We are all cleared through customs and bio-security? who had to take the roast chicken that was in the oven, but oh well? we?ll just have to head into the Opua yacht club for dinner instead tonight? Question? why is it so cold here?
well, we are home! We had a great last bit of passage, with Silveray coming to visit us at the entrance to the harbour. Thanks guys, it was great to see you with full sails up as we motor sailed in.
We are all cleared through customs and bio-security? who had to take the roast chicken that was in the oven, but oh well? we?ll just have to head into the Opua yacht club for dinner instead tonight? Question? why is it so cold here?
Breakfast was a vast array of culinary delights, Tim had left over curried sausages, Mike had an up and go over muesli and Sash drank the bit of left over up and go.
For lunch we settled into a few bits of roasted chicken each that Sasha had popped in the oven, and then we had warm blackberry and apple pies with cups of tea.
After sitting on the deck for a bit Mike and Tim both shouted shark! Tim exclaimed ?it looks dead?.. and then Sasha finally got a glimpse of it and thought it looks like a small manta ray, but then we all clicked! It was a MOONFISH! We kid you not!! We thought it was either a sunfish or a moonfish, we are not entirely sure how to tell the difference between the two, but it had these two big pictorial fins that when above the water looked very much like a shark fin, and a very large round body, with a white underside (which is why Sasha thought it was a manta). Amazing eh! We went from seeing nothing for days to this.. and then.. YES FOLKS it gets better!!! Mike and Tim both managed to spot a killer whale breaching out of the water, fully jumping out of the water! Sasha was in the galley at the time so she missed it, but got up on deck quick smart to see if it would breach again? alas it did not.
Apart from that the boys have been hand steering again today, top speed was taken out by Tim at 16.6knots, he was (to say the least) very excited when he got to shout out that speed! Tonight we are going to have the last of the passage meals, Chilli Chicken and Garlic Fried Rice, and then tomorrow once we are (fingers crossed) nicely tucked up on the Opua quarantine dock we will have roast chicken with roast potatoes and peas! That about covers off today?s excitement, oh! we?ve had a couple of 200plus nautical mile days too, which has been excellent after a very slow windless start. Oh and we are back in shorts and t-shirts today, was a lovely warm day, check out that baro it just keeps going up! All well on board
Approximately two and a bit days to go, this will be our longest ever non-stop passage, mostly because the conditions have been so calm and windless.
Apart from that nothing much to report, all well on board.
Another night of motor sailing with very little wind, we may have had a little current against us too, as it was slower than normal motoring too. We were all happy to pop the screecher sail up this morning and get a burst of speed again.
We had Taco soup with corn chips for tea last night, and kibbled wheat toast with marmite this morning. Delicious! Apart from that Tim-o-tei is doing a great job, and is making curried sausages tonight which will be something to look forward too.
All well on board.
Mike made corn fritters for lunch today, with Tim-o-tei and Mike enjoyed while Sash had the left over spag bol.
Sasha?s made a loaf of bread today which is on the oven baking now.
Tonights dinner will be the Taco Soup, with corn chips.
Both Sasha and Mike have both had naps today, while Tim-o-tei kept watch. Haven?t seen any ships or anything today.
All well on board.
All well on board.
We just had Spaghetti Bolognese for dinner which went down a treat, and we will be settling into 3hr shifts from 6pm. Not that we are complaining, as the conditions out here are lovely, but just a few more knots of wind would be lovely! All well on board.
All well on board, great sailing this afternoon.
We have four pre-made passage meals, 1. Chicken Chilli, 2. Taco Soup, 3. Spaghetti Bolognese and 4. a freshly made Tumeric Chicken Stew.
All well on board, looking forward to being home!
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.
All well on board.
The current plan is to continue on a course of 135 until later on tonight or early tomorrow morning, and then tack towards NZ. Our current ETA into Opua is tomorrow afternoon 23 rd October 2016 which will mean it took us 6 days to get to NZ from New Caledonia. Longer than we had hoped, but a lot of it has been with the wind on our nose.
All well on board.
All well on board.
All well on board.
All well on board.
We have hit the high, we‚ve watched the baro move from 1017 to 1021 since leaving New Caledonia, and as it rose the wind died off (as expected). We have motored on one engine for the majority of the night, with very calm seas so everyone has got some peaceful rest. The curried sausages that Tim-otei cooked up were delish ‚ ps thanks to Erica and Dave for donating all the meat for our passage home, we have so much, not sure we will get through it all. We will have fillet entrecote tonight, which I think is French for Scotch fillet. Sasha has pulled out some frozen croissants this morning, and popped them in the oven, so it‚ll be the last of our yummy French Organic Blueberry jam on warm freshly baked croissants this morning.
All well on board.
We‚ve been sailing very well again all day today, seas have calmed somewhat from yesterday. Much less chop.
Muesli and yoghurt this morning, the last of our French baguettes as chicken sandwiches for lunch. And Tim-otei is cooking dinner tonight, Curried Sausages with mash potato.. yum! We‚ve all had naps tonight, and are ready to rock for night shits. We have set night shifts for the first time, which Sasha is loving as she is on the sunrise shift, but also because she can prepare better if she knows when she is on shift.
All well on board.
It has been an interesting first day, as we make our way from Noumea, New Caledonia to Opua, New Zealand. Early this morning (6:30am) the boys (Mike and Tim-otei) whipped the main sail and head sail up. A few hours into our sail, Mike made the decision to get the Screacher up (aka code zero), so the boys pulled that out of the forward hatch and we were soon hoofing it along (10-11knots) then‚¶ the Screacher halyard snapped! Drama, drama drama! Nah, not really, the crew acted quickly and calmly; Mike and Tim headed up the front and pulled the sail out of the water, and then got to work removing the snapped halyard from the mast, which they achieved. Sasha stepped up to helm, starting the port engine once the sail was clear of the water, she then removed the screacher sheet off the stern starboard winch and retrieved the halyard block off the bit of halyard that lay on the starboard deck. Our secret speed maker and favourite sail is now out of operation, until we can get another halyard sorted. Luckily the sail is not damaged at all. One thing that Sasha has learned today, (after Tim read it out of one of our Boating New Zealand magazines ‚ GREAT MAGS THOSE!!) is that rope makers reckon once you tie a knot in a rope it can reduce its strength by half. Sasha didn‚t know that until today ‚ ya learn something everyday! We had a quick breaky this morning, so we could get sailing early; museli, greek yoghurt and fresh fruit. Lunch was freshly baked baguette chicken sandwiches. We‚ve nibbled on a few chocolate biscuits for morning and afternoon tea, and the spiral lasagna is re-heating in the oven as we type. Our pre arrival form has been emailed off to NZ customs, with an ETA of 25th October, 0700 hours, let‚s see how accurate our best guess was.
Sasha has downloaded the SSB metservice weather maps, and we are keeping an eye on all those low weather systems way down south.
All well on board.
Sasha promises to be very clear from now on to avoid any possible miscommunications.
Ps - All our love goes out to Carl and Roxy (Team SV SKYPOND), we think you two are awesome, and Carl we wish you a speedy recovery.
We are actively looking at the weather models every morning, and Captain Mikey is discussing weather window possibilities with Lex and Dave (two very experienced sailors) to nut out the best possible option for us.
Last night we had a delicious farewell dinner in Baie de Citron with Team SV SEACOMBER last night.
All well on board.
All good anchored up at the Isle Of Pines, it's beautiful here. No wind, so looks like a day to go diving and hang with the turtles. Sasha is keen as to see a dugong - so she's keeping her eyes peeled. We are fast running out of fresh food, so we'll be heading to the closest store soon.
Ouvea is beautiful, the beach is powder white sand, the water is milky electric aqua blue. There does seem to be some sort of algae bloom in the water, in parts close to shore as there is this light green 'stuff' floating, it's not sea grass, it's something else, and it does pong a little at times. We have been super social since we got here, hence the lack of updates, we've met new friends, and caught up with our old buddies from SV SEACOMBER (Erica, Dave And the twins Jazzy and Zoey). Last time we caught up we were all at Great Barrier Island, and we were saying how cool it is, to sit on the very same boats as we did back then, but in a completely different country!
Before I start on today's cruiser story, I have to relay our adventure to We the township near Qanono, on the eastern side of Lifou. The ICA had organised a bus for 1000 CPF each return. We were quite e cited to see a supermarket (supermache) because we had heard good things. WELL LET ME TELL YOU!!! We were like kids in a candy store! French gooey cheese and large loaves of crusty fresh white bread filled our shopping baskets, frozen gourmet sausages, mini pork meat balls, and whole chickens also made it into our baskets, along with decadent muesli, local beer and several different types of potato chips. We were in heaven!
Now on to Ouvea, our new friends Pip and John from SV SHARP FOCUS (a mono hull yacht Mike refers to as a wolf in sheep clothing - because it's a super racy yacht, with water ballast and carbon mast) lent us their super racy full size road bikes, in return for a go on our SUP's (stand up paddle boards). So Mike and Sasha went off for a bike ride to check out Ouvea, it was one looooooong ride, and when we finally reached our destination the store was closed - haha! We were pretty happy we'd brought water with us! On the way back the racy-ness of the bicycle seats were a tad too much for these sailor bums, and we were both just a tad bit tender the next day. While we'd been off cycling around, our friends on another boat had been dealing with a medical emergency, and after some time, it was decided it was time to get the patient off the boat, into an ambulance and off to hospital for observation, a few days later and one appendectomy- the patient is doing much better, and will be reunited with her boat soon. (I've purposely been vague about names here, for privacy reasons). All I can says thank goodness for Pip and her awesome FRENCH speaking talents!!
Lots more to fill you in, but we are heading off the boat to go check out a sink hole! I promise to write a better update soon, as we are planning on heading off to the mainland this evening with SV SEACOMBER - it's about a 20hr passage. I'll write a proper update then, and post once we get to some Internet access.
Then a little later Mike and Sasha got the SUP‚s out and headed straight into the wind, to the north east end of the bay to get a closer look at the rocks and coral on the waters edge. As we made our way back along the shore, Mike noted that a women walking along the pure white-powdered beach might be Roxy, as we paddled closer we confirmed it, and the days reunion started. Carl trundled down from the petit marche, and we mentioned that today would be an opportune time for them to finally come and have a look aboard MOONFISH as they had expressed interest way back at the Blue Lagoon. At the same time Carl and Roxy introduced us to Jo and Lex, a couple from the monohull INTRINSIC, which had been moored at Musket Cove while were we there too. Turns out that Jo is the mother of Michael, the builder who did all of the renovations on Sasha‚s house in Auckland, we concluded over VHF (after Jo had made the connection) that it‚s such a small world, and Sasha 100% agreed. Sasha invited Jo and Lex to have a look aboard Moonfish that afternoon with Team SKY POND, and eventually everyone was aboard, having a tour and a cold drink. Sasha had just popped a date and maple cake in the oven (one of the only cake recipes in the Edmonds cook book she found that didn‚t require eggs), so the sweet smell of baking was wafting through the cabins as she took the guests on the tour. That fragrant sweet air was quite possible the catalyst that got us an invite to dinner on SKY POND that night.. (that cake and of course our witty, intelligent conversational skills). We finished our drinks and all headed over to SKY POND for a tour, as Mike and Sasha had not yet been aboard. What an amazing Seawind catamaran, it literally looks like its interior was designed by IKEA, you‚d swear you were walking around a Scandinavian apartment, everything is beautifully finished, and there is a place for everything. Sasha loved the glass door (massive) shower best, as well as the BBQ area in the cockpit, which was centrally placed on the stern with plenty of bench space around it. Carl and Roxy were excellent hosts. Lex and Roxy got to work in the galley, Roxy made a very tasty salad, and Lex taught Roxy how to make his famous puttanesca pasta sauce. Sasha and Mike had donated the big piece of Waloo (Thanks for the fish SV ROAM!) , so that got added to the pasta sauce too. We all sat down to a delicious dinner, and chatted and chuckled effortlessly. There were some hilarious moments as Roxy attempted to translate our Kiwi-English into American English. Who knew America don‚t have ‚teaspoons‚? Or that ‚napkins‚ are ‚serviettes‚. Then we demolished the Date and Maple Cake which was a rip roaring success, it reminded Sasha of Sticky Date Pudding, but a cake version. Roxy again was perplexed, ‚What‚s ‚Sticky Date Pudding?‚ to which Sasha replied, ‚Something you definitely need to try when you get to New Zealand!‚ This morning we are making our way north from Lifou to Ouvea, apparently its an absolutely stunning atoll. We are hopeful we will see our friends Erica and Dave and their little, twin, blonde munchkins from SV SEACOMBER up there. We‚re coming guys! All well on board.
Well it happened‚¶ it had to happen eventually, and last night, after uploading the YIT update, Sasha finally joined the large group of people who have barfed over the side of a sailing boat. The sickness left as quickly as it arrived, and once dinner (canned chicken soup) was well and truly (and unwillingly) donated to King Neptune, Mike grabbed Sasha a Sea Sick Bomber that MALibu had bought and a refreshing glass of water. Sasha took the first watch, now 100% alert as the pills have 150mg of Caffeine in them. And Mike tried to get some sleep‚¶. Rather difficult in these conditions. Mike took over (I guess) around 8:30ish, Sasha did sleep, then got up and stood watch from 11pm to 2:45am, Mike then helmed from then until 7am. Apart from that we‚ve made excellent progress, 212 nautical miles in the past 24hours. Plans for a roast chicken dinner tomorrow are underway, with a frozen chick now being defrosted in the fridge. That with roasted Kumala will be a tasty treat! And once Mike wakes up, Sasha will make some scrambled egg muffins in the muffin tray, and in the spare muffin holes head Bake Beans‚¶ gotta love shoving food in the oven and not having to worry about it falling all over the place.
All well on board.
Our last few days in Fiji were not the greatest (except for the last couple of awesome surfs we had at Namotu with friends!) we have both had upset tums, but no idea what caused it, after a couple of good night sleeps we‚??ve come right, but it was a tad bit worrying knowing we had a passage coming up. A massive thank you to Dan and Lisa on Meari, who gave us not only their activated charcoal pills, but also another homeopathic remedy, that really did seem to do the trick!! Thanks guys!! Feeling rather under the weather, we headed for Lautoka (Fiji‚??s second largest city) for passage provisions, and to officially clear out of Fiji, our home for the past 70 odd days. We walked right past Mcdonalds (considering our health) which was hilarious emanating a curry smell (we were game enough to go in and find out why). We headed to the other end of town after tendering in the Lautoka International Wharf. Mike dropped the stern anchor off the back of our faithful dinghy as we were concerned that the rising tide may wedge our dinghy under the wharf. Our destination was Ajax Fasteners, as a few days earlier Sasha was closing the galley hatch on the side of the boat, and the handy dandy turning bolt fastener thingy that seals the hatch, fell straight off in the sea ‚?? never to be seen again! Super-Mike has since tethered every single hatch fastener, as they are rather unique, and we don‚??t have any spares. Yet another thing to sort out once we get back to New Zealand. After stopping at a watersports store, and receiving a hand drawn map of Lautoka, we made our way to Ajax, and picked up some standard bolts that fit the hatch seal thingy, so we could seal the hatch for the passage. A note to all your cruisers out there, apparently there is NO chandlery in Lautoka‚?¶Good times.
The Lautoka Market lived up to it‚??s reputation as one of the best markets to visit Endless stalls filled with all the South Pacific classics; white cabbage ($1.50 to $2.00), red cabbage ($8 for some unknown reason!?), carrots, onions, herbs and spices, hot peppers, green beans, eggplants, Kumala, potatoes, coconuts, pineapples, mangoes, kava root, taro, giant pale orange pumpins being sliced apart by men with machetes, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, and island spinach all available in LARGE quantities. We picked up enough to last us until we get to New Caledonia, the land of cheese and baguettes! As I type this I am trying to drink a glass of Ginger Ale, remind me to add to my list of things to get for the boat a Tommi-Tippy cup for me to use on passage!! I am wearing more of it than I have drunk! All well on board.
Yesterday we briefly caught up with Team Bravado, what a cool bunch! They are one of the boats heading to New Cal shortly so we're keen to hear our plans for departure. We haven't checked out Lautoka city, so we are planning on exiting Fiji from there, it's free, and we've heard there is a McDonald's there and we are both just a little interested in tasting a Fijian Big Mac, you know, purely for scientific research purposes, a compare and contrast study with NZ's Big Mac's.. Hehe we haven't had 'real' junk food for months and months - please forgive us.
We spent yesterday afternoon kiting on the 14 metre of the sandbar here at Musket, the wind just kept picking up so Sasha handed over the 14 to Mike, who had a great SESHion but also had to retire when the wind got so strong he was fully depowered, and fully lit.
Today we enjoyed egg rolls for breakfast, and went into the trader for salt, as we have run out of that, then he wind just dropped and we headed out to Namotu for a SUP surf at swimming pools. The swell was affected by the wind, and Mike could see the wind at Cloudbreak heading our way, so we headed back to MOONFISH and weighed anchor back to musket, icy cold beer in hand. Sash whipped up a cheese and pepperoni pizza on the remaining chia seed and cumin boat-made tortilla.
That's all for now, we are loving Musket Cove, and Fiji and really enjoy all this place has to offer, kiting, surfing, snorkelling, and an Island Bar! It really is a magical place.
Ps... Happy Father's Day Pappy!
We know we haven't YIT'ed for a while, sorry about that, but with Fiji Data SIM cards being so darn cheap ($25 Fijian for 9GB!) we've been posting away on our SV MOONFISH Facebook and Instagram pages instead. But there are several things we need to document from our last couple of weeks, very important things (as always).
Firstly thanks to Greg M for sharing the most interesting story of the pilot from the plane wreck we snorkelled on. It turns out no pilots were harmed in the making of our cross-island trek / snorkel adventure. The pilot was rescued, and it was only after marrying a local Fijian and having children, that his brother turn up looking for his long lost dead body. Happily they reunited much to the pilot's brothers amazement, and the pilot explained he was quiet happy where he was and wasn't coming home. Ha! What a great piece of history!
Another important milestone is that we have well and truly mastered the coconut! Thanks to MALibu, our trusty coconut stick, duck tape and our machete have come in very handy at certain coconut groves around the place. Mike managed to get three nice orange/yellow drinking coconuts down from one tree the other day, and then we set about learning about coconuts on YouTube. We learnt that all coconuts have a wee monkey face on one end, with two eyes complete with eyebrows, and a larger mouth hole. The other end has three ridges that meet and form a kind of seam. We now know that you can cut the husk off, find the face end, poke a hole in the mouth and one of the eyes and the delicious coconut milk will run out easily, filling up one large glass, we share the milk, then Sasha sets to work with the empty coconut to crack it in half (similar to cracking an egg), you hold the coconut in one hand with the face at one end, and the seam at the other, exposing the equator of the coconut shell, then using the back of a good quality chef knife you work your way around the equator tapping the shell, eventually the high pitched tap will all of a sudden go 'thud' this indicates you've cracked it, then you just keep tapping until you can see the shell breaking into two halves. Grab a spoon and eat up all that glorious spoon-meat. So tasty and so good for you! And best of all FREE.
Apart from that Mike and Sasha have spent a lot of time at Musket Cove, kiting, surfing with Dave Kalama and the Google boat crowd (Sasha SUP surfing) and generally hanging out, and thinking bout food, the boat and the improvements/additions we want to make when we get home, and food.... Yes, food has been quite a large part of Sash's thoughts. You see our food stores are getting on the low side (this is not a request for people to start sending food up, there is plenty of food here). What we mean is we're starting to run out of some of our favourite basics (Chilli Flakes, Tomato Paste, Wraps, Baked Beans etc). The most interesting thing is the provision list Sasha has started to prepare for next season, there are so SO many things Sasha would do differently. The major thing Sasha has learnt is that you have much more time to cook when you are not working full time. So this means, ingredients that you never thought - in a million years - you'd use, all of a sudden become desired, the ability to whip up some orange and date scones is no longer a weekend 'might do' in between all your weekend life-admin that you need to squish into two days because the week days are a hazy blur of computer screens and management meetings. All of a sudden if you feel like eating brownie, you can just stop reading your book, or decide not to head out for a paddle and instead you can instantaneously make brownies, and something that use to feel like a hell of a lot effort (i.e. Fish cakes) is now akin to making toast. What a strange but thoroughly enjoyable transition! So what does this mental foodie shift mean? Well it means that what was provisioned on the boat, and what Sasha needs on the boat are two very different things now. With the foresight now achieved from the hindsight of our first provisioning efforts the following list provides some of the key things we will ensure are always on the boat from next season on...
SPICES AND HERBS - these are absolutely essential to add much needed flavour and variety to boat-meals! Let me tell you there 'ain't' no Greggs/Masterfoods spice rack up here... in any store Anywhere!!! Massive opportunity for someone to brand up the spice/herbs industry up here... It's rather limited from what we have seen, you'll have no issue getting ground chilli, curry, mustard seeds, fenugreek (whatever that is!) but that's about it. And in terms of volumes, we'll be buying 3 to 6 jars of each for our next season, as 1 or 2 is just not going to last the 6-8 month time frame, because we are cooking almost every night, and we have gone through truckloads more herbs and spices than we estimated.
Nutmeg, onion powder, garlic powder, onion flakes, thyme, bay leaf, way more chilli flakes, a whole heap of smoked paprika, ground coriander, cardamom, cumin (a small mountain of the stuff! As it is ideal with eggplant, and there is a crap load of eggplant in the South Pacific), ground ginger, dry mustard powder, oregano, mint. It's good to get your spices in small jars, but get several jars of each, that way they'll be fresher than one large bulk jar.
STOCK, PASTES, & TOMATO (canned) - these are the bases of so many delicious, comforting meals, it pays to not run out... We have run out of all three!
Stocks, get a mixture of the jelly type concentrate (it's versatile) and some cubes. Both are better than tetra packs full of liquid stock, as they keep a long time and take up hardly any space/ weight. Bring FISH, CHICKEN, and BEEF stock, as well as Vego if you're that way inclined,
Pastes, tomato paste... Bring it in the tube, in the punnet, and in the little tins.... I definitely did not buy enough! But that's because we have a lot of burritos/mince type meals.
HARISSA PASTE is the solution to all of the world's problems! I cannot do it justice with words! It makes everything taste better, chicken, mince, or even vegetable based dishes.. It is one of the best things ever invented and we will be buying 5 to 10 jars of the stuff for next season!
Other pastes I will make sure we have on board are, Thai Green Curry paste, Red Curry Paste, and Mexican Spice Packets (even though this can also be made up from the spice list above). Miso soup paste is another thing we never had while working, but now on the boat, we want it!
We did alright on this front, although there are quite a few extra's we now desire... Whole corn, (we bought a heap (14-15 cans) of creamed core for fritters, it would be nice to just have a side of whole corn with a meal once and a while. Tomatillos because Posole Mexican Soup is awesome! Way more Mexican/ Salsa beans, and refried beans (20-30 cans) because we love Mexican flavours. On that note Jalapeno's, because cheese poppers are yum! Way more tuna and salmon - yes you can buy it here and tuna is relatively cheap at $1.65 per 100g tin, it's just we are eating far more of it than we expected, because we are not catching fish anywhere near as much as we thought we would, and because Tuna and Salmon fish cakes are rather tasty. Oh and sardines because Sasha loves sardines on toast, that's King Oscar hand packed premium Norwegian brisling sardines, not Brunswick which is the only type of sardine you can get up here and that stuff is cat food! Yes there is a major difference, try KinOscar you'll understand. Canned Mushrooms are also something we would never usually eat, but we would have used them if we'd bought 'em!
Way more Continental Surprise Peas, 200g packets... We'll get at least 10 - 15 packs next season. They are just brilliant, are surprisingly fresh tasting (we suppose that's why they are called what they are called) they are always on hand for that meal where fresh vege is scarce, and very tasty with some butter, rubbed mint, salt and pepper stirred in, or as an additional ingredient for a flash of green in the pot!
Instant mash potato, great as a stand by side, or to thicken soups, chilli con carne etc.
Falafel mix, at least 5 of them, and perhaps a couscous (for carrot and couscous salad - a la Rockstar recipe), and way more polenta for polenta chips, and corn bread. Also quinoa for salads.
THINGS TO BAKE
Apple and Blackberry canned - for pies, strudels, crumbles, muffins, puddings etc.
Grainy bread mix, because we both miss vogels toast, intact I just did some internet research on this and Kibbled Wheat is the answer to making a bread like Vogels, somKibbled Wheat will definitely be on the provisioning list for next season.
Orange essence (for those date and orange scones I was talking about earlier)
Raisins for cinnamon scrolls, and 5-10 big bags off hem because the raisins you can get in NZ are sweet and juicy and delicious and the ones up here are nothing like that!
Chocolate Chips, because we both miss Mike's Mum's homemade chocolate chip cookies (Barbara, how about a Sunday avo chocolate chip cookie session when we get back so we know how to make them?)
Way more easiyo packs, we've only been using Greek yoghurt for breakfast with muesli, but with a muslin/cheese cloth you can make savoury and or sweet yoghurt cheese, and when your cheese options are down to Edam or Tasty.... Yoghurt cheese starts looking pretty damn tasty! A side note: I have one more pack of easiyo yoghurt, so I did a bit of Internet research and it turns out I can make my very own yoghurt with a couple of tablespoons of my previous yoghurt batch, and a litre of milk (made from milk powder in our case)... I made my first batch of really 'home/boatmade' yoghurt yesterday, it set really well, and now I have it sitting in a colander on a piece of paper towel to remove some of the whey so we get a really thick creamy Greek yoghurt, I've already had a sneaky taste, and Oh My God!! Who knew milk and a couple tablespoons of yoghurt could make such great yoghurt!! All you do is heat up the milk on the stove top, to scalding (but don't boil it), then pop it in your easiyo jar, and wait for it to cool until it's lukewarm, then mix in (softly) a couple of generous tablespoons of yoghurt that is FRESH and you know has live cultures in it, and then incubate in the easiyo thermos thingy for 12 - 18 hours, the longer you leave it the tarter, more acidic the yoghurt is. SO easy!! And no I didn't use a thermometer.
Way, WAY more muesli, 20 packs, nay 30 packs. Sasha misses muesli. And it is so SO expensive here.
WAY MORE 'Healthy' SNACK FOODS
Raw nuts, we ran out of these almost on getting to Tonga, depending on how long almonds, walnuts, cashews etc last, we would probably buy 5kg of each for next season.
Oh and we will definitely be making up a Travellers Belly/ Digestive wellbeing food kit because not only has Sasha been struck down with an upset digestive system twice, but several of the yachties we have met have also had upset stomachs. And as I type this Mike is experiencing his first upset yum, we think it might be the eggplant. Our happy digestive kit will include.. Apple Sauce, Rice, probiotics, natural antifungals (such as oregano oil, coconut oil (or Caprylic acid), activated charcoal (thanks to Dan and Lisa on Meari for that tip!) we'll also be including liquid chlorophyll because we really really REALLY miss our baby spinach and silverbeet! We already have the essential greens smoothie powder, but because Fiji is having a banana drought we've had way less smoothies than we thought we would.
So there.....there's some thought for food. Heh heh.
Yesterday was full of adventure! We motored from Nanuya Island, south to Naviti Island, where we had been told of a World War 2 mustang fighter plane which lay in 'snorkel-deep' water on the east side of the island. We anchored up in a western bay and pulled the paddle boards and snorkel gear out along with a pair of jandals and headed ashore. As we paddled in, Carl and Roxy from SKY POND headed ashore in their tender and told us we held the same shared mission - find our way through the treacherous island bush to the other side of the island, and find that plane!! Sounds easy right? But after Cyclone Winston, the 'path' that showed on an old chart we had been given by Tony Whiting had been decimated by fallen trees and was now overgrown with a vivid green vine that loves to stick to you if you touch it. Our American friends came far more prepared for the 'hike', and we're old hand at finding the 'trail', with "definite path" exclaimed more than once as Carl or Roxy lead the way. With their awesome gadget called a 'Bad Elf' they could pinpoint our GPS location and display it on a map on their iPad. This came in very handy as we reached the end of the coconut tree forest, and found ourselves in plains of dry grass high enough to hide an elephant. At this point Sasha did 'try it on' with Carl and Roxy relaying the story of the aggressive 'Fiji Beast' which is kind of like a Tasmanian Devil only three times the size. Unfortunately they didn't fall for the tale - heh heh. In the tall dry bleached blond grass it was impossible to find a 'definite path' and many a wrong turn was taken as we made random crop marking across the plains. Finally we made it to the islands eastern coconut tree grove (the coconuts always seem to grow need the coast, so we knew we were close). By this point in our adventure we had spotted two rudimentary arrows, the first made of coconuts on the ground, the second made with tree branches, and pointing the way we had just come. Talk of 'omens' occurred more than once. And so did the idea of bringing signposts with us next year that just say 'wrong way' on them - chortle! Anyway, after wishing we'd brought our machete - several times, Team SKY POND found the trail again and through the eastern coconut grove we hiked, until.... There is was, the most beautiful sandy white beach we have seen so far, there were two hits set back among the coconut trees, one a traditional thatched bure, the other more westernised, neither had any people inside, as we called out with a few "Bula's" to introduce our presence. As we stood on the beach looking out at the four small islands that protect the bay, we all congratulated ourselves on making it this far. Carl got the iPad out again, as he had prep'd by taking down the plane's gps coordinates (this was one of several times where Mike and Sasha thanked their lucky stars Team SKY POND were on the task, because they would never have made it through the bush or found the plane if it wasn't for SKY POND). Sure enough Carl located the general direction of the plane, and Roxy spotted the buoy marking the plane's underwater grave. We all got our snorkel, mask and fins on, and waded out into the aqua blue lagoon. It was at this moment that Mike and Sasha looked at each other, and both realised they had just found absolute KITE SURF HEAVEN!! The lagoon is massive, it's floor is sand and sea grass, and it is waist deep water for thousands of metres. It's like a tropical Snells Beach, but four or five times the size. We all swam out to the buoy, and there it was, nestled in the white sand with Nemo, and his buddies playing in the nose of the plane. We took turns diving down to take a closer look, the body of the plane is still intact, but the wings are no longer visible. Sasha was amazed and excited when she first saw it, but after a few closer looks started to ponder the history of the plane, and wondered about the fate of its pilot. Once our treasure has been well and truely explored we all swim back to the beach, sitting in the hot shallow water, which reminded Mike and Sasha of a spa. Then it was back into the bush to navigate our way back - turns out it's much easier and quicker getting back than it was getting to the plane. A great day was had by all, and we were all really glad we'd made it.
Yesterday we had a supreme day! Got up, had cups of tea, with boatmade marmalade toast, and then watched Danny from Rockstar having a great kite on the sand island. Soon enough we were in the tender with our gear, and pumping up the 10mtr for Sash (aka the wind Guinea Pig) to see how much wind was out there. The spot is amazing! It's hundred's of metres of ankle to thigh deep water (depending on the tide) and there's only a few coral heads around. When it's ankle deep it's a little sketchy but still amazing! So we had an early morning kite, met Danny and Carmein from Rockstar, and then left our gear on the sand island, headed back for a bite to eat, and then headed out again for another session. Then we had the rockstar crowd over for some Sangria that Sasha had been planning to make for a while, a nice bottle of Grenache had been saved for this delicious Sangria, and oranges had been purchased from the Nadi markets especially. While Sasha was cutting up the oranges, she asked Mike to see if there was a bottle of lemonade on the boat, Sasha was pretty sceptical, as she was pretty sure she had drunk all the lemonade, but surprisingly Mike found a bottle and passed it to Sasha. Into a large jug, Sasha added the three juicy sweet oranges, peeled and sliced, an entire tray of ice cubes, and then she poured the entire bottle of delicious, fruity chilled red wine, and then without even thinking she unscrewed the cap on the 'lemonade' (not noticing there was no release of gas from the bottle) and poured three quarters of the bottle on top of the beautiful wine and oranges. And the most god awful smell eminated from the jug in front of her. She stirred it hoping that the smell was not coming from the jug. Then tentatively poured a glass to test it, as Danny and Charmein had already arrived and Sasha wanted to make sure she was offering a drink that actually tasted good. The smell from the glass was enough to know something had gone terribly wrong. It stunk! At first Sasha thought the wine was poked, but after smelling the screw capped bottle she knew the wine was not only perfectly fine, but also realised that this would be a wine that she would never get to savour. Then she thought, maybe the oranges are off, although this was quickly discounted as she had sliced and pealed the. And they were juicy and perfect....leaving only one item...THE BOTTLE OF 'LEMONADE'.... Sasha sniffed the open bottle, with one quarter of its contents left... the sudden realisation that the lovely oranges and beautiful bottle of Grenache we're destroyed suddenly dawned on her, it wasn't lemonade! The bottle had been refilled with saltwater, and frozen in our Waeco Freezer during passage to keep the freezer full, and working at itos optimal best. Somehow it had made it's way back into our Mixers cubboard, where it waited stealthily to kill Sasha's much anticipated Sangria. Trying to explain how putrid that old salt water tasted is difficult, but it was a mixture between wet dog smell and liquified cardboard. It all happened so fast that Sasha literally stood there in the galley looking at the jug, full of rich red wine, ice cubes and slices of orange, and tried to figure out how she could un-mix the putrid old salt water out of her delicious ingredients. Obviously the end result was a sad one... The entire jug went down the drain, and a chilled bottle of cider was drunk instead. Goodbye beautiful bottle of Grenache, we'll miss never drinking you!
After Ciders, we all headed into the Island bar, as there was a buffet, and live music planned. The food was amazing! Green papaya salad, snapper, chicken, steak, sausages, potato salad and much much more, so much food! Then dessert came out, the BEST tasting carrot cake with cream cheese icing we have ever tasted! And there was fresh pineapple, watermelon, rock melon and more to go with it. The live entertainment kicked off just as dinner was finishing, and they were so good! They played covers that everyone knew and soon enough the crowd was up and dancing the night away! It was a perfect day at Musket Cove, and Sasha even managed to almost forget her beautiful bottle of Grenache... almost.
Cafe mega cocktail, complete with a bottle of Corona upside down in the giant cocktail glass! We've dined at Rhum-Ba, and this morning we headed into Nadi on the $1 bus to provision up with fresh fruit, eggs and vegetables. Now all that there is left to do is head to Musket Cove!
"I hate it when I'm in a line,
With nothing at all to do,
And someone rude is pushing in the Customs Clearance Queue,
And people say just look at that!
They're pushing in the line,
There must be something we can do to make them go behind!"
We are anchored at the river mouth at Savusavu. We've stayed in the same spot where customs cleared us. Now our clearance morning is a very interesting tale which we are more than happy to share to ensure other cruisers out there don't make the same mistake as us. FUSIO and MOONFISH were the first boats into Savusavu on the morning of 27th June, reaching the river mouth-harbour before sunrise. FUSIO called up The Copra Shed (our first big mistake!! As we should have chosen Waitui Marina instead, as Jolene who manages the place is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!) any way we were booked in by The Copra Shed, for clearance with the Savusavu Customs & Immigration officials. We were told by The Copra Shed, to stand by on channel 16 as they would call us once Customs we're ready to be picked up, The Copra Shed NEVER CALLED US BACK!!! Several boats came into Savusavu after us, including two ARC RALLY monohulls, one was Meermow (the NZ registered boat with foreign owners, we think they may be Dutch by the sounds of the accents, but we are not sure. They had been waiting out in the ocean and had called us up in the middle of the night as we sailed past them, they were waiting until daylight to come into Savusavu) the other was called Mystic Soul, a boat with the exotic destination of Hull on its stern. Both these boats came into Savusavu hours after we had arrived and anchored, and they also called up the Copra shed and registered their booking for Customs clearance. They anchored up behind us, and we all waited for The Copra Shed to call us so FUSIO could head into the marina to pick up the Customs officials. As an aside we have heard that in the past The Copra Shed use to bring the customs officials out to the boats for clearance but these days they don't). Anyway before we (polite, queue forming Kiwi's) knew what was happening, the ARC RALLY boats exhibited the most shocking and inconsiderate 'Cruiser' behaviour we have experienced so far on our cruising travels! They rudely and impatiently decided to push in front of all the boats that had arrived into Savusavu before them (there was four of us apparently awaiting Customs clearance) and without telling The Copra Shed, Meermow went in and got the Customs Officials, who were none the wiser that Meermow and Mystic Soul were the last boats in the clearance queue. Now The Copra shed we're shockingly bad at managing the situation, not only did they not confirm to Customs the correct order the yachts were to be cleared in, but they also did NOTHING to rectify the situation, In fact it was like there was no actual management going on at all! We found out later, after asking The Copra Shed what service they actually provided, that all they do is phone up Customs, which we considered daylight robbery as they charged both FUSIO and us $20 Fijian dollars each to make that phone call, any easy $40 for them! (CRUISER TIP #1 Waitui does it FOR FREE!!). So there we sat, tired after our 3 day passage, confused and shocked at the selfish behaviour of Meermow an ARC RALLY monohull, as they putted past us in their tender, time after time going to and from the shore with the different Custom officials. They obviously knew they were in the wrong, as they averted their eyes as they past us and avoided any contact. To make matters even worse Meermow's inconsiderate, unKiwi-like behaviour continued as they decided to ferry each Custom official to their partner in (clearance) crime ARC RALLY yacht Mystic Soul, who had the nerve, after taking a rather long time to complete their custom clearance as well, attempted to take the Officials back to shore, instead of availing themselves from the Cruiser misnomer they had already committed by doing us the usual courtesy of ferrying them to the next boat in the queue. Later we learnt that these two troublesome ARC RALLY yachts had botched their Fijian advanced customs forms saying they would be arriving in Latoka, a completely different port in Fiji, hence the extended time Customs had to spend with them. FUSIO actually had to wave down one of their tenders, to stop their idiot-selfish behaviour. The ARC RALLY boat then had the audacity to wave FUSIO over to their yacht and requested they pick up the officials off their boat. None of us could believe the behaviour we were experiencing, and we were dismayed that an NZ registered boat (Meermow) was tarnishing our good Kiwi reputation. The shining light in this story is that (while misinformed by The - to be avoided if you don't want to be robbed - Copra Shed) the Savusavu Customs and Immigration team we're a class act, they we're lovely to deal with, friendly, informative and welcoming, the Fijian tourism industry should be very proud! Oh, and by the by, I had the great fortune of SUPing past Mystic Soul this morning, and took great delight in making sure they were aware of how inconsiderate and 'Cruiser-rude' their behaviour was, to which they reacted with ignorance, and more rudeness.
BIPPY (aka Carl) ' it IS crazy that we sailed to Tonga, Sasha can hardly believe it herself. Glad you are enjoying our blog, also Pappy tells me you have started the new job now, we hope it's going well? JILL & LONG JOHN SILVER (aka Clive) - HULLO!!!!!! How come you had had a few rough days in the waterways? Was it just cold or was there a storm too? No sign of Capt'n Jack Sparrow yet, but I have no doubt he'll make an appearance sooner or later!! You guys need to get Panache Cat ready to rumble for next season and COME WITH US!!! Jill I am sure we can organise some nice young men for your crew ' wink wink! RICHARD ' How's NZ life treating you? Must be a touch bit slow after the Big Apple eh? Yip, I/Sasha do write in 3rd person, a touch odd ' I'll grant you that, but it's just to try and keep our blog easy to read. We are glad you are inspired by our adventures, it really is the best thing I have ever done! SIPPY (aka Katya) ' Thanks for all your comments, you guys are really following us on our adventures eh!? Are you reading the blog to Connor?? Does he know what his Auntie Sippy is up to? We didn't even know the earthquake had happened, which was a tad scary since they are often followed by tsunami. We only found out about it cause Mappy emailed us. How did your Melbourne presentation go? Thanks for the 'Wahoooo Congrats' comment, we we're glad to finally make it to Tonga too.
GREG M - So glad you are enjoying our adventures, we heard the weather in NZ turned really bad just after we left Opua. But don't think we are sitting up here working on our tans, we are suffering our 5th day of tropical downpours ' no sun for 5 days in a row!! It's wet here too, and also not in a good way.
KEV, TRACE, and ya beautiful GIRLS ' So glad you guys are enjoying our blog, we wish we had downloaded Google Earth before we had left (Cruisers Pete and Wanda did tell us too! Doh!) as we would like to be zooming into where we are too, and doing some kite / surf research. But there is always lots to explore, and that's keeping us busy. Oh, and yeah, we do turn our other engine on if/when we get to far behind. It's just a tad more difficult refueling up here, so the less we use the less we have to refuel. And also have no fear, there is always a Steiny near. Ha! PAPPY and MAPPY ' Uoleva is definitely a archetypical tropical island, except for the RUBBISH on the sea facing side. It is a real shame that there is no real rubbish system up here, Tonga does desperately need to rectify that, as it's only going to get worse, and it's such a shame to ruin such a beautiful place. The sun rises at about 6:30am, and sets at about 5:30pm ' that's if it ever comes out again. RAIN RAIN RAIN! And yes, that 2015 in our YIT description is an error, it should say 2016, I'll update it when I get access to the internet again. Minerva definitely is a very special place, and I feel so lucky to have been able to visit, especially since so few humans get to experience it ' just awesome. And yes MAPPY, if I ever attempt to catch a BIG fish again, I will make sure I am tethered to the boat! THE CHISHOLMS! ' Hey guys, so glad you FOUND our blog! How are you all? Have you moved into the new house yet? Tonga is most definitely an awesome place to sail too, if funny actually, because we are anchored in a place right now, that really reminds me of Great Barrier ' where we met you guys!! No issues having bonfires on the beach here I would suspect, only issue you'd have would be actually getting a fire started ' so wet here at the moment.
SALLY & NICK ' Yes, totally this life is much more like being on a cruise, than hardcore sailing. Although we shouldn't speak too soon, as we'll be on passage to Fiji shortly and that means 3 to 4 days sailing non-stop for Mike and I, as there will be zero crew ' wish us luck. We have popped some photo's up on our SV Moonfish facebook page ' hopefully you've seen them? Oh, and sadly I don't think we'll be in NZ to make your wedding on the 16th of October.. I am totally bummed! As I would love to go.
TONY ' So glad you are enjoying our blogs, we are definitely getting great use out of the books you lent us, they are full of useful info ' thanks so much. We've been singing your praises to team FUSIO, and they are looking forward to meeting you. We hope your back is healing well, oh and we did see the boys from Bravado, they didn't like all our Blue Marlin action on passage as they had no luck and yes the clams and snorkeling at Minerva was the best I have ever seen! Just EPIC TIMMY ' Hullo!! There was a bit of 'are we there yet' getting to Minerva, as we were motoring so much. Sasha couldn't really believe we had finally go there. It was so good to finally stop and sleep properly. The 'Tall Thing' is still the right way up, and we have swum with the bitey things a couple of times now with no bites ' which is a nice surprise ' Lanie says just treat them as you would a dog, which has changed my 'JAWS' perception somewhat. Today was my first SUP since the 'arm-gate' incident ' it's still locking at the elbow so no burpies or crunchs for me, the bikini is getting tight.. gasp! GRAEME & BEV ' We can't believe you guys are following us!!!! Fusio is ONLY faster when we are motoring, and that's ONLY because we use one motor, not two, as it uses less fuel. We'd leave them in our tracks if we ever get a beam reach 15 knots, our code zero sail and dagger boards would have us ZOOMING along at 10/11 knots. You got a rig in that boat of yours yet? Let's race!! THE DELAMARES ' Unfortunately we can see many fish work ups here in Tonga, and we have been trawling through a lot of them with different lures, but we cannot for the life of us CATCH a fish!! Any tips on how we are suppose to catch fish in Tonga??? Glad you guys are enjoying our blog.
DUGGAN (aka Jo) ' Glad you're keeping tracks on us, you need a YIT for all your adventures!! You guys must be hanging out for TONGA now? When do you arrive? TINA & ROSS ' Thanks for looking after Blackie, I really REALLY appreciate it. Ps you should be roasting all that delicious pumpkin you have ' not having baked beans for dinner! We figured out how to deal with it on board, we use the machete to chop it up, it really was one of the best pumpkins I have ever eaten ' full of flavour, so thanks.
LIONEL & IRENE (aka Team Kiapa) ' Sorry Lionel we only just received your comment on YIT, we have your email now, so you can't get away now!! Heh heh. Thanks so much for hosting us in Minerva, it was awesome meeting you and your crew, and seeing inside Kiapa, such a beautiful yacht! We'll track you down in Fiji!! Where abouts are you guys? FOODSTUFFS TEAM ' Hello Karuna and Team Foodies!! I wondered if you guys were following the adventure, so glad you get to join in the fun! Karuna I only just saw your comment from the 10th of May today (13th of June), we get access to the internet maybe once or twice a week. Say hi from me to everyone there!! I haven't forgotten to send lude postcards.. Just need to get to Fiji where they will sell them'¶ stand by for awkward snail mail deliveries.. muhahahaha!
That night Layne from FUSIO made us all dinner, it's pure magic how Layne still has fresh vegetables on board!! She dished up boiled eggs, tuna and a delicious green salad. Sasha is still in awe of her provisioning prowess. Yesterday we started getting into some routine. Sasha cleaned the galley top to bottom, and plans to do the floors in the port hull today. She also did the first load of laundry in paradise. It was mostly all our warm merino stuff from the passage ' it dried almost instantly hanging on our new dyneema lifelines. We've been for two, big, morning Stand-Up-Paddle (SUP henceforth) Board adventures, one from Pangai, all the way north, past the Ha'apai Beach Resort where we saw Jodie going for her morning run, up to the Lifuka Airport ' just before the Lifuka island ends, and Foa the next northern island begins. The other SUP was from our favourite anchorage in the middle of picture-perfect Uoleva, all the way around the southern tip, and half way up the eastern side. We saw a couple of turtles taking a breather, and Mike and Warwick were game enough to have a play in the little waves rolling over the reef. It was too shallow with too much sharp coral around for Sasha or Layne to play that game.
Yesterday afternoon Craig at TaliTali'anga Resort called up Fusio and informed them the kiting crowd from further up the island had dropped in for a cold beer, so we all bundled into FUSIO's tender and met 'Glen' (or Glan as the locals call him) his lovely lady who's name escapes me, and their two recent recruits (unfortunately I can't remember their names either ' I was rather tired yesterday afternoon). They were all very excited about the 30knot wind forecasted for next Tuesday onwards ' keen kiters! Hilariously I remember the names of both their puppies, 'Lucky' was saved by 'Glan' from some locals that were using him as a football (a horrible story, but a very happy ending for 'Lucky') and Jenga a big pawed black dog. Both of them were very cute, and they could not wish for better owners. We left Craig's with a bunch of his homegrown island Bok-Choy (thank's Craig!), which Mike and Sasha had for dinner with garlic, chilli and sesame oil, just as one of the Kiters had advised - it was delicious! Oh! Sasha forgot to relay that Moonfish finally caught a fish, but in a very unorthodox way!! For you non-boaties you may not be aware that many 'heads' or toilets on boats, pump saltwater into the bowl for the flush. As Sasha flushed the 'head' the other day, a little black and white striped fish was pumped into the bowl. Needless to say Sasha was super excited and came running up to tell Mike and MALibu what she had caught! MALibu pointed out that the only way out for poor Mr Fish was via the Macerator ' a set of sharp blades.
Magic-Mikey has been on form and this morning solved our solar panel mystery. We had been told that up in the islands our solar panels would not work as efficiently as in NZ ' but Mike thought something else was up'¶ he found a loose wire and all of a sudden our panels were putting twice as much into the batteries ' WHEW!! As we were a little worried we would be struggling for power for months to come. Just as I type this Mike has been playing with the squid hanging about underneath our port hull. It's so cool all the marine life around here.
While MALibu walked right the way around Uoleva, the rest of us attempted to go kiting yesterday morning at the northern tip of Uoleva. It was windy when Mike and Sasha set out in the dinghy (well past 10am when Sasha finally decided it was time to get out of bed, after her cuppa and a read). The sea conditions made the tender ride to the supposed kiting spot unbelievably uncomfortable, we got there and Layne and Warwick were already there amping to go! Mike and Sasha beached their tender, and walked out to meet team FUSIO on the sand spit, unfortunately their dinghy parking wasn't that flash and soon their loaded-up tender was getting swamped by waves, Mike ran back to save it, and began bailing. Once that was sorted, we made the decision to kite closer to where the boats were anchored - this was our undoing. By the time we had got to the designated spot, pumped up our kites, walked out our lines, the wind had gone. There was much disappointment at this point in our trip, a nd in jest Sasha's sleep-in was blamed as the key reason for this disappointment. On that note, Sasha's sleep patterns seem to be one of the favourite conversation topics here in paradise ' Sasha can't understand why she is being berated for sleeping when it is one of the best things you can do for your health. Yesterday afternoon the rain set in, and it has rained all night, not ideal when you need hatches open to ensure the boat is ventilated ' we did purchase one large black plastic fan that can be wired in, which may well be a job for Magic Mike one of these days. While Mike and MALibu had a few beers on MALibu's last afternoon, Sasha made burger buns from scratch, and started preparations for Mega Awesome Moonfish Hamburgers, homemade meat patties, fried red onion, cheese, pickle, mustard, tomato sauce, beetroot - they were soooo good! Sasha was up early today ' to listen to GHR ' it only took her 15mins in her sleepy stupor to realise she had messed up her timing calculations yet again, and had unnecessarily awoken one hour earlier than need be. Ha, thought Sasha'¶. math eh'¶ pretty useful stuff to know even in the islands.