With SCOOTS tucked into a slip in the Bay of Islands Marina, Eric and I enjoyed the opportunity to sleep all night, though Eric woke up for a little while during his usual watch time, and I dreamed about sailing on passage all night. This morning, we've begun the process of cleaning up and settling in - doing some laundry, washing all the dried salt from SCOOTS (no we didn't have those tequila shots with hull salt), topping up our NZ phone all figuring highly - and taking care of some things we'd been planning to do, once arriving in New Zealand.
To begin these tasks, Roger from North Sails has already been by to measure SCOOTS for a new Code 0 sail (after being repaired by Roger a couple of years ago, and providing propulsion for the two years that he predicted it had left in it, the original Code 0 blew out spectacularly on our way to Fiji last June, and is now really, really done.)
We're both still swaying a bit - funny, we never noticed how much the land moved before - reacquainting our leg muscles with that thing called "walking," enjoying the sounds of gulls and tuis, happy to be back in the country that most feels like home to us.
Making great time toward Opua in lovely conditions. Blue skies with no clouds except for a Long White Cloud over NZ.
We arrived at Opua today at 3:15pm...9 days, 3 hours after leaving Fiji. We motorsailed for our last night, cruising along over smooth seas at 8-9 knots, making great time. Our friends, Annie & Liam on the boat, Gone With the Wind, who had arrived from Fiji last week, pulled up their anchor at Urupukapuka Island to come sail into the marina with us. We cleared in with Customs, Immigration, and Biosecurity within a half hour, and then moved to our slip in the marina. Annie & Liam were there to catch our lines and welcome us back to NZ. After celebratory drinks and a good dinner at the Opua Yacht Club, we're ready for bed. Ah, the luxury of being able to sleep more than 3 hours at a stretch!
In the home stretch! The wind and seas have calmed, and we are able to head straight for the entrance of the Bay of Islands, where we hope to arrive tomorrow afternoon or evening (my fingers are getting cramped from being crossed for so long). We enjoyed having several chocolate-colored shearwaters fly over our wake for a few hours, looking for tidbits (I may have thrown them some pieces of chicken), and an albatross made an appearance. So I have seen my albatross for the passage. We had an early Thanksgiving dinner last night of roast chicken, peas and carrots, and a cranberry sauce I made from cooking dried cranberries (you try finding fresh cranberries, or even cranberry sauce, in Fiji!) with orange juice, sugar, and spices. We were even able to enjoy it at the cockpit table - our first meal not holding our plates or bowls in our laps! I posted to our Sailblog today.
Fewer than 300 miles to Opua, hoping to get there in under three days. We're still tacking back toward NZ, making pretty good progress. As of today, the seas and wind have diminished enough for the motor to help. Our current plan is to take this tack as far as we can, and then, when the wind diminishes even more tomorrow, try to make a beeline for Opua. We'll see how it goes. By the way, we crossed paths with Taliesen a little while ago. They were less than a mile from us, also tacking toward NZ. But they don't have a motor to help. We were the first boat they'd seen since leaving Tonga two weeks ago. Two weeks! And they still aren't in NZ! Kinda puts those two extra days we added on to our usual weeklong passage into perspective....
We reached our farthest point west 28 12S/171-12E midday yesterday, where we tacked (now on a stbd tack) and began heading what we hoped would be SE. What we were able to make, with the wind and sea conditions, was ESE, emphasis on the E. The forecasts predicted that the Low would move west during the day, creating another squash zone, and then slowly rebound to the east. Indeed that happened: we entered the squash zone in the afternoon, when the wind picked up to a steady 20 knots, and the seas rose to about 2.5m. Not particularly comfortable, but nothing excessive. We saw a couple of gusts to 23 knots, but nothing higher. The wind began to ease overnight to the 12-14 knots it is now. We're done running from the big Low, and riding through squash zones. Now our goal is to reach NZ - which is basically due S of us - with two more days of S wind to contend with. The weather has been absolutely spectacular on this entire passage so far: blue skies and starry nights. I'm still hoping to see that albatross.
We've just tacked, and started heading back toward New Zealand. Now we get to live on the other slant for awhile. We're hoping to arrive in Opua on Tuesday 26 Nov (this is probably overly optimistic) or Wednesday 27 Nov. We're still enjoying sunny weather during the day and clear skies at night. I saw a tropicbird when we were farther north and am still hoping to see an albatross.
As of yesterday, we've entered the squash zone portion of our trip. The wind and seas have risen, but SCOOTS is set up nicely with her staysail and reefed main (double reefed last night), and our ride is actually pretty comfortable. This is good, because it looks like we'll have another day of it. As you can see from our position, by going far enough west to keep out of the worst of the Low, we've also passed NZ. The forecast has the wind turning to due south for two or three days, beginning Saturday, so we're making as much progress to the south as we can now, while the wind is SSE. Our plan is to tack and begin heading SE, when the wind turns south. AWOB.
Today we begin what looks to be the windy/wavey middle portion of our passage. We've enjoyed three days of absolutely superb sailing so far. We're still heading more west than we'd like, with the wind having so much south in it, and a big Low that we want to avoid that will be bulging in from the east over the next few days. Hopefully, we'll be able to turn toward NZ before we get to Norfolk Island! All well on board.
We're enjoying another day of lovely South Pacific sailing weather. We've been keeping SCOOTS on a tight reach for the past two days to get as far south as we can, before eventually heading more to the west. It's actually been quite a pleasant ride. We're monitoring ECMWF and GFS models, keeping a close eye on the Low and squash zone forming to the east of us, as well as on the squash zone that's setting up in front of us, doing our best to minimize the effects of both. AWOB
Getting our sea legs after our first night at sea. Leaving Navula Pass we had plenty of wind 15-20kn and choppy 1m seas, but these calmed down to 12kn and <1m seas for a pleasant night. This morning we awoke to nearly-flat seas and no wind. There is plenty of wind in our future. Miles gone 146. Miles to Opua 912. A small private jet just circled us three times before flying away toward Fiji.
Still enjoying Denarau. We're now looking at a Monday departure for Opua.
Enjoying our time at Denarau while we await good weather for sailing to NZ.
All well on board. Watching the sun rise over the southern coast of Vanua Levu with a parade of several other boats who have also planned their arrival for daylight. The Savusavu Customs officials will be busy today! Less than 10 miles to the entrance to Savusavu Bay. We can smell the earthy fragrance of the island.
All well on board. This morning is sunny and warm, as SCOOTS just passed between Totoya and Matuku Islands and is about to pass to the west of Moala Island. After our first night, which was bumpy, the sailing has been great! Last night was spectacular sailing...about 12-16 knots just forward of the beam, and not much wave action. No convective activity at all on this trip! We started the motor a little while ago, to keep us arriving at Savusavu tomorrow morning. The crew is stoked.
All well on board. Not a particularly comfortable night, though the weather was spectacular. On a close reach into 15 knots with waves on the beam plus others from different directions, just to add texture. SCOOTS was going too fast with one reef in...we want to arrive at Savusavu in daylight...so we just put the second reef in. All the handholds on board are getting a good workout...moving around is like playing on monkey bars. We pumped the water from port tank to starboard to add some weight to the starboard side to lessen the heel angle.
All well on board. There are now 9 boats anchored in N Minerva: SCOOTS, Rewa, Gone With the Wind, Persuasion, Muscat, Cetacea, Avalon, Aka, Where II. After a lovely, sunny day yesterday with calm wind, the wind has picked up this morning and there are squally on the horizon.
All well on board. We arrived at the entrance to N Minerva Reef at 4pm local time and had the anchor down about 20 minutes later. Gone With the Wind and AKA were already here. Persuasion arrived after dark and anchored without incident. We expect a parade of boats coming through the pass today.
All well on board. Only 25 miles to the pass at N Minerva! Looks like we will be there this afternoon. Beautiful blue sky and sparkly, almost-calm water. Not great for sailing, but with the motor on, we can enjoy it. We can see the breakers on S Minerva, about 2 miles away. This morning just before dawn, after sleeping peacefully for 12 hours perched on top of our chartplotter under the dodger, oblivious to (or unruffled by) our comings and goings throughout the night, the little welcome swallow woke up, stretched, preened a bit, and looked around. She and I quietly watched the sun rise up above the horizon. When the sky had lightened, I offered her some water in a small bottle cap, but she wasn't interested. A moment later, she took flight, flew in a small circle, and returned to perch on a lifeline. Then, a few minutes later, she took off, heading SW, in the general direction of NZ...700 miles away.
All well on board. Still motorsailing to reach N Minerva before sunset today. At sunset last night, hundreds of miles from land, a welcome swallow flew into our cockpit and perched on our chartplotter, under the hard dodger, where it's been sleeping, head tucked under its wing, for the past 12 hours. Not sure what will happen at sunrise, but we have food and water ready, just in case.
All well on board. Have been motoring for most of the past 24 hours after the wind left us. We either have to slow down to reach N Minerva at dawn on Weds, or speed up to get there before sunset on Tuesday. We're not good at slowing down, hence the motoring. The sun is out, the weather is warm, the sea is lovely, and some dolphins came by today to wish Eric a happy Father's Day. Life is good.
All well on board. Motoring in light wind from behind us. We enjoyed a lovely sail last night, with just the right amount of wind from a good direction. Now, it's begun backing and will come at us from the SE sometime in the next 24 hours. We'll tack then, which will give all the things that shifted to the starboard side of the boat a couple of days ago the opportunity to move to the port side.
All well on board. Quite a bit of SW wind all last night, 20-25kn, with some periods of 25-30kn. All as expected. But only 2m seas, which was nice. Had the main down and our jib and staysail out when the sun set, so we went with that setup overnight. Still managed to maintain 7-9 knots, and hit 11kn once while surfing down a wave - a new record for us.
Earlier, before the wind came up, we'd been flying our Code 0 - the apparent wind was well within the workable limits for the sail - when a gust came and Bam! the Code 0 exploded. The clew pulled out, the remaining part of the sail that was still attached to the furler flapped in the wind, and shreds of sailcloth fluttered down to the ocean. It was a sad sight. Admittedly, our Code 0 was old and on its way out, but we didn't expect it to go out with a bang! We were able to furl in what remained of the sail and pack it away in its cover, though this required some acrobatics, and quite a bit of effort on both our parts. Aided, of course, by the incessantly rolling deck. Harnesses were a must! This morning the wind, which had been West, now seems to be backing through WSW on its way back to SW. The main and jib are up, we're on a port tack now, instead of rolling downwind. It's sunny, and we had a nice breakfast, so we're happy. An albatross did a flyby, too, which always thrills me. Damn, they're big birds!
All well on board. Getting our sealegs back after six months in port.
Looking forward to a Thursday departure to points north. Fiji for sure, maybe N. Minerva, too.
Still enjoying the Town Basin Marina in Whangarei.
SCOOTS has arrived at Marsden Cove Marina as of 7 pm Dec 4! After a very interesting weather day. We'll clear with Customs tomorrow morning then move upriver to Town Basin Marina. Wow it's weird to be on a stationary boat...
Noon readings from Dec 4.
Noon readings. Scooting along at 8-9 knots on a beam reach in lots of W wind. Waves frequently washing our deck, occasionally our cockpit. Discovered some hatches that weren't tightly shut. It wouldn't be a trip to NZ if we didn't have some saltwater in the cabin. :/ Hoping that the promised NW wind will fill in soon which should make life more comfortable. We changed our destination to Marsden Cove Marina. Still looking to arrive afternoon 4 Dec. SCOOTS can smell the barn....
Sailing again! Dave on s/v Rewa is still sailing along nearby; it's nice to have a friend to chat with on the VHF out here. We're considering changing our destination to Marsden Cove instead of Opua, to take advantage of the favorable winds at arrival time. All well on board.
Since our last update, we've transited a front thrown up by the big Low in the Tasman. It gave us the wind we had been lacking for the past two days, sustained N winds of 18-22 knots for most of the night with just a little rain. This moved us along nicely with our two headsails. The seas were only about 1.5 m, but they made for rolly conditions. This morning, as we sailed through the last of the front, we had quite a bit of rain, and a couple of gusts over 30 knots, but that's about it. Now, on the other side of the front, we have almost no wind and we're motoring again. Hoping now for the predicted West winds...
Another beautiful sunny day and starry night. We're wearing pants and long sleeves on our night watches now. We must truly be tropical people...I was surprised to find that the temperature is 77 degrees! I thought it was colder.
Beautiful weather! Wind has backed around and is now on the nose. Expect to motor into it most of the day. Still looking at a Dec 4 arrival in Opua.
Left Denarau yesterday, on our way to Opua. Lovely sailing conditions.
Still waiting at Denarau Marina for a weather window we like.
Waiting at Denarau Marina for a Thursday departure to Opua. Today is the Diwali holiday.
A lovely day to sail across the Bligh Water! We're now anchored off the beach of Nananu-i-Cake Island, on the north shore of Viti Levu
Anchored in peaceful Bua Bay after a day of changeable weather: light and variable leaving Savusavu, 20-25 knots as we entered Nasonisoni Pass, continuing and adding 1.5m seas to bash into after we exited the pass, then returning to light and variable late afternoon
We've been enjoying Savusavu for the past week so far. We'll be moving to Denarau by Oct. 10.
We've been slowly exploring the islands of the Koro Sea...Leleuvia, Ovalau, Makogai, Koro, and now Taveuni. We are very comfortably moored at the super-yacht-friendly Paradise Taveuni Resort.
Anchored at Leleuvia Island in the Koro Sea
Anchored at Leleuvia Island in the Koro Sea
Arrived in Suva Harbour 30 June @ 1400. Outside the reef, seas were 3 meters and wind 25-30 knots E/SE. Motor not working, so sailed in and anchored under sail. Inside the harbour, flat seas and 15-20 knots. :) All very well on board.
Diverting to Suva due to weather. Arriving today.
All well. Sensing the barn.
Happily on a beam reach
All well on board.
Enjoying a serene downwind sail.
Having a rollicking ride. All well.
All Well. SCOOTS is tucked into a slip in Opua after a wet and windy 6 day passage. Now the cleanup begins.
arrived yesterday afternoon
All Well, leaving Suva for Opua this morning. It rained all night, hope it stops before we go.
all Well, leaving Suva today for Opua
Anchored at Blue Lagoon
anchored at the Manta Ray Island Resort
185 to Vuda. All well
anchored N Minerva last night
177nm to N Minerva
276 to Minerva
Still in Marsden Cove Marina with a bunch of other cruisers, waiting to head north. We've all decided to stay put for a few more days, to let the latest weather pass by. The fun today included a few of us motoring over to the fuel dock and filling up during the flat calm weather, and going on a long walk in the afternoon.
In Marsden Cove, still waiting for the elusive weather window, to set sail for Fiji.
Waiting in Whangarei for good weather along with everyone else.
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