Silver Light

Silver Light

Thu May 2 20:58 2019 NZST
Run: 20.2nm (36.6km)
27 05.239S 153 09.484E
Weather: Easterly, mostly sunny with odd cloud, warm.

Sailed across to Bribie Island today and parked up just of Bongaree in Pumicestone. Great days sailing on Moreton Bay. Beautiful calm anchorage here. Heading for Newport Marina for the weekend to catch up with John and Beth Borsboom who will be staying on board. Really enjoying the Moreton Bay area and looking forward to exploring more of it.

Wed May 1 17:47 2019 NZST
Run: 8.5nm (15.4km)
27 17.347S 153 23.691E
Weather: Sunny 25 degrees with easterly.

This afternoon moved South to the Sandhill anchorage off Moreton Island. Beautiful motor sail in 12kts down the coast. Now anchored up in a lovely bay with a slight easterly breeze coming across the Island, 4 other boats anchored across the bay and fantastic view of the sandhills this location if famous for. Will attempt the big sandhill climb in the morning. Just saw four people part way up through the bino's, and given how small they look this climb could a bit of a haul. Across the other side of Moreton bay we can see high rises of Brisbane.

Wed May 1 11:56 2019 NZST
Run: 2.8nm (5.1km)
27 10.064S 153 22.163E
Weather: Sunny periods with passing showers, easterly wind.

Moved to Tanaglooma yesterday and anchored close to the wrecks. Lovely spot, southerly swell had cleared during the day so nice calm night. Get a great view from here of the ships heading in and out of Brisbane port. In the distance we can see the high rise towers of downtown Brisbane and at night the skyline is well lit up.

Wed May 1 10:45 2019 NZST
Run: 33.7nm (61km)
27 07.624S 153 21.742E
Weather: SW's most of day with passing showers

Motor sailed south from Moolooaba across the top of Moreton Bay. Took three hours to get to the channel, lovely gentle swells with nice breeze. Changed just as we got to the channel entrance, wind moved SSE and several heavy showers came through with associated gusty wind. Sea became confused and quite bouncy until we hit the NW corner of Moreton Island. Lovley passge down the island to Cowan Cowan. Anchored for night, small swell kept us moving about but manageable.

Wed Apr 10 12:12 2019 NZST
Run: 54.5nm (98.6km)
26 41.200S 153 07.640E
Weather: Fine with a southerly front just blowing in.

Now moored up in Mooloolaba at the yacht club marina. Left Tin Can 2 days ago, parked for the night inside Inskip point. Lovely calm anchorage. Left yesterday morning and crossed the infamous Wide Bay Bar at 8.00am. Just over an hour to get through the set waypoints. Bit of a washing machine affect for good part of it, really glad of our Karori rip experience over the years crossing Cook St.

Once through into beautiful calm long gentle swells with 8kt offshore wind. Motor sailed down the coast until 1700hrs when we reached here. Great day on the sea. Here now until after Easter. Looking forward to some exploring of local waterways and some land based places.

Wed Mar 27 20:42 2019 NZDT
Run: 26.3nm (47.6km)
25 54.370S 153 00.417E
Weather: raining today, cooler temp. welcome.

Arrived here in Tin Can Bay Marina yesterday after motoring down from anchorage at Figtree Creek - just South of Gary's anchorage. Great little marina, very clean and helpful staff. They provide a vehicle you can borrow for up to one and a half hours to do shopping or other bits. Cheryl went to doctor over ongoing stomach bug problem. Could be here for up to 2 weeks until all tests etc worked through.

Sun Mar 24 15:16 2019 NZDT
Run: 10.5nm (19km)
25 31.678S 152 57.782E
Weather: Fine, no wind.

Anchored South Whitecliffs in Yankee Jacks anchorage. Motored from Kingfisher bay during morning. Very calm here and hot. Surrounded by mangroves on various sandbars interspersed with channels.

Fri Mar 22 20:33 2019 NZDT
Run: 4.4nm (8km)
25 23.231S 153 01.616E
Weather: Fine, light NE breeze. No thunderstorms today

Anchored just off the North end of King Fisher Bay next to the wharf. Spent the last week off South Point, Big Woody Island. Cheryl not well so spent some down time. We are now slowly making our way down through the straight heading for Tin Can Bay in 4 days time. All well on board.

Sat Mar 16 13:21 2019 NZDT
Run: 5.6nm (10.1km)
25 19.980S 152 59.312E
Weather: Calm, overcast, humid. Heading for 30 dgrs plus again with chance of rain and thunderstorms.

Anchored South Point, SW corner of Big Woody Island. Left Hervey Bay marina 2 days ago. Anchored fist night at Sandy Point, anchorage a bit rolly with winds and slight swell from North plus effects of tidal flow. Motored down channel yesterday to current location. Great spot. Thunderstorm passed over last night, bit of rain and westerly winds for a couple of hours. Heading for Tin Can Bay marina over next 10 days - South end of great sandy straights about 50 miles away. Slowly working away at various boat jobs. Crew and boat all well.

Tue Mar 12 20:55 2019 NZDT
Run: 49.3nm (89.2km)
25 17.705S 152 54.600E
Weather: Blustery northerly, warm and sunny during day, 35 degrees, thunder storms brewing during late afternoon.

Currently tied up in Hervey Bay Boat Club marina, Urangan. Motor sailed here from Bundaberg two days ago just as wind turned to light northerly. Monday picked up part for water maker from engineering shop in Hervey Bay. Spent today in Maryborough, place with a very interesting history, including the connection to Mary Poppins. Off on a driving tour of Fraser Island tomorrow.

Mon Mar 4 14:49 2019 NZDT
24 45.621S 152 23.295E
Weather: Fine, south east trades at 15-20kts most days and odd showers during the night.

After almost 4 months enjoying some land adventures and activity we arrived back in Bundaberg a week ago and moved aboard Silver Light 3 days ago after some cleaning and TLC for the good ship. Great to be home again. Will look to head South into Hervey Bay and into Urangan later this week.

Silver Light - Tonga - The Friendly Isles

Captain Cook must have been an amazing man. I can't imagine what it would be like for Captain Cook or the Tongans to meet each other 250 years ago. Tonga has me really confused: the towns and villages are basic; Nuku'alofa has a main street that resembles a town. Everything is betwixt and between. One or two shops for the tourists are emblazoned with western paraphernalia such as window dressing displaying items that tourists may like; namely sarongs and shirts, handicrafts made of tapa cloth Read more...

or wood, some are very intricate, and don't forget the freshwater pearls. The Tongans know where to go for their every day needs and if it's not found at the market this may be up a flight of stairs with completely irrelevant signage for the service provided. Government Departments, such as Customs and Immigration, observe all public holidays and may make up some for themselves and they are stringent about taking their breaks, which means that everything closes down during those times. In Pangai, the main town of the Ha'apai Island Group, we anchored offshore and took the dinghy into town. All the Tongans were practising their songs, dancing, eating ready for the arrival of the King the next day. We tied the dinghy up at the port, and asked a couple of young Tongans where the town was. They said: "Here". They obviously didn't understand me so I asked where the main street was. They said: "Here". Guess who didn't understand? We were standing in the middle of the main road of Pangai and didn't recognise it as such. It consisted of a hardware store that sold tyres and a few other things; two "Chinese" stores as they are known, which sell Asian and Tongan food supplies and heaps of plastic products from China, much like our $2 shops. The Tongans refer to them as the "Chinese store", because Chinese operate and run them. Finally, there were two cafes, one selling pizzas and the other more like a bar. Round the corner though is the Mariners Cafe where the cruisers congregated to exchange tips and tricks for surviving in Tonga. Most Tongans don't frequent cafes so the prices are set accordingly for the tourist.

The Chinese here are the most unfriendly people I've ever met. We were trying to buy some eggs from the Chinese stores and when asked if they sold them they said: "NO". End of discussion. Then I'd persevere and asked if they knew where I could buy eggs. Same response: "NO". Later, talking to a Tongan we found that we could buy eggs at the market and they would have known that. The ferry comes into Neiafu (Vava'u Island Group) once a week and this week they forgot a container of chicken and eggs on the wharf in Nuku'alofa so they were at a premium. My new Tongan friend, Mita, told me to write a list of what I needed at the market and she went and bought it for me. She told me the prices are too expensive for tourists so it's true, the Tongans and the Chinese are charging high prices. Make hay while the sun shines! Vegetables, except for yams, are at a premium. We're managing to get a supply of cabbage, carrots, green peppers and tomatoes. We're still eating tuna and mahimahi from the freezer, some we caught and some was given to us. For meat, we buy chicken, which reminds me of chicken in NZ years and years ago when we used to eat it only on Christmas Day. Pork isn't easy to buy even though many piglets and breeders are roaming streets and villages at will - definitely free range - but the tiny piglets are destined for the spit roast; a well-marketed tourist attraction is to attend a Tongan feast on almost any inhabited island. We were thinking if they fattened the piglets just a little bit, they'd get more meat and that would mean more profit, surely!

This year the King is celebrating his birthday in the Ha'apais - another reason for no food stores in the other island groups. All produce is sent to the Ha'apais so that the king can celebrate his birthday in the style that he is accustomed. A wee bit of goss from the Tongan taxi driver. The Tongan Royal Family rules that they want to keep the royal line pristine - really! And they do that by marrying within their family, including first cousins. Currently, King Tupou VI is reigning and he married his first cousin. Eek! However, his older brother, now deceased, had a relationship with two women and offspring with both but they were not recognised in the royal line. If he married a commoner, he would lose all his royal rights. But what about this - the only person he could have married was his sister!!

So, here we are, in a beautiful part of the Pacific with friendly and unfriendly locals, depending on the circumstances; some produce available but mostly not because the King's birthday celebrations are taking all the produce; western prices in shack cafes, taxis plying for trade with the roughest cars ever, and then again, we have to keep our wits about us as the Tongans have got it sussed and know how to take our money off us. The other day, a guy paddled out to sell us some bread and he didn't want money but rope; I ask you, who got the better deal?

Just in case, you're going to stay in a resort in Tonga, check it out. Some of the resorts we've seen are nothing like resorts that are in our minds.

Most of you will know that we lost our tender and outboard, life jackets and other bits and pieces. The update is that we have purchased replacements in NZ and they are about to be freighted to Savusavu to meet us there when we arrive. Yay!!

Silver Light - Passage to Tonga

Ten days at sea with a 30-hour stop at Minerva Reef (North Minerva). The trip of a lifetime with a couple of lovely cruising days, one which we had to motor most of the day but the others saw us pretty much in survival mode. The boisterous seas, like a huge agitator washing machine tossed and pummeled us as we tried to negotiate our way between the cockpit, cabin and head. Imagine this, you're standing on a 45 degree angle in the head, watching the toilet heave one way then the other, trying Read more...

to get out of your wet weather gear and wishing you hadn't left it so long before starting this task, holding on with one hand co-ordinated with knee pressure while unzipping clothing, and, finally, you're seated. Then the very same process has to be repeated in reverse. Everything is an effort but you know it's going to end eventually. Showers; what showers? Wet wipes were wonderful for everything from top to toe; also, you could wash/wipe in any position. Don't think about that for too long!! On our first day with a flat sea, we had a shower - you know what they say about the simple things in life? It was bliss! Seeing boats around us - miles away - was a real treat, especially at night when their navigation lights twinkled, like messages from heaven. And, with AIS, we knew exactly who was where.

The normal nausea hit me for the first few days; best position is horizontal but then again when on watch the fresh air is good. Prepared passage meals were a Godsend; one-pot meals with everything in it, pop it in the oven, heat it up, dish it up, eat and that's dinner over for another night. The very worst day I ended up getting a small block of cheese and crackers in my cabin and for a good day and a bit when the hunger pangs struck, I nibbled at the block of cheese, had a cracker or two, and washed it down with water. Did the trick and, in the conditions, it seemed like a banquet! Had one happy hour on the very last night before arriving in Tonga. Didn't feel like it before that! Can't say I made up for it but I did have two rums and they were good!

Minerva Reef was amazing for so many reasons. The first boat that got there was approached by the Tongan Navy and told the Navy was conducting an exercise and they'd have to leave immediately. Well, yachties always have something up their sleeves and they told the Tongan Navy that they were the first boat of a fleet of 30, guests of the King of Tonga, all of whom had been invited to a Royal Dinner on the 30th June and showed them the invitation. Had to consult the Commander of the Ship now - the message came back that the Navy would conduct their exercise elsewhere and for the yachties to enjoy Minerva Reef for as long as they wished. The sea-life was out of this world - painted crayfish in particular. It was pouring with rain when at low tide we jumped in the dinghy to go for a walk on the reef but it was all part of it. Hard to believe that we were standing on a reef in the middle of the Pacific Ocean thousands of feet deep!! The sheltered circle of the reef was 20-30 metres deep and a huge circumference. This shelter from the waves was a great respite in what was really a gruelling trip.

Slowly, the temperatures started to warm up and layers peeled as we travelled north. In NZ, I started with 4 layers on the top and three on the bottom; after Minerva Reef much warmer and now in Tonga very warm. When we could start moving around the boat, we found that it wasn't that watertight. We arrived with heaps and heaps of washing that Big Mama took care of at $5 per kilo (weighed when wet we found out).

Have got to say, the whole trip in perspective was great - a bit bumpy, but not that bad. Life goes on, we all survived, our boats did us proud and we learnt heaps. The sight of land was the best feeling and we arrived on a glorious day in Tonga!

Well done Ian and Cheryl. Your trip sounded like a typical one of mine. Felt nauseous just reading about it. Prepared meals rock.
10 out of 10 to the yachtie who fobbed off the Tonga navy. What a great story -it would only happen in the Pacific. The warm weather sounds great. it got pretty cold even here in the "winterless north", mind you its our first in four years and we are still acclimatising. Keep the blogs coming. xx

Silver Light - Comms and Passage Planning

Four weeks and we're still not quite on top of our comms and downloads. Nearly there. IridiumGo and PredictWind are great but the setup is something you wouldn't believe. Ian has been working on this almost non-stop. These apps will enable us to download weather forecasts from satellites when on passage or from anywhere in the world. Very slowly, of course. Apparently you start the download, prepare and eat breakfast, then, voila, you have the latest forecast for your specific area in the Read more...

Pacific Ocean. Two of the Apps work better on an iPad, so off we went to buy an iPad Pro - just another purchase of $1 boat dollar. ($1 boat dollar = $NZ1,000.) Back to the iPad, nothing would download. Even though Noel Leemings salesperson had told us all iPads had GPS, we should have bought a GPS assist and cellular iPad. They were going to swap it for us but there were no cellular iPads in the country according to their system (all the cruisers to the Pacific had bought them) and it would take two weeks to get one from the US. Twelve days before we leave NZ shores. Just order one and we'll let the universe take care of it - what will be, will be. Would you believe that, coincidentally, the very next day two of these cellular iPads were delivered to Noel Leemings in Kerikeri - thank you, universe. So, now we're downloading every possible navigational App with maps of the Pacific onto Microsoft laptop, our Samsung smartphones and tablet, and our Apple iPad. Each brand takes a different version of the app so when you think you've got one mastered, you start all over again for the next device. And, yes, we have a chart plotter and all the paper charts required for this voyage. Life was so much simpler with paper charts but then again weather was left more to chance and patterns than it is now. We've got four days until our ETD so it looks like we'll get there but progress is slow.

The plan is that we leave Opua and sail to Minerva Reef, sheltering and exploring in both South and North Minerva; however, it looks like the wind may die out part way up and we'll have to motor part way. Not to worry, we have 400 litres of fuel - 200 litres in the tank and 200 ltrs in gerry cans. If we stick to 1500 rpms we'll be right. After a couple of days at the Minerva Reefs, we'll set sail for Tonga. We're one of 32 boats on the Island Cruising New Zealand Rally to Tonga. This week of preparation has seen us all meeting one another and helping each other out by sharing whatever skills. A great social time as well as lots of hard work going on; not to mention purchasing replacement items and spares. Self-sufficiency has a whole new meaning!! Burnsco Marine must be doing a great trade.

At the moment, it looks like we'll be leaving Opua Sunday night or Monday morning. Just watching that weather forecast.

Silver Light is pretty much full to capacity

Silver Light - Stress free Safety Category 1 - Yeah right!

List after list after list. Then lists of lists. Rationalising lists. Striking items off lists then adding three items for every one struck off. Tetchy with the system, with partners, with workload, with weather. Just under 100 pages with 5-10 tasks to be completed on each page of the Safety Regulations of Sailing 2017-2020 as prepared by Yachting New Zealand. Other sailors saying to us: Oooohhhh, Cat 1, we know what that's like! The first time is the worst. Well, this is the first Read more...

time! Are you feeling stressed yet? So much funnier when writing this in hindsight and reflecting on how we felt and knowing how we feel now that we have passed and got our certificate tightly in our grasp. Sadly, it's only valid until our first port of call. First port of call, you might say! Absolutely. And all those boat dollars; fyi, 1 boat dollar is equivalent to $1,000.

The benefits of Cat 1 are that we know our boat inside out, we have spares from here to Africa when we only need them to the Pacific Islands!! Every mechanical item has been serviced and/or replaced and the old parts kept as spares. Sails have been serviced, repaired and storm sails have been made. (Please note we don't plan to sail in storms but we're prepared if they happen upon us.) Life rafts and life jackets have been serviced - our jackets now have a light and a hood attached but the intention is never to deploy them in the ocean. We wear them on passage though. That brings me to the 36-page manual I wrote about the boat and safety guidelines for Silver Light - who will ever read it. Nonetheless, we have it now. If you come to sail with us, it may be a prerequisite to read it before any refreshment is offered! Do you think I'm joking? Comms and navigation - all devices have been bought however the connectivity side of things took a week to get them all talking to each other and for a greater understanding of all that they're capable of. We can download the latest weather forecasts in the middle of the ocean miles from anywhere, talk to, send text messages to, and email anyone, anywhere in the world. That is, if we have time to spare in between watches, sleeping and eating. And amongst the benefits of Cat 1, I must commend the support and assistance of our Cat 1 Inspector, along with his wealth of experience and knowledge, and his availability to answer questions and queries throughout the whole process to gain this sought-after certificate.

The downside of getting Cat 1 is some of the outdated ideas and some of the costs involved however the concept is above reproach.

Oh yes, I remember all those lists. But we certainly benefitted from our rigorous preparation. Great to see your blog post. I don't know if I got an email about it though.
Well written too!

Storm jib