Navire

Navire

Mon Oct 23 16:48 2017 NZDT
Run: 90.7nm (164.2km)
Avg: 8.4knts
24hr: 201.6nm

Home!!! Safely tied up on the customs dock at Opua. 10 day passage. Arrived in heavy rain and couldn't see New Zealand till we were entering the Bay of Islands. So good to those green hills. Hopefully we'll have our phones going tomorrow and access to internet. Time for a whisky.
Cheers Janet

Hey, congratulations on arriving in New Zealand! Returning home is a great feeling. Bob and Kelly in Victoria

Odyssey conclusa. Nisi experientia et sapientia manere.
Mon Oct 23 6:00 2017 NZDT
Speed: 7 . motorsailing.knts
Run: 220.1nm (398.4km)
Avg: 7knts
24hr: 168.8nm
Weather: W14, 1 metre swell, a few stars, bar 1012

10 hours to go. Will we beat the cold front forecasted for today? It's colder now, first time we have felt 20 degrees in a long time. Should be able to sight some time after dawn. Lentil curry for lunch. Maybe a whole night's sleep tonight.

You are in the home stretch! Hang in there and absorb the last few hours of the big adventure.

Good to see your almost back. The weather is not great, but it’s NewZealand!
Sat Oct 21 22:42 2017 NZDT
Speed: 6.1knts
Run: 79.4nm (143.7km)
Avg: 5.2knts
24hr: 124.5nm
Weather: SW25, 2 metre swell, cloudy, bar 1013

Motor sailing across a grey lumpy sea trying to get in by Monday before forecasted headwinds off Northland coast. 260 miles to go. Pumpkin soup for lunch. Bring on fresh food, NZ food, avocadoes, good cheeses, sauvignon blanc, a bath, solid ground, kiwi accents...It's been two and a half years.

Make the most of the reaching and running conditions. Front due Mon middayish. Good chance to wash boat in the rain :-) Then going WSW. Thanks for the memorable accounts of your trip. From meeting Sherrell and I aboard Loose Cannon, Beneteau 47.7, at Great Barrier we have enjoyed following you around the Pacific. WELCOME HOME.

Prepare for starboard tack as wind goes W then NW as front arrives. Will be a fast finish.
Sat Oct 21 7:24 2017 NZDT
Speed: 5.4knts
Run: 121.4nm (219.7km)
Avg: 4.6knts
24hr: 110.6nm
Weather: SW25, 1 metre swell, cloudy, bar 1016

Heading south again after horrible 4 metre swells. Even managed to play music in the cockpit yesterday afternoon, David on guitar, Mark on fiddle and Anna on spoons. Omlettes for lunch. 330 miles to go.

Melbourne.. 16deg, SW10kt, Curry Chicken, Rice, Green Beens. Bon voyage!
Fri Oct 20 5:03 2017 NZDT
Speed: .4knts
Run: 74.2nm (134.3km)
Avg: 3.3knts
24hr: 78.1nm
Weather: SE25, 2.5 metre swell, cloudy, bar 1019

Hove to last night in 40 knot headwinds and 3 metre swell. Wind easing a bit now but waiting for swell to reduce, and daylight. Lunch - Tinned ham and potato stew. 430 miles to go.

Thu Oct 19 6:15 2017 NZDT
Speed: 2.6knts
Run: 83.2nm (150.6km)
Avg: 3.4knts
24hr: 80.5nm
Weather: SSE 24, 2 metre swell, cloudy, bar 1017

Motoring to get easting. Can't wait to get home. Pasta with tomato.

Suggest staying on port tack at speed. Wind is going to clock around to W then NW 20 plus with front. Should be fast run in. Some rain with front Mon midday.

I hope the seas moderate and you continue good progress. I will reach St Jean Pied de Porte and complete my Camino Le Puy tomorrow.

Head for North Cape not East. Wind will go S then SW then WSW Sat arvo. Get to the lee of North Island then reach down coast to Opua.

Motoring always such a come down, esp' after 6 + knts! Here's to Easting, And more sailing.

Watching each update with nervous anticipation. Godspeed, which is a stupid thing for an atheist to say, but we wish you fair weather into Opua. Love Bill and Fiona.
Wed Oct 18 5:27 2017 NZDT
Speed: 5.8knts
Run: 144.6nm (261.7km)
Avg: 6.2knts
24hr: 148.9nm
Weather: SSE 25-39, 2 metre swell, cloudy, bar 1016

Pretty bouncy out here. Looking forward to lighter conditions in a couple of days time. 564 miles to go. Lamb shank braise and mash. Fridge crapped out again so canned food from here on in.

Tue Oct 17 6:09 2017 NZDT
Speed: 5.6knts
Run: 158.4nm (286.7km)
Avg: 5.7knts
24hr: 137.7nm
Weather: SE 20, 2 metre swell, clear, bar 1013

Brisk and bouncy. hard on the wind. 683 miles to go. Chili for lunch.

Your on the wind skills will be tested all the way. But nothing sinister in the forecast. 10 to 20 kts SE, S then SW around Fri. Low pressure developing well to SE may build the SE swell but again nothing sinister. If your trim is right you can lock tiller with a little weather helm and turn of auto pilot. Enjoy the anticipation of returning to the big smoke.....not! :-)
Mon Oct 16 2:33 2017 NZDT
Speed: 5knts
Run: 48.8nm (88.3km)
Avg: 6.2knts
24hr: 148.3nm
Weather: E12 1 metre swell, cloudy, bar 1011

Seas have eased and Janet feeling much better after seasick day yesterday. 821 miles to go. Day 1 meal: rotisserie chicken and roast veg. Day 2 Lentil curry. Beautiful night with phosphorescent wake.

Sun Oct 15 18:39 2017 NZDT
Speed: 7.2knts
Run: 213.2nm (385.9km)
Avg: 6.3knts
24hr: 151.6nm
Weather: E23 2 metre swell, 25% cloud cover, bar 1009,

Excellent first 2 days. 4POB all is well.

Sat Oct 14 8:54 2017 NZDT
Weather: 2 knots N, sea calm in bay, 37.5% cloud, bar 1009

Leaving Suva in less than an hour. Customs computer down yesterday so allowed to leave today with much better wind angle. And a less auspicious date, not that we are superstitious, however we are afraid of Murphy. 4POB. All is well except that Mark lost last night's card game.

Fri Oct 13 6:18 2017 NZDT
Weather: 5knots NE, sea calm in bay, 30% cloud, bar 1012 Sent from my iPhone

Leaving Suva this afternoon bound for Opua. 4POB

Thu Oct 12 7:39 2017 NZDT
Run: 1.9nm (3.4km)
Weather: Calm, 20% cloud, bar 1012

Looking good for leaving Fiji tomorrow.

Safe and happy sailing! Lots of love from Anna's Sydney housemates xx
Wed Oct 11 8:39 2017 NZDT
Run: 1.9nm (3.4km)
Weather: fine and calm, 10%cc, 1012

Still looking at departing FRi or saturday for nz

Mon Oct 9 13:09 2017 NZDT
Weather: ESE 5, sea calm, 50% cloud, bar 1010, 29 degrees. Sent from my iPhone

At Lami Bay near Suva. Passage weather conditions still ambiguous. Shall we, shan't we? Anna has arrived. Great company.

Sun Oct 8 8:15 2017 NZDT
Weather: E 5 knots, sea calm, 50% cloud, bar 1012, 25 degrees.

At Lami Bay near Suva. Passage weather ambiguous. Could be Monday or could be Thursday, or anywhere in between. Final preparations underway. Anna arrives today.

Fri Oct 6 6:51 2017 NZDT
Speed: mooredknts
Run: 2.1nm (3.8km)
Weather: No wind, Calm, 50% cloud, bar 1011, 25 degrees

At lovely calm mooring field near Lami. Shopping all done, I start cooking all the passage meals today. Weather for passage next week looks uncertain.

Thu Oct 5 8:06 2017 NZDT
Weather: E 10knots, sea calm in harbour, 100% cloud, bar 1013, 25 degrees.

Still off Suva Yacht Club as our kiwi band played music there last night along with a couple of talented Fijian men who joined in. Boat is all cluttered up with unstowed provisions.

Wed Oct 4 8:06 2017 NZDT
Weather: E 7 knots, calm, 40% cloud, bar 1016, 24 degrees Sent from my iPhone

Moving from wreck infested Suva Harbour to Lami Bay today. Fridge repair successful so far.

Tue Oct 3 10:48 2017 NZDT
Weather: 5 knot E, calm, 70% cloud cover, bar 1019

anchored in Suva, hoping to leave for NZ next week

Tue Oct 3 10:45 2017 NZDT
Run: 66.3nm (120km)

Back in Suva. Preparations underway for passage to NZ, hopefully next week. We are provisioning, filling gas bottles, water tanks, and fuelling up. David is executing a few repairs and the fridge guys are here right now trying to fix our poor refrigeration system. So exciting to think we could be home in a few weeks. Or month or two! We have to wait for the right weather window in order to minimize the chance of encountering storms and big seas on passage. Between here and NZ there is a sort of pattern of a high pressure system, followed by a low, then another high, over a period of 5-6 days. If they behave and we leave at just the right time we could have a relatively benign 8-10 day trip. Relatively. Not as easy as it sounds. But we managed it on the way back from Tonga seven years ago so it is possible. I'll be posting our conditions on YIT regularly from now on so that Gulf Harbour Radio know our position and intentions and can broadcast weather forecasts for our intended passage. Wish us luck. Cheers Janet

Sun Oct 1 8:12 2017 NZDT
Run: 17.6nm (31.9km)

Headed west from Kavala to Vunasea to track down one last family. Glorious sail and beautiful anchorage. Bright blue water and white sandy beaches. I'd forgotten its beauty. Here we made contact with Ala, Kuns, and Mere, part of the first family we met when we arrived at Kavala in 2015. How lovely it was to reconnect. After being fed glorious local food back at Solotavui, it was my turn to cook. Pretty low in provisions and despite pickings at local shops being pretty sparse, I knocked up a pretty impressive roast chicken dinner. The lovely John from DDU2 who has been accompanying us joined in. Now we head to Suva with only a week before we take the first good weather window. We have good internet till then so please send us messages/emails. Love to get news of home. X Janet Sent from my iPhone

Sun Sep 24 13:30 2017 NZDT
Run: 95.4nm (172.7km)

After an overnight sail we arrived at Kadavu, our final island stop before heading to Suva. We came here two and a half years ago and stayed three weeks. Lots of yachts come here and I wasn't sure how well remembered we would be. But the huge grins and hugs of recognition soon dispelled that. So lovely to see our Solotavui friends again. Sent from my iPhone

Wed Sep 13 14:03 2017 NZST
Run: 19.1nm (34.6km)

We sadly said goodbye to Harry at Rukuruku Village. Its a wonderful thing to spend time with one's adult children. While we wait for fair winds to sail to Kadavu we are busy preparing Navire for the final passage back to NZ. Our winter woolies festoon the boat, the warm breeze (27C) removing the musty odour of two and a half years of storage. In the village we've enjoyed kava drinking, meeting school children, some excellent snorkelling just near the boat, and a truck trip to town to buy fresh produce.
xx Janet

Sun Sep 3 13:12 2017 NZST
Run: 52.2nm (94.5km)

Arrived at Makogi island yesterday, a days sail south from Savusavu. It feels good to be heading south, homewards. Savusavu was hectic and it's nice to be on an island again. Really loving having Harry on board. Here we will explore the ruins of a leper colony, and snorkel. Many of the houses that were here last time we came, have vanished, destroyed in a cyclone 18 months ago. Xx Janet Sent from my iPhone

Thu Aug 31 7:15 2017 NZST
Run: 37.5nm (67.9km)

Back in Savusavu after a stunning 10 days in Kioa, and with my dear son Harry on board for a couple of weeks. At Kioa we feasted, explored the island and were made wonderfully welcomed into to the families of our friends there. After a magnificent farewell feast we were very sad to to leave, knowing we may not ever get back there again. Here in Savusavu we were welcomed back like long lost friends. Fiji really is such a treat. Today is a big day as the fridge repair guys come. Please all cross your fingers for us. We could have cold drinks by the end of the day! Saturday we head south to Makogi. X Janet Sent from my iPhone

Sun Aug 20 16:27 2017 NZST
Run: 38.8nm (70.2km)
Avg: 97knts
24hr: 2328nm

Back at Kioa. On our second day here we were invited to a funeral feast. Wonderful Tuvaluan fare, most of it grown on this island. We are visiting our lovely Tuvaluan friend Kailopa but have got to know many other people over our last several visits and are know quite well known in the village. We arrived with fish to give away from a large mahimahi, over a metre, that we caught on the way from Savusavu.
We only have about seven more weeks of this long sojourn to go. Next weekend my younger son Harry arrives which I'm very excited about. With him we travel back to Savusavu then down to Ovalau. After Harry leaves we have three weeks in Kadavu visiting the village that we got to know when we first arrived in Fiji over two years ago. The beginning of October sees us back in Suva preparing for the journey back to NZ. David's daughter Anna arrives to join us for the passage, as does Mark Durand, a friend made in Majuro, also fiddle player in the first iteration of BilgeWater Band. Then back to dear NZ. Sounds bloody cold there! The other night the temperature dropped to 20 degrees and we had to put extra blankets on. Now I'm sweltering in 30.
Once back in NZ I'm looking for a job and we want to buy a car, the job preferably up north but will take short term stuff anywhere. We are after an economic stationwagon. If anyone has any leads on job or car let me know.
We are very much looking forward to seeing all of you when we get back.
xx Janet

Sun Aug 20 16:27 2017 NZST
Run: 3.5nm (6.3km)

Naquiqui Creek, near Remote Resort We called into this lovely little anchorage on the way to Kioa to shelter from a southerly and stayed a few days. Travelling with John, Kiwi bass player, solo sailor from Tauranga. Enjoyed kava with a local family.
Janet

Sun Aug 20 16:03 2017 NZST
Run: 34.8nm (63km)

We settled into Savusavu for nearly a month, seduced by the music. The place was full of kiwis, several of then musicians. We reformed Bilgewater Band with John on bass, Jack on acoustic, Brian on keyboard, and occasionally the marina manager Horace on lead guitar. We were actually in demand and played one or two gigs a week at the marinas. I travelled down to Suva for dental work and enjoyed the big city for a few days.
Janet

Thu Jul 20 18:15 2017 NZST
Run: 6.7nm (12.1km)

Natuvu After David having to dive on the anchor and untangle it from the coral (for teh second time at Viani Bay) we headed round to Natuvu (see us on map in the link above) for the last stop on Aidan and Lisa's holiday. Had a rather dramatic stop with the dinghy painter (we have two lines attached after losing a dingy in Tonga seven years ago, rather foolishly the second one is not a floating line) got wrapped around the prop as we were reversing to dig the anchor in. Ripped out a deck fitting and one in the dinghy. Up before dawn we saw Aidan and Lisa onto their bus back to Labassa and their plane to Nadi.
Checked out the news while in range and see its rather chilly in NZ with roads closed by snow. We've just had our coolest day in 18 months at 24 degrees C. How will I ever cope with NZ.
Cheers Janet

Wed Jul 12 14:48 2017 NZST
Run: 6.5nm (11.8km)

Back at Viani Bay. More good music with Bubbles and Swift Sure. Pretty windy so played lots of 500 and started job hunting for me on our return to NZ. Foraged in the bush and got papaya, lemons, chilliest and drinking coconuts. Aidan had his first scuba dive under instruction from Kyle on Bubbles. He and Lisa cooked us the best looking and tasting nachos for dinner last night. Heading around to Natuvu for Aidan and Lisa to get bus tomorrow. Cheers Janet Sent from my iPhone

Tue Jul 11 11:06 2017 NZST
Run: 6.5nm (11.8km)

Back at Kioa with Aidan and Lisa on board. Travelled in a Fijian long boat with big outboard to pick up kids at Natuvu. Visited Kailopa at the Village and had a meal with Tupou, our host on the west side. Great local food. We took the guitar and swapped songs with the family. After another helping fabulous local fare at Kailopa's we head back to Viani Bay to hopefully get some diving for the kids. Janet Sent from my iPhone

how are you going to abandon the boat life when you are having so much fun.
Tue Jul 11 11:06 2017 NZST
Run: 38nm (68.8km)

Sailed from Savusavu to Viani Bay. 8 hours. Started off a bit breezy and lumpy but had to motor by the end of the day. We were greeted like old friends by Swift Sure and Blowing Bubbles. The social life was all on. Drinks on the beach, and two great music sessions on various catermerans. Went snorkeling on the reef. Viani Bay has good shelter except for southerlies, and good internet. Janet Sent from my iPhone

Mon Jun 26 16:51 2017 NZST
Run: 37.9nm (68.6km)

I love Savusavu. It's humming. Dozens of yachts moored here from all over the world. I've indulged my self in the vege market, a lovely music session with American boat Swift Sure, fast internet and cheap eating out. The next few days we deal with the mundane issues of repairing the fridge (again), tax return, provisioning etc. Then back to Kioa to meet up with David's son Aidan and a friend who will visit for a week. Janet Sent from my iPhone

Dear David, Lynda died today after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Actually, ‘battle’ is not entirely accurate. She accepted the inevitable outcome as soon as she received the diagnosis, and got on with life (and the planning of her death) in her inimitable style. Our children and her closest friends did a wonderful job in supporting her wish to die at home. I’m not sure that she fully understood how big a challenge she set us, but if it was a burden it was also a gift. Luke, Taare, Sam and Ari were all at the house when she died, and Luke and Taare were with her at the time. It was a peaceful end. She found freedom and joy in her later years (perhaps after she gave up trying to live with men; as my son-in-law Joseph once said “she has lousy taste in men”), and that was very evident in her final months, weeks even days. There were smiles when she was barely conscious. Signal of a life well lived. It is a strange thing to say goodbye to someone who was lover, wife, mother of my children, mortal enemy and finally friend. I’m glad we got to that point well before the end, and that she trusted me enough to give me enduring power of attorney. As it happened, her GP declared her mentally incapable of deciding and communicating her welfare needs just this morning, and I had finally had full legal control of my difficult ex-wife for a whole three hours before she made her escape. Perhaps that thought hurried her on her way. I wonder how you are, my friend. Tough stuff these later years, but you are setting the bar very high. Although I don't write, I think of you often. Arohanui, Bill

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Mon Jun 26 16:51 2017 NZST
Run: 6.6nm (11.9km)

Spent a couple of days in Viani Bay on our way back to Savusavu. Met Canadian boat Blowing Bubbles and had two wonderful afternoon music sessions with them. Back in internet range and loving it. Cheers Janet Sent from my iPhone

Sun Jun 18 14:03 2017 NZST
Run: 6.6nm (11.9km)

Visiting our dear friend Kailopa at Kioa. Enjoying quiet anchorage in the lee of the island. Although yesterday at 0730 we were boarded by the NZ navy and Fiji customs. Eight of them arrived in a zodiac to check if we were in Fiji legally and had our cruising permit. Fortunately that was all in order. We walk over the hill to the village most days but mostly hanging out on the boat. We said goodbye to dear cousin Douglas who has been with us since Wallis. A very enjoyable crew member. Today we hope to watch Fiji play Italy (rugby).
Back to Savusavu next week.

Good they (RNZN) did not check under the floor boards! Pleasure crewing aboard Navire - passage from Wallis to Fiji was quite special.
Mon Jun 12 7:39 2017 NZST
Run: 37.5nm (67.9km)
Weather: no wind, no cloud, 1013

sounds like a great diving day in Vianni Bay

Sat Jun 3 14:33 2017 NZST
Run: 2nm (3.6km)

Fiji is glorious, it's vibrant and lush and colourful. We arrived in Savusavu early Tuesday morning, after a three day passage from Wallis, tired but so so pleased to be back in familiar territory. At dawn we gratefully tied up to our mooring, and despite my having been awake since 11.30 the previous night we went exploring. The town was bustling, so energetic after sleepy Wallis.
I stood in the market and soaked up the greenness. We've been in a fresh produce desert for a year and a half. I loaded up with fresh pineapple, pink papaya, mouth tingling passionfruit, and salad goodies.
I propped myself up in the marina shower and sluiced my salty, sweaty body with sweet soft fresh water, my first land shower in months. Bliss. Every day has brought more delights. Lots of good company. The inlet is full with dozens of boats from all over the world, including kiwis. Eating out is cheap and tasty. Found a stainless steel welder for our leaking diesel tank, (late one night on passage discovered the full 110 liter tank was leaking - story to come in blog). And a fridge repair man who comes Monday to see if can revive our much needed refrigeration system. Massage, haircut....
We think we'll hang around up this end of Fiji for a couple of months, visiting various destinations from here. And oh yes... we have good fast internet - on the boat. Just luxury. Thanks for all your messages on passage, they are treasured. Cheers Janet

Tue May 30 3:45 2017 NZST
Speed: 1 notknts
Run: 134nm (242.5km)
Avg: 6.7knts
24hr: 160.3nm
Weather: 15-20 knots E clear starry night, bar 1012 3am. Hove to. In the morning we head into Savusavu to check in to Fiji after a two and a half day passage from Wallis. Looking forward to a long shower, full night's sleep, internet (especially emails from home -I've only had gmail access twice in the last 6 weeks), ice, Fijian curries, slightly cooler temperatures, fresh fruit and veg... x Janet

Hove to outside Savusavu waiting for dawn

Mon May 29 7:41 2017 NZST
Speed: 6.4knts
Run: 2981.5nm (5396.5km)
Avg: 66.9knts
24hr: 1605nm
Weather: 22 k SE, 10% cloud, bar 1013.1

ETA Savusavu early morning May 30. Fast tradewind sailing.

Sat May 27 11:06 2017 NZST
Speed: at anchorknts
Run: 2820.1nm (5104.4km)
Avg: 820.5knts
24hr: 19692.6nm
Weather: 15 knots SSE 50% cloud cover, bar 1010 After three lovely weeks in Wallis we have cousin Douglas on board for his first ocean passage. Today we head off on the three day voyage to Fiji continuing our voyage southward. We did manage to get access to internet for a millisecond on Wallis. Thanks to all who posted comments, just lovely to have communication with home. We'll have much better access in Fiji. Cheers Janet

Leaving Wallis for Savusavu Fiji

Sat May 27 7:39 2017 NZST
Weather: 65%cc, 15SE, 1011

leaving Wallis today at 1400 to head for Savusavu Fiji

Tue May 23 7:33 2017 NZST
Weather: beautiful day, 60%cc, NNE15, 1006

The Lark still anchored beside them. Good company

Mon May 22 8:17 2017 NZST
Weather: rain all weekend, 100%cc, no wind

tanks full!

Sat May 20 7:35 2017 NZST
Weather: sunny, ese20, 80%cc, 1009

Three boats inWallis now. The Lark arrived yesterday and there is also a norwegian boat.

Thu May 18 7:35 2017 NZST
Weather: ene18, 95%cc, 1011

hard to hear on the radio today

Tue May 16 7:47 2017 NZST
Weather: 19E, 30%cc, 1009

great folk. They hiked yesterday and got a lot of rides. And they are enjoying the cheese.

Mon May 15 8:00 2017 NZST
Weather: NE16, 30%cc, 29C, 1010, 90%RH

will go ashore today for internet use

Sat May 13 7:48 2017 NZST
Run: 3.4nm (6.2km)
Weather: 15N, 100%cc, 1008, 27C, 85%humidity

a much better day after 3 days of torrential rain an d winds and thunder. It went n to SE to N but Ellas influence is now much diminished. David has a wonderful signal at the moment and really easy to copy him. Apologies for not reporting for the last couple of days but Patricia has been quickly leaving the radio room for the hospital.

Thu May 11 18:21 2017 NZST
Speed: at anchorknts
Run: 3.4nm (6.2km)
Weather: 20 knots gusting 30 N 100% cloud cover, rain For those of you aware of hurricanes in this neck of the woods, yup, Ella is close by, but not dangerously so. Buckets of rain all last night and today, together with up to 35 knots of wind. We are in the most protected bay in Wallis, our anchor sunk in thick mud. We had planned a day ashore but have, instead, been boat bound, reading, playing cards and doing the odd chore while Ella charged along a couple of hundred miles south of us. Things should be a lot more placid tomorrow and we'll explore more of this magnificent island. Cheers David

Wallis

Great to see you are in Uvea guys, such a fantastic place and the locals are wonderful - hope you have some high school French to get you by. Most of all, make sure you get to Bird Island! GPS 13 11.156S 176 12.245W It is magic. Check the map on the Places page (under tools) on YIT for the other walks and snorkel sites we have recommended from when we were there in 2012. Or if your internet time is too limited then you can do a YIT places request around you and get the info that way. Enjoy!
Wed May 10 7:31 2017 NZST
Weather: no wind, 100%cc, 1009

sounds like they are enjoying the friendly folk of Wallis

You made it! Well done Intrepid Travellers. Hope Wallis is a nice place to be? Phew! What a journey...
Tue May 9 7:45 2017 NZST
Run: 16.4nm (29.7km)
Weather: no wind, 90%cc

will be checking in today

Tue May 9 0:30 2017 NZST

We made it. We arrived off the island of Wallis at dawn, the sea so rough that is was debatable if we'd get in to the lagoon through the passage through the reef. We hoved to for a couple of hours and tried at low tide successfully steering through the narrow break in the coral. We wove through the coral filled lagoon and dropped anchor in a sheltered bay. 11 days, 1500 miles, our longest passage yet.
David Delighted to be at anchor. Ahhhhhhh, flat water. So gorgeous. Lush green hills. Well kept houses. Within minutes we ha Janet Big thanks to Gulf Harbour Radio in NZ and yachts Seal and Swift Sure who were monitoring our position each day, also GHR gave us daily weather reports. Looking forward to getting 11 days email. More news once we have rested up Cheers Janet

Mon May 8 4:21 2017 NZST
Speed: 5.2knts
Run: 134.2nm (242.9km)
Avg: 5.3knts
24hr: 126.8nm
Weather: 12 knots WNW one metre swell 100% cloud cover squally Will update tonight from inside lagoon. Send comments so I get all this lovely communication from home when I finally get my gmail tomorrow. Cheers Janet

13 miles to go to waypoint at Wallis, then hope to go in pass at slack water in the morning

Good progress guys! You will be pleased to learn (I'm sure your already know) that Wallis and Futuna voted by > 80% for Emmanuel Macron. Hope abounds. Including that your last grounding is behind you! Keep heading south... Love Bill and Fifi.

You are taking on things that most of us would not even begin to dream of doing! Safe travels and kia kaha!.
Sun May 7 2:57 2017 NZST
Speed: 5.2knts
Run: 125.3nm (226.8km)
Avg: 5.8knts
24hr: 140.2nm
Weather: calm negligible swell clear, beautiful milky way. Janet

motoring. 130 miles to go. Saw a ship. Big event at sea. Arrive day after tomorrow!

You guys rock.
Sat May 6 5:30 2017 NZST
Speed: 5.4knts
Run: 121.9nm (220.6km)
Avg: 5knts
24hr: 120.1nm
Weather: 5 knots SW half metre swell 100% cloud cover Day 10. 236 miles to go to Wallis. Two more night watches to go. Wind pipes up and dies down almost hourly. Got 30 knots from a nearby squall a few hours ago. More news when we get to Wallis. Cheers Janet

motoring

Fri May 5 5:09 2017 NZST
Speed: 5.7knts
Run: 148.7nm (269.1km)
Avg: 5.1knts
24hr: 122.2nm
Weather: 5 knots NW negligible swell starry starry night with flashes of lightening from the horizon Day 10. 338 miles to go. This 1500 mile passage is the longest we have done. It really feels as if we are in the middle of nowhere. No ships, no land but we did have a visit from a pod of dolphins yesterday, and two flying fish tried to join us but expired on deck. Its 4am and I sit on deck, gazing into the night, dreaming of the delights of arriving in Wallis. A swim, a full night's sleep, find some ice so we can have a cold beer, brie and French wine, fresh vegetables, lush greenery, hills (remember for 15 months we have been living on a narrow strip of coral no higher than 2 metres above sea level). If we are really lucky, a cafe. And internet so we can communicate with all of you (this is sent through a radio). Cheer Janet

motoring

Sounds blissful! Following your journey with interest.

Sounds blissful! Following your journey with interest.
Wed May 3 23:57 2017 NZST
Speed: 1knts
Run: 60.1nm (108.8km)
Avg: 3.7knts
24hr: 88.1nm
Weather: 5knots S negligible swell 100% cloud cover Current taking us west. Can't find a course that takes us anywhere near our destination. So we are hove to awaiting some useful wind. Frustrated. I'm going to change the timing of the next post to about 5 am. Cheers David

hove to

Wed May 3 7:34 2017 NZST
Run: 46.3nm (83.8km)
Avg: 4.7knts
24hr: 112nm
Weather: 11ne

516 TO GO

Tue May 2 21:39 2017 NZST
Speed: 6.4knts
Run: 145.5nm (263.4km)
Avg: 6.2knts
24hr: 149.2nm
Weather: 3knots NE 0.5 m swell from NE mackeral sky Mackeral cloud on a black black sky. Crescent moon showering the smooth, undulating sea in silver. Stunning night. Crossed the dateline. Wahoo! Cheers David

motoring

Mon May 1 22:15 2017 NZST
Speed: 5.8knts
Run: 83.5nm (151.1km)
Avg: 3.4knts
24hr: 82.3nm
Weather: 3knots NE 0.5 m swell from NE clear sky

ghosted along all day at 2.5 knots under spinnaker. Lovely. Now motoring.

The decision to fire up the motor, it is a painful moment. But let the doldrums pass.
Sun Apr 30 21:54 2017 NZST
Run: 138.3nm (250.3km)
Avg: 5.5knts
24hr: 131.7nm

The fair breeze blew The white foam flew The furrow followed free We were the first that ever burst Into that silent sea Down dropped the breeze The sails dropped down 'Twas sad as sad could be And we did speak only to break The silence of the sea Not so dramatic nor so complete as Coleridge tells it but the doldrums nonetheless. We did burst, with white foam, into that silent sea and ran thus for 700 miles, flying along. Now if we break 4 knots there is celebration. We motored some today on a flat sea, until a zephyr put shape in the sails, held and built, built to an astonishing 6 knots of speed but then died away. Then returned and died again. Right now we are barelling along at 4.5 knots. A stunning crescent moon in the black sky dancing silver coins on the sea, a sparkling path right to our ship. Magic.

Sat Apr 29 20:42 2017 NZST
Run: 152.8nm (276.6km)
Avg: 5.9knts
24hr: 142.1nm

Greetings from the South Pacific. We're over the equator. All well. Janet slowly finding her sea legs. Cheers David

Fri Apr 28 18:54 2017 NZST
Run: 132.7nm (240.2km)
Avg: 6.2knts
24hr: 148.1nm

Greetings from the equator, nearly. Another starry night and sunny day. We're making good progress, more than a quarter of the way to Wallis, but expect our pace to slow gradually. All good. Cheers David Click on the link below to see where we are.

Thu Apr 27 21:24 2017 NZST
Run: 89.4nm (161.8km)
Avg: 137.5knts
24hr: 3300.9nm

Day 3 and trucking along well. Closing in on latitude of Tarawa, Kiribati. Janet suffering sea sickness. Luckily I'm doing fine. Great weather - sunny days, starry nights. No moon for a few more days. No squalls apart from one leaving Majuro. Long may it last.
Cheers David

Thu Apr 27 20:45 2017 NZST
Run: 277.5nm (502.3km)

We are underway. Its been pretty windy, up to 30 knots easterly last night. I'm still seasick so will write more when feeling better.
Click on the link to see where are.
Janet

Mon Apr 17 13:27 2017 NZST
No position sent.

position 07 06.182n 171 22.427e The preparation goes on. We found out we could stay 14 days beyond our visa expiry which we were delighted about. We can now leave late enough to avoid the hurricane season down south. 11 days to go Despite careful planning it always seems to take longer to get ready than I expect. Provisioning is largely done but now the freezer is failing. Things really deteriorate in the heat up here and I'm having to virtually rebuild our Bimini. David has been up the mast checking the rigging and lubing the sail tracks, now his head is in the engine bay changing filters and oil. Plus a round of farewells including celebrating David's 67th birthday.
Stay in touch while we are at sea. We have a way of accessing email at sea but make them short with no pictures or attachments.
On the way home! Janet Sent from my iPhone

Tue Mar 21 17:57 2017 NZDT
No position sent.

position 07 06.182n 171 22.427e Hello dear friends, Suddenly, after lingering here for over a year it is only weeks till we sail south. I feel ready to move on again. And David nearly ready to move on. He put his back out and was in serious pain for a couple of weeks poor man. But in recovery now and is back into boat preparation. I'm enjoying provisioning and readying the boat for travel. The last of our orders from the US is winging its way here, final goodies till we get back to NZ. We've had good times and sad times with our freinds here. One of our number drowned snorkelling a few weeks ago, and David got to help with a burial at sea. More on that in a later blog post. Social life has been wonderful. It really does take time to develop a community. Its one of the things I'm really looking forward to doing back in NZ. Putting down roots. And of the edible kind too. We often talk about what we will grow at Rawene and have been trawling gardening books.
In just a couple of months we'll be in the South Pacific, hopefully Wallis Island, a little piece of France, with cooler temperatures, lush bush, hills, and best of all French cheese and wine. Then Fiji.
I just put up a post recently on running aground and noone said a thing! Surely despite us surviving to tell the tale you would send some "shock, horror" emails! Is there anybody out there? I'm not doing very well catching the blog up. I want to get the northbound posts up to Majuro then get posting on time on our way south, and intersperse our travel posts with stories about our time here in Majuro.
So now back to work, I am sewing a new strip along the edge of our headsail. A new skill for me. I hope my stiching is straight enough.
Cheers Janet

Mon Feb 13 14:57 2017 NZDT

Feb 13 The offshore preparation has started in earnest. David is sanding our tatty cockpit in preparation for applying non-slip paint, essential at sea for wet conditions. I have just finished sewing a windchute and will soon start on sail repair and restitching the bimini (shelter over cockpit.) I'm starting to think about what provisions to get, ordering stuff from US, immigration, checking safety equipment and electronics, and taxes and insurances (it seems these often fall due when we are at sea!).
I've just put up a post on YIT about a storm we encountered in Tuvalu - check it out, and some Fiji food posts on my culinary blog at http://cookingclubwellington1.wordpress.com/=20 Great job on sending us messages and emails - so good to hear from home.
Cheers Janet

David and I have enjoyed following your adventures at sea.Hope you have a smooth journey back to NZ, and to Rawene. This summer in Auckland not a great one for sailing - lots of grey and wind. And we've spent lots of time and money fixing things on our yacht - the joys of boat ownership! Looking forward to Easter , hoping to spend time at Kawau Island. You'll remember Lin and Larry from that night we met - sadly his dementia has got to the stage that Lin could not manage and he is in a Care Home on the mainland.Lin very active and involved in the community, and sailing her little yacht. Do get in touch when in Auckland. My mobile 0276444382

Love reading about your adventures mum!

test
Wed Feb 8 17:27 2017 NZDT
Run: 0.1nm (0.2km)

Three months till we head south! We have internet again and a friend on shore kindly lets us sit on her deck with our laptops and use her FAST internet connection. So now I can post regularly.
We love your comments on the blog. Keep sending them. I have had a few technical hitches on the blog - mostly user error but our ever patient blog master has guided me to the light and hopefully you shouldn't get any more 'access denied' messages. I'm working with him to try and get the blog icons to show on the Google map, and he's advised me to make the pictures bigger. So watch this space - the next story will be about a storm we weathered behind a one metre high island in Tuvalu. And there is a coral encounter to come.
January started with 22 days of no internet. Talk about cutting off your right arm! David wrote a song about it which always brings the house down.
Our timing was sublime and one day after the internet came back we both came down with a nasty flu for two weeks, leaving us boat bound and .... with no internet! But now we are out and about, good yachtie social life happening again, and are getting prepared for our 1500 mile journey to Wallis Island, a passage of about three weeks.
Send news from home.
xx Janet

Love your blogs. Enjoying everyone as they come along. Can't wait for the rest of the story. We're still in Westhaven. Plan to circumnavigate New Zealand next spring then off to the islands in 2018. Ian retires in September/October - yay!! Just love reading your stories - thanks so much for sharing. Cheryl and Ian xxx
Sat Jan 7 20:24 2017 NZDT
Run: 0.1nm (0.2km)

You know you are in a third world country when you have no internet for nearly a month. The undersea internet cable is damaged. It was going to take a week to repair. We can live without it for seven days we thought, but today, 14 days later, we get a radio message to say it will be January 18. And some, I imagine. No email, no Facebook, no bank site access, can't pay our tax, and definitely no posting blogs on YIT. I'm posting this via our single-side-band radio which sends text emails only. Fortunately the Telecommunications people are channelling satellite bandwidth to the banking system so I can use my credit card otherwise we'd be eating beans three meals a day.
Aside from feeling like my umbilical chord has been severed, 2017 is okay. After all we are coming home this year. Home to familiar things. Good food, old friends, family, cooler temperatures, English language with all its nuances,and INTERNET! NZ is a great country.
Happy New Year to you all.
Janet

Hi Janet Love your blog as usual. When you return to NZ will you be heading back to Wellington at all? I would love to spend as much time as you could spare discussing you adventures especially as we hope to follow a similar track in a couple of years time. I have lots of questions if you are happy to answer them. Do you have an e mail address I could perhaps contact you on ? How available have you found Gluten Free foods products to be? Regards Jan s/v Alishan

Happy New year you two! Ah, there's no place like home, especialy when it's NZ. Looking forward to catching up when you return.

Navire - navire - 701 Jun 2017

Passage Log 1 Majuro to Wallis At last time to get some posts up about our 1500 mile passage from the Marshall Islands to Wallis, from the northern hemisphere back to the south. Currently we are in Savusavu in Fiji. *** Day 1 April 25, 2017 Janet Position: Majuro Up at dawn, battonning down everything that might fly around the cabin if we fall off a big wave. We were leaving Majuro in the Marshall Islands after a 15- month sojourn. Boarding ladder up, dinghy secured, food ready for snacks and Read more...

watch meals. I still felt like we could have been better prepared even though fellow sailors in the fleet sagely told us, "You are never completely ready to leave, just go". There were still final tasks to be done but I was psychologically ready to leave, ready to head down to the familiar South Pacific, ready to start our long journey home. I turned the engine on. Motoring gently forward we dropped the mooring that we had been safely secured to for over a year, and turned toward the west. Karen, now one of my dearest buddies, from the yacht Seal, blew on a hooter, and another boat called farewell. Yet more goodbyes came through the VHF. We were seen off properly. I felt sad about leaving the community we'd developed in our time on this tiny atoll. We motored the dozen miles across the lagoon to the pass in light winds and overcast conditions. Before heading out to the ocean we raised the main, shaking out half a year of dust from the sail. We followed a track on our chart out through the well-marked pass, we'd it laid on our incoming journey like the trail of slime a snail leaves in its wake. Just as well because at the very moment we entered the narrow gap in the reef the skies opened up, reducing visibility considerably. I felt rushed and a little anxious. I always do when we set out into the empty endless unknown planes of the ocean. I knew we wouldn't see land for at least a fortnight. I get anxious about the inevitable seasickness and tiredness that I know I will have to endure. Anxious about having to cope with squalls that pounce on the boat with their payload of sudden high winds and downpours, necessitating quick action reducing sail. I'm not a good sailor anyway and in the six months since our last outing I felt like I had forgotten the little I knew. Also this was our longest passage, and with just the two of us. Out in the ocean it was bit breezy so we put a reef in the main. To get east of Majuro atoll we were hard on the wind, bouncing through the waves. Conditions were 'Lumpy' as David wrote in the log. We got around the top of the atoll into the passage between Majuro and the neighbouring atoll Arno, and had Chinese takeaways for lunch on a more comfortable angle. Then the wind died. The wind dying is often not a gradual process where the boat slows down then you turn on the engine. No, it plays with you. Teasingly it flickers in and out. You adjust the sails or the course then the speed suddenly increases and whammo the boat is facing in the opposite direction, or heeled hard over, then it dies again, up and down till eventually the boat just wallows. Now, no wind. Nothing. So engine on. Turning the engine on at the beginning of a 1500 mile passage is no lightly made decision. We don't carry enough fuel to motor that distance. However sometimes motoring just a few miles can get you into an area of more wind, a good strategic move. And sure enough an hour later the wind kicked in, 10, 15, up to 23 knots by the wee hours of the night, so we switched the engine off and saved our precious fuel. Good run day one, 141 miles. Mostly in the right direction. *** Day 2 April 26 Position 5 53.013n 172 48.994e No squalls overnight but put a second reef in the main as the wind speed was 20- 25 knots all day. Chinese takeaways for lunch again. Eat, sleep, on watch, keep us on course. In my case, survive. David is doing just fine. But I'm feeling nauseous. All I want to do is sleep. But the environment is not conducive to it. One of us is always on watch, day and night. We watch for ships, but we hardly ever see one, in our thousands of miles of passages we have seen less than a dozen. We watch for squalls. Lots of these in this region. We watch the course, wind shifts and currents can change our heading. We watch the sails, adjusting them up and down and in and out, responding to the ever changing wind speed. Off watch we try and sleep in our sea berths in the main cabin. At sea the bow goes up and down over each wave making it too rough to sleep in our usual bed in the V berth. If you read any literature on sleep it recommends a cool, dark, quiet environment to get the best rest. Well its hot below, over 30 degrees C. =46rom time to time waves crash on the cabin top so most of the time we keep all the hatches closed. And its far from quiet. Waves crash on the hull, sometimes the wind howls and from time to time the engine roars into life, or the radio. The bunks have lee cloths to catch you as the boat rolls with each wave. Oh, yes, the sleep books say seven to eight hours is ideal. At night we do six hour watches so get five hours sleep in a row, if we are lucky. 128 miles today. Not bad. *** Day 3 April 27 Position 3 46.261n 174 22.051e This lowly crew-member is not in good shape. I'm nauseous, tired and injured. Late last night I was standing by the chart table when a larger than usual wave hit the boat. I crashed into the solid stainless steel bar that surrounds the stove and bruised my ribs. Now its painful to do anything with my left arm and I can't lie on that side. The sky is clear and sunny but the wind is blowing 25-30 knots and its pretty bouncy out there right now. Navire is happy though, in her element, she is leaping over the waves. Its hot, 30 degrees. And not likely to get any cooler as we get closer to the equator. I'd like to get my energy back so I can function and cook and eat. When I move I just want to head for the rail and throw up. My ribs hurt and g-forces from each wave threaten to smash me into something again. So I sit here checking the horizon every so often, making sure there are no ships, and keep us heading south-east. The chart table seems a 100 miles away. Every hour I make a supreme effort and go down and do the log. Then I dash back out, hook myself on, check the horizon and slowly recover.=20 David is on the foredeck. One of the skylights above the V-berth is leaking and our bed and all the stuff stored on it is drenched in salt water. Lovely. David is wearing a harness, clipped onto the jackline, naked. Mmm. I'm trying to make lunch. One trip down to put water on to boil noodles. Another to put the noodles in the pot. When they are done I add a prawn takeaway into it. I have no appetite but I make myself eat. It helps. On my watch we ran out of wind altogether and I turned the engine on. I know, I know, we can't motor all the way but it means we can get some easting and charge the batteries that are worryingly underperforming. 141 miles again. Powering along. ***=20 Day 4 3am April 27 Position: 0 52.604n 176 07. 317e Just endured a big squall that lasted quite a long time. We were all over the place - the wind increased and changed direction, and now the sea is rough. Took a few waves over the bow and one in the cockpit. But now I've got us pointing south-east again. I snuggle back into my dry(ish) corner in the dodger and dream. I'd like a double bed. No, make that queen size, and crisp clean cotton sheets. No salt, no sweat. And a bath. Oh yes, with scented oils, and the room lit with candles. The wind could howl outside my solid house and I wouldn't worry about going off course, reefing sails, or the anchor dragging. But for now we are out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I don't think I'm going to get much dozing this watch. You never know when the next squall is going to hit. I'm just going to give the wind vane another click to port. Less than a thousand miles to go now. Today we cross the equator. In another few days, the dateline. I mentally calculate our arrival time - if we are covering about two degrees a day, and Wallis is at 13 degrees south, we'll arrive in six or seven days. I feel salty and smelly. My hair is going into dreads. I think I'll have a shower today. Ah the joys of sailing. David is doing just fine by the way. He's much hardier than me. =20 =20 =20 =20

Navire - navire - 1703 Apr 2017

=20 Abaiang, Kiribati, One degree north of the equator December 22, 2015 (Posted from Majuro, April 2017) Abaiang, Abaiang. A destination to linger at, not a port of call on the way to somewhere else. I longed to stop awhile somewhere. Till then our journey had consisted of three or four day ocean passages between atolls. No sooner than we=E2=95=92d put the anchor down we were straight into provisioning, fueling up and watching weather for the next leg. But Abaiang was one day=E2=95=92s sail Read more...

from Tarawa, the main island of Kiribati. It had no main port, or supermarkets or gas stations. A place just to visit. *** The previous morning we upped anchor and followed our path back out through the coral of Tarawa harbour. Despite the forecasted wind not arriving we motored north equipped with letters from Immigration and Customs giving us permission for a ten-day stay at Abiang, an atoll just north of Tarawa. A puff of wind skittered across the glassy surface prompting David to put out the spinnaker and turn the engine off. The wind toyed with us for a moment then dropped to 1.5 knots. The spinnaker drooped so down it came. Motor back on as we had to get to Abaiang on time for high tide to have enough depth to go through the pass into the lagoon. We had five hours to make 20 miles. We had crew. On our truck outing around Tarawa we=E2=95=92d fallen in love with our driver Tietau and his wife Meriin. We=E2=95=92d visited their very simple little house in Betio, home to their large extended family, and shared Kiribati food with them. It transpired that Merriin=E2=95=92s parents lived on Abiang, along with her much missed five-year old son. When we offered them a ride up there for Christmas they jumped at it. *** =E2=95=A5We are moving away from the equator,=E2=95=99 I said with delight. =E2=95=A5We may have to use a blanket at night,=E2=95=99 David quipped. Yeah right, I thought, as another rivulet of sweat ran down my back. The blankets were staying stowed till we got back to Fiji the following year. We put Tietau to work grating coconuts and in no time he produced three jars of rich cream. He paused for a cigarette then David had him back straight on the next task. =E2=95=A5Your job is to catch us a fish,=E2=95=99 he instructed. Tietau happily obliged and played the line. I went forward to join Meriin on the bow. She was feeling a little queasy. She told me,=E2=95=A5I woke up this morning and said to Tietau =E2=95=98We=E2=95=92re going on the yacht today.=E2=95=92=E2=95=99 I was delighted that they had been excited as us about the prospect of travelling with on Navire. =E2=95=A5My parents don=E2=95=92t know we are coming,=E2=95=99 she said. =E2=95=A5And they certainly won=E2=95=92t be expecting us to arrive on a yacht.=E2=95=99 She was looking forward to seeing her five- year old son who lived on Abaiang with his grandparents. Long oily swells passed under the hull, but my stomach behaved, as it had all the way from Fiji. I=E2=95=92d had two months of no seasickness over several ocean passages. Now I just needed to nail sleeping well at sea. Headsail up, headsail down, motor on, motor off, the hours passed. =20 I spotted the low profile of Abiang on the horizon. All the islands in the area were less than three metres above high tide. But no one we spoke to seemed particularly concerned about rising sea levels, but there was plenty of evidence of it happening with significant amounts of seawall building activity going on. I longed for a good nights=E2=95=92 sleep. I knew Abiang would be calmer than Tarawa, less fetch likely. But I hadn=E2=95=92t solved the bug problem. At this stage I didn=E2=95=92t know how tenacious the bloody things were and that four months later I would still be trying to eradicate them. The culprits were like very large fleas. That night I caught two on my body, bloated with blood. *** The deck was too hot for us to eat breakfast outside. We had to be careful not touch any of the brass trim on the deck or it burned our flesh. I looked at the clouds on the horizon, peppered with squalls. We could do with one now, I thought, I would stand naked on deck and get drenched with fresh water. But the squalls passed us by. The sea was the deepest royal blue. So calm I could see perfect reflections of the puffy white clouds scattered along the horizon. I checked the fishing lines. Mmmm, looks like pasta for dinner, I thought. The engine rumbled on. Sweat trickled into my eyes. The water in the pass was so clear it looked very shallow. We kept checking the depth gauge to reassure ourselves the bottom was indeed several metres below us. Anahata, one of our fleet, volunteered to go through first and wove her way through the coral bombies, the rest of us following close behind, heading down to Tanuau at the southern end of the atoll, Meriin=E2=95=92s parents=E2=95=92 village. It was very shallow near shore so we had to anchor a long way out. We all dived in for a swim, first one in weeks not having wanted to risk our lives swimming at Tarawa. Chuck declared us the Polar Bears Club =E2=95=A8 maybe a North American thing, as swimming at Xmas is in mid-winter. The water is glorious. We finished the day with drinks on Free Spirit. Now that=E2=95=92s the cruising life. After a blissful calm night=E2=95=92s sleep, not being eaten by insects for a change, Chris from Anahata came by in a dinghy providing a taxi ride to shore. Before we even hit the shore Merriin was on the beach to greet us. We hugged like old friends. Wow, this place was super traditional. Every structure was made of local materials, thatched rooves, cooking fires, and even a sleeping platform out over the tide. No corrugated iron, water tanks, barely any modern building materials. =20 David We were ushered along a couple of logs to their over-water bungalow, recently completed. This was a thatched platform suspended about ten feet above the water, carpeted with pandanus mats and cooled by the breeze. Constructed entirely from local materials, lashed together with coconut fibre twine, it was utterly romantic. Just like the bungalows at Likiulikiu without the crisp sheets. We'd seen structures like these at a high end Fijian resort which, with the addition of crisp sheets and a mattress, were let for $NZ2200 per night. Janet On shore we met Merriin=E2=95=92s mother and father, the father had a little English, the mother none, and her gorgeous five year old son. Our arrival was obviously expected and lunch was served immediately. We sat out in the hut on poles above the lagoon. Crayfish arrived, crabs, fried fish, local sweet kumera, fresh coconuts to drink, and the ubiquitous rice. We imitang (white people) ate first, as custom dictates, with our fingers. We learn =E2=95=98kangkang=E2=95=92, delicious. We joked and laughed and the waves crash on the shore under us. We didn=E2=95=92t notice the wind building. We start making arrangements. Merriin explained that they have their Christmas meal on Christmas Eve day and go to church Christmas morning. We had been trying to work out a way we can return their hospitality. I asked if it was okay if we brought food to share to a meal, and Merriin shakes her head. But Lauri is more persistent and explained =E2=95=A5We haven=E2=95=92t got room to host a meal for you on any of our boats but could we bring a meal in on Christmas Day.=E2=95=99 =E2=95=A5Yes=E2=95=99, said Merriin, =E2=95=A5but only if we can supply the plates and do the dishes.=E2=95=99 No argument from me on that score. Back at the anchorage, Navire was bouncing. So much for a period of respite, I wanted tranquility, just a few days, please. *** I sit here in the cockpit and type. Just had a shower in preparation to go to Free Spirit for belated Christmas strategy meeting with Lauri and Berringer. God I=E2=95=92m sweating already. Navire is bucking on her anchor. This is not a good anchorage in this wind but we are committed to Christmas here now. If the wind continues from the north we=E2=95=92ll go and join Clara Catherine at the north end of the lagoon, several hours away. I want peaceful days and nights, calm swimming, no noise of wind, or concerns about dragging. No points for guessing what the weather did=E2=95=94 =20

Visiting Teitau and Merrin
Expert on the job
Fish for lunch?
Not a breath of wind
Meriin on the foredeck
Teitau and Merriin's mum
Traditional dwellings
Kitchen
Our dining room
Local food
Water supply
Lunch
The first night

Navire - navire - 2304 Mar 2017

Kiribati first impressions 01 22.067n 172 55.684e See updates from YIT December 2015 (Posted from Majuro March 2017) *** Just in case anyone thinks we are still on our way to the Marshall Islands, these posts are about our trip north in 2015. I'm still getting up to date. A quick summary of the interim time is that we arrived in Majuro in January 2016 and shortly thereafter decided to settle here for a year. Its now March 2017 and we are again preparing to go to sea, to head back to the glorious Read more...

South Pacific. I will get the upward journey posts up to Majuro, then jump to our journey south, hopefully interspersing this with posts about our time in Majuro. *** Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas), our first northern hemisphere landfall. Check out our position - 01 22.067n 172 55.684e December 17, 2015 David email to friend: What caught my eye on first gazing around our anchorage was the amount of rusting steel. I counted a couple dozen wrecks in various stages of decay. They were scattered on the reef to the west, on the foreshore of the town, and in the sea all around us. These were the visible ones. What wreckage lay beneath the surface? The holding in Tarawa was good but if you look at the atoll and where the main centre, Betio, is you'll see it's exposed from the east through north to WNW. Its a long fetch across the lagoon and a vicious chop is the norm, at least both times we were there. Our little dinghy actually managed it quite well but we always got soaked in unswimmably filthy water, generally had to bail and often felt in danger of being swamped. The dinghy tie-up area is even more filthy still and backs onto a rubbish tip so the air is disgusting. There is a road resurfacing project in which stage one, the removal of all old tar, was complete but no sign of a new surface. In the dry there was a cloud of dust and in the wet vast mud puddles to be forded. Driving is a slow business of avoiding potholes, which is impossible, and carefully easing your vehicle into and out of endless craters. An unpleasant place to be. *** Janet Yes it was a challenge for our little dinghy. Launching it was difficult with trying not to bash it against the side of the boat, scarring the hull. Motoring in to shore was not too bad but coming back into the waves was damp and dangerous as we were usually heavily laden with food, and diesel. Unloading was a nightmare. The land was dusty. It was hot and we sweated and struggled in the heat, leaking fluids by the gallon. Yet there was a certain vibrancy there. There were people everywhere in the streets, walking, unlike in Tuvalu where almost everyone was on a motorbike. And they were active, building the new road, building seawalls (lots of evidence of global warming), shopping, going places. *** We were a fleet of eleven yachts by then. I'll introduce you as these people had been our constant companions since Tuvalu and would be till we joined the larger fleet in Majuro Free Spirit, Lauri and Chuck, American, only together a year, and recently married. Delightfully and refreshingly in love. Anahata - David, South African but now resident in Canada, photographer, Crew - Chris, southern American gentleman from Virginia. Exodus - Deanne and Tim American aeronautical engineers, and their teenage boys Brendan and Alex Eos II - brave little Australian boat. Slade and Lahnee and their two very small and very gorgeous daughters Kiani and Ahia Kai. True Blue V - Australians Leanne and Craig Menkar - crazy French Giles and his professional online gambler son Sylvan Skua - French Paul, Aussie/French Berrenger and her lovely four-year old son Ulysses Clara Catherine - Americans Amanda and Brian (piano accordion player) Arial IV - Swedish, Eric, fleet doctor, and Bergitta Catharpin Blue - Marylin and Sam, American who we never managed to meet up with en route but they were in our daily radio net. Stella - Canadian Bob who we later visited in Victoria =20 We looked out for each other. People gave us rides in to land when the sea was too rough, and we shared information on what to buy where. The group shared a truck to immigration, and went out for dinner together. What a great chance to get to know people for more than five minutes. *** David Janet arranged a tour of the atoll for four yacht crews, on the back of a truck. One couple had the foresight to bring squabs which made all the difference. An absolute highlight. Our driver, Tiitau, pronounced Sitau - s is represented as ti - and his wife, Meriin, were special. They had good English, understood our wishes and did everything in their power to see that these all came true. Fresh produce and eggs, scarce on the island, were at the top of our wish list and we returned with fresh limes, bok choy, pumpkin, bananas, fresh basil, drinking coconuts, pawpaw but no eggs. We never tired of returning the enthusiastic waves of children, open mouthed at a truckload of Imitang, white people driving along the island's one road. At the end of the road not far past the airport we waded thigh deep to the next islet, Tiitau's home island. He explained the custom of visitors brushing their faces with sand, the gesture representing a joining with the new land. Faces suitably adorned we enjoyed a superb lunch of local ingredients, most dishes based around a seafood. No one was disappointed. Meriin and Tiitau, whom we had to arm-twist to join us for lunch, sang a local song in beautiful harmony so, of course Janet and I responded with Tu Tira Mai. We reveled in a couple of hours of textbook island paradise: thatched table looking out over turquoise coral palm-fringed foreshore on to a rippling cobalt sea, mysterious islets in the misty distance. Magnificent food, congenial company. Before crossing back to the truck we were shown through a boat-building yard - all wood construction of vessels ranging from local interisland launches, canoes, to a large trimeran for an Australian client. OSH would close the place in a heartbeat. The skies opened up on the homeward journey. We all got happily soaked and pleasantly cooled. Everyone's number one day in Kiribati. =20 =20 =20

Betio anchorage
dinghy tie up
heading off to clear in with customs and immigration
Fresh eggs
Tiki tour of Tarawa
Causeway
roadside houses
little market
church
fish farm

Navire - navire - 2303 Mar 2017

Kiribati first impressions TE 01 22.067n 172 55.684e See updates from YIT December 2015 (Posted from Majuro March 2017) *** Just in case anyone thinks we are still on our way to the Marshall Islands, these posts are about our trip north in 2015. I=92m still getting up to date. A quick summary of the interim time is that we arrived in Majuro in January 2016 and shortly thereafter decided to settle here for a year. Its now March 2017 and we are again preparing to go to sea, to head back to the Read more...

glorious South Pacific. I will get the upward journey posts up to Majuro, then jump to our journey south, hopefully interspersing this with posts about our time in Majuro. *** Kiribati (pronounced Kiribas), our first northern hemisphere landfall. Check out our position - 01 22.067n 172 55.684e December 17, 2015 David email to friend:=20 What caught my eye on first gazing around our anchorage was the amount of rusting steel. I counted a couple dozen wrecks in various stages of decay. They were scattered on the reef to the west, on the foreshore of the town, and in the sea all around us. These were the visible ones. What wreckage lay beneath the surface? The holding in Tarawa was good but if you look at the atoll and where the main centre, Betio, is you'll see it's exposed from the east through north to WNW. Its a long fetch across the lagoon and a vicious chop is the norm, at least both times we were there. Our little dinghy actually managed it quite well but we always got soaked in unswimmably filthy water, generally had to bail and often felt in danger of being swamped. The dinghy tie-up area is even more filthy still and backs onto a rubbish tip so the air is disgusting. There is a road resurfacing project in which stage one, the removal of all old tar, was complete but no sign of a new surface. In the dry there was a cloud of dust and in the wet vast mud puddles to be forded. Driving is a slow business of avoiding potholes, which is impossible, and carefully easing your vehicle into and out of endless craters. An unpleasant place to be. *** Janet Yes it was a challenge for our little dinghy. Launching it was difficult with trying not to bash it against the side of the boat, scarring the hull. Motoring in to shore was not too bad but coming back into the waves was damp and dangerous as we were usually heavily laden with food, and diesel. Unloading was a nightmare. The land was dusty. It was hot and we sweated and struggled in the heat, leaking fluids by the gallon. Yet there was a certain vibrancy there. There were people everywhere in the streets, walking, unlike in Tuvalu where almost everyone was on a motorbike. And they were active, building the new road, building seawalls (lots of evidence of global warming), shopping, going places. *** We were a fleet of eleven yachts by then. I=92ll introduce you as these people had been our constant companions since Tuvalu and would be till we joined the larger fleet in Majuro Free Spirit, Lauri and Chuck, American, only together a year, and recently married. Delightfully and refreshingly in love. Anahata =96 David, South African but now resident in Canada, photographer, Crew =96 Chris, southern American gentleman from Virginia. Exodus =96 Deanne and Tim American aeronautical engineers, and their teenage boys Brendan and Alex Eos II =96 brave little Australian boat. Slade and Lahnee and their two very small and very gorgeous daughters Kiani and Ahia Kai. True Blue V =96 Australians Leanne and Craig Menkar =96 crazy French Giles and his professional online gambler son Sylvan Skua =96 French Paul, Aussie/French Berrenger and her lovely four-year old son Ulysses Clara Catherine =96 Americans Amanda and Brian (piano accordion player) Arial IV =96 Swedish, Eric, fleet doctor, and Bergitta=20 Catharpin Blue - Marylin and Sam, American who we never managed to meet up with en route but they were in our daily radio net. Stella =96 Canadian Bob who we later visited in Victoria We looked out for each other. People gave us rides in to land when the sea was too rough, and we shared information on what to buy where. The group shared a truck to immigration, and went out for dinner together. What a great chance to get to know people for more than five minutes. *** David Janet arranged a tour of the atoll for four yacht crews, on the back of a truck. One couple had the foresight to bring squabs which made all the difference. An absolute highlight. Our driver, Tiitau, pronounced Sitau - s is represented as ti - and his wife, Meriin, were special. They had good English, understood our wishes and did everything in their power to see that these all came true. Fresh produce and eggs, scarce on the island, were at the top of our wish list and we returned with fresh limes, bok choy, pumpkin, bananas, fresh basil, drinking coconuts, pawpaw but no eggs. We never tired of returning the enthusiastic waves of children, open mouthed at a truckload of Imitang, white people driving along the island=92s one road. At the end of the road not far past the airport we waded thigh deep to the next islet, Tiitau's home island. He explained the custom of visitors brushing their faces with sand, the gesture representing a joining with the new land. Faces suitably adorned we enjoyed a superb lunch of local ingredients, most dishes based around a seafood. No one was disappointed. Meriin and Tiitau, whom we had to arm-twist to join us for lunch, sang a local song in beautiful harmony so, of course Janet and I responded with Tu Tira Mai. We revelled in a couple of hours of textbook island paradise: thatched table looking out over turquoise coral palm-fringed foreshore on to a rippling cobalt sea, mysterious islets in the misty distance. Magnificent food, congenial company. Before crossing back to the truck we were shown through a boat-building yard - all wood construction of vessels ranging from local interisland launches, canoes, to a large trimeran for an Australian client. OSH would close the place in a heartbeat.=20 The skies opened up on the homeward journey. We all got happily soaked and pleasantly cooled. Everyone's number one day in Kiribati.

Betio anchorage
dinghy tie up
heading off to clear in with customs and immigration
Fresh eggs
Tiki tour of Tarawa
Causeway
roadside houses
little market
church
fish farm

Navire - navire - 1302 Mar 2017

Putting aside the grounding, my memory of Nanumea, from this distance, is the flies.

Never before or since have we been so tormented. The other memory, especially from

this distance, is how Polynesian it was. This became evident only once we had passed

through the portal into Micronesia. I remember remarking to Janet almost immediately

we stepped ashore in Betio, Tarawa, "This is different. This is very different."

Up to Betio we had been sailing in a Polynesian Read more...

world, Fiji included. New Zealand

included. Our previous offshore passage too. All Polynesian. You'll be saying that Fiji is

Melanesian, which it is, but Fijians have rubbed shoulders with Tongans and Samoans

for hundreds of years. Some things rub off. The Lau Group, that enchanting string of

Islands to the east of Viti Levu, is arguably more Polynesian than Melanesian, more

Tongan than Fijian. Either way, in hind sight, we had been living in familiar territory

with familiar sounds, a familiar feel. At the time, of course, we didn't see it that way.

Each island, each new place was exotic and different.  But looking back from Micronesia,

it was all Polynesian, Nanumea as much as any. We had little of the language but we had

an understanding of how things were done. We could make assumptions and be

somewhere in the ball park.

After Nanumea it was a different world. Not least of the differences is where NZ stands

in their world. In the Polynesian world New Zealand, in tandem with Australia, is the Big

Smoke, the place to aspire to. Saying we were from New Zealand elicited a brighter eye,

a recognition and more often than not, a story of family down there or a powerful desire

to go there. Not so in Micronesia. In these islands the Big Smoke is the US.  Few aspire to

visit New Zealand, fewer still have been.  It's not on their radar. Its mention elicits no

gleam in the eye. New Zealand is just another country.

Different too is the manner in which Micronesians and Polynesians occupy their bodies.

How they move - their presence. To us, Polynesians often display a recognisable grace

and style in the movement of their, generally, very large bodies. Think Jona Lomu. 

Kailopa, a Tuvaluan, had that grace of movement in spades. Despite a crook knee and

very painful elbow, he could move.  I saw him dance on Kioa. You'd never know he was

in pain. His feet barely moved. Economy of movement.

Micronesians we've met are smaller, more compact. They have no more feel for rhythm

and song than we do.  Gone is the broad open face of the Polynesian.  But, as

everywhere, they are happy to meet, generous and gracious. 

Navire - navire - 702 Mar 2017

Nanumea to Kiribati THIS TIME WITH PICTURES Crossing the equator Dec 8, 2015 (posted from Majuro Feb 2017) Janet The bloody sails are flogging. We are in the light winds of the equatorial region. Dusk is falling. I wipe the sweat off my body with a wet flannel, carefully conserving our fresh water in case we can't catch any more before we get to the Marshalls. And did we sweat today. We very nearly didn't get far beyond Nanumea. *** You will have read David's piece on what is etched into our psyches Read more...

as "The Grounding". Like him, at the time I had this clear thought "This is it, this is what its like to run aground, what now?" but before I had a chance to catastrophise and start imaging what it is like to lose your boat on a remote atoll, we were afloat again. *** "You know how we don't normally drink alcohol on passage, " I said to David, once we were underway again. "I think this deserves a couple of vodka shots." David wisely declined. Later on the radio I checked out the idea with Brian, on Clara Catherine, who had seen the grounding from inside the lagoon. "I'd have drunk half the bottle," he said. I agreed, but settled for a cup of tea and a piece of ginger crunch. *** 0100 Dec 9th Oh I hated being wrenched from my bed in the dead of the night. It took me a bleary half hour to settle into the beauty of the night, to start to enjoy the stars and the glorious solitude. I hadn't slept well. It often took time to get into the watch rhythm, and I was itching like a child with chicken pox. Wearing a life jacket and nothing else I reflected on the day's events. We were bloody lucky. Grounding at low tide you always have the chance of the tide to float you off, but grounding at high tide is nearly always fatal, leaving you permanently high and dry. Our trip would have been over. We'd have to have got everything off our boat, then I guess get it on a local ferry and back to Tuvalu. Then what? By ship to Fiji, and another from Fiji to New Zealand. It was too much effort to go down that track with all its grief. I settled for a big dose of gratitude for being able to continue on our way. Lightning and squalls danced on the horizon. Sailing at 4.5 knots and on course, yahoo. Five hours to go till my next bunktime. *** 0500 - Journal excerpt Oh what a glorious night watch. Steady 10-12 knots of wind all night. Tossing up whether to wake David at 6 or leave him a bit longer. At last he sleeps. He was up at 0400, The Grounding on his mind. But I couldn't sleep on my 6-12 off watch period and I'm cross-eyed with sleepiness, and so so itchy, so I vote for waking him on time. 280 miles to go. Divided by 3 =3D 90, about three days. Dawn is splendid and so was a night without squalls. *** 0900 As soon as I wake I look out for the other boats. How many? I can only see Carla Catherine on our starboard side, travelling at the same pace as us. We have a light easterly ghosting us along on flat seas. Slept for three hours. Bliss. Woke feeling rested at last. Its nice out here on the ocean, the day hasn't heated up fully yet. But there is always a chance we are taking on water after The Grounding. We keep checking the bilge. All good so far. On my night watch I started planning for our next port of call - Tarawa in Kiribati. Menus so I can work out shopping for a month till we get to Majuro. Fill gas, water, get to a bank, and very urgent get to internet. I have stuff bouncing in my bank, and am dying to see my email, my umbilical chord to New Zealand. *** 1530 The day started at 30 degrees and just got hotter. I constantly wash myself down. I'm still being eaten alive. David is dozing in the cockpit, probably dreaming about The Grounding. So far no water in the bilge. We are motoring again. David put up the spinnaker as a geniker, a beautiful big blue thing but there wasn't even enough breeze to hold that up. However I'm grateful for an absence of squalls. I'm tired, but its only day one out of five. Savusavu takeaways for lunch with shaved carrot and apple Thai salad. The less ingredients I have the more creative I get. One carrot left and a few leaves of cabbage. What else can I do with cabbage? Broke out some of the frozen brownie. The bilge is staying empty. *** Thursday 11 Dec Champagne sailing. We've heard about this phenomena, and can now report it happens. We've had gentle breezes and settled seas for over 24 hours. The breeze is pushing us along at three to four knots. The sun is out. A pod of 20 dolphins escorted us for a while this morning. I made a chili for lunch with a tin of Spam, tin of black chili beans, and a tin of tomatoes. Salads was, yes, cabbage again, but with apple and onion, and another with some chopped up soft coconut, capsicum from a jar and lemongrass paste. Carla Catherine are sailing along next to us. Nice to be out in the vast ocean but have someone we can call up and chat to. We talk to everyone else on the net at 0830 each the morning. "Its so different to sailing to New Zealand," I said to David, "to know we are not going to definitely get clobbered by a front with high winds." There is always a chance of squalls though. This leg has been remarkably free of them. I touch the varnished cockpit edge. The most wonderful thing is I've not had an iota of seasickness on this leg. I feel normal. So this is why other people enjoy sailing passages. We chat idly, planning Christmas, renovations at Rawene, and what we are going to do when we cross the equator. I am one of the few amongst the fleet who hasn't crossed by boat before. I have a bottle of wine in the fridge in preparation. Alas it is still wine, we haven't seen a bottle of bubbly for months. How I will doubly appreciate good old Lindauer when we get back to New Zealand. There's lots of things I'll appreciate - fast internet, the range at supermarkets, my god we are so well served, good cheese, New Zealand wines. I won't enjoy the cooler temperatures and having to wear clothes most of the time. And oh yes I'll enjoy unlimited fresh water and long showers But meanwhile, I am contented. Really. *** December 12 (I think) 200 miles to go to Tarawa and about 100 to the equator After two dream days we are bouncing through the sea in 17-20 knots of wind. Too rough to write emails or watch movies. But its still nothing on the New Zealand passage conditions. Only got about three hours sleep, but we have two more nights to go so hopefully that will improve. I'm still being eaten by something. I slather myself with insect repellant and make David sleep in the most infested bunk, as the beasts don't seem to bother him. On the subject of bugs the cockroaches are taking over. Its depressing. Two and a half hours to go. Up till now I've had relaxing night watches, pampering myself, a movie, emailing. But tonight I've only read, and only with one eye, the other on the wind instrument and the sails. I've already accidentally tacked once, had to start the engine to get back on course, and then couldn't get the windvane set up again. David won't be happy. It'll be light in an hour. I got an email from my son Harry. I'm delighted that he is talking about doing an electrical apprenticeship. *** Next morning in the cockpit, I say to David "I thought the champagne sailing would go on for ever" "So did I" he rues. We jerk up and down as Navire gallops to windward. It's a gorgeous summer's day but I'm too tired to enjoy it. I feel seedy but have not had a drop of alcohol for days. We trawl the lines but some bloody beast is eating our lures. No fish. I fantasise. Imagine getting a tuna. Sashimi, seared steaks, tuna coconut soup... In 18 hours we will cross the equator, then Sunday we arrive in Tarawa. I check off the hours in the log book. *** David had a plan for the crossing of the equator, me being the initiate and him already a member of the guild by having done it in 1963 on a ship with his parents. All morning we watch the latitude numbers tick down. We don our outfits, me my canary yellow dress, my best despite the mildew that adorns the front of it. David drapes himself in his favourite Maori sarong and Asian hat with a selection of my plastic tikis around his neck. At the chart table David lines the camera up to catch the moment when the GPS says 00 00 001s but it rattles past and before he can click the shutter and the northern hemisphere numbers begin to climb rapidly. He snaps a shot of the boat crossing the line on the electronic chart. Time for my dunking. Out on the bow I strip, David takes great delight in sluicing me with a bucket of seawater. Back in the cockpit I pour a glass of wine and David sets up the computer to read The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner in its entirety. What better place surely? But nature has its own ideas. A squall bears down on us and we shut the hatch and reef the headsail. It passes, David continues the salty tale. The wine is Chilean crap and doesn't do justice to the occasion. I want a second glass but no, I need to be a responsible crew person. Lastly we do an incantation to the sea Gods Neptune, Poseidon, and Tangaroa. and thank our trusty vessel. I pour a tot of rum in the sea for luck, in the style of the eighteenth century sailors. "Coming up here has been much tougher and more intrepid than I expected," I muse.=20 "Me too" David agrees. Going to New Zealand for the summer would have been a much easier option, despite the difficult passage down there and back. The weather behaves differently up here. Mostly we ignore the windspeeds on the gribs (forecast charts). I find the wind directions moderately accurate but the speed always under reads, which is good up here as the gribs usually forecast very light winds. Its remote. There's hardly any land up here. Just a few isolated communities that get a supply ship every so often. I feel vulnerable after The Grounding. In New Zealand we would have immediately sailed somewhere and hauled the boat out to repair the damage to the keel. We check the bilge, fingers crossed. =20 Monday Dec 14 Still tired, but safely at anchor. Well relatively. David counted 14 wrecks, mostly on the reef right behind us. We hoved to on the fifth and last night of our passage to wait for daylight to traverse the pass into Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati. Dawn finally came and we hadn't drifted far. "Tarawa Radio, Tarawa Radio, this is EOS II. We would like to enter Tarawa Harbour." We hear our Aussie friends preparing to enter the pass. Tarawa Radio replies and instructs them to enter. "Tarawa Radio, Tarawa Radio, this is Free Spirit..." The fleet was arriving, they'd been hoved to around us in the dark, waiting for dawn. Our tired convoy negotiated the harbour buoys and dropped anchors near the wharf in choppy water. And went to bed.

Dolphins at the bow
King Neptune
The initiate
crossing the line
GPS reading

Navire - navire - 502 Mar 2017

Nanumea to Kiribati Crossing the equator Dec 8, 2015 (posted from Majuro Feb 2017) Janet The bloody sails are flogging. We are in the light winds of the equatorial region. Dusk is falling. I wipe the sweat off my body with a wet flannel, carefully conserving our fresh water in case we can't catch any more before we get to the Marshalls. And did we sweat today. We very nearly didn't get far beyond Nanumea. *** You will have read David's piece on what is etched into our psyches as "The Grounding". Read more...

Like him, at the time I had this clear thought "This is it, this is what its like to run aground, what now?" but before I had a chance to catastrophise and start imaging what it is like to lose your boat on a remote atoll, we were afloat again. *** "You know how we don't normally drink alcohol on passage, " I said to David, once we were underway again. "I think this deserves a couple of vodka shots." David wisely declined. Later on the radio I checked out the idea with Brian, on Clara Catherine, who had seen the grounding from inside the lagoon. "I'd have drunk half the bottle," he said. I agreed, but settled for a cup of tea and a piece of ginger crunch. *** 0100 Dec 9th Oh I hated being wrenched from my bed in the dead of the night. It took me a bleary half hour to settle into the beauty of the night, to start to enjoy the stars and the glorious solitude. I hadn't slept well. It often took time to get into the watch rhythm, and I was itching like a child with chicken pox. Wearing a life jacket and nothing else I reflected on the day's events. We were bloody lucky. Grounding at low tide you always have the chance of the tide to float you off, but grounding at high tide is nearly always fatal, leaving you permanently high and dry. Our trip would have been over. We'd have to have got everything off our boat, then I guess get it on a local ferry and back to Tuvalu. Then what? By ship to Fiji, and another from Fiji to New Zealand. It was too much effort to go down that track with all its grief. I settled for a big dose of gratitude for being able to continue on our way. Lightning and squalls danced on the horizon. Sailing at 4.5 knots and on course, yahoo. Five hours to go till my next bunktime. *** 0500 - Journal excerpt Oh what a glorious night watch. Steady 10-12 knots of wind all night. Tossing up whether to wake David at 6 or leave him a bit longer. At last he sleeps. He was up at 0400, The Grounding on his mind. But I couldn't sleep on my 6-12 off watch period and I'm cross-eyed with sleepiness, and so so itchy, so I vote for waking him on time. 280 miles to go. Divided by 3 =3D 90, about three days. Dawn is splendid and so was a night without squalls. *** 0900 As soon as I wake I look out for the other boats. How many? I can only see Carla Catherine on our starboard side, travelling at the same pace as us. We have a light easterly ghosting us along on flat seas. Slept for three hours. Bliss. Woke feeling rested at last. Its nice out here on the ocean, the day hasn't heated up fully yet. But there is always a chance we are taking on water after The Grounding. We keep checking the bilge. All good so far. On my night watch I started planning for our next port of call - Tarawa in Kiribati. Menus so I can work out shopping for a month till we get to Majuro. Fill gas, water, get to a bank, and very urgent get to internet. I have stuff bouncing in my bank, and am dying to see my email, my umbilical chord to New Zealand. *** 1530 The day started at 30 degrees and just got hotter. I constantly wash myself down. I'm still being eaten alive. David is dozing in the cockpit, probably dreaming about The Grounding. So far no water in the bilge. We are motoring again. David put up the spinnaker as a geniker, a beautiful big blue thing but there wasn't even enough breeze to hold that up. However I'm grateful for an absence of squalls. I'm tired, but its only day one out of five. Savusavu takeaways for lunch with shaved carrot and apple Thai salad. The less ingredients I have the more creative I get. One carrot left and a few leaves of cabbage. What else can I do with cabbage? Broke out some of the frozen brownie. The bilge is staying empty. *** Thursday 11 Dec Champagne sailing. We've heard about this phenomena, and can now report it happens. We've had gentle breezes and settled seas for over 24 hours. The breeze is pushing us along at three to four knots. The sun is out. A pod of 20 dolphins escorted us for a while this morning. I made a chili for lunch with a tin of Spam, tin of black chili beans, and a tin of tomatoes. Salads was, yes, cabbage again, but with apple and onion, and another with some chopped up soft coconut, capsicum from a jar and lemongrass paste. Carla Catherine are sailing along next to us. Nice to be out in the vast ocean but have someone we can call up and chat to. We talk to everyone else on the net at 0830 each the morning. "Its so different to sailing to New Zealand," I said to David, "to know we are not going to definitely get clobbered by a front with high winds." There is always a chance of squalls though. This leg has been remarkably free of them. I touch the varnished cockpit edge. The most wonderful thing is I've not had an iota of seasickness on this leg. I feel normal. So this is why other people enjoy sailing passages. We chat idly, planning Christmas, renovations at Rawene, and what we are going to do when we cross the equator. I am one of the few amongst the fleet who hasn't crossed by boat before. I have a bottle of wine in the fridge in preparation. Alas it is still wine, we haven't seen a bottle of bubbly for months. How I will doubly appreciate good old Lindauer when we get back to New Zealand. There's lots of things I'll appreciate - fast internet, the range at supermarkets, my god we are so well served, good cheese, New Zealand wines. I won't enjoy the cooler temperatures and having to wear clothes most of the time. And oh yes I'll enjoy unlimited fresh water and long showers But meanwhile, I am contented. Really. *** December 12 (I think) 200 miles to go to Tarawa and about 100 to the equator After two dream days we are bouncing through the sea in 17-20 knots of wind. Too rough to write emails or watch movies. But its still nothing on the New Zealand passage conditions. Only got about three hours sleep, but we have two more nights to go so hopefully that will improve. I'm still being eaten by something. I slather myself with insect repellant and make David sleep in the most infested bunk, as the beasts don't seem to bother him. On the subject of bugs the cockroaches are taking over. Its depressing. Two and a half hours to go. Up till now I've had relaxing night watches, pampering myself, a movie, emailing. But tonight I've only read, and only with one eye, the other on the wind instrument and the sails. I've already accidentally tacked once, had to start the engine to get back on course, and then couldn't get the windvane set up again. David won't be happy. It'll be light in an hour. I got an email from my son Harry. I'm delighted that he is talking about doing an electrical apprenticeship. *** Next morning in the cockpit, I say to David "I thought the champagne sailing would go on for ever" "So did I" he rues. We jerk up and down as Navire gallops to windward. It's a gorgeous summer's day but I'm too tired to enjoy it. I feel seedy but have not had a drop of alcohol for days. We trawl the lines but some bloody beast is eating our lures. No fish. I fantasise. Imagine getting a tuna. Sashimi, seared steaks, tuna coconut soup... In 18 hours we will cross the equator, then Sunday we arrive in Tarawa. I check off the hours in the log book. *** David had a plan for the crossing of the equator, me being the initiate and him already a member of the guild by having done it in 1963 on a ship with his parents. All morning we watch the latitude numbers tick down. We don our outfits, me my canary yellow dress, my best despite the mildew that adorns the front of it. David drapes himself in his favourite Maori sarong and Asian hat with a selection of my plastic tikis around his neck. At the chart table David lines the camera up to catch the moment when the GPS says 00 00 001s but it rattles past and before he can click the shutter and the northern hemisphere numbers begin to climb rapidly. He snaps a shot of the boat crossing the line on the electronic chart. Time for my dunking. Out on the bow I strip, David takes great delight in sluicing me with a bucket of seawater. Back in the cockpit I pour a glass of wine and David sets up the computer to read The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner in its entirety. What better place surely? But nature has its own ideas. A squall bears down on us and we shut the hatch and reef the headsail. It passes, David continues the salty tale. The wine is Chilean crap and doesn't do justice to the occasion. I want a second glass but no, I need to be a responsible crew person. Lastly we do an incantation to the sea Gods Neptune, Poseidon, and Tangaroa. and thank our trusty vessel. I pour a tot of rum in the sea for luck, in the style of the eighteenth century sailors. "Coming up here has been much tougher and more intrepid than I expected," I muse.=20 "Me too" David agrees. Going to New Zealand for the summer would have been a much easier option, despite the difficult passage down there and back. The weather behaves differently up here. Mostly we ignore the windspeeds on the gribs (forecast charts). I find the wind directions moderately accurate but the speed always under reads, which is good up here as the gribs usually forecast very light winds. Its remote. There's hardly any land up here. Just a few isolated communities that get a supply ship every so often. I feel vulnerable after The Grounding. In New Zealand we would have immediately sailed somewhere and hauled the boat out to repair the damage to the keel. We check the bilge, fingers crossed. =20 Monday Dec 14 Still tired, but safely at anchor. Well relatively. David counted 14 wrecks, mostly on the reef right behind us. We hoved to on the fifth and last night of our passage to wait for daylight to traverse the pass into Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati. Dawn finally came and we hadn't drifted far. "Tarawa Radio, Tarawa Radio, this is EOS II. We would like to enter Tarawa Harbour." We hear our Aussie friends preparing to enter the pass. Tarawa Radio replies and instructs them to enter. "Tarawa Radio, Tarawa Radio, this is Free Spirit..." The fleet was arriving, they'd been hoved to around us in the dark, waiting for dawn. Our tired convoy negotiated the harbour buoys and dropped anchors near the wharf in choppy water. And went to bed. =20 =20 =20 4 =20

Navire - navire - 2802 Feb 2017

Nanumea's Last Goodbye DAVID I have to write this piece because it was my fault. There's no way round it. Nanumea still had the unexpected waiting for us, held back for the very last moment of our time there. A day before leaving we tried lifting our anchor. One or two others had had great difficulty with chain wrapped around the many coral heads out of sight below our boats. Sure enough we too could not get free. Sylvan, off the French boat, Menkar, dove to free our chain. He had phenomenal breath Read more...

holding ability, easily two minutes while doing heavy manual labour twenty metres down. The following day five of the fleet lined up to run through the pass. Free Spirit were first out, holding their breath the whole way through the narrow, shallow channel. Anahata and True Blue V followed and then it was our turn. The tide had turned and was running into the lagoon against us, so I gave her quite a bit of throttle and we picked up speed as Navire slid into the narrow opening. At the outer end of the pass the gap seemed to be widening. We were all but out. I spied a much lighter shade of turquoise indicating a shallower patch and eased Navire just a little to starboard. Almost immediately the channel face loomed up a couple of feet under our starboard bilge and I turned Navire a little to port. At the same time the bottom front of the keel struck hard. Navire heeled forty degrees to starboard amidst the incredibly loud sound of heavy fibre glass tearing on an unyielding coral ridge. Janet who had been standing in the companionway was hurled across the cockpit. Navire's twelve tons was stopped in an instant although the awful grinding noise continued. I took the engine out of gear not wanting to push our home any further onto the reef. We perched there at an alarming angle grinding ever more of our keel to dust and just long enough for the thought "so this is how it ends" to pass through my mind. Navire then slid to port, the mast came upright and we found ourselves bobbing in the channel. I engaged the engine and motored into blessedly deep blue Pacific Ocean. The whole dramatic moment lasted less than a minute, the longest of my life. The VHF radio burst into life. Clara Kathryn and Skua, in the channel a little behind, were concerned for us and alarmed for themselves. Just what had we hit? Would they hit it too? They both exited safely and stopped close to us as I readied to dive under Navire. In the water I fumbled with flippers and mask, my heart still racing, my mind a blur of anxiety, shame and fear. There was a sizable gouge in the bottom, forward edge of the keel and a scar along its full length. Most single hulled yachts have several tons of lead bolted to the bottom of their keel which is in turn is bolted to the hull. An impact such as Navire suffered would have put enormous strain on those critical keel bolts. But Navire has her lead encased in the heavy fibreglass keel which is an integral part of the ship, not a separate attachment. Still I searched for cracks or any other sign of structural damage but could find none. Thankfully the keel was the only part of the boat that made contact with the coral. The rudder and bilges were unscathed. There seemed little sense in retreating to the shelter of Nanumea lagoon. Other than the ugly scar, the boat seemed fine. She was not taking on water. The keel was not about to fall off, nor was the boat about to sink. Tarawa, in Kiribati, less than three days away, was a better bet for hauling Navire if it came to that. For the next few weeks we would be watching for water in the bilge hoping to be reassured that I had not caused damage sufficient to pull our house out of the water. In the mean time we set our sails and headed north. =20

Ready to leave Nanumea through the pass

Navire - navire - 2602 Feb 2017

Nanumea 05 40.314s 176 07.071e December 3, 2015 (Posted from Majuro February 2017) Janet We made it. Outside the reef of Nanumea atoll, 300 miles north of Funafuti, we faced a line of breaking water at the head of the pass into the lagoon. Just in front of us was Tim, from Exodus, who'd come out in his dinghy to guide us in. They had entered the lagoon earlier in the week. The waves at the entrance threatened to push us onto the coral, but the pass was well marked and we worked out where to go. Read more...

As we motored in I looked over the side and could see the bottom, its clarity making it look only a couple of feet deep. I held my breath. We dropped anchor amongst the fleet in a tranquil location, flat sea, shelter all around and a village on shore. Surely a safe haven. Despite the early hour we decided a beer was in order. The cap was barely off the bottle and Deanne , Tim's wife, came alongside on her paddleboard to say hello. She was filling us in on life at Nanumea when the VHF crackled into life. "Northbound Fleet, Northbound Fleet, Free Spirit, Free Spirit, we need help. We have run aground at the entrance to the pass." said Lauri in a shaky voice. The magnitude of the event took a while to hit. We felt disbelief. It was a beautiful calm day, not the kind of day for something serious to happen. =20 "Free Spirit, Free Spirit this is Exodus, we will be out immediately." Came the reply moments later from Tim back on Exodus. They had a dinghy with a big outboard. Big enough to try and pull the yacht off the reef. Several other dinghies joined them. But not us, as our tiny motor would be more a hindrance than a help. Later we learned that on shore people ran for their boats and headed to the pass to help out. I was just beginning to think this was a fatal grounding, that Chuck and Lauri's Pacific trip was over, when we heard on the radio that they were off the reef, floating again. Later on, over a much needed drink, in the cockpit of Free Spirit, the still visibly shocked crew related their tale to us. They had been just about to enter the pass, well lined up with the outer marks, when Wham! A wave picked their yacht up and dumped it on the reef, forcing it onto its starboard side. "It was like hitting a brick wall," said Chuck. "For a moment I wondered if we were in the right pass," he continued. Later when they reviewed their chart they could see a bend in their track where they were picked up by the wave and bodily moved sideways onto the reef. The hull banged on the coral several times as waves came and went. The boat was so far over on its side that the starboard rail was underwater. "Radio for help," Chuck told Lauri. Five minutes later Tim turned up in his dinghy, but with no ropes.=20 "That boat is not coming off," Paul, who'd been with Tim, told us later. This was his first thought when he saw Free Spirit lying on her side on the reef, at high tide. "Grab a rope out of the lazarette," Chuck told Lauri, a difficult job with the boat on a steep slope. Heeled over so far meant there was no water getting into the engine to cool it but Chuck bravely carried on, gunning the engine each time a wave came over the reef. Then a slightly larger wave lifted them back into the water. A miracle. Grounding at high tide is usually certain doom. Later I snorkeled under their boat, and could see ragged aft end of the keel. There but for the grace of God I thought. Prematurely. It could have been any of us. And indeed it was to be. *** We spent a little time in the village. First we searched out Melee and her family who are Teamone's cousins. Teamone was Kailopa's brother-in-law and dear friend from Funafuti. They gave us a sack full of drinking coconuts. Chilled, their contents are a glorious thirst quenching nectar. We took Melee's four kids out to the boat. They peeked into every space in wonder. On Sunday I went to church with Exodus. The building was enormous, and ornate. One of the interesting and sad things about religion in much of the Pacific, is that is so Anglicised, all the trappings and traditions the same. Only the language is different. Even the plastic flowers were roses and carnations. The singing though was awesome, one woman in the choir should have been in Carnege Hall. Unusually the island only had one religion. We've been to many villages with four or five different denominations and churches for about 250 people. However this could have a dark side. The weekly ship from Funafuti arrived and a huge crowd was waiting to leave on her. A local woman told us that many of the people were being deported because they were the wrong religion. I've yet to verify this. Despite this atoll being a place to break the journey to Kiribati I don't recommend it to other sailors. The anchor snagging bombies gave most boats anchoring problems, and the flies were interminable. They pestered us from dawn till dusk. We had to cover the entrance to the cockpit with mosquito net, put mesh on all the hatches and live mostly inside. And we won't mention the pass. =20 *** With a fleet of nine we had a built in social life. We had music sessions with Brian and Amanda on Carla Catherine, dinner at Free Spirit, drinks on Exodus. When this group started getting together people would turn up with peanuts and popcorn. I would turn up with a delicacy; cheese with my various pickles, yes even tasty cheese is a treat up here. Even the kiwi onion dip was a hit. Then the other night I made gougons of tuna with Parmesan aioli. It elicited oohs and ahhs. I have been hoarding the last of my Best mayonnaise for just this kid of occasion. However not to be outdone, the food offerings from the other boats improved noticeably. *** =20 1300, Dec 8 "What time is lift off?" I asked. "10 minutes, we may need some time to get the anchor up," said David. We were on the cusp of heading out to sail 500 miles to Kiribati. We were a fleet of five. The rest of the boats had left the previous day. On the radio we joked about meeting at the start line, this side of the pass. Who will go through first, I wondered. I didn't think it would be Free Spirit after their reef encounter last week. Would we all make it through safely?

entering the pass
very shallow
safely through
The boys chatting
Visitors

Navire - navire - 1603 Feb 2017

Tuvalu to Nanumea December 1, 2015, (Posted from Majuro January 2017) *** Dec 3, 2015 Janet journal We left Funafuti several days ago after rushing around getting final provisions and food. Clearing immigration and customs, we then had a leisurely lunchtime beer at the pub with the remaining fleet crews. Back at the boat we raised anchor, motored across the lagoon, and headed out through the wide northern pass into the long smooth ocean swells. Day one out was pleasant with a reasonable amount Read more...

of sailing, the winds generally light. But day two was just not Janet's day. I was hot. I was very tired. I was struggling to sail the boat in the light fluky winds. My whole body was covered in itching red infected patches. A brigade of sandflies (so I thought) from Funafuti had hitched a ride. They'd wait till I was asleep before they began their nightly feasting. After a while the intense itchiness woke me and I scratched and scratched with no relief, then sleep came no more. My bum looked like it had been used for target practice. Then my back gave out. I just wanted to go home and lie down, somewhere quiet and still, and have a good cry. To have someone hold me and assure me everything was okay. Also to take off my sticky red spotted skin and don a sleek, cool, clean one. *** We 'd decided to try six hour watches at night so we could get at least five hours sleep in a row. I was noticing a pattern on my watch. I was wakeful for the first three to four hours, 12-4ish, then really sleepy for an hour or so, then came right till dawn. Trouble is I hadn't got the hang of sleeping from 6-midnight when I was off watch. We had other hitchhikers besides the 'sandflies'. At dusk last night two large birds took up residence in the rigging, one perched right on top of the mast. They were still there at midnight when I came on watch. I popped down below to check the chart and heard a squawking sound in the cockpit. I came back up to see one of the birds sitting on the lazarette. Inside the stern rail. I yelled at him but he didn't budge. Grabbing the boat hook I tried to prod him gently towards the sea. He wasn't having it and started flapping around the cockpit. I squealed and leapt out of the way of his long sharp beak. My shrieks woke David and he came out and did battle. It was awful. The bird just wouldn't go and we couldn't leave him in the cockpit. I grabbed another pole and we both prodded the very unhappy creature towards the stern. Then he got a wing caught in the windvane rope so David had to untangle that with the boat hook. We finally tipped him over the side. It was dark so I couldn't see how he fared. Our other stowaways were cockroaches, millions of them. We soak our fruit and vegetables in salt water when they come on board but the bugs come in with the groceries too. Inside the boat they are in clover, plenty of food and warm breeding conditions. I've sprayed many of the lockers but every day we see more creatures scuttle across the floor, up the walls and across the benches. Ideally I would take every thing off the boat and spray it heavily. But there is no way we can do that out here. *** Janet email to friend It's dawn and my six-hour night watch is nearly over. My bunk is looking very appealing. We are out in the ocean, north of Tuvalu, six degrees south of the equator. I'm sending this email via single side band radio. I haven't had my gmail email for ages. Its all satellite internet in the countries up here, very slow, unreliable, and expensive. I look around at the empty empty sea, although David saw fishing boats last night, not a welcome sight as they often have miles of prop fouling nets strung out behind them that you can't see. Most years there are very few yachts up here but currently there are four behind us and five ahead. Its fabulous traveling in a convoy, I like the sense of having a community. We have a radio net and check in every morning to see where everyone is faring. I just checked the horizon again and there are squalls all around us. I have to remain vigilant in case one hits with its treacherous load of rain and wind, and quickly leap into action to reef the headsail. Our destination is 250 miles, and two days travel away, Nanumea, the rarely visited northernmost island of Tuvalu. You have to jump through a whole lot of bureaucratic hoops to get permission to visit an outer island after you have cleared customs and immigration, and the officials don't always say yes. We persisted for weeks to get approval. One of our fleet is at the island already and said the local people are delighted to have us come visit. =46rom there we go on to Kiribati, almost on the equator. We'll probably have Christmas there at a remote island with a few other yachts. There are a couple of foodies in the fleet and we are planning the menu and day's events already. The Americans (we have yachts from US, Sweden, France, and Australia) know Secret Santa, so we may do that. It's nice to have some familiar things to look forward to. *** 0800 Dawn saw us hove to off Nanumea. We arrived in the dead of night but needed daylight and slack high water to enter the very narrow, very shallow pass into the lagoon. The pass was eight metres wide and three to four deep, with a strong flow when the tide was running. Fortunately it was a perfect sunny coral spotting day. We had three hours to wait till high tide. It was nice having this rest before we went in, usually its days and days of sailing then straight into a passage all the senses muted with tiredness. A mast appeared on the horizon. The first of the four boats behind us arrived and went on safely through.=20 *** =20

light wind sailing
unwelcome visitor

Navire - navire - 1302 Feb 2017

Storm at Tuvalu (Sent from Majuro Jan, 2017)=20 (Pics will be bigger next post!) Monday Nov 23, 2015 Funafuti After a quick dash around Funafuti we motored for an hour to the north end of the lagoon. There we anchored off a very small, very low profile, island in the hope of getting shelter from the high winds forecast to come in the next few days. It was a G-string of an island, less than one metre high, plus coconut palms. We really needed a full set of bloomers sort of island. We were uncertain Read more...

about just how much shelter it afforded. As the tide rose we got bounced around by the swell that came over the reef which extended out from either side of the island. The wind held us side on to the swell, each wave making the boat roll uncomfortably as it thwacked us on the beam. Feeling tired and vulnerable about our exposed situation, I took solace in tea, Christmas cake, and writing, then indulged in the distraction of a game of tiles with David. I looked outside and saw Free Spirit anchored nearby. It was good to have another boat there. The skies were grey was my mood. Our low-pressure system had been updated to a tropical depression (TD), one grade below a tropical cyclone. So far as we knew the higher winds would be south of us, near Fiji. However we would probably get strong peripheral winds from the TD, of 30 or 40 knots (35 is gale force). Earlier that morning we poured over forecasts and charts working out wind angles and swell directions. Gulf Harbour Radio, who run the radio net we=92d been on since New Zealand, said =93we weren=92t in a very good place,=94 for this weather. Great. =93If we anchor here,=94 David pointed to the chart, =93we=92ll get the full force of the wind, and the fetch, but maybe less swell. If we anchor here,=94 he pointed to an area to the northeast, =93we may get less wind but risk getting more swell coming over the reef at high tide. Mind you,=94 he changed the chart to a Google satellite picture, =93the reef on that side looks more substantial and may break the swell more.=94 We could have just flipped a coin. We reanchored and I settled into doing a load of laundry, anticipating catching some rain to top up our buckets as the low passed by. The weather settled for a while. =93Navire, Navire, this is Free Spirit=94 boomed the VHF. Ah, the neighbours calling. =93Free Spirit, Navire, go 17,=94 I dialed up the next channel. =93Navire, Free Spirit=94 =93Would you like to have a picnic on the beach?=94 asked Lauri. =93Why yes, what a great idea.=94 =93Good, will, radio in two hours. Free Spirit back to 16.=94 I rustled up a few delicacies and we motored in to shore in the dinghy. The small oval island was occupied by one man, the caretaker, a stone-deaf man we discovered when we went to say hello. We picnicked on the lagoon-side beach accompanied by a cloud of flies. Replete, we went for a walk around the island, David climbing a tree and liberating four drinking coconuts. Wielding a machete just like a local he lopped the ends off them. Back at the picnic area the tide was coming in rapidly and swamping the back of our dingy, which was hitherto pulled well up the beach. I looked out at Navire. She seemed a long way off, certainly not sheltered at all and was rolling side to side. We abandoned our afternoon out and headed back to the boat. *** Back on board we played tiles to ground ourselves. =93You know some people wouldn=92t like this =96 and I may be of them,=94 said David, referring to the uncertainty of the prospect of a night of stormy weather in an unknown location. He placed a few tiles. =93Right now I=92d take a freezing cold night in a sheltered bay in New Zealand, complete with huddling around a heater.=94 Meanwhile as the tide dropped the rolling and lurching eased. Two other boats arrived making us a fleet of four. Hopefully that was four good decisions about the best place to see out the low, as opposed to everyone just following us. *** At dusk the boat rolled gently. I felt melancholic. After a while I recognised the feeling. Homesickness. We left Wellington just short of a year ago. Just for a moment I longed for familiar things. Safe things, security, predictableness. Even being tied up in Chaffers Marina would do it. For a week or so anyway, till the low pressure and high winds passed and by then I=92d be up for the adventure and warm climate again. Everywhere I looked the boat was dirty, and we were infested with cockroaches (little did we know it was not only cockroaches), they came in with the vegetables, or in packaging from the supermarket. The next day would be locker cleaning day, emptying and roach spraying food spaces. *** Tuesday Nov 24th No it wasn=92t. Locker cleaning day I mean. Didn=92t even get the dishes done till late afternoon. You=92ll only get this post if we survive the next few days, I wrote in my journal. The anchor chain wrapped itself around a coral bombie so we anchored again. We waited for the storm. *** Wednesday Nov 25th We still watched and waited. We were in a holding pattern. We were at the highest part of the tide with the maximum roll coming across the reef. Free Spirit was still anchored nearby and called up. Just to say hello. Nice to have company out there. The other two boats moved to an island further southwest. We stayed put as we were getting to know the local conditions and knew our anchor was holding firm. I downloaded a forecast which predicted an increase in wind speed. We were recording our position and depth every half an hour, in case we dragged, and wind speed and direction, and sea state to compare to the forecast. The higher winds were coming sooner, Thursday and Friday, instead of the weekend. We shipped the dinghy. It had been hoisted up alongside and each time we rolled in the swell she banged on the sea. Darkness fell as the wind rose. *** 1930 The wind jumped from 10 knots to 30 knots, that=92s not triple the speed, its much more, as wind speed in knots is exponential. I was hoping it was just a squall. The rain pounded on the cabin top and Navire pulled up hard on her chain and bounced. She slewed from side to side, facing SW, W, WNW. We checked the latitude and longitude on the GPS. Good not dragging. Its always scarier in the dark, couldn=92t see the island. I went outside and stood on deck in the rain and washed all the sweat off my sticky body. Yahoo a free shower. The water buckets were filling before our very eyes. Whew, wind speed was dropping, a squall after all. *** Nov 26 0900 Getting dressed that morning consisted of taking my nightie off. 27 degrees and 80% humidity. And it was only going to get warmer as we headed north. Good night, no big squalls. The wind was up and squally, up to 34 knots, but they were brief. We=92d invited Free Spirit for morning tea. *** 0300 Morning tea was abandoned. It was too rough for the dinghy ride across the 10 metre stretch of water between the boats. It was coming on high tide and we were rocking and rolling. The wind built steadily all day. We collected rainwater in the frequent squalls. I continued my mission to obliterate the insect infestation, to eradicate what ever was biting me at night, even lifting the floorboards and cleaning and spraying. The day passed with endless games of tiles and chatting on the radio. *** 2300 and I was on anchor watch. The wind was up to 35 knots. Nothing on Wellington standards, but out there, anchored with little protection, it was a lot. It howled. The boat slewed from side to side, putting enormous pressures on the anchor and chain. David said I=92d hear if it let go. I jump a little every time the depth sounder beeps as we swing over the top of coral bombies. If the anchor moved my plan was to start the engine. The peak of the storm was in the dark of night, by lit by occasional flashes of lightning. *** 0200 I managed to stay wake for my three hours and just got my head down and David started the engine. I leapt out of bed. =93What=92s up?=94 =93I just saw 50,=94 that=92s knots on the wind speed indicator. David peered at the barometer - 999.7. That=92s the lowest we=92ve seen on the whole trip. We turned on channel 16. We caught part of a transmission of one of the large Asian fishing boats anchored off Funafuti. Hard to tell but heard something like =93Raise anchor=94. The fetch down there must have been hellish. I sat up for a while with David. Then I tried to sleep, and got maybe an hour. The wind calmed down to 30ish, the lightning storm still raging all around. A squall hit. 45 knots, and bigger waves slammed us, there was more west in it now, and no protection from the island at all, only a bit from the reef. As dawn came I could see the waves. Perhaps it was better in the dark. I look at the numbers on my pad and my code =96 increase in longitude means we=92ve moved east, increase in latitude means we=92ve moved further south. Navire slewed and bounced, there must have been tremendous force on her anchor. The wind shrieked in the rigging. I felt really uncomfortable =96 uneasy, anxious, vulnerable, so few choices. The westerly wind indicated we were at the upper end of the low pressure system which was travelling south east, so we waited for it to pass. Boy, were we going to celebrate when this was over. The winds for the next week were predicted light but I would not complain of sails slatting on oily sea, anything rather than this. As the howling diminished, I dared to hope things were easing. The wind was such a tease, I relaxed a bit and whammo it pounded us again. *** Nov 27 0600 We survived the night, but it was still pretty windy and squally.. The last blast was 44 knots and with a downpour. Dawn brought a reduction in wind but not of drama. In my sleep deprived haze I watched Free Spirit who were anchored ahead of us. Is she getting closer or does it look closer because it=92s getting lighter? I thought. I watched for a while. I went below to get David. I shook him awake and told him =93Come topside quickly and confirm if Free Spirit is getting closer to us.=94 Up on deck we could clearly see she was heading for us and I started the engine. Just then the VHF burst into life. =93Navire, Navire, Free Spirit, Free Spirit.=94 David dived down to the chart table and grabbed the mike. =93Navire.=94 =93We are dragging. We have a rope around our prop and can=92t start our engine.=94 Bloody hell. I start dropping fenders over port the side as their boat rapidly came closer. Fortunately just then the wind veered and Free Spirit hung parallel to us their anchor finally catching, probably on a bombie. =93Free Spirit, Free Spirit, we=92ve stopped dragging,=94 they go on to tell us that at about 3am their dinghy, which they=92d left tied off the back, flipped in the wind and drowned the engine. Then the painter (rope attached to dinghy) wrapped around the yacht prop. Made our night look like a picnic on a sunny day. We=92d shipped our dinghy early having been caught out before. In 2010 we were in Niue, on our first Pacific sailing trip, tied to a mooring off the east side of the island. This was usually the lee side. A rare, and strong, westerly came through and we were caught with our dinghy in the water. Niue has no protective reef, so the fetch was 300 miles from Tonga, giving us a huge bounce. Now its hard enough to ship the dinghy in high winds and big seas but even more difficult with the outboard still attached. Normally we take the dinghy to the stern and use a pulley to hoist the engine onto its frame at the back of the boat, before bringing the dinghy alongside to hoist onto the foredeck with a halyard. No way we could do that in those conditions, the boat was bouncing up and down too much. We had to get the dinghy up complete with engine, get the engine off while the dinghy was sliding around the foredeck, get it back to the stern and mounted, then get back and tie the dinghy down. All without damaging the boat, the dinghy and ourselves. So the rule is - big wind, we ship. ***=20 Sat Nov 28 The storm passed south of us, and it changed status from a tropical depression to a tropical cyclone and hit Tonga and Samoa leaving a trail of carnage. Back down at Funafuti. Everyone went in to town for a beer and shared storm stories but I stayed on the boat. Too tired after anchor watches the last two nights, and the tension of knowing how exposed and vulnerable we were. Even then at Funafuti we had an uncomfortable amount of fetch. I curled up with a soothing glass of white wine, an episode of Game of Thrones, and tried to forget where I was for a while. =20 =20 =20 =20

Coral bombie
Now where will we anchor?
Picnic time
Exploring the island
Free Spirit in the storm

Navire - navire - 703 Feb 2017

Life in the Anchorage at Funafuti, Tuvalu November 2015 (posted from Majuro Jan 2017) Position 31.491s 179 11.376e *** Nov 18 "Doesn't look like we'll be going anywhere fast," I said to David, after my morning weather analysis. The viable weather window we had anticipated for the coming weekend had evaporated, and light north-east winds and calms prevailed. "So we stay longer," said David, sipping his coffee and playing cards on his laptop. I felt uncomfortable still being in the hurricane zone, Read more...

albeit at the outer limits of it. However we couldn't just motor for a week to get to Kiribati. The anchorage had emptied out as most yachts had sailed to the other end of the lagoon for a few days, but we had locals coming to visit so we stayed put. Then three more boats arrived including, Menkar who we'd met at Rotuma, Free Spirit and Clara Catherine. Clara Catherine had a guitar, mandolin, bones, and piano accordion. We immediately booked a music making session. We were nine boats in the fleet and our community was flourishing. We shared dinghy rides; I learnt more about weather from Deanne; the doctor in the fleet has been helping one of the group with an infected foot; I was writing a letter to customs for a boat that couldn't get back in time; some of us women went foraging for food together; and one volunteered her son to climb palm trees and get drinking coconuts for us. *** David - email to a friend As I write there is a large vessel parked off the town busy pumping the lagoon seabed onto the foreshore with the plan of reclaiming several hundred metres of shallow sea to add to their small landmass. Already there is a sizeable beach where on Tuesday was a rocky shoreline. They have previously pumped miles of sand onto a large strip of land further along the atoll, raising this by about a metre, and upon which is planned new housing. There are significant water storage facilities at every dwelling and, fortuitous for us, a glut of rain at present. We found, when searching for laundry facilities, that one could hire a washing machine as one might a power tool but no one was willing to let their water be used on a commercial basis. Not much use for us yachties who have all resorted to hand washing in the gallons that have been falling. A week-long conference among the leadership of these islands, recently concluded, was focused on sustainable development - solar power, water management, prevention of erosion. This week opens a two-week long Trades Fair presenting the wares of the private commercial sector here. It's hard to know who is regarded as the audience for this fair. Surely not us transient yachties or the few other visitors. Are there businesses unknown to the residents? Still, it speaks of effort for the future, of hope, optimism. And perhaps more money given than they know what to do with. Last night we had a sumptuous Mexican dinner among three of the yachts. One being the music one with a piano accordion and sundry rhythm instruments we made some promising music. Dinner the evening before put on by Kailopa and his friend Timoani. *** Nov 19. 0700 Janet journal entry What a bloody awful night. First I got too drunk on Margaritas at the Mexican dinner (fun though). Then we were up at 0230 shipping the dinghy because of squalls. Are you getting the idea that the sailing life is not always conducive to good sleep? 1900 Oooh, I don't like this. The wind has come up, clocking up to 25 knots, from the wrong direction, and we are on a lee shore (land downwind of us). We are bucking up and down over the short steep waves that are hitting us head on. There is seven miles of fetch (unfettered distance) across the lagoon for them to build up. We are planning to move to the other side of the lagoon tomorrow and settle in to a sheltered (relatively) spot to see out a low arriving at the end of this week. I wish we'd moved earlier today but its too dark to go now. I'm sitting at the chart table monitoring the GPS and the depth sounder to check if we are dragging at all. Earlier today we'd been safely dug in to a spot, confident our anchor was holding, but at about 5pm the guys working on the sand dredging came and told us we had to move, they wanted to dig up our nice safe bit of seabed. We reanchored further along the beach but were really uncomfortable about how close to shore we were, so in the dusk we anchored again, a bit further out. We may not get a full night's sleep tonight. Whenever we start the engine we check the engine water intake basket to make sure the water is flowing in freely and doing its job of cooling the engine. When we were about to move and reanchor the second time, we needed to do it quickly. I checked the basket, and there was a large piece of something that looked like white plastic in it. Bloody hell, I hoped it wouldn't block the water intake. The engine would overheat very quickly and that's the last thing we needed on the lee shore. "There's a boat moving out there," David called from the cockpit. Peering into the falling light we figured it was Menkar, the French yacht. "They are anchoring right ahead of us, right on top of our anchor," David muttered, and swore at them. "Looks like we'll be on anchor watch tonight " I said. I check our position again on the GPS and record the figures. Still in the same place. Good, but I feel a bit queasy, from the rocking and the stress. *** November 20 Janet journal entry Kailopa and his brother-in-law came for lunch today. First time on a mono-hull for Temoani. I commented on how many people are overweight here and Kailopa said that one reason was because there was so much money here. One major source is leases i.e. government buildings on leasehold land, and another is money given to the country from Australia, New Zealand, China and many other countries because of global warming. "People are eating a lot and not doing anything," Kailopa said, lamenting that even kids don't climb the coconut trees in the morning anymore. When he was young the boys would fetch 60 coconuts from the trees, and lop the tops off ready for drinking for the day. "Now they drink Coke and Fanta and tea," he continued. *** November 21 Janet We woke at 3.30am to found ourselves facing a nor-wester, on a lee shore, again. I got on Sailmail and did weather gribs and forecast for an hour then never really got back to sleep. I reviewed our options. We could stay here or move around the lagoon grabbing the meager amount of shelter the low lying islands and reef provide. Or, check out and go north to Kiribati and get ahead of the low that we were trying to avoid but right now there was very little wind to sail with. We had filled up with diesel but we didn't know how good the supplies were in Kiribati. Or, we could leave the following week and catch the edge of the low but that meant sailing 20-30 knots and rough seas. And of course that could all change with the next forecast. We opted to stay in Tuvalu and just as well we did. =20 =20 =20

Vege market morning
the regulars waiting their turn
Weigh in
Temoane and Kailopa on board for lunch
Land reclamation
the island expanding right before our eyes
Government buildings

Navire - navire - 704 Feb 2017

Life in the Anchorage at Funafuti, Tuvalu November 2015 (posted from Majuro Jan 2017) Position 31.491s 179 11.376e *** Nov 18 "Doesn't look like we'll be going anywhere fast," I said to David, after my morning weather analysis. The viable weather window we had anticipated for the coming weekend had evaporated, and light north-east winds and calms prevailed. "So we stay longer," said David, sipping his coffee and playing cards on his laptop. I felt uncomfortable still being in the hurricane zone, Read more...

albeit at the outer limits of it. However we couldn't just motor for a week to get to Kiribati. The anchorage had emptied out as most yachts had sailed to the other end of the lagoon for a few days, but we had locals coming to visit so we stayed put. Then three more boats arrived including, Menkar who we'd met at Rotuma, Free Spirit and Clara Catherine. Clara Catherine had a guitar, mandolin, bones, and piano accordion. We immediately booked a music making session. We were nine boats in the fleet and our community was flourishing. We shared dinghy rides; I learnt more about weather from Deanne; the doctor in the fleet has been helping one of the group with an infected foot; I was writing a letter to customs for a boat that couldn't get back in time; some of us women went foraging for food together; and one volunteered her son to climb palm trees and get drinking coconuts for us. *** David - email to a friend As I write there is a large vessel parked off the town busy pumping the lagoon seabed onto the foreshore with the plan of reclaiming several hundred metres of shallow sea to add to their small landmass. Already there is a sizeable beach where on Tuesday was a rocky shoreline. They have previously pumped miles of sand onto a large strip of land further along the atoll, raising this by about a metre, and upon which is planned new housing. There are significant water storage facilities at every dwelling and, fortuitous for us, a glut of rain at present. We found, when searching for laundry facilities, that one could hire a washing machine as one might a power tool but no one was willing to let their water be used on a commercial basis. Not much use for us yachties who have all resorted to hand washing in the gallons that have been falling. A week-long conference among the leadership of these islands, recently concluded, was focused on sustainable development - solar power, water management, prevention of erosion. This week opens a two-week long Trades Fair presenting the wares of the private commercial sector here. It's hard to know who is regarded as the audience for this fair. Surely not us transient yachties or the few other visitors. Are there businesses unknown to the residents? Still, it speaks of effort for the future, of hope, optimism. And perhaps more money given than they know what to do with. Last night we had a sumptuous Mexican dinner among three of the yachts. One being the music one with a piano accordion and sundry rhythm instruments we made some promising music. Dinner the evening before put on by Kailopa and his friend Timoani. *** Nov 19. 0700 Janet journal entry What a bloody awful night. First I got too drunk on Margaritas at the Mexican dinner (fun though). Then we were up at 0230 shipping the dinghy because of squalls. Are you getting the idea that the sailing life is not always conducive to good sleep? 1900 Oooh, I don't like this. The wind has come up, clocking up to 25 knots, from the wrong direction, and we are on a lee shore (land downwind of us). We are bucking up and down over the short steep waves that are hitting us head on. There is seven miles of fetch (unfettered distance) across the lagoon for them to build up. We are planning to move to the other side of the lagoon tomorrow and settle in to a sheltered (relatively) spot to see out a low arriving at the end of this week. I wish we'd moved earlier today but its too dark to go now. I'm sitting at the chart table monitoring the GPS and the depth sounder to check if we are dragging at all. Earlier today we'd been safely dug in to a spot, confident our anchor was holding, but at about 5pm the guys working on the sand dredging came and told us we had to move, they wanted to dig up our nice safe bit of seabed. We reanchored further along the beach but were really uncomfortable about how close to shore we were, so in the dusk we anchored again, a bit further out. We may not get a full night's sleep tonight. Whenever we start the engine we check the engine water intake basket to make sure the water is flowing in freely and doing its job of cooling the engine. When we were about to move and reanchor the second time, we needed to do it quickly. I checked the basket, and there was a large piece of something that looked like white plastic in it. Bloody hell, I hoped it wouldn't block the water intake. The engine would overheat very quickly and that's the last thing we needed on the lee shore. "There's a boat moving out there," David called from the cockpit. Peering into the falling light we figured it was Menkar, the French yacht. "They are anchoring right ahead of us, right on top of our anchor," David muttered, and swore at them. "Looks like we'll be on anchor watch tonight " I said. I check our position again on the GPS and record the figures. Still in the same place. Good, but I feel a bit queasy, from the rocking and the stress. *** November 20 Janet journal entry Kailopa and his brother-in-law came for lunch today. First time on a mono-hull for Temoani. I commented on how many people are overweight here and Kailopa said that one reason was because there was so much money here. One major source is leases i.e. government buildings on leasehold land, and another is money given to the country from Australia, New Zealand, China and many other countries because of global warming. "People are eating a lot and not doing anything," Kailopa said, lamenting that even kids don't climb the coconut trees in the morning anymore. When he was young the boys would fetch 60 coconuts from the trees, and lop the tops off ready for drinking for the day. "Now they drink Coke and Fanta and tea," he continued. *** November 21 Janet We woke at 3.30am to found ourselves facing a nor-wester, on a lee shore, again. I got on Sailmail and did weather gribs and forecast for an hour then never really got back to sleep. I reviewed our options. We could stay here or move around the lagoon grabbing the meager amount of shelter the low lying islands and reef provide. Or, check out and go north to Kiribati and get ahead of the low that we were trying to avoid but right now there was very little wind to sail with. We had filled up with diesel but we didn't know how good the supplies were in Kiribati. Or, we could leave the following week and catch the edge of the low but that meant sailing 20-30 knots and rough seas. And of course that could all change with the next forecast. We opted to stay in Tuvalu and just as well we did. =20 =20 =20

Vege market morning
the regulars waiting their turn
Weigh in
Temoane and Kailopa on board for lunch
Land reclamation
the island expanding right before our eyes
Government buildings

Navire - navire - 103 Feb 2017

Kioa Picnic (Posted from Majuro January 2016) Sat Nov 14, 2015 Funafuti, Tuvalu Janet We struggled to get the dinghy up the steep coral-strewn beach. Just through the coconut palms we saw our Tuvaluan friends, Kailopa and Joseph, standing in a large open fale. It was the annual gathering of the Kioa community. These were the descendants of Kailopa's Tuvaluan people, who had migrated to Fiji sixty years ago. Earlier that morning David had collected Kailopa and his grandson Joseph from shore and Read more...

brought them out to Navire where she was anchored in the lagoon at Funafuti in Tuvalu. On calm turquoise waters we motored down to the south-western end of the atoll, Joseph up the mast on bombie watch, Kailopa directing us to the far end of the island. With the dinghy well secured to a pandanus tree and Navire safely, so we thought, gently rocking on her anchor, we strolled over to the fale where Kailopa eagerly introduced us to several of his friends and family. "This is David and Janet from New Zealand," as he introduced us eagerly. "I came from Fiji on their boat." "Talofa, Talofa," they said nodding in welcome, as the story of Kailopa's passage on Navire was already widely known. I headed into the fale to check out the picnic. I was hungry. I wanted Tuvaluan food.=20 When I visit a country I need to taste it. Small groups of people were busy preparing food. A large woman in a bright yellow floral dress, sweat dripping down her face, was flouring and deep-frying chicken. The oil bubbled in a cauldron over a portable gas cooker, the chicken sizzling as it hit the oil. Sweet and sour, she told me. Doesn't sound very Pacific I reasoned. Tuvaluan culture is heavily influenced by that of Samoa, and Samoa has a strong Asian influence in their food, using rice noodles, and soy sauce in many of their dishes. Next to the sweet and sour lady a man tended two large pots, one of taro gently simmering, and another of white starchy chunks of cassava, both used in the same way we use potatoes. Outside in the midday sun several men sat under a Dr Seuss-like drooping pandanus tree playing cards and gambling with beads. I wandered over to another group of men standing around talking and laughing by a fire pit. Nearby was a man carving up a carcass and throwing large chunks into a large red plastic bowl of pig parts. One of them explained to me that they were preparing a lovo, similar to a New Zealand hangi (cooking in the ground) in which to cook the pork. "Local pork?" I asked one of the men. He made a gesture of a knife across his throat. "Still warm," he said, and grabbed my hand and laid it on the pork flesh. I swear I felt it quiver. It must have been 30 degrees already, and humid. I stepped back into the relative cool of the fale I wiped the sweat off my face with the back of my hand and dug out my water bottle. "Would you like a coconut," a young woman asked me. "Yes please!" She reached into a cooler and selected a pale drinking coconut from amongst the ice. Picking up a knife she deftly lopped off the top and handed it to me. I gratefully raised the coconut into the air, put the rough shell against my lips, tipped my head back then poured the chilled, sweet contents down my throat. Better even than a cold beer. And just as well as there was not a drop of alcohol in sight. People slept on mats on the bare concrete floor, and babies dozed on pillows. Young people wielded smart phones. But not on Facebook though, as 3G had yet to arrive. Someone set up a stereo and island music filled the air. Looking around it was obvious we were the only palangi, white people, here. Lunch clearly wasn't going to be ready any time soon so I sat under a frangipane tree and inhaled its scent, my favourite perfume. Under the next tree a man started playing a guitar and two other men joined him singing Pacific songs in three-part harmony. Meaty roasting smells wafted over with the smoke from the firepit. It doesn't get any better than this, I thought. =20 It was nearly 2pm before lunch was ready and I was salivating over the platters of food laid out on the seven metre long table. Chop suey, stir-fries, mutton curry, and platters of cassava (which they buy peeled and frozen - no land or soil to grow it in) lay beside the sweet and sour chicken, tuna and baked pork. About forty people gathered in the fale and an older serious looking man said grace, a mandatory practice in the deeply religious Pacific. Then it was all on. I eagerly dug into the trays of food, especially the pork, not carved, I ripped chunks of flesh off the bone with my hands. Next to it was a bowl of bright red sliced chilli. I copied the woman in front of me and sprinkled some on my pork. I inhaled the sweet yeasty aroma of freshly baked home-made bread. I wished I could eat it, but my wheat intolerance was a barrier to this treat. However David ate my share with relish and pronounced it indeed 'good bread'. It was the fresh tuna that made the meal, particularly as I'd learned to eat it in the 'correct' manner. They don't dally around with marinating it in lemon, or serving up wasabi, soy, or pickled ginger, it was just hunks of raw dark red fish. It was more about texture, its smooth firm flesh than flavour. "My husband caught it yesterday, " a woman behind the buffet table had told me in response to my query about how fresh it was. Looking at my plate I noticed that everything on it was imported, except the pig and tuna. There was not even a trace of lettuce or bok-choy from the local Taiwan gardens we had visited the day before. I realised it was probably going to be like this for the next six months till we got back to Fiji and lots of freshly grown produce. We could get scurvy. I needed to figure out how to use the dried seaweed in my pantry, and start growing sprouts again. Eating with my fingers local style, I paired a chunk of pork, with a chunk of cassava, relying on the pork fat for lubrication. The pork had notes of strong flavour, real pig flavour, dark and meaty. The chilli hit and I broke into a sweat, the heat nearly lifting my head off. But the flavour leapt up, it sang. Alas the pork was a little tough, needed more salt, and to be cooked longer so it was falling off the bone. =20 After lunch we piled into the back of a truck to go and watch Joseph's team play rugby. Walking across the muddy rugby field I marveled at the dark moist soil under my feet. Sitting in the stadium, carefully avoiding the rotting boards of the bench, wondering how structurally sound it was, I pondered, how come they weren't growing vegetables in this soil? How do they get this quality of soil on this sandy atoll? Kailopa sat down next to me. "You know where this soil comes from?" he asked me. "No." I scratch my head. "Fiji," he said. "It came in a barge over the open ocean." They'd bought it off an Indian guy in Lautoka. Turns out he didn't even own the soil. There is a court case under way about it, but its not as if they'll repossess it! *** 1900 It's dark out. I'm sitting naked in the cabin, listening to a Beethoven concerto, about to pour a much needed whisky. Navire is gently rocking on her anchor. What a life these two lead, you may be saying with a slight twinge of envy. Gorging themselves on local pork and tuna, drinking fresh coconuts and enjoying a local rugby game, set amongst coconut palms and tranquil turquoise waters. Well, an hour ago you wouldn't have swapped places with us. Sitting in the stadium watching the rugby, I noticed the sky getting darker and darker. At first I thought it just a squall coming through, a frequent daily event at this latitude. I looked up and stared at a long smooth dark cloud stretched across the sky. It looked more like a front than a squall, but different to storm fronts I'd seen further south. I started to feel uncomfortable. Navire was several miles away, anchored quite close to shore, near the fale. After all, we had thought, we'd be right there and could keep an eye on her. The wind started to rise. "I'm worried about the boat," I said to David. Kailopa immediately organised us a ride back to the fale. All the way back along the thin strip of island I watched the increasingly choppy sea. Time slowed down, each minute felt like an hour. At the fale I jumped out of the truck and looked out into the lagoon at Navire. She was bucking on her anchor, stern to shore, waves crashing on the beach alarmingly close. The waves threatened to swamp the dinghy as we launched her on the steep beach. David rowed hard to get us clear of the rough coral shore. It was difficult getting back on board Navire as the dinghy violently bucked up and down alongside. Aboard, David tied the dinghy off the back and went straight to the bow to raise the anchor as I started the engine and hastily turned the instruments on. I motored forward into the short steep waves as David started winching the anchor in. Once the anchor was off the ground, but not yet up on deck, it was hard to keep the bow of the yacht facing into the wind and waves. I motored ahead slowly but the bow would drop off and I'd have to increase the revs to get it back up, but then drop the speed as I didn't want to run over the chain and have it shredding the paintwork on the bow, or make the bashing up and down movement any worse for David. Meanwhile behind the boat the short steep chop was bouncing the dinghy around smashing it into the wind-vane. I hauled it alongside and tied the painter to a winch all the while trying to keep head to wind. I noticed our boarding ladder was being wrenched out of its fittings by the waves but neither of us could leave our posts to rescue it. Anchor up, we bashed through the waves back towards the main anchorage, the light dropping fast. Because we'd had our local navigator on the way over we hadn't had the GPS on and had no handy track to follow back. The howling wind clocked 30 knots. With David back in the cockpit and steering I quickly rescued the ladder before it succeeded in its bid to escape. Unable to see most of the rest of the yachts in the heavy rain at the anchorage we found a space and dropped the anchor but we were not finished yet. We had to get the dinghy up on deck, a difficult job in the high winds. Twenty minutes later the wind dropped and the sea calmed, just like that. It was a salutary lesson on how vulnerable we were in this area of the Pacific. There was no real shelter from now on, no land higher than two or three meters. I took a sip of my whisky and pondered the many flavours of the day. =20

David checking out the anchorage
squall coming
waiting for lunch
Cutie
card game
The next generation
zzzzz
Preparing the fire
Hangi cooked pork
Sweet and sour chicken
Food prep
Taro
Kailopa
Let the feast begin
A modest palangi portion
rugby stadium

Navire - navire - 2302 Dec 2016

Rotuma to Tuvalu Posted from Majuro Dec 23, 2106 (THIS ONE SHOULD BE BEFORE THE ONE I JUST SENT - MY FAULT THIS TIME) Position 8 56.91s 17178 59.56e Nov 6, 2015, (Posted from Majuro Aug 2016) Ahead the ocean was completely empty. Behind me the hills of Rotuma were growing smaller by the hour. Probably the last hills I'd see for five months. We were bound for Tuvalu 260 miles north, 65 hours sailing at four or five knots boat speed. The sea was pretty tame, a deep royal blue half metre swell, with Read more...

a light chop on the surface. Two fishing lines trailed behind us in David's endless quest for that elusive tuna. Back in Rotuma we had a salutary lesson on eating the 'safe fish' up here. Many South Pacific reef fish carry the disease ciguatera. If you eat this fish you may get ill with flu-like symptoms that can be quite severe and sometimes last for several months and there is no cure. Sylvan off the French boat, and Tim off Exodus came back from spearfishing two days ago with a huge barracuda, a red snapper and a trevally. We asked Kailopa if any of the fish were not safe to eat and he said the snapper could be poisonous. We heard the French ate the snapper anyway. I saw Sylvan at the wharf just before we left and he didn't look so well. Gilles' philosophy, "You must try things. Sometimes good. Sometimes not so good." He gave a French shrug. *** November 7, 0130 My watch. I'd woken hot, sweaty, and itchy. I quickly gathered up my things vacating the bunk for David. Dropping my watch bag on the deck I sat in the cockpit while he briefed me. The main thing he told me was to avoid accidentally going about, definitely a risk with the auto-helm which holds the course set regardless of wind direction. If it backed a little more we'd go about. The mechanical wind vane, on the other hand, holds the boat at a constant angle to the wind. When the wind shifts the boat moves with it. But these winds were too light for that instrument. David went below to collapse into his bunk for six hours shut eye. For a moment I envied him. I glanced at the sail and saw it was nearly flat. We were hard on the wind. I checked the horizon for ships (in the whole 1500 miles to Majuro I think we only saw one). More importantly there was no sign of any squalls. Squalls meant rain, good. But often they came with sudden wind shifts and large increases in speed, bad. Then I have to act very quickly and adjust the sails. I'm not very confident at that and occasionally have to wake David to help. I really hate disturbing his precious sleep. *** To pass the time I made a meal out of the last dregs of fresh produce on board. A piece of slightly soft cucumber, sprouts, a little brown on the ends, tinned corn and my new best friend, red onions. They last for ages without refrigeration and bring life to any kind of salad. I finished my snack off with brownie from the freezer and a banana. Some of you sailors may gasp at this terrible risk we take. We sailors have a number of superstitions. Carrying bananas on passage is supposedly bad luck. I guess if you carry them for long enough some bad luck may occur, says David, but we've got this far safely with them on board. We have some ocean sailing friends, normally sane-minded people, who will absolutely not carry bananas at sea, nor leave port on a Friday, another nautical superstition. One that has come down through David's step-father, a naval man, is no whistling at sea or you risk a dramatic jump in wind speed. I've tried whistling when becalmed in the ocean and it doesn't work. Replete, I settled into the cockpit. Blast, the wind started faltering and coming more from the east. At the beginning of my watch it was a pleasant 18 knots, propelling us along at 4-5 knots. The boat was much harder to sail in the light fluky winds. I whistled for a few minutes, to no avail. *** 1830 Sitting in the cockpit watching an ocean sunset I was feeling pretty intrepid. Only about 15 yachts each year take the northern option, sailing up to Majuro for the hurricane season. The weather conditions are so different in the area north of Fiji compared to between New Zealand and Fiji and Tonga requiring us to learn a new set of rules. And there is no real shelter to be had. We were still in the hurricane zone, we needed to be north of 5 degrees south but we were still at 11 degrees. We had to keep going. We hoped to arrive in Tuvalu the next day but knew we may need to heave to overnight in order to go through the pass in daylight. David talked to Exodus on the radio. They were way back in the dark cloud behind us. It was nice to hear a familiar voice. (I know, we'd only known them for a week but that's a lot of history around here). They reported that Sylvan, from the French boat was taken by ambulance to hospital with severe dehydration. From ciguatera we suspected. *** Sunday Nov 8 Cumulus clouds towered all around the horizon, fortunately none bearing down on us. We were a happy ship for a while. Kailopa was grating all our coconuts into thick sweet cream. If we caught that bloody tuna I would make ceviche. The sun was out and the breeze gentle. Too gentle alas. We commissioned the iron sail and resigned ourselves to motoring all day in order to get us to Funafuti, the main island of Tuvalu, before dark. We had goat curry from the freezer for lunch. Excellent. But the night before wasn't so excellent. I got five hours sleep in a row, superb, but came up on deck to really changeable conditions. A squall hit with 33 knot of winds and I had to get David up to help me reef. On the plus side we had heavy rain and I collected two bucketsful. The wind jumped around in speed, 22 knots, 8 knots, 20, and direction eventually settling in from the north-east. I accidentally went about. In my attempts to get back on course I lost all sense of direction. I didn't know which way to turn the boat nor what to do with the sails. When David came on deck to see what was going on we were heading back the way we'd come. He started the engine and got us back on course. I could have done that! Just would have taken me a while to figure it out. Alas when the GPS is on there is no hiding tactical errors, my delinquent path showed up on the electronic track that followed us across the screen.

Navire - navire - 2303 Dec 2016

Arrival in Tuvalu November 8, 2015 (Written from Majuro August 2106) REPOSTED DEC 23 AS IT DID NOT SHOW ON SITE Position 31.491s 179 11.376e "Dolphins!" I cried. They danced around us as if saying "Welcome to Tuvalu, well done, you made it." We easily traversed the comfortably wide reef-entrance into the waters of Funafuti, Tuvalu's main atoll. After crossing the unfettered lagoon, no hull snagging coral bombies lurking just below the surface, we dropped anchor behind two other yachts already Read more...

settled off the town of Fongafale. We easily fell into our arrival routine and dusk fell quickly as it does close to the equator. David had already raised the Tuvaluan flag and Kailopa was cleaning the barracuda we'd caught in the pass. With Navire safely secured to the seabed I slid into the water and rinsed off several days of sweat. *** "Eight hours sleep in a row," David declared as we fell into bed at 8pm. But sure enough at 2.30am we woke to heavy rain. We leapt out of bed excitedly. One of our logistical concerns about this trip north was whether or not we'd get enough fresh water in Tuvalu to see us through the 1000 trip to Majuro. In the cockpit by the light of our head-torches we were a finely tuned machine. Buckets out, hoses up. The four 10 litre buckets filled in minutes, and the showers, and every available pot and bowl, our naked bodies illuminated momentarily by the lightning that blasted the sky. Unfortunately the rain filled the dinghy too which we'd left tied off the back, so I bailed it, and hoisted it off the side, taking the bung out to prevent it filling again. It was hard to get back to sleep and I'd finally dozed off when it was time to get up and listen to the weather forecast. We were very interested in monitoring the low-pressure system nearby that must have been responsible for all the rain we collected. I also kept an eye on a band of clouds lurking near the equator east of us, that area being a potential cyclone spawning ground. *** The next morning we cleaned up the boat in case customs and immigration wanted to come out to clear us in. "There is no way they are coming in out here in our dinghy," said David. Its quite small and tippy, and adult Tuvaluan men can be quite large. We erected shade cloth over the boom to attempt to get some reduction in temperature. Twenty eight degrees and 82% humidity. (Ha! Luxury, I think now as I write here in Majuro in 32 degrees) *** Excerpt from David email: I write this in Tuvalu with droplets of sweat running freely down my arms and gathering on my upper lip. And this is with the weather overcast and drizzling. On a sunny day my shirt is constantly wet through. But somehow it's not unbearable.=20 Funafuti is not the tawdry, litter-strewn town I had been led to expect. The place is thick with mopeds ridden by all - large mothers, infant in one arm, throttle in the other, pillions balanced side saddle or holding a tuna by the tail, drivers balancing ladders, suitcases, umbrellas in the rain, trays of food. The place is overwhelmingly friendly, lush and green, with a vibrant energy in the air. And, thankfully, lots of rain this season. But best of all Kailopa is related to half the population here. We have been swept up in their enthusiastic welcome and some of the awe with which they regard him for having found his way aboard a Palangi vessel and crossed the hazardous open ocean. I expected Tuvalu to be friendly. We, of course, had doors flung wide by delivering Kailopa, one of their own. There was much anticipation and anxiety about his arrival. We stayed in Rotuma nearly a week which they had not understood (Kailopa had hoped to keep his visit a secret but his village in Fiji let it out). So there were frequent scans for yacht arrivals and some were asked if Kailopa was aboard. His nephew was on the dock as we came ashore. The usual round of tedious bureaucratic arrival formalities became a round of family reunions.=20 Kailopa's feat of getting aboard a Palangi yacht and crossing hazardous ocean at his advanced age, just 67, has given him a kind of celebrity status. It's 10pm and still I perspire. I carry a facecloth everywhere to wipe off the rivulets. I seem not to mind the heat but droplets on my glasses, in my eyes, running down my arms, dripping off my nose, that's uncomfortable. *** Janet Fongafale, the main atoll of Tuvalu, is a long narrow island barely extending beyond the road in places. As Kailopa's nephew Edmoni was driving us to the customs office we came to an area of raised sand, reclaimed land, about 1.5 metres high. "This is a New Zealand project," Edmoni told us. "The tides were eroding this area and no one could build here." I'd noticed many houses built up on poles. The ugly spectre of global warming lurks here. We stopped and met Jonathon, Edmoni's dad, going the other way on a step through scooter. At customs one of the two men in the office was Kailopa's cousin Telito. We didn't have a form from Fiji, no problem, health forms to hand in, leave it with me. All done. The easiest clearing in we've ever had. Edmoni drove us back towards the dinghy dock and dropped us at a house where two young women were delighted to see Kailopa. We went in to what was a Jehovah's Witness house and met another nephew Jona and his wife Sue, then Joseph, a grandson. They invited us for dinner. I felt warmly welcomed. We were in Kailopa's hands now. Back at the boat we had a swim, then a drink on Exodus and swapped passage stories, before heading back into town to the mission house. We sat and chatted with the family. No food in sight. We told them our plan to hire a motorbike and explore the island and that we have one in New Zealand. "Okay we go now," said Sue gathering up her handbag. We all trooped downstairs and outside to where a phalanx of motorbikes were parked. Jona handed us a key. We had our own bike! He showed David how to operate the lights and gears. Our two-wheeled convoy wended its way through the balmy evening air. David couldn't get the bike to change down a gear but we soon learnt that you just do everything in third. The bikes in front turned into the yard of a large house with dozens of people milling around. We were at a funeral feast! No one seemed at all concerned that we didn't know the deceased's family. We were invited to sit in an almost empty room on a mat. Gradually other people wandered in and sat on the floor. It dawned on us that this was the "old people's" room. Other people, the younger ones, scurried around with large platters of food. One of which held two roasted whole pigs. We were interlopers but because we were Palangi visitors we were invited to help ourselves to the food laid out on the table first. My mouth was watering. Chunks of pork fell off the golden baked carcass onto my plate, then I loaded up from platters of various beef stir fries, cassava, and dalo (taro). *** Nov 10 Spent the morning cleaning up boat while David fixed various leaks made apparent by the heavy downpours. As always almost the first thing we seek out on landing is internet but here its hard to connect, expensive and super slow. Just buy a card at the store and enter the password we were told. An outrageous $10Aus for 250MB. We bought the card but couldn't get a connection. We headed to the Telecom office. It was like the Post Office in New Zealand in the 1970's. A rough hand painted sign graced the door. It was immediately evident that the woman behind the desk was not a techo, in fact there was not even a computer in sight. She didn't know anything about internet problems and after trying to go through obvious stuff regardless of what David told her, eventually directed us to another Telecom building. We walked two blocks. The girl at 'security' box told us "No one there, all gone, back later". David grilled her to no effect. I abandoned David at the government office, went back to first Telecom office and explained that there was no one at Telecom base. She called them and said, "line busy, so must be someone there." Back to Telecom base. "Oh yes," said the girl in the security box, "someone there." Thank god David wasn't there, it wouldn't have been pretty. Inside a large shed a young man said yes, he could help David. Back to government building and sent David back to do battle. A job that would have been dealt with in five minutes in New Zealand. *** Nov 11 The Fleet I sat at the dock waiting for David to collect me. It was so hot I just walked into the sea fully clothed to cool down. The water was not cool but the breeze now wicked heat away from my body. I could see eight yachts anchored off the town. One was heading south, the rest for Majuro, and there were a couple more to arrive yet. Quite a fleet. We would see a lot of each other over the next few months. For some time I'd harboured a dream of having a community in Majuro, in the Marshall Islands, our final destination for this leg of our trip. I was excited about seeing the same people for more than a day or two instead of fleeting connections before our new acquaintances sailed off to another bay or even a different country. In my dream I had a cooking club and a writers group, and regular people to play music with, three of my favourite activities from life in Wellington. Well the community was happening now! In Tuvalu. Deanne from Exodus suggested we set up a daily radio sched for the passage to Majuro. At 0800 each morning we would all tune in to frequency 8173 and report in with our positions, how many fish we'd caught, distance covered, weather conditions and how we were faring. It became one of the highlights of the day once we were underway.=20 True Blue V, an Aussie boat arrived at dusk. Our fleet was nine strong. Meanwhile we waited to see how a nasty looking low developed. It promised up to 40 knots of wind by end of the week. But for now there was little wind and it was bloody hot. *** Nov 12, Janet journal Really hot today, trundling my trolley of groceries through town, sweat pouring down my back. No taxis in this town. Spent the morning at customs trying to negotiate outer island visits. Shopping done I settled in at the Filomena 'hotel' overlooking the runway to get internet. Suddenly the fire engine appeared and sounded its siren. Then everyone from the hotel moved next door to the airport, the twice-weekly flight was coming in, a much anticipated event. I gave up on trying to connect and had lunch and cold beers with some of the fleet. Sleepy after the lunchtime drinking we had a quiet night at home collecting buckets of rainwater in passing squalls. Still no sign of wind to take us north and out of the hurricane zone, so we waited. I put the last of the old potatoes from Fiji in the oven and made barracuda lolo, using Kailopa's coconut cream, tinned cherry tomatoes, garlic, last of the fresh coconut cream, and red onion. Fry the fish then put it in lolo. Yum. *** The boat was infested with bugs that were eating me. I didn't know what they were and they were keeping me up at night with insanely intense itching. Hopefully they would disappear when we left the land. However it looked like we would be in Tuvalu for at least another week. There was very little wind predicted and what there was would come from the north. We fully expected to spend time wallowing out there on the ocean but we wanted to pick at least a zephyr of easterly to leave with. Well we got the Easterly but it was a bit more than a zephyr. =20

Open CPN chart
Approaching pass into Funafuti
Kailopa and Jonathon
Kailopa and cousin customs man
Kailopa at the funeral
Funeral feast
Roast pig
Main mode of transport

Navire - navire - 1603 Oct 2016

Arrival in Tuvalu November 8 (Written from Majuro August 2106) Position 31.491s 179 11.376e "Dolphins!" I cried. They danced around us as if saying "Welcome to Tuvalu, well done, you made it." We easily traversed the comfortably wide reef-entrance into the waters of Funafuti, Tuvalu's main atoll. After crossing the unfettered lagoon, no hull snagging coral bombies lurking just below the surface, we dropped anchor behind two other yachts already settled off the town of Fongafale. We easily fell Read more...

into our arrival routine and dusk fell quickly as it does close to the equator. David had already raised the Tuvaluan flag and Kailopa was cleaning the barracuda we'd caught in the pass. With Navire safely secured to the seabed I slid into the water and rinsed off several days of sweat. *** "Eight hours sleep in a row," David declared as we fell into bed at 8pm. But sure enough at 2.30am we woke to heavy rain. We leapt out of bed excitedly. One of our logistical concerns about this trip north was whether or not we'd get enough fresh water in Tuvalu to see us through the 1000 trip to Majuro. In the cockpit by the light of our head-torches we were a finely tuned machine. Buckets out, hoses up. The four 10 litre buckets filled in minutes, and the showers, and every available pot and bowl, our naked bodies illuminated momentarily by the lightning that blasted the sky. Unfortunately the rain filled the dinghy too which we'd left tied off the back, so I bailed it, and hoisted it off the side, taking the bung out to prevent it filling again. It was hard to get back to sleep and I'd finally dozed off when it was time to get up and listen to the weather forecast. We were very interested in monitoring the low-pressure system nearby that must have been responsible for all the rain we collected. I also kept an eye on a band of clouds lurking near the equator east of us, that area being a potential cyclone spawning ground. *** The next morning we cleaned up the boat in case customs and immigration wanted to come out to clear us in. "There is no way they are coming in out here in our dinghy," said David. Its quite small and tippy, and adult Tuvaluan men can be quite large. We erected shade cloth over the boom to attempt to get some reduction in temperature. Twenty eight degrees and 82% humidity. (Ha! Luxury, I think now as I write here in Majuro in 32 degrees) *** Excerpt from David email: I write this in Tuvalu with droplets of sweat running freely down my arms and gathering on my upper lip. And this is with the weather overcast and drizzling. On a sunny day my shirt is constantly wet through. But somehow it's not unbearable.=20 Funafuti is not the tawdry, litter-strewn town I had been led to expect. The place is thick with mopeds ridden by all - large mothers, infant in one arm, throttle in the other, pillions balanced side saddle or holding a tuna by the tail, drivers balancing ladders, suitcases, umbrellas in the rain, trays of food. The place is overwhelmingly friendly, lush and green, with a vibrant energy in the air. And, thankfully, lots of rain this season. But best of all Kailopa is related to half the population here. We have been swept up in their enthusiastic welcome and some of the awe with which they regard him for having found his way aboard a Palangi vessel and crossed the hazardous open ocean. I expected Tuvalu to be friendly. We, of course, had doors flung wide by delivering Kailopa, one of their own. There was much anticipation and anxiety about his arrival. We stayed in Rotuma nearly a week which they had not understood (Kailopa had hoped to keep his visit a secret but his village in Fiji let it out). So there were frequent scans for yacht arrivals and some were asked if Kailopa was aboard. His nephew was on the dock as we came ashore. The usual round of tedious bureaucratic arrival formalities became a round of family reunions.=20 Kailopa's feat of getting aboard a Palangi yacht and crossing hazardous ocean at his advanced age, just 67, has given him a kind of celebrity status. It's 10pm and still I perspire. I carry a facecloth everywhere to wipe off the rivulets. I seem not to mind the heat but droplets on my glasses, in my eyes, running down my arms, dripping off my nose, that's uncomfortable. *** Janet Fongafale, the main atoll of Tuvalu, is a long narrow island barely extending beyond the road in places. As Kailopa's nephew Edmoni was driving us to the customs office we came to an area of raised sand, reclaimed land, about 1.5 metres high. "This is a New Zealand project," Edmoni told us. "The tides were eroding this area and no one could build here." I'd noticed many houses built up on poles. The ugly spectre of global warming lurks here. We stopped and met Jonathon, Edmoni's dad, going the other way on a step through scooter. At customs one of the two men in the office was Kailopa's cousin Telito. We didn't have a form from Fiji, no problem, health forms to hand in, leave it with me. All done. The easiest clearing in we've ever had. Edmoni drove us back towards the dinghy dock and dropped us at a house where two young women were delighted to see Kailopa. We went in to what was a Jehovah's Witness house and met another nephew Jona and his wife Sue, then Joseph, a grandson. They invited us for dinner. I felt warmly welcomed. We were in Kailopa's hands now. Back at the boat we had a swim, then a drink on Exodus and swapped passage stories, before heading back into town to the mission house. We sat and chatted with the family. No food in sight. We told them our plan to hire a motorbike and explore the island and that we have one in New Zealand. "Okay we go now," said Sue gathering up her handbag. We all trooped downstairs and outside to where a phalanx of motorbikes were parked. Jona handed us a key. We had our own bike! He showed David how to operate the lights and gears. Our two-wheeled convoy wended its way through the balmy evening air. David couldn't get the bike to change down a gear but we soon learnt that you just do everything in third. The bikes in front turned into the yard of a large house with dozens of people milling around. We were at a funeral feast! No one seemed at all concerned that we didn't know the deceased's family. We were invited to sit in an almost empty room on a mat. Gradually other people wandered in and sat on the floor. It dawned on us that this was the "old people's" room. Other people, the younger ones, scurried around with large platters of food. One of which held two roasted whole pigs. We were interlopers but because we were Palangi visitors we were invited to help ourselves to the food laid out on the table first. My mouth was watering. Chunks of pork fell off the golden baked carcass onto my plate, then I loaded up from platters of various beef stir fries, cassava, and dalo (taro). *** Nov 10 Spent the morning cleaning up boat while David fixed various leaks made apparent by the heavy downpours. As always almost the first thing we seek out on landing is internet but here its hard to connect, expensive and super slow. Just buy a card at the store and enter the password we were told. An outrageous $10Aus for 250MB. We bought the card but couldn't get a connection. We headed to the Telecom office. It was like the Post Office in New Zealand in the 1970's. A rough hand painted sign graced the door. It was immediately evident that the woman behind the desk was not a techo, in fact there was not even a computer in sight. She didn't know anything about internet problems and after trying to go through obvious stuff regardless of what David told her, eventually directed us to another Telecom building. We walked two blocks. The girl at 'security' box told us "No one there, all gone, back later". David grilled her to no effect. I abandoned David at the government office, went back to first Telecom office and explained that there was no one at Telecom base. She called them and said, "line busy, so must be someone there." Back to Telecom base. "Oh yes," said the girl in the security box, "someone there." Thank god David wasn't there, it wouldn't have been pretty. Inside a large shed a young man said yes, he could help David. Back to government building and sent David back to do battle. A job that would have been dealt with in five minutes in New Zealand. *** Nov 11 The Fleet I sat at the dock waiting for David to collect me. It was so hot I just walked into the sea fully clothed to cool down. The water was not cool but the breeze now wicked heat away from my body. I could see eight yachts anchored off the town. One was heading south, the rest for Majuro, and there were a couple more to arrive yet. Quite a fleet. We would see a lot of each other over the next few months. For some time I'd harboured a dream of having a community in Majuro, in the Marshall Islands, our final destination for this leg of our trip. I was excited about seeing the same people for more than a day or two instead of fleeting connections before our new acquaintances sailed off to another bay or even a different country. In my dream I had a cooking club and a writers group, and regular people to play music with, three of my favourite activities from life in Wellington. Well the community was happening now! In Tuvalu. Deanne from Exodus suggested we set up a daily radio sched for the passage to Majuro. At 0800 each morning we would all tune in to frequency 8173 and report in with our positions, how many fish we'd caught, distance covered, weather conditions and how we were faring. It became one of the highlights of the day once we were underway.=20 True Blue V, an Aussie boat arrived at dusk. Our fleet was nine strong. Meanwhile we waited to see how a nasty looking low developed. It promised up to 40 knots of wind by end of the week. But for now there was little wind and it was bloody hot. *** Nov 12, Janet journal Really hot today, trundling my trolley of groceries through town, sweat pouring down my back. No taxis in this town. Spent the morning at customs trying to negotiate outer island visits. Shopping done I settled in at the Filomena 'hotel' overlooking the runway to get internet. Suddenly the fire engine appeared and sounded its siren. Then everyone from the hotel moved next door to the airport, the twice-weekly flight was coming in, a much anticipated event. I gave up on trying to connect and had lunch and cold beers with some of the fleet. Sleepy after the lunchtime drinking we had a quiet night at home collecting buckets of rainwater in passing squalls. Still no sign of wind to take us north and out of the hurricane zone, so we waited. I put the last of the old potatoes from Fiji in the oven and made barracuda lolo, using Kailopa's coconut cream, tinned cherry tomatoes, garlic, last of the fresh coconut cream, and red onion. Fry the fish then put it in lolo. Yum. *** The boat was infested with bugs that were eating me. I didn't know what they were and they were keeping me up at night with insanely intense itching. Hopefully they would disappear when we left the land. However it looked like we would be in Tuvalu for at least another week. There was very little wind predicted and what there was would come from the north. We fully expected to spend time wallowing out there on the ocean but we wanted to pick at least a zephyr of easterly to leave with. Well we got the Easterly but it was a bit more than a zephyr. =20 =20 =20 Tuvalu 1

Open CPN chart
Approaching pass into Funafuti
Kailopa and Jonathon
Kailopa and cousin customs man
Kailopa at the funeral
Funeral feast
Roast pig
Main mode of transport

Navire - navire - 1602 Oct 2016

Rotuma to Tuvalu Position 8 56.91s 17178 59.56e Nov 6, 2015, (Posted from Majuro Aug 2016) Ahead the ocean was completely empty. Behind me the hills of Rotuma were growing smaller by the hour. Probably the last hills I'd see for five months. We were bound for Tuvalu 260 miles north, 65 hours sailing at four or five knots boat speed. The sea was pretty tame, a deep royal blue half metre swell, with a light chop on the surface. Two fishing lines trailed behind us in David's endless quest for that Read more...

elusive tuna. Back in Rotuma we had a salutary lesson on eating the 'safe fish' up here. Many South Pacific reef fish carry the disease ciguatera. If you eat this fish you may get ill with flu-like symptoms that can be quite severe and sometimes last for several months and there is no cure. Sylvan off the French boat, and Tim off Exodus came back from spearfishing two days ago with a huge barracuda, a red snapper and a trevally. We asked Kailopa if any of the fish were not safe to eat and he said the snapper could be poisonous. We heard the French ate the snapper anyway. I saw Sylvan at the wharf just before we left and he didn't look so well. Gilles' philosophy, "You must try things. Sometimes good. Sometimes not so good." He gave a French shrug.=20 *** November 7, 0130 My watch. I'd woken hot, sweaty, and itchy. I quickly gathered up my things vacating the bunk for David. Dropping my watch bag on the deck I sat in the cockpit while he briefed me. The main thing he told me was to avoid accidentally going about, definitely a risk with the auto-helm which holds the course set regardless of wind direction. If it backed a little more we'd go about. The mechanical wind vane, on the other hand, holds the boat at a constant angle to the wind. When the wind shifts the boat moves with it. But these winds were too light for that instrument. David went below to collapse into his bunk for six hours shut eye. For a moment I envied him. I glanced at the sail and saw it was nearly flat. We were hard on the wind. I checked the horizon for ships (in the whole 1500 miles to Majuro I think we only saw one). More importantly there was no sign of any squalls. Squalls meant rain, good. But often they came with sudden wind shifts and large increases in speed, bad. Then I have to act very quickly and adjust the sails. I'm not very confident at that and occasionally have to wake David to help. I really hate disturbing his precious sleep. *** To pass the time I made a meal out of the last dregs of fresh produce on board. A piece of slightly soft cucumber, sprouts, a little brown on the ends, tinned corn and my new best friend, red onions. They last for ages without refrigeration and bring life to any kind of salad. I finished my snack off with brownie from the freezer and a banana.=20 Some of you sailors may gasp at this terrible risk we take. We sailors have a number of superstitions. Carrying bananas on passage is supposedly bad luck. I guess if you carry them for long enough some bad luck may occur, says David, but we've got this far safely with them on board. We have some ocean sailing friends, normally sane-minded people, who will absolutely not carry bananas at sea, nor leave port on a Friday, another nautical superstition. One that has come down through David's step-father, a naval man, is no whistling at sea or you risk a dramatic jump in wind speed. I've tried whistling when becalmed in the ocean and it doesn't work. Replete, I settled into the cockpit. Blast, the wind started faltering and coming more from the east. At the beginning of my watch it was a pleasant 18 knots, propelling us along at 4-5 knots. The boat was much harder to sail in the light fluky winds. I whistled for a few minutes, to no avail. *** 1830 Sitting in the cockpit watching an ocean sunset I was feeling pretty intrepid. Only about 15 yachts each year take the northern option, sailing up to Majuro for the hurricane season. The weather conditions are so different in the area north of Fiji compared to between New Zealand and Fiji and Tonga requiring us to learn a new set of rules. And there is no real shelter to be had. We were still in the hurricane zone, we needed to be north of 5 degrees south but we were still at 11 degrees. We had to keep going. We hoped to arrive in Tuvalu the next day but knew we may need to heave to overnight in order to go through the pass in daylight. David talked to Exodus on the radio. They were way back in the dark cloud behind us. It was nice to hear a familiar voice. (I know, we'd only known them for a week but that's a lot of history around here). They reported that Sylvan, from the French boat was taken by ambulance to hospital with severe dehydration. =46rom ciguatera we suspected. *** Sunday Nov 8 Cumulus clouds towered all around the horizon, fortunately none bearing down on us. We were a happy ship for a while. Kailopa was grating all our coconuts into thick sweet cream. If we caught that bloody tuna I would make ceviche. The sun was out and the breeze gentle. Too gentle alas. We commissioned the iron sail and resigned ourselves to motoring all day in order to get us to Funafuti, the main island of Tuvalu, before dark. We had goat curry from the freezer for lunch. Excellent. But the night before wasn't so excellent. I got five hours sleep in a row, superb, but came up on deck to really changeable conditions. A squall hit with 33 knot of winds and I had to get David up to help me reef. On the plus side we had heavy rain and I collected two bucketsful. The wind jumped around in speed, 22 knots, 8 knots, 20, and direction eventually settling in from the north-east. I accidentally went about. In my attempts to get back on course I lost all sense of direction. I didn't know which way to turn the boat nor what to do with the sails. When David came on deck to see what was going on we were heading back the way we'd come. He started the engine and got us back on course. I could have done that! Just would have taken me a while to figure it out. Alas when the GPS is on there is no hiding tactical errors, my delinquent path showed up on the electronic track that followed us across the screen. =20

Kailopa grating coconuts

Navire - navire - 2902 Sep 2016

Kailopa He slept little, turning over in his mind a great decision. Palau, his daughter-in-law had consented but worried that it was perhaps too great a distance. His son, Batiki, had offered no opinion other than to ask "Dad, what if something happened to the boat?" Here was an adventure the like of which he had long dreamed, right here in his hands. He had only a few hours to decide. Maybe he was too old now for the journey. That cannot be, he thought. I am only two years older than the skipper Read more...

and I have much experience. I must take this opportunity. I will get no better. But will Batiki agree? His nephew, Levi, had observed that it was the start of the hurricane season. "Most of the hurricanes that have hit Fiji started around Rotuma and Tuvalu, just where this boat that you know nothing about is going." Others had said he was crazy to go in so small a boat. But this was his dream, to make a passage in a small sailing vessel, not just among the islands of Fiji which he had done many times, often alone, but across an ocean to another country. What could be better than a passage to his home island in Tuvalu? The thought was intoxicating. Sleep finally came. In the morning Batiki was not enthusiastic about the idea but said, "Is up to you, Dad. We know this is your dream. We know you love the sea, the wide ocean. I cannot stand in your way." Levi too had softened. "It's a good chance uncle. Take it." "Yes but the most important is that my passport is up to date." Kailopa looked troubled. "I think not. My passport will expire at the end this year, 2016." Batiki examined the passport. "Yes Dad, it does expire as you say. But this is 2015. You a have a whole year left." On Navire we were sure Kailopa's family would not agree and busied ourselves with departure preparations when Janet's phone rang. It was Kailopa. "I will come." A few minutes later Kailopa heaved on board his suit case, a box of food and his broad smile. =20 I think we both made a good decision. Kailopa has been wonderful company, relentlessly cheerful, generous with stories of his people and fishing methods. He has a remarkable ability to sit quietly and observe, often for hours at a time. He was the first to notice we had a fish on the line and to sight the smudgy outline of Rotuma. He knows the tides from observing the moon and the approaching weather from the cloud formations, the swell and rings around the moon. In his village on Kioa he is a radically independent thinker. He believes there should be a separation of church from leadership and management of his community. "The community should run itself and the church run itself. But they mix the two together. We have three churches on Kioa but the biggest is the Methodist. The Methodist pastor lives on the island and gets his electricity free. Is a dollar a week for one bulb, two for a fridge or tv. Most people have one, maybe two bulbs. The pastor, he has one for every room, maybe seven or eight bulbs." Kailopa rolls his eyes and his voice is more angry. "You add that up. A lot of money over a year. Free. Council pays. Same for fuel for the boat. If he goes to Labasa or Savusavu for meetings he gets the council boat and his fuel is free. Why?" "The pastor gets $2 a month from every church household. But once a year is pastor's day. He comes away with fifteen or twenty thousand on just the one day. A lot of pressure to pay lots. Name gets read out and goes in the book with how much you give. Lot of pressure. When you fishing the best fish goes to the pastor. He gets a lot more than he can use. Does he give this back to the community? Maybe to the widows or others who cannot go fishing? No. He feeds it to the pigs. =20 He has several times turned down invitations to take an honoured place at one of the posts of the maneapa, the community hall. He tells them he would attend only the non-religious gatherings. The rest of the time his post would be empty. "You know what they do?" he says. "At New Year they meet for a week, just chatting and feasting, chatting and feasting. What a waste of time. They should be at their farms or fishing, earning the school fees for their children." He shakes his head. =20

Kailopa dancing at Kioa
Kailopa on the tiller
Chief fisherman
Kailopa and his nephew Edmoni in Tuvalu

Navire - navire - 2903 Sep 2016

One day Kailopa and I decided to hitch around the island. We walked to the one road that circled the island and turned right expecting a vehicle to come our way, any minute, but none came. It was hot and getting decidedly hotter. We sought out the shaded parts of the dirt road and ambled on in hope. The sweat ran down my back, poured down my front, dripped from my nose and stung my eyes. No car passed in either direction. We took an interest in the house that slowly separated itself from the Read more...

thick foliage on the seaward side.=20 A man in the driveway hailed us, "Bula." We both replied, "Bula, bula." "Come. Have a seat." He beckoned us to a shaded table and presently iced water was brought by his wife. We passed a very pleasant hour with our host who, it turned out, had had a lot to do with Rotuman politics. It was he who had lobbied for Rotuma to be made a Fijian Port of Entry. "So that you could trade with Tuvalu." I chipped in, showing that I knew a thing or two. "That was never going to work. We didn't grow enough produce to make the ship, Tuvaluan, economically viable. That business folded soon after we got the port of entry status. No, we lobbied for that status for all the development that goes with it - airport expansion, new hospital, better roading. Infrastructure. And we're getting it. You'll see the hospital under construction if you ever go to the top of the island." When our host discovered our interest in seeing his island he suggested he drive us. Our lifted spirits dropped when he realised he didn't have enough petrol for the journey and, being Sunday, gas stations would be closed. But a moment later they were lifted again. "Ah, but I can get some from Boaz on the other side of the island. He'll be there." "How can you be sure he'll be there and have you enough fuel to get half way round the island?" "Oh he'll be there. Should be enough fuel for half the island. Let's go." Our host, I wish I could remember his name, gave us a thorough tour of the island, stopping to show us sights and take photos and providing a running commentary. Rotuma is a mountainous island, lush and green with classic palm-studded, white sand beaches. The soil is rich and easily produces an abundance of fruit and vegetables. We knew that we would soon be cruising among coral atolls where the soil is poor and water often scares. I wanted to soak up as much as possible this idyllic, exceptionally beautiful place. The island gave a well-cared for impression, clean, very little litter, lawns mowed and gardens tended. All was as close as I'd come to the perfect, postcard Pacific Island of everyone's dreams.=20 Our driver never mentioned the petrol situation but I watched the fuel needle move inexorably toward empty and began wondering about where we might spend the night, should it come to that. We passed no petrol stations. I had no idea how far around the island we were. With the needle hard on the empty pin we stopped outside a house. Our driver came back shaking his head. "No petrol. All empty." Then he disappeared into another house, re-emerged and drove us a few houses further into the village. =46rom this he returned with a two litre milk bottle of petrol which he poured into the tank. Remarkably this got us home. Postscript Since leaving Rotuma we have had consistent unconfirmed reports that the port of entry status for the island has been withdrawn.

Navire - navire - 2902 Sep 2016

Rotuma, the final Fijian Island=09 Position: 12 29.239s 177 07.227e (Posted from Majuro September 2016) David We arrived at Rotuma early this morning, negotiating our way through coral=20 heads, to drop anchor in five metres of turquoise liquid jewels over clear white=20 sand. Black, chunky volcanic rock cloaked in palms and huge mango trees with=20 virgin sand oases tucked among the muscular rock. *** Janet Anchor down on this last piece of Fiji, I squeezed in an hour of sleep but a visit to=20 Read more...

shore was a more pressing need than a longer nap. We wanted access to internet=20 to get a wider range of weather forecasts than we could get aboard. But first, a=20 long overdue shower was in order. Ladder down, lifelines down, solar shower=20 rigged in the cockpit, I dove over the side. The water was silky on my skin, the=20 warmest temperature to date now that we were 12 degrees of latitude south of=20 the equator. To give you some perspective, Wellington is at a chilly 42 degrees=20 south. I climbed out of the water, soaped up, leapt in again and washed off. Then=20 a fresh water rinse under the camping shower and layers of sweat and salt=20 lathered off. I felt clean, for about an hour, till the next outpouring of sweat=20 liberally coated me. David wanted to stay with the boat to make sure the anchor was set safely, so=20 Kailopa and I headed to shore in the dinghy. There was one other yacht in the=20 anchorage, a French boat, Menkar, with a father and son team. We stopped for a=20 brief chat about weather. We'd been hoping to leave on Monday of the following=20 week but Giles and Sylvan said there was very light wind and it had too much=20 east in it, which the weather map later confirmed.=20 We were now in a band of weather called the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone=20 (ITCZ) otherwise known as the doldrums or horse latitudes. This is an area=20 where the northern hemisphere trade winds meet the southern hemisphere=20 ones. This creates an area of low pressure with light winds or no wind at all, and=20 is often punctuated by unpredictable squalls. These mostly hit at night, usually,=20 accompanied by torrential rain and a sustained blast of wind from any direction.=20 They last about ten minutes. This band of low pressure floats up and down=20 between the north of Fiji and the equator, and is sometimes broad and=20 sometimes quite narrow in width. Ideally we would set sail north when it was=20 narrow to reduce the chance of being becalmed and having to motor. If the cloud=20 we saw on the charts was the ITCZ it would be squally out there. We changed our=20 plans, again. *** Stepping on land after being at sea was like going from black and white to full=20 colour. The sea was bright blue, the sand intense white. Behind the beach there=20 was a park-like area laid out with vibrant green coconut palms, then the burst of=20 bright colours of the gardens in the village. Just along the road we met a=20 Jehovah's Witness family (Kailopa's religion) who were just lovely, Leta and=20 Funmanu, and their son Ian. We arranged with Ian about where to watch the=20 rugby, the final game of the World Cup, on early the next morning. *** David We started our second day here at 4 am, ashore watching the All Blacks win the=20 Rugby World Cup. Wahoo!! =20 We meandered back to our dinghy in blissful euphoria, as though we had=20 personally secured the win. Our first glimpse of the anchorage was of Menkar=20 slewing down the face of a two-metre swell, surely headed for the black rock=20 shore. High on the crest she slid down the back of the surging wave which broke=20 in a cloud of foam and green water, Menkar rolling gunnel to gunnel but safe. Janet and I picked a moment between surges to push our wee dinghy through the=20 foam into deeper water. The darling outboard started first pull and we motored=20 out to Navire, also rolling alarmingly. Where had this frightening surge come=20 from? We had to get out of there. We shipped the outboard and dinghy in double quick time while close by the=20 supply ship, rolling hard on the concrete wharf, prepared to leave. We had=20 wondered and worried about how this small ship would maneuver so close to us.=20 Perhaps the wind would catch the bow as she tried reversing out and force her=20 down onto Navire. I had little time to worry about this as we wound in our=20 anchor. As it turned out she made a graceful exit stern first, well clear of Navire. In the meantime Menkar noticed their own predicament and were getting under=20 way.=20 Our two yachts and the small ship left the anchorage together. All re-anchored=20 well out from shore and the breaking rollers. *** Janet The French came for a drink. They were great company and they too were=20 heading north. We communed about weather. Another boat arrived that evening.=20 Exodus is a 40' catamaran with an American family aboard. Deanne and Tim a=20 pair of aeronautical engineers, and their two teenage boys. They were to become=20 our close companions for the next two months.=20 *** Monday Nov 2.=20 So near and yet so far. We slid up and over the swells as they rolled into the=20 anchorage, the stunning white sand beaches, black rocks and palms trees less=20 than half a mile away but it was just too rough to go and anchor closer to shore.=20 I woke at four that morning and downloaded another weather forecast- the next=20 two days good wind but then going light. We were hoping that with lighter winds=20 the waves would stop wrapping around into the bay, and we could get in to=20 shore. Usually we use the internet to get our weather from a number of sources -=20 Windyty, Metvuw, New Zealand Metservice surface pressure charts, and more=20 latterly Hawaiian ones that cover the equator region. But at Rotuma we had to=20 rely solely on what we could get through the single sideband radio. We have a=20 modem that translates radio signals into something the computer reads. Our=20 main weather information source is grib files. On a map of the world on the=20 computer screen I highlight the area I want a forecast for, identify the duration=20 and at what hourly intervals I want the forecast for. Usually I get seven days at=20 12 hour intervals. I often get up in the night to get a good signal which means a=20 fast download. During the day its often impossible to get a connection, mornings=20 and evenings between six and nine are an okay signal and speed but its hard to=20 find a free channel as everyone else in the Pacific is using it at that time.=20 *** The constant roll of the boat made me feel like I was on the alert all the time. I=20 didn't feel safe out there compared to being tucked in the bay. However Kailopa=20 didn't seem concerned at all and sat in the cockpit and fished patiently for hours.=20 He really was serenity embodied. A salutary lesson to me, this perpetually busy=20 Palangi.=20 He caught us a pilot fish (Remora) for lunch. This skinny fish has a suction pad on=20 the underside of its head, which it uses to stick to sharks. It stuck to the chopping=20 board while I was cutting through its leathery skin. I asked Kailopa how to cook=20 it and he said, "Boil it." as they do with most foods here. Despite thinking 'Surely=20 boiling fish must make it tough,' I put the chunks of flesh, skin and all into a pot=20 and boiled them. As I took the pieces out of the water the skin just fell off. I put a=20 chunk of fish into my mouth and to my delight it was tender, succulent and=20 sweet. We had a futile attempt at taking Navire into the bay but it was still too rolly and=20 squally and we retreated further out again. *** November 4 David and Kailopa toured the island. See next post. *** Nov 5, No Guy Fawkes celebration for us in this land, despite it too being colonised by=20 the British, but what a party we attended for our last night on Rotuma, our final=20 night in Fiji. David had been in to the wharf to collect Kailopa and came back without him. "There's a kava party on at Phillippe's house, Kailopa is there," he said. "Want to=20 come?"=20 "Love to." I'd been on board all day preparing to go to sea and was glad to get a=20 change of scenery. On shore we walked through the coconut palm grove talking about the likelihood=20 of a coconut falling on our head. Along the road we saw Phillippe's house, a grand=20 affair amongst the typical small Fijian houses. The only sign of life in the rapidly=20 falling dusk was a rhythmic banging sound. We'd been in Fiji long enough to=20 know the sound of kava being pounded. David peered around the back of the=20 house and there was Kailopa sitting on a mat with a group of Rotumans,=20 gathered around a kava bowl. Two of the men were playing guitars. A lively woman, Rikiti, greeted me warmly, having met David earlier. She was of=20 Banabian (Kiribati) descent, from the Fijian/Banabian island of Rabi. We were=20 immediately offered bowls of kava. Despite being evening and being near the=20 shore it was hot and sweat dripped down my face. Rikiti disappeared around the=20 corner of the house and came back five minutes later with woven fans and=20 mosquito coils By then I had covered myself from head to toe with a sulu to=20 prevent the insects feasting on me. "Every night we do this," she said, "after working our at jobs on the farm we=20 come here and have kava and music."=20 What, no rushing home to cook dinner, answering emails, cleaning house? I could=20 learn from this. *** November 6, 2015 6am ritual. Computer on, radio on, Airmail programme up, select the gribs, send,=20 connect. I was still looking for a weather window to get us to Tuvalu. There were=20 several conflicting forces. For sailing ideally we should wait for wind, from a=20 useful direction too. For seeing Rotuma we should stay another week and keep=20 exploring. For Kailopa we should get him to Tuvalu. For this time of year we=20 should get out of there as it was now cyclone season and we were still in the=20 zone.=20 In the end we used the "go anyway, the forecast is often wrong" strategy, which=20 works as often as not. We got word to the officials in the village on the other side=20 of the island that we wanted to check out of Fiji. They came aboard the next=20 morning to carry out the formalities giving our passports a final stamp. We were=20 on our way north into new territory. ***

Rotuma anchorage
Can we get reception here? (no)
Wrap around swell
Kailopa and pilot fish
anchorage from shore
Exodus in the bay
Tim and Sylvan deliver fish note red snapper for later
Officials clearing us out
passport stamping

Navire - navire - 1203 Sep 2016

Kioa to Rotuma, Nov 27, 2015 Written from Majuro July, 2016 David and Janet The phone rang early in the morning. "I'm coming with you." It was Kailopa. He had spent a greater part of the night wrestling with the proposal and=20 consulting his family. They were cautious and protective but in the end relented=20 in the face of Kailopa's plea.=20 We met on the beach where he heaved his suitcase in the dinghy along with a=20 broad smile. He could not stop grinning at this turn of events. He hoped Read more...

to step=20 ashore in Funafuti and surprise his grandson. *** Ten hours out from Kioa. Destination Rotuma, Fiji's northernmost island. 260=20 miles to go. Wind 19 knots and steady from the east. We had to tack a bit as the=20 wind was directly on the stern. The swell and sea state were not too bad. Nov 29 1600 to 2000 watch. David and I are doing four-hour watches, and Kailopa is=20 sharing some of our time. After Rotuma he may progress to his own watch. Bring=20 it on. I long for six hour sleeps. I had initial misgivings about taking on someone we hardly knew as crew, but=20 Kailopa has been wonderful company, generous with stories of his people, a=20 teacher of his language and fishing methods. Tonight, he says, we will try for=20 barracuda. He sits patiently on deck, endlessly watching the sea and sky. A=20 stillness and connection with his environment that I admire but cannot emulate.=20 He explained how he can tell the tide from the movement of the moon. The tide=20 drops with the rising moon and rises with the setting moon. When directly=20 overhead it's low tide. He was the first to notice a fish on the line and to sight=20 Rotuma on the horizon. Today we passed the afternoon comparing Maori and=20 Samoan vocabulary and found a lot of similarities. He taught us some basic=20 phrases to use on our visit. *** 0300 Janet Will I ever get used to being woken in the middle of the night? I couldn't get to=20 sleep at 8pm at the end of my evening watch. By the time David woke me at=20 midnight I was virtually unconscious. Fortunately Kailopa was on deck and I=20 dozed through the first hour and a half of my watch. Fortunately no squalls to deal with. I downloaded some weather through the single sideband radio and the Sailmail=20 modem. We had to watch out for hurricanes from then on. We were in the season=20 but not yet out of the zone. The weather behaved differently in that area, north of=20 Fiji, and I had to draw data from new and different sources. I was getting Hawaii=20 weatherfaxes, the New Zealand ones didn't go far enough north. I downloaded a=20 large grib area to include the Solomon Islands just to check, that area being a=20 breeding ground for cyclones.=20 0900 100 miles to go to Rotuma. Perfect sailing conditions - blue sky, half metre swell,=20 12-15 knot breeze. Very tired though. Sometimes life at sea for me becomes all=20 about getting enough sleep. On passage I get lethargic, so things like doing dishes=20 takes a lot of motivation (I know it normally does anyway, but much more at=20 sea.) Yesterday I bagged up the dirty dishes for each meal and put them in the=20 'garage' (a crawl space for access to the starboard side of the engine).=20 Several times a day I wash myself down with a wet flannel to try and keep the=20 stickiness at bay. Tomorrow, tomorrow! Swim, shower, full night's sleep. *** Kailopa spotted Rotuma in the last of the evening sun. Arriving at land is intense=20 and we were on full alert. We hove-to offshore for the night before landing,=20 wanting to go into the anchorage in daylight. We often heave-to in really big sea=20 and wind conditions, and usually the movement of the boat is immediately=20 calmer, but this time it was more uncomfortable. David woke me at 11pm after=20 three hours sleep, and reminded me of the set up. Tiller lashed to port side to point us=20 50 degrees off the wind, and the main set on the port side too. Each force=20 balances the other thus holding the boat more or less in one place. The boat=20 moves about a knot forward and a knot sideways. We were only four miles off=20 the island and it took me a while to feel confident that our drift was away from=20 the island, after we started off drifting half a mile towards it.=20 Three weary hours later I woke Kailopa for his first solo watch. I showed him=20 how to fill in the log book; time, latitude, longitude, bearing, boat speed, wind=20 speed and direction, barometer reading, and miles to go, which we do hourly=20 then explained the hove-to set up. Yay! Five hours, five hours shut eye. But no,=20 after four hours I was shaken awake and came into the cockpit to see the island=20 nearby, Kailopa on the tiller and a whale spouting ahead. So, so tired but thrilled=20 too. Motoring into the anchorage, we steered a slalom course through the coral=20 bombies, David up the mast directing us away from danger. Then we dropped=20 anchor in five metres of water, surrounded by reef, wharf and ship. What would=20 this new land bring?=20

The new crew
Entering Rotuma

Navire - navire - 403 Sep 2016

:position 43=B042n 79=B024w ;image totem First stop British Columbia

fresh fruit
Vancoverr Bruce and Angela freinds from Davids past
Janet on ferry to Vancouver
Just like the Sounds
Beer tasting with Bob in Victoria
Bob and Kelly
Lighthouse
Gnarliest tree in Canada
totem
Symphony orchestra on the water Victoria
Back to the ferry
Flying across this vast country
Janet and the youngest of the Mason family Leandro 3 weeks
Doug and Christine from 40 years ago
Uncle Jim still going strong at 90

Navire - navire - 403 Sep 2016

The holiday continues...

Mary's front yard excellent place for sundowner
Angus and Mary's house
David and Janet Quebec City
Quebec City
Janet, Mary, Angus dinner Quebec City
On the road
Tide out at Hopewell Rocks, none of the seabed shows when covered with 30 to 40' of tide
Sara's house
David in Atlantic Ocean
Plaque in Halifax Davids fathers name bottom left
Berry picking
Sarah, J, Chloe and Aidan
Sara and Js idyllic dock
Heading out for evening tour of lake
Miles of flat land
Main cottage at Chiefs
View out front of cottage
Our cabin in the woods
The woods
Inside our cabin
Boathouse
Our transport

Navire - navire - 404 Sep 2016

Honolulu photo essay on our Canadian holiday.

Majuro airport
Checking out of the Marshalls
4am arrival at Honolulu
First decent cafe in over a year breakfast Nick and Nowke
Beer tasting with Nick
Janet and Becky beachside cocktails
Clifford shouting us fabulous Japanese food
$2.50 bus trip around Oahu
Local shrimp shack
Picnic on the beach
Great to see hills again
First hill climb in a year took two days for legs to recover
Gorgeous Hawaiian coastline
Back to the airport

Navire - navire - 2703 Aug 2016

Honolulu photo essay

Majuro airport
Checking out of the Marshalls
4am arrival at Honolulu
First decent cafe in over a year breakfast Nick and Nowke
Beer tasting with Nick
Janet and Becky beachside cocktails
Clifford shouting us fabulous Japanese food
$2.50 bus trip around Oahu
Local shrimp shack
Picnic on the beach
Great to see hills again
Gorgeous Hawaiian coastline
First hill climb in a year took two days for legs to recover
Back to the airport

Navire - navire - 1803 Aug 2016

Savusavu to Kioa Savusavu to Kioa Position: 16 40.212s 179 54.187e (written from Majuro, July 2016) Mon 26 Oct Fawn Harbour Horrible passage. 20-25 knot headwinds, more easterly than forecast, and we were heading due east. We'd left the wonderful womb of Savusavu the previous day, spending our first night anchored off the nearby Jacque Cousteau resort. We'd embarked on a two-day trip to Kioa, our last anchorage before the ocean passage to Rotuma. At Kioa we planned to join an annual celebration Read more...

and reconnect with our new friend Kailopa.
After a rough day at sea, having to motor into the wind and sea for much of it, we arrived at Fawn Harbour late in the afternoon. It was absolutely calm in there and we breathed a sigh of relief as the anchor chain clattered over the bow.
*** Tues 27 Coral passage before breakfast anyone? Up early, main up, anchor up, and David up the mast, we headed out the pass. I was slightly queasy but managed a banana-pineapple smoothie for breakfast. We were loaded up with fruit from Savusavu. I usually kept it in a hammock slung under the bimini at the back of the cockpit but with previous day's rough sea it got bashed around. I couldn't put the delicate fruit into plastic bags inside the boat as it would have gone moldy in five minutes in the heat and humidity. I needed a large basket to store it in. I mentally scoured the boat. The laundry basket! I removed the dirty knickers and smelly tea-towels and loaded the fruit into it, putting the basket out on deck at night to get plenty of air. It worked.
The early morning sun glistened on the water. Dead ahead were the high peaks of Taveuni. To our left the eastern end of Vanua Levu was in sight. Out to sea I could see a surf break indicating a coral shelf jutting well out from the land. We'd have to go around it. We were motoring again but appreciated the light winds and calm seas after the previous day's lively seas. *** A breeze! David unfurled the headsail and let the main out. Eight knots of wind. Its cooling effect was bliss. But it soon died and our speed dropped to two knots, so engine on again, We settled into morning tea. Fresh pineapple with coffee. Kioa here we come.
*** Tuesday 27th Oct, Kioa David Kioa was a blast from before we stepped ashore. Kailopa guided us to an anchorage by phone and met us on the beach, garlanded in frangipani. The celebrations that we thought we had missed were still in full swing.
Kailopa, a 67 year old Tuvaluan, you may recall, we had met in September at Nananu I Ra with his nephew, Papu, where we learned a little of the history of his Fijian island, Kioa. Bought in the 1940s by the people of Vaitupu, an island in the Tuvalu chain, of whom a group of 30 moved to Kioa. It is today a thriving Tuvaluan community. Every year the people celebrate their migration and we were invited.
In the large hall by the shore a musical battle royal drowned all conversation as the youth, in two competing groups, pulled out all stops to outdo each other. Kailopa seated us in his allotted portion of the hall which is his, and his family's, for all time.
The drumming, dance and singing was spectacular, especially the drumming. Two men of each group beat empty biscuit tins with drumsticks, sounded like snare drums, loud and very fast. About 10 of each group beat a large mat- covered plywood box with their hands. The combined effect was riveting. Drumming was interspersed with slow, sensual dance by the young men and women, often augmented by spontaneous displays by older villagers. At one point Kailopa got to his feet and hobbled slowly on his arthritic legs to join the dancers. An elaborate grass skirt was tied around him and he began to sway to the rhythm. All evidence of arthritis fell away as his body remembered the moves he knew so well. He was the embodiment of grace and style and drew huge applause.
*** Janet We could tell we were back in Polynesia, this tiny piece of Tuvalu embedded in Fiji, by the pungent frangipane headdresses and bright floral prints everyone was wearing. After the performances a dozen different people got up and spoke. Alas it was all in Tuvaluan so we couldn't understand what was said but the audience was roaring with laughter.
Kailopa gave us a tour of the village. It was thriving, beautifully kept, with virtually none of the litter that often mars Fijian villages. He explained there was no crime here. On the rare occasion someone fell out of line, the person's family had a to make a meal for the whole village as reparation. That means feeding about 500 people. They don't usually transgress again.
Here, as we saw on many other islands, they were building a wall to stop the sea encroaching on the village.
On our tour we met various family members. One woman, a cousin, had just taken four loaves of bread out of the oven and David commented on how good it smelt. She promptly gave us one. This was not the flimsy skinny Fijian bread we'd had till now, but a big buxom loaf. Later we confirmed it's quality with lashings of butter and jam.
"Come for dinner at 6," Kailopa said, as we climbed into the dinghy to head to the boat for a nap. An hour later we were back on shore and David and Kailopa were instantly absorbed into a group of men drinking kava in a fale on the beach. Kailopa's grandson, Robert, materialised and led me to their house where I watched his daughter-in-law prepare our meal. Once the food was all loaded into bowls we carried it to the hall. Everyone had their own picnic dinners, then the dancing began. Not Pacific Island dancing but disco, and I swear everyone was over 50! David At some point in the evening Kailopa commented wistfully, "I always wanted to cross a bit of ocean. Sail to my home island, Vaitupu." "Well, you should come with us then." I replied.
There followed a long silence. "Maybe I will." Exhausted from jiving the night away we said goodnight to Kailopa wondering what the morning would bring. We were fixed on setting out for Rotuma and doubted Kailopa could get organised so quickly.

David and Kailopa
Fatele
local canoes

Navire - navire - 801 Jun 2016

Mokagai to Savusavu Position: 16 46.641s 179 20.150e (Posted from Majuro, June 2016) Whoops got posts out of order.
Only David's quick action on the tiller saved the day. Saved Navire. Saved the rest of our trip. Sailing towards the pass we'd been distracted. We were discussing whether to head out of the reef into rough conditions, or turn back to the Makogai anchorage, when David spotted the edge of the reef entrance passing rapidly down our port side. It was very close. Hitting that coral Read more...

would have ripped a hole right through the hull. David pushed the tiller hard to starboard and we narrowly slid past into safe water.
Adrenalin still pumping, we made the decision to go north. It wasn't an idyllic day to be on the water but the conditions were manageable. The short passage out through the reef was very tight, David up the mast instructing me to turn hard right, hard left, the howling wind making him hard to hear even with our walkie talkies. David raised the main, and immediately put in two reefs. The waves were a meter high, with a short interlude between them, and a rough sea on top. Uncomfortable. You'd think us being Wellingtonians we'd always go out completely prepared for bad weather, but the last months of coastal cruising within the shelter of reefs had made me complacent. I should have prepared for going to sea, as in an ocean passage - life jackets handy and harnesses out, flares close by, and wind vane paddle down. Our auto-pilot doesn't like rough sea whereas the wind vane is in its element with lots of wind and waves. However we weren't entirely unprepared. Everything was well secured below, and we had a course planned and checked.
Beyond the reef the wind rose to 34 knots. I felt nauseous and got soaked a few times from spray crashing over boat. We sang familiar songs to help our, well my, spirits. There were times of enjoying the exhilaration of whizzing along at a fast clip, but it was hard going too. Whereas David wrote in an email from Savusavu, "We flew up here in about seven and a half, hours in mostly 30 knots on the beam. Seas were largely comfortable." *** Three glorious weeks in Savusavu. Three weeks of good shelter. Three weeks of shops on the doorstep. And three weeks of other yachties for company. We didn't know when we were going to get any of these things again for some time (As it happens we did get excellent company). We were on the cusp of entering new territory, the 1500 mile journey from Fiji up to the North Pacific, to our summer destination the Marshall Islands, out of the hurricane zone.
SavuSavu is a small town on the south side of Vanua Levu, tucked into a well- protected inlet. Dozens of yachts from all over the world were enjoying their final moments of Fiji, provisioning and doing last minute boat jobs before sailing to their summer destinations, some north like us, west to Australia, and many down to New Zealand. Just a few risked the hurricanes by staying Fiji (probably regretting that decision now after two hurricanes).
We quickly made friends with Australian couple Phil and Di, meeting Phil on our first weekend, very early one morning while looking for somewhere to watch the Rugby World Cup. We shared meals at The Taste of Hidden Paradise, finally a Fijian restaurant that served curries not strewn with shards of bone. Phil and Di were veterans of SavuSavu, and a great resource for us newbies. We explored the environs on foot and delved into the interior on a local bus, spending the day at an eco-resort owned by some friends of Phil and Di's.
Phil introduced us to the concert violinist next door, Nancy on an American yacht, Second Wind, and the ensuing music session was great fun.
We treated ourselves, eating out regularly at cheap Indian restaurants, getting massages, and even paying a family team to clean all the stainless steel on the boat. Navire gleamed. And every day I provisioned, and provisioned. We knew there were supermarkets in Tuvalu and Kiribati but if the supply ship hadn't been for a while stores could be very low. We squeezed every litre of water and fuel aboard that we could. Navire's water line got closer and closer to the sea.
Our plan was to sail two days east, spend some time at the village of Kioa, then sail three days to Rotuma, Fiji's northernmost island, where we would complete departure formalities. From there Tuvalu was another three day sail. We'd get water there if there was any to spare, have a quick look around and move on, driven north by our need to conserve water, not wanting to take water from potentially dry nations along the way.
But then, a local veteran sailor, Curly, gave us news that put a spanner in the works. He'd had reports of persistent westerlies at Majuro, this made the anchorage at Majuro almost untenable. Should we head north or reconsider New Zealand for the hurricane season?

Savusavu inlet
Marina
fresh food at last
Cheap eats in Savusavu
The lovely Phil and Di
Drinks overlooking the inlet
Fresh eggs
Music on Navire
North side of Vanua Levu
Resort day with Phil and Di
Storm north of us
David preparing for journey north
Janet's preparation

Navire - navire - 1802 May 2016

i Makogai Oct 3 Position 17 26.445s 178 57.123e (Posted from Marshall Islands, May 2016) David From Rukuruku, on Ovalau, we sailed to Makogai Island and enjoyed a special five-day stay. Obsession, friends since Tonga (2010), and Zest, newly met at Nananu I Ra, were there. We were joined by a very amusing Scottish boat, Endorphin. I got to tell them the pee bottle story and sing them the song. Went down very well. Lester on Obsession plays harp so there were many evenings of music-making along Read more...

with an appreciative audience. Our stay was topped off with a formal welcome and sevusevu, complete with a lei each. Followed by a meke, a dance performance, put on by the children of the village. All put on for two couples from a dive boat but into which the crews of five yachts were absorbed, as only the Fijians can do.
Special. Zest had left but two solo boats, Trumpeter and High C's, arrived that day. Trumpeter we'd met near Lautoka, and Jack off High C's we'd heard on the radio and had had his musical skills lauded to us on several occasions. I'd have liked to have stayed and swapped songs but the following day, yesterday, was good for the passage to Savusavu. Another time perhaps.
Janet The dinner with Obsession and Zest was riotous. I've really enjoying meeting Fijians on our travels but it was so good to be with Kiwis again. We laughed and laughed. The talk flowed easily. Everyone understood each other, nuance and all.
I love the ease with which you quickly become friends with other yachties. I know from the Tonga trip that many of these friendships endure, Obsession a case in point. Debbie and Chris off Zest are nearly neighbours, living in Kerikeri, an hour from Rawene, and near where we may keep Navire moored when we get back, so there could a future in that relationship too.
*** Makogai was a familiar place to us. Back in 2012 we came on Migration and explored in with Bruce and Alene. It is a unique place, being a former leper colony for most of the south Pacific. Here's a piece I summarized from a blog from Ladybug.
Before the British arrived in Fiji lepers were often clubbed to death. The British banned this practice and various colonies were set up to house them, the final one at Makogai. It was difficult to get medical staff to work there so the government employed nuns to look after the lepers.
Separate villages were built for the Fijians, Indians and other Pacific Islanders, and the staff. There was plenty of level land available for planting and raising cattle. There were two churches, a Catholic and Wesleyan, a mosque, and probably a Hindu temple as well. The patients lived in dormitories, with women segregated from men. Indentured Indian workers were brought to the island to do much of the farming.
The physically able were encouraged to work in the fields, assist in building, cooking, sewing and other daily chores. Physical activities and recreation were promoted including inter-village sports and arts and crafts. Children attended school and there were girl guides and boy scouts. There was even an open-air movie theater. However there was a jail too.
The varied activities were introduced to help overcome the sense of hopelessness that can occur when people are exiled from their homes and families. All in all it was a very positive community. The sisters attended to the physical as well as the spiritual needs of their patients.
Makogai became a very successful leprosarium and soon patients were arriving from all over the Pacific - countries such as the Solomons, Gilbert and Ellice Islands, Cook Islands, Samoa, and Tonga. By 1947, there were 675 lepers on Makogai. After the discovery of a cure, the leprosarium was closed in 1969.
Back in the present the island houses a turtle and giant clam farm, run by a marine biologist and a few helpers. One of the workers took us on a tour of the farm and the remains of the leper's villages, and we gratefully accepted offers of fresh drinking coconuts, papaya and bananas. The next few days we relaxed and socialized.
*** Journal entries: Oct 5 I snorkeled on a bombie near the boat. It looked so ordinary from the surface, but was a wonderland under water, large turtles gliding around me, myriad's of brightly hued tropical fish and a superb garden of coral.
Back on board the boat I said to David, "Looks like we may be here for a week." A 1041 high pressure system was predicted to come near Makogai on the Friday, a squash zone at the top of it bringing strong winds to our area.
"I can't see why that's a problem," said David, "We have plenty of water, fuel, alcohol, and fresh stuff several more days." So we settled in for further rounds of drinks. On the 50' Scottish boat that evening. They had a whisky collection, like the decent stuff, bliss. For appetisers I made duck lolo (shredded in coconut cream), and fried kabana with olive marmalade. It was so good to have a larger appreciative audience to cook for.
*** Oct 6 It was our turn for drinks so we had a quiet day cleaning the boat. I'm a little bit house-proud. That night I served pate, red onion jam, crackers, and stuffed olives, just your average fare at home but a treat out here. We made more music.
*** October 7 It was blowing its tits off outside the anchorage, whitecaps abounding. We needed two lighter wind days to get to SavuSavu, so decided to stay put where our anchor had been down for several days and we trusted it. This, rather than risk anchoring in adverse conditions at an unknown bay at Koro Island, our stopping point half way between here and SavuSavu. However we did opt for a night in and gave our livers a rest.
And so it went.
October 8 - David Obsession and Endorphin headed south early morning and reported fair conditions. We vacillated. Would the winds be as fair going north? We decided to approach the pass and have a look. It was overcast and grey. No chance of seeing the reassuring turquoise outline of the reef. The island profile was high right up to the pass preventing us feeling the force of wind beyond the reef. We approached slowly, still undecided and a couple of boat lengths from the pass. I glanced over the side and my heart stopped.

Colin and Izzie and David
Bad boy David
The good stuff
Typical Makogai fare
Dinghies lined up at the stern
Kava ceremony
Meke
The speaker
Giant turtle in tank

Navire - navire - 2301 May 2016

Toba Basiga, VitiLevu to Rukuruku, Ovalau, Fiji Sept 29 (Posted from Majuro in May, 2016) Janet Another morning praying for sun. The forecast was gloomy but we thought we'd poke our nose out into the coral channel, then come back if visibility wasn't any good. As soon as we were out of the deep bay where we had spent the night, the gods smiled on us as the sun came out. This area was a Google satellite chart free zone so back up the mast for David, naked. I got a shot of him up there but that Read more...

one is for the personal photo album. *** It was 27 degrees. We'd been at sea all day. Because we had to motor much of it the freezer was charging the whole time and the beer was satisfyingly cold. I poured a glass of it down my throat. I felt it chill my oesophegus all the way down. We were anchored at Rukuruku, on the north-west side of Ovalau. We'd been aiming for this place ever since we got to Fiji back in May. Our plan was to visit the family I described in our last post. *** Sept 29 We dinghied in to shore and found the chief's house to do sevusevu, the kava ceremony that visitors do on arrival at a village. Chief Mateo didn't know where our friends Joe and Mere were. We chatted for a while about the rugby, the World Cup still in progress, asked about fresh produce, then left to continue our search. We walked along the road out of the village trying to remember where Mere's house was. "Bula, bula," said a man with a sack of kava over his shoulder. We stopped to get directions. The man was Sammy, and he remembered us from Akula's birthday party three years ago! He told us Joe and Mere had split up, Joe going to Suva, Mere to Levuka, the main town of the island. He gave us Mere's phone number. Back at the chief's house we got piles of fresh veges, our first since Lautoka. As I was collecting them the chief, Ta, the local headmaster, and two other men whom we'd got to know over the course of the day, had gathered outside to drink kava. Possibly the kava we'd given the chief that morning. "Come and join us," said Ta. As always we accepted kava invitation. Aside from relaxing effect of the kava these sessions were good way to find out about the local community and get to know people. *** Feeling slightly light-headed we motored back out to the boat in the late afternoon sun. I repaired to the galley. Dinner was fresh. Dinner was local. We had mashed breadfruit in coconut cream (grated by David), bele (a bit like spinach) with chili, ginger, garlic, and grated half ripe pawpaw in coconut cream, and tinned fish. Very much an island meal. *** Excerpt from Janet's journal Sept 30 We are in the Royal Hotel in Levuka, the Capital of Fiji, from the 1890's when the British first colonised the country. Later it was moved to Suva. We are sitting on white cane furniture in a slightly tatty Somerset Maughan style louvered room. The cool breeze is coming straight off the sea which is crashing on the seawall across the road. This is the life, drinking bottles of cold Fiji Bitter at 2.30 in the afternoon. Last night we called Mere. "Is that Mere?" David asked "Yes." "This is David." Silence "We met three years ago on the truck going to Ovalau, you invited us to Akuila's 5th birthday party." Silence, then "Who? What?" "Do you remember David and Janet we came on a yacht with Bruce and Alene and you invited us to..." There was a shriek of surprised delight from Mere's end of the line. "David, really?" she cried, as it sunk in who we were David too was dancing up and down delighted, ecstatic we had made contact. He briefly explained that we were in her home village and that we were going to come to Ovalau on the truck the following day. We arranged to meet at the supermarket where she worked. This morning we piled into a truck in Rukuruku village, which in the next few minutes filled to capacity with people going to town. It had a long wooden seat down each side and the floor was filled with bundles of kava and bags of coconuts. The road was rugged and steep. Each time the truck went up a hill we all slid towards the back, and when we went down the other side we slid forward again. We soon got to know the people either side of us. The countryside was lush. It made me realise how much the aridness of western Fiji in its drought state had affected me. I could feel the refreshing greenness of the thick vegetation growing densely along the roadside, seep into my blood. As we rounded the island the spray from the ocean crashing on the shore came under the cover of the truck, lightly showering me. "I'm glad we aren't anchored on this side," I said to David. This side of the island was the main port but fully exposed to the trade winds. Arriving in Levuka our first stop was to visit the supermarket where Mere was working. *** David Mere was tickled pink that we should want to see her again, the grin across her petit face never faded. The children too remembered us well, which was a warm surprise. Biatrisi, now a very responsible eleven, reminded us that she had platted Janet's hair back in 2012. Mere took us up to the local primary school to see Akuila. He was more interested in the lunch food his mother brought than us, but he had not forgotten the chocolate cake we had made him. We are so pleased to have made the effort to come back. *** Janet I'd brought my laptop along and showed Mere the pictures we'd taken at Akuila's party. We went down the street and printed them out for her. They treasure photographs and usually put their few prints up on the wall of their main room. We took Mere out for lunch. We have become Facebook friends with Mere and will contact her ahead of when we come back to Fiji next year. (Now planned for 2017) After lunch we climbed 99 ancient steps to Mission Hill then repaired here to slake our thirst. *** David The last couple of days have been dominated by the news my mother collapsed and was taken to hospital - suspected heart attack. She's 90 and from a long line of nonagenarians. First serious concern for her life. But she rallied. They think it was not a heart attack and that beyond being 90 there's little seriously wrong. Then we got other sad news. Real life in Kavala (the first island we visited in Fiji, back in June) has penetrated our idyllic existence. Wame, a delightful, handsome village teenager who visited us aboard Navire several times, took his life when a cellphone given by an uncle was held back by his parents. An immense tragedy. I fear for his friends. I'm very curious about how the village has taken this loss and what sense they make of it. We will set sail again tomorrow for Makogai, just twenty miles to our north-east. It's really the beginning of our journey out of this hemisphere and the approaching season for hurricanes.

Arriving at Rukuruku Ovalau
Janet at the village
kava with the men
David waiting for truck
The truck
Beatrise Janet Emma Akuila
The Royal Hotel
Ovalau
The 99 steps
Levuka main street

Navire - navire - 602 May 2016

Nananu I Ra to Toba Basinga, North Eastern Viti Levu 17 32.573s 178 22.695e (Posted from Majuro in April 2016) Janet We sipped on celebratory cups of tea. The sun was out in spite of a gloomy forecast. Navire was underway again and her crew on full alert as we threaded through the coral minefields. We'd now rounded the top of Viti Levu and were headed south-east on the next leg of our journey.
We had ummed and aahhed about leaving Nanaui I Ra in overcast conditions. But we feared that if Read more...

we stayed there too long we'd be trapped there for many more days by the strong headwinds predicted in a few days time. Ultimately we wanted to leave Fiji by the end of October to get north and out of the hurricane zone and had to move on.
*** "I've got room in the freezer for a fish," I announced to David, feeling a little cocky now that we had caught four fish in the last month.
He put the line out.
We were headed for Toba Basiga for an overnight stay, then on to Ovalau, our next destination.
I felt well satisfied with our visit to Nananu I Ra. We'd met some really nice Fijian/Tuvaluans, watched the rugby, and partied with several other boats.
Yesterday we headed around to Papu's for "church". Arriving on the dot of 11am, we climbed the steep path up to the house and found a group of people sitting cross-legged on a mat on the verandah, one of them quietly playing the guitar. A table had been set up with a white tablecloth, a bible and flowers.
The preacher arrived in a longboat and proceeded to deliver a service in English, for our benefit. As usual we were the only white bodies in the congregation, and obviously not church going folk, as we were the only people in the room without a bible in hand.
After the service I helped the women prepare the boiled titan shells for lunch. I peeled the shell off one and put it in my mouth. It was tough and tasted bland.
However once it was chopped up with onion and dunked in coconut cream (lolo) it was quite nice, sweeter and softer. The children were tucking into a sort of sea snail. I tried some. Instead of toothpicks to get the flesh out we were supplied with thorns off a nearby lemon tree. I scooped a few out and onto my tongue.
Juicy and slightly chewy, but okay.
As a thank you for the rugby hospitality, we'd made a chocolate cake, and iced and piped it with VINAKA, thank you in Fijian. In the heat of the day the icing threatened to slide off onto the plate, but the cake went down a treat anyway.
Saying our goodbyes, we gave the two-year old grandson a silver fern flag to wave at the next New Zealand rugby game, and dinghied back to Navire to get her ready to sail the next day.
*** Sailing away from Nananui I Ra I reflected on our time in Fiji. I missed a few things about New Zealand, mostly long term friends, and family, but what an adventure this is. You never know what will happen from one day to the next.
Yes we set courses, study the charts, identify anchorages, make long term plans, but the wind changes, it gets cloudy, or the sun comes out, we stay or go, and we have no idea what the next village or anchorage will bring.
*** As we sailed down the north-eastern coast of Viti Levu the scenery changed from the arid drought ridden hills of the west, to lush green slopes, heavily populated by coconut palms. Cirrus clouds were stacked up on the horizon. A long way ahead we saw the peaks of the island of Ovalau, where we would arrive the next day.
There were villages dotted along the shore but I couldn't see any evidence of roads or power poles. Back to remote village life again. As we covered the miles the sea changed from gloomy grey to deep royal blue. At last we were free of the coral for a few miles. I turned the engine off and the sails silently pulled us along.
It was hot. We abandoned our clothes. David was looking trim, this active sailing life suited him. Life was good.
In Ovalau our plan was to look up a family we'd met on an earlier trip. Mere and Joe and their four kids. In 2012 we came up here for a two-week holiday, sailing on a trimaran with American friends Bruce and Alene. We'd sailed into Rukuruku village on the north-west side of Ovalau, and decided to go to the island's main town, Levuka, on the local transport. We met Mere on the truck and she invited us to a birthday party for her five year old son Akuila, in the way that Fijians do with people they've only known five minutes.
Back at the boat that evening David and Bruce had made and decorated a cake, piping on 'Happy Birthday Akuila' in Fijian. At the party it was a hit, the feast was delicious, and we played music and drank Kava into the night. We fell in in love with the kids and they particularly took to David as most small children do.
Three years on we wanted to see these lovely people again.
Check out this link to my food blog for the full story. https://cookingclubwellington1.wordpress.com/2012/07/ *** "Can you see a mark ahead?" David asked, disturbing my reverie. He peered at a chart on the tablet mounted under the dodger. "It should be ahead at one o'clock." To make directions clear we see the boat as a clock, the bow being 12 o'clock, and the stern 6. So if something is ahead of us slightly to the right we say it is at 1 or 2 o'clock.
I gazed ahead, seeing nothing for while, then there it was. It's always a treat when a mark indicated on the chart is actually there in reality. This area had an unusually large amount of marks, so often absent in these waters.
We turned into Toba Basiga Bay and dropped the pick. Half-way to Ovalau.

Papu son and grandson
outdoor kitchen
preparing titan shells
sea snails
thank you cake

Navire - navire - 1302 Apr 2016

Nananu I Ra September 22 Janet 17 18.219s 178 13.019e It was just a little trip around the corner to see a man about a fish. David had narrowed identifying yesterday's catch down to somewhere in the bream, warehou or trevally families. We needed to know as many fish here carry a disease called Cegutera. If you eat this fish you get very ill with very severe flu- like symptoms, which can last for months and have no cure. After a phone- consult with Lester on Obsession he recommended Papu.
Read more...

It was a bit choppy out but we piled into the dinghy with our precious catch in a large black rubbish bag, along with a walu head from the freezer. As we rounded the corner of the island the waves were a tad bigger than was comfortable but we plowed on. We gingerly crossed the coral shelf to shore and I leapt out. My job was to quickly turn the bow of the dinghy into the surf so it wouldn't get swamped but I was too slow and one of the waves leapt in and doused David and the outboard. After tying up to a coconut palm we searched the shore for the house Lester had described. Climbing the hill behind a very flash holiday home we called "Bula bula" at the entrance of a more humble house and were welcomed inside. Papu and some of his family were watching a replay of Japan beating South Africa in the Rugby World Cup. "Sit down, sit down," Papu said, indicating the couch but we sat on the floor with everyone else in proper Fijian style. In Tonga five years ago David struggled to sit cross-legged at all but now at 65 he sits more easily on the floor but standing back up again is difficult.
We met Pae, Papu's wife, and his uncle Kailopa, several of Papu's nine kids, and a grandchild, Pagalu. Little did we know what would later develop with Kailopa.
Papu confirmed our fish a giant trevally and we promptly gave it to him. We still had plenty of walu in the freezer. This was a good start. Out came the kava. A few bowls of this and I was pretty relaxed, the coral navigation stress build up melting away. We talked of how Papu's people migrated to Fiji from Tuvalu sixty years ago and bought an island, Kioa, off the east coast of Vanua Levu. Papu explained he was the caretaker of the big holiday home out front, owned by a wealthy British couple. More kava was offered, and accepted.
We were invited to watch the rugby the next evening, a Fiji vs Australian game. Back down to the dinghy. The wind hadn't abated a single knot. We rowed out over the coral and started the engine which promptly cut out. It probably got salt water in it when I swamped the boat. Sigh, ....I rowed into the wind as David topped up the fuel tank just in case it was a bit low, not so easy as we were bucking up and down in the chop. But no luck, it still kept cutting out. David took over the rowing while I bailed. We rounded the corner and finally ran downwind. Back on board, dinghy safely shipped, I stripped off my soaking clothes and poured a therapeutic whisky.
After David spent the next day as a mechanic working on the outboard, we rowed to shore and walked over to Papu's to watch Australia beat Fiji, with a few beers and more kava. We took popcorn to munch on. Papu's two-year old grandson had never seen it before and kept staring at it but wouldn't take any. Eventually he put some in his mouth and decided it was okay and dafter that it disappeared quickly.
We took a brief trip to the boat to sleep then rowed back in to Papu's to watch New Zealand beat Namibia, being fed tea and pancakes for breakfast. We're getting to know and like Kailopa. He told us his village was having an anniversary celebration of the settlement of the island. This was planned for the end of October complete with feasts and entertainment. Not to be missed. We put it in our calendar. We've worked out the mileage and it's doable.
Back on board Navire David worked on the outboard in the head/workshop and I cleaned the engine area. The day ended with a swim to wash the grease off.
*** We continued waiting for a good weather window to sail southeastward through the next fifty miles of coral. We needed winds from the northerly sector, and clear skies so we could coral-spot. But the north sector winds usually come with a front or a low-pressure system which is accompanied by cloud and that was what was forecast.
We had heaps of boat maintenance to do so were quite happy (and blog post catching up) to linger - and watch more rugby with Papu.
Sept 26 What an excellent day yesterday was. First David succeeded in fixing the outboard engine. This is huge. Its not like you can pop the engine in the boot of the car and drive it to the local outboard mechanic shop. Our outboard and dinghy are our car. We rely heavily on them for getting to shore for anything other than short rowable distances, and these only in light conditions.
To fix the engine we wrestled it into the cockpit and attempted to secure it with ropes so David could dismantle it. But it wouldn't oblige so we then we got it down into the head/workshop and where David stripped down the carburetor, not an easy decision because we had no spares. David had never taken apart a carburetor before and didn't know what he'd find or what he might break, i.e. gaskets, then we'd be stuck without it for several weeks till we got to Savusavu. Being practical people we had two outboard engines however the other one was seized and David had come to the end of his meager mechanical skills (his words).
But it worked. David took the carbie apart, cleaned the jet but could see no obvious blockage and reassembled it. We got the engine back on the dinghy and David went off for a test run, taking the oars just in case. He came back elated, and with an invite for drinks.
"I'm going to be insufferable to live with,'" he said, beaming like a Cheshire cat. What a sense of achievement that must be to bring a mysteriously dead mechanical device back to life.
After a pretty quiet time socially, three new boats turned up in the anchorage, two we'd seen before, two kiwi boats. Clarke Gable from Auckland who we'd met at Kadavu, and Gracias who were moored near us at Vuda Point, but there I'd been too busy to do anything other than say hello as I walked past them. They both dropped by in their dinghies and drinks aboard Clarke Gable were arranged.
Yet another dinghy came by, an English family, and asked us for drinks at their boat. We explained we were otherwise engaged, but they then gathered up the entire anchorage to come to their boat, the biggest in the fleet.
I thought I'd break out a jar of pate as treat for cruisers who were probably down to chippies and peanuts. I paired this with my lovely red onion jam. I even had a shower for the occasion and put on a dress. It felt good to be 'going out'.
We climbed in to the cockpit of a fifty-foot gleaming Farr. I proudly put my tray of pate and accompaniments on the table and the hosts put out.... pate. Turned out they were now from Kerikeri in fact (English imports). They'll be neighbours when we settle in Rawene. They had brought the boat up recently, well stocked with New Zealand goodies. Then Clark Gable arrived with camembert, can't remember when I last had that. They just had a visit to check their business in New Zealand and thought they'd treat us to something from home. Our hosts then produced....brie. It was all very delicious. I really enjoyed hanging out with a bunch of kiwis. Our hosts, Debbie and Chris on Zest, had gorgeous 11 year-old twin boys, Jacob and Thomas who waited on us. We ended up staying for dinner, walu Thai curry. Got home and fell into bed.
*** Still we waited. Our most coral strewn passage to date lay ahead of us, from Nanaui I Ra to Ovalau on the east side of Viti Levu. David spent the morning making satellite charts to put into Open CPN so we could see our course on satellite images. Sadly we found the pictures mostly focused on the coast and there were significant blank areas over the coral we would be navigating. We think the satellite cameras are programmed to only photograph land.
We checked the weather forecast, again.

Kailopa and Papu
outboard in head/workshop
outboard innards

Navire - navire - 3101 Mar 2016

Viti Levu coast Sept 2 (posted March 31, Majuro) Day 1 We left Bakana Island, near Lautoka, on a grey flat calm sea, the prospect of a day's motoring in front of us. Farewelling our friends on Acrux was hard, we were going northeast and they west to Vanuatu. However I know from our Tonga trip in 2010 that cruising friends do have a habit of popping up again in our lives.
The trip got off to a slow start after David dropped our trusty white scrubbing brush overboard, while cleaning anchor Read more...

mud off the deck. You'd think it would be easy to see it on the flat grey water but I was too slow disengaging the autopilot and turning the boat, and it was lost at sea. Better get quicker at that maneuver in case its man overboard next time.
We carefully followed our route through invisible narrow coral channels and five hours later anchored at Vatia Point. Not a resort in sight to watch the rugby at so we Googled the results of the New Zealand Argentina game, a win but not a good performance it seems.
A more barren and dry place to anchor would be hard to find in the tropics.
Western Fiji was suffering from prolonged drought. We saw little sign of occupation in the scrubby dry bush around us. We hunkered down and wound up the stereo to drown out the sound of the wind.
*** "Can you hear a ticking sound?" David asked, as he came in from using the pee bottle in the cockpit.
We walked around the boat in silence trying to detect the dripping sound. David took the engine cover off and we could hear it in there. We never did figure out what it was but while shining the torch on the engine David spotted a frayed fan belt.
"Imagine that breaking when we are navigating the coral passages in no wind tomorrow," I said. Didn't bear dwelling on for long.
At the crack of dawn David was head down, bum up, changing the fan belt. Not an easy task in the cramped space around the engine.
"I need a third hand," David mutters, as he tries to maneuver three separate tools. My hands are already engaged, holding pressure on a large screwdriver while David levers the alternator.
*** I think I live with a mechanic. First was the fan belt, then next day David changed the engine oil, then the gearbox oil, all in just his undies. It's hot down there and its easier to clean the grease off skin than clothes. And tomorrow he will be working on the outboard. He's a versatile man this one.
Emerging from the engine area a little smudged, he told me, "While I was down there I found the electrical connection between the engine and the shaft has broken." This wire is connected to a zinc anode on the hull, and if not connected electrolysis caused by salt water and metal interacting will pit and corrode the shaft.
He had to disassemble drive shaft to fix it. A fiddly lengthy operation in cascading humidity carried out in a cramped space better suited to a four year old child. All before breakfast.
*** Day 2 A two fish day, a two fish day, a two fish day.
"From dearth to dinner," said David.
Another day of weaving through invisible coral under grey skies. Thank goodness for the track and mast steps. As our boat follows a course we've set on the electronic chart it leaves a visible track in its wake. Very useful, for example, for exiting a reef. It makes sense that the track created going in is safe to follow back out.
Covering new ground, especially when entering coral reefs there is this constant level of anxiety. We use strategies such as climbing the mast, wearing polarized lenses, checking and rechecking the charts. But untill we are have actually covered the ground we just aren't 100% confident. Back on our first visit to Suva another boat gave us a set of existing tracks which we downloaded into our chart software.
You would think we'd just set a course on our chart and follow that. But the charts we have for here are not very reliable. We also have satellite photographic images that sit inside our electronic Open CPN chart programme. These usually show the coral quite well as you would see it from a height, and often show it where it is not indicated on Open CPN. However sometimes the pictures don't have enough resolution, or there is a cloud covering the area, so if we have an existing track we know that someone found their way safely and we can follow their path. Unless of course they are a catamaran. (They have much shorter keels) Nonetheless even with other people's tracks we never completely relax until we have actually covered the ground.
*** David is getting more relaxed by the day, playing card games on his phone, whereas I just anxious about jobs to be done. Will I ever really completely unwind on this trip? I wonder to myself.
Tues 21 Blue sky in the distance. Fingers crossed. It doesn't come to anything, the wind picks up but finally we see Nananui I Ra, the topmost point of Vitu Levu, our stopping place for the next few days. We drop anchor in 18 metres putting all of our 50 metres of chain out. We go through our now very familiar shut down routine.
"Here's to a two fish day," I toast David with a watermelon margarita.
We are half way east, the easy half though. There's lot more coral around the corner and we have no existing tracks for that area.

coral marker
David on coral spotting
Giant Trevally
bleak grey anchorage
breaking the drought
the mechanic

Navire - navire - 3101 Mar 2016

Bakana Island More catch up posts from Fiji. We are still alive and well in Majuro. Will post an update soon.
Vuda Point and northward Sept 21 Back to land to prepare for the next leg of our journey, westward around the top of Viti Levu. After a night anchored at Sawene Bay, we sailed for Vuda Point Marina. We navigated the now familiar narrow shallow coral pass and tied up to the fuel jetty. Diesel topped up, we got a berth in the inner harbour. This was a big round pond, a former mining Read more...

pit, now filled with seawater and several dozen yachts, some tightly packed around the sides and some tied up in the middle.
This was tricky to maneuver in and avoid getting the prop snagged on a line.
With only two nights there we worked hard, doing laundry, shopping, watering up and purchasing an industrial sewing machine, very useful tool on a boat. We can now do our own sail repairs and canvas work. Unfortunately we can't use it till we get a 110 to 240V converter which we can't get till we reach Majuro.
*** September 18th was my 58th birthday. I still feel so much younger than that. My father died at 58 when I was only 25. I thought that was old then, not old enough to die, but back then I didn't really realise there was so much more life to be lived after 58.
We invited Wayne and Christine, who you may remember we met in Suva, (and bought the sewing machine from) for drinks and cake to celebrate the day. I made the cake, my favourite Molten chocolate cake, and David iced it. We sat on the shore watching the sunset and toasted me, then went back to the boat and ate sushi, a rare treat in Fiji, before blowing out the candles.
Ever keen, we squeezed in two more Rugby World Cup games, a New Zealand one, and Japan spectacularly beating South Africa. It was so much fun watching with other boaties.
Sunday we had Mala and David over for lunch. Mala is sister-in-law, and secretary to Raghu Reddy who we toured with last month, and was just delightful. She is on our list to visit when we return to Fiji. We'd like to have taken them out sailing but the weather was bad. Mala, Indo-Fijian, made a fish curry - just divine.
*** Next day we headed to Bakana Island just off Lautoka. It was lovely being in a marina - showers, rugby, company, no weather worries - but its great getting out again too, having some breeze, enjoying the openness. It was 25 degrees in there and the humidity 85%. (I laugh to myself as I'm editing this five months later sitting in Majuro where the temperature drops to a mere 28, at night. 25 would be bliss).
When I read this out to David he asked me to say: EDIT "I almost always feel, 'Oh, ocean, sailing how do you do this?' when we leave a marina. Its almost embarrassing." I know how he feels.
At Bakana we met up with Vanille, a French Canadian boat, who we'd met at Kadavu, and NZ boat Acrux, who we'd met at Malolo. So lovely to see our 'old friends'. We shared the remainders of the birthday cake and talked boat with them.
*** Mon 21 We walked to Lautoka in the sweltering heat to renew our Fijian visas for two more months. I licked my arm, it was salty, I'm always salty.
"You know I'm glad we are going to live in a small town when we get back," I said to David as a fire engine screamed past us. Nine months out of Wellington and now even small towns are too much for me.
The immigration man was very curt and officious till I asked him about rugby, then a smile lit his face. They are all into it here.
Heading back out to the boat the poor dinghy was nearly swamped with all our groceries and a box of beer, but we were set for a few weeks now till we got the next shops on the other side of Viti Levu.

Happy birthday Janet
David's decorating handiwork
Sushi
Lautoka
David and Mala
Sunset at Bakana

Navire - Yasawas 2

Posted from Majuro six months later Yasawas 2 September 9 Blue Lagoon Janet We are anchored in Blue Lagoon, ostensibly the scene of the original Blue Lagoon movie, and it certainly was an iconic South Pacific island scene. In front of the boat was a typical resort, bures, loungers on the white sand, and beachside bar. About ten yachts rocked gently in the anchorage backed by a classic Pacific sunset framed by silhouettes of palm trees. *** When Lynnis offered me a night on shore I jumped at Read more...

the opportunity. I was packed in five minutes. We piled into the dinghy and David delivered us to shore. I reveled in that moment of shore life. Flush toilet, running water, long hot showers several times a day. And beds already made, towels folded neatly on the vanity in the bathroom. Lynnis and I sat on the deck of our bure looking over a coral passage, soaking up the spaciousness. We adjourned to the restaurant for dinner. The food was nothing flash, and as usual, no gourmet interpretations of local food. But I basked in the knowledge there would be no dishes to do tonight. We slept the night away on crisp white non-salty sheets.
After fish and chips and pina coladas for lunch we farewelled Lynnis, leaving her to catch the ferry back to Viti Levu, and started to plan our return journey.
A fibre came by and Sammy, who lived next to the resort, invited us for a lovo. $20 a head for a Fijian meal cooked in the ground, and most of the other boats in the anchorage were going. Always into local food and yachties' company I was on.
*** The sun was low when we tied our dinghy to a coconut palm. We followed wafting smoke along a path through the trees just in time to see our dinner being lifted out of a hollow in the ground. It was decanted onto trays and laid out on a long table. About 20 of us from the boats lined up for a smorgasbord of fish, chicken, wild pork, pumpkin, a delicious radish salad, and cassava. Not as delicious as the village food at Kavala but pretty good all the same, and definitely better than the resort where there was no local cuisine to be seen.
Why do the resorts cook mostly European food? Surely when you visit another culture you want to eat the food, it is such a huge part of people's lives. I need to taste my way into a place. It's easy to think that there wouldn't be that many local dishes to furnish a menu but when you look deeper into local cuisine there are all sorts of fine dishes as evidenced in my Pacific cookbook Mea Kai. You could also put a local twist on a European dish. *** It was ten days since we last got fresh provisions so we enquired about 'The Farm' a produce place other yachties had told us about. Late in the afternoon a sailboat came alongside. It was a sweet little thing, no engine, painted bright blues and orange.
I looked into the bilge and it was littered with bright red tomatoes, white spicy radishes, piles of pawpaws, and hands of bananas. We just pointed and said how much a kilo for this and that, and loaded it into the boat.
*** Waya I sighed with relief as we sailed into the lee of the top bay of Waya Island, the ne and a half, speed down to four knots, back to two hours. Were we ever going to get there? Eventually we sailed into the topmost bay of Waya and dropped the anchor in eight metres of crystal calm clear water. Eight meters being very nice after most of our recent anchorages being closer to 20. We have 50 metres of chain and then rope, not enough chain for our liking in the deeper anchorages. If the books are to be believed the recommended minimum is 3 to 1, that is three times the depth of scope, but preferably five or more. In 20 meters we only have 50 metres of chain and we feel vulnerable. Time for a swim, the salt water still drying on my skin I settled into the cockpit with a cooling drink and gazed out at the view. This wasn't right. The boat was facing the other way from which we anchored, with the stern facing the bloody shore. A north easterly had come up, completely unpredicted. Maybe it was the land effect, where the warm land sucks the air from the sea. This has happened a few times before but it usually eases after sunset, in this case leaving an uncomfortable swell.
"What if I shout at it?" said David and wandered out to the cockpit to check the compass again.
"I'm sleeping out here in the cabin," I said after investigating our bunk in the forward cabin. "Far too much pitch." (roll) We planned our next day.
"We'll sail out east of this island and if it's too windy we'll just go to the other end of Waya for the night." said David.
We were concerned that the forecast for the next few days was southeast, on the nose. We needed to get back to a main town to renew our visas and had heard that process could take several days.
**** I felt seasick , and we were at anchor. We woke to too much headwind so we were stuck at Waya for another day. I'd just been up the top of mast to lubricate the mast track and clean the stays. The roll at cabin level is magnified about five times up at the top of the mast and it doesn't take much to upset my stomach.
*** We resigned ourselves to having to motor in to Lautoka, probably with a headwind. That last night at Waya was awful, the wind blew east and the swell came from the north leaving us side on to it. Navire rolled all night like she was dancing at a disco. I got up several times, securing empty wine bottles clinking in the back of the cockpit, stuffing a tea-towel into a draw, even putting the dishes away at midnight so they wouldn't fall off the bench. I tossed and turned worrying about whether we'd get away in the morning.
But now we sit in the cockpit, me typing, David repairing the green shining lure that has just caught the second fish of our trip. Its dead calm, so we still have to motor but no headwind, no waves to pound into. I'm grateful for small mercies.
I'm excited about the prospect of a social life back on the mainland. We've just heard back from one of the Reddy families who are bringing a duck curry to the boat later this week when we take them out for a sail. It is my birthday on Saturday and the first game of the Rugby World Cup, Fiji vs England.

Blue Lagoon
Floating market
wonderful sprouter from Lynnis
Waya
Waya rocks
Navire from on high
Cleaning the rigging

Navire - 5 Yasawas 1

Posted from Majuro 6 months later Fish of the day August 31, 2015 Janet "We got a fish, we got a fish!" David high-fived me for the fifth time in a row. The drought was broken. Ten minutes earlier, David idly pulled the fishing line in. Just to have a look. Just in case. This line that we had towed for thousands of luckless miles. "We've got a fish! Get me the gaff!" he yelled. I fumbled in the cockpit locker and eventually got the right one. David drove the hook into the fish and hefted it into Read more...

the cockpit. What a beast, a beautiful beast. 1.2 metres of thrashing muscle and tail. David deftly stuck a knife in its head to slow it down, blood spurting over the walls and floor of the cockpit. He quickly transformed the fish into steaks, reserving the head to freeze and to give to someone at the next village. The heads are savoured here. Butchering complete, it took several bucket loads of seawater to sluice the cockpit free of blood and guts. For the next few miles I planned the menu; Kokoda (Fijian marinated fish) for an entree, and walu steaks for mains that night. Then fish soup the next day, made extra special with Simon Gault fish stock, accompanied by an aioli flavoured with anchovy and parmesan. *** Earlier that morning we'd left Musket Cove on Malolo Island, in the Mamanucas, heading towards the Yasawas, with Lynnis on board. Lynnis is a friend from Kerikeri, veteran of two Pacific crossings and several smaller sojourns. We met Lynnis and husband Neil in a marina in Samoa in 2010. An adventurous soul, at 71 she recently circumnavigated Durville Island (top of Marlborough Sounds) in a kayak. After a few futile attempts to sail we resigned ourselves to motoring, weaving in and out of the coral reefs. We were curious about a vivid white shape, a crescent moon floating in the distance. David climbed the mast and identified it as a sandy cay. Back in the cockpit he asked, "Fancy snorkeling on that?" "Yes please" we chorused. I slowly took the boat over towards where the tip of the moon disappeared into the sea. We expected a gradual shallowing of the bottom. David was on the bow preparing to drop the anchor. "21 metres," I called to David. And then it happened. Here's David's description from the bow: Motoring slowly up to a sandy cay to swim and explore, I prepared to drop the anchor. Below the bow I saw corals, purple and pink tipped staghorns, huge spirals of yellow green tabletop, turquoise parrotfish lazing in the fissured canyons, yellow and black striped angelfish hanging motionless and tiny electric blue fish darting about. All right there. "REVERSE REVERSE REVERSE REVERSE REVERSE REVERSE FUCKING REVERSE!!!" I yelled. The prop desperately gripped the sea. The boat slowed, kissed the coral, and backed into deep blue water. We're missing a square inch of antifouling from the bottom of the keel and several years off our lives. *** Janet We were clear. I felt pretty shaky. This was our first grounding on coral. We'd joined what they call the HTC club around here (Hit The Coral). It's got a big membership. The received wisdom is that its not whether you will hit the coral but when you hit the coral. Little did we know we had more to come. We motored back out and Lynnis and I donned our fins and snorkels and swam in to the cay, David keeping Navire a safe distance off. We swam through the deep blue till suddenly a sheer coral wall appeared before us. No wonder the depth sounder didn't see it coming. After a long swim across the coral shelf we waded onto a tiny mound of sand, such a bright white I could barely see when I took my mask off. We left the first footprints on the unsullied sand. I was idly thinking about what it would be like for a shipwrecked sailor there when two jet skis turned up with tourists from a nearby resort. So much for having to survive for months on reef fish. We slid back into the water exploring bright coral, pinks, yellows, blues, and the shimmering soft corals Fiji is famous for, littered with swarms of tropical fish. Then the long swim out to Navire. *** That night we anchored at a bay between Vanua Levu (not the big island) and Navadra. I repaired to the galley and started chopping and squeezing. First course Kokoda. After marinating the fish in lemon juice for half an hour I squeezed it dry and added freshly made coconut cream, red onion, chilli, cucumber and tomato. Just divine. For the next course I fried the thick steaks David had carved off the mighty walu. Sweet and succulent. After a rolly night on anchor we continued heading north-west to Kuata, the southernmost island of the Yasawas. Another rolly night was had there and we continued on to the north end of Naviti, anchoring off Somosomo Village. *** I keep peering into the bucket at my feet as I sit here and type in the cockpit. Yes they are still there in all their painted glory. I'm in heaven. An hour ago David called us up to the cockpit. "Look what these guys have got," he said. A local boat, a fibre as they are called around here, packed with ten Fijian men, had pulled alongside. One of them held up two crayfish, still kicking. "$50 for two" he said. We got them for $35FJD and a packet of biscuits. I have plans for these babies which involve roasting them and serving with fresh aoli. *** We motored into the village at Somosomo and did sevusevu with the 90 year-old female chief. Ande was one of the liveliest nonagerians I'd ever met. She spoke no English yet her eyes sparkled and she engaged with us. Her granddaughter translated for us. Lynnis hatched the idea of paying for a boat to take us the south end of the island and swim with the manta rays. Up early the next morning to catch the high tide, our fibre (local long-boat) pulled up alongside and we piled in with our snorkeling gear. The ride down was scintillating with the longboat and its 40 horsepower engine flying over the arrestingly shallow coral. The coral to which we hd given a wide berth on our way up. As we came around the bottom corner of the island the pass was littered with boats, and dozens of people in the water with masks and snorkels on. We were in the right place. Snorkeling gear on, we fell over the side into the melee. Our boat man pointed into the depths at a ray. I was disappointed. I thought, "Huh, I see these all the time in the Sounds, what's the big deal?" But as I swam further along with the crowd I looked down and there, two meters below me, was a huge black thing that resembled a 747. No, more like a stealth bomber, with its wide black wings, nodules sticking out of its forehead and long skinny tail. Then there were three of them. Floating right under me. It was pretty special. *** Lynnis cooked that night. I do like guests who cook and do dishes. And she not only cooked but it was a completely a locally sourced meal - breadfruit chips to go with our pina coladas, then mashed breadfruit with coconut cream, grated and squeezed by David, raw pumpkin salad, and more fish steaks. Delicious.

Hello you two adventurers... is there an e mail address which we can write to without it being posted?
Love to read yours but would prefer to write just to you two.
keep safe and happy .love Jan

coral
sunset
mighty walu
fish stew
Janet snorkelling
steaks
kokoda
Lynnis at the helm
harmless looking sandy cay
Navire hull underwater
lost a bit of anti-fouling
sandy cay on electronic chart

Navire - 4. Sawene Vuda Point

Fiji by land Aug 16, 2015 Janet I was still feeling elated about our rugby win as we set sail for Viti Levu from Musket Cove. We anchored at Sawene Bay, close to Nadi, in order to deliver Richard to catch his flight back to New Zealand. After our goodbyes we walked an hour to Vuda Point to check out the marina. There we met Raghu Reddy. Raghu is brother of Jai Ram Reddy, former leader of the Fijian opposition party for over 20 years, before and after first coup in 1987, and father-in-law of Read more...

a lovely former student of mine, Kerry Reddy. We met Jai in Auckland back in January and he gave us his brother Raghu's contact details. Turns out Raghu runs one of Fiji's major gas plants and is based right next to Vuda Point Marina. You never know what you are going to get when you call up complete strangers. Well Raghu was just lovely. He seemed to be expecting to hear from us and immediately offered to show us around. After investigating the fuel jetty for our visit by boat the next day (its nice to have a visual on where we are going to be maneuvering in close quarters) we walked back along the sugar cane railway line to Sawene Bay. This area of Fiji is dominated by the sugar cane industry, one of Fiji's biggest exports, which has shaped Fiji's history for the last century or so. The British colonized Fiji in the 1870's. In 1879 they brought 160'000, if I remember correctly, indentured labourers (virtually slaves) in from India to work in the cane fields. At one stage the Indian population was grew to be larger than the Fijian, but is now less than half.
*** The next day we navigated the very tight channel into Vuda Point (we saw two boats run aground in the channel while we were there). I was very excited about being in a marina, with all the usual amenities, meeting other sailors, and the prospect of touring Western Viti Levu. But I immediately went down with a viciously painful strep throat. It laid me low for six days although I did drug myself up for the outing with Raghu. *** David Raghu collected us early Sunday morning and we drove to a resort at Volivoli Point, past Rakiraki, at the top of Viti Levu. On the way we stopped at Raghu's nephew's duck farm where Janet bought two frozen ducks, yum, and had tea with Bahkt, Tiani, and their two daughters. Then onto another brother's spread followed by morning tea at Raghu's home, overlooking the sea north of Lautoka. Raghu's wife, Kamla, joined us for a long drive inland to visit a Fijian village at Navala, retained in its original thatched state. Lunch was a spread of Indian foods, at a restaurant in Ba, for which he refused to let us pay. Then a quick drive past the Fiji Water plant, said to be the second most popular brand in the US. Lastly, afternoon tea at Volivoli Resort. All accompanied by Kamla and Raghu's take on life in Fiji. They are more optimistic under Bainimarama than at any time since the first coup in 1987, and approve of most of this government's policies. These include the abolition of the Great Council of Chiefs, which we learned was a creation of the colonial administration. Elsewhere, especially rural villages, this has been a divisive policy where we heard comments such as "I would give my life for our chief," and "the Council was created by God. Bainimarama has no jurisdiction there." Raghu and Kamla approved of the 'free education policy' replacing local community funding, which appears to have disadvantaged the Indian population. It seems local funding resulted in racially segregated schools. This, among many other social structures, has severely limited association between the two cultures, which in turn fosters suspicion and ignorance. Support also for the teaching of Hindi as a regular part of the curriculum. Our observations, limited of course, suggest a significant increase in cross-cultural contact and a sharp reduction in suspicion and hostility. Raghu and Kamla appear pleased with the language "We are all Fijians", and the dropping of the term Indo-Fijians. However, the term 'i Taukae' has been resurrected to refer to indigenous Fijians. We learned that the Indo-Fijian business acumen stems primarily from a second wave of migration referred to as Gujerati. Raghu argued that the descendants of the indentured labourers, of which he is one, are mostly an impoverished rural population who have no traditional background in small business. I got the impression that there is an undercurrent of resentment toward the Gujerati who dominate much of Fiji business ownership and constitute a kind of upper class.
There is also a deep suspicion of the increasing Chinese influence spearheaded by large aid projects such as hospitals and infrastructure. The facilities are appreciated but the Chinese presence is not. Many people we've spoken with perceive American presence as well intentioned and Chinese as not. Personally, and with just my own prejudices to go on, I doubt there's much difference. We were home at about 9pm. A long, rich day.
PS. The above is my record of what we gleaned from Raghu and Kamla. All misrepresentations and inaccuracies are mine.
*** Janet 'Cooking classes. 5pm. Wednesdays. Free,' was written up on the board outside the marina office. This was me all over. By Wednesday I'd recovered enough to walk around to the restaurant and join four other sailing women for a lesson in Fijian cuisine.
The chef, Nicholas Steven, ably demonstrated how to make Lumi Aspic with seaweed that you can buy at the markets here or gather at low tide on the reef. It's boiled in coconut cream and finished with tuna. It sets in a firm jelly. At the end of the demonstration he whipped out one already set, just like on TV. We savoured its sea flavours with crisply fried taro chips.

Glad you are still having fun, seaweed, fish, taro and coconut, sounds delish.
Thinking of you, have enjoyed the pics, Wendy

Sugar cane railway
Our hosts Raghu and Kamla
Bhakt and Tiani duck farmers
destined for duck curry
cane fields
western Fiji
Sugar cane factory
Volivoli point
Vuda Point marina

Navire - Robinson Crusoe Island to Malolo Fiji

Image Kat and Seiorse Acrux Robinson Crusoe Island to Malolo Island, Fiji Note: Its six months later. We are in Majuro in January 2016. Back in Fiji I made the fatal mistake of getting behind in with a blog post or two then it was all over. While we are settled in one place for a while I'm going to continue the story of our journey here for our own record. Feel free to read along or not. Aug 28, 2015 Janet "Margarita Janet?" Need the man ask? This has been our evening ritual since Richard arrived Read more...

in Fiji two weeks ago. To be honest my liver is struggling but I can't say no to tequila and fresh lime juice. There will be time to dry out once Richard gets on a plane back to Wellington. *** Another day on the road found us rounding the coast to western Fiji. Through yet another reef we entered the Mamanucas (pronounced Mamanuthas). Finally, I thought, we would get the reputed lighter winds in this much vaunted yachting mecca. Not. We anchored in Musket Cove, home of marina, yacht club and resort, and bounced around all night in howling winds. In the morning Richard and I bravely (or foolishly) took the dinghy to shore to shop and do laundry. Landing on the island was like being transported to another world. Gently waiving coconut palms greeted us as did friendly staff dressed in red and black. People wandered around in holiday mode and sipped on ice-cold beers at beach bars under thatched roofs. First I tracked down the laundry. Having access to a washing machine for a halfway reasonable price is a rare treat in the tropics. We loaded up the machine and wandered off to the shop. It was surprisingly cheap for a resort and I stocked up on pawpaws, bananas and salad stuff including fresh basil and mint which is grown behind the resort. Bring on lunch I said to Richard. Back in the dinghy the tropical mirage evaporated and we were at the mercy of the sea and her bad mood. The waves were huge for our tiny, now very laden, boat. The sea sloshed into the dinghy soaking us and our shopping. Back on board we quickly hauled anchor and began navigating the coral around to the lee side of Malolo. As we rounded to corner to Likuliku Bay we breathed a sigh of relief. It was calm. And almost empty. We'd expected it to be full of other boats escaping the wind but no, there was only one other boat anchored there. A kiwi boat. A boat we'd heard on passage on our radio net. We became instant friends with Kat and Seiorse, two gorgeous 30 somethings off Acrux, sharing drinks, meals and computer files within moments of acquaintance. They were foodies too so we delighted in swapping recipes and ideas. Our boats were of a similar vintage and they were on a similar budget to us, although we were old enough to be their parents and at the other end of our economic lifetime with a few assets behind us. I love Kiwis, they are so down to earth, especially these two, and I enjoying speaking in a common lingo. We'd anchored off a very exclusive resort and about three times a day a helicopter came in, plus ferries, runabouts, and sea-planes. We weren't allowed to go to shore, they didn't want yachtie riff-raff spoiling the place for their exclusive guests who were paying $3000 FJD a night for their over the water bungalows. We swam, we read, and we swam. What an indolent time. David and the Acrux crew went exploring a bay nearby finding local eggs and meeting a people who were making fibreglass longboats right there on the beach. Many Fijians are entrepreneurial and are good at making do with what they have at hand. *** Now we are back on the road and I'm glad of it. Heading back to the mainland to drop Richard off and restock, we stopped at Musket Cove to watch the Bledisloe Cup. This time anchoring in idyllic conditions. The Navire crew had spent several days practicing the New Zealand national anthem in Maori. As the room seemed to fill with people with Australian accents I started worrying about the prospect of being lynched when we sang. On the big screen the teams ran on to the field. To our surprise the Aussies sat mutely through their anthem. Then most of the 50 strong crowd erupted into the New Zealand national anthem, in Maori. I was so proud to be a kiwi. To top it all off we thrashed the Aussies this time.

$3000FJD a night
on the road
margarita time
barman
deconstructed sushi
Thai fishcakes
drinks food
Fijian longboat manufacturing
David husking a coconut
our calm anchorage

Navire - Robinson Crusoe Island to Malolo island

Robinson Crusoe Island to Malolo Island Aug 28 Janet "Margarita Janet?" Need the man ask? This has been our evening ritual since Richard arrived in Fiji two weeks ago. To be honest my liver is struggling but I can't say no. There will be time to dry out once Richard gets on a plane back to Wellington.
*** Another day on the road found us rounding the coast to western Fiji. Through yet another reef we entered the Mamanucas (pronounced Mamanuthas). Finally, I thought, we would get the reputed Read more...

lighter winds in this yachting mecca. Not. We anchored in Musket Cove, home of marina, yacht club and resort, and bounced around all night in howling winds.
In the morning Richard and I bravely (or foolishly) took the dinghy to shore to shop and do laundry. Arriving on land was like being transported to another world. Gently waiving coconut palms, friendly staff dressed in red and black, people wandering around in holiday mode, and beach bars under thatched roofs.
Having access to a washing machine for a halfway reasonable price is a rare treat. The shop was surprisingly cheap for a resort and I stocked up on pawpaws, bananas and salad stuff including basil and mint which they grow behind the resort.
Scary trip back to the boat. I was driving and the waves were big for our tiny, now very laden, dinghy. We got absolutely soaked. Back on board we quickly hauled anchor and began navigating the coral around to the lee side of the Malolo. As we rounded to corner to Likuliku Bay we breathed a sigh of relief. It was calm. We'd expected it to be full of other boats escaping the wind but no, there was only one other boat anchored there. A kiwi boat. A boat we'd heard on passage on our radio net. We became instant friends with Kat and Seiorse, two gorgeous 30 somethings off Acrux, sharing drinks, meals and computer files within moments. They are foodies too so we delighted in swapping recipes and ideas.
We'd anchored off a very exclusive resort and about three times a day a helicopter came in, plus ferries, runabouts, and sea planes. We swam, we read, we swam. What an indolent time.
Now we are back on the road and I'm glad of it. Heading back to the mainland to drop Richard off and restock, we stopped at Musket Cove to watch the Bledisloe Cup. This time anchoring in idyllic conditions.
The Navire crew had spent several days practicing the New Zealand national anthem in Maori. As the room seemed to fill with people with Australian accents I started worrying about the prospect of being lynched when we sang. On the big screen the teams ran on to the field. To our surprise the Aussies sat mutely through their anthem. Then most of the 50 strong crowd erupted into the New Zealand national anthem, in Maori. I was so proud to be a kiwi. To top it all off we thrashed the Aussies this time.

my mouth is watering remembering all those yummy treats... salted caramel sauce and fresh lime jelly,,, you are an inspiration Janet! And can't wait for your food blog!

Margarita time
Back on the road
Bar Navire
$3000 a night!
kaivalangi coconut husker
our fabulous kiwi neighbours
deconstructed sushi
dessert - watermelon, pawpaw, kavala passionfruit sauce, caramelised pineapple
Navire at anchor

Navire - Suva to Robinson Crusoe Island

Suva to Robinson Crusoe Island Aug 3 Janet "I was doing fish whispering last night," said Richard as he sipped his coffee.
"Let me hear some," said David.
Richard sits in the cockpit in silence for a minute.
"Can you hear it?" he asks.
Richard was trying to break our fish drought.
Mmmmm, I'll wait and see the evidence I thought, and went back to my coffee.
*** It's been over two weeks since that idyllic passage from Kadavu to Suva in my last post, and Read more...

now I want to go, get the sails up again and head out away from the city. In Suva I shopped and shopped, and loaded up Navire with provisions to carry us through to who knows where. David's colon procedure was completed with no worrying findings. We caught up with old New Zealand friend Rita and her husband Ken, then Richard Moss from Wellington joined us for two weeks cruising.
*** Day 1 Suva to Beqa: We woke to mist draped over the bay like a lacy wedding veil. Was it to be another grey damp day, with poor coral spotting visibility, thwarting our plans to depart? I lay in bed dialing up the weather forecast on my phone, seeking assurance the sky was still going to clear. The marine forecast sites promised improving conditions. I jumped into action transforming our floating caravan back into an ocean going vessel.
That first day out gave our guest a taste of open-water sailing with two to three meter swells, rough seas, and 25 knots of wind. Four hours later we dropped the pick on the western side of Beqa, an island on the south coast of Viti Levu. It wasn't particularly sheltered in the anchorage and I was glad to weigh anchor at first light the next morning, after a less than ideal night's sleep.
*** Day 2 Beqa to Cuvu: The wind blew 30-40 knots but being behind the reef we had no swell or sea to contend with so we raced along skimming over the flat water. The sun was out. This always raises the spirits. After lunch the wind eased, and eased, and eventually went ahead, so we reluctantly started the motor. It soon became evident that there was a two-knot current against us and we had doubts about making our destination before dark. We started investigating breaks in the reef but the first two bays looked bleak and exposed, with surf crashing on the beach, a sure sign of a rolly anchorage. Seven hours later we sailed up to Cuvu Bay with Yanuca Island offering some shelter.
In we went, through the 200m wide pass, with surf breaking either side. Here we encountered our first resort of the trip. Tourist Fiji. Not just any resort but the one where David's parents used to hang out in the 60's. The Fijian. They ran charters on their 40' catamaran here. David used to come up there to visit sometimes in his school holidays.
What a contrast to the remote village Fiji life we'd seen till then. The now renamed Sahngri-La Resort (how Fijian is that?) stretched out over a long white sandy beach littered with umbrellas, kayaks and people, all white, and loud music pumped out over the water. A speed-boat zipped back and forwards past us towing para-gliders. One came so close he looked like he was going to catch his parachute on the mast.
As soon as the anchor was down we dived in. First swim in weeks. Bathwater temperture- yum. Finally I felt thoroughly sunbaked and salty, and relaxed.
*** Day 3 Cuvu to Robinson Crusoe Island.
We moved on early the next morning as the weather was due to go south and we didn't want to get caught on the south coast, a lee shore, with nothing between us and the Antarctic . Leaving Yanuca in light conditions the wind speed steadily increased. We made good time. It was gusty though, we kept heeling over and eventually reefed both sails. Then the wind headed so we pulled in the jib and motored again.
Into another surf-fringed pass to Robinson Crusoe Island. Boy has that tale endured. David was up the mast directing me, via our headphones, to keep away away from the coral in the pass. The wind was still north not due to go south yet so we anchored in northernmost part of bay. David and Richard made divine watermelon Margaritas, very sweet, and crisp. Highly recommended.
*** Day 3: Rough night. I woke at 2am to what I thought was a gust but after a while realised it was consistently windy. I got up and saw we were facing the opposite way to when we anchored. The expected front and ensuing southerly had come a day early and we were exposed to it. Not to the sea fortunately as we were inside the reef. I turned on the instruments and started recording the depth, our position, the wind speed and direction every 15 minutes. David got up for a while and we discussed whether to move or not, never an appealing prospect in the dead of night in a bay with scattered shallow patches, ringed by coral reefs. We voted to stay put and do an anchor watch. I took first shift. By the time it was David's turn the wind had eased and it was obvious we were not going to drag. I let him sleep and fell into bed.
As the sun was setting that evening we rowed in to Robinson Crusoe Island. It really did look like the one from the story, small and oval, with coconut palms, fringed with sandy beaches. We had a mediocre meal (hardly any local food content) and saw a touristy but very entertaining show. The Fijians love to dance and joke. First they showed the audience how a kava ceremony worked which of course we knew having participated in several of them by now. They invited the audience to come and drink with them, and I joined in, sitting next to a young absolute hunk, his oiled body wrapped in a green sulu. Turned out he was from Rotuma, an island 250 miles north of here, but still part of Fiji. When we leave here to go north we are thinking of going to Rotuma. Apparently not many yachts go there and those that do are made very welcome.
The show finished with spectacular fire-dancing. We then tried in vain to find somewhere to watch the rugby, the second Bledisloe Cup game but alas no Sky TV. David and Richard ended up listening to it on the radio via a cellphone. Isn't technology wonderful. Alas it was a fairly forgettable sort of game.

Janet on the helm
Robinson Crusoe Island
Dance show Robinson Crusoe
Fire dancing
Walking on water
Watermelon Margaritas

Navire - Kadavu passage to Suva

13 Kadavu passage Date July 21 (several months ago!) Janet At last, I get to sit and write. We are out beyond the reefs that fringe the entrance to Vunasea Bay, with a ten hour sail ahead of us to get to Suva.
*** Rising at 5.30, a bit of an effort for our somewhat indolent systems, I ran through our usual pattern of securing things. Drawers, hatches, musical instruments, and padding the booze cupboard with teatowels. Shipping the anchor we headed out past the first of several layers of Read more...

coral reefs.
"I'm going to head up there," I said, pointing at a clear spot on the paper chart laid on the deck, "then I'll turn around into the wind and head back towards the wharf. That should give us plenty of room to hoist the main." David nodded, and donning his headset went forward.
As the sail reaches the top of the mast I gun the engine to quickly turn 180 degrees, making for the gap in the next reef.
"I'm going up the mast," said David. He climbed the mast-rungs like a 35 year-old.
In my headphones he directs me quietly. "Starboard 5 degrees, port 10..." "David I need to go to the loo," I said urgently. I'd been hanging on hoping to get through all the reefs but couldn't wait any longer.
"All right I'll come down." I glance at the chart and calculate we have just under a mile to the next reef pass, and race to the head.
Back on the helm feeling a lot more comfortable, I look ahead over the wide clear vista. It looked like you could sail in any direction but in reality it was cruelly strewn with submerged coral.
David had climbed back up the mast. "Can you see the waves breaking at about 11 o'clock?" he asked.
I watch the horizon closely and sure enough I see the telltale line of the white foam of breaking waves.
Glancing to starboard I ask, "Can you see the waves breaking at 2.30?" "Yup, we are dead on target for going through the last pass." He lithely descends the mast.
Clear of the reef David looks back and wistfully says "Goodbye Kadavu." We smile at each other, knowing we just had a very special five weeks in that place. Now as I write this months later we still reflect on this part of our trip and consider it the highlight of our Fijian experience so far.
*** "What's our speed?" David asks.
"6.5 knots." I answer from the chart table.
"Time to go?" "Seven and a half hours," I read from the GPS screen.
"I don't know if we'll make it in time," said David, "that's only to the waypoint at the Suva Harbour entrance. We'll need another hour of daylight to get in and anchor." "Maybe we will have to heave to for the night," I suggest.
"Let's make the call in an hour's time and keep motoring till then." As we moved further into the ocean the wind rose.
*** 0930 "Wind is 16 knots and steady," I said to David, watching the windspeed instrument.
"Okay, put her neutral and we'll see what happens to the boat speed." I watch the number on the screen drop a little then steady. "Speed's good." "Engine off then." We sit and enjoy the silence for a moment before putting Robert Earl on the stereo. The sun is out, no three metre swells and rough sea, like on our passage down to Kadavu.
"Champagne sailing," I said.
"You know what would make today perfect," I said, gazing at the two lures that we have towed for thousands of miles, "A fish." "We'll get two!" said David. And you can tell how the rest of that story goes.
*** Navire rocks gently on her anchor. The sun's just disappeared behind the hills west of Suva.
"May we have many more sailing days like this," I say to David, and raise my glass.

Navire - Kavala to Vunasea

Back on the road - Kavala to Vunasea Monday July 13 Janet I feel a twinge of anxiety; How windy would it be out there? Will I feel seasick? Shall I take a pill or not? Images of the rough passage from Suva to Kadavu are still fresh in my mind. We are on the cusp of leaving the sheltered womb of Kavala Bay to head to Tavuki.
In Fiji we are almost always in unfamiliar waters. Most of our cruising in New Zealand is in familiar places, so if the wind in wrong direction we know where we can Read more...

go to find shelter. The trip to Tavuki holds lots of unknown factors; the wind could go to the north (it has three times already and most of the anchorages around here are exposed to it), the anchorage may be too deep, there could be too much coral for safe anchoring, or rain may obliterate coral visibility.
"Now Janet, nine times out of ten you get out there and you love it." I reassure myself. "For now just breathe deeply, in and out, in and out." My anxiety eases a little.
Then suddenly there's no time to worry. Motor gently forward, anchor up. It's grey and raining as David hoists the main and eases the headsail out.
We hand-steer for a while. The wind is from behind making it tricky. I don't want the it to back the sails but can't go further to port because of the invisible coral shelves jutting hundreds of metres out from the coast.
I look back at Kavala cloaked in cloud. We are in bright sunlight now, feeling relieved we may not to have to navigate the coral of Tavuki Bay, our destination, in dull conditions. My mood lifts. I love the thrill of being at sea again, being challenged by the elements. Excited and anxious at the same time, it's a fine line.
I look at the land. It looks familiar, reminding me of cruising along the east coast of Northland. Then I remember there are no roads, no power wires, no shops, not much reception, and the people speak a different language. It feels remote again.
Now there is enough wind on the beam to put the auto-pilot on the tiller. We are racing along at seven knots in 28 knots of wind.
"Fine sailing," I say to David.
We settle in to tea and Christmas cake. Cake baked months ago in another lifetime in Bay of Islands. Neil Young's Take a Look at Yourself belts out from the stereo. Fine indeed.
*** I let my thoughts drift back to our three weeks in Kavala, two lunches with the chief coming to mind. Sharing food is so integral to forming relationships for me.
Lunch is the main meal of the day in Fijian village life. As Seru, the chief's wife, prepared the food I asked her what she was cooking, and all about each ingredient. She seemed to enjoy my interest.
Another meal that stood out was our second lovo. This time we accompanied the lovo baskets to the local school and ended up sharing ours with the head-teacher and his family. What a country this is when you can rock up to the house of a stranger and be welcomed in to share a meal, then sent on your way with armloads of produce from their garden. Lunch guests are rare and treasured here it seems. We went back another day with a banana cake and a jar of Kavala Bay orange marmalade to say thank you.
*** "Just as well we left those reefs in the sail," I say to David, as another gust blasts out of a valley, heeling Navire over. It feels like sailing along the vicious Wairarapa Coast. We are well off the land. I measure the distance from the unseen rock shelf to our plotted course, 200m. I measure distance to our destination. 16 miles. Less than three hours at this speed.
"I can see the reef," David points ahead at a line of turqoiuse water, waves breaking, stretching well out to sea. We head out around it.
As we pass the bay where Kadavu's main town, Vunasea, is the wind speed increases and white caps abound. Boat speed 7.4 knots.
"Visualise the cloud lifting," says David.
I look ahead and the land is hidden by rain. Mmmm, not good coral-spotting visibility. As we turn into Tavuki Bay the wind heads so we roll up the genoa and turn on the engine. It's howling. This isn't what we signed up for. What would we do if we couldn't anchor at Tavuki? We have plans but still a little of my anxiety returns.
"Ten degrees to starboard," calls David from the cabin where he is watching our progress on the laptop. Up top there appears to be miles of room but most of it is actually too shallow. I push the tiller across and duck another blast of spray.
"I think I'll stay down here," David jokes, "It's much better." We get as far as we can into the bay before the coral shelf prevents us getting into the lee of the land. The wind is howling. The anchorage is too deep and exposed.
"It's not going to happen," says David, pushing the tiller hard to the side and gunning the engine to turn Navire quickly. "Let's go and look at Vunasea." I radio a yacht we passed earlier and ask about the bay. We'd been concerned it could be gusty there as it was on the lee side of a narrow piece of land.
"Good anchorage," they assured us.
I go down below and stare at the computer. "Go to port," I keep telling David.
I feel the boat lurch hard to port and go topside.
"We just missed a rock by inches," said David, "The trip could have been over." I go back and look at the chart. There should have been a beacon there, more often than not beacons that show on our charts just aren't there.
Heading out of Tavuki Bay I pass David a bowl of unheated leftovers.
Vunasea Bay is a myriad of shallow coral patches that we have to weave our way through. Finally we reach a small clear area near the shore.
"What's the depth?" David calls from the bow.
"Seven metres.
"Yahoo!" A shallow anchorage is a good anchorage.
I lick my lips. I touch my face and hair. Caked with salt. In the galley I sluice my face again and again till I can't taste any more salt.
"Beer?" David offers.
"Yes please."

Thank you for another interesting, exciting post . . . Charles

Back on the road

Navire - Kavala church day

Kavala Church Day Janet Mid July "Bula, bula, bring your dinghy over here." Jovesa gestured to a little beach off the end of the seawall.
We'd come in to the village early Sunday morning, to help fix Jovesa's outboard pull-chord, before going to church. While the men communed down at the boats Joe's oldest daughter Lusia invited me up to their house. It was a typical village house, a kitchen, living room and two bedrooms, no internal doors. Lusia gestured for me to sit on couch.
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I pointed at some lemons on the kitchen table in the other room.
"Could I gather some of those?" I'd come with a list of local produce to procure.
"Veronika," Lusia called. Her 10 year-old sister came running inside. "Go and get Janet some lemons," she ordered in rapid Fijian.
"Last week I picked some basil at a house near here, could we go and get some more?" I asked.
"What is basil?" Lusi asked.
"It has a strong sweet smell and Fijians use it in a tea for coughs." "Ahh," she nodded. "Come." We gathered sprigs of basil and a bunch of bele, a green leaf used like spinach. As we passed a baigani bush, eggplant, Lusia picked half a dozen small black fruit and added them to my bag.
*** Down at the seawall David and Joe had made good progress on repairing the pull-chord.
David looked up "Time to go?" I nodded. He went up to the house to put on his Sunday best. Laughter rang from inside as David modeled his clothes for the women, and consulted about what was most appropriate to wear to church. Trousers not sulu, Shirt tucked in, and not out was the verdict.
We arrived at the other side of the bay at the same time as Jean Pierre and Dana.
They had done sevusevu here so proudly showed us around "their village". We'd come across to Kavala Village to attend a combined church service. On the first Sunday of each month Methodists from the several villages in the bay gather at one or other of the villages in turn.
We were seated in the front row of the high roofed, whitewashed, plaster house of God. The first bars of the choir's opening song resonated in my chest. When the base came in I felt it down to my toes. The sopranos followed and lifted my soul up to the rafters.
"I can see how gospel music helps people find God," I thought. Two hours soon passed with song after song of stunning choral music.
We'd been invited to join the Solotavui Village contingent for lunch afterwards.
"The host village puts on the food," Luisa explained, "and each village eats in a separate house." Just as we were heading for the 'Solotavui' house we got invited by the pastor to what turned out to be the VIP lunch. He led us through the village, stopping for us to shake hands and say hello to half the congregation.
Taking our shoes off we entered the village community hall where a long cloth lay across the floor, set with crockery and cutlery, and groaning with plates of food.
"Please sit," the pastor gestured to the floor at one end of the 'table'. Once we were seated everyone else sat. One of the pastors said grace and indicated for us to start. The food vibrated with freshness. No food miles incurred here. First, fried fish and rourou (taro leaf). It swam in coconut cream, probably grated and squeezed less than an hour ago. So succulent and sweet, melt in the mouth. I finely chopped a red chili and added it to my bowl with a squeeze of lemon, as I'd learned to do at lunch at the chief's. A few people nodded approvingly. My neighbour sawed off a hunk of taro for me to dip into the juices. Next I tried the ota. This is a fern similar to baby punga fern fronds in New Zealand. Crisp and crunchy it was served raw in coconut cream with tinned mackerel. I went back for more.
"What's that?" I pointed to some dark meat on a saucer.
"Wild pork," my neighbour told me.
"From up there?" I pointed at the hills behind the village. "With a gun?" "No, with a spear." Other bowls were laden with chop suey and curry, but teeming with the ubiquitous noodle, so I passed on those.
Over the course of the meal a number of other people wandered in the room and sat down behind the diners. Most people got up when they had finished so others could take their place but we were told to stay put.
When we had finished eating the food was moved to one end of the cloth and the ladies from the kitchen brought us tea and large chunks of cake topped with pumpkin custard.
Finally the cooks sat down and ate what was left of the main course. We lingered much of the afternoon and motored back to the boat replete.

Lunch with the pastors
the cooks

Navire - Kavala - Lovo for lunch

4A Lovo for lunch Kavala Janet Jully 26 "What's the menu for?" I asked gesturing out the door. Taped to the wall at the shop entrance was a notice, mostly written in Fijian, including 'menu' and '$20'.
"It's for a lovo," the girl behind the counter said, "food cooked in the ground." Her mother told us "Whole chicken, fish, palusami, and raw fish, at noon on Friday." *** We were at the local bread shop in Kavala Bay. We'd motored along the edge of a bank of seemingly impenetrable mangroves Read more...

when an opening appeared suddenly. Peering into the muddy water we monitored the depth to make sure we didn't catch the outboard propeller on the bottom. After paddling the last few metres we tied the dinghy to a tree, and asked the first person we saw where the shop was.
"Up there," said the woman, "blue house." She pointed to a muddy track.
The locating of shops here is very different to how we do it in New Zealand. Foot traffic - not a consideration. The shop in the bay near where Navire is anchored is a 15-minute walk from the nearest village.
"Is the shop over there because it has a wharf?" I had asked Luisa, our local host.
"No, that is where their family land is." She said matter of factly.
Same with the bread shop, up the back of three other houses and no signage down on the road to say its there. I guess everyone knows where it is.
*** On Friday our French-Canadian neighbours, from yacht Vanille, motored over to join us for the lunch outing. On the way across the bay we stopped in at Solotaviu Village to deliver a chocolate cake to Luisa and her family, a gift to say thank you for their help. This village seemed moderately prosperous (from yaqona production) and giving basic food items like tinned corned beef didn't seem appropriate. But a cake, we thought, is a treat because most people don't have conventional ovens.
Luisa was out so we gave the cake to her mother. Within seconds ten small children materialized. They sat on the mat in two rows like they were at school, eyes glued to the cake the whole time we were there. Later we heard that almost every child in the village had a piece.
Motoring on we arrived at the rocky inlet near the shop. We guided Jean-Pierre and Dana up the muddy path to the blue house. Paying our $20 we sat outside on a concrete slab we discussing where we would eat the food. Two women emerged from the shop with our 'lovo', two baskets woven from coconut palms loaded with foil wrapped food, each topped with a pink hibiscus flower.
Before we'd had a chance to unload our plates and cutlery and set up our picnic on the concrete the women said "Wait!", and dashed inside. Moments later they came out carrying a table between them and proceeded to set it up under a little shelter on the edge of the platform. Then out came four chairs and a tablecloth.
They understood kaivlangi needs.
Table set, I undid the foil bundles releasing smoky meaty flavours. A whole chicken, a piece of rather well done tuna, the best palusami (taro leaves cooked in coconut) I've ever had, a whole breadfruit, and two separate containers, one with kokoda, marinated fish, and the other cassava in caramel sauce. As we were packing up one of the women came to chat. It transpired that the lovo was a fundraiser. Each family with children at the school had to contribute $480 for various repairs. So much for Bainamrama's free education policy.

Dana and Jean Pierre form Vanille
Luisas mum and cake
When can we have cake?
Lovo basket
Lovo feast

Navire - Kavala Bay

Solotavui Village, Kavala, Kadavu 24 June David We are tucked up in a gorgeous bay, Kavala, at the eastern end of Kadavu.
Surrounded with high, steep, lush deep-green hills. They call this Little New Zealand and I can see why. Reminds us of the Sounds, but for the coral.?Such welcoming locals. We had no sooner put our anchor down than we were enthusiastically serenaded by a group of children ashore. We replied with our own songs which seemed well received. ?A passing family, returning Read more...

from church in their fibre, a tough, versatile local boat, came on board with coconuts and pawpaw and then piloted us to a better anchorage. They stayed for tea and biscuits. We swapped songs and fell in love with one year old Lisi.
Yesterday we picked a dry spell and went ashore to do sevusevu at the village.
We joked with the Chief that the kava we presented was probably grown in the bay and bought in Suva just to be brought home again.
Sevusevu was followed with an extensive tour of the village guided by Luisa. *** Janet "These men are working on the pastor's place," said Luisa, pointing to a house nearby.
Bula," called a man in an old blue rugby jersey, then said something rapidly in Fijian.
"They are inviting you for yagona, would you like to go," Louisa translated.
"Yes please," I said. "We haven't tried Fijian kava yet." Inside the house there were 10 men sitting cross-legged on a mat, a large wooden bowl on feet in the middle of the room.
"Bula, my name is Joe." We introduced ourselves and Joe passed David a half coconut shell of brown liquid. He drank, and the men clapped four times. Joe refilled the shell and passed it to me. I'd heard that Fijian kava, called yaqona here, was stronger than in Tonga where we last partook. They clapped. I drank. It tasted part nutty, part aniseed and part river silt. It numbed my tongue a little and gave me a pleasant glow. The men were friendly and interested in us.
To get to the village we'd traversed a slippery muddy path over a hill and were not looking forward to the return journey.
"No, no, we go this way," said Luisa, pointing to the shoreline beyond the village.
Low tide had revealed a rocky beach all the way back to where the dinghy was tied up outside the local shop. Luisa helped us buy data for our Digicel simcard, and showed us how to set it up.
*** "We're gonna move," said David, donning his raincoat. We'd been sitting in the cockpit having a cup of tea discussing the day's events when suddenly the wind rose and started to change direction, threatening to push us onto the coral reef close behind the boat. I leapt below.
"Depth sounder shows 1.5 metres." I called.
Bit close. The rain was coming in sheets now.
Engine on, I get us up on the electronic chart, tiller down, David was winding the anchor in.
"Four meters now." Wind gusts push the bow round and I motor into the wind to take the load off the anchor.
"We're up," called David.
I turn the boat and motor across the bay to the lee of a headland.
"This is it," calls David. He releases the anchor chain and I motor back to lay out the chain. Gusts push us from side to side.
Back in the cabin, toweling his hair dry, David declares, "That calls for a shot of vodka." I glance at the clock, 4.30.
"Why not." I retrieve a green coconut from the basket in the cockpit and hand it to David. He deftly lops the top off it with a machete. Fingers still intact, he decants the nectar into the waiting shot glasses of vodka.

Entering Kavala Bay
Naleca
Welcoming committee Sa'i and family
drinking coconut
Sundowner time
Solotavui Village
Luisa explaining drums
Grog session
Luisa and her lovely mum

Navire - A Treasured Weight

A Treasured Weight - David
On our arrival here in Namalata Bay, at the township of Vunisea, as we settled to our anchor and tidied the boat, we both remarked on a feeling that a weight had lifted. That, while we already missed our Kavala friends we felt also a relief from the associated social pressures. We talked that evening and again this morning of the comfort of anonymity. Here we are just another yacht arrived in the bay, a regular occurrence of no great moment. Anonymity we are used Read more...

to. Being recognized by our names everywhere, we are not.

In Kavala, where we had spent so much time in and around the village, we had become an entity. Each time we pulled into the sea wall fronting the village we were greeted by a cloud of children, all eager to guide us to the best place to secure the dinghy, to carry our bags, but especially to greet us. They quickly learned how we managed the dinghy. When the tide was out and the water too shallow we would hoist the outboard and row to shore. They have no oars and rowlocks on their fibres. Their favoured shallow water method is to pole the boat along like a gondolier, a method I discovered required some skill. Yet the children quickly learned how to place our oars.
We have a small folding anchor that we drop out the back of the dinghy as we near our landing spot. With this holding the boat out and the bowline attached to shore our little dinghy is safe from damage on the concrete sea wall. The local method is the same but for the folding anchor. Theirs is usually a heavy piece of rusting steel or a concrete block. In no time the children figured out how the anchor could be made to open and close and were setting and retrieving it for us.

They showed remarkable forbearance and patience as we struggled with unfamiliar names, regularly forgetting a name or applying it to the wrong person. They would gently correct us. “He Limi. Wami,” pointing to himself and smiling. They learned that spelling words helped. They were great teachers and much of what we learned was through the younger members of the community.
These children, Josateka, Lusia, Esala and the others, often knew our business.

“Where you going?”

“We’ve come to see…” I’m fishing for a name.

“Jali.”

“Yes. We’ve come to see Jali.” How did Esala know that?

And they would then direct us through the village to Jali’s place, showing us the best route to avoid the mud on the paths. Without our noticing, one of the children had gone ahead and Jali knew that Janet and David were coming.

If, as happened twice, we were invited for a meal after church, the whole village knew where and with whom we were to lunch. And after the meal, returning to the dinghy we would find the anchor already lifted, the painter untied and several pairs of hands holding it close to but not touching the concrete steps. We discerned a temptation to lower the outboard if there was sufficient water and possibly have it started. These are boat people. They either walk or go by boat. There are two vehicles and one tractor and about one kilometer of road in Kavala Bay. All the boys will graduate to run the fibres. Kunes had already made the transition and could be seen powering his father’s fibre around the bay. As Janet remarked, “he had the keys to the family car.” Our dinghy was their size with a small engine to suit. The children had watched a thousand times, an outboard being started. They knew how it was done and here was one they could manage. They were itching to try it out.

On one occasion I was returning from the village to Navire, accompanied, as always, by Esala and Josateka. It transpired that they were on their way to the store, on the other side of the headland, not far beyond Navire.

“Want a ride there in the dinghy.” I offered.

“Is the Pope Catholic?” may well have been their reply as they enthusiastically helped ready the dinghy and leapt in.

I started the outboard but before slipping it into gear Josateka got out, indicating he would walk instead.I hesitated and asked Esala if he was happy to stay with the boat.

“Yes. Go.” He said pointing into the bay. I engaged the outboard. “No, no. Wait.” I slipped into neutral and waited. “No. Go. Go.”

“Are you sure?”

“No wait.” Esala squirmed in the bow, looked to Josateka on the shore and pondered his choice.

“Ok. Go. Go.” And we motored around the headland in the brief dusk, over the coral shelf toward Navire.

“Why did Josateka get out of the boat?”

“Rere.”

“Afraid?”

“Yes, afraid.” Esala replied, distracted and looking intently at the outboard. “I do.” Esala indicated he would steer and moved to the back of the boat, taking the throttle from me. For a time he steered a course for the shop but soon began experimenting with swerving the boat left and right and indicating that he wanted to do loops around the anchored yachts. I had no idea of his skill and feared he would turn too suddenly and capsize the dinghy or run too close to another boat and collide. He paid scant heed to my cautioning. He had his hands on a hotrod and was not going to give up the opportunity. Still, he kept safe distances and his turns were not too steep so I let him have his head. His play was generally in the direction of the shop. As we approached the landing I wanted the boat slowed and to carefully check the depth of water but Esala maintained full throttle and made out that all was fine. He’s been in here hundreds of times and knows the tides like others his age know a cellphone, I tried reassuring myself as the concrete steps loomed close. He slowed in time, taxied to the landing and hopped out, pushing me away with his foot.

“Sotatale, sotatale” we chorused to each other as I motored away, wondering if we’d been lucky not to strike the propeller on the rocks or if young Esala knew the depth with confidence.

I think the weight that we feel has lifted is that of being surrounded by so many people, of struggling to remember one from the other, of answering a myriad of questions, of being chaperoned wherever we go, of being aware that our movements and activities were common knowledge throughout the bay. At the same time, of course, we loved it.

Hello Janet and David!
I will go to Tahiti and sail back to Fiji with a friend. Will try to meet you there before heading back to NZ probably in Fiji mid to end of september :o

Solotavui, Kavala Bay, Kadavu
Sai with grand daughter Lisi and daughter Mere
Lunch with the Turanga and family - from left: Seru, wife of Jali, J, D, Jali, Veronika, Lucia, ?, Akuila
Akuila and Veronika
Jo with Naomi hidden, Veronika, Lucia, family friend with Akuila.
Naomi. Still have caught no fish but I was there when this Walu came on board
Wami, Kuns, Esala with guitar, Limi with ukulele

Navire - Kavala - Solotavui Village Kadavu

Kavala - Solotavui Village Kadavu 24 June 18 58.870s 178 25.153e David We are tucked up in a gorgeous Kavala Bay at the eastern end of Kadavu.
Surrounded with high, steep, lush deep-green hills. They call this Little New Zealand and I can see why. Reminds us of the Sounds, but for the coral.?Such welcoming locals. We had no sooner put our anchor down than we were enthusiastically serenaded by a group of children ashore. We replied with our own songs which seemed well received. A passing Read more...

family, returning from church in their fibre, a tough, versatile local boat, came on board with coconuts and pawpaw and then piloted us to a better anchorage. They stayed for tea and biscuits. We swapped songs and fell in love with one year old Lisi.
Yesterday we picked a dry spell and went ashore to do sevusevu at the village.
We joked with the Chief that the kava we presented was probably grown in the bay and bought in Suva just to be brought home again.
Sevusevu was followed with an extensive tour of the village guided by Luisa. *** Janet "These men are working on the pastor's place," said Luisa, pointing to a house nearby.
"Bula," called a man in an old blue rugby jersey, then said something rapidly in Fijian.
"They are inviting you for yagona, would you like to go?" Louisa translated.
"Yes please," I said. "We haven't tried Fijian kava yet." Inside the house there were eight men sitting cross-legged on a mat, a large wooden bowl on feet in the middle of the room.
"Bula, my name is Joe." We introduced ourselves and Joe passed David a half coconut shell of brown liquid. He drank, and the men clapped four times. Joe refilled the shell and passed it to me. I'd heard that Fijian kava, called yaqona here, (pronounced yangona) was stronger than in Tonga where we last partook. They clapped. I drank. It tasted part nutty, part aniseed and part river silt. It numbed my tongue a little and gave me a pleasant glow. The men were friendly and interested in us.
To get to the village we'd traversed a slippery muddy path over a hill and were not looking forward to the return journey.
"No, no, we go this way," said Luisa, pointing to the shoreline beyond the village.
Low tide had revealed a rocky beach all the way back to where the dinghy was tied up outside the local shop. Luisa helped us buy data for our Digicel simcard, and showed us how to set it up.
*** "We're gonna move," said David, donning his raincoat. We'd been sitting in the cockpit having a cup of tea discussing the day's events when suddenly the wind rose and started to change direction, threatening to push us onto the coral reef close behind the boat. I leapt below.
"Depth sounder shows 1.5 metres." I called.
Bit close. The rain was coming in sheets now.
Engine on, I get us up on the electronic chart, tiller down, David was winding the anchor in.
"Four meters now." Wind gusts push the bow round and I motor into the wind to take the load off the anchor.
"We're up," called David.
I turn the boat and motor across the bay to the lee of a headland.
"This is it," calls David. He releases the anchor chain and I motor back to lay out the chain. Gusts push us from side to side.
Back in the cabin, toweling his hair dry, David declares, "That calls for a shot of vodka." I glance at the clock, 4.30.
"Why not." I retrieve a green coconut from the basket in the cockpit and hand it to David. He deftly lops the top off it with a machete. Fingers still intact, he decants the nectar into the waiting shot glasses of vodka.

Sounds amazing guys! Great blog. A perfect little armchair (or rather office chair) escape from my current reality.

Entering Kavala Bay
Naleca
Welcoming committee Sa'i and family
drinking coconut
Sundowner time
Solotavui Village
Luisa explaining drums
Grog session
Luisa and her lovely mum

Navire - Nabawalu Bay

Nabawalu Bay, Ono, Astrolabe Reef 18 53.212s 178 27.775e Janet June 15 Life has gone from monochrome to full colour. The day dawned calm and David woke feeling a lot better. We lowered the dinghy into the sea and loaded it up with buckets of salty laundry, empty gerry cans, kava for sevusevu, and a large box of biscuits to trade for fruit.
We approached the shore with David standing in the stern looking out for bombies. He switched off the outboard motor, raised the prop and paddled. The Read more...

area was infested with coral outcrops, which would take out your prop in one hit.
Arriving at low tide the shore was a long way out. We buried an anchor in the sand, hoping the dinghy would be happily bobbing in the sea when we got back.
Stepping onto the sand I staggered, my legs registering a solid surface for the first time in five days.
"We have to go back to the boat," said David.
"Why?" "My the zip in my fly is broken, I can't front up to the chief like this." After a bit of fossicking around in my bag I gave David the safety pin from my bandaged hand.
Ashore we strolled along well-groomed paths. The village houses were simple structures with gardens of bright yellow, red and pink vegetation. Loaded breadfruit trees towered over the houses, passion fruit vines wove around fences, citrus littered the ground, and everywhere the ubiquitous coconut palms.
It was all I could do not to forage.
Ahead was a bright pink house, dwelling of the turanga, the chief. In Fiji to enter a village you need to participate in sevusevu. David describes it "This, so far as we can tell, is the expected protocol for gaining permission to anchor and gives pratique to the village. A powhiri of sorts in which a half kg of yaqona (kava) is the accepted koha." "Bula, bula" said the chief, "Come inside." He extended his hand, "Meche." We sat on the floor and handed the kava bundle to Meche. He said a prayer in Fijian and now we were welcome to explore the village. We met a man who had an opinion on Bainamarama. Almost everyone we have met is a fan of 'Frank' the 'elected' democratic leader of Fiji, so it was interesting to hear a view from a villager, someone who didn't think much of Bainamarama.
We learned the village tap was turned on at three. Back to the boat for lunch and David retired to bed. Later I motored in on my own struggling to see the bombies and rowed the last two hundred metres just in case. I was anchoring the boat way out on the reef and wondering how many trips to get the laundry in to the village when two men appeared. One took my dingy and towed it up a small stream anchoring it near the houses and the other lifted my heavy laundry bag as though it were a bag of feathers. "I'm Joe" . We shake hands.
The tap was right outside Joe's house.
"Bula," said a smiling young Fijian woman, with a two year old balanced on her hip, who emerged from Joe's house.
"Bula, I'm Janet, from one of the yachts in the bay," I gestured to the three anchored boats half a mile out.
"I'm Queenie and this is Ester," she introduced her child as she popped her on the ground. "Can I help you with that?" She said pointing at my piles of salty clothes and bedding.
"Really? Yes please!" She filled one of my buckets, helped herself to washing powder and started pounding the clothes. She didn't even blanche at squeezing out David's undies.
Food and cooking is my way of getting the flavour of a place and of creating links.
I pointed at a bunch of stubby looking bananas and asked how they are prepared.
"You boil them," said Queenie.
"How do you know when they are cooked?" "When the skin is brown. Would you like some?" Back at the boat, laundry flapping in the rigging, I boiled the bananas.
"Ugh, that stinks," said David, "Are you going to eat them?" He has a mild mistrust of strange foods.
"Of course." Despite my foolish moment with the shellfish at the market in Suva I'll try almost anything.
Using a pair of tongues I pick a banana out of the pot and peel it. Yum, soft, but not gooey, and sweet. First one I chop up, pour on coconut cream and have for breakfast. Sustained me all morning. The second one made into a 'potato salad'.
"This quite nice," says David at lunchtime.
June 16 1700 Sundowner time "Cheers," I clink glasses with David and sip on my shotglass of vodka and fresh coconut juice.
Things are looking up. We both had more energy today. I baked brownie, and made a divine sweet passionfruit sauce. David, not to be outdone, produced three jars of marmalade with grapefruit I collected from under a tree in the village.
Midnight Sun sailed into the bay and we've invited them for dinner and a writer's group tomorrow night.
David now has a date for a colonoscopy in Suva. I'd been wanting to sail out to the Lau group, out east, but there is no internet there to receive the appointment email from the hospital. Now it was decided, we stay at Kadavu till we return to Suva at the end of July. In the 60's in Island Bay (Wellington) there was a Fijian family in living our street and my mother became good friends with their mother. I have tracked down the Nawalawala's village, about 30 miles from here. We'll gradually work our way down there.

zip repair job
dressed for sevusevu
meeting locals
Midnight Sun crew
dinner on Navire
passionfruit from Sammy

Navire - Suva to Ono

Passage to Ono June 13 Janet "This is like being in the Sounds, only warmer," I said to David as another howling gust slewed Navire around on her anchor.
"Yeah, but we're not on a mooring," he replied, as he set the anchor alarm on the GPS in case we dragged in the night.
*** "The gribs show 20 knots south east, 2.5 metre swell, and showers." I relayed.
Gribs are surface pressure charts with arrows that show wind direction and velocity.
We'd had enough of Suva Harbour, Read more...

engines running all night, diesel streaked water, ships weaving their way through anchored yachts, and grey muggy weather. We were ready for the tropical experience, sunshine, turquoise water, diving, swimming. The social life had been good in town, regular drinks with other cruisers and a meal out, but many boats had headed off to outer islands, time to go. Shopping done, fueled up, my cold in abeyance, the only thing to sort was the weather.
*** "Is it light out there yet?" David called from the V berth, rudely awakened by the alarm.
"No, but it will be by the time we tie everything down," I said.
As David wound the anchor up, half expecting it not to budge having perhaps wrapped itself around some rusting old car body, he called for a bucket. The snubber line and anchor buoy line were coated in slime threatening to sully the decks. Suva's last gift to us.
We motored out through the coral pass in the grey dawn. David has a penchant for famous last words. Outside the harbour the boom was slatting as we motored over large swells, no wind in our sails.
"I'm really concerned we are going to have to motor all the way." He said grimly.
I just laughed. The first of these prophecies that he lived to regret was when he uttered the words "Looks like we are in for a trouble-free trip," on our delivery trip bringing Navire down the east coast from Auckland in 2007. The following day we encountered 70 knots of wind off Palliser Bay (64 is hurricane force), got towed in to Wellington by Lady Elizabeth (police boat), and ended up featuring on Coastwatch.
Sure enough a few miles off Vita Levu the wind rapidly rose to 20 knots, 25, 30 and peaked at 40 just north of Kadavu, five hours later. It was grey all day and wet in frequent squalls. Waves splashed over the boat, mostly missing us as we huddled under the dodger, a miserable pair singing to keep our spirits up.
I actually reefed, twice (did the cabin end). There is hope for me yet as a useful crew-member. The wind kept shifting left and right making it hard to keep our course.
Not far out of Suva our navigation computer went down. I hadn't set up a back up route on my Mac, the second of our three computers, normally standard practice.
Now me and going below were not compatible, but David wasn't 100% either, so I took a deep breath and went below to enter the route and connect the laptop to the GPS. I had to scramble for the rail a couple of times but finally it was heartening to see Navire trucking across the screen, faithfully following her route.
Now ideally you navigate coral reefs in full sunlight so you can see the various colours that indicate depth. Brown is not a good colour, brown with foaming is definitely not good. We stared at the wall of gray where the chart said Ono was. It appeared and disappeared in squalls. Bloody hell we were going to have to trust the GPS completely, which they say you should never do. Just outside the reef I had the inspired idea of copying the coordinates of a track someone had given us, from another computer, onto the Mac. As we were entered a bay on the east side of Ono the cloud lifted and we could see the island. At least we wouldn't bump into that.
Anchor down, engine off. I was completely buggered. Encrusted with salt, I stripped off and wiped down. I heated up leftovers, threw in an instant curry and ravenously made up for the day's complete lack of food, the fish well fed on the way. The couch beckoned. It swallowed me. 7.30pm saw us in bed, our promised margarita relegated to another day.
***

I really enjoy following your most interesting reports/stories/adventures . . .
Roughing it out "there" while I enjoy 4 degree frosts -but from the inside of a new double glazed, sun and wood-fired house and which heating sources provide us with endless hot water without the electricity being on, and so on and so. Hope you do find some (lots) of tranquil sea and sun, soon. Charles

The neighbour's had a close call
Nabouwalu Bay

Navire - Arrival in Suva

Suva May 22 Day 1 Fiji Janet Like a possum stunned by car headlights I almost didn't know which way to turn.
The city a garish rainbow, red signs, purple, yellow, women in bright pink saris, Fijians in loud floral shirts. Signs, signs, Digicell, Vodaphone, Coca-Cola, Curry Eat Here. Every second shop had loud music blaring into the street, one shop shrill Indian tunes, next place western top of the pops, then lilting Fijian melodies, punctuated by a cacophony of car horns. After two weeks Read more...

of various shades of blue and grey and the only noise the swishing of the ocean around Navire's hull, being in downtown Suva was like tripping on acid.
*** It was glorious to wake up that first full day in port, not be shaken awake by a crew mate in the dead of night, and having to climb into the cockpit, jostled by stormy black seas, but slowly coming to, the day gently seeping in. Just for a moment anyway.
Chaos reigned in the main cabin. We'd cleared the V berth of detritus stored on passage to use our double bed. Now provisions were strewn around the boat, piles of salty sailing kit threatening to grow mildew, and a day's dishes littered the galley.
That first day we were on a military mission. Shopping lists, two weeks rubbish, dirty laundry, fuel and water jerry cans to fill, and officialdom to satisfy. We only had one day in town before we headed off for a few days rest and recreation at a nearby anchorage to give Piet some tropical time before he flew south again.
Everybody wanted a form filled in and had their hand in our pockets. Up the hill from central Suva we entered the first building of many in this official mission.
Ground floor - 'not this office, go to 4th floor, not here, wait here, ah yes, go around the corner and pay, go to 2nd floor,' each time we were taken through a warren of office cubicles, through the staff cafeteria, the cloakroom. We'd find the right person, she signs, 'now go to immigration,' the well dressed official pointed to a building on a map, on the other side of town. We walked back down cluttered chaotic streets to the city centre.
An hour later we sat in a Hare Krishna cafe picking at a curry, dazed, trying to sort out our phones after visiting the Vodaphone shop. They'd made an easy task incomprehensible. My sleep-deprived brain reeled and could barely absorb the simple instructions the staff gave us. The youthful staff probably had us down as untech savvy geriatrics.
Communication systems semi-sorted the next most urgent tasks were applying for our cruising permit, and harbour clearance. We weren't allowed out of the Suva without these bits of paper. It was now Friday afternoon, and I hadn't even got near the market yet.
Note to self. When arriving in port, 1. Make a list of what needs to be done, 2.
Estimate how long it takes to do, 3. Triple the estimate. Did the first two, but failed on point 3. And then point 4, locate everything on a map first and don't take anybody's assurance that everything is in the same building.
*** Cruising permit place on one side of town, harbour clearance on the other. As we plodded wearily along the edge of the harbour the Grand Pacific Hotel, its huge white portals a bastion of colonialism, beckoned us, lured us in with the prospect of air conditioning and cold beers. Two minutes later we parked our weary bodies in white cane chairs, poolside, with a waiter loitering, ready for our order.
We loved the hotel's luxury and Europeaness. Beer was cheap, internet was free, clearance was relegated to the morrow.
Got 109 emails and all your comments. It feels wonderful that some of you followed right along with our journey *** You'd think we'd know better than to rush straight into provisioning, water, fuel, phones that we could do without for another week, having done the island cruising thing once before. But no, seduced by the trappings of civilization, we rushed on. Anchored next door was a boat called Midnight Sun, its crew John and Wendy, relentlessly cheerful friendly Australians, with 20 years sailing the Pacific under their belts. They knew the drill.
"There's no rush," Wendy often said when they came by. They just anchored and waited, looking ever so relaxed. Even sunbathed on deck. How could this be? I was still trying to clean a month's worth of grime from Navire's innards, and instill some semblance of order aboard. But I watch and learn from them.
Alas we paid the price for our haste. David has written of our ill health, UTI and diarrhea. I continued the trend, falling over at the yacht club and spraining my thumb badly, then laid low with a cold for a week, and all the while suffering the debilitating post-passage tiredness. Is there a message in all this? Wendy would say so.
We belatedly learned from several other experienced cruisers that we need to allow several weeks, not days, but weeks, to recover fully from the demands of passage. Note to self....
***

I expect by the time you get this you'll have settled into a calmer, more relaxed pace of life. Keep well my friends, and enjoy the various shades of blue you'll experience along the way.

Suva
Grand Pacific Hotel
David looking relaxed
Poolside
Aboard Midnight Sun

Navire - navire - 2303 Jun 2015

Music In The Park January 20, 2015 I'm calling this a retrospective as David was a little late posting it David On Barrier Radio Janet caught a brief ad “Music in The Park at Okiwi. Bring your own instruments.” This sounded like us. What clinched it was Loma, from whom we had hired a car, who was intending to go and offered us a lift.
Loma, large as life and well into party mode, roared into the Port Fitzroy parking lot not much more than an hour late. Janet and I and our instruments Read more...

piled in.
We soon learned that Loma is one of eleven. She has six of her own, eighteen grandchildren and a couple of great-grandchildren. She looked about sixty, if that. But not much about her said Maori. She appeared bottle blond, light skinned, a little ditsy at first meeting, voluble, irreverent and great fun to be with.
We took to her immediately. In describing her lack of sea legs she quipped, “Before I’ll take the ferry to Auckland it’s got to be calm enough for me to apply lipstick in my reflection.” She turned out to be foundation tangatawhenua.
The length of time your family have been on the island, as elsewhere, is defining, third and fourth generation conferring unparalleled status. "We moved back to the island about four years ago," Loma said as she negotiated the narrow, winding road to Okiwi. "But we've been here more than seven hundred. Weíre Ngatiwai. Just the one iwi which makes things simple although there’s two hapu." Thatís about thirty generations of continuous occupation.
“I’m not that familiar with my tikanga,” Loma confessed, a little wistfully. “Some of my grandkids who have grown up in kohanga come and speak to me and I have no idea what theyíre saying," she laughed. Sheís tried learning. “It goes in and then goes out. But I've enrolled again.” Loma eased the car along a near invisible track, overhung with trees that momentarily blocked most of the sunlight. Once inside, the space opened out to reveal a cosy glade, a small grassy clearing enclosed by native bush thick with ferns and nikau palms. There were people gathered on rugs under a huge spreading Puriri tree and others standing around barbeques and chili bins of beer. As the sun slid across the sky small groups moved to occupy other patches of shade. A stage had been set up, complete with amps, mikes, speakers, even a fold-back speaker so that the musicians could hear themselves.
Loma found us a space under the Puriri and settled into her chair where she held court with family and friends all afternoon. She had a constant flow of grandchildren making requests and waiting on her. It slowly became clear that she is a much revered kuia, related, one way or another, to every Maori on the island, many of whom were at the park. There was always much banter and laughter emanating from around her spot.
It was an intimate group of no more than forty with people coming and going.
We felt we had gate crashed a large family gathering but, attached to Loma’s coat tails, we were soon absorbed into the fold.
Elaine, a diminutive copper-haired woman with an arresting, effortless, Aretha Franklin voice, played MC. She provided backing vocals and took the stage herself from time to time, supported by her husband Opo, on guitar. Remarkably she and Opo live on remote, exposed Mahuki, the outermost of the aptly named Broken Islands. They are the unofficial custodians of the island’s gannet colony.
A dozen or so musicians, including the two of us, performed solo or in varying combinations. Elaine joined us during our second set which was a treat. There were several performers who would have been well received on much larger stages, especially a trio of gorgeous, young sisters from one of the two Katherine Bay marae. One guitar, three voices, sublime harmony. And Elaine could rival any diva.
Janet and I rowed back to the boat in the lengthening shadows, warmed through with music, people, food, beer and sun and with a pocketful of invitations in the anchorage and across the island.

picnic under the Puriri tree
Loma holding court
Beautiful young things
Elaine and Opo
Navire crew rocks
Tryphena contingent

Navire - Passage log 2

image Now where are we? image David retrieving anchor Passage Log 2 *** Minerva Reef Day 8, May 16 Position 23 39.484s 178 54.282w Janet *** Shortly after sunrise on Friday I was on the tiller steering through a narrow passage into Minerva Reef. What a buzz. Large swells were breaking on the coral either side of the entrance, the tide pouring out of the lagoon causing eddies which could easily slew Navire towards the coral.
"10 degrees to starboard," I heard David's voice in my headphones. Read more...

"Now 20 to port." He was half way up the mast where he could clearly see the underwater coral jutting out into the pass.
We'd been sailing north for seven days, no land in sight, when 300 miles south of Fiji we saw a reef. This isolated chunk of coral was like a roadside layby where you pull over and have a rest before you continue your journey. Beyond the crashing waves of the ocean meeting land I counted four masts, we were not alone out there.
Suddenly we were in, there was no swell, the surface of the water was flat, the boat on an even keel. No more night watches for a couple of days, no keeping a course, no more reefing the sails for sudden squalls. Breathing out, I felt myself relax.
David and Piet had retrieved the anchor from its well at the bow where we keep it at sea, and we dropped it into 20 metres of crystal clear water. The moment I'd finished reversing and digging the thing in, I killed the engine and stripped off. Lathering my hair in shampoo to deal to a week's grease and grime, I dived into the turquoise depths. What a glorious temperature, no wincing, not breathtaking, just silky water caressing my skin. I swam around the boat and climbed out and washed under the solar shower Piet had set up.
"How about pancakes and bacon for breakfast?" David asked.
"Yes please," chorused the crew.
I broke out the bubbly I'd stashed in the fridge back in New Zealand.
*** "A whole night's sleep! Yahoo. Can't wait." I wrote in my journal.
Doing an ocean passage in a small yacht is like bashing your head against a brick wall because it feels so good when you stop, or like getting to a tramping hut and taking your pack off after a particularly arduous trek.
*** 4.30pm It was gloriously sunny when we arrived at Minerva but as the day wore on the light was rapidly falling. To the west was a large dark mass of cloud. The front we’d raced up here to avoid at sea was bearing down on us. David and Piet put up our water-catching gear in readiness for a deluge. We discussed running an anchor watch overnight if the wind got up too much. So much for the whole night's sleep.
We overheard someone's radio conversation on the VHF saying there was going to be a four-metre swell outside the reef. We knew that at high tide the sea slopped over into the lagoon putting constant pressure on our anchor increasing the risk of dragging.
"Winds up to 30 knots," said Piet glancing at the wind instrument. Bugger, I'm on the double watch tonight. Maybe Saturday I'll get the eight uninterrupted hours.
*** Day 9 Sunday, May 17, Minerva It was too windy and the sea too rough to launch the dinghy and go and stand on reef, so we spent the day aboard molested by an uncomfortable slop.
That afternoon a strange looking launch came through the reef entrance. As it came closer we could see it was a yacht without a mast. Later we learnt that it had got all the way to Minerva intact then as it was tacking outside the reef the whole rig came crashing down. Apparently it had just been checked. I'm sure every boat in the lagoon felt for them, it could of happened to any of us. They left the next day facing a very rough and rolly 300 mile trip to Fiji.
Anchor watch again. The alarm went off regularly as the boat slewed around in the wind. Better than being at sea though.
*** Day 10 Monday, May 18 1130 Headed back to sea. We’d debated staying longer and enjoying this haven but we needed to get to Fiji by Friday to avoid extra clearance fees on the weekend. Forecast was for lighter winds. David and Piet stowed the anchor and raised the main as I steered us across the lagoon to the reef entrance. I wasn't looking forward to the predicted three metre swells but I reassured myself only three more days to endure.
Piet got the day's gonad award for putting our position in as east instead of west.
Distance 79 miles. Feels like forever to Fiji.
*** Day 11 Tuesday 19 May, 22 38.179s, 179 17.430e Back across the dateline again.
"Day after tomorrow, day after tomorrow,” was my mantra. I felt a hungover kind of seedy and like I'd been in a barroom fight, my shoulder hurt. I was sick of the 2-3 metre lumpy swells, then being slammed by occasional squalls. I don't think I'm very good at these passages, I just wanted to get there. I meet people who seem to take it all in their stride, make it look easy. I wish I was one of them.
85 miles to go to Kadavu, and 132 to Suva.
Day’s run 145 miles, excellent progress.
*** Day 12 Wednesday May 20, 20 15.573s, 178 59.007e We took bets on how long it would be before we saw land but heavy cloud obscured Kandavu Fiji’s southernmost island. We sailed past it that night and only saw a lighthouse flashing.
We were on even more constant alert with land nearby, and land also means fishing boats, sometimes unlit ones.
Suva tomorrow. To keep myself going I kept visualizing the cold beer I would drink on arrival, complete with the droplets on the outside like in the ads. I visualized the fresh crunchy produce from the market, and best of all, a whole night's sleep.
Last night on watch.
Day’s run 95 miles *** Day 13, Thursday May 21, 18 23 .73s, 178 30.524e At dawn we could see the welcoming peaks of Vita Levu.
The harbour entrance looked comfortably wide but much of it was taken up with coral reef just below the surface so we followed our course closely.
Suddenly after nothing for nearly two weeks we had to navigate reefs, marks and a plethora of rusting hulks. David was back up the mast peering into Suva Harbour's murky depths .
The Fiji authorities regularly confiscate boats that are fishing illegally and tie them together in decaying flotillas, anchored to sea-bed, seemingly randomly around the harbour. We gave them a wide berth. In the yacht anchoring area was a hulk that just showed above high tide, a concrete shed, and a large barge. There wasn't a lot of clear space to anchor in. As we arrived the port authorities were radioing a nearby anchored yacht to get out of the way for a ship coming through. They weren't on board though. The ship went very close to them making us nervous about where to put down our pick.
We dropped the mainsail and raised our flags yellow for quarantine the pale blue Fijian flag. The anchor slid out through the fairway, I let out a big sigh and turned the engine off. Peace and quiet, for just a moment till all the relentless sounds of a busy harbour filtered in.
I radioed Suva Yacht club to arrange for customs officials to be brought out to the yacht. First the health officer cleared us, taking $180 Fijian for the pleasure. Then biosecurity checked us out but didn't take any of our fresh or frozen food away, as they can do. Customs wanted to know how much alcohol we had aboard and impounded half a dozen bottles of wine but later we paid the infinitesimal amount of duty on it and got it back.
"Welcome to Fiji. You are free to land," said the immigration man, after he'd stamped our passports right there on our dining room table.
But we didn't land, we just put our feet up and reveled in not doing anything.
Distance 13 miles.
*** At times the journey felt endless, the sea relentless. I felt for David with having the constant overall responsibility for the ship. At times I felt crazy for being out there in 12 meters of one inch thick plastic, and other times intrepid. Often I felt weak and inadequate, then had moments of feeling strong and in tune with my environment. At times I loved the vastness and emptiness of the ocean, of the flat unfettered horizons and glorious unadulterated sunsets. But I also felt anxious, lonely and vulnerable and wanted land, and friends and familiar landmarks to guide me along. I got sick of the saltiness, everything got saltier and saltier as we went on. I wanted a long hot shower and clean clothes and to sleep 12 hours in quietness.
But like childbirth the memory of the pain soon faded and I felt an incredible sense of achievement.

Have enjoyed reading of your joys and dramas on your journey, and so pleased to read of your safe arrival. Am enjoying "Molten" and know you will be looking forward to fresh produce. We await the imminent arrival of grandchild no 3. Off to Darwin and the Kakadu for some big heat in mid August. Lucky you swimming in warm water in the tropics. Best wishes Judith

Entertainment aboard.Making lures.
Passing Kadavu at midnight
Piet keeping the log

Navire - Music in the Park

Music in the park January 2015 David I'm calling this a retrospective but David was just a bit tardy posting it! *** On Barrier Radio Janet caught a brief ad 'Music in The Park at Okiwi. Bring your own instruments.' This sounded like us. What clinched it was Loma, from whom we had hired a car, who was intending to go and offered us a lift. Loma, large as life and well into party mode, roared into the Port Fitzroy parking lot not much more than an hour late. Janet and I and our instruments piled Read more...

in.
We soon learned that Loma is one of eleven. She has six of her own, eighteen grandchildren and a couple of great-grandchildren. She looked about sixty, if that. But not much about her said Maori. She appeared bottle blond, light skinned, a little ditsy at first meeting, voluble, irreverent and great fun to be with. We took to her immediately. In describing her lack of sea legs she quipped, ìBefore Iíll take the ferry to Auckland itís got to be calm enough for me to apply lipstick in my reflection.î She turned out to be foundation tangatawhenua. The length of time your family have been on the island, as elsewhere, is defining, third and fourth generation conferring unparalleled status. ìWe moved back to the island about four years ago,î Loma said as she negotiated the narrow, winding road to Okiwi. ìBut weíve been here more than seven hundred. Weíre Ngatiwai. Just the one iwi which makes things simple although thereís two hapu.î Thatís about thirty generations of continuous occupation.
"Iím not that familiar with my tikanga,î Loma confessed, a little wistfully. ìSome of my grandkids who have grown up in kohanga come and speak to me and I have no idea what theyíre saying,î she laughed. Sheís tried learning. ìIt goes in and then goes out. But Iíve enrolled again.î Loma eased the car along a near invisible track, overhung with trees that momentarily blocked most of the sunlight. Once inside, the space opened out to reveal a cosy glade, a small grassy clearing enclosed by native bush thick with ferns and nikau palms. There were people gathered on rugs under a huge spreading Puriri tree and others standing around barbeques and chili bins of beer. As the sun slid across the sky small groups moved to occupy other patches of shade. A stage had been set up, complete with amps, mikes, speakers, even a fold-back speaker so that the musicians could hear themselves.
Loma found us a space under the Puriri and settled into her chair where she held court with family and friends all afternoon. She had a constant flow of grandchildren making requests and waiting on her. It slowly became clear that she is a much revered kuia, related, one way or another, to every Maori on the island, many of whom were at the park. There was always much banter and laughter emanating from around her spot.
It was an intimate group of no more than forty with people coming and going. We felt we had gate crashed a large family gathering but, attached to Lomaís coat tails, we were soon absorbed into the fold. Elaine, a diminutive copper-haired woman with an arresting, effortless, Aretha Franklin voice, played MC. She provided backing vocals and took the stage herself from time to time, supported by her husband Opo, on guitar. Remarkably she and Opo live on remote, exposed Mahuki, the outermost of the aptly named Broken Islands. They are the unofficial custodians of the islandís gannet colony. A dozen or so musicians, including the two of us, performed solo or in varying combinations. Elaine joined us during our second set which was a treat. There were several performers who would have been well received on much larger stages, especially a trio of gorgeous, young sisters from one of the two Katherine Bay marae. One guitar, three voices, sublime harmony. And Elaine could rival any diva. Janet and I rowed back to the boat in the lengthening shadows, warmed through with music, people, food, beer and sun and with a pocketful of invitations in the anchorage and across the island.

Navire - Not Swimmingly Good

Not Swimmingly Good Suva, June 8 David Things haven't been going swimmingly well lately. For a start there's not much chance of a swim what with rusting Chinese fishing ships crowding the bay and a thin oil slick everywhere. No swim appeal to speak of. The rain was great while we needed the water and, to be fair, there's more sun than rain now. But Suva is wet, with showers several times a day. It quickly becomes sticky and close when we shut up the boat to avoid the weather.
Yesterday Read more...

Janet pushed herself up off her knees where she had been for about a week when she wasn't sitting on the loo. Diarrhea. Shellfish. Awful.
Not to be outdone I matched her with a bout of urinary tract infection. In hind sight there were probably better ways I could have garnered sympathy but, you pays your money. I was at the very early stages, thinking that there seemed to be something not quite the same about peeing when, on the yacht, Midnight Sun, apropos of nothing at all John told us a story about playing nurse to a doctor friend who was called to the bedside of a seriously ill man on a remote Fiji island. They were told he hadn't pissed in over a week. He was clearly in extreme pain. The medical system had refused to evacuate him. "He's seventy two. A good innings." The doctor, with John's help, set about inserting a catheter which prompted first embarrassment and confusion and then immediate relief along with a quantity of seriously disgusting black fluid. The man recovered. I, on the other hand, over identified with the hapless patient and immediately began taking my fledgling symptoms more seriously. Now that we're both, apparently, on the up and up, I don't think we realised how much these conditions knocked us around nor how much the passage took out of us. The few other sailors we've spoken with all emphasise the long passage-recovery time. Perhaps we underestimated this as we rocked directly into re-provisioning, re-fueling, re-watering and exploring. Then there's the ugly scar along our topsides where the dinghy, safely hoisted out of the water, rested. Until it took on enough rain water to force the bow back into the sea where it bobbed gently up and down much of the night just below the fenders that were supposed to keep the dinghy gunnel away from our paint work. I pointed out this sad discovery to our neighbor, Lester. "You could always take the bung out." The bung. I had noticed this bung. I had, from time to time, wondered when I'd ever have reason to remove the bung. Now I know. What a useful device. Still, there's the scar to repair. Bugger! But that's not all. Before leaving NZ I installed two extra flexible water tanks and expanded our rainwater catching capacity to make us less dependent on water from ashore. On the fourth day of our passage I discovered ninety litres of sparkling fresh water in our bilge and, you guessed it, one of the new tanks empty. The other day I dismantled the space and removed the tank thinking I had probably failed to tighten the outlet hose properly. But no, that part was fine. It was the PVC bladder which had a 6 m split in it. How this could have happened is not apparent which is somewhat disconcerting. Today I repaired the split. Cross your fingers it holds and no others appear.
So, like I say, things haven't been going swimmingly well so far. Except that we're not ill anymore and were here which is pretty cool.

Even your potty problems inspire me to live big. I love this journey. Thanks for sharing it.

What a shame you have both been a bit down and out! Hopefully this has all come at once for you and things will start to look up from now on. Take yourselves up the Yasawa's for a few days rest and sunshine. Absolutely lovely up there and no oil slicks only blue lagoons. You can swim with manta ray and rest up on white beaches with amazing live coral - worth a look we think. Ronnie says the Nandi side of Fiji is much drier. Best of luck, Liz & Ron

oh dear david and janet! Talk about challenges! Sometimes we just have to stop, take off the gumboots and just try swimming and doing nothing else! Probably quite hard in a less than exquisite mooring in suva. Is there somewhere else in Fiji that you could be?
I also have to remove my gumboots and try swimming without the burden of my business........tight gumboots, so quite a challenge.
I hope you can get to some joyful peace and calm in the beautiful waters of Fiji!
big hugs and love
mary (teaching in chch)

Janet! shellfish concentrate bacteria and viruses brilliantly! They are a fantastic laboratory tool for testing water quality... All the above die with cooking, extra protein. Keep well. Love hearing about your journey.

Pages

Harbour clutter
Yacht anchorage
Impounded Chinese fishing boats

Navire - Passage log 1

Passage log 1 Suva 18 07.402s 178 25.467e Janet May 28, 2015 Pics: We're anchored in Suva Harbour. It's been a week since we arrived and the memory of the trip up here is rapidly becoming a distant dream. Perhaps you read the updates we sent along the way but here is a little more of the passage story.
*** We very nearly didn't get away.
Opua On Thursday May 7 we decided we were leaving in two days, Saturday 9th.
Despite our intention to be all relaxed and in order before Read more...

we left, we were still finishing our boat preparations, not just till cast off but well out into the ocean.
Even with years of preparation for this trip, a lot of tasks could only be done in the last few days before departure, and many only on the day.
On the Saturday we tied up at the fuel wharf at Opua to do our final fuel and watering up for the trip. I walked over to Customs to give them our outward clearance forms and on the way remembered I was supposed to return a book for David. When I got back the boat to collect it David was pumping fuel into the aft tank. This necessitated removing the companionway stairs onto the cabin.
Being in a rush I didn't register this critical detail. Racing into the cabin I stepped into thin air and fell three feet. I was lucky I didn't break a leg but I did seriously wrench my shoulder rendering myself a pretty useless crew-member. I was in shock and just wanted to lie down and cry and but we had to keep moving and get off the fuel dock. Gritting my teeth I did all the official stuff for leaving the country and we cast off making final phone calls, and still battening things down as we raised the sails.
*** Day 1 Saturday May 9 35 18.915s 174 07.307e The day brought sunny weather and flat seas as we motored out of the Bay of Islands. It's a weird feeling sailing out to sea and not turning left or right along the coast at the entrance to the bay, just heading out into nothingness. 15 knots of wind filled our sails, an unexpected pleasure. We'd expected to motor for several days to get well away from New Zealand in time to avoid a front coming across the Tasman Sea.
1900 - checked in with Taupo Maritime Radio. Each day we radioed them our position and course so that someone in the world knew exactly where we were.
If they didn't hear from us for a while they would activate rescue procedures.
Alas as night came on despite fair winds, moderate seas, and a glorious milky way overhead, I was miserably seasick.
Distance 97 nautical miles. Didn't quite make our two degrees. Opua is at 35 degrees south and Fiji 18 degrees. There are 60 nautical miles (NM) in a degree.
Travelling at five to six knots we estimated we could cover 120 NM or two degrees a day.
*** Day 2 Sunday May 10, 34 01.792s 175 29.725e From journal "Bit grim so far. Ate an apple. Feel pretty seedy, like I was doing some serious partying last night. I wish. Came on watch and the wind and waves kept overpowering the autopilot and backing the sails. Ended up crash jibing.
David and Piet came and reefed." Then the wind died out.
Motored all night.
Made 114 miles. That's better progress.
*** Day 3 Monday May 11, 32 02.612s 176 11.148e Life has become very simple. It's blue and white, interspersed with grey. The view is just endless sea, sky and clouds. Life's now all about eating, sleeping, and being on watch. We motored and motored, and motored. We constantly calculated fuel levels. We don't have enough diesel to motor all the way to Fiji so have to be judicious about how often we use the engine.
Each morning at 0700 we tuned into Gulf Harbour Radio, checked in, and listened for the weather for our position. We could also track the progress of the dozen or so other boats on passage.
A little piece of gingham fabric off the top of a jam jar was floating around the galley. I transformed it into a testicle with a bit of stuffing and a rubber band and announced to the guys that this would be awarded daily for achievements, both good and foolish. I got given one belatedly for stepping to thin air on day one.
David got the days Great Gingham Gonad Award (GGG) for emptying the reeking portaloo at 4am. This unappealing task got overlooked as we exited the Bay of Islands.
Had my first enjoyable nightwatch. The first two nights I was constantly fending off sleep or throwing up. Reflected on how much easier this trip was than the one to Tonga. I'm eating a modest amount but Piet and David fully enjoying the fine fare from the freezer.
140NM, excellent progress *** Day 4 Tuesday May 12, 30 06.087s 177 40.369e 40 knot squall. Put second reef in. Squalls are very small patches of dark cloud with rain and high winds under them. When they hit the boat the wind rises suddenly and sail area has to be reduced very quickly. Then in minutes it has gone again, sun out, and gentle breeze resumed.
Felt a lot better that day, I even cooked lunch.
Piet got GGG for figuring out that we didn't have a transmit frequency tuned in for our weather channel. We'd only been able to receive Gulf Harbour Radio but not talk to them.
Saw flying fish, wings flapping as they bounced over the waves.
David and Piet are practicing being sailors of old and using the sextants to take sunsights. We could end up in Africa.
132NM today. Very good.
*** Day 5 Wed May 13, 27 58.261s 178 27.718e You may notice our longitude number is increasing. Minerva Reef, our first stop, is just across the dateline.
Discovered bilge full of water. In New Zealand David had installed two new flexible water tanks in the bow. One of them had leaked 90 litres into the bilge.
Very disappointing about the tank and the water loss, but at least it wasn't salt water which would have meant a leak somewhere in the hull (later David found a very small tear in the tank).
Saw green flash at sunset. It's a very rare sight you can only see it on a completely clear horizon.
Abandoned wet weather gear. Felt good.
Distance made good 90NM. 'Distance made good' means miles covered towards our destination as opposed to actual miles sailed. When we are tacking towards a destination we cover a lot more ocean.
*** Day 6 Thurs May 14, 26 22.100s 179 41.577e Beautiful day, long lazy swell, sailed along at four knots. Didn't feel sick or tired for a while. Slowed down so we wouldn't get to Minerva before dawn.
David got the gonad award for scrubbing the deck after some foul creature deposited black excrement all over his newly painted deck.
Got the worst watch. We rotate them each day. I was on 6-9 and 3-6, which feels like two night watches. It is two night watches! But the thought of Minerva tomorrow kept me going.
Piet was relentlessly cheerful despite the tiredness. He asked where his montblanc was. Prior to the journey I emailed him and asked him if he wanted any particular foods for the journey and he sent this picture. (see dessert pic) Distance 88NM. Lots of tacking.
*** Day 7 Fri May 15, 25 00.468s 179 48.155e Crossed the dateline today. Doesn't matter to us though, we struggled to remember what day it was or how many days we'd been at sea. With the combination of lack of sleep and no external references we lost our sense of time.
Piet got GGG for putting East instead of West in the position in the log when we crossed.
Saw an albatross flying along at sea level, its huge winds almost touching the waves.
At dawn Minerva hove into view. It is a flat round reef with an entrance on the west side. First I saw waves crashing and a black post sticking up, then the masts of several boats. What a wonderful sight.
Distance 75NM ***

Just love it, Janet. So interesting .... keep it up.
Cheryl x

We are Day 4 in our new home. Day 1 we unloaded a trailer, a truck and a car. Day 2 the moving van came and deposited over 300 pieces of stuff all over the house. Yesterday we unloaded another trailer load. Today we are unpacking, unpacking and unpacking. And trying to match up the light switches to the 50 or so pot lights in the place. I paused to check email and there was your blog ready to take me away from this chaos and off to your world of high seas adventures. Thank you. Keep up the reporting so that I may travel vicariously with you.

Hi Janet & David
We have enjoyed reading your posts, but it was also great to read through your journey to Minerva reef too. I feel like I'm with you Janet and you are opening my eyes to all the little happenings that go on at sea. I really appreciate your honesty and little explanations around the nautical stuff. I'm learning!
Hope your cold improves and you can enjoy your tropical experience soon. We have the fire on this morning, so no need to rush home yet!
Best wishes
Liz & Ronnie

leaving Bay of Islands
Nothing out there
Lunch anyone?
squall
Deck scrubbing
sunset
cooking at sea
Piet's dessert fantasy
Minerva chart
Great Gingham Gonad Award
relaxed skipper
Minerva Reef

Navire - Taking the Piss

Taking the Piss
Of all the recent changes and additions to Navire’s wardrobe, the most popular has been the self-bailing, auto-cleaning, portable urinal. This nifty device, useable by all sexes, allows bladder voiding without leaving the cockpit. Further, and more importantly, its use avoids the risk of the time-honoured lee-rail option which has given us the sobering statistic that more bodies are recovered from the sea with their flies open than zipped.
This clever innovation is Read more...

purpose built and constructed of high-density polyethylene. It features an easy grip handle and cutaway aperture that will easily accommodate all urethra configurations.
The portable urinal is available in one and two litre models from any corner dairy for just a few dollars and may even be obtained free, as was ours, from the plastics recycling bin of most rubbish collection sites.
Surely an item no vessel should be without.

Navire - Several Shades of Grey

I had just emerged from a benign and wholly unnecessary meeting with WINZ Senior Services. A different world where they speak slow and clear, are graciously deferential and call you sir. Seniors are a different class of beneficiary deserving of a comfortable quiet space well away from the mewling masses queued next door.

This meeting, which could have been completed on-line in less than two minutes, were I a ten year old, was generously arranged to spare me the minor trauma of typing and Read more...

fiddling with the send button. So at our first meeting I was given a form along with clear, simple instructions and a week to complete it. I had come in so that a school boy in shorts could check that I’d put my name in the right box. So thoughtful.

As I said, I emerged from this delightful interlude, feeling fully my age, into the sparkling sunshine of a Whangarei afternoon to meet Janet. Standing on the footpath outside Warren’s Electrical, I noticed an elderly man, white-headed, bound toward me, his wife in tow.

‘Are you a Goldcard holder?’ he asked, breathless.

I looked around for the object of his interest and, finding no one, concluded, somewhat perplexed, that he must be referring to me.

‘No. Well, not quite.’ Do I look like a pensioner already, I wondered? ‘Why do you ask?’

‘Well, the white hair.’ I wasn't warming to this man. ‘Do you know where the petrol station is that gives Goldcard holders seventeen cents a litre off?’ He waved a gold and black card at me. ‘We're from out of town.’

Janet, who was finding this all terribly amusing, engaged with our new friends. I hung back, resenting this confirmation of my soon-to-be new status. She discovered that, quite apart from being able to catch the Waiheke ferry for free, I would soon be eligible for a smorgasbord of discounts, that our friends were sailors from Nelson and that life with a Goldcard could be great fun. I'm still digesting this.

Great post, great person. You made me smile. Just think David, now get can get freebies and still have all the energy to make the most of them. Lol Enjoy your birthday and the next new exciting chapter in your life. still sounds young to me.

Navire - Tryphena Harbour

Tryphena Harbour Janet ***

Well you people have read about 16 posts from us now. You are good friends indeed to persevere with our jottings. I've just checked and we have 99 followers. I'm aiming for 100, a purely arbitrary target. Even if only half of you are reading all the posts, this still warms my heart. Writers need an audience to stroke their egos and justify their existence. I keep thinking the flow of tales will slow down as we settle into this trip but we are Read more...

having so many new and interesting experiences I am compelled to write about them. Its like a drug, I get twitchy if I don't write for a few days. It calms and satisfies me. Hence I am well behind in my blog posts.

The YIT blog site doesn't have the capacity for you to post comments but please write to us at janet.nixon551@gmail.com. We enjoy getting news about your lives, and hearing what you think of the blog (apart from the bloody formatting). We are in Auckland right now, heading next for Waiheke. So picking up the thread a few weeks back:

*** January 11, Tryphena Harbour, Great Barrier Island

*** Yesterday we fetched up at Tryphena Harbour at the southwestern end of Barrier. We are attempting to visit friends of David's who each have a bach on land south of here. They are in cellphone range but only turn their phone on occasionally to conserve power. There is no reticulated power on this island. We are in a bay with no Vodaphone range so God knows how we'll contact them. We are also trying to contact the Tryphena Harbour Warden. We spoke to him a few days ago about getting a mooring here so we could leave the boat safely for a day trip, but he is hardly in range so we just keep leaving him messages.

*** January 12

*** Bit of a rough night. We anchored in Shoal Bay, supposedly sheltered from the southwest. In the evening the breeze freshened and whipped around the entrance to Tryphena setting up enough of a swell to have Navire bucking on her anchor all night. Anything that wasn't entirely battened down rattled, a bailer tied to the dinghy, stored right above our bed, tapped on the deck all night. I got a up a few times and saw with relief the shore was the same distance away, and the other boats around us still in the same configuration. Dragging is always on my mind.

In the morning we motored out to the middle of the harbour and left another message for the harbour warden, and a dinner invitation for John and Mary, and John and Ginny. I decided to cook dinner for six anyway, despite not knowing if they'd even turn up. The meal was to be assembled out of the meager remnants of my fridge as I hadn't yet figured out how to get to the local shop.

An hour later all was solved. John and Mary hailed us from the wharf, took us to 'town' for lunch. We stocked up on fresh stuff and they dropped us at the boat saying they'd be back for dinner with the others. Dinner for six at six was on. I cooked flat out for two hours.

I love cooking for people who don't know I used to earn my living as chef. "I've just made a few salads," I told them as we sipped bubbly in the evening sun in the cockpit. Well, they were blown away with the quartet of Thai chicken salad, kumera, olive and feta salad, a crisp shaved vege dish, and a roasted cauli and caper salad. Then there was dessert. I usually keep my Donna Hay Chocolate Whisky Cream Pie and a bowl of lemon posset in the freezer along with a punnet of lime jube in the fridge. I whacked these out on little white plates and collected the accolades. Like a visual artist who holds exhibitions every so often, I need outings for my artform to feed my soul.

The following day John and Mary collected us in a little red car and drove us along a dirt road winding through the hills of the south end of Barrier where we met up with John and Ginny and explored both of their gorgeous little batches. No power, no fridge, an outside tap on a hose from the nearby stream and a long drop. We walked the hills down to the sea where we all immediately stripped off.

"The abiding image I have is of six aged bodies picking their way gingerly over the beach detritus and standing on tip-toe or jumping as successive waves reached higher and higher, eventually plunging into the sea," was the way David later described it.

It seemed like the most natural thing in the world out there. The afternoon was occupied with a long outdoor lunch and the conversation with these warm intelligent people flowed effortlessly. We ranged across the world of psychology to digging long drops, food, and writing, John currently writing a book exploring spirituality. I loved the feeling of being part of this group, the ease and humour, idly talking till the sun moved behind the trees and the last the of the day ebbed away.

Buy lots of DEET mozzie repellent as chikungunya is in the islands (Google it). I got it in Barbados in Nov, and had months of awful joint pain. Good repellent will be in short supply. Take a good supply of paracetamol and Ibuprofen too in case you get it.

David afloat
Island Bay South Barrier
Now fully clothed
Long lunch
Drinks in the cockpit
Salad quartet

Navire - Mansion House Bay Kawau

Kawau to Great Barrier Island Life at sea

Janet

***

Written from Smokehouse Bay at Great Barrier Island.

I will catch up my posts soon, promise. *** Monday 7 January, Domesticity. Cleaned the oven today. I'm not very domestic and had managed to ignore it for quite some time. Yesterday David invited Obsession for breakfast and made pancakes and bacon.

"This oven's not very clean," he declared as he peered into Read more...

the metal cavity to light the flame.

"David!" admonished Lisa, "you never comment on the state of a women's oven, or the size of her bum."

A bit sexist but I have to concur, and there would definitely be trouble at sea if he did the latter. It has to be said that this was not actually a directive for me to clean the oven. We have Richard coming to visit tomorrow so I'm going to lift my usual slovenly standards and give Navire's interior a bit of a lick and polish.

***

Tuesday 6 January, Navigation.

We were on our way to collect Richard Moss, an old friend of David's from Wellington. I stared at the landscape. We were off the coast of Sandspit, north of Mahurangi. The scenery wasn't moving. I looked at the log. Point two of a knot. David gunned the engine. Looked at the land again. Nope, we were definitely not moving. We'd run aground. In my minds eye I could see Richard standing at the wharf, bags at his feet, looking at his watch, wondering where the hell Navire was, then disconsolately starting to walk back to Warkworth.

Navire does a little slide, sort of a lurch each time the engine revs. And again. We were moving again. In fact we weren't in any danger, the bottom was and and the tide was rising. We were focused on the harbour master's instructions for getting up the river, on depth in the river not the depth in the bay where we should have been watching the depth sounder and chart. Somewhat relieved, we navigated up the river and tied up to a mooring. David rowed in to the wharf and collected Richard and we headed east back to Kawau. Fortunately we didn't run aground again given that I'd managed to set a course right over a rock! Not a good day on the navigation front.

*** Kawau Island, Friday 9, Water. We are on a mission to find water to replenish our ship. We filled up 10 days ago in Auckland and yesterday we changed to the second of our two water tanks. Navire carries about 240 litres. We'd been told we could get water at the yacht club here, but when I called them up this morning they gave me a tale of woe. Their bore had run out and they couldn't even open the bar. I called the Mansion House and DOC but no water available there. Later we got our hands smacked for pilfering water from the toilet sink at Mansionhouse Bay.

Great Barrier Island is our next destination so now I'm tracking down the harbour wardens for each area and finding out what the water situation is there. Rain is forecast on Wednesday next week but that is a long way off. No showers today for this smelly crew.

Lovely couple of days with Richard. An indolent time, much eating and drinking. A new found opportunity in which we are reveling is that now that we have fewer deadlines we can wait for the right weather to sail, and not motor so much. There is just a whiff of wind predicted for Sunday so we wait.

*** Sunday 11 January, Travelling.

"Maritime Radio, Maritime Radio, this is Navire, Navire."

"This is Maritime Radio, what is your call sign?"

"Zulu Mike Victor 5709, ZMV5709"

"Navire, Navire, go ahead please"

"This is a trip report. We are leaving Kawau Island and heading for Tryphena Harbour on Great Barrier Island. Two people on board. ETA 1500."

"All copied Navire, this is Maritime radio on channel 16."

"Many thanks Maritime Radio, Navire out" *** Fishing. "19 miles to go," calls David from the nav table. In yachtie lingo we talk in nautical miles. "Four or five hours till landfall," I calculate. We are sailing at four to five knots in a fine southwest breeze.

 Its perfect sailing out here. We left early on our six hour journey. A local friend advised to get to anchorages early in this region before every Auckland yachtie arrives and takes up all the good spaces.

"How many fish today?" I ask David as he pays out the fishing line.

"Mmmmm, three I think." We laugh. We've dragged our lure hundreds of miles on this trip and not caught a thing.

Cheese and my pickles
Fine dining on Navire
margaritas
My gorgeous man
Sandspit chart
selfie
Sunset at Mansion House Bay
Old friends

Navire - Mahurangi River Adventure

Mahurangi January 2 Janet Posted from Great Barrier Island Mahurangi Weather: Variable 10, fine, huge slow moving high over us, barometer 1023, sea state: calm - day after day after day At last we stop for a while. No wind, no travel. We are at Otarawao Bay, Lower Mahurangi Harbour, near Warkworth. It is early morning and nothing is moving, no gusts, no swell, no traffic.
Anchored nearby is Obsession, sailing vessel of Lisa and Lester. We borrowed their car in Auckland, and spent some time Read more...

with them at Coppermine Bay at Kawau last week. We first met them in Tonga in 2010. They'd sailed from Whangarei around about the time we did, but with a cruising rally. We met them briefly at Vavau in northern Tonga and liked them immediately, but didn't get to know them till we reached Samoa.
Arriving in Apia, after two nights at sea, feeling hot and tired, and we experienced the usual stress from entering a reef-bound harbour peppered with coral bombies and debatable markers. Coming into a marina we didn't know is always an anxious moment, (especially this one, we later saw a berth near ours filled with a bombie that came right to the surface), then having to find customs and immigration and fill in all the forms, and jump through the inevitable hoops of officialdom to enter a country with a boat.
As we inched our way into the marina a cry went up: "It's Navire!" We looked up. There were Distracted, the only other Wellington boat up here, and Obsession. As soon as we ticked all the boxes and signed our lives away in triplicate, a beer on Obsession was in order, despite it not yet being midday. This set the tone for our next three weeks in the country, and cemented what is now a lifetime friendship with Obsession.
"I feel like David Livingstone," I yelled to be heard above the drone of the outboard motor. We were zooming up the Mahurangi River in Obsession's bright yellow inflatable dinghy powered with a 15 hp engine. (ours is a mere 3hp). I looked around, not a sign of civilization, no power wires, roads, or fences. The edges of the river were lined with banks of mangrove roots, and several meters back, forests of mangrove trees.
Early that morning we'd upped anchor and followed Obsession up the river to catch the right tide to make an excursion upriver to Warkworth for an outing. As we sailed around each corner I thought surely this must be where we anchor and leave the yachts, but then we'd come around a bed and there would be another bay full of yachts moored and anchored. We motored on and on till there were no more anchored boats and the depth sounder was reading three metres. We draw two.
Obsession dropped their pick and we followed suit. We sat in the cockpit and supped coffee while we waited to see if the anchor had taken. When you leave the boat for a day there is always the worry it will drag while you aren't looking.
Navire had settled and Lisa and Lester buzzed over to pick us up. I felt excited, like a kid going to town.
The river estuary took on a different perspective down in the dingy, it looked vast, its banks miles apart. We settled in with our shopping bags, rubbish bags ready to stuff in city sidewalk bins, and spare fuel can. We headed up with the ingoing tide, calculated to arrive at before high tide so we could shop and leave on an outgoing tide to get the flow, and get out of the river before it became too shallow.
What would take about 10 minutes by car took us an hour. We all looked out for markers to prevent us running aground. The river was surprising well marked.
We were soon to see why.
The first yacht we saw was well up river, a forty footer, moored against its own small jetty. Must have a lifting keel we thought. Around the next corner we saw two launches tucked into their own channels, completely high and dry. All the way to town the sides of the river were littered with stranded boats.
Forty five minutes after we'd entered the river I looked up and saw a sea of masts. What could this be? As we rounded the next bend we saw a full on boat yard, travel lift and all, with maybe a dozen yachts up on the hard in various stages of repair. We'd never even considered bringing Navire up a river like this, but obviously it is a navigable river for keel boats.
The river narrowed, now occasionally invaded by little private jetties, but still no sign of any houses. We saw another stand of masts over the mangroves and came round the corner into a town with a wharf and boats tied up to it. All quite unexpected. We quickly tied up and clambered over another boat to reach shore and went separate ways to do our errands, ours to get fuel for the dinghy, and fuel for us from the supermarket.
"Its going to be difficult to consider living back in Wellington after this," David pondered idly, as we strolled along the main street.
"That's easy," I said, "we're not." This last year or two we'd spent many a night huddled in Navire, Wellington storms raging outside, discussing where we might fetch up after all these travels. We don't know the location yet but the abode will be a small cottage with a sleep-out for all of you to stay when you visit. The grounds will have an established orchard, a vege garden, and a long outside table for endless feasts. It will be warm. Warm at night too. So that counts out Wellington.
We checked out a fishing shop, got a small bag of fresh crunchy stuff, and met the others in a garden bar for an ice-cold beer and hot salty chips with aoli.
Finishing off the day out with an icecream we headed back to the wharf. Lester untied the dinghy kicked the outboard into life, and headed back to the sea. We could have been on an entirely different river. The tide was in and the mangrove root banks had disappeared and all the dried out gaps in the trees we'd passed on the way up had become tributaries. The high and dry boats of the morning were now bobbing contentedly on their moorings.
As we came out into the estuary an afternoon breeze had settled in and stirred up what would have been inconsequential wavelets for Navire but for the dinghy they were more significant. The inflatable plowed through them, its tired crew getting soaked with spray and invading waves. Fortunately the water was bathwater temperature.
We climbed aboard Navire, soaked and salty, tired and grateful for another adventure.

Heading upriver
High and dry
Lisa and Lester
mangrove banks
Yacht upriver

Navire - A Couple of Characters

A Couple of Characters           David

Great Barrier Island is known for its characters, past and present. There'€™s a novel and at least three other publications devoted to Barrier characters and their stories. While on the island we were regaled with stories of others yet to make it into print. Life on the island often turns ordinary people into characters.

Not all are made on the island, however. Some arrive fully formed. Here are a couple we encountered.

 

George Read more...

and Yevgeny

Our food arrived at the same time as Yevgeny, large and sweaty, clutching his scrawny toddler, trying to introduce him to Jonesy. Under the pressure Jonesy withdrew but then had a change of mind and advanced with the friendly confidence for which Golden Retrievers are so well known.

'I met one of your local characters yesterday,'€™ said Yevgeny, crouching for the boy and dog to eye one another. '€˜I was spear-fishing in the bay just around from the ferry wharf. Really shallow. You could stand up. I had a Red Moki on the spear, looked up and saw a 250 pound Bronze Whaler coming right at me, his mouth wide open. I jabbed at him with the spear and he turned away but came straight back, mouth like a cave with teeth, so I jabbed him again. The third time panic finally registered on me. My heart pounded, sweating to bust, even under water. I hurled the spear at the fish along with my catch bag and splashed and scrabbled my way out of the water. Over my shoulder I saw the shark rear up in a cauldron of foam, tearing my bag to shreds.

"€œWhat'€™s with that shark?"€ I spluttered at a man pulling his dinghy to the water. "€œIt tried to take a piece out of me."€

"€œAh, that'€™ll be George. He lives here. We feed him. Donâ€'t recommend swimminâ'™."€ '€˜

By now Yevgenyâ'™s wife, petite, black hair and anxiously stern, had settled at our table, regarding Jonesy suspiciously.

When he heard we were sailing for Fiji Yevgeny launched into his own recent dramas with a sail boat. '€˜I bought this beautiful fifty six foot, all wood yacht that I got cheap because it was part of a complicated legal dispute. Used to be owned by that guy from Perth who won the America'€™s Cup. Famous boat called Valenta but I renamed her Sofia after my daughter. I set out for Auckland from Picton but too many things broke and we had to be towed into Wellington by the Police Launch.'€™

'€˜We know all about being towed into Wellington on a maiden voyage.'™ Janet and I said in unison.

'€˜I'm an off-shore tax minimisation consultant,'€™ Yevgeny continued. '˜I'm relocating my business to Vanuatu. Soon as I find a boat builder to repair her I'™ll sail up to Vila with a hired skipper. I'm not a sailor.'€™ He shrugged.

A few days later, over a beer, we asked Peter, Tryphena's Harbour Warden, about George. '€˜Aw that'€™s just bullshit. There'€™s no shark attacks anybody in this bay.'€™ Peter took another swig of his beer. 'There'€™s locals talk about one, might be called George, but there'™s nothing in it.'™

 

The Dutchman

We are moored at Smokehouse Bay where we'll stay for another week or so. I have a large boat painting project to complete. Great place for it. Very sheltered and breathtakingly beautiful. Ruined somewhat this morning by very loud electronica issuing from a launch anchored nearby. The owner, an ageing barrel of a Dutchman, in shorts and singlet and very drunk, vacillated between boorish argument and reluctant compliance when I rowed over to ask that his stereo be turned down.

Remarkably the stereo stayed down all day but the drinking continued. He had three young men aboard -“ a son and his friends perhaps. These three took the dinghy ashore around midday. Not long after there was a prolonged series of horn blasts from the launch. A few minutes later our Dutchman was standing at the stern of his boat bellowing to the anchorage. 'Fuck you. Fuck you and your family. Fuck you and your country.'€™ He said this maybe a half dozen times, addressing invisible audiences on both sides of his boat.

A neighbouring boatie rowed over. '€˜Keep this up mate and I'€™ll call the police.'€™

'€˜Call the police then. Call the fucking police.'€™ He was holding a white cloth to his arm, blood oozing around it. '€˜I just sent a fucking SOS and no one'™s fucking answered. No one'€™s coming to help me.

'One of the young men left the beach in the launch'€™s dinghy. He stopped to talk to the retreating boatie and then carried on to where the Dutchman was still letting the anchorage know what they could do with their families and country. He quietened as the young man approached. The two conversed apparently amicably although the young man kept his dinghy at a distance.

When I next looked across the Dutchman was tottering on the boarding platform, clutching the stern rail and attempting to get into the inflatable which the young man was holding for him. This is a drowning waiting to happen, I thought. The Dutchman dropped one leg into the dinghy and, in one fluid motion, his body pivoting on that leg, rolled across the dinghy into the sea and disappeared. The young man looked on, helpless.

Amazingly the Dutchman bobbed to the surface and dog paddled to the back of the boat. More remarkably, after some time, he hauled himself onto the boarding platform.

His second attempt was more successful. Perhaps the dunking had sobered him a little. He could be heard joking with his companion, beer in hand, as they motored to the beach. No more was seen or heard until late in the afternoon when the two men returned to the launch, hoisted anchor and left the bay.

The anchorage breathed a collective sigh of relief, not least I suspect, because we had been spared all the inconvenience of a drowning inquest.

Navire - Kawau island New Years Eve

12 Kawau Island January 1 Janet One of the things I love about cruising is the low level ecstasy, to cite Bill Bryson, that we experience about the basics of life. High on the list is water. We get excited about filling our water-tanks, capacity 240 litres, occasional long showers at marinas, and solar showers in the cockpit. These are a less than frequent occurrence when supplies are low, rendering us not entirely fragrant. Even clean undies are up there on this list. Laundry days are limited Read more...

to infrequent visits to marinas. Our water limitations ration hand-washing to smalls only. So we gently descend into a mild squalor at times. Bill Bryson (listening to A Walk in The Woods at moment) describes it thus; The first day you feel mildly self-conscious of being grubby, the second day disgustingly so, by the third you are beyond caring, and by the fourth you have forgotten what it is like to not be like this.
Much treasured also is fresh crunchy stuff. I have limited fridge space so after about 10 days we are usually down to half a wilted cabbage and a few limp carrots. The excitement mounts when we are in range of crisp lettuce, a juicy cucumber, and succulent red peppers. A full night's sleep is always a treat. Frequently I wake and wander out to the cockpit, hoping the scenery hasn't changed on us. Also having the use of a car is a novelty and intensely appreciated. Even having access to shops, although that novelty wears thin very quickly.
North Cove, Kawau Island Last day of the year. This was certainly a year that improved very late in the piece. I struggled with the trip being delayed, with trying to find employment, and keeping motivated about preparing for this trip that always seemed to be so far off. People kept me going. Our writers group, my cooking club, the Mad Women group, friends on the marina, those fabulous women in my life who accept and love me with all my faults and frailties.
But now we are on our way, the ever distant dream a reality.
We had no New Years celebration planned but our friend serendipity had it all in hand. For many years when we were land-bound in our house, or tied firmly to a marina berth, we'd read the work of Lin and Larry Pardy, an American couple who'd crossed the oceans all their lives in beautiful old boats with no engines. Larry wrote of dealing with storms, and Lin wrote a book on provisioning for a 49 day passage across the North Pacific Ocean. She gave a menu for each day of the trip and wove tips on keeping food fresh into her narrative. It's on my shelf.
This couple, sailing royalty in our eyes, had fetched up at Kawau. We called them up. Love to see you, they said. Wow. We treated ourselves to a shower in preparation.
We sailed into their bay, hooked up the mooring they'd arranged, and rowed on in. Their bach occupies a prime spot in the bay, no neighbours, a huge jetty, a guest-house, and verandahs out over the water. Lin greeted us. She exuded energy and vitality. She had a mane of long black hair, her blue eyes sparkled, her enthusiasm for life bubbling out. She signed my book! I got my first taste of the joy of an author signing just this last November when our writers group published a book of short stories called "Sweet As". David and I each got a story in print and I was utterly thrilled when people asked me to sign it. Larry has Parkinsons and was present but struggling I think.
Lin gave us a tour of their last yacht, Taleisin, just sold and waiting to be collected. She was all wood, varnish gleaming, and brass polished. David said he'd like to have Navire looking like that but there are so many other jobs on the list vying for urgent attention, that this will have to wait. The yacht had no technology, no chart table ringed with screens and banks of switches. And no engine, now that's true sailing. Back on the deck I met neighbours gathered for a New Year's BBQ. I find it extraordinary how you quickly identify who you have connections with. I met Judith, a former sailor, and a foodie. With great delight we immediately talked recipes and ingredients. Within half an hour this complete stranger had offered to pick me up from the marina in Auckland next time we go in, and drive me to all the specialist food places and Asian markets in the city, then take me to the Food Truck Café for lunch. I am a fan of Michael Van de Elzen so this is indeed a treat. I only have two hard copy cookbooks on the boat, and his Molten Cookbook is one of them. How's that for good fortune.
We were to stay for dinner. Yes please. We retired early and greeted the new year at a civilized hour the next day, dropping the mooring and sailing to Mahurangi for our next adventure.

Navire and the Pardeys
Taleisin
Gorgeous ship
New Year's BBQ
Judith my new foodie friend

Navire - Auckland

Auckland to Kawau Boxing Day Janet (We are currently at Kawau, about to sail to Great Barrier Island) Hairy start to arrival in Auckland. I'd lost my port and starboard bearings (again) and set the lines and fenders up in the wrong side of the boat. We'd even been through it in detail, but my recalcitrant brain still thought we were coming in on our favoured port side. There was a little friction to say the least, not an unusual state in yachting couples berthing and anchoring.
Boxing Day Read more...

lunch in Auckland had been long arranged. We were trying to figure out transport to Waiuku, south of Auckland, when boatie friends gave us their car for two days. This is not an uncommon practice amongst yachties, even with people we hardly know. An hour later we arrived at the beautiful lifestyle property of a very longstanding friend of David's, Bill Wilson, and his partner Fiona. Most of their families were assembled in the lounge amongst the detritus of the morning's Christmas present orgy. Once again we were made most welcome. Champagne poured and glasses clinked.
Lunch was a gourmet affair starting with my wonderful Donna Hay lime chicken coconut pancakes, then the main course a feast of baked salmon, and ham and salads straight from the land. Dessert included sweet squishy crunchy Eton Mess, which I have made several times since.
We sat outside in the garden and talked late into the balmy evening, drinking far too much and enjoying every minute of it. The next morning Bill escorted me around the property and I foraged and gathered. Bliss. The car was loaded up with green crunchy stuff, sweet strawberries and home killed pork. Thanks Bill.
Dec 28 We headed back to town in our borrowed car with our day's tasks carefully orchestrated around getting David to the optometrist. He's noticed his sight wasn't what it used to be.
As the checkout boy put my last item over the barcode reader my total tips over the $500 mark. That should do us for the next few weeks, not knowing where I will next encounter a shop. I quickly grew weary of the bustle and heat of the city, and longed to get to sea again.
Back at the boat we worked late into the evening doing laundry, filling up with fuel and water, and stowing groceries in every nook and cranny.
Dec 29 As we left the marina, Auckland harbour was sea of boats. Big ferries, little ferries scurrying to and fro. Dozens of yachts, launches and runabouts, most heading out into the gulf like us. We were alert, peering under the headsail frequently to make sure no vessels were bearing down on us. Which way is that ferry going, that yacht? There are road rules out here, but no clearly defined roadways.
As we passed Rangitoto Island we saw that every anchorage was packed with yachts. In the Marlborough Sounds, our usual stomping ground, if there were three yachts in a bay, it was busy. On one trip up here we counted seventy yachts in Islington Bay at Rangitoto.
We left town with a vague plan to meet friends sailing at Kawau Island, then to pick up Wellington friend Richard Moss for a couple of days, then sail out to Great Barrier Island. The end of the month will see us back in Auckland getting serious about preparing for our offshore passage to Fiji in May.
Perfect sailing. The sea is sparkling in the late afternoon sun, Auckland is disappearing behind us, although the Sky Tower still stands way above the horizon. We can see Kawau Island in the distance, the 15knot northerly eagerly filling our sails. Navire is whizzing along at six knots, leaping joyfully over the wavelets, the autohlem gently humming as it guides us north. We take turns in having afternoon naps on deck, the other on watch dodging the dozens of fishing runabaouts littering the sea.
"This is probably what people imagine we are doing all the time when we said we were off sailing," I said to David.
"I wish," he said, remembering the foul four metre swells off Coromandel.
Warm sweet scents of the land slip into the cockpit as we come up to the southern end of Kawau. With a few clicks on the autopilot we round the headland and ease into Coppermine Bay. The anchor rattles its way down, engine off, time for a beer.
i

Civilisation
David and Bill
gathering
foraging
lunch at the Wilson's
Lime coconut chicken pancakes
Christmas cake truffles

Navire - Waiheke

Waiheke Island, Hauraki Gulf Janet December 24 Serendipitous. Someone recently made this comment on our nautical gypsy life life.
Hanging out at Happy Jack Island, poised for reentry into city life, we decided not to go to Auckland for Christmas Day as planned.
"If it is going to be just the two of us we may as well be at anchor, and save on marina fees," suggested David.
"But we need water," I said, thinking we needed to go to Auckland to fill up our seriously depleted tanks.
Read more...

/> "We'll do jerry cans." I grimaced In Tonga we'd constantly lugged jerry cans in and out of the yacht, in and out of the dinghy, and dragged them on our trolley along hot dusty streets in search of fresh water. However we did need water, and needed it now. We'd been three weeks since our last port, collected some rainwater, but not enough.
The next morning I didn't have the pleasure of waking up. I'd been up most of the night checking the boat position. The cove we were in was very small and the rocks very close. The wind was swirling and gusting making the boat lurch and swing.
We pulled the anchor in, raised the main and headed off on the four-hour sail to Waiheke. Tiredness is a definite harbinger of seasickness for me. I felt miserable and wasn't a very helpful first mate My brain deserted me and I didn't know my port from my starboard, I just wanted to go below and go to bed.
Once we'd entered the calmer waters of a channel at the east end of Waiheke, and I had recovered some will to live, I called up the Waiheke Sailing Club to get some local knowledge on Putiki Bay where were going to stay the next two nights. The man I spoke to gave us good anchoring advice.
"Is there a tap at the beach?" I asked, on my eternal quest for water.
"Even better", he said, and described a wharf at a remote eastern Waiheke bay that we would to sail past shortly. Good water, better than Auckland, he informed us.
An hour later we drew alongside the wharf, not quite touching the bottom, all the Hauraki Gulf is very shallow. Corralling two bystanders to haul on our lines, we gradually won the battle with the breeze and tied up. I managed to damage the anchor as we bashed into the wharf. A thirsty Navire almost swallowed the fire- hose that coiled down from the wharf.
Joy! We could now shower before imposing ourselves on the people of Waiheke, and I could wash the two days worth of dishes that I'd been stashing in plastic bags.
5pm Christmas Eve "I'm going to the supermarket to get food for Bill's BBQ on Boxing Day." I wander out, get in my car, drive a couple of miles, collect my goods and drive home again.
Not.
First we hoist the dinghy off the deck. Collect the oars, lifejacket on, and climb down in the rocking wee beast, there is a fair chop on the bay tossing her around on her leash. David releases the dinghy bow-line and I row like hell to ensure I end up at Waiheke and not Auckland where the wind wants to take me. We have anchored half a mile off-shore, outside all the moored boats.
At last I reach the beach and the tide is right out. I'd imagined myself hauling the dinghy up beyond the high tide mark, sliding it gently over soft golden sand, but arrived to find a stretch of several metres of exposed rocks and mud. I glance around the almost deserted beach, Waiheke's population probably all having Christmas drinks somewhere, and spy two men carrying a sailing dinghy.
I meet Rafael, who is young, fit and strong, and lifts the other side of my dinghy effortlessly, while telling me of his dream to buy a boat like ours and sail away.
I Google map the supermarket and walk 20 minutes through the hot eerily quiet island streets. The supermarket iss buzzing though, people's trolleys piled high with ham, strawberries and cream.
I buy as much fresh crunchy stuff as I can carry. It's been three weeks since the last shop, and we are down to half a wilted cabbage. I walk back to the beach, where the tide has come to my assistance, lapping just a meter away from the dinghy's stern. I launch the boat easily and row back to Navire, but the wind that I'd hoped would push me back, had dwindled.
While feeling seasick on the journey over I had rather unceremoniously thrown a chicken in the oven. Wasn't much love in that bit of cooking but while I was out foraging at the supermarket David resuscitated the bird, accompanied it with yummy crunchy roast potatoes, and we cooked our first fresh greens in days. We lit David's special Austrian Christmas candle, a tradition he's had since childhood in Austria, and toasted our good fortune.
Christmas Day 5.30am: I get out of bed and wander out to the cockpit. I love waking in a new place. It is dead calm, water glassy, orange and pink from the soon to rise sun, the horizon glistening with the lights of Auckland seashore suburbs. And quiet, just the distant song of the dawn chorus. No wind howling in the rigging like yesterday morning at Happy Jack. And I've slept well. Life is good.
Now the kids have grown I'm not much of a fan of Christmas and all its accompanying commerce, stress and expense. However I do love the gathering of loved ones and sharing of food. Last Christmas was an excellent one as we had all five kids in town. The event was held on Boxing Day to stay out of the juggle of trying to find a time that suited everyone, given the amount of families involved.
For the first time we dispensed with giving presents to everyone and just bought one gift each for Secret Santa. Huge fun, and I only spent $20. The meal was potluck and the kids created wonderful food. But today they are in Fiji, Africa, Mt Manganui, Wanaka, and just one is in Wellington.
"Come to lunch, don't bring anything." The previous night David had called a dear old friend of his who had gathered her family on Waiheke, most of whom David knew. Stay on the boat or go for a full glazed ham, roasted salmon, fillet steak lunch? Much as I enjoy David's company, it was a no-brainer.
We were not so much welcomed as enveloped into the family.
"Another bubbly," someone pressed upon me, the sun was shining, the company intelligent, and dessert was beckoning. To my delight the family who made dessert were gluten-free! Not for me gazing at a dark moist chocolate cake, my mouth watering, unable to partake. They appreciated our gift of gluten free Christmas cake truffles. Divine they were if I have to say so myself.
And so our life is indeed serendipitous.
PS Some of you might have noticed that we fitted in a quick trip to the north Pacific and wondering how we achieved this. I managed to get my souths and easts mixed up and entered the wrong coordinates into the blog post and put us near Japan, a year ahead of schedule. My nautical dyslexia showing its ugly head again.
Port, starboard, forward and aft, often elude me for moments at critical times.

Navire Christmas dinner
Long way out
Christmas with Hilda's family
GF Christmas cake truffles

Navire - Motu Wi Island Coromandel

Motu Wi, Hauraki Gulf December 22 Janet This is it. The sun is shining at last. We are in a sheltered anchorage. We are happily whiling away the afternoon, swimming, sipping ice-cold beer, the wet weather gear draped around lifelines, finally rinsed. In internet range, both our tapping away on our computers, arranging social life for the next couple of stops.
This is more like the cruising life we signed up for.
Yesterday's taste of scallops inspired David to give our scuba gear Read more...

its first outing of the season. Getting set up to dive is quite a palaver. Every piece of equipment had to be adjusted, and our memories scoured for details of how to assemble it. I learned to dive 40 years ago around the coast of Wellington, diving regularly then, but less frequently in recent years. David trained about nine years ago on a trip we took to The Cook Islands, but hasn't done many dives since.
Fully dressed he staggered to the rail, threatening to expire of overheating with all that neoprene tightly wrapped around his body. He was loaded with tank, weight belt, fins, snorkel, and scallop bag. He lowered himself into the water, struggling to get his fins on, and mask and snorkel in place. He slowly sank below the sea, large air bubbles bursting through the surface, partly from his heavy breathing, and partly from a leaking tank valve. A new tank is on the shopping list.
I watched the bubbles zigzag around the bay and hoisted our dive flag, so no marauding speed boats would come near us and unwittingly shred David with their propellers. Ten minutes later David popped up holding his bag above the water, triumphant. I seared twenty succulent scallops for dinner that night.
Leaving Wellington several months before we cast off from New Zealand, was David's inspired idea. Setting sail to Tonga in 2010, we finished work in late April and left Wellington a week later. The pace was full on and we didn't stop and really unwind until months into the trip. This time we aim to be acclimatized before we head offshore.
Even so we are finding its taking a long time to get into the rhythms, rituals, and routines of life at sea. And there's the physicality of it all. We were pretty tired at first. Only now in week four we are taking the time to write and swim but we're still spending lots of time planning routes to the next place, scouring charts for hazards, calculating distances and travel time, interpreting weather forecasts, and identifying suitable anchorages, bit trickier than finding a car park.
Coffee From time to time in these pages I will capture moments unique to living on a boat. Take this morning, all I wanted was a cup of coffee. First I light the stove and it flar