Arrived in Pago Pago, American Samoa late Tuesday afternoon local (Wednesday Fiji time). We motored more than we would have liked but overall had a nice passage going the wrong direction. No complaints! Beautiful day here with a nice breeze keeping things cool.
Enjoying a nice view of the Samoan islands of Upolu and Savai'i - which we visited in 2003 - this sunny morning as we motor by in light winds. Yesterday evening our chart plotter/ radar displays stopped displaying data, including GPS, and we had no data input to the auto pilot, causing it to fail. After a few hours of troubleshooting and repeatedly recycling power, resetting, and reconfiguring, we were able to get the display to work with limited functionality at the nav station, though not at the helm, but at least the auto pilot is operational! We've got OpenCPN running separately with CM93 charts and a GPS puck on the laptop so all is well. If you are going to have an auto pilot and instrument failure, the best case is to have it under calm conditions, close to a familiar high island with a well-marked entrance and great postal service, along with phosphorescence and a rising mandarin orange moon to entertain you while hand steering. We're feeling lucky but have some work to do on arrival - 36 miles to go.
Happiness is sailing under tropical skies on a calm moana blue sea listening to the Beach Boys on a great stereo as we pursue an endless summer. Life is good!
We had some peaceful sailing yesterday afternoon enjoying the light cool breeze in the cockpit but the wind shut down in the evening and we've been motoring since last night on calm seas. It is beginning to get light around 4 AM Fiji time and we had a peachy sunrise this morning at 5 AM - a sign that we have made some progress to the east. 166 miles to go to Pago Pago, American Samoa.
Motoring on calm seas. 290 mi to go to Pago Pago.
Departed Savusavu, Fiji bound for American Samoa Friday morning. Sailed nicely in very light winds a good bit of the day and night with one 20 kt squall overnight. Saturday brought winds in the 12 kt range and heavy rain. Winds dropped to 1-2 knots for a short time Saturday evening then went from 1 to 35 knots in a matter of seconds and remained around 28-30 kt, gusting over 30, with lightening for an hour and a half. Winds then moderated to the 20-25 kt range, gusting higher, and remain there, but White Hawk and crew are handling it well going hard to weather.
Anchored off Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort outside of Savusavu since Friday. Took advantage of the break in the weather yesterday to snorkel the reef and found a new (to us) nudibranch and shell. Heading back to town today to prepare for possible weather window to American Samoa later this week.
We arrived Monday afternoon in Savusavu under torrential rain after an overnight passage from Fulaga. The trip started with light air, about 12 knots, but built as the day progressed to the 20's by early evening. The rest of the trip the wind averaged around 22-25kt, gusting 32kt in the numerous squalls, accompanied by buckets and buckets of rain. There was occasional lightening about, but nothing too close. The seas built to the 8-12' (and then some, as we had some 15 footers on approach) forecast on the Honolulu High Seas while the GRIB had forecast only 1.4-1.7m. Love those folks in Honolulu! Thanks to our deep heavy keel, White Hawk handled the conditions marvelously and we were able to sail fairly comfortably the whole way under double reefed main and full genoa.
We departed the Bay of Islands, Vanua Balavu, early Saturday the 6th after having had a wonderful time visiting with friends on Eye Candy and doing lots of snorkeling. We especially enjoyed the gorgeous soft corals, bright sea fans and many species of nudibranchs.
The sail down from Vanua Balavu to Fulaga was fabulous! The seas were so calm we were able to sail the whole way under sunny and starry skies in only 3-8 knots of breeze, arriving just around daybreak. There were dolphins on the bow near Namuka-I-Lau and as there was no moon, we could not see them but could hear them take a breath each time they surfaced. Our time in Fulaga has gone quickly, catching up with friends on Roxanne, last seen 2 years ago in Tonga, snorkeling, and attending the big village celebration of Fiji Day. Unfortunately, the calendar is telling us it is time to get moving north toward Savusavu and beyond to escape the South Pacific cyclone season so we will depart on Sunday, destination TBD depending on the wind.
Enjoying lots of snorkeling in the Bay of Islands taking in the exceptional soft corals, plentiful fish, and new to us nudibranchs. There are so many great spots to explore we could easily spend another week or two here but will head to Fulaga in a few days as the season is rapidly drawing to a close.
Anchored in the beautiful and calm Bay of Islands, Vanua Balavu, Fiji - a welcome change after a not-so-fun passage from Ovalau! We're sharing the well protected anchorage with only the cackling birds on shore and the active schools of bait fish swarming around the anchorage.
Bashing to weather from Ovalau to Vanua Balavu.
Came in to Levuka, Ovalau yesterday to top up on diesel before heading off to remote islands. Enjoyed checking out the small museum and seeing the colorful historic buildings of the original capital of Fiji, now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Anchored in a beautiful little bay with a white sand beach backed by dramatic rock structure on the north end of Naigani Island, NW of Ovalau. We enjoyed a wonderful snorkel on the extensive reef yesterday and are heading back out today to try to get another photo of the striking parrot fish - or possibly wrasse - that we can't find in our reference books!
Anchored overnight at Curly's "hurricane hole" near Wainaloka village on SW Ovalau, Fiji. Yesterday's snorkel nearby revealed 10 nudibranchs!
Anchored this afternoon at Leleuvia Island, southwest of Ovalau, Fiji where we were greeted by two boatloads of friendly, smiling locals offering use of the resort's mooring for free. Shortly after sunset we watched a spectacular 45 minute lightening show lighting up the sky and sending many bolts down to earth beneath the clouds on the thankfully distant horizon to the southwest of us.
We arrived back in Suva on Monday for fuel and re-provisioning after having had a fabulous time in Beqa, Yanuca, Kadavu, and the Astrolabe Reef swimming with oceanic manta rays, laughing with the dolphins escorting us across the lagoon, glimpsing elusive sea turtles that rightfully hide from humans (locals still eat them even though it is illegal,) photographing "new to us" nudibranchs, flatworms and bottom dwelling jellyfish, and meeting up with good friends on Free Spirit and Wavelength.
We planned to head to Fulaga but the weather doesn't look promising any time soon so rather than wasting time in port we sailed to weather today in fresh 20 knot winds to Nukulau Islet in Laucala Bay, a nice protected anchorage for the night. Sunday morning we will head to the western side of Ovalau to explore the reef while waiting for more favorable weather to make the crossing to the Lau Group.
Beautiful sail to weather on calm seas today from Beqa to North Astrolabe Reef under sunny skies with 10-12 knots of ENE breeze. The lagoon is gorgeous but the surrounding reef is low offering little protection - at low tide think Minerva Reef at high tide - and the swell comes in from all directions creating a washing machine with occasional waves breaking over the stern into the cockpit. We're anchored mid lagoon behind Solo "Island," more aptly named Solo "Rock," home of an old non-working lighthouse inhabited by sea birds. We did a snorkel off the boat today but will move on tomorrow to big Astrolabe or Kadavu in search of a less rolly anchorage. As we always say, if you don't go, you don't know! :)
We arose Sunday morning at 6:30 AM to the harmonious sounds of a cappella singing coming from the nearby Lalati village church in Malumu Bay before moving the boat to the west side of Yanuca Island. We're anchored off a beautiful beach and a small abandoned resort rumored to have been owned by an American that lost the lease. The enterprising care taker is charging a "visiting fee" of $10FJ per person to walk on the beach. Last night we were joined by the 180' Dutch built mega yacht Driftwood which was launched in 2017, and is owned by Nicholas Woodman, the 43 year old founder and CEO of GoPro - net worth 1.8 billion. We have seen lots of toys zipping by but so far have had no invitation to join them for the disco dancing last night or the movie they are watching tonight from the giant theater sized projector screen they have raised on the foredeck. Tomorrow after a morning snorkel we head back to Malumu Bay to meet up with friends.
Anchored in peaceful Malumu Bay, Beqa Lagoon, Fiji.
The winds shut down to 4-8 knots dead downwind Sunday night and we were forced to motor all night. When the winds picked up to 10-15k from 191 T Monday morning, we tried sailing but ETA for Suva was 8PM. We didn't want to stand off all night so added a little power assist and got the anchor down in Suva harbor just before 5 - in time for a gorgeous sunset with pink and orange sun rays shooting up from behind the misty layers and layers of mountains on Viti Levu. Currently waiting "patiently" for officials to arrive for clearance.
Passing by beautiful Kadavu. Nice to see some patches of blue sky after heavy cloud cover yesterday. 52 miles to go to Suva.
Awoke yesterday (Sat) to a glassy lagoon but by 8AM the winds filled in to 10-12kt. We exited the South Minerva pass bound for Suva, Fiji at 10AM with wind 18-19k and building from 241T, putting it just forward of the beam. The fishing gods blessed us with a nice mahi mahi as we passed about 20 miles west of North Minerva. We sailed in 20-25 knots, with gusts to 28, under doubled reefed main and partial genoa with wind and swell on the beam much of the day but by early evening the wind moved aft and the seas began to align for some wonderful fast sailing with speeds in the 9's. Overnight the winds went lighter - and at times slightly east of south - so we've slowed enough that we might not make Suva on Monday as we had hoped.
Mission accomplished in South Minerva and waiting for a weather window to Suva. Most of the day yesterday (Wed local) winds were 22-27 knots, gusting just shy of 30, from 340T as low passed to the south, but winds moderated over night. Showers, some heavy, yesterday morning but clear all afternoon Wednesday.
Anchor down in lovely, sunny, warm and blue, blue, blue South Minerva Reef at last! We've got the place to ourselves so we're playing the White Hawk "Sunshine Mix" up loud while we launch the dinghy and tidy things up wearing shorts for the first time in 6 months - at least for one of us :) We arrived after dark last night and stood off the NW side keeping watch while fore-reaching away from the reef at 0.7 knts. We waited until 10 AM to make our way back the 5 miles to the pass to enter in good light and perfect calm conditions at 11 AM. We're happy to have survived a passage from NZ without breaking anything - just a cover that chafed through on our Spectra core reefing line. Life is good on White Hawk!
Surprisingly consistent wind the last 24 hours, mostly 16-21 kts from the SE. Nice downwind sailing much of the day yesterday with the wind going forward late in the day and remaining there all night at about 18-20 kts, with gusts to 26. Still dogged by an adverse current of about 1.8 kts. Weak squalls began just after 5AM local this morning. 100 miles to go to S. Minerva.
Fabulous 24 hours. What a difference a day makes! Yesterday we sailed at about 6 kts under mostly sunny skies with 12 knots of breeze and swell on the beam. By evening the winds filled in from the SSE to SSW and the seas began to align. Had a wonderful night with winds mostly 17-21kt, dropping to the occasional 14kt and gusting to 24kt. White Hawk was comfortably humming along (literally at times) downwind with boat speeds in the 8's and 9's, though an adverse current of 1.3-1.9 kts (with us the last 2 days) reduced our SOG. We don't expect this wind to last, but we're happy to have it for now. 262 to go to S. Minerva.
Interesting 24 hours with a bit of everything. In recent hours, the boat was pounding to weather at nearly 9 knots with double reefed main and partial genoa, so we just now furled the genoa and turned on the engine to reduce speed. All well aboard.
We had a slow but pleasant day of sailing yesterday under 6-8 kts of wind until sunset when the wind shut down to less than 5 kts from behind (SSW). We saw mostly 1 to 2 kts overnight so we motored until sunrise when the wind picked up to 6 kts and shifted to the ENE. At present, we are sailing very comfortably to weather on course for S. Minerva under beautiful sunny skies. Wind is continuing to build slightly so we should make some good progress today.
Dropped the dock lines at Marsden Cove, NZ around 11:15 AM Monday. Mostly motored in light air to just past the Poor Knights when winds filled in to 12-15k from SW. Starry night with nice sailing. Clouds building near sunrise today with first squall around 7 AM local bringing wind of only 23k. Winds going lighter as day progresses. All well!
Spending our last night on Kawau Island at South Cove near the old Copper Mine. We've had a great time cruising the Hauraki Gulf. Tomorrow we head to Whangarei to pay our dues and start the boat work.
Fantastic weekend at the Mahurangi Regatta viewing the classic yacht parade and races!
At anchor in lovely Mansion House Bay, Kawau Island, NZ cleaning the bag limit of scallops John nabbed in 20 minutes of diving on the shoals.
Anchored at North Cove, Kawau Island, NZ. Lin Pardey, who lives here and runs the boat yard, dropped by in her skiff Jay Dee to welcome us to the harbor.
Anchored off the abandoned copper mine on the glassy water of Dispute Cove on Kawau Island, NZ feeding a lonely duck and watching 3 yellowtail kingfish swim about the boat. Great Tuesday morning enjoying nature! We're off to dive the scallop beds at slack tide around noon.
Anchored at Bostaquet Bay, Kawau Island. Beautiful relaxing sail to weather yesterday from Putaki Bay, Waiheke on the semi-sheltered waters of the Hauraki Gulf in 10-14 knots of breeze. It was great fun watching the many local boats out enjoying the sunny but cool summer Saturday afternoon and the changing clouds and landscapes as we sailed by the numerous small islands scattered about the Gulf.
Nice sail Saturday from Motuihe Island to Putiki Bay on the south side of Waiheke Island.
Anchored at Motuihe Island, NZ.
Beautiful sail Sunday from Great Barrier Island to Waiheke in 8-18 knots, gusting 23k, with whales breaching and spouting off the NE end of Little Barrier Island. We were hard to weather but it was fun on the protected waters of the Hauraki Gulf. Too bad the open ocean isn't this flat! Monday we explore Waiheke by bus.
Our last night at Great Barrier Island was spent in Smokehouse Bay - a beautiful end to the stay here after the atrocious weather the last few days. The wind finally eased and the clouds broke late afternoon making for a nice peaceful evening taking in the interesting scenery, birds, and Kiwis (the human kind) on holiday being Kiwis - fishing, cannon balling into the euphemistically speaking "refreshingly crisp" water, laughing with friends, and in general just enjoying life. We depart for Waiheke or Kawau Island in the morning depending on weather.
Anchored at Port Fitzroy, Great Barrier Island, NZ. All is well.
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