Silver Light

Fri Jan 24 15:30 2020 NZDT
GPS: 33 01.388S 151 37.769E
Run: 5.3nm (9.6km)
Weather: Partly cloudy, southerly winds

Moved up to Green point to be closer for morning breakfast event in Croudace Bay.

Fri Jan 24 7:00 2020 NZDT
GPS: 33 05.622S 151 35.568E
Run: 1.3nm (2.4km)
Weather: Partly cloudy, wind from the South, 15kts.

Wind changed to South requiring a move to Bulbah Island into sheltered waters.

Thu Jan 23 14:00 2020 NZDT
GPS: 33 05.012S 151 36.672E
Run: 7.3nm (13.2km)
Weather: Some cloud, NW 20kts and very hot - 40plus degrees.

Moved to more sheltered anchorage in Southern end of lake. Found the end of Wangiwangi point to be very sheltered. There for the night. Several dips in the water to cool off required.

Wed Jan 22 5:00 2020 NZDT
GPS: 32 58.857S 151 38.491E
Run: 48.7nm (88.1km)
Weather: Partly cloudy, SE breeze.

Early morning departure heading for Lake MacQuarrie. Motored all the way as wind not enough to keep us sailing along. Got to Swansea passage after midday on an outgoing tide. Once inside lake headed up to Warners Bay and anchored. SE wind came up during afternoon. Ashore following day to update laptop again through cafe wi-fi. Back to boat by midday as wind had come up and moved Northely. Temp for the day climbed to over 40. 

Mon Jan 20 13:00 2020 NZDT
GPS: 33 37.319S 151 17.408E
Run: 2.6nm (4.7km)
Weather: Fine with SE breeze.

Headed back out to morning bay and wait for a weather window to head North.

Sun Jan 19 10:00 2020 NZDT
GPS: 33 39.459S 151 18.269E
Run: 2.6nm (4.7km)
Weather: Cloudy, light winds

Booked a night at the Royal Prince Alfred YC so can top up with water etc. Very tight berth, had to go bow in. Great setting for a YC, nicely laid out. Caught up with Megan and Bruce from Margarita, yacht we met in Port Stephens. They took us out to do some shopping. Mona, Milton, Virginia and her partner came to boat for late afternoon.

Sat Jan 18 11:00 2020 NZDT
GPS: 33 37.287S 151 17.403E
Run: 4.8nm (8.7km)
Weather: Raining, SW 15kts

Motored around to Pittwater during morning, checked out a few bays on the way and finally settled on Morning Bay, sheltered and numerous empty moorings that we could pick up.

Thu Jan 16 10:15 2020 NZDT
GPS: 33 36.859S 151 12.418E
Run: 1.1nm (2km)
Weather: Cloudy and smoke haze, little wind.

Another day just slowly motoring along one of the arms of the river. Got to Bobbin Head, site of a modern day marina. Has historical value in that people from North Sydney used to come overland to this location for holidays. Lots of places to stop and get a secluded spot away from it all. Came back to Cottage Point and moored for night. Spent the next couple of nights here. Rain for the next 2 days, badly needed and helped clear the air. Ash and soot all over the boats deck as the rain helps clear things.

Wed Jan 15 10:33 2020 NZDT
GPS: 33 36.450S 151 13.427E
Run: 0.9nm (1.6km)
Weather: Cloudy, little wind.

Quiet motor today up a couple of inlets just checking out the scenery. This place has numerous public moorings that obviously save the sea floor from anchor damage. Amazing scenes of trees appearing to grow straight out of the rock. Stopped in Castle Bay for the night, beautiful enclosed anchorage.

Tue Jan 14 10:00 2020 NZDT
GPS: 33 36.031S 151 12.676E
Run: 14.4nm (26.1km)
Weather: Partly cloudy, SE breeze at 12kts

Depart Sydney harbour today after 2 weeks. Some great spots like middle harbour, but generally very busy with the subsequent wash that occurs. Heading north again into the Pittwater area. First stop is up Cowan Creek at Little Jerusalem in the Kur-ring-gai National park similar to the Marlborough Sounds. Lots of trees and some amazing rock formations.

Mon Jan 13 12:00 2020 NZDT
GPS: 33 47.991S 151 16.914E
Run: 3.2nm (5.8km)
Weather: Cloudy, slight SE.

Motored out to Manly, now sitting on another public mooring just along from ferry terminal. Spent time ashore updating computer at cafe with free wi-fi. Find Manly a great place. Caught up with Katie MII. Martin heading off for NZ doing a solo sail, Angela flying and will meet him there.

Fri Jan 10 9:00 2020 NZDT
GPS: 33 46.835S 151 13.847E
Run: 5.6nm (10.1km)
Weather: Fine, NE wind at 15kts.

Short hop to Athol Bay this morning for breakfast and then drop Hong at the ferry terminal. We carried on up into middle harbour and under Spit Bridge. Motored on into Bantry Bay and a public mooring. Very sheltered location. Spent a few days here just relaxing, also caught up with Mona and Milton for a day ashore.

Thu Jan 9 17:30 2020 NZDT
GPS: 33 51.690S 151 13.132E
Run: 2nm (3.6km)
Weather: Cloudy, no wind

Decision to move, Mort Bay too tight so off to Farm Cove near the opera house. Anchored for the night, however a very rolly anchorage due to ferry and boat wash.

Thu Jan 9 11:14 2020 NZDT
GPS: 33 51.213S 151 11.139E
Run: 1.3nm (2.4km)
Weather: Cloudy, no wind

After a week in Black Wattle a maritime control came and suggested we needed to move to get back inside the anchorage limits. Not something we could actually achieve due to insufficient room so time to move on. They suggested Mort Bay might work so off we motored. Dropped anchor and spent the afternoon in peace.

Wed Jan 1 11:30 2020 NZDT
GPS: 33 52.364S 151 11.247E
Run: 3.5nm (6.3km)
Weather: Fine, southerly breeze, hazy from smoke.

Moved from Zoo area to Black Wattle Bay in the Glebe area. A number of other boats here including 3 who we have sailed/met up with in Fiji and New Caledonia. Bay is a great location for getting ashore and into downtown Sydney. A lot of history in the area. Anchorage is restricted due to defined location and you have to reset if the wind shifts too much.

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
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