We realised we never posted a final update to show we are back home safe and sound, but you probably all knew that :). We had a good final run from Whangaruru all the way back to Gulf Harbour (and seeing whales on the way), arriving about 8.40pm with our good friends Debs and Kerry meeting us on the dock to pass us our dock lines. After closing down the boat we enjoyed some champagne and nibbles on their boat. So, we have spent the last two weeks (and have another week to go) packing up Seaforth. Everything is getting a really good spring clean, with sails being washed, dried and removed (when the weather allows) and all sorts of equipment being removed and packed away down below. We have 10 day to go before we fly out to Spain to join Jim on Site Office. We have started a YIT page for Site Office, so feel free to subscribe to that if you want to follow our travels again. We also have a Facebook Group called Office Gossip that you can request to join if you like to receive your updates via Facebook. That?s all for now, so, this is Seaforth signing off until we return.
Started the final leg of our journey home. Left Opua just before lunch and now anchored up in Whangaruru Harbour for the night. Steve?s gonna cook up a tuna green curry for dinner, washed down with a cold dark beer. Hmmmm.
In all the excitement of arriving, I forgot to post an update! We had an ?interesting? last night at sea. We had a front come through which was not pleasant. The forecast was high 20s, gusting mid 30s, but it was actually mid 30s, gusting 40s. And a 3m swell. Luckily it was from the north so we weren?t bashing into it. We had a small amount of our Genoa out and no mainsail at all, and were scorching along doing high 8s, 9s, and even 10s and 11s surfing down waves. Steve and Seaforth were fine, but I was somewhat anxious! Still, we made it through. The winds started easing during the early hours, and we ended up having to motor into Bay of Islands as the sun came up. We arrived at the Q dock at about 10.30am, and waited for customs who were clearing a large launch that had come in from Tonga. They had a dog search their boat, and we thought we?d get the same, but they decided not to do a full search. Maybe we looked too shattered and disheveled! We splashed out and got a berth at the marina, and after 15 minute showers, had a couple of G&Ts with a late lunch, decided to have a nap, and woke up 14 hours later!
Conditions are a bit ?sporty? but making good speed to home. 118nm to go. Eta to Q dock at Opua approx noon tomorrow. Counting down the hours. All well onboard.
I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Motorsailing towards NZ. ETA into Bay of Islands sometime on Wednesday, probably after the front goes through. All well onboard.
Another day at the office. Motoring or motorsailing in light winds today. Same forecasted for tomorrow. Slowly slowly catchy monkey. All well onboard.
We?ve had a frustrating last 2-3 days with tacking backwards and forwards into southerly winds and not making much headway. The wind is slowly starting to play ball, but it has added another day to our passage. We?re also pushing some tide at the moment. But, at least we are finally heading in almost the right direction. All well onboard.
The sun came out finally today which was lovely. We had a boobie (the bird) flying around us for quite a while which was cool to watch. We are making progress towards NZ although it seems quite slow. I think because we?re awake for 3 hours and then asleep for 3 hours, etc etc, our brains think more days should have passed by now. Never mind, we are slowly making our way home bit by bit. No tuna today. Wind has picked up this afternoon but is due to drop again overnight and swing around to the east. All well onboard.
The sea state flattened out, and the wind eased and settled, and we managed to have full main and Genoa from the early hours and really got up and going. Mostly high 7s/8s knots. Then about lunch time wind backed to south too much, and then eased completely. Now motoring directly towards NZ in light rain. Just had some yummy yellowfin tuna for lunch. Hopefully the wind will fill in soon from the south west and we can sail again (we go faster sailing than motoring). It?s definitely getting colder. I (Ade here) left fiji in a bikini, then it was a t-shirt on top, then shorts at night, then a sweatshirt, and now socks and tracksuit pants as well. We?re only 2 days into our passage. At this rate we?ll run out of clothes to put on! Water temp has gone from 26 to 21. Bbbbbrrrrrrr. All well onboard.
We left fiji just after dark and motoring all night until the wind came in at dawn. The trade winds kicked in and the sea state is little sloppy but to be expected. We?re sailing along nicely. We had one strike on the game rod, but whatever it was spat the hook before we got to it. We then caught a nice little yellowfin/big eye tuna on the hand line. One day down, 7 to go, all well onboard.
We have had an awesome few days catching up with some great friends - some of whom we will hopefully see when they come to visit on Site Office, but some also that we may not see for years. It?s always sad saying farewell to so many awesome people that we have met. We have had a busy day yesterday and today, servicing our engine, filling the diesel tanks, and then this afternoon we have cleared customs and are heading toward Navula Passage, which will take us out into the Pacific Ocean, and the start of our 7-8 day passage home. Farewell Fiji - you have been great, and we realised we have only scratched the surface of what you have to offer. We will send daily email updates to YIT via satellite, and for those with SSB radios, will be keeping a schedule with Peter Mott on 6230 at 0600 UTC (1800NZT). Looking forward to seeing all our friends back home. See you next week!
Left the mainland about 7am and got to Musket just before noon. It was lovely and we anchored up next to three friends - Spontaneous, Moonfish, and Fusio. In typical Musket Cove fashion it was blowing 25 knots by late afternoon. We had a quick visit with Spontaneous, and then settled in for a movie night. We caught up with Steve and Lynda off Nina this morning, Moonfish briefly (they are threatening to eat the cheesecake if we don?t hurry up and catch up with them), and then Grant and Debra off Spontaneous. While sitting on Spontaneous, we spotted a seaplane coming in. It was aiming right for us. We thought it was going to land right next to us, but at the last minute it turned and flew what looked like mere meters from Seaforth, with the wings about halfway up our rigging! It must have been very close, and would have been quite entertaining being on board at the time (and for the passengers on the plane!) We are going to head in to the island bar now to have a bbq and catch up with everyone all at once.
We moved around and anchored off Lautoka this morning and went in to see the bright lights of the big city! It?s grown a lot since we were there last - there?s even a McDonald?s ?. We got some fruit and veggies (including some awesomely sweet pineapples!), and some other bits and bobs at the huge undercover markets. We an awesome curry for lunch (nz$7 for both of us!). We sussed out a few dentists but can?t get appointments until later next week so may have to come back for that when we clear customs (just wanted to get a clean and check as they are spose to be really good and about 80% cheaper than NZ). We came around to this bay for a bit more shelter, and we?ll head out to Musket Cove tomorrow to catch up with friends and wait for a weather window.
We left at 7.15am and motored/motorsailed 2/3rds of the way down the western side of Fiji?s main island. The day started with 2 knots, and ended with 20+. As we rounded the headland towards Lautoka, we could see the wind was going straight thru the channel between Lautoka and the island just off shore. So, we backtracked to the bay just north and have anchored up. We still have 18knots, but the seastate is a lot calmer and doesn?t have all the whitecaps that Lautoka did. We arrived about 4.20pm, so after anchoring up, tidying up, and a nice cold shower to cool off, it?s time for a cold brew in the cockpit!
We had a great sail across the the main island of Fiji. Unfortunately we didn?t get a fish, although we think a marlin had a good look at one of our lures (knocked it, and Steve saw the fin following us). Luckily he left it alone. Our bungee line also got a look at, and some buggar bit the lure clean off. Babe and her crew were here when we arrived, so after a quick look onshore, we went over for the usual sundowners and had a great night. Hopefully we?ll see them again at Musket before we depart Fiji. We had a relaxing day today, and will head off tomorrow to Lautoka.
After chatting to Chris and Lynda off Amici about the passage and the anchorage at coconut point, we decided to anchor overnight in a bay just north of the Nasonisoni passage. We left about 8am and managed to time it just right. Had a bit of rain but it cleared for going through Nasonisoni passage (where we saw a sailfish jumping just as we entered). We then anchored around the corner and it?s been drizzling off and on since then. We?re due to leave early tomorrow and head to Viti Levu (the main island of Fiji). It?s gonna be 8-9 hours so we will be leaving early tomorrow. At least the boat is getting a good rinse in all this rain!
Just a test message to see if I can send a photo with the satellite email :)
We had a nice motorsail/sail to Cousteau?s. We had everything from 2 to 20 knots. We caught a small big-eye tuna, and after dealing with it, once it?s fillets were safely in the fridge, we noticed our bungee hand line had pulled its peg off the lifeline. This usually indicates we have a fish. We checked, but there was nothing as we could see the lure, so re-pegged it and didn?t think anything more of it. Just as we arrived at the anchorage, we pulled in the lures, and discovered that the hand line lure had taken a pounding! The squid lure was all cut up, and the hook was bent. So, looks like we had hooked something large and toothy, but it managed to get away before we realised it was on the line - damn it! Could have been a nice wahoo. Oh well, that?s fishing for you. We?re gonna head ashore today for a look around, and then maybe a snorkel on Split Rock. We?ll have an early night as we?ll probably be leaving at about 4am to get through Nasonisoni passage and on to Coconut Point.
It?s time to start heading south, so we left the lovely Albert Cove, and headed around the north of Rabi Island, through Texas Reef, and down through the Rabi Channel towards the Somosomo strait. We were going to anchor in Somosomo for the night, but the wind was right on the nose and building so we headed for Matagi instead. We?ll hopefully head around to Somosomo early tomorrow before the winds kick in on the nose again. We?ve just had a quiet dinner in the cockpit listening to some weird unidentifiable sound that sounds a bit like a short cricket chirp, and is coming from all around us, sometimes appearing to be quite close by. We cannot see any bats or insects flying around, so it?s a real mystery!
I didn?t realise it was so long since we last posted. Sorry about that! A few more boats turned up on Thursday, and we had a pot luck dinner on ?Sel Citron? (52ft Katana). It was a great night, but then Dan (the owner) brought out the tequila .... so it was a bit of a slow day on Friday. We pulled up anchor late yesterday morning and headed north to Rabi Island, and the reportedly beautiful Alberts Cove. It is quite nice here :). Everyone else (5 other boats we were with) quickly did some snorkelling on the northern reef and then left early this morning for Naqelelevu Lagoon. We decided to stay here at least another day to explore, and I?m glad we did as we found a much better snorkel spot on the southern reef with loads of great hard corals and no dead stuff in sight! Steve is still not allowed in the water yet, but if we stay another day or two, he might be ok to get in for a look around. In the mean time I?ve had 3 swims today (are you proud of me Debs? ;) and it?s only just 2pm.
Over the last 3 years we have been replacing the sealant in our teak deck. It takes a long time and we can only do it while it?s been dry for about 3 days. So, this last summer, we did not get much done as it was so wet. We decided to bring some away with us to do while we had plenty of time to spare (hahahhahahhaha). We hadn?t yet, but Caprice are having generator problems and we said they could use our one so we thought we?d better get it done while we still had the 240v generator to run the renovator tool. I think they have bought a smaller one to tide them over, but it was good motivation. So, we did about 4 lineal meters while it was overcast this morning. The sun then came out at the end so we were happy we started earlier while it was cool (relatively speaking). I (Ade here) could swim to cool off afterwards, but poor old Steve has an infection on his shin so is on antibiotics and not allowed in the water. That?s the biggest issue with living in the tropics - skin infections! We finished up and then two other boats arrived in the bay. We have just returned from Catbird Suite - a 63ft cat - for sundowners. We will probably stay here another day as I think Caprice and maybe Muritai are on their way around here. We like the variety of having a bay to ourselves for one night, and then others to socialise with the next night. It?s also dead calm with no roll and no mozzies! (But no internet - can?t have it all!)
We had a slow start this morning because of a very rolly night, plus Mike on Manuhaea plying me with rum and cokes last night. We went for another snorkel on the bommie, and saw a small turtle, along with all the cool coral and fish we saw yesterday. The crew of Manuhaea went ashore to the resort to see if they could get some lunch, while we upped anchor and headed around to the north western side of Kioa Island. It?s a fairly big bay, well protected (no sleep disturbing roll in this one!), and completely deserted. We saw another turtle, and have had a lovely afternoon reading books, and a lovely dinner in the cockpit watching the bats come out. I was hoping to upload some photos, but the internet here is very patchy and weak.
(Monday?s post) It?s 8 weeks today before we fly out to Spain. We are both looking forward to it so much that it almost makes us forget we have to sail back to NZ in about 4 weeks! I?m not particularly looking forward to that passage, but not much choice in the matter. Oh well, the price we pay. :). We motored around the corner to Nasau Bay. There?s a little ?retreat? on one beach, and some houses on another. We went ashore with the crew from Manuhaea who arrived at the same time, to do sevusevu. They brought some Kava and we took clothing and some fishing supplies. The place looked deserted, but there turned out to be one family of 5 living there. We had a good chat, enjoyed some fresh coconuts, and talked about their lives on the island. They are copra farmers and only just started up production again after cyclone Winston caused a bit of damage 2 years ago. Their coconut trees were some of the tallest we?ve seen and were very old. They were typical smiling happy Fijians and it was lovely to meet them. We returned to the boat and headed out to snorkel a bommie just behind us. It was fantastic. The best snorkelling we?ve seen so far on this trip. Lots of soft corals as well as hard, and lots of fish life. I took a heap of photos and will post once we get back to some internet. We finished the evening with dinner and drinks on Manuhaea. A great end to a great day.
Today we were thinking of doing some washing, but with the skies still a bit hazy from the volcanic ash, decided against it. We went for a tiki tour of the bay while the water was glassy flat, and could clearly see the coral without having to get in the water. We also spotted a large 3-4ft grouper stationary on top of a bommie being cleaned by small fish. Very cool! Plus a crown of thorns starfish - not cool! We read in the cockpit for a while and then joined Cop-e-Cat for a snorkel. There were bits that were dead, but good bits as well. I think since it was on the outer reef it is likely to get smashed by storms more. The water was warm and there were no sharks, so that?s good. We then tootled around a bit and found a pod of tiny dolphins. We took turns at jumping in the water, but they didn?t seem interested and didn?t stick around. We are finishing the day with a G&T in the cockpit, reading a book, while the roast is in the oven. We are planning on leaving here tomorrow and heading around the corner to another anchorage, as we are conscious of the limited time we have left here in Fiji.
We left Fawn Harbour into “sporty” conditions. The entrance to the pass, because of the change in depth, threw up some big swells and Steve on the bow said it was an “E ticket” ride ;). We then motorsailed into up to 20knots until we got into the lee of Taveuni where the sea state gradually calmed down and the wind dropped to almost nothing. We made our way in and have anchored up in a lovely little bay almost completely surrounded by land. We didn’t have any luck fishing, but one of the cats we came along the coast with caught a yellow fin tuna, so we’re just about to cook that up for dinner. We also found out what the story is with the ash - it’s from the volcano on Ambae in Vanuatu that is currently erupting. We washed a fair bit of it off the boat but from experience with Mt Yasur last year, we’ll still be cleaning it off when we get back to NZ. Oh well, such is life.
Yesterday we did a final shop for some fruit and veg, and got some tip top ice cream as a treat from back home :) After paying our bill at the Copra Shed Marina we dropped the mooring and headed out. The forecast in the morning had said 20-25knts, but it was still and muggy in Savusavu, so we figured it couldn?t be that bad out of the protection of the island. We were right. We had to motor into the wind for half the trip, but it was only 3-5knots. Once we rounded a headland we put all the sails up to get a bit of extra speed so we would arrive at the pass before dark. It was a great trip, although there was a really weird haze everywhere which cut visibility down quite a lot. We also hooked a marlin! First time (that we know of) for us. It was only a little squid skirt lure for tuna and had small hooks, so we were surprised he didn?t shake the hook out. Instead it stripped a whole bunch of line off the reel and the line then snapped at what looks like some previous damage to the line (maybe?). Who knows for sure, but at any rate, we didn?t want to try to land him anyway! Steve sorted a new trace for it and put it back out, but there was no more action on that front for the rest of the trip. We got into the pass with good visibility and using Ovital, and then had drinkies on Cop-e-cat. We have woken to 15-18 knots of wind, and the boat covered in fine dirt/dust. I guess that may have been the cause of the haze yesterday? We?re gonna leave here and head around to Viani Bay for a few days.
Yesterday we had a relaxed morning sorting out our internet, and then found a nice local place for a curry for lunch. We also went for a walk and found the Fiji Pearl farm. It was not well signposted, but after asking a few locals we found it. We had a quick look in the showroom, and then asked if we could have a look around as we heard they will give people tours. They said they had the technician here from Japan at the moment seeding the oysters. I mentioned Steve is a marine biologist who has done a bit of work in the aquaculture field in Nz but with mussels. They seemed happy to show us their operation, and since we waited patiently, we were rewarded with watching the Japanese specialist doing the delicate work of seeding the oysters (photos will be posted on Facebook). Basically he opens the shell a little but, and then using instruments similar to what you would find in a medical surgery, carefully cuts the foot out (the bit the oyster uses to attach to things) and then places a small round ball (made from mussel shell from the USA) inside the oysters ?pocket?. This is the ?irritant? that the oyster then forms the a coating over to create a pearl. Along with that, he also places a part of an oyster with the colour he wants the pearl to be, with the ball, and the oyster will then create a pearl of that same colour. Not sure how that works but it?s pretty cool! They then put the oysters back in net sleeves in the ocean and look after them. They get regular cleanings (water blasting) and apart from predation from various things like starfish and turtles, will then take 18 months (I think from memory) to product a pearl. The pearls are then graded on colour, shape, lustre etc etc (much like diamond) and the price set. I knew we wouldn?t be able to afford anything because there were not many prices on things. I cheekily asked to see the most expensive thing they had, which turned out to be a pearl necklace with huge gun-metal grey pearls, and a price tag of a mere $110,000. Nice! At the other end of the scale they had some loose pearls for $80. The sales lady didn?t look impressed when I asked ?what about just an oyster shell??! Hahahha. She didn?t give me a price, stating they only sold polished shells, as we would not be allowed to take a raw shell back to NZ. There were literally tons of the bloody things lying around, but I resisted and didn?t swipe one off the rubbish pile on the way out.
So they they do this whole ?seeding? and then harvesting about 4-5 times in the life of the oyster before they get past their use by date. I imagine they get pretty much over it by then as when I asked them ?so from an anotomy point of view what is this ?pocket? thing that they put the irritant into?, they sheepishly said it was basically their gonads. So, you kinda have to feel sorry for these little guys. They have something irritating put in their gonads (reproductive organs for the non biologists amongst you), which when they put a nice smooth surface over it to prevent the irritation, is taken out and replaced with another irritating thing in their gonads! Kinda like kicking the poor little buggers in the nuts and waiting for them to recover and then repeating the whole process!
So, it?s a pretty tough life being an oyster!
Later in the afternoon I left Steve on board and went off to run a few errands, like getting our cruising permit for Fiji coastal waters sorted. We had arranged to catch up with Varekai on Seaforth that evening for dinner. On the way back to the boat, I was motoring away from the dock, and just happened to turn to see ?Udder Life?, and our good friend Celia waving to me from the dock! These guys were on the rally last year and are good friends and bloody nice people! I zipped back for reunion hugs, and watched Wally fillet a lovely big wahoo they caught on their way in (see Facebook for photos). We quickly relocated the Varekai/Seaforth drinkies and dinner to Udder Life and had an awesome evening with old friends (including Caprice), and new friends (Muritai).
Today, we hired a car and drove over to Labasa with Muritai and Wally off Udder Life. We found a nice tropical rainforest walk, and had a lovely swim in the cold freshwater pool at the bottom. We enjoyed a curry in Labasa, and the sights and sounds of a bustling city dominated by the Fijian Indians. Lots of all types of shops, including loads of clothing shops.
As we were driving through the countryside we saw acres and acres of sugar cane, so went and found the factory that processes them. We knew we must be getting close when we saw trucks lines up loaded with sugar cane waiting to get in. What we didn?t realise was how long the queue was! It was kilometres long and 1-3 trucks wide in places. People were sleeping under their vehicles, gathering in small groups, or had simply parked up and gone elsewhere while they waited for the factory to start taking their huge loads of sugarcane.
After a long and eventful day, we were a bit tired, but still needed to catch up with Varekai before they leave for Vuda about 3am tomorrow (and will not be back to fiji until after we will have arrived in Spain).
Now, I might have mentioned this before, but I?ll say it again. There are some truly awesome things about this cruising life: we meet wonderful people who have a real spark and a joy for living life to the fullest - sometimes because of a medical scare, or maybe because they just realise that in the end, life is pretty short. The downside about the cruising life though is that you sometimes have to say farewell, sometimes forever, to people who have become very good friends. Luckily, we are fairly certain we will see the crew of Varekai again, but that may be several years away. They have become very good friends who we just seem to click with, and have helped us more than they will probably ever know. We share a lot of the same ideals and passion for living life and having fun, and will miss them dearly. We will, of course, keep in contact with them via the Internet, until we return to join them on a future rally. So farewell for now Hugo, Daphne, and Nutella Ella - safe passage, fair winds and following seas.
Had a great sleep, although there were a few mosquitoes hanging around that woke me up. The medical officer who did our quarantine clearance said they don?t have dengue, malaria or zika viruses here. So basically the mosquitos are just an annoyance, but don?t have any nasty diseases. There are ?no see em?s? here as well though. They are a tiny tiny little sandfly type thing with teeth the size of your leg, and are ferocious! Little buggars! Once again, not nasty, but you just get little bites everywhere unless you put some spray on. The price we pay to be in paradise! This morning we visited the markets again (had a look yesterday but didn?t buy anything). The Fijians are a lot friendlier than the Tongans, and the prices are cheaper. In Tonga we got the feeling the prices doubled because we are ?Palangi? (white). Here the prices are cheaper, the stall owners friendlier, there?s more variety, and there?s an obvious Indian influence with lots of yummy smelling spices. As a result we bought more, and got some veggies, eggs, and (just for you Doug) pineapple! Yum! We got one to try, but will definitely be back for another one tomorrow. We also used our SIM card from last year and got it topped up with some data. We then spent an hour or two catching up on things, but it seems to have gone down tonight - oh well, hopefully just temporarily. We?ll just wait til tomorrow to upload photos etc. Speaking of which, I must apologise for not posting as many photos on Facebook as we did last year. I?m not sure if it?s just cos we?re use to it this year, or maybe there?s only so many photos of tropical islands covered in coconut trees that you can take? Maybe I don?t want to bore you all! We caught up with new friends on Muritai who managed their first passage (Tonga to Fiji) with just the two of them. They did the NZ to Tonga passage 3 up, but I think it?s really cool when a husband and wife do the passage together without outside help. Maybe it?s cos we never have crew (aka no friends! ;). I know it?s not everyone?s cup of tea, and there?s lots of boats who get crew to help, but as we do it all two up, we think it?s cool that they overcome their fears and accomplish it. Also big thumbs up to Varekai who also did it without extra crew this year - which on top of organising the rally and working very hard to get everyone cleared and fueled up on Friday, to then do a 2.5 day passage two up with very little sleep to recover is pretty awesome. I?d better wrap this up as I?ve waffled enough already! We had a few beers on shore at the Copra Shed Yacht Club, and now back on Seaforth for dinner. Might try to find somewhere tomorrow night to have a real Fijian Indian curry ? ?
Arrived here 7.30am. Hot and sticky already. Just waiting for customs so showered, refreshed and chilling in the cockpit watching everyone else arrive. Despite the fact we were 3rd to leave, and went a very long way around compared to everyone else, we were first (equal) arriving. That included coming in ahead of several cats who left Tonga just behind us. Go Seaforth! Kicking ass and taking names. Haha!
The magical mystery tour of the Southern Lau continues. Another fantastic day of broad reach sailing. So far this is best passage for last two years. The sun is out, the water is getting warmer, and we can just about taste the cold beer. Caught Big Eye Tuna late yesterday, and still hoping for mahi-mahi before today is out. Eta into Savusavu Monday morning. All very well on board.
SWELL 1m SE, CLOUD 35%.
We decided we still don?t like sailing directly downwind, and since we have plenty of time, are embarking on a magical mystery tour of the Southern Lou. We are having a wonderful fast and more comfortable sail broad reaching to Oneata passage. We?ll then turn right and hopefully broad reach up to Savusavu. Lovely sailing - have only run engine a couple of hours to charge the batteries. No fish yet, with only a pair of boobies showing mild interest in Steve?s lure .... all very well on board!
Farewell Tonga! We have cleared customs, filled up with foamy diesel, and have left Vava?u, heading for Fiji. We have two lures out and hope to snag a feed before it gets dark. All very well on board and looking forward to getting to Fiji - approx ETA Monday morning.
We rocked on into Neiafu after negotiating the anchorage exit at Kenuku, and the infamous zig zag channel for the second time. One boat complained about running aground, saying they were a very deep draft boat, at 2.1m. He went quiet after we said we draw 2.4m and had no problems, with the shallowest bit showing 3.5m -under- our keel! I am not surprised he had problems though as he sails everywhere into anchorages with full sails up and no one on the bow looking for bommies. I guess he thinks the charts are 100% accurate! Hopefully he will take this as a wake up call before he clobbers something really solid at speed. We had an awesome farewell get together last night at Mangos on the waterfront in Neiafu. It is pretty cool that we have made so many new friends, and have had such a great time since we all met each other back in May in Opua. We have awoken this morning to rain. We have to go into town today to pay port duties, and collect paperwork for tomorrow, so hopefully it will stop soon. I guess it is fitting that it is raining as we leave Tonga since we had so much rain when we arrived!
On Monday morning we headed out to Kenutu. Last year some friends got their boat stuck in a bommie in the zig zag channel for an hour, so we were a bit nervous about going through it. We?ve got big tides at the moment, which was good, but the tide was high at 9.30am, which meant the light wouldn?t be very good. Using our favourite Ovital app, and Steve?s keen eyes, we cautiously made our way through. We followed friends Caprice on a shallow draft cat, and they reported nothing too shallow. We made it through and then headed to the shallow entrance to the anchorage. I got slightly off course, and we had only 1.7m under us at one point, but we made it into the 8m anchorage and settled down. After a late breakfast, we went ashore to see if there were any shells of interest on the beach. Our friends off Caprice seemed to be collecting something, but when we go there, it was actually small cockles. There was talk of paella, as they had some squid and mahi-mahi they had caught, so we set about collecting these little cockles about the size of your thumb nail. They were small but had tons of flavour and Steve cooked an awesome paella for a late lunch and the home brew washed it down. The late lunch turned into afternoon nibbles, and then a spaghetti vongole (spaghetti, the rest of the clams, butter, garlic and herbs). Another spectacularly delicious meal! After a late night, it was a very quiet Tuesday. We did a few boats jobs, had some mahi-mahi for lunch (courtesy of Caprice again) and then had sundowners and a bonfire on the beach. Today we have to head back to Neiafu. There?s a final get together at Mango?s Cafe tonight to make the offical end of this rally, and then Friday we?ll clear customs. It?s been nice in Tonga, but we?re ready to move on to Fiji.
Other boats have turned up into our private bay - how rude! ;) Never mind - we don?t mind sharing sometimes. I (Adrienne here) have been devouring Jack Reacher books at the moment. I think I?ve read about 4 in a week - it?s absolute bliss to have the time to do that. I even got so engrossed that I spent a bit long in the sun and got a bit pink. Steve was a bit annoyed when the next morning the pink bits were brown already - thanks to my Spanish heritage! ;) Muwhahhahahaha. Frequent dips were required to cool off, and along with amazing sunsets to watch, the weather is finally coming right for us here in Tonga. Sunday we headed around to Port Maurelle for a pot luck lunch and rum punch on the beach with the other rally boats. We haven?t been into this anchorage this year yet because it?s: a) the locals have been charging to anchor, snorkel, or even go ashore; and, b) it?s 20-35m deep and full of friggin rocks and comparatively little sand. Late last week we heard that there had a been a court case and the judge ruled that it was unlawful to charge for anything but fishing inside the SMA (special management area), and so they were told they couldn?t charge for anchoring etc. Armed with this, we decided to venture in. We anchored up with the normal anchor chain graunching across volcanic rock, and went ashore. Steve had whipped up an awesome mushroom risotto for the pot luck. It was great catching up with others we hadn?t seen for a while. Afterwards we tried anchoring around the corner a bit, but it seems the bottom consisted of the same volcanic rock, one piece of which decided to attach itself to our anchor and come join us. We dumped the anchor and managed to drop the rock, and so, fed up with non-sandy anchorages, headed around to Tepana Bay which we visited last year. One the way, we saw some whales having a whale of a time - no breaching, but just general Sunday afternoon whaleyness with spouts and fins and tails.
We?re now enjoying a wine in the cockpit, watching the sunset, and the owls flying overhead. The locals are zooming around in longboats in the dark singing to OutKast?s ?Hey Ya? which is amusing. Life is good again. Tomorrow we hope to visit Kenutu at the outer eastern edge of Vava?u, which will require transiting the ?zig zag? channel. High tide should be about 9.30 so hopefully the light will be good enough.
Despite the fact that it?s Friday the 13th, the God(s) smiled on us and we just wiggled some wires to the toilet, and it now works again. Yahoo! Not having to pull apart a marine toilet is a very good way to start the day. We instead made water and amps, and explored the beach with the derelict hut (presumably the old pearl farming processing plant from when they farmed pearls in this bay). Unfortunately we didn?t find any unopened oysters, so no pearls for me! There were a few locals collecting something at low tide, but we didn?t investigate because we were making water (in practice it?s pretty easy, you just get two hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom and moosh them together .... atomic chemistry 101. It?s one of the first courses in Dr Evil?s school, but I digress .... ) Today they had the RAFTT show in Neiafu - for those keen readers/Facebook friends amongst you, you will remember that the RAFTT show in Pangai, Ha?apai included giant clams, triton shells, and two live turtles left on their backs, baking in the sun. We decided to forgo that experience this time, and have stayed out of the main Harbour. As a result we have the bay to ourselves! Let?s just say the all over tan got a bit of help today! Hahhahaha.
We had to leave earlier than we would have liked to exit the bay we were in. There was a low shelf and bommies we had to get over and the tide was going out. The general rule of thumb is no travel between about 3pm and 10am, because outside those times you can?t see the coral bommies/shallow bits. The other rule is have the sun behind you - looking into the sun it is near impossible to see the depth of the water, but with the sun behind, it appears deep blue, blue, light blue, and then green, depending on how shallow it is. It was going to be low tide at noon, so we upped anchor and left at about 9am, and headed out looking directly into the rising sun. We made it of course. We got down to only 2.5m under our keel after Steve directed us around a few bommies that were only spotted at the last minute due to the sun angle. We then had an uneventful trip to our next anchorage. We were quite undecided about where to go next, but the wind made the decision. 15+ knots so we decided to go to our favourite little ?flat as a pancake? anchorage at Aisea?s beach. We anchored up and then set about doing some washing. It?s a bit of a rigmarole as we have to unpack the machine from being stored on its side on the pilot berth, and put it in the cockpit. With the little genny running, we could then run it and the shore power battery charger to charge the batteries. The washing machine then decided to intermittently spin - ie, most of the time not spin. It?s 1.5 years old so no doubt out of warranty : \ We then spent the day chilling and reading, and now one (French!!) toilet has decided not to flush - guess we know what job is first on the list for tomorrow! Oh the joys of cruising! :( ;). Off to bed now - almost 10pm and about 21 degrees - can?t complain about that bit .....
We have not been up to much as it?s still pretty windy and Steve has been a little under the weather. Nothing to worry about, but just needs a few days of rest. The coral gardens still looks a bit like Piha. Some boats have visited and say it?s pretty tricky to snorkel. One guy got tumbled, but is ok. I?m not keen to get washed over coral by breaking waves so will give it a miss for now. We?ve just been enjoying being here. Daily temperatures are about 26, and overnight 20-22. So it?s just been a few boat jobs, and then reading, collecting Vitamin D, and working on a tan to make all of you jealous when we get back to NZ!, :D ;)
We?ve had a nice relaxing weekend. We explored some beaches, found a nice shell or two, visited other boats, and had some great social gatherings with others in the evenings. We had an explore of the beach around the coral gardens, but the wind and waves are too rough to safely snorkel them at the moment. We might have it come back if/when we get settled weather. Speaking of which, yes it?s still quite windy, which is annoying as it is limiting our exploring. We were hoping to explore out to the east of Vava?u, but we need settled weather to do that. Let?s hope we get a break before we leave for Fiji.
After my update yesterday we had a local dugout canoe visit with a guy and a couple of kids. We spent quite a while chatting and he was promoting a feast they do for yachts, which seems to be a big thing around here. Of course, all the proceeds go to the local school - or so they all say. We?ve had enough feasts already though, so just wanted to trade some fishing gear and other items for some coconuts. We arranged that and then the next morning went ashore to see them and get the coconuts. They also gave us some bananas which was nice, although we made sure it was only a small bunch as you wind up with about 20 ripening all at the same time!! Everyone?s always talking about new and ingenious ways to use them - it?s a bit like the scene in Forest Gump about how many ways you can cook shrimp! We then moved across to another little bay which is world famous for its ?coral gardens?. We?ll check that out if it?s fine tomorrow, but plan to stay here for the weekend as it has good shelter from the winds coming on sat/sun. A whole bunch of other rally boats have turned up, so we organised drinkies on the beach and some ukulele playing. Unfortunately the weather didn?t play ball, and it started raining before we?d left the boat. We rain checked the beach get together and then Bobcat offered to have drinkies on their boat. That was cool as we?ve not socialised with them much yet. They built their cat themselves on their property in Hamilton. It took them about 6 years and they have photos of the whole thing which was very cool. We?re back on board Seaforth now, so time for dinner and maybe a movie. Lots of plans have been made for the weekend, so let?s hope the weather plays ball this time!
We refilled our empty petrol containers and then went for lunch at the meat deli in Neiafu. This is run by a Canadian couple who do all sorts of certified meats, sausages, smoked meats etc. Steve had a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich and I had a very full smoked ham and cheese - yum! We then went to the markets for some veggies, but were unfortunately too late for coconut bread. We had a good look around, got a few things, and headed back to Seaforth. We?ve moved to another anchorage, but will probably head back to Aisea?s bay as there is some more ?reinforced trade winds? coming through (25-30 knots, plus gusts) on Sat/Sun.
Did some boat jobs yesterday, and visited a boat from last years rally to swop movies, photos, books, charts, and have a general chit chat. This morning we had a local boat come around trying to sell us stuff (woven baskets and Chinese necklaces), and after they left we noticed some rope that ties our jerry cans down was missing (it had been on deck as we had just put our jerry can fuel into our boat?s tanks). It was coiled up right beside where the local boat were holding on to Seaforth. Not a huge problem, but kinda annoying, and doesn?t give us a very good impression of the locals. The irony is that we had other rope especially for giving to the locals - if they had only asked we would have given them that instead. We moved around to Neiafu Harbour and had a lovely sail. There was a yacht race in the Harbour this afternoon, and we went ashore for a few beers afterwards (making sure everything put away and the boat was locked up securely). A bit disappointing but then I guess there?s always a few who spoil it for everyone else.
We had a lazy day yesterday reading books and doing some washing, and then went to Varekai for a Sunday roast - it was great! Amanda then had a go of cutting my unruly hair and did a pretty good job until the clippers ran out of charge. We stopped back there this morning to get it finished =:). We then went to the little beach, found a track out, and walked to Neiafu. We passed through a little village called Pangai (not the one in the Ha?apai). It was very nice, tidy, clean and no rubbish about, which was nice to see people taking pride in their village. We carried sticks as there were a few dogs around and were told some were not very friendly. We got to town (5km walk) without incident and sorted out our visa extension at immigration, and then got our favourite coconut bread from the bakery. Yum! It?s the fluffiest, yummiest, coconut flavoured bread and we love it (which is saying a lot as many of you know we?re not big bread eaters). After going to the market for some veggies, we then met up with some others (Caprice, Mai Toi, and Nina) and had a beer at Mango Cafe. We got a taxi back to Pangai and made our way back to our dingy after a walk on the beach hunting shells. Dinner tonight was cheese burgers (thanks to the rolls from the bakery) and we will see if the wind has died down enough tomorrow to explore (although I think this blow if forecast for another day or two yet.) There?s talk of a show on Wednesday night in town, so we may head into Neiafu so we?re closer.
We had the best sleep since leaving Opua! Dead flat, even with a bit of breeze, was pure luxury. Nothing like a surrounding coral reef to block out those open ocean swells. We did some washing and then went for an explore around this little bay. Most of it is cliffs covered in trees, but there is a small beach that seems to have a cut through the cliffs - this might be the way to walk into Neiafu that some guides talk about. We will investigate more tomorrow. In the mean time, we scooted around the bay. There?s a bit of seagrass, and some volcanic rocks, but not much coral. We saw a whole squadron of bats overhead and followed them to three trees up on top of the cliff. They all seemed to land there and then chatter and quarrel with each other - very amusing to watch. We investigated a local long boat wrecked on a rocky headland, and then headed back. We stopped in to Varekai for a chat and to tell them about the bats (which they later checked out themselves), and then headed home to chill. Sundowners was on Varekai, and after a few G&T?s, Nigel and Amanda both cut Steve?s hair for him. The original aim was a Mohawk, but I think he/they all chickened out and it ended up a a very short back and sides and the blonde locks left on top! (Which I prefer and think looks great). We are now back on board for a small dinner and a movie - after an amazing look at all the stars out, the sparkly phosphorescence in the water, and the sight of more bats overhead going out to feed.
We got up and were out of the anchorage just after midnight for the trip up to Vava?u. It was a pretty good sail in up to 20knots of wind, and into the 8 knots of boat speed. Because of the underwater topography, this passage is always a bit lumpy. Unfortunately we didn?t spot any whales during daylight, or snag ourselves a fresh feed of fish, despite trying to do both on the way. The contrast between the landscape of the Ha?apai and Vava?u is always striking. The Ha?apai?s are quite low lining sanding islands, while Vava?u is volcanic, cliffy and very deep water until you get close to shore. We are now tucked up in a little bay surrounded by cliffs, which should offer excellent protection from the reinforced trade winds (30+ knots) that are due over the next 2-3 days. We have a well dug in anchor, plenty of chain, lots of swing room, and good friends (The Big V) nearby for socialising - the best way to ride out a blow :). The anchorage has a bonus of lots of lovely bird call during the day, and now that the sun has gone down, we are in the cockpit listening to the cicadas, watching the bats soar above the tree line, and having a pink drink.
We had rum punch and a pot luck lunch on the beach today which was great. Some people left today but more are leaving late tonight or early tomorrow. It?s a shame we have to go to Vava?u to extend our visas (and get more shelter from the bit of wind coming through) otherwise we?d stay in the Ha?apai a bit longer. Never mind, we?ll have 3 weeks in Vava?u so will have plenty of time to really explore there instead.
We started the day a bit slowly, and then had breakfast on ?Oyster Reach?. She is a lovely NZ built 54ft Oyster built in 2009. The owners are a lovely American couple who have crewed on yachts (65+ ft) for decades, but have now managed to buy their own, and still pinch themselves that they own a such a lovely boat in the South Pacific. They gave us lots of tips about crewing on 60-70ft yachts as an option for employment when we get back from Site Office. We gave them lots of tips for the southern Lau group and the Yawasa?s in Fiji, and they gave us lots of information for cruising the Med, Caribbean, and French Polynesia. Ian seemed to enjoy our homebrew but we?ll see how his head was in the morning. His stories of meeting Bankie Banks, and a little known (at the time) guy by the name of Jimmy Buffet when in the Caribbean in the 70s (Jimmy?s tender was stolen and Ian ran him out to his boat before Jimmy?s cargo of ice melted, and got a special invite to a concert for his troubles)l. This is what cruising is all about :). On the down side there?s a bit of a blow coming, so we are thinking of going to Vava?u tomorrow midnight so that we have shelter. It?s not due to ease until tues/weds, but we need to get to Neiafu by the 3rd to extend our visas (because the 4th is a public holiday and we arrived on the 5th of last month, so need to avoid being overstayers. ). All because the Tongan?s didn?t get their sh*t together to give us extensions until after we left Nuka?alofa by which time it was too late! That?s bureaucracy for you!
We had a lazy morning of reading in the cockpit while waiting for the 1pm kickoff for the beach games at the Sea Change Eco Resort. Most people were late (Island time) but it started eventually and was good fun all the way. My team (Ade here) had a great time and we were second up in the tug of war, and won the Tongan traditional dancing. We ended up first equal overall (we were 7 girls and one guy, so named ourselves The Harem) but we lost the limbo tie breaker (the other team had a ring in in the form of a 5 year old who just walked under it ..... ). Steve?s team was the Cocky Scrotes and were a bit too cocky for their own good! A great day was had by all. Everyone is starting to look towards the weather for the passage to Vava?u. We have to be there by the 3rd to extend our visas and not be overstayers. There?s a bit of stronger wind coming and there?s talk of heading up there early to avoid that. We?ll wait and see.
We moved back to Uoleva Island yesterday. Caprice had been out a day or two back for a fish and saw heaps of marlin and had 3-4 on the go at once. They lost all of them and then never saw any again. So they wanted to give it another go, so we all went out on Catbird Suite (63ft cat). Unfortunately we had no luck, but we had a great time and met some boats we hadn?t met yet. Today will probably be a quiet day, and maybe a few boat jobs and then reading in the sun.
Moved here late morning/lunch time. Went to the Royal Agriculture Fisheries Tourism and Trade show. See other Facebook post for comments. No comment.
Luckily it eventually cooled down and we had a fantastic calm, still, sleep. Bliss! We did a couple of jobs in the morning, including Steve having a go at polishing our solar panels. They had gone all milky and we?d been told it was because they were cheap Chinese ones, and that there was nothing we could do and polishing them wouldn?t help. Well, just as well I didn?t listen to them and bought some plastic polish anyway - they have turned up like brand new again! They were about 1/5 the price of the ?recognised? brands, so I didn?t expect much more than a couple of seasons out of them. Hopefully by the time we?ll need them again after returning from Site Office, the technology would have moved forward significantly and these will be obsolete anyway. We then moved further north. We were planning to go to Pangai, but there was talk on the radio of the Harbour master banning all yachts from outside the port - just where we were surprise to be going. Turns out some plonkers (sounds like the same boat that?s had several anchoring issues already) anchored in the middle of the shipping channel. The Harbour master rightly asked them to move. The rally leaders have sorted it out now and we?ve been designated a spot. In the mean time we pulled in to Uoleva and anchored up here again - this was a spot we got to last year. We did a couple more boat jobs, went for a swim, and then went ashore for a short walk and catch-up with other boats at the Uoleva yacht club/Sea Change eco resort bar. We didn?t stay long though, as were driven back to the boat by the flys and the approaching rain (hatches were open and Jenny was on deck on charging duties.). Quiet beer in the cockpit now and the drizzle has cooled things down nicely. Time to read a book and relax.
After a lovely sleep in calm conditions, I got up and watched the sun rise over the little uninhabited island we were anchored off. We had an early morning visit to shore, after motoring through turquoise waters, and walked around the island taking photos and collecting a few shells. It was a lovely little island and seemed to be teeming with large, but shy, hermit crabs. We headed back and left that anchorage in order to move further north. We are due in Pangai on Saturday for the Royal Agriculture Fisheries Tourism and Trade show, and then a free dinner, and so the fleet can anchor up outside the kings palace and he can enjoy all our anchor lights twinkling at night. We?ll be having lunch with the king himself in another week. The NE wind and associated front is due to pass over us tonight (wind dropping and swinging anticlockwise around to the south) so we have anchored where we are now to get protection from any wind or waves we get. But, it?s as flat as a plate of piss, humid, drizzling, and stiflingly hot still at 8.30pm. We?ve just been sampling our cider home brew with the crew of the Big V, and had a great time. Not sure how much sleep we?ll get in this heat - might have to sleep in the cockpit tonight!
Had a noisy and rolly ?sleep?. Upped anchor and motorsailed north. Maybe if we tuck inside the outer reef to the east of the central Ha?apai Group, we?ll have a calmer anchorage and better sleep ... see, cruising ain?t always glamour and boating bliss. On the way we hooked something on the game rod our friend Jim loaned us. Steve managed to get it close to the boat, but before we could see what it was or how big, it spat the hook and got its freedom. We turned around to continue and there were two whales about 4 boat lengths away heading in the same direction. They then turned towards us and dived. Very cool to see them and hope to see more and up close. We motorsailed across a 500m deep trench and through a reef pass into the central Ha?apai Group. Another whale behind us was having fun leaping out of the water, but he was a fair way away. We are now anchored up in 7m of water (not our usual 20m), and it?s a lovely little island surrounded by beautiful blue water and very easy to see bommies. The colour of the water reminds me of Beautemp Beaupre in the Loyalties last year - stunning turquoise. We?re invited to another boat for sundowners, so better go - this is more like it and makes up for the frustrating day yesterday.
Steve here .... I know Ade normally writes these updates but I?m having a go tonight. We headed away from Nomuka this morning (as did a lot of the boats) and we had decided to go eastward thinking that, with the predicted wind (NE) we?d be able to sail ESE to the eastern barrier reef that protects the southern Ha?apai Group. But, of course, the wind was ENE and just too tight to sail without motor assistance. Never mind we thought, we?ll make some water while we motor into the light breeze. Well the ?breeze? was 20+ knots and the sea was getting a bit lumpy. We suddenly had the automatic bilge pump kicking in and we were alarmed to see water running across one of the floorboards, although the bilge only had a smallish amount of water in it. We had blown a small hole in the high pressure water line between the watermaker pressure pump and the reverse osmosis membranes and the pump was merrily spraying water around the engine bay. Arrggghhhh! After shutting the watermaker down we snuck into the lee of Mango Island to check out what had gone wrong. We identified the problem and decided to carry on to Fonoifua to get some calm water to anchor in and assess things properly. We dug out a spare high pressure hose, replaced the faulty one, checked everything thoroughly, wiped everything down and tentatively ran up the watermaker. It appears to be working as it was before the incident without any damage or leaks (phew!). Good thing we carry lots of spares! We washed the boat down, had a swim and we?re settled for the evening here. Tomorrow we might head NE to another small island. We will see how that turns out tomorrow.
We were planning to snorkel today, but the ?Eco Resort? on the big island offered rides across the channel (sorry, the use of the word ?resort? is a pretty generous description. It?s basically a shed for the lounge, kitchen etc, and then some tents for the accomodation). Anyway, they called the fleet up and offered a free trip over to their premises for a paid lunch. We were the only ones that didn?t partake of the lunch which we didn?t mind as we had a big breakfast, but we had a fantastic time anyway. They have a whole bunch of rescue dogs (up to 7 sometimes) who are lovely natured and very friendly. We went for a walk along the beach and found some nice shells, and then walked into town. Again, ?town? was a pretty loose description and anyone who has been to a remote tropical island will know what I mean when I say they live pretty basic lives. Lots of skinny dogs, (unlike the ?resort? ones), a heap of pigs, a few horses, plus the odd child, were all roaming free. We avoided the church (didn?t want to be struck by lightening for ?snorkelling? on the anchor yesterday), and just walked along the shore. Saw heaps of cool butterflies, collected a few frangipani flowers, marvelled at the amount of rubbish lying around, and then headed back to the ?resort?. We are still waiting for the wind to die down so we can head SE (upwind) to some other anchorages, but in the mean time we are getting to know some of the other cruisers and there?s talk of a beach bbq tomorrow. We have until Saturday to be at Pangai so no point in rushing (and only due there so the King of Tonga can marvel at all the anchor lights in the bay from the fleet). We are of course invited to have lunch with him the following week at an island slightly to the south. Now, where did I put that tiara? .....
We have had a relaxing day, especially after the unwelcome neighbours moved early this morning. As we were not allowed to do anything on a Sunday (it?s apparently against the law to do ?water sports? on a Sunday, which includes snorkelling) we had a day of reading in the sun. A few more boats left so we moved a bit closer in to hopefully get out of the annoying roll (alas it didn?t work). We reset our anchor but were worried we?d wrapped our chain around a bommie in the process, so Steve jumped in with snorkel gear to check, and also check the height of a few bommies around us. We figure this was allowed as it was a safety issue, not ?water sports?. We haven?t been struck by lightning yet so it must have been ok with God, and we haven?t been arrested yet by the local police. We must have gotten away with it - good thing there aren?t any meddling kids around! :D. We had a nice walk on shore and Steve managed to climb a coconut tree and nab a couple, and we found some cool shells on the beach. We?ve sussed out a nice looking lagoon and will take the dingy into it tomorrow morning, anchor in the sandy centre, and then have a snorkel. We?ve just watched a movie, so time for bed now. Night all :)
We had a lazy morning until the ?fun? started - a boat that dragged a few days ago and caused all sorts of trouble started motoring over towards us and moved in front of us. After failing to anchor once, they then came straight for us so close that I started the engine and motored forward so that they wouldn?t hit our stern. They then pulled up very close while we waves our hands around and politely asked what the f*$k they were doing. They then tried for a second time to anchor and refused to answer our radio calls to inform them were our anchor was (right were they were trying to anchor). They have now anchored with very little chain out and failed to even pull back and check their anchor was dug in correctly (something we always do). We considered moving but the wind has swung and we are no longer in their line of fire if/when they drag again. Another boat off our starboard stern didn?t feel so safe either and moved. I know the non-boaties amongst you will wonder why we are concerned. Just imagine you have a beautiful pristine car - either classic, European, or just very expensive. You park waaaay out at the outer reaches of the carpark, but find that some plonker insists on parking 6 inches away, in their rusty old pile of shite, which has big long doors, and has 17 kids on board who fling the door out with force before emerging ... that?s kinda the same, except if the wind suddenly blows, and these plonkers drain and either hit us, or drag our chain, we could end up on a reef. Some may be asking, ?well, why don?t you move??. Anchoring etiquette says last boat in must move, but these guys are arrogant f*&$wits who don?t think they ever drag - despite the fact that they did last week. Sigh, sorry for the rant! Just so frustrating. We have a good spot and shouldn?t have to move. We have a very well dug in anchor and 80m of chain out, and are safe and secure. The only reason we haven?t moved is that the wind is due to change even more before it builds so hopefully they should be clear of any other boats when they drag (as they will no doubt do if it blows and they have so little chain out). The guys off Kena will get this next bit - guess where they are from? Put it this way, we?ve been playing that song you gave us from Spitting Image all day now!!! For the non-boaties - we had a great time ashore, walked over and around the island. There was a feast tonight with local food (jams, cassava, taro, pork, etc), and some not so local food (sweet and sour chicken(?!)). We?ll find out tomorrow if it lives up to the usual effects of ?village feasts? - the toilet paper is all stocked up and ready. We were also thinking of snorkeling tomorrow, but apparently that?s not allowed on a Sunday for religious reasons (???!!!! Wtf?!). Maybe Monday we can do that. Anyway, time to go and put another brew on - heaven forbid we do THAT on a Sunday!
We woke at 4am with no wind so took our time getting up. We upped anchor and were out the reef pass by 4.40am. With no wind we motored north east. Once the sun was up we put some lures out, and an hour or so later the wind finally filled in. We sailed with full main and full Genoa with the wind well aft of the beam (140AWA) and happily did 7.5-8.5 knots and sometimes up to 9.5 knots. We saw a few humpback whales, slapping their tails and pectoral fins off in the distance. We got a small tuna for lunch, and it was quite a nice sail - except it was overcast and drizzling most of the way. We arrived at Nomuka Ika Island around lunch time and anchored up. It?s been a very overcast, rocky and windy (15+ knts average) afternoon, but we?ve slept, eaten, read books and relaxed. We have a fair bit of shelter from the island and surrounding reef, but we must still remember we are kinda parked in the Pacific Ocean - hence the wind and rocky nature of the anchorage. After a wine or two, we?re settled down to watch Moana (appropriately), and chill out for the evening.
We did a few boat jobs this morning. I bottled some beer and Steve pulled the aft head apart because it had sounded a bit funny. Turns out it was fine so he spent a frustrating morning for nothing - well, at least we now know it was ok. After a swim and doing some washing we headed out towards the reef pass and have anchored up off Atata island. There?s a resort on shore, so after a late lunch/early dinner at 4pm, we gingerly went ashore for a walk and look around. We had to go over a low Corel reef that was hard to see in the overcast conditions. Luckily the tide was coming in, so getting back was ok. We had a chat to the resort staff who were having a day off as there were no guests today. The friendly resort dog walked us back to the dingy, and we finished the day with a wine and a book in the cockpit. We?ll have an early night and hopefully be out the reef pass by about 5am.
I forgot to mention yesterday that the Aussie Navy is in town. The ?mothership? (HMAS Melbourne) and accompanying protecting frigate/warship (HMAS Adelaide) arrived yesterday while we were over in town getting fuel. We were woken up this morning to the sounds of Pangaimotu Island being invaded. They had landing craft, about a dozen high speed RIBs with half a dozen guys on each one, and then the helicopters came out as well. Has been an entertaining morning watching all the action. Apparently the navy boys will then be heading to Big Mamas tonight for drinks. Unfortunately, we were planning to go and anchor just inside the reef pass ready for an early departure for Nomuka Island in the southern part of the Ha?apai group tomorrow morning. Some of the boats have left today and we can hear on the VHF that some of them have spotted whales already, which is something to look forward to tomorrow :).
Had a great night on Monday with the celebrations and feast. It was the best feast we?ve ever had in the islands! They only did a few dishes but did them really well. The octopus was my favourite, followed by the pork - YUM! It was fancy dress with most people turning up as pirates, and the Tongans put on some traditional dancing by both the women and the men. We spent a bit of time around the Kava bowl and the dancing went on til late. I think we were the last to leave and the sluggishness the next morning was worth it. Today we are going to try to refuel (yes, were going to do it Monday but ended up helping the crew on Nina fix their boom roller furling). The ICNZ have organised a diesel tanker for the fleet but the company they are dealing with are making the whole thing very frustration - like giving us a price but not telling us there was a 15% tax on top, and insisting on cash - I think the money machine in town will have been emptied out! To top it off, the rumour has it the jetty we are spose to use for refueling is apparently got the navy coming and going to from today - could be a long day! Welcome to island time.
Day started with rain, so read a book all morning in the cockpit. Then the sun came out after lunch so we went ashore, then had a torrential downpour and probably 20knots of wind for 20-30 mins, then sun again. Headed back to Seaforth with Jim for a few homebrews. Was good to catch up with Jim for beer and talk about Site Office and discuss plans etc. He?s just gone home to ?Mum and Dad? - hope he?s not in trouble for staying out late and drinking and getting tattoos. Big night tomorrow with fancy dress and feast at Big Mamas. Might try to go fill up with diesel tomorrow morning - might be 3 trips in the dingy with 6 x 20L fuel containers. A good way to fill in the day and prepare for departure on 14th for the Ha?apai.
Took the boat over to Nuku?alofa yesterday to go to town and have a look around - the bright lights of the big city had lured us in! We went through a couple of markets. One was aimed more at the locals and was selling everything from hot food, to clothes, shampoo, washing machines and car tools. We went further into town and found another market with fresh fruit and veggies, and touristy items. Bought same sad looking carrots and small tomatoes, some drinking coconuts, and a couple of trinkets for the boat. Had a good look around, saw the royal palace, and all the flash well built buildings which were either embassy?s, or buildings built by Asian countries in partnership with Tonga. Getting a foothold in the pacific I guess, much like the Americans did decades ago. Since it?s Saturday there was lots of people around and lots of the same sorts of things you see the world over - kids trying to look cool in their cars with stereos pumping and hats on backwards with large American basketball singlets, LOL. Headed back to Big Mamas for the evening, and another small high-20 knot blow last time, but everyone was ok for this one. Have woken to overcast skies and more rain. It has rained more since we got here (and the previous 3-4 days) than it did all of last season. We?re hoping it?s gonna stop soon. We only have until the 14th here before we leave for the Ha?apai Group and want to check out some snorkel spots before we go. Today looks like a reading book day while watching the rain from the enclosed cockpit.
Have had a great time socialising. Every day more boats arrive and there are then celebratory drinks at the bar. Last night we had quite a few drinks at the bar, and then the crews off Caprice and Manuhaea (both friends from last year) came over. We had 10 on board, and the G&Ts and homebrew went down very well indeed. We have no idea what time they left, but at about 4am we were up again putting all the clears down as it started to rain .... hard! It just kept getting heavier and heavier and then about 5am the wind quickly kicked in. Next thing we had 30knots and all hell seemed to be breaking loose. We were fine and our anchor was holding nicely, but some boats were struggling and spent the next few hours motoring up on their chains, or upping their anchors and motoring out into the lagoon to get off the lee shore. One boat just attached a buoy to their rode and cut if off the boat and motored out. Several boats got their chains and/or anchors tangle and had a few dramas with trying not to bang into each other. We (Steve, myself and Jim who?d crashed on board for the night) had an ?entertaining? few hours until sunrise just keeping an eye on things with the engine ready to start if we needed to motor out of danger. At the end of the day Seaforth stayed put (70m of chain out, anchored in 20m of water) and the wind gradually died down during the morning and we took turns keeping a watch and sleeping. It?s now a calm 10 knots and we?ve just been for a walk on the beach. There?s three dogs at Big Mamas, and one black one called Buster took us for a walk half way around the island. He also catches fish, so reminded us of Moose in New Caledonia. The crew off Varekai are leaving tomorrow, so we?re just having dinner and then will be heading ashore for their final night of drinkies in Tonga. The livers are holding up well so far.
Had an awesome almost 12 sleep last night! It?s so nice to be able to sleep without having to hold on to the bed so you don?t get thrown off. Haha. Hopefully it?s be sunny today so we can get the boat cleaned up and all the washing done. It?s then due to rain for the next few days and a low is coming through - perfect time to sit in the cockpit with the clears all down to keep the rain out, and read a book for a while.
Last year we got acclimatised to the heat of the tropics because every day was getting warmer and warmer. With all the rain we have had on passage, it?s been cooler and we?ve still slept under a single blanket at night. Maybe it?s cos we also had a breeze from moving, even though the boat hatches were all closed to keep all the torrential rain out. Now that we are anchored up, it?s very still and very hot! 32 degrees today. The water is a cool 25 degrees and is lovely. Sorry! Just thinking about how cold it is in NZ now makes the last 8 days passage seem worth it .... almost .... ok, so give us another week or two and we?ll be up for another passage again - but not just yet! Just goes to show how smart we are!! There?s a saying: You come out of the Harbour fat, dumb and happy, and then get pasted! Hahaha
More rain and not much wind so motorsailing all day. Don?t have to rush as eta to reef pass 0600, so will have to wait for light to go in. Another yacht are having engine troubles so we will probably also wait for them and go in with them. Fish and chips for dinner. Hope to be anchored outside Big Mamas by late morning Tues. Very much looking forward to a cold adult beverage. All well on board.
I think we must have taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in India during Moonsoon season! Have been motorsailing/motoring since yesterday afternoon, and it?s been raining most of the time since then too. Sometimes it?s just normal rain, but at other times it?s like the ocean is falling from the sky. The rain flattens the water and waves out and looks impressive, but we?re sick of being wet and everything just feels damp due to the moisture in the air. We?re very much looking forward to some sunshine to dry things out! Luckily it?s fresh water, not salty, so we won?t have to wash the boat down when we arrive. It did stop for an hour or so and allow us to put the diesel from the jerry cans on deck into the diesel tank, so that?s a bonus now having enough fuel to motor all the rest of the way if necessary. We also landed a small mahi-mahi and so had a nice lunch. All well on board.
Did manage some nice sailing today, but wind coming from direction we want to go in, so on an LTO (Long Tack to Oblivion). Went to tack and wind dies and swung around and since Steve kept turning towards the wind, ended up doing a 360 - Hahahha. After we figured out what was going on, and finished having a laugh, we dropped the sails and now motoring to Tongatapu (we never did manage to tack the boat!). There?s loads of rain about and Steve heard thunder three times and saw one flash of lightning. Luckily no more of that though! So it?s 100% cloud, no moon, no stars, and it?s pitch black. Steve says it?s like the inside of a cows ass (??!!). If it wasn?t for the instrument lights, we probably couldn?t see our hands in front of our faces. The cool thing though is the phosphorescence in the water - very cool to watch. Hopefully tomorrow it?ll stop raining for 5 mins and settle down enough so we can put the diesel that?s in jerry cans on deck into our diesel tanks. When will the tropical weather kick in? All well on board.
Two nights ago we had too much wind (and were hoved to in 35+], last night we had a variable 5 knots that made the wind gear go round and round like a drunken pole dancer. Frustrating! Are hoping to make entrance to reef pass before nightfall Monday, but don?t like our chances if the wind doesn?t play ball. Also drizzling a lot - where?s the tropical trade winds sailing gone? But, almost there - we can almost taste the beer. All well on board.
The wind has decreased a bit so sailing again in the right direction. Reefed down for the night. Comfortable and happy. All well on board.
The wind has increased. We changed direction and slowed down to make things more comfortable. Not going to attempt to get into Minerva in these conditions. Slow going but all well on board.
The wind kicked in about 4am, so the sails came out and Polly (Perkins) went off watch. Hammering along now, hard on the wind, having a wet and wild ride. No more sunbathing or fishing today, but making good ground and reasonably comfortable and happy. Four other boats on AIS and within VHF range, so has been good having a chat. Have finished second book since leaving GH and done a heap of jigsaw puzzles on the iPad - LOL. We heard a few days ago that the Tongan Navy had ?closed? South Minerva Reef and were doing exercises (star jumps? Crunches maybe?), but latest reports say they have finished and boats are allowed back in South Minerva again. But it sounds like the fleet is going to North Minerva anyway - we?ll double check that when we pass Sth Minerva some time early tomorrow. All well on board. Nearly there!
Fantastic day as was sunny and warm. Managed fix broken lazy jack line, and also end for ended number 2 reef line that has chaffing. Had two lures out most of the day but no luck. Boat behind us caught a mahi-mahi, so they are around. Roast lamb for dinner. Cooling down now - not quite shorts and t-shirts overnight just yet. ETA North Minerva Saturday around lunch time/early afternoon. All well on board.
Motoring in seas that are continuing towards flat calm. Sounds like the fleet is off to a great start with the fishing with reports of tuna, mahi-mahi, wahoo, and a 70-80kg yellowfin tuna being landed. We?ll put our lines out today and see if we can join them - although hopefully not that big! Wouldn?t know how to get the damn thing on board! Broke one of our lazy jack lines a couple of days ago (the lines that hold up the stack pack that the main sail drops down into). Not a big deal but mildly annoying. Rigged something else, but if it?s calm enough might try to fix properly, or wait until Minerva. Better go put some lures out! All well on board.
Wind didn?t go east but just died completely. Sails turned into annoying flappy white things, so pulled them down and motoring now. Despite having not actually seen any flying fish yet, I found two on the deck this afternoon - possibly from last night? Scattered showers all around us with the occasional one washing the boat off. All well on board.
It was cold last night, but the chill in the air was definitely gone. It feels warmer today too. We?re still waiting for the wind to turn to the east so we can head north to Minerva instead of to the Kermadecs. Water temperature is up another 3 degrees as well. Haven?t seen any flying fish yet, but lots of bird soaring over the waves and making it look like fun. Sea state has settled. Still have long ocean swells but less sloppy and lumpy. Is kinda fun surfing down the wave face. Haven?t bothered putting a lure out the back yet - fridge and freezer are both full to the brim, but maybe once we get closer to Minerva. All well on board.
Seas still a bit lumpy, but either getting use to it, or it?s settling down a smidge. Wind definitely eased a smidge after a squally shower which was nice to wash off the boat, and not too much wind with it. Have seen alberstross today which is very cool. They are awesome to watch and they seem to like coming for a look at the strange object in the ocean, soaring right past close to us and showing off their effortless travel and huge wingspan. Water temperature is up 2 degrees - yay! Haven?t seen any flying fish yet. Last night the full moon was awesome to be sailing with, but it meant we didn?t see many stars. Hopefully it won?t be as cold tonight - still have the thermals on, but looking forward to midnight watch in boardies and a t-shirt! :)
Seas still a bit lumpy, but either getting use to it, or it?s settling down a smidge. Wind definitely eased a smidge after a squally shower which was nice to wash off the boat, and not too much wind with it. Have seen alberstross today which is very cool. They are awesome to watch and they seem to like coming for a look at the strange object in the ocean, soaring right past close to us and showing off their effortless travel and huge wingspan. Water temperature is up 2 degrees - yay! Haven?t seen any flying fish yet. Hopefully it won?t be as cold tonight - still have the thermals on, but looking forward to midnight watch in boardies and a t-shirt! :)
Two reefs in the main and staysail since dusk last night. Smoking along overnight up to 9.5 knots in the 25kt gusts. Seas a bit lumpy but you get use to it. Happy to be eating up the miles while we can. It?s due to lighten off a bit today and we?ll probably have to motor the last day to Minerva. A couple of other boats in sight on the horizon and AIS. All well onboard.
Good start. Smoking along 7.5-8.5knots. Wind built a bit and lumpy seas. Reefed down now. Wind easing a bit but still lumpy. Due to settle down a bit more overnight/tomorrow.
On our way!
We splashed out and spent the last two nights in Opua marina so we could catch up with friends - one of whom flew over from Aussie. We had a great weekend and are now anchored back outside the marina and having a quiet night. We have many activities on this week with Island Cruising NZ. We were actually asked to help with a demonstration yesterday in which we had to get someone back on board after a man overboard situation using a new sled invention. We had to tie up to the Q berth opposite the Opua Cruising club so the fleet could watch the demonstration from the balcony. Apparently Nigel from Island Cruising NZ had to give all sorts of details and crew names etc to get permission from Customs for us to tie up to the Q dock for only an hour - something that is normally strictly forbidden unless you are actually clearing in. It was good fun and a successful demo and the poor guy in his wet weather gear had the worse job of jumping in the tide at 4.30pm when the sun was going down and it was starting to get chilly - rather him than me!
Awoke to a clear, sunny, calm day. Motored around to Opua and anchored up in the very brown muddy waters of Opua. Steve had a report for work to finish, and then we went ashore for showers and a catch up with some of the new rally people. We then had reunion drinkies with Perky, Daphne & Hugo on Varekai - seems like just last week we were having drinks on the Q dock after arriving back to NZ at 3am. Time has flown. Great to be about to start the next adventure!
Arrived in Bay of Islands. Interesting sail up the coast with variable winds. Sometimes had to motorsail, other times storming along at 8knots. Anchored up just on dusk, and now cooking our fresh tuna for dinner. Yum! Was hoping to upload some photos on Facebook, but no internet in the bay we are in (Waipiro Bay), so that will have to wait until we get coverage. Hopefully this update gets through via satellite comms.
Left Whangarei Heads and now sailing up the coast to Opua. We started with little wind on the nose, but now have 14knts on the beam so we are moving along nicely doing 7+ knots. A few showers are coming through to wash the boat off but we are nice and dry in the cockpit. All well on board.
Stopped in to Marsden Cove Marina for the night to catch up with friends. They recently bought a 73ft ex Pilot vessel to live and travel overseas on. We were talking about the guy who originally had Seaforth built - who was a spinal surgeon from Wellington by the name of Robin McKenzie. We were told when he sold Seaforth he bought ?an old tug boat and converted it to live on?. Well guess what, these friends said ?hang on, a spinal surgeon from Wellington by the same name owned our boat too?. Hehehehe. What are the chances!! Turns our Seaforth and their boat - Manaia - where owned by the same dude!! It?s a small world when you?re drinking on boats!
Left Gulf Harbour yesterday at about 10am and motorsailed up the coast. Now anchored up in Urquharts Bay just inside Whangarei Heads.
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