOONFISH. So, Sasha made up the substitute ?almost? Good Seasons Italian dressing mix with all the base spices and herbs she had provisioned, and then made up a substitute version of a cream of mushroom soup with milk powder, oxo chicken cubes, the dressing mix, and a can of mushrooms in butter plus a few other ingredients. Then she wacked it in the oven for 45mins to bake, and headed back to Mahia for another beer. Malibu, Pauline, Pip and Sharpy came to dinner that night, and with a few cans of Ratatouille we had a very tasty after passage meal that everyone enjoyed. Sasha was rather pleased with herself, especially after the baked cheesecake didn?t turn out as flash as she had hoped. After our early dinner, Sasha sent a very tired looking Pauline and Malibu home so they could get the rest they needed, and Pip and Sharpy left too so that Mike and Sasha could settle in for the night. Before bed, Mike and Sasha had a cuppa and tried the cheesecake again, this time with a little splash of maple syrup in the pineapple and lime drizzle. WOW! What a difference that made! Perhaps it was the tired state their taste buds were in, or perhaps after the overnight chilling of the gingernut base and yoghurt cream cheese filling but the cheesecake was far more delicious than the fresh out of the oven ?warm? version, and very easy to eat indeed. It was then that Sasha decided it would be good enough to share, and promptly made a mental note to bring a large slice over to Mahia in the morning so they could try it.
More to come, about our adventures visiting Daliconi village, and tips and tricks on how to use up left over Italian flavoured rice for dinner. PS ? hello to our Australian contingent, Auntie Patty and Uncle Craig, we hear from Mappy you are reading our updates, and think we are very adventurous, after this passage Sasha thinks she?s probably just a little crazy doing this ha!
We just had a lovely Boat Galley recipe EARLY dinner on MOONFISH with Malibu and Pauline from Mahia and Pip and John from Sharpe Focus. It was a raving success, and was just what Team Moonfish and team Mahia needed before heading to bed. Team Sharpe Focus has been here a day already, and so they are ready to party, but they get why we need to have an early night. Sleep tight everyone, till the morrow.
This morning occurred at a leisurely pace, we woke up naturally and had a morning cuppa, tidied the boat, and made up the aft cabin on the starboard side to sleep in. You see the forecast is for the trade winds to blow right up our butt the whole way, with 3 to 4 metre short swell and while a non-sailor may think, yay the wind is with you the whole way? we know that sailing in the lee, or sailing with the wind up your butt is not ideal. MOONFISH likes to sail angles (Sasha supposes all yachts do), wind across the boat, or beam reach is a favourite wind angle, so today we have gybed over the rhum line twice, in-between the other yachts in the ICA rally, to sail at angles in an attempt to have a bit more of a comfortable ride. Yes? comfortable ride, that?s the other thing? we?re not looking for speed during this passage, which is very unusual for us. We are dawdling along at 6 to 7 knots on purpose which not only feels wrong but also has a tendency to make us feel seasick with these type of sea conditions and wind angle.
You see this passage will take us about 2 days, (2 nights), if we go too fast, we?ll reach our unfamiliar destination in the dark, and that is never wanted when coral and reefs are about and only visible to the eye when the sun in high in the sky. So we will meander, and loiter under the stars for two nights, pondering life?s big questions, and thinking about normal people back home, sleeping in houses, in normal beds.
We had muesli with fresh sweet banana and apple this morning, Sasha baked the last of the croissants for lunch, and we had mexican inspired beef and beans tonight, with Tongan grown onions and green bell peppers. It always a good feeling to have a full belly as that seems to stem the seasickness a little.
Not much else to report, all well on board, Mike?s asleep, Sasha?s on watch for the next wee while, and she?ll just keep a look out as we yet again cross the rhum line and slowly sail around the other rally boats, all sailing a more direct line on the rhum line.
Sasha always takes some time to find home. Especially after a passage, when home becomes transport, and accomodation. An old flatmate in Manly use to call it reconnecting with your house... she use to enjoy doing the dishes, because she said it connected her with her home. Sasha guesses there is something in that, just doing a simple task and being aware of your surroundings, slowing down, and being grateful for where you are and all the amazing things you get to experience.
We had Malibu and Pauline over for dinner last night. We had beef stir fry, onions and cabbage in a soy, oyster, and fresh grated ginger sauce, with garlic fried rice. Something Sasha has just learned how to make. Steamed rice, cooked in chicken stock, then fried with fresh minced garlic, it's so delicious, that it's hard to believe it's so simple to make. Sasha also managed to burn to a crisp some island kumala fries she had popped in the oven for starters.
Sasha has just read the above to Mike, who was less than impressed with Sasha's waffle. He wants me to let you all know he has mastered the double back roll kite trick, and is looking for a lucrative sponsorship, he suggests Steinlager would be a suitable sponsor.
That's all for now, we better go do something.
One of the boats that anchored, ended up being Cooee too (not sure of how that?s spelt). Andrew came over in the tender and invited us aboard for a drink after dinner, which was nice.
The next afternoon the boys from Kittiwake turned up, and so did Darren and Kirstin from Savanna Safari, and all four yachts decided it was going to be a good evening for a night sail to Vava?u. So we headed off in convoy style, north to Neiafu. Kittiwake took the lead, with Savanna Safari, then Cooee too up anchored, and we followed suit. By the time we caught up with Cooee Too, they were ready for us with pirate hats on, swords, pirate flag and matching ?ARRHHHS!?.
The night sail was fantastic, with the sails set, and a full moon we were humming, hitting 9 and 10 knots. Soon we were in front of the pack, and as night fell, and the lights of the other yachts faded behind us, we settled in to watch a few movies with 10 minute checks as Auto took the helm. We left Ha?apai around 5:30pm, and reached Neiafu at around 1:30am in the morning. We had a little trouble spotting a free mooring, but eventually found one and settled down for some sleep.
We've been anchored out at the beautiful Kenutu Island for the past few days. We had the whole place to ourselves for our first night here, and had a great kitesurfing session on the sand cay at low tide. The first morning we awoke to see the entire ICA (Island Cruising Association) rally on it's way out to Kenutu, all following in a line with Windflower at the front. It was quiet cute, like a whole lot of ducklings following in a row behind their mother. (photo to follow on facebook SV MOONFISH).
Yesterday we took Will and FX from Kittiwake out to the sand cay and we all went kiting, it was perfect conditions, and we were all exhausted afterwards. Well earned icy cold beers were our reward.
That's all for now, TEAM SV MOONFISH out.
More tomorrow on the last bit of our passage just wanted to let everyone know we are safe and sound and anchored off the Haapai Beach Resort.
Anyway, not much else to report, the chart plotter is saying we are 6 hours to our first waypoint into the Haapai group, should make for an interesting night, falling our track from last year to ensure we don‚t hit coral in the night. All well on board
What a lusciously relaxed day we have had today, cup of tea in bed while reading the last pages of Castaway. Mike has started reading An Island To Oneself, he reckons we should head to Suvarov, where Tom Neale (the Author and Protagonist) spent his time alone on his own island. There are several sailors that come to visit Tom during the course of his stay there, so why not take MOONFISH up to Rarotonga and venture to it‚s outer islands. Would be an amazing adventure to go see the actual place Tom carved out an island life for himself.
We‚ve just had Corn, Onion and Cheese fritters for lunch, which went down a treat. And now we think we will all retire for a snooze or read in preparation for the eventual passage north.
Last night the boys from Kittiwake came over for some beers, and told us of their plans to head of that night, which they did. We‚ll see them either on the way up or when we get to Pangai.
All well on board.
We‚ve just had Corn, Onion and Cheese fritters for lunch, which went down a treat. And now we think we will all retire for a snooze or read in preparation for the eventual passage north.
Last night the boys from Kittiwake came over for some beers, and told us of their plans to head of that night, which they did. We‚ll see them either on the way up or when we get to Pangai.
All well on board.
The sleep quality at South Minerva wasn‚t the best, due to the high tides being unfortunately timed, in the middle of the night. This means the swell from the ocean rolls over the reef and right into the anchorage making the boat sway more, which means more noise, clanks, and bangs etc. So Mike and Sasha had another broken sleep. The wind swung 180 again last night so our anchor alarm app went off as well. But it was all worth it in the morning when the boys spotted a bunch of large angel fish swimming around at the back of the boat. Sasha enjoyed her morning coffee with them down on the transom, throwing them the odd bit of muesli which they seemed very keen on.
With the way the wind is playing up at the moment, Mike thinks Monday morning might be the most opportune time to leave North Minerva and head up to Pangai, Tonga. Sasha is looking forward to another day of sunshine on the nets, Castaway by Lucy Irvine is almost finished and Will from Kittiwake gave Mike an old book that tells the tale of a shipwreck at Minerva, so Sasha thinks it will be rather fitting to read that one next, while we are anchored in the place it all took place.
All well on board.
As the tide hit high around midnight last night MOONFISH started to rock more than usual which kept Mike and Sasha awake, while Drew (Sasha found out in the morning) had a fantastic sleep.
Sasha made the morning cuppa‚s and looked outside to survey the anchored boats. Kittiwake was no where to be seen, and for a second or two Sasha strained to scan the reef to see if they had dragged as the wind had swung 180 in the night, and they had anchored very close to the reef. Sasha could see no evidence of anything untoward and quickly assumed the boys had left the atoll on daybreak to start their journey towards North Minerva.
In between answering some calls from yachts outside the reef asking for waypoints, Sasha finally got to sit in the beanbag up the front, and enjoy her first tropical ‚sun time‚ with her kindle. GAWD IT WAS ENJOYABLE! The boys headed off for a spot of snorkelling, where Kittiwake had said there was some sharks which had shown signs of aggression, so they took their spear with them, but saw nothing.
Anyway, gotta cut this short as the boys are having beers and chatting and Drew is in the galley cooking his famous fish pie with the smoked fish he bought with him.
All well on board, we will look to head to North Minerva tomorrow.
During our 5 day passage from Opua to South Minerva, there were a couple of times when we pondered how the three young lads on the small yawl had gotten on, after leaving over 5 to 6 days before we left. They had seen the unsettled weather, but figured by the time they reached that part of the ocean, the worst of the weather would be done and dusted. When Will called us on the VHF, we couldn‚t believe it was that very same yawl. They had got in the day before we arrived, and had spent 13 days at sea, some of that time hove-to waiting out the weather bomb that hit them. Will sounded pretty happy when we identified ourselves as MOONFISH, he‚d remembered us, and explained he had a small issue of salt water in his water supply and could we spare some fresh water. We obliged the next day and in return the bought over some of Raglan‚s best roasted coffee with the name of Kittiwake spelt on the bag which has come in very useful for this update. They also had gathered several crayfish which Drew cooked up and we all enjoyed a nautical tale or two about their adventures while slurping down icy cold beers and crayfish with two dipping bowls. One was a simple wasabi, mayo and cracked black pepper dip, the other was Balsamic and Apple Cider Vinegar with salt, pepper and finely chopped shallots from Drew‚s garden. Both accompanied the crayfish very well. This morning before all the crayfish and beer, Super Mike set to work on fixing Auto, which he accomplished after a few bloodied smashed fingers while attempting to get stubborn bolts and nuts etc loose. Sasha is very happy to have Auto back, however we still need to test him to make sure he‚s back up and running.
After lunch, after Mike and Sasha cleaned up the boat, and washed down the cockpit (crayfish is pretty messy eating), we put away the screecher, and got out the snorkel gear, and went over to Kittiwake to pick up Drew who had swum over with the lads after lunch to sail the boat slightly closer to the reef (as they have no tender, so that makes it easier for them to swim to the reef) then Sasha, Mike and Drew headed off down to the Sou western section of the atoll to check out the sealife. We saw a heap of large parrot fish, and many brightly coloured smaller fish, all frolicking in the coral, and we also spotted a turtle. No sharks were seen, but we know they are there.
Anyway, that‚s enough of an update. Hope all is well at home, we hear Team NZ is doing okay, but Oracle is going be some stiff competition. Keep the updates coming Mappy :) All well (and very rested) on board.
Tonight the crew of Moonfish will feast on Burritos at a little mexican joint off the coast of South Minerva known as the MOONFISH cafe. Crew are all rested, and will enjoy a day in the sun tomorrow. Sasha has already planned to settle into a beanbag on the foredeck, with a nice vino, and her kindle, she is currently reading CASTAWAY, go read the book summary if you‚re interested, it‚s about this man and woman who head off for a year on a desert island in Torres Strait (top of Australia), the women gets so epically malnourished her anus collapses and falls out. Haha, who on earth would want to go through that? More to the point, who would write a book about it! haha. Hope you are not eating when you read this.
Anyway we digress. After a decent sail with no motor hitting 8 and 9knots at time, the wind disappeared so Sasha started up the motor. Mike (who couldn‚t sleep anymore) got up at 2:30am and took over from Sasha, he furled the headsail away, and motored through to the morning, when Drew took over around 5:30am. A peaceful uneventful night sail, with quite a bit of 6 and 7 knot travelling, we believe we have hit some unfavourable current.
In other news SASHA CAUGHT THE FIRST FISH OF THE PASSAGE! Yes we have a rather large Tuna on board now, Mike was on Helm, Sasha grabbed the rod, and Drew gaffed it once Sasha finally reeled it in. Sasha did try several times to relinquish the ‚honour‚ of the rod job, but Mike kept saying, no it‚s your fish, and Sasha was pretty glad when the silvery Tuna arrived at the surface. We think it‚s a Pacific Blue Tuna, it kinda looks like a massive Skipjack to Sasha, but Drew spent some time on a Tuna boat and is pretty sure it is a Blue Tuna. We‚ve taken photos so we will work out exactly what is is when we get some internet. What ever it is, we are eating Tuna Sashimi for lunch today, and no doubt we‚ll have some Tuna steaks on the BBQ at South Minerva for dinner tonight.
All well on board.
The kumara is chopped, and ready for the oven for roasting, the chicken will be marinated in harissa paste, and the last of the cabbage will be saut'©ed. Spirits are high on SV MOONFISH, see ya tomorrow.
ps - how is the America‚s cup going? Pappy & Mappy perhaps you could email us on email@example.com and let us know.
We heard Peter Mott from Northland Radio giving us an update yesterday on the SSB, which was good.
Right my turn to helm, so better let Drew get some sleep.
All well on board.
Last night the sky was crammed full of stars, shooting stars became the norm. The boys have both seen flying fish, Sasha is still waiting to see her first one.
Drew spotted a tropic bird this morning, a great sign we are heading in the right direction. We‚ll pass the Kermadec islands today, they‚ll be to our east.
Apart from that hello to Mum Watson, Tina and Ross, Mappy and Pappy, hope you are all well and enjoying the updates.
All well on board, so well in fact that Super Mike as we speak is sitting up on the foredeck in a beanbag sunbathing‚¶ how‚s that for Pirate Life!
All well on board, Sash, Mike and Drew.
It's 9:20am, we're all checked out, thanks to Opua Customs officers, and we've just watched some of the fleet leave the marina on their way out into the bay. We'll be off soon, Mike's just taking one last look at all the weather forecast models, and then we'll weigh the anchor, possibly raise the black, and we'll be off on our adventure into the big wide blue.
We've had a busy few days waiting for the unsettled weather up in the islands to stop. It's the same each morning, Mike or Sasha (Sasha admits it's mostly Mike) hops out of bed, pops the kettle on and then we settle in under the warm duvet with the ipad to check out the weather forecast models, PWE, PWG, GFS (Global Forecast System), and ECMWF (European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts). This morning was no different to other mornings, conflicting forecasts from the different models. This morning Mike expressed surprise at how different the PWG and PWE were compared to the GFS and ECMWF forecasts. Both of the PW (Predict Wind) forecasts show consistent trade winds up in the islands, where as the others (Sasha who is writing this can't remember if it was both GFS / ECMWF) show a high, which turns into a system over the forecasted period, and covers a large area including part of our route up to Tonga. It's enough to be concerned and delay our departure yet again. Mike and Sasha are happy to delay, as there's no reason to rush, we're on cruiser time. However it is a bummer all these delays, because we are eager to get into warmer waters, and also because Drew our crew arrived yesterday and we were all pretty keen to get started on the adventure. Unfortunately it looks likely it will be another week of waiting, and Drew will most likely head back down to do some more work in normal land.
Apart from that we celebrated Pauline (SV Mahia's) birthday in true style yesterday with carrot cake, and dinner, pizza's from the Opua General Store, very tasty!
Sasha had a minor freak out this morning, much to the entertainment of both Mike and Drew, when she opened up the beautiful looking toasted muesli that she purchased from BinInn in Glenfield, only to find both bags had webs in them. Sasha couldn't see any actual insects, but it was enough to get both bags dumped into a rubbish bag, which was promptly sealed and removed from the boat. SV Moonfish has never had any issues with weevils, and Sasha is determined to keep it that way. This was the first every purchase from Bin Inn, so she's not sure she'll be going there again.
Apart from that, Sasha better hurry up and finish her herbal tea at the Opua cafe and call Mike for a pick up, as the boys are keen to head out into the bay again, for a fish.
Yesterday afternoon we played with a pod of large dolphins as we motored into our current anchorage. One very large cheeky one kept scratching his back on our newly anti-fouled bow, much to Mike's dislike. Our cruiser mates Jill and Clive told us about dolphins doing this last year, but yesterday was the first time it has happened to us.
We anchored up in an empty bay and enjoyed the serenity, overlooking a perfect yellow sandy beach with calm water lapping at its shore. Later that afternoon a kingfish made his presence known by breaking the water under our nets. Sasha was preparing to sautťe scallops for Team Roam, who were coming for dinner. That kingy couldn't believe his luck to get a feed of scallop-scraps for tea.
Then Team Roam SUP'd over, uggs and all for dinner. It was nice to get to know Mick and Liss better, and hear more about how they navigate through this cruising life we all love so much.
Today Sasha continues to read the Shark Man book Malibu and Pauline lent her. Mike is busy learning how to splice dyneema, so far he has made large and small single braid dyneema loops, such a cool skill to have when you live on a boat!
We've heard about a couple of boats that have turned around after departing for Tonga last week. Good call we reckon. We're thoroughly enjoying the Bay of Islands, it's a stunning place to hang out and chill before an ocean passage.
Smashing Sasha has tested the Sat phone, and successfully downloaded the offshore predict wind forecast files, thanks to John at ICA for the tips. Both Sasha and Mike have learnt a little more about forecast models. PWG and PWE are the ones we'll be downloading while on passage (about 40KB via Sat phone, who knew the Satellite image we were downloading was so huge? Now we know and won't be doing that again). PWG and PWE are great because they cover both the American and European weather forecast models. PWG (G for Gringo heh heh, actually it stands for Global) is the American based forecast while PWE (E is for YOU GUESSED IT, YOU'RE SO SMART! it's E for European) model. Also IMPORTANTLY Team SV Moonfish donated our $50 bucks to the good lass and fellows at YIT and Gulf Harbour Radio. You lot do a fab job, and any cruisers out there reading this, who use YIT should donate tomorrow because it's an awesome service Mike, Patricia and Dave provide, well worth you chucking a few bob their way. Happy to read P & D will be enjoying some cruising this year between mid-May and July, we guess that means that GHR transmissions will not occur over this time? We listened to the recording of today's GHR weather analysis via their website, and will attempt to live stream it tomorrow.
We've also been into Pahia with Malibu and Pauline, yes Malibu is back, but this time with his lovely wife Pauline, and on their own boat Mahia... gawd it's gorgeous inside and out! They have been working so hard to get the boat so pristine and their efforts have really paid off! Mahia is a stunner. That's about it for now, Sasha will attempt to blow up Opua with her brand new pressure cooker tomorrow, so stay tuned, and apologies in advance. Hopefully see you tomorrow still with eyebrows.
Being keyless, and carless has a slight unease to it, but Mike and Sasha settled in for their last dinner in the marina, Tarragon Chicken with white wine, roasted golden kumara & flash boiled broccoli. It was delicious. Sasha loves cooking, when SV MOONFISH is so well provisioned, there isn't a spice, or ingredients she could want for right now, the cupboards are packed full :)
Well we're back!!! After 6 months of building up a cruising kitty, a new meal kit brand launched on time to plan, and SV MOONFISH just back in the water today after some hard yakka from Super Mike to clean her bottom and ensure all is ship-shape.... we are on the final countdown, office work will fade into oblivion in one week, and 6 months of glorious TIME, luxurious TIME to do and think and feel whatever we like will once again happen. Oh the joys of life at sea! Stand by.... more random adventures will be posted here as we travel from Opua, NZ... back up to the South Pacific on our beloved cyber Catamaran SV MOONFISH.
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