A Passage to New Zealand

Fairway Bay, Whangaparaoa, New Zealand

By: Kerry

Fiji 20151-6700Every passage has one memorable day – good or bad.

This one was spectacular – a windless, sun-drenched day, the sea a smooth and delicate powder blue, motoring across a mercury mirror surface. After the first couple of days of the trip, when the sea was cranky and confused and we were getting thumped in 25+ knot south-easterlies, it felt like the ocean was letting out a long, slow breath.

We made the most of this last taste of the tropics, breaking out the BK and boardies, and gorging ourselves on tropical fruit smoothies: pawpaw, mango, pineapple and bananas. Yummo.

The glorious day slid into a sunset that went on for ages: pinks, reds, lemon yellows swirled in the water. I watched a flame-orange sun slip below the horizon and just as it did, we rose on a swell and it popped back up: it was undeniably GREEN! The elusive green flash! True – I promise!

I took one or a gazillion photos: sunset at 30°30’S at 20:00hrs, crossing the axis of the Sub-Tropical Ridge.

 

Later that night, I was on the midnight to 2:00am watch. It was the dark of the moon and with no light pollution for hundreds of miles, the Milky Way stretched clear and sharp, like a white rainbow from horizon to horizon, almost bright enough to read by.

I watched the Southern Cross come up and sat on the bow in the darkness, feeling the warm breeze off the water and trying to identify all the different constellations. The bow wave trailed ribbons of phosphorescence and unidentifiable sea creatures glowed momentarily and vanished like flashes of lightning in the ocean.

Despite the rough-ish conditions, we’d made good time in the first few days – 210 nautical miles a day, which was very respectable in the conditions. What a difference a mainsail makes!

We crossed the STR axis and a day later, the wind filled in and we were barrelling along at around 10 knots, with full main and gennaker and the hulls humming. Top speed around 13.3 knots in 18 knots apparent: not bad for a ‘fat chick in lycra’ as our friend Lionel calls us! One of the best day’s sailing we’ve had on the boat.

Of course, perfect sailing days don’t go on forever and, as we drew level with North Cape, New Zealand, the wind turned southerly, the sea turned crappy and we had the worst day of the trip within sight of land, when we should have been protected!

We’d been headed to Auckland, but with the wind blowing 25-30 knots on the nose and things flying around the cabin, with worse forecast, we decided to detour to Marsden Cove. We’d never been up the channel in the dark before, but we made our way in through the confusion of the channel lights. We pulled up on the Customs dock and turned the engines off at 11.55pm, 6.5 days and 1200 miles from Vuda Point.

We cleared Customs next morning and Kiapa sailed in to meet us. Our first evening’s meal was supplied by Irene and Lionel: freshly caught scallops – my favourite!Fiji 20151-01418

A big sting ray had a suck on the fish frame that I dangled off the stern as I was processing the kingfish

A big sting ray had a suck on the fish frame that I dangled off the stern as I was processing the kingfish

On Friday, we sailed with Kiapa down to Fairway Bay Marina on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, just north of Auckland City. Having not had a bite all the way from Fiji, Damian hooked up one under-size kingfish, followed by a very decent one that put up a formidable fight!

We’ll be based in Fairway Bay while we get the electrics fixed, but that’s about as far as our plans extend at this stage.

~~~ ><(((°>  ><(((°> ><(((°> ~~~

Diwali

Denarau, Fiji

By: Kerry

The Festival of Light is one of the big celebrations on the Hindu calendar. Fijian Indians decorate their houses with lights, exchange homemade sweets and it’s a bad night to be a dog, as EVERYONE lets off firecrackers.

Anjee Prasad, who owns Farmboy, the wonderful service that will deliver fresh produce to us just about anywhere, and who is a force of light herself, invited a group of us to celebrate with her and her family (husband Kamlesh and daughters Angelie, Angeline and Ashleen) at their home.

It was a trip back to childhood, to the ‘good old days’ when you could still hold a ball shooter in your hand…

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A Brief Trip to Taveuni

Musket Cove, Malolo Lai Lai, Fiji

By: Kerry, photos by Kerry and Pete

 

Fiji 2015-1367We’ve been trying for two years to get to Taveuni, Fiji’s third largest island, to the east of Vanua Levu. So far, we’ve failed.

So once we farewelled the family, we sailed across the country, all the way back east, where we’d come from at the beginning of the season. It took four days, re-tracing the inside channel along the north shore of Viti Levu, then hopping across the Koro Sea, sailing only by day to avoid the reefs.

The plan was to meet our friends, Pete and Gwyn, cruise for a week with them, and then to spend the rest of the season exploring the eastern side of Fiji. It’s totally different to the west (which is in the rain shadow of the big island). It’s incredibly verdant, with thick jungle covering the islands down to the palm-fringed waterline and stunning beaches.

It’s much less ‘developed’ than the west – far fewer and much smaller resorts and more opportunity to hang out with the locals in the villages. And the diving – particularly the soft corals – is some of the best in the world. I’ve been waiting a loooong time to get there!

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Family Time

Yasawa Islands, Fiji

By: Kerry

Fiji 2015-1338Just as we bought Sel Citron in 2012, my mother Corinne was diagnosed with secondary cancer. Consequently, our plan was to get the boat to the tropics as soon as we could so that she could come and stay with us while she was still well enough.

Sadly, her health deteriorated more quickly than anyone anticipated. Being a boat and water person all her life, she’d have loved to come cruising, and it was terribly sad for all of us that she never made it.

So having my uncle Graham, Mum’s only sibling, on board was the next best thing and we had a lovely time with him, my aunt Pat and cousin Katrina cruising the Yasawas.

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Road Trip to Suva

Suva, Fiji

By: Kerry

Every now and again, it’s great to get off the boat and travel some other way: a road trip to Suva, with a shark dive thrown in, seemed like the perfect getaway.

We stayed the first night at Pacific Harbour, did the shark dive next morning, then carried on to Suva, where Irene and I hit the fruit and veg market for a gander.

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Nudged by a Noah

Pacific Harbour, Fiji

By: Kerry (Shark images sourced on the internet)

bullsharkToday I got bumped by a shark. I was minding my own business, looking at some coral when he came from behind and hit me in the hip with his snout. I turned in time to see him swimming away. Compared to the monsters we’d been up close to only minutes before, this guy was a harmless pretender – a 1.5m black tip reefie – but he was borderline belligerent and definitely deliberate, nonetheless.

Being nudged by a noah wasn’t part of the program, but it was a memorable moment in an unforgettable day’s diving. Billed as ‘the world’s best shark dive’, the Beqa Shark Dive has been high on the bucket list for a while.

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Lutu for Lunch

Denarau, Fiji

In a pretty amazing coincidence, Damian was walking down the street in Nadi when he felt a tap on the shoulder: it was Lutu from Fulaga, who led the building of the traditional canoe (see that story here). He and his wife, Bale were in town for a Jehovah’s Witness conference and were waiting for the island trader to take them back to Fulaga.

Damian invited them to lunch on Sel Citron and we introduced them to Mark, Sarah, Elizabeth and Michael from Field Trip, who were headed to Fulaga and were able and kind enough to give Lutu and Bale a lift…

~~~ ><(((°>  ><(((°> ><(((°> ~~~

Musket Cove Regatta Week

Malolo Lai Lai Island, Fiji

By: Kerry

Irene issues instructions for the Coconut Olympics, Musket Cove Regatta

Installing the new batteries entailed pulling the boat to pieces (again). Since there wasn’t much I could do by way of contribution – and there was nowhere to sit – I jumped ship and went and played with Irene and Lionel on Kiapa for Musket Cove Regatta Week.

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The L-word: a Different Kind of Battery

Denarau, Fiji

By: Kerry

The battery bank: 8×3=24 batteries, each 3.2V for a total of 540 amp hours at 24 volts. Enough, already?

At last! Our new house batteries arrived – only a couple of months late – shipped by sea from China via New Zealand.

Our bank of house batteries – which provide all the power on the boat, from toilets to water pumps to fridges to lights – decided to die back in May. It was to be expected – they were seven years old – but they could have chosen better timing, ie before we left NZ, where it would have been a simple replacement, rather than when we arrived in Fiji, where it was far from it.

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Bringing Fulaga to the Fulagans

Musket Cove, Mamanucas, Fiji

By: Kerry

Fiji 2015-00477Coincidentally, there is a village just around the corner from Musket Cove which is mostly populated by ex-pat Fulagans: many people have left the island to seek work elsewhere in Fiji, often as builders, merchant seamen or the ‘carver in residence’ at various resorts.

We visited one day and Damian showed the slide show he’d made of the people of Fulaga to their relatives, some of whom hadn’t been home to Fulaga for 15 years…

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