Lindisfarne – Forgus 37 – 7,5t (more than 9t equipped)
Tasmania-Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and back to NZ
1 January – 9 February 2010 Hobart and more of Tasmania
New Year came with very nice weather and the prize giving ceremony for the race Sydney – Hobart just behind the stern of Lindisfarne in Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.
Half time into the ceremony, our friends Scott and Mary from Egret came by car from Launceston, where they had made landfall from New Zealand a week ago.
After seeing Hobart together, we joined them in the car for the 250 km ride back to Launceston and Egret where we got the bow cabin for two nights. We did a long photo excursion by car to the north west of Tasmania, before we on the 3rd took the bus back to Hobart and Lindisfarne just in time for late dinner before bed, after three intensive days.
Some domestic work and some stocking up was necessary before we could continue our route south.
We were ready Tuesday noon, and then sailed south down through D’Entrecasteaux Channel, an archipelago protected from the ocean swell. Well, protected is a very relative word, the wind funnels through the islands and is sometime quite katabatic too. We arrived in Duck Pond on Bruny Island where we anchored in the completely protected cove.
We used the next morning to repair our air heater, which had decided to stop working some days ago. Even if the weather is quite nice, the early mornings are chilly and 20 minutes with the heater running increase the comfort during breakfast quite a bit!
We then tacked the short trip across the channel to the mainland and Kettering marina to visit Sue and Mike on their Yaraandoo. We were in contact both visual and with VHF all the time during our trip from Eden to Tasmania. They had recently been sailing Alaska and we were keen to here about their experiences. The evening was spent eating and talking in Yaraandoo. Next morning they drove us to Mt Wellington and to Hobart and shopping for four weeks of sailing. Back in Kettering we filled our diesel tank and sailed south.
After one over night anchorage, we anchored in Rocky Bay the last spot before the unprotected south coast. We were prepared for some waiting for a weather window to sail the 60 nm along the south coast to Port Davey. The wind was hauling from southwest for two days, but then we got a window. An early start to be able to reach Port Davey in daylight. The approach is scattered with islands and rocks, so reasonable swell and daylight is essential.
When we passed the first narrows entering the inlet, the swell disappeared and we could start looking for a suitable anchorage. We anchored 3 mile into the inlet together with another Swedish build boat, in fact produced on the same island as Lindisfarne north of Gothenburg. A 39’ Hallberg Rassy named Blue Heeler, with Ale and Wayne from Melbourne.
As we woke up the next morning the water was like a mirror, and thanks to the blackish water it was more than usual like a mirror. Some nice photos were of course taken…
We continued after lunch another 6 nm into the inlet where we anchored. You can still go on for more than 15 nm inland! The surroundings look like something between the Outer Hebrides in Scotland and Patagonia in Chile, quite barren and completely remote.
We took our dinghy ashore to do some hiking before having dinner in Blue Heeler. On our way to shore we stopped and said hello to the third yacht in the bay. Surprisingly he answered in Swedish!
Per, borne in Sweden living in Melbourne, sailed from Sweden to Australia and back 25 years ago.13 years ago he came back to settle down in Melbourne.
After our walk we had a drink in Pers yacht Karena together with Per and his daughter Matilda before all of us joined Ale and Wayne in Blue Heeler for dinner. The Melbournes didn’t know each other, so of course a lot of local chat. But the conversation kept coming back to various boat related items…
The next day we were all invited to Karena for coffee and a home made cake. The weather was predicted to be bad, starting at midday. In spite we had that information we left for Lindisfarne 10 minutes to late. Strong wind and heavy rain caught us half way. But we managed and had patience enough to lift the outboard from the dinghy, already wet as we were. The other two weren’t that lucky. Both dinghies flipped over with the outboard attached to the dinghy.
The rest of the day and night were quite windy with lots of strong williwaws and lots of rain. Now we recognise the conditions from Patagonia even more.
The next morning there were only gusts left from yesterday and we could continue our social activities. But this time Annika and our dinghy had to act as a taxi between the boats. Coffee in Blue Heeler while Annika did some computer work and then dinner in Karena, a full three course dinner finished with coffee and a Single Malt. Who said something about remote…
Just after ten the next day we took the dinghy to Blue Heeler and then to Karena to give them the latest gribfile for their trip north to Melbourne. After a last coffee we left them to prepare for their trip and we motored out to the entrance where we anchored and hiked up a mountain overlooking the outer part of Port Davey and the Southern Ocean. We saw Blue Heeler and Karena leaving Port Davey on their way to the north.
Saturday morning we had to decide if we should leave or stay another week. A series of low pressure were predicted and our visa were about to expire within three weeks. We didn’t want to be caught in Port Davey for another week, jeopardize our visa.
By lunchtime we motor sailed back to the east in a gentle breeze from south west. In the afternoon the wind increased and we did good speed. Approaching the south east cape we were afraid the northerlies still were blowing along the east coast, but the forecast was right. “Our” southwest brought us around the corner back into Rocky Bay were we anchored in the dark, following our old track on the plotter. Everything settled and tea ready just as the sky let out a heavy rainfall. That’s timing.
The first day was wet and windy, but the next quite ok for a trip ashore.
After three days on anchor we used the last day of southerlies and sailed up D’Entrecasteaux Channel to Duck Pond. The wind became quite fresh during the afternoon and finally we had more than 40 knots downwind with reefed sails and 8 knots through the water, not bad for a heavy loaded 37”. We chose Duck Pond again because the wind was supposed to veer around the clock during the night.
Thursday morning brought sun from a clear sky. The high pressure behind the cold front dominated the weather completely. Dinghy ashore and some hours hiking.
In the afternoon a German yacht came in to the pond and anchored nearby. This was almost the first overseas yacht we have seen since we came to Australia. Looking at their courtesy flag we could see that they had spent some time in AUS. Peter and Giesela came over for a glass of wine before dinner and unveiled that they had been in Tasmania for more then a year. We discovered that we had sailed almost the same, little unusually, route around South America and Patagonia. We had several places and friends/people to talk about. It’s very relaxing to meet people who don’t rush away. We sometime think that we are to slow, a lot of sailors have made the whole trip by now, and we are only half ways! Peter and Gisela started several years ahead of us.
We believe that it’s the travelling that’s important, not the goal. We aren’t travelling around the world, we are travelling around in the world and that can take as many years we have.
Once again we left Duck Pond for Kettering marina and Sue and Mike. We had not been shopping for three weeks and we still wanted some more Alaska info. There was of course a dinner to “pay back”. So when Sue and Annika had been in town we had dinner ready in Lindisfarnes cockpit. Later, after dusk, the temperature dropped and we conveniently used our clear sides to the bimini and the cockpit became a “deck saloon”.
Saturday morning we once again had blue sky. We used shore power and did some work, before we filled up fuel, preparing for the trip to NZ.
Egret with Scott and Mary were in Hobart and had reserved a birth for us, so after another two nights in Duck Pond we sailed north to Hobart.
Our two weeks (two because of the easterlies between Tasmania and New Zealand) in Hobart was filled with a lot of work on our website. The technical part had to be updated and the English version had to be written. In the afternoon we were occupied with lots of social activities most of them together with other overseas yachties. We met some local yachties as well. Mieke and Mal had their yacht in RYCT and invited us for dinner in their house some km south along the shoreline from Hobart. A magnificent house with a magnificent view overlooking the approach to Hobart and down to Storm Bay. Sometime one could think about living ashore… During the dinner we could see the Wednesday race just outside the dining table.
The next day we had Mieke and Mal in Lindisfarne for lunch and they brought our laundry Mieke and Annika did last night, talk about service.
One night we were invited to a barbecue in Egret on the outer pontoon in the Yacht Club. We were nine people representing Florida, Alaska, Aus, NZ, Chile and Sweden. All boaters, even if we were the only sailors. The others had big powerboats. But we have discovered during our years of travelling that it’s the way of living, cruising around and discover new places and meeting new friends we have in common. If your boat is a powerboat or sailing yacht doesn’t matter. We have the same technical things to talk about; pumps, fridge, water maker, autopilot not to mention the head… And our travelling speed differ more because of the length of the boat than if under sail or power. Although with a powerboat it’s easier to find a weather window. We experience often either too much or to less wind when we try to find a suitable window, the latter for obvious reason not a problem for powerboats.
So we find that we have much more in common with our fellow powerboat cruisers than the opposite, but of course we have found sailors who don’t communicate with powerboats (and the other way around too).
In between our computer work and social arrangements we manage to do some walking in the steep neighbourhood.
Finally the upgrading of our website came to an end and we found a weather window for the passage over Tasman Sea to New Zealand. The customs came to the Yacht Club Friday afternoon and Sunday morning early we left for D’Entrecasteaux Channel and anchored for the third time in “our” Recherche Bay for two days until the easterlies died out.
9 – 16 February Tasman Sea to South Island, New Zeeland, 1000 nm
We left on February 9 from the southeast cape of Tasmania and motored for more than two days east on a windless sea. Not using the engine and try to sail in the almost no existing wind was not an option. In Tasman Sea, you should not wait for the weather to hit you! We were told that full throttle is the rule out here if there is no wind… In fact, we almost broke our old record of 56 hours motoring between Sardinia and Malta 2002. After 54 hours, we finally got wind enough for sailing. In spite there normally is an east going current, we had very often half a knot against us, so our progress was not that good.
The next four days to Bluff became a nice downwind trip, even if the sea state rapidly became quite confused and relatively rough much helped by current against the swell.
After midnight the third day, we discovered a white navigation light ahead, slightly to port. Nothing on the Radar, but in the rough sea with four to five meter swell that was not a surprise. The AIS told us that the Southern Surveyor, 8 miles away, was heading towards us and would cross our course half a mile in front of us. As we were steering with our Wind Wane, our course was altering back and forth 20 degrees, so the crossing distance was quite theoretic…
We decided to call the ship and check that they were aware of our existence. Thanks to the AIS we could call the ship on VHF by its name and not only “ship in position xy”. They answered almost immediately and had not seen us at all. They stopped and did a thoroughly search by radar and outlook. 5 minutes later they came back and had found a small echo 6 miles to the west and thought they saw a read navigation light ahead on their starboard side and asked if that could make sense. During our conversation they even got our position on their AIS. They then continued, but on a 20 degrees more southerly course to, as they put it, make us feel more comfortable. What have we learned from this experience? It is alarming that big ships have such a problem to see a small yacht in rough sea, it is important for yachts to be aware of that, and take measures accordingly. Always call a ship, even if the present courses are not conflicting. Our radar is at the stern, only three meters above sea level, and that is the reason we did not se the ship until it was five miles away. However, our Blipper, the reflector is high up in the mast and still they could not easily sort that echo from the echoes from breaking waves. Our AIS transponder Class–B antenna is placed just on top of the radar and does not transmit as often as a transponder Class-A. They got our signal almost at the same time we saw them on our radar, so the waves was probably to blame for the delayed AIS receiving.
We are strongly considering buying an active radar reflector to make it easier for the big ships to see the difference of our echo compared to the wave echoes and move the AIS antenna to the top of the mast.
During the last night the wind eased and we had to support our sailing speed with the engine to be sure to reach Bluff the next day before the outgoing tide. The entrance to Bluff is a narrow channel with quite a current, way to strong for us to go against. The tide changed in the afternoon, and if we were not there by then, we have had to heave to for the night, something we did not wish for.
At daybreak the wind increased and the engine came to rest. We even got an extra knot from the current between South Island and Stewart Island. Heading towards Bluff with eight knots over ground we had no problem to reach the harbour in time. The VHF came in use, both to get allowance from the harbourmaster to enter the port and to Fishermans Radio to get a berth and coordination with the customs.
With additional three to four knots through the narrow channel, we entered the harbour. Unfortunately, the harbour itself is exposed to some of this current, so mooring is quite exiting. Especially as the wharf is a piled one with four meters between the piles. Luckily we have one fender board, and at the wharf we could borrow two more. The fishermen were quite busy, so rafting on one of their boats was not an option.
16 February – 6 March Bluff on South Island and a trip to Stewart Island, 170 nm
While Annika took care of the customs and quarantine people, Björn arranged with the extra fender boards and long shorelines to take care of the 2 m tide. We got some hints from the locals about the look of the harbour with strong wind and current against the wind, which encouraged us to make the mooring lines extra safe and secure.
A short walk to the Supermarket and the Pub with Wi-Fi Internet were the only things we managed before dinner and then to bed for an undisturbed sleep.
Bluff is not what we normally call a town. It’s more or less a “suburb” to Invercargill 30km inland. The Ferries to Stewart Island leaves from Bluff and the bus to that ferry is the only transport to Invercargill and with some luck you can get a ride. (The bus is meant to only take ferry passengers!)
There is no ATM in Bluff, so to get NZ$ we had to go to Invercargill. At the Pub we met a Swiss couple touring the South Island, and we got a ride to Invercargill in their rental car.
Got our money and visited a huge supermarket, but by then the last bus to Bluff was long gone. It was after office hours, but after less than half an hour we got a ride back to Bluff with a friendly bloke who lived in Bluff and worked in Invercargill. He left us outside the Pub for a beer and some Internet before we walked back to Lindisfarne. The third day was the day for refuelling. It’s almost a pleasure to pay for the diesel in NZ compared to Aus. It’s less than 75% of the price in Aus and even cheaper as we don’t pay GST tax, in spit of what we had to do in Aus. We brought our six jerry cans to the gas station and they were very friendly and drove us back to the wharf with our heavy jerry cans. The laundry was also taken care of at the Hotel/Pub.
Bluff is positioned in “the roaring forties” and the fourth night we became very aware of that. In spite we were in a harbour it felt like we were out on the open sea. When we finally stood up, we had of course been up several times during the night to check the mooring lines and the fender boards, we discovered that the harbour was more of a roller coaster when a westerly gale was met by the westerly current. We had our fender problems at the wharf, but were somewhat protected from the swell by the fishing boat in front of us. The yacht behind us, rafted on another yacht was in the middle of the ripple with the stern towards the wind and current. He had water in the cockpit several times! We have never seen something like that in a harbour. Now we really understood what the locals told us about when we arrived.
These conditions continued for six hours until the tide changed and the waves became more “normal”, only affected by the wind that kept blowing 30-40 knots. We spent most of the day taking care of Lindisfarne and regretted that we hadn’t left for Stewart Island before the gale.
Day 6 our friends Gail and Dick in Ice Dancer came from Hobart with their big Nordhaven. They had been out there in this stormy weather, although from behind, and the last hours “hiding” behind Stewart Island waiting for the light and the tide. Tired and not prepared for this pile wharf, we helped them with fender boards and lines, and everything came out well in spite of the rough and windy conditions in the harbour.
We had decided to sail for Stewart despite the wind, in fact it was the upcoming wind direction from more northerly, pressing us onto the wharf that made us challenge the weather. Mary, the operator of Fishermans Radio advised us strongly not to go, and in stead offered us a more protected berth on the leeward side of the wharf. Advice from people who know the local conditions is to be carefully considered! Therefore, at slack water we moved Lindisfarne to the other side of the wharf. What a change! The waves where less than half in size, and after two nights jumping up and down we could now get some rest. Of course it helped a lot when the wind eased early morning, and we could sail to Stewart later that day.
We were quite pleased that we had followed Mary’s advice when we encountered the conditions in the Foveaux Strait. Even with not much wind the sea was quite rough and we motor sailed for an hour before the wind increased. The last hour, east of Stewart we sailed with almost no sails in strong williwaws to the safe anchorage in Glory Cove. It’s obviously common in this area that one day can bring both absolute calm and storm conditions! Glory Cove is all weather protected. By that means protected from swell. Katabatic winds reach all coves under gale/storm conditions. Compared with our three stormy days in Bluff harbour this was heaven.
Three guys came in their dinghy just before dinner and we got four abalone!
The next day we walked through the fern jungle and tried to follow what the pilot called a track. We saw some of the few markers under trees that had fallen down many years ago, but we had the track to our own.
Back in the boat we had to have a shower and Annika even jumped into the 15C water before the hot shower.
We had picked some blue mussels on the beach and they made an excellent starter. Before we decided for the main course, our guys from yesterday came with some great Blue Cod and Green lip mussels.
Sliced abalone fried in oil, served with garlic yoghurt as a second starter and blue cod cooked in white wine served with basmati rise as main course. Throughout the dinner a chilled Chardonnay was served. We can’t complain even if we try… And on top of this, most of our meal was for free and extremely fresh!
After dinner we informed Mary on Fishermans Radio that we where safe and sound in Glory Cove and asked her to give a message to our friends in Ice Dancer that we would leave for Port Pegasus 30 miles to the south along the southeast coast of Stewart Island.
Tuesday morning came with the predicted northerly wind that brought us all the way down to Pegasus. The wind increased during the day and the last two hours we had more than gale force added with some strong williwaws. Lindisfarne made full speed ahead, but the heeling angle was sometime a little too much in the strong williwaws. We actually sailed water into the cockpit, never ever happened before.
When we finally reached the protected water of Port Pegasus and we were heading for our anchorage in Evening Cove, Annika started to prepare dinner. Coming down below she discovered salt water beside the sink. The extreme heeling had made salt water come up the drain and flood into the locker, even lower than the sink when heeling that much. Not much water, but salt “everywhere”. After anchoring with three lines ashore we had dinner, before we started with operation “cleaning up”.
Everything out of the lockers in the whole galley, and then flushing with freshwater, drying up with cloths and a lot of dry warm air. The latter came from our primary Webasto air heater, but long term drying up came from the Refleks oil furnace that we kept burning for the next two days. Luckily, the cove was perfect, very pretty and protected from all directions. We did some dinghy excursions in the rain next day, but most of the day we stayed in our warm and drying boat.
Stewart Island is just north of the trade for the lows between 40-50 degrees south and Wednesday gave us very clear evidence of that. Rain the whole day, but thanks to our little protected cove, we didn’t have any effect from the strong winds offshore. The temperature came down quite a bit due to the south wind, but indoors we were fine with our furnace burning. With 22C together with warm floors, (the hoses between the Refleks and the accumulator tank runs under the floor) it is not difficult to live with some cold air outdoors.
Thursday came with more rain, but after lunch, it cleared a bit. No sun, but as we needed water and electricity we pulled the anchor. Port Pegasus is a quite big area with many protected anchorages, so while running the water maker we did some exploring of different coves along the shorelines. Coming out on open water, Port Pegasus is more than two miles across, we experienced a strong southwest wind. We continued for two hours before we were pleased and turned to anchor in Disappointment Cove. A cove with access over a ridge to a beach on the ocean side.
Friday morning and a clear sky! We really had to use this day to climb the Bald Head on the west side of Port Pegasus. The distance across Port Pegasus was too much for a dinghy ride, and we weren’t sure what the weather would be like in the afternoon. Out of our cove with no wind, the wind was already blowing almost gale. We know from yesterday two good alternative anchorages in dinghy distance to the little river we had to travel to get to the trail.
The cove we chose made it possible to pull Lindisfarne almost in under the trees, protecting her from all williwaws that already had begun. Following the shoreline closely, the dinghy trip was not a problem, but coming out of the trees out on the barren mountain was an experience. Keeping it short, we did not succeed to get to the top, but we walked all the way up to the bare granite cliffs. Coming back against the full gale was quite a challenge and we were happy that we had been very carefully when choosing where to anchor Lindisfarne during our excursion.
The few miles we had to sail downwind back to our protected Disappointment Cove was done in almost no time. It was by now blowing +40 knots, but our cove was almost calm. Although in this strong wind conditions some strong williwaws came now and then into the cove, making life a little difficult indoors. No harbour behaviours, everything shipshape otherwise it ended on the floor.
Saturday February 27, and the wind was even stronger. We were perfectly safe in our cove, even if the williwaws made life a little bit uncomfortable. We took the dinghy ashore and walked over the ridge to the ocean leeward beach. On the beach we could study several types of kelp(seaweed). Quite much longer and bigger compared to the ones we are used to from back in Scandinavian waters.
The short dinghy ride in the cove back to Lindisfarne was time consuming because of williwaws and water sprouts in spite we were in our safe cove. Annika picked some mussels, the biggest blue ones we have ever seen. They came out just perfect, steam cocked and then fried together with onion and garlic, served with rice it became almost a Paella. That evening we didn’t fire the oil furnace because the wind gusts kept bowing out the fire with smelly smoke indoors as a result. We will probably have to get an H-shaped chimney later to keep the stove running in these conditions. That night we were almost not able to stay in our bed due to the fast heeling in the strong gusts, but still only uncomfortable. Three o’clock in the mooring the rain that announced the new calmer weather came and we finally got some undisturbed sleep.
Because of this bad weather we slept longer than usually and had a late breakfast. Turned on the VHF because Ice Dancer was expected to come down to Pegasus from Oban, the little “town” of Stewart.
PAN-PAN-PAN. A Tsunami warning came up a few minutes later on the VHF! We were told to follow the instructions from the harbour authorities. That was not much help as we were out of VHF range for talking. We could only listen to the relayed channel 16 and nothing more. The HF radio gave us some e-mail from Sweden, urging us to be careful with the Tsunami coming from an earthquake in Chile. The expected arrival time to NZ was close. Better be safe than sorry so we left the cove and motored out on open and deep water, but still in Port Pegasus. Actually we had to run the engine to get water even if there hadn’t been any Tsunami warning. Some hours after the predicted tsunami we hadn’t seen any effect on the water. We did some laundry while making water and Annika took the dinghy up a small creek to rinse the laundry. Suddenly the dingy sat on the rocks as the water disappeared and it took some time for it to get back. In total 80 cm and it was not a wave, more like a slow surge. Out in Lindisfarne, Björn couldn’t notice any surge. We continued our trip around the northern part of Port Pegasus and in very narrow sounds we could still notice the slowly shifting surge caused by the Tsunami and that continued for several hours.
When we were up in the north corner of Port Pegasus, Ice Dancer called us on VHF. We could see them on our chart plotter thanks to their AIS signal a few miles offshore, approaching the northern passage into Port Pegasus and we directed them into that sound. Ice Dancer came through the sound and before they saw Lindisfarne they got a collision warning from their AIS system telling them there was a ship heading towards them!
Ice Dancer continued south to Disappointment Cove, now a completely calm cove thanks to the wind shift and eased wind force. We continued our exploring of possible anchorages in the northern part, allowing them to anchor without disturbance.
Back in Disappointment Cove we moored again to the heavy lines the fishermen put across the head of the cove. Then we helped Dick with an extra shoreline to keep Ice Dancer off the shallow water and then Gail and Dick came over to Lindisfarne for an anchor dram (or sun downer, but we seldom see the sun!!)
Later we had dinner together in Ice Dancer, a Nordhaven 57. Dick had caught some Albacore tuna that now was served as sashimi with all ingredients, including Misu soup and Sake. Delicious.
The night was calm but rainy. Very nice to have a bed that doesn’t flip around!
Monday was a lazy day in rain. Many indoor activities were done, writing and others. Annika took the dinghy and picked mussels for dinner. Afternoon was spent in Ice Dancer fixing their computer. A couple of hours later Annika and Dick had it running as new again. We also tested Ice Dancers big TV-flat screen connected to a PC. After some adjustments it was showing perfect images directly from the computer.
We saved our mussels and had dinner in Ice Dancer once again. Clams, Blue Cod rice and salad were on the menu. As dessert we run one of our slideshows from the Med on the big flat screen.
The wind increased early morning, but nothing compared with our heeling some nights before. The cove seems to be protected from williwaws if the wind out in Pegasus is below 30 knots.
Early morning Dick called us on VHF and offering us to dry our laundry, hanging on our lifelines since two days, very well rinsed… Dick was running the gen set and offered us the dryer. Knowing the weather forecast it was easy to accept that offer!
Tuesday, we had planned to shift anchorage to a cove in northern part of Pegasus. However, the consistent rain made us think twice, and when we got the new grib it told us about more rain to come. Our mussels were left in the water for another day, because once again we joined Gail and Dick over dinner and another slide show, “Gothenburg – Patagonia”. During dinner the washing machine fixed our white laundry!
In the middle of our dinner a fishing boat came in and moored close to Ice Dancer and during our slid show later we heard somebody knocking at the stern. One of the fishermen came with a plate with freshly grilled oysters. What a nice gesture, and what a lovely dish.
Wednesday we finally changed cove. When we reached the entrance of our calm cove it was a full gale out in Pegasus.
Headwind and steep choppy sea made the trip across very slow, but we had to run the water maker so we were not in a hurry. But we were sorry about the spray of saltwater, but also that was taken care of later by the rain .
We anchored in a nice, very small cove with four lines ashore. Ice Dancer came later after having tried to reach a bay on the offshore part of the island.
Annika made a chicken casserole that we brought over to Ice Dancer. Going back to Lindisfarne we had to time the trip between the squalls. In spite of a storm warning the night was quite ok, mainly because we had big trees in the windward direction.
Thursday morning, the gribfiles showed a possible Fjordland weather window within four days. So in spite of the storm warning we said goodbye to Gail and Dick and sailed to Oban in a very rough sea but only gale force from behind.
Finally we anchored in Golden Bay south of Oban and walked over the ridge to the village.
Oban could not give us everything we wanted to be able to go to Fjordland for minimum three weeks, so the next morning we sailed back to Bluff. Mary, at Fishermen’s Radio, had arranged a very nice berth far into the harbour. Still somewhat exiting to moor in the strong tide.
Luckily, the supermarket in Bluff was open on Sunday, and the Gas station too. Both helped us deliver everything to the wharf and we topped up fuel including 150 l in jerry cans.
Bluff is a difficult harbour to enter because of the tide in the narrow channel and the piled wharfs are not easy for a yacht to more to. But there is one very big advantage and that’s the people who are very nice and helpful. Boaters are very well taken care of.
8 – 20 March 2010 Bluff – Fjord land – Bluff, 360 nm
Monday we left for Fjord land with the tide and after a rough first few hours the sea settled and the rest of the trip was ok but foggy. We arrived in Chalky Inlet, the second southern most Fjords early Tuesday morning, made our way in by means of the radar and the chart plotter in only some 100 m visibility and anchored in a protected cove.
We were prepared to go to sleep after 20 hours of sailing, but the fog disappeared and the sun came through. Knowing how seldom that happens, we didn’t dare to rest and not take advantage of the weather. Instead of sleeping we motored into one of the arms of Chalky Inlet and then we even could sail up the next, where we at the head found a very nice and protected anchorage. Surprisingly shallow water! We anchored in four meter over sand. Two rivers from lakes up in the mountains run into the cove. We took the dinghy into the first one and walked up to the lake before dinner. A nice, steep but short hike. The only problem was the sand flies. They were plentiful and did bite everywhere, even in the hair. Back to the boat, we had a very QUICK shower. Quick because of the sand flies. Down in the boat we managed to keep them out, at least after we discovered that they actually were able to pass our mosquito nettings and closed our hatches.
After an extremely calm night we hiked up the other river after breakfast. We came all the way up to a waterfall at high tide, took some photos and hurried back, not to be trapped by the falling tide.
Back in Lindisfarne, we decided to take advantage of the now northerly wind and sail out to the entrance of Chalky Inlet. The plan was to go to Dusky Sound the next day. The sail back was a fast and nice run in relatively strong tailwind. Unusually to be that lucky to sail both in and out the same fjord. However, we still had to find a reasonably protected anchorage, a challenge because of the predicted wind shift from north to south during next night. The safest solution had been to stay in the protected “four meter” cove, but then the trip to Dusky had to start with a though headwind sailing down Chalky Inlet in a steep, choppy sea reducing the speed. The only bay close to the entrance was not the worst anchorage we have had, but close. Deep water and a fetch over a mile didn’t sound possible in 30 knots of wind. The waves were, by some odd reason, not building up at all, in spite of the long fetch. Probably we where close enough to the shore, parallel to the wind.
We got a good holding and the wind force on the chain was quite ok thanks to anchor sail and the anchor buddy.
After a late dinner, we choose to stay up and keep anchor watch, mainly because of the upcoming wind shift, combined with the sloping bottom where we anchored.
The southerly wind finally came, and after breakfast we took of for Dusky Sound. Now we got our reward for the sleepless night. We could reach open water without tacking. We even had the tide to our advantage, which unfortunately made the sea state offshore completely crazy with the tide against southwest and northwest swell. Probably the worst sea state we have seen so far. After two hours we could turn north and everything became easier. We did send some thankfully thoughts to designers who understand to design hulls for comfort and safety instead of only space and speed.
We were very pleased when we came into protected waters in Dusky Sound.
We got an e-mail from Ice Dancer that night. They had made an attempt to go from Doubtful Sound down to Dusky, but the sea state was only too much!
On our way into the southernmost Fjord arm, we couldn’t resist to visit the cove where Cook anchored with Resolution. The little cove gave us a hint of the size of these “big” ships. They where not big at all!
However, we didn’t want to stay that close to the entrance after the previous anchor watch night, so we continued another 12 nm into the fjord and found a very well protected place, although deep. But with the anchor well set in the slope to the shore it came out quite ok. Two ropes ashore from the stern and one rope from the bow ashore to the assumed williwaws direction.
During the night we got hit by some williwaws from the expected direction, and it felt quite ok to have a rope ashore to release the anchor from those forces perpendicular to the hull.
Friday came with low clouds and rain almost throughout the day. We had already yesterday decided to rest and stay in this cove for at least another night, so it was easy to adapt to an indoor relaxing day . Around four we put on some foul weather gear against the weather and the sand flies and went ashore. Not much to see besides five kingfishers who entertained us diving into the little river. We actually also saw a ferret close to the shore among the fallen trees.
Back in Lindisfarne we discussed the menu for dinner. Before we decided, Annika got a Red Wrasse on the hook right at the stern and the decision for dinner was given.
This second night was completely calm in spite there was 25 knots of wind offshore.
Saturday started with more rain and even lower clouds. After breakfast there was nothing else to do than read, write and do some photo editing. The rain kept on, and we didn’t even go out to do some fishing because of the rain.
When dusk came we suddenly got good propagation for the SSB Radio and e-mail from Ice Dancer told us about them giving up their ambitions to go south in favour for going north to Nelson via Milford Sound. We had looked forward to meet them again here in Dusky, but better safe than sorry, especially in these remote areas. Hopefully we will meet Gail and Dick somewhere on North Island in May.
Sunday breakfast and the wind started to howl now and then up in the rig but the clouds were still just above the mast. Around 9 am we heard and felt some rumbling. After “our” tsunami two weeks ago, we looked at each other and then decided it was probably a local movement along the fault. Looking at the steep slopes and all the traces from landslides it has to happen quite often, and we didn’t feel any wave whatsoever in our little s-shaped cove. The fault all along the South Island is well known and has lots of yearly movements.
In the afternoon the wind started to howl more continuously and it came from “our” williwaw direction. Our shoreline from the bow took care of the extra forces, but it became uncomfortable with strong gusts across the rig. We let go of one of the stern lines and took the other one to the bow. Lindisfarne turned parallel to the shore and with the bow to the wind and the bow fixed in three directions by the anchor and the two shorelines, very comfortable and no need for an anchor sail because she couldn’t sail like on only anchor or a buoy. The wind kept in the same direction all night and in the morning we decided to change anchorage, in spite it was still raining. The lack of sun made it necessary to produce some electricity and a change to run the water maker is always welcome. Therefore, there were several reasons for us to move on.
The rain was only drizzle of and on and we had a relatively nice view from inside our cockpit enclosure. Our new anchorage, between some small islands in the west end of the middle fjord arm was even better protected than the previous. Anchor out and three ropes ashore.
The new place had more sand flies but the fishing was even better. Blue Cod was on the hook seconds after it was down in the water.
Close to dusk the clouds disappeared and it was somewhat annoying with a clear night after all these rainy days. But we could have saved that “anger” because just after sleeping time the rain started again, and what a rain. The dinghy was almost full the next morning and the rain kept pouring down. The little waterfall we had close to our cove was now a torrent.
The wind came over the little island and pushed us towards the shore with two lines. To windward at the bow we only had the anchor. We took a fourth line ashore, from the bow to the little island, and soon we were safe even if we lost the holding of the anchor. It’s nice to know that “nothing” can happen, especially now when we spend much time down in the boat without an outlook.
Sailing in Fjord land we were quite aware of that we probably had to wait in rain for several days for each sunny day, but now it was six days with rain since last sunny day. Lucky we have a warm and dry boat and a lot of books and a web site do work on.
Wednesday 17 came with clear sky and almost no wind. After breakfast we left our cove and motored north to the north fjord arm where the highest mountains are. We were at the head of the fjord after four hours and some hundreds of photos in the crystal clear weather. The highest peak was almost 1700 m with some ice high up.
After a late lunch and a dinghy trip into the three small rivers, we returned half way out of the arm and anchored in a safe bay of the fjord. The night was calm and clear, but in the morning we got rain again the whole day.
Friday sunny morning! But now we had a difficult decision to consider. Our gribfiles started Thursday evening to show a pattern of quite a change in the weather. Several fronts with strong winds were predicted for the next week. We were out of VHF reach in the fjords so we decided to proceed out to the anchorages at the mouth of the fiord and there make the final decision when we could judge the sea state. Before we saw the sea we got a new grib, and there was no longer a problem to decide what to do. This was the change to get south to Bluff for almost a week! Around four we passed Puysegur in strong tail wind. 40knots and building sea made us sail average 7,5 knot and surfing close to 10 knots when we managed to keep on top of the wave, and all this with pretty down reefed sails. On top of that we had almost one knot current with us. It became a very fast run! The VHF weather had storm warning for Puysegur, but that was further south. We sailed close to shore and got more protected from shore the further south and east we came. Suddenly we had done so much easting so the wind eased almost completely.
We anchored in Port Craig, an east looking bay 40 nm west of Bluff just before midnight.
Saturday was predicted northwester 30 knots, and at dawn we continued to Bluff to time the tide. When we anchored we could hear a lot of dolphins around us in the dark. In the morning we could see that it was a shoal of Hector’s Dolphins. They followed us for almost an hour, but when we were out of their bay they turned back.
The wind was as predicted from NW and we got a nice open reach on our first 20 nm to Bluff. Passing Centre Island the wind almost disappeared and we had to use the engine not to miss the tide into Bluff. The last hour in to Bluff a strong south westerly wind flew us all the way to the channel. With the wind and the tide we made more than nine knots over ground.
Mary at Fishermans Radio had arranged an even better berth for us this time. We could use bowlines both to starboard and port, keeping Lindisfarne from the wharf even in onshore wind conditions.
We were quite pleased to be in Bluff, listening to the more and more escalating reports about the coming weather for the area we just left.
If we sum our impressions from almost two weeks in Fjordland’s rain and sand flies dominates of course. Nevertheless, we had some nice views the three days with sunshine!
Remember that we, being spoiled with sailing in Norway with Lofoten and all the Fjords, are quite used to these types of extreme surroundings. Still the remoteness in Fjordland is something special. But then again, compared with the remoteness in Patagonia, Chile, Fjordland is quite accessible and “crowded”.
Back in Bluff we will stay three- four days depending on the weather before we leave for Stewart Island waiting for conditions to sail north along the east coast of South Island.
Early Monday morning the predicted rain started followed by the wind. Soon we had 40 knots in the harbour but in time for the tide to run out so the sea state was not that extreme as on our first visit in Bluff. On Wednesday the forecast is talking about 50knots but by then we are hopefully at anchor in a safe cove at Stewart Island.
23 March – 1 April 2010 Bluff – Stewart Island – Dunedin
After an intensive weekend in Bluff, stocking up food and exercise some update on our web we sailed back to Stewart Island on Tuesday when the wind had eased.
Stewart again mainly to wait for weather to go north. We had not done Paterson Inlet when we first visited Stewart, knowing that we most certainly would have to come back before sailing to the north along the east coast of South Island.
We had only 15 knots of wind, but the swell against the tide was breaking for the first two hours from Bluff. Being the third time we left Bluff, we were experienced enough to avoid the breakers in the channel and we kept close to shore until we were in deeper water. This was the route of the fishing boats, and we had no trouble in spite of the rough sea after two days of storm and gale. Out in the strait we got the swell beam-on, but Lindisfarne did just fine. No waves were allowed to touch more than the deck, no water came into the cockpit. Two hours from Bluff the sea state calmed down and the following three hours we could sail on a beam reach with no reef in the sails. It was a long time ago since we could use the sails without any reef!
Coming into Paterson Inlet we turned to windward for the last 2 nm. Surprisingly the wind over the island was more from the north and we could sail a close reach on completely flat water all the way into our chosen anchorage. The cove was almost like a lake, closed in all directions from the sea. We managed to get the cockpit enclosure in place before the rain started and after a little while the Refleks furnace was burning and the comfort was completed. No more jumping up and down as in Bluff harbour.
Wednesday started with heavy rain, but before noon we saw the sun between the showers. We emptied the dinghy from 50l of rainwater since yesterday evening and installed the outboard. The “lake” was partly quite shallow, and even with the dinghy we had to be careful. On the beach at low tide we got a lot of nice clams. They taste lovely when steam cocked. We even tried to do some fishing out on Paterson Inlet after picking the clams. But the bait didn’t get deep enough due to the high speed drifting dinghy in the strong wind. We got two “surface fish”, King Mackerel, which we have tasted before and because of that they were released.
Back in the warm cabin we cocked the clams as a starter and lamb chops as main course.
Thursday morning; The condition at sea was still very tough with gale and storm warnings for Stewart and the surrounding areas. Now they even had a warning for extreme height of the swell, reaching seven meter from SW during Thursday. Luckily we are going NW when the weather have eased a bit. But they predict 30-40 knots until Saturday…
At lunchtime we moved to Princes Inlet, a small well protected inlet in Paterson’s Inlet only a mile west from our previous anchorage. One reason was to have a shorter fetch and the other was to change views. But still the williwaws reached us and the short rowing ashore with the dinghy was exciting. We had to walk on the muddy tidal beach some hundred meters to reach shore and the trail that we were aiming for. This trail, starting in Oban, was well prepared and continued several miles all the way to the high ridge in the west of Stewart Island. We walked for an hour to a small camp site at the extreme west of Paterson Inlet and then back to Princes Inlet. Even if the trail was well maintained and one of the most popular, we didn’t meet any people. Back at the beach we picked clams and mussels, which made a perfect dinner.
During the night the wind increased and the strong williwaws made the “sleeping” quite interrupted and uncomfortable.
When the wind offshore exceeds 40 knots, it finds its way even into protected coves. In fact we have been more comfortable in bigger coves where the wind tends to come more or less from the same direction and relatively constant. Compared with small protected ones where the wind comes in gusts from different directions and with calms between the gusts. The latter means that in the calms, the boat moves forwards to the anchor and when the gusts comes the bow goes to leeward until the chain stretches and the boat heels rapidly and uncomfortable. This scenery is valid when we use only one anchor. With two anchors or anchor and rope ashore the bow can be kept in place, making the boat swing in the wind with no heeling. Much more comfortable and we use it whenever it’s possible. So surprisingly it is not always the best solution to choose the most protected cove.
The grib-files continues to show gale and storm with high seas for the rest of the week, so we will surely have time to try out several of the possible anchorages in Paterson Inlet.
Before lunch we weigh anchor and motored out on Paterson Inlet. Now we really felt the force in the wind and the wind turned into some of our indented coves. We went all the way to the east of the inlet – to Glory Cove, the same cove where we started our Stewart experiences, almost five weeks ago. With two ropes ashore we hoped to have a full night sleep, in spite of the predicted storm.
A very brave attempt to catch some fish from the dinghy failed in the strong wind, but we picked nice big mussels instead.
We have almost repressed the sand flies in Fjordland and therefore forgotten to tell you about the almost non existing sand flies in Stewart Islands. What a relief to be able to walk without clothes covering every inch of your body.
The night to Saturday was not very calm, but the ropes ashore was a blessing. The first half of the night brought short, 30 seconds, gusts with up to 60 knots of wind. The dinghy flipped in spite it was only one meter behind the stern. The anchor and ropes ashore kept the bow in place and the heeling was moderate. But it felt a little bit scary when the most violent gusts roared in the rig.
Saturday morning came with no wind at all in our cove! Offshore there was still a lot of wind, but only gale force. Good conditions for a walk and a photo trip ashore. Ocean Beach, the famous Kiwi beach to the east on the Kiwi reserve peninsula east of Glory Cove, was a perfect place in the now suddenly sunny weather. We put the outboard onto the dinghy and equipped with backpacks full of cameras and lunch we then walked across the peninsula after the dinghy ride ashore.
This early morning, and of course out of tourist season, there were several, not destroyed, fresh traces of Kiwi activities during the night. We had no hope of seeing a Kiwi in the daylight, but the beach itself was well worth the effort. We had the beach to ourselves until lunchtime, when three guys from the little hut in Glory Cove came and dived for Abalone and Lobster. We were given a big Abalone, before they walked back across the peninsula to their dinghy.
When we came back to our dinghy the guys had only made half of the way back to the hut. We towed them in the now relatively strong headwind the rest of the way. Back in Lindisfarne there was no wind thanks to the trees to windward.
After a dinner with clams, Abalone and rice we went to bed early, tired after two not very comfortable nights and a whole day out in the sun. The night was extremely calm. Almost as if we were stuck on the bottom! Some rain the first part, but then moonshine and Sunday morning came with sunshine from a cloudless sky. The grib showed that the possible window for Dunedin on Tuesday was only a memory. A new front with strong northerlies had appeared.
Luckily we explored only the south east part of Stewart the first time we were here, saving Oban and Paterson Inlet until after Fjordland. This gives us plenty of places to explore, waiting for a new weather window. The always changing wind direction makes it important to move between different anchorages so the exploring comes naturally. Just before the wind backed to east, right into Glory Cove, we motored to the west side of Ulva Island and anchored outside Boulder Beach at noon.
Ulva Island is a bird and tree reserve and there are plenty of well prepared walking paths all over the western part of the island. No rats, opossums and other predators are present on the island leaving a sanctuary for the birds to live in. Being a Sunday there were some tourists in spite of the late season. There are several water taxis offering 10 minutes trip from Golden Bay at Oban to Ulva charging $20 both ways.
We met a Swedish couple on the beach (they had spotted our flag!) and they told us that the roads in Fjordland had been closed due to flooding just after we left the area. So the warnings we heard when leaving the area a week ago was obviously for real.
After some hours and having done all the tracks on the island and seen several of the different rare species of birds, we pulled the anchor before the tide made the cove to shallow for our draft. It is full moon and that give us spring tide. We motored back towards Glory Cove, but because of the easterly we anchored just west of that, in Sailors Rest, a very small cove. There was just enough water to have the anchor 30 m in front of us. With three ropes ashore we where quite safe and secured for any directions of the shifting wind.
We were just done with all mooring arrangement when a deer turned up on the windward beach, having the sun right behind us. Because of these conditions we could without being detected take a lot of photos. In fact it never spotted us. When it came to our rope across the beach, it turned around, went slowly back into the woods.
The wind eased completely at sunset and we had a quiet and comfortable night.
Monday morning, and still sunshine from a cloudless sky. After breakfast we moved across Paterson Inlet to Golden Bay on the south side of Oban. The predicted northerlies made it possible to anchor safe and visit Oban. In Oban there is a Supermarket, a Hotel and Pub, some Restaurants and Cafés. It offers also a lot of well prepared walks that we were longing for. Exercise really is a problem with the dense vegetation reaching all the way down to the water on most islands.
We did two walks with a meal at the Pub in between before we visited the Supermarket. It was closed already at four a’ clock. It was the yearly stocktaking! We had already decided to spend the night in Golden Bay, so shopping the next morning was the simple solution..
Back in the boat the VHF started once again to send warnings for torrential rain and flooding in Fjordland and Stewart Island. Being in a boat we have at least no problem with flooding. Even our grib-files shows a change in the weather to a more unstable situation.
The sunset in Golden Bay told us why the bay was given that name! The night was completely calm and Tuesday came with still a clear sky. We took the dinghy ashore very early and did our postponed shopping. One of the friendly tourist boat skippers offered us to moor the dinghy at their floating pontoon. He had probably seen our dinghy hanging in its lines from the concrete wharf during yesterday extreme low water.
With some grocery’s and a cheese we were back in Lindisfarne before lunchtime and sailed once again across Peterson Inlet to Glory Cove, a cove that should be able to give us shelter from the next two days of strong, shifting wind during the passage of the two fronts.
We still thought that Thursday morning was a possible take of for Dunedin.
Wednesday came with a weak easterly wind and pouring rain. No doubt the sunny weather had come to an end. The grib we got at breakfast was not easy to judge. Great difficulties to get accordance between the grib and the VHF-weather. Our weather window on Thursday seams now to be to short. All together it looks like we should leave for Dunedin tonight to reach Dunedin before the wind turns to north again.
We spent most of the day indoors in the rain, waiting for the easterly to ease down. Three o’clock we secured the dinghy on deck and pulled in our lines and anchor and steamed of Stewart Island for the last time. The sea was very confused and we had a couple of uncomfortable hours, still in rain, to Nugget point. After that the rain stopped and we got a pale moonshine through the clouds from the full moon, almost as our light Nordic summer nights.
We could unfurl the genoa early next morning and shut down the engine. A weak south east gave us five knots, but with a current of one knot we had a reasonable margin for the tide shift at Otago Harbour, Dunedin.
The wind increased and backed to south and we could pole out with increasing speed and we were almost too early at the entrance of Otago Harbour. It’s quite a deferens to have matching tide. Imagine having two knots against, in spite of helping you to overcome the last ten miles in the harbour after more than twenty-four hours of sailing. The difference in speed is 4knots , compare 3,5 with 7,5 for Lindisfarne making 5,5 through the water under normal conditions.
The approach was something special, used as we are to mind our own business. Now we were already announced to the Harbour control and the Yacht Club by Mary from Fishermans Radio in Bluff. We had informed Mary when we left Stewart Island and the next morning at sea Mary called us and checked our progress and that all was well.
When we called Otago Harbour control they obviously know of us and that made everything much easier. Later, motoring along in the inlet, calling Otago Yacht Club they had already a reserved berth for us. That’s really what service is about! Once again we send a thankful thought to Mary.
On the VHF we got information how to navigate the shallow lead into the Yacht Harbour and Kevin, the caretaker was at the pontoon, helping us with our lines. After we secured Lindisfarne, he showed us the facilities of the Yacht Club; shower, toilet, garbage bin and so on. He also gave us a bag full of brochures, showing the possibilities in the surroundings and southern south island so we could plan our excursions.
After a long hot shower we had dinner and then went to bed early for a long night with not disturbed sleep.
2 April -8 May 2010 Dunedin to Auckland
We are not very good on keeping track of holidays.
When we arrived in Dunedin it appeared to be Good Friday and “everything” was closed. But the needs are the mother of invention. At Speight’s Brewery we joined a tour which included a rich taste procedure… The only place you could get a beer in Dunedin that day.
The weather for the next period included sunshine, no rain and wind from north, not the wind we want for our trip north. Instead we rented a car and spend four days touring Central Otago, Wanaka, and Queenstown. The second night we spend in friend’s house in Wanaka. It was really a nice reunion. Of course we have been e-mailing over the years, but last time we physically met was in Turkey 2003 during their circum navigation.
Back in Dunedin Björn had an appointment at the dentist to fix his, in Stewart Island, broken tooth. The procedure of getting a visa extension was also started. It turned out that we had to get special allowance to stay the extra three month. We had not understood that we had come to overstay the rule “not more than 12 month in an 18 month period”. We finally were given our extra three month, but with the demand that we then have to stay out of NZ for the next 14 months after leaving. Rules are rules wherever you are.
Monday morning we got an e-mail from Ricci living in Dunedin. She had been at the Yacht Club and seen our Swedish flag. Having spent the last three years living with her boyfriend in Gothenburg, Sweden, she was of course exited. Together with her boyfriend, still in Gothenburg, they found our website and e-mail address. Tuesday we had lunch together in Lindisfarne and later dinner in her fathers’ house.
The next visit, somewhat more planned was already the next day. Friends from Gothenburg, in a campervan on tour around NZ came to visit us in Lindisfarne. A long and pleasant evening with a lot of chatting about home, boats and everything… They were scheduled to leave the campervan in Christchurch a week later where we maybe will see them again.
The weather continued to play with us, but on Wednesday, two weeks after arrival, we found something that looked like a possibility, although quite windy.
We left Otago Yacht Club early Thursday morning, 15 of April, and sailed north to Akaroa Harbour. During daytime the wind and rain was gentle, but after dark the predicted strong southerly with heavy rain came and we surfed along with only a reefed main. Only reefed main because we know that we had to gibe at least one time during dark and being on deck, gibing the whisker pole is not either safe or fun under those conditions. We had to gibe three times during the night because of backing and veering wind, before arriving to Akaroa on the south side of Banks Peninsula at noon. The rain stopped at midnight and the sky cleared. Moonshine and stars made it possible for us to see the four – five meter high sea, breaking from behind, blowing average 35, gusting 50 knots. The roar when that “seventh” wave came was somewhat “exiting”! Our autopilot did a really good work, keeping up with the swell and wind from behind. Some surfs was just to much, and we broached 30-40 degrees a couple of times getting some water on deck…
We got some splash water into the cockpit, but thanks to our back wall to the dodger, it stayed in the aft part.
During the night it was a relief to know that the Akaroa entrance had no bar, only nice wide and deep water, making it safe to enter in almost any condition. We even manage to time the tide. With the high swell we had, we didn’t need the extra effect of tide against swell! Now the approach was without any surprises and completely safe.
We found an excellent anchorage in the western arm at the head. The northerlies came as predicted just before dusk.
The weather now became quite settled and nice for the next three days, so again waiting for the southerlies we stayed at this anchorage for three days, enjoying a lot of walking ashore.
Before dawn next Monday we weighed anchor and reached open water just after dawn as the south wind slowly increased. The 50 miles around Banks Peninsula to Littleton Harbour became one of our best sailing days. Nice downwind conditions with NO REEFED SAILS. Full speed, and a lot of Hector’s dolphins around the boat for hours.
We anchored in Diamond Harbour over night on the opposite side to Littleton Harbour, and got a berth in the marina the next morning. It was the very old marina with fixed wharfs. The new marina with floating pontoons was washed away during a storm nine years ago, leaving 30 boats and the pontoons on the bottom.
The marina is everything but safe in strong south wind conditions as you can understand of its history. No place to leave the boat for days without a bullet-proof weather forecast.
Littleton is the “Harbour town” to Christchurch, only a road tunnel away.
Kay and Lena, our touring Swedish friends came only hours after we were moored. They were scheduled to fly to Europe in two days, but the Volcano on Iceland and all its ashes made the airliner close down the business for safety reasons. After lunch we made a trip in their campervan over the mountain, also a volcano, and into Christchurch. After some sightseeing and shopping we returned to Littleton via the tunnel and had a very pleasant dinner together in Lindisfarne.
The next day our friends had to visit the airport to get flight information. Due to the closed down situation it was hopeless to reach the airliner by phone. We joined them into Christchurch where we were planning to trade our old camera lenses at a very well sorted camera shop that we had been recommended, Photo and Video International.
Kay and Lena came back from the airport and by then we were ready to leave for Littleton. Having got prices for new and our old lenses to consider, we spent most of the evening after our friends left us, reading specifications and test results for the eventually new lenses.
Thursday morning when Annika was ashore having a shower, friends from the Dutch boat Drifter came and offered us a ride into town. After Björn had quick shower we were on the run into town with all our old lenses. Our friends left us at the camera shop and we didn’t use their offer for a return. Our camera business had to be solved without any time limit, important decisions should not be stressed!
Two hours later we strolled through the town to the bus station, less four old lenses, but two new lenses richer. The latter can be discussed, professional lenses don’t come cheap!
For the photographer among you, here comes the details; Canon EF16-35, f/2,8 L II USM , Canon EF70-200, f4 L IS USM, Canon extender EF 2X II, these lenses are compatible with full format and 1,6 format. The tripod; Manfrotto 190X PROB with the head 804RC2. We kept our Canon EF50, f/2,5 Macro lens together with its life size converter.
Later that afternoon, back in Lindisfarne, we studied the gribfile. There were no signs of southerly wind for the next five days. We decided to rent a car and do a two days tour to Kaikoura to see the Sperm whales. Initially we intended to stay a few hours in Kaikoura, sailing north. But we have understood that the sea condition during such an action will not give us any good photos.
Suddenly we were looking for no wind condition in the gribfiles! We found a possible window for Thursday morning. We rented a car before noon on Wednesday and drew the 200km to Kaikoura. We got a reservation on the first Whale watch boat next morning and then it was only waiting. We got a nice room and walked the little village. One Pub and one restaurant later we were back in our room preparing for an early start.
Thursday morning came with perfect flat water and almost no clouds, couldn’t get better (later we learned that it was possible!)
Just before eight o’clock we left the marina on the Whale-boat together with more than twenty exited tourists, all of us paid 145$ each.
Soon enough we spotted our first whale, but there were more to come. While the first whale was breathing, another whale came in the opposite direction. What would become out of this? The second one disappeared, only to show up in front of us, attacking the first whale. Now even the guides where exited! After the attack, the two whales continued to breathe normally and shortly after they dived, one at a time, giving us very good photo opportunities!
As if this was not enough, we got a third whale.
On the return to the marina, we saw some Dusky dolphins doing their fantastic acrobatics.
So now you know how we learned that things could get better.
Going back to Christchurch we took the inland road and saw some magnificent colures on the autumn trees.
We did some food shopping before leaving the car, getting ready for an early Saturday start to the north. Not to be caught by the south wind in the marina, we anchored Friday evening on the south side of Littleton Harbour, a wise decision it turned out. The south wind came suddenly and unexpected well before dusk and it was somewhat exiting to leave the marina in that choppy swell.
Saturday 1 of May, on this day five years ago we left Gothenburg and Sweden, we started the 600 nm trip to Coromandel on North Island. We had to choose a weather system with two passing fronts to be able to do this trip without a landfall. We know already from the start that we would have to “live through” one day with strong headwinds when a second front should pass us and it was important that we were well north of Cooks Strait before that headwind.
The first day we had rain all around us but not a drop on Lindisfarne. We actually had clear sky above, in spite it was raining in all directions. The swell increased, but nothing compared with our trip to Akaroa and further south. During the first two days we had excellent progress in strong tailwind and following current. When the wind started to decrease and veer, we were well north of Wellington, Cook strait and east of Cape Pallister. Later Monday morning when the NW wind increased we sailed slowly with eased and reefed sail 50 degrees off the wind and swell, only to wait for the wind to veer back to SW. Our only ambition was to make it as comfortable as possible and not go more than necessary to the east. The VHF weather forecast was now talking about the gale in Cook and Castlepoint now being upgraded to storm warning in southern Castlepoint area. We were already north of that area, but the wind was strong enough. Luckily the sun was shining the whole day and that make life so much easier. Monday evening after dusk the wind decreased and we could once again head towards our waypoint at East Cape, still east of us. Looking back we can see that our strategy was a success. We and the boat had not suffered that much during those boring ten hours and we were still west of the East Cape!
During the night the wind continued to veer and in the morning we were sailing downwind with outpooled sails. Before lunchtime we had gale force from behind, doing great speed to the north. Eight o’clock in the evening we passed East Cape and could change our course to northwest and Great Mercury Island, still with out pooled sails. Just before dawn the wind almost disappeared. With the jib and reefed main, together with low revs on the engine, we still made 6,5 knots in the very light wind from behind. Wednesday became a boring (motoring all day) story, but not in any way to compare with the boring Monday. But this time it was because nothing happened. Until we heard a NZ warship announcing some canon fire! They didn’t answer our call when we tried to locate the dangerous area. We thought that if we could hear them, they could hit us! Obviously Maritime Radio heard our call, and they informed us about a five-mile security area around the warship. Our AIS plotted the warship 25 miles to the east, and that solved our problem. We are still a bit puzzled why they didn’t answer in spite they ended their call telling us that they listen on channel 16. Before dusk the warship passed 5 miles to the north in silence, heading back to Auckland. They must have heard our conversation with Maritime Radio and could see Lindisfarnes name on their AIS…
One hour before moonrise we entered Mercury Islands and the anchor was set in a cove on the west side of Great Mercury Island in the first light from the rising moon. Four and a half days and 600 nm since Christchurch, quite a good result under the circumstances we had.
After a calm and comfortable night we woke up to a cloudy sky after five days of sunshine. At noon we launched our dinghy and went ashore. Great Mercury Island is privately own, but visitors are welcome as long as certain rules are followed. We recognized almost all of them as our normal rules from back home when you hike in the wilderness, and very reasonable rules, mainly minimising the risk of fire. Very nice to be allowed to stroll around without having to use tracks between bushes. Here the sheep and cows keep the landscape nice, tidy and very walk able.
After two nights on Great Mercury Island we sailed west around Coromandel and anchored half way to Auckland in Elephant Cove at Moyukahaua Island. This was a fantastic little volcanic Island, with many fantasy rock formations. One of them of course looked like an Elephant, hence the name of the cove.
After a lot of photos the next morning we sailed into Auckland and Westhaven Marina, where we moored at dusk.
Now we are to meet up with friends and then wait for the south wind to sail to sail comfortable to Whangarei and do some boat work, getting prepared for “the Islands”.
11 May – 14 June 2010 Boat works
A month of work with overhaul of the engine, autopilot and a lot of other postponed items. A new stainless 80 m chain was installed in the bow locker and the old chain moved to the aft chain locker. Together with the chain came a stainless Manson Supreme. Our experience from our specially made stainless Delta type has been very good, but in very soft mud it only ploughs along. Manson Supreme should work better in soft bottoms. After two month the holding has been excellent, but the setting needs more care than our old Delta. Every four times we have had to re anchor. We have then changed back to the Delta on the bow to make it clear if it’s the anchor or the technique that differ from our previous experiences. Future will tell.
14 – 24 June NZ – Fiji 1400 nm
Monday 14 a weather window opened for Fiji, even if a low at New Caledonia was a little difficult to predict. The weather have been quite bad for a time and a lot of boats that’s been waiting were now leaving. In total there were more than ten boats heading north at the same day. Already the second day out we got strong headwinds. One boat turned back and we turned northwest to minimize the effect of the wind and to get west of the Low.
When the low had passed, waves eased and wind turned east, we had only 350nm left to Numea in New Caledonia. But going to Fiji from NC against the current and prevailing wind was not something to look forward to. The decision was to turn 90 degrees towards Fiji more than 650nm to the northeast.
We got four nice final days of sailing of our total ten days from NZ to Fiji. Just in time when our fresh food was all eaten, we got a nice Mahi-Mahi, three days out of Fiji.
The long detour west of the low was the main reason for the “slow” passage.
24 June – 18 October Fiji 1500 nm
We checked in to Fiji in Lautoka on the 25 and two days later we anchored in Musket Cove, ready for the birthday party that was going to take place on June 30. Sharron from Whangarei had decided to spend her 40 birthday among friends in Fiji. Seven Swedish boats gathered to join the party.
After the party we left for Lautoka to get clearance for Savusavu via the Yasawa Islands.
From Lautoka we sailed up to Yasawa and the first afternoon we past the island Waya where the stranded remaining of Moonduster still was on the beach since the stranding in December 2009. We have met the boat and owner several times in Tonga and NZ. To see a wreck and knowing the story gets to you in another way than if it had been an anonymous one!
We continued and anchored for the night in the north bay of Waya, just to continue the next day to the northern cove of Naviti. There we got an Australian boat anchored well out of us. We had seen the boat the day before anchored in the northeast bay of Waya. Björn took the dingy over to ask if it really was Moonduster on the beach. Yes they had had a close look at the stern, and could confirm that the name of the wreck was Moonduster and that nothing much was remaining of the former wooden Admiral Cup Racer. Well the hull was still there but everything else was taken away.
Later we had a sun downer with Jessica and Peter in their Sydney registered Quest II. It was great fun to discover that they had seen Lindisfarne in Sydney, where Jessica had a flat close to our anchorage in Blackwattle. It was of course our anchor sail they remembered! A nice couple that we were to meet several times the coming months.
Next stop was the Blue Lagoon, famous from several movies. Quest came not long after we had put down two anchors. We did a Bahamian anchoring because of the narrow gap in the reef. Just before sunset Panacea came, a Swedish yacht that we first met in Whangarei.
After a few nice days of snorkelling and other social activities with these two crews we left for Sawa-I-Lau and the famous underwater cave.
Sawa-I-Lau is a spectacular little island made out of old coral, reminded us very much of the rocks in Nuie. There is at least one big cave, where it is possible to swim underwater into another locked “hall”. Interesting, but of course it’s a tourist magnet and a lot of cruise ships comes here every week. It’s important to time your visit!
We visited the village on the nearby island Vawa together with Panacea and Quest II.
First of all when you come to an island you are supposed to visit the chief and bring him a sevusevu (a gift of kava) and then you are accepted as a guest. The village school was very big and had children from the surrounding villages. Seven classes plus kindergarten. After the seventh year the youngsters had to continue school on the mainland, Vitu Levu.
Now it was time for Vanua Levu, but more then 40nm against the wind and current was not possible in these waters crowded with reefs. We could not find a way to reach Vanua Levu in one “daylight”. On top of that the upper part of the key in the windlass broke, making it quite difficult to get the anchor up.
We decided to solve both issues by sailing south to, first Blue Lagoon, and the next day to Musket Cove where we got a mooring just at sunset.
Sailing in Fiji water, we have been told, is very hazardous because many uncharted reefs, reefs in wrong places and missing beacons. After having been sailing in Fiji for more than two month we can diminish those rumours. First of all, most reefs are well charted and missing beacons is mainly a problem for boats without GPS. By using a navigation program and other boats tracks you can avoid having problem with the few misplaced reefs. But arriving to an anchorage in darkness is not recommended, unless there are mooring buoys provided. We have also with great success used the method of buoys on the chain when anchoring among corals. We have so far avoided getting snagged and minimised the damage on the corals. .
In Musket Cove we met Sharron and her family, and they were about to fly back to NZ.
We sailed with the entire family onboard Lindisfarne to Denerau where they got a taxi to the airport. After leaving the Petersson family, we visited a mechanical workshop and had a new key for the windlass made. It fitted perfect after some sanding with an emery paper. So now the windlass is back in business. We then took the bus in to Nadi to shop and look for a new Pentax underwater camera. The old one got swamped in Blue Lagoon. No such Pentax in Fiji! Other ways to get a camera to Fiji had to be investigated.
We left Denerau fiveish and anchored just of the beach, to go to Vuda Marina next morning to meet Claes on Tarita. His family arriving from Sweden within a week and could eventually bring a Pentax…
Tarita was just launched and heading over to the dock as we arrived. We spent only one night in the hot and dusty marina, not used to have neighbours almost in the cockpit. But we managed to meet Tarita, Freya and Albertina having both a sun downer and dinner at the club bar.
We left the marina, only to anchor behind a reef closer to Denerau and the next day we anchored in Denerau harbour. No neighbours in the cockpit and nice breeze. Quest II and Panacea came later that afternoon. We had dinner ashore together with them, and the next day we planned to rent a car with a driver to show us part of the inland. Bertil, on Panacea, arranged a car, but next morning the driver didn’t agree either on the price or the itinerary. Shorter trip and more money! We left the car and rented one in Nadi without driver. This car was smaller and not a four wheel driven, something that could have come handy on the rugged “roads” up in the mountain.
We managed, but just, to drive the scenic route all the way across the island over the mountain. Lots of nice sceneries and a walk at Sigatoka sand dunes, but the driver who didn’t want to take us the whole way was right! The road was not meant for “normal” cars and it was a very long trip. We arrived back in Denerau very late in the evening.
All four of us took the car to Nadi the next day to hand back the car and do some provisioning. Panacea was soon to leave for Vanuatu and needed to stock up. We were not in great need of supplies and soon we were back in Lindisfarne. The plan was now to once again sail to Vuda to see if Claes family managed to bring the little Pentax. There was also a need of propane and diesel, which are easy to get in Vuda.
No camera, but two nice evenings together with the whole family. Last night Panacea and Freya joined the party. The next day we left for Lautoka to stock up and adjust our zarpe for Savusavu. We were by now one month later than ETA (estimated time of arrival) Savusavu! Quest was anchored in Lautoka harbour and had already got their zarpe for Savusavu and done all their shopping.
We decided to live with our old zarpe and after a taxi ride from town we were ready to leave. We could see Quest some miles to the north and a few hours later we found them anchored in a cove north of Nacilau Point which we already had choose as our night anchorage. We were both on route to Savusavu, but we were planning to do a detour around the north coast of Vanua Levu which makes the tour more than double as Savusavu is in the middle of the south coast.
Next morning we continued along the north coast of Vitu Levu in light breeze for three hours until we met strong katabatic headwinds and anchored in Vitia, having done only 17 nm. At low tide we had a walk ashore and decided that we would have an early start next morning to avoid the sun effect added to the strong headwinds around the North Cape.
We had only done a few miles when the wind got stronger, 26kn, but we decided to tack 40nm to Volivoli. There we found a protected anchorage, after having rejected three coves due to violent katabatic winds. This turned out to be the last anchorage together with Jessica and Peter.
We were now east enough on Vitu Levu to get an open reach over Bligh Water to the westcoast of Vanua Levu. Early next morning we left Quest and Vitu Levu and sailed a pretty rough 50 nm passage to Vanua Levu, rounded the short west coast and anchored just before sunset east of Nasua. The anchorage was only a “hole” in the reef with “unprotected” water all around. Good holding and not much tide made the anchorage quite comfortable in spite it looked like we were anchored in open water.
The north coast has prevailing easterly wind, much lighter compared with the south coast and Bligh Waters. It was now the second of August and we tacked along in light breeze. Plentiful of reefs, small and greater all around, but in opposite to Fiji west coast, the beacons were still existing here even if they were close to destruction by corrosion. We had much help of other boats tracks (ptf.-files), which we use in Maxsea. It’s an excellent aid when judging the exact position of reefs.
Late afternoon and it had become vital to choose a safe anchorage. We did not want to spend another night out in “open water” and was looking for a more closed anchorage. Between the little island Nukubati and the main island we found our protected anchorage. There is a small resort on the island and we took the dinghy ashore for a beer. Some resorts are not amused having yachties ashore, but here we were guided to the owner Jenny who sat down together with us and told the Nukubati resort story. She was borne not far away on the main island and bought the island twenty years ago. The resort has 7 Bures with accommodation for total 10-16 guests. The resort is practically self-sufficient on electricity and water. They grow their own vegetables and fruits.
Just before sundown a girl came with champagne and some cheese. What’s this we asked Jenny? “It’s what every guest get at sundown here on Nukubati” she sad as it was the most naturally thing in the world that even we got champagne! You know when you are on a five star resort!!
Most of the conversation went on about Jenny’s idea of echo friendly systems. Today it pays off, but fifteen years ago the agencies could not spell the word ecotourism it was tougher. One thing lead to another and Annika told her about our echo friendly yogurt culture. Jenny was thrilled about it and it was soon decided that Annika should have a “lecture” in the kitchen the next morning. Before dinner time we called the night, paid the beer (the champagne was on the house!) and took the dinghy back to Lindisfarne.
Next morning after breakfast Annika performed the yogurt show in the kitchen. Yes it was really a show. These Fiji girls giggle and laugh at just everything, so there were much of that during the “performance”. Then the kefir/ yoghurt was put to rest to the next day.
After that it was high time for the girls to start prepare lunch, a lunch that Jenny without hesitate invited us to join. To be able to do the whole yogurt procedure, Jenny had already invited us to next day celebration dinner and show.
We dinghied back to Lindisfarne after lunch to have a swim and to host those of the employees that wanted to have a closer look at our boat. Talk about giggle when especially the girls looked inside the boat!
The next day Jenny told us that they were surprised that we could live in such a small area! It’s often hard for us to understand what goes on in the mind of people from other cultures.
This was the exiting day of the celebration dinner and of course the result of the yogurt. The yogurt came out almost perfect, a little more time and a bit warmer and it will be ok.
Jenny invited us for lunch, but we thought that we had been treated almost too well, especially thinking about this evenings dinner.
The celebration dinner was a great buffet were a lot had been cocked, folded in leaves in an earth oven. After dinner and birthday cake, there was a song and dance show performed by the staff. It was a very nice and funny show. It all ended up with everybody, including the guests, sitting on straw mats drinking kava.
Friday morning was farewell time for us and some of the guests. We made a short visit ashore to give Jenny photos and the documentation about Kefir. Jenny took us to the kitchen garden and we got a lot of vegetables and fruits.
It’s difficult to imagine a more friendly and generous treat! We have sure got another aspect on five star resorts… If you are looking for a nice resort out of the normal beaten track, Nukubati Resort is a very good choice!
Finally we pulled up the anchor and sailed east after three very pleasant days.
We found a well protected anchorage east of Labasa, completely enclosed by mangrove. The Pilot book told us that the area was populated mainly by Indies, and tuning in different radio station it was quite obvious. We did not understand any of the dialects that were used.
Next morning, Saturday, we left early to be able to sail around the northeast cape during Sunday when the wind was predicted to be north of east. We tacked along the north coast inside the reef until the gap in the reef was to narrow for tacking. After a few miles motoring we came to a passage where boats before us had gone out of the reef for some miles. We thought we could find a passage inside, although the chart showed nothing of the kind. The tide was rising and half way through the reef it was to shallow. We anchored for a quick lunch, waiting for some more water. We managed to come through, but we certainly didn’t gain any time compared with an outer reef passage.
Three miles later it was time to finally leave the protected area and sail outside the reef the remaining miles to the East Cape. There was only one rolly place to anchor before the cape, so we decided to stay inside the reef overnight. Three guys came in a dingy and sold a nice lobster shortly after we anchored.
The next morning when we met the swell outside the reef, our decision last night was justified! We got three lousy hours with the swell on the bow and the wind on an almost close reach. We had to add some power from the engine. If not we had only been travelled up and down in the steep swell because of the following current. With back stay and running backstay firmly tightened we “sailed” 7 kn SOG. Unfortunately the reef continued some miles east of the cape, and that was really a test of our patience!
Talk about relief when we could turn south, slack the sheets and turn of the engine. The rest of the day we had an open reach all the way south along Vanua Levu’s east coats.
Between Rabi and Vanua Levu we had strong following current and just before sunset, we anchored in Naqaigai Creek a virtual cyclone hole, completely landlocked in the mangrove and tall trees.
Monday 9, we had an early start to be able to get around the southeast cape before the south easterly wind picked up. It turned out that we hadn’t had to be that early, because there was no wind at all until we were several miles on route to Savusavu along Vanua Levu’s south coast. We motored inside Rainbow reef with its narrow passages which thanks to no wind was smooth and easy. Well out of the reef the southeast wind came and we could sail downwind with all our sail the remaining 30 nm to Savusavu. After a few miles with full speed downwind, we saw a sailboat on our port side looking like they were aiming for Savusavu too. We hoped to meet the Swedish sailing boat Bakbrus in Savusavu. We knew they had arrived from Tonga and called them on VHF. They answered instantly and sure it was the boat ahead of us. Tanks to our full downwind sail configuration we were half an hour ahead of them into Savusavu, where we got a mooring at Copra Shed marina.
In the river where also Quest II and a lot of those who left New Zealand at the same time as we did. Lots of fun reunions!
We had no problem with the customs and our extremely late arrival. We don’t know if they even took any notice of the missing month!
We started the afternoon in Bakbrus, but had sun downer and dinner in Quest, mainly because Jessica and Peter were eventually to leave for Suva the next day.
They had got a big coral trout from another boat, which they already had eaten two meals of. Now Jessica made a delicious pasta dish with the final leftovers of the trout.
Next day we were a little “hang over”, but we blamed three days of intense sailing and the previous late evening with not so little wine. We felt quite ok in the afternoon and had dinner in Bakbrus.
The next morning we discovered that Quest was still moored in the river. Later Jessica and Peter came over in their dinghy after having consulted the hospital! Together they showed all known symptoms from Ciguatera poisoning! They were now worried that we got it too. Yes, Annika felt itching in hands and feet, but nothing compared with their reaction. Ciguatera is a bacterium that lives on coral, and coral eating fish gets it.. The big fishes eat the smaller ones and the poison is enriched making the bigger more poisonous, because it never decline.
The only safe recipe is– Don’t eat reef fish. –
We had our so far most expensive beer in Fiji at Cousteau resort south of Savusavu. We didn’t even ask about the price for dinner.
We left Savusavu together with Bakbrus and anchored in the reef of Namena Island. Steep sloping bottom made us use two anchors the Bahemian way, and then Bakbrus rafted onto Lindisfarne. The next day the crew of Bakbrus went to dive on the reef. They left and we sailed to Makoai after a little more work than normal with retrieving our anchors. But with two windlasses it’s done relatively easy.
We had promised Bakbrus to check the new anchorage carefully, so they could arrive late after their diving. The pass into the reef was not a problem thanks to the tracks in Maxsea from other boats, once again a wonderful aid among reefs.
Makogai has a research project for reinstalling big clams in places where they are gone due to intense harvesting. We were together with Bakbrus invited for dinner to one of the families living at the research plant. Guess what, reef fish! but small once are safer. Polite as we are we eat with good appetite…
The next day there was a dance performance for a small cruise ship and the village invited us to join. We recognised some of the dances from Nukubati, but some was different. The children took a great part in the performance and were soon to learn.
After three days at Makogai we left for Suva, leaving Bakbrus behind who were heading for Latoka and clear Fiji for Vanuatu. A lovely open reach to just north of Ovalau, where the wind changed and we had to tack four hours inside the reef down to west of Ovalau where we anchored just before sunset at Cagalai Island.
On Friday 20 was our final part of the trip to Suva. There was a possibility to tack inside the reef half way, but we choose the outer way, thinking it was possible for a close reach to the south west. But it became a hassle. We had to support the speed with the engine to be able to clear the reef and to overcome the confused sea and current. Four hours of fatigue sailing before we could ease the sheets and sail on a broad reach the remaining 20 miles to Suva. We entered the harbour and anchored near Suva Yacht club at sunset quite relived to have done our upwind sailing for the next three weeks.
In Suva we got a new zarpe for Lautoka after visiting the Customs three times! They where out on an Asian fishing boat all day. But finally we got it. But it s quite time-consuming and it feels unnecessary. As we have been more than two month in the country and are sailing between islands and anchorage regardless of paperwork. But between Suva- Lautoka – Savusavu (and eventually some other cities?) suddenly you need a zarpe. Most countries are past that national administration. Hopefully it will spread around to those who still do national paperwork.
Royal Suva Yacht club doesn’t feel very royal. The showers are a joke and the pontoons are miserable. But the beer is cheep and healthy!
We finally found the provincial office for the Lau-group. But still it was a hassle to live up to their requirements for visiting some of the islands in the group. We decided it was too much, and on top of that it is minimum 100 nm to windward and our time in Fiji was running short. They really don’t seem to want to have visitors!
Suva is a nice big city, but to clear Customs and Immigration it’s the wrong place. It’s much easier and faster in Savusavu or even in Lautoka. In Suva the competition with the many commercial ships is one of the reasons and when you have to wait on your boat for the officials without any schedule it’s hopeless…
Suva had a rich market with reasonable prices. Compared with Savusavu most things were 20 -50% cheaper! Even vegetables that was cultivated on Vanua Levu was more expensive in Savusavu.
After three days in Suva we left for Bega, 20 nm to south west, and anchored in the cove on the west coast. We got a quiet, calm night with lots of rain. It’s nice to awake and have a clean boat. Even if we try to use the dew before the sun heats up the boat, a good rain is very useful now and then. Before noon we ”drifted” west inside the reef to the little island Yanuca, where we anchored for the night on the leeward side. Lot’s of coral so we had to buoy the chain to avoid getting snagged. Nice snorkelling but some swell during the night. Thursday came with no wind at all. We had to produce some water anyhow so we motored west along the south coast of Vitu Levu knowing that the wind normally picks up around 10. There was 50 miles to go before we could anchor at Robinson Crusoe resort. When we reach the reef entrance we had 25 kn tailwinds and incredible surf. We anchored just before sunset (again!) in four meter over sand. The conditions on the anchorage are somewhat special. There is a current in or out of the reef depending on the tide at all time, so for once we didn’t need our anchor sail. (or better, couldn’t use it!) .
Robinson Crusoe is a nice, simple backpacker resort. Cheap food but a bit expensive beer compared with our standard price in Musket Cove and Denerau. The next day we had only 20 miles to Musket Cove, but in moderate wind it took some time. We hooked up to the innermost buoy in the early afternoon. We learned that Bakbrus had cleared the country and left for Vanuatu from Musket the day before! But Quest was here on a buoy waiting for their final trip to Vunda Marina where they were to leave the boat, flying to New York for a month.
Tarita and Claes were at the pontoon, but his family had just travelled back home. Claes new crew had arrived together with our new Pentax camera. It’s a W90 to replace our old Pentax that was drowned in Yasawa.
Day two in Musket were mainly devoted to web work and some boat stuff. We changed position of our two main anchors. Our many reanchorings made us change back to have our old Delta on the bow to see if it’s the bottoms in Fiji that are more difficult or if we have to learn a new technique to set the Manson Supreme.
Pizza dinner at the Island bar together with Tarita finalised Saturday.
Tarita sailed to Yasawa Sunday noon and we were also ready to leave, but we inherited a Wi-Fi connection from Tarita who had bought a seven days internet connection. That was of course to tempting to use, so we will stay on the mooring for another two or three day before Vuda Marina and haul out.
We have to change the cutlass bearing that got burnt by means of a fishing line.
10 October – Change of plans
After weeks of thinking and compromising we decided (mid October) to sail back to New Zealand (instead of continue north to Japan and Alaska) and leave the boat for three month, flying back to Sweden. Japan is not any more on our agenda, but Alaska is.
More about this further down in this log book.
Now back to sailing in Fiji.
We left Musket Cove on Tuesday 31 August for Denerau marina. The parts to our Spurs line cutter had not yet arrived from US. No problems finding things to do, waiting for the parts.
Our website needed attention and many other postponed items too. A week disappeared rapidly and on Saturday Lian and Keith arrived from Whangarei to Fiji on vacation. They brought instant espresso coffee for our supplies on the trip north.
Our parts had not yet arrived, so we decided to take them on a tour to Musket Cove, where they then stayed in Pelles Benetu First 40 “Vilda Hilda”.
We got a nice breeze all the way out to Musket. Keith, who sailed Vilda Hilda from NZ to Fiji in June (same time as we did with Lindisfarne), noticed that the Benetu behaved like a dinghy compared with Lindisfarnes more “ship” like behaviours. Not to be surprised. A lightweight, flat-bottomed racer, balanced rudder and with an extremely short fin keel, compared with a several ton heavier blue water hull with a skeg and a much longer fin keel.
On Tuesday, our parts had arrived and we sailed to Vuda Point Marina for the haul out. We got our planned job going and before the evening both the burnt cutlass bearing and the small through hull for the head were done.
Wednesday morning the “upgraded” blades to our KIWI-prop where back in place. We had put small stainless plates into the composite blades to spread the load from the three small bearings, hoping the surface pressure now should be below what the composite could “live with” without damage.
We took the bus into Lautoka to get our parts and to clear Lautoka for Savusavu. The customs could almost not believe that we should be able to leave the next day. We were on the hard with a boat that was not yet ready for launching (they know of course of our parts for the line cutter). We managed to convince them, telling them about our efficiency! Formally you have 24 hours after clearance, after that you have to be on route to your destination.
We launched before lunch on Thursday, sailed the few miles to Denerau and anchored. On Friday morning, we took a taxi into Nadi for shopping. Before the evening registration of boats in the harbour, we left and anchored on the roadstead outside Denerau, now being “formally” on route to Savusavu…
Our Zarpe included Mamanucu (Musket Cove and around, not normally allowed when leaving Lautoka) Kadavu and many islands on the east coast before Savusavu.
Saturday we arrived in Musket Cove, our fifth time! It is only to accept, if you want to meet other sailors in Fiji, Denerau, Vuda and Musket Cove are the hubs. This time it was Pelle from Whangarei who had brought more coffee that made the trip “necessary”.
We once again met Marci and Joseph in their boat Horizon. First time was in Savusavu, a month earlier, together with Vicky and Tom on Sunstone. We discovered that we had a lot to talk about! One evening in Horizon, them telling us about their experiences from Alaska, and another night in Lindisfarne only talking about the pleasant time we all have had in this Paradise.
Monday and “Racing week” with many festive activities in Musket. We felt completely “done” with Musket and left for Kaduvu.
Rather late that evening we anchored inside the reef at the resort Robinson Crusoe. Using our old track, it was a piece of cake in spite the lack of light. Early next morning there was a perfect easterly breeze that gave us a close reach, giving us full speed and no building sea, it can’t be better!
Unfortunately an increasing wind veered after some hours, and we had to tack our way south in building sea. We had during the morning and favourable winds sailed straight on target Kadavu, leaving us at lunch time quite a bit offshore and we did not like to tack back to the coast of Vitu Levu for an anchorage. Instead we sailed the whole night towards Kadavu, 55 nm south of Vitu Levu. We saw five ships during the night. Suva is just north of Kadavu and all major ship routes in and out of Fiji ends there. Three of them carried an AIS transponder, but some fishing boats didn’t. So a sharp lookout was ever so important.
We reached the western cape of Kadavu, Cape Washington, in the early morning close reaching north of Kadavu. Tidal current, old swell together with the strong wind made the sea quite confused and the speed over ground become very low. There was no other options than to tack south of Cape Washington and around to the “offshore” south side of Kadavu. We could with a close reach after another four hours get ourselves through the pass and anchor behind a little island, Vanuvesi, inside the reef. Not much space to swing so we didn’t put our buoys onto the chain. Of course the chain was trapped under the coral next morning! We choose the “pool” behind the island because it was only 12 m deep. All the other places inside the reef were either only a meter or 30-35 meter. We were not yet comfortable with depth deeper then 20 m and wanted as long as possible avoid deep anchorages.
Talking about reefs. Kadavu has together with Astrolabe the World 4th longest barrier reef! Only shallow draft boats can navigate all the way inside the reef, we sometime had to use the passes in and out of the reef to get around.
Our first reef included 7 villages around the shores and we were anchored close to the small boat fairway between the villages. Soon enough a boat came and invited us to their village. It was the vicar and his family. We were grateful and tried, as polite as possible, to explain our problems with anchoring in such a deep water (more than 35m) in this increasing wind, as they had in the vicinity of their village. We still think they understood. At least they looked happy and welcomed us to Kadavu. We had already planned to stay another night and asked if it was ok tomorrow if the wind was more favourable.
The next day was quite windy and of course right on to the beach at the village. We stayed and “recovered” from our night sail, our first since arriving Fiji.
After two days we left and sailed north, didn’t use the next reef entrance at Goa because there where still no passage to the north for us inside the reef. We entered the reef further north east where it was possible to reach rest of Kadavu and the whole Astrolabe, not leaving the reef.
We did some eyeball navigation within the reef to find a more shallow anchorage and finally found one. After the difficulties to find shallow areas we decided that we had to accept to anchor in deep waters. Most of our following anchorages in Kadavu have been in 20-30 m. We still use our buoys when there are corals around and so far we still have the same anchor…
At Matava diving resort there was according to the pilot a place to anchor, but there the resort had put a buoy for their diving boat. We manage to find swing room and anchored in 25 m south of the diving boat. 80 m chain and three buoys gave us good holding and the comfort was acceptable, even if the protection behind the island was not 100%. The main reef is several hundred meters to windward, so even inside the reef there is a building sea.
We spend most of the day snorkelling at two reefs using the dinghy, and before sunset we took the dinghy to the resort for a beer. They were used to cruisers and asked if we wanted water, quite another reception compared to some of the resorts in Yasawas. Kadavu have plenty of water, which is the opposite to the west coast where water is limited.
We had dinner together with 14 guests, which was what the resort could lodge.
We spent the next morning snorkelling, and after lunch took the dinghy to the resort to make a hike over the ridge to see Helen, a yachtie whom we met at the resort. She was from New Zealand and had given up cruising and builds a nice house here on Kadavu. We had a pleasant walk in the dense rainforest on a well-used trail that lead between the different villages along the coast. There was plenty of water in all streams, what a difference to the area we left on the west coast. After coffee and later a beer we walked back, but only after we were given papaya, bananas and lettuce.
Before we returned to Lindisfarne we had a chat with Richard, the owner of the resort. He was a bit concerned and doubtful about our possibilities to continue north inside the reef. There is a small S-shaped passage and with this strong wind… but he reckoned that we were experienced enough to judge our self’s when we arrived there. He had no information about the big Manta Rays, because of problems with the villages close to the reef where the big Mantas used to be north of Ono Island.
Next morning was a clear day with good visibility. We decided to give the passage in the reef a try. When we came close enough to see the whole passage from first spreaders up the mast, we actually wondered what references Richard has. OK it was not a “high way” but compared with some tricky ones we have passed, this was straight forward, but of course in an S-shape.
Just north of that passage we came to Vatulutu, a fabulous bay with an opening in the main reef close by. The village at the head of the bay was almost not visible from where we anchored due to the dense vegetation. There was clear water and nice reefs for snorkelling. We had probably stayed longer than two days, but a diving team told us about a ship from Suva that was supposed to arrive at the next bay, Kavala, tomorrow. We had urgent needs for veggies so we sailed around the east tip of Kadavu and anchored in the big Kavala bay only an hour before the ship arrived. This was really something to watch. Literally everybody from the surrounding villages was there and everything was carried of the ship by man power. For more than two hours there were two rows of men carrying items from and onto the ship. One has to remember that this part of the island has almost no road connection to Gala, the only “city” on Kadavu, so the ship is the only reasonable link between Gala and Suva, the latter 80 nm to northeast on Vitu Levu.
A small Navy ship was also on anchor in the bay. After the big ship had left, an inflatable with four officers came and paid us a visit. One officer came onboard and, very politely, asked about our details, the boat, when we came and so on. He did not want to see any papers, which was a bit odd, eventually it was only for their statistics…
A week later in the same bay we got visitors from the local police who wanted to check our papers, mainly the permission to visit Kadavu. This was the first and only time we had to show any papers during our four month stay in Fiji (except of course when we visited the customs in Lautoka, Suva and Savusavu). The local store in Kavala that we had read about in the pilot had nothing that was fresh. It was more like a hardware store and they told us to ask in the villages for fresh veggies.
The first village had next to nothing and they referred to the village across the bay. But that had to be another day because today it was a windward beach.
Our Alaska powerboat friends on Ice Dancer, Dick and Gail, that we met in Tasmania and Stewart Island, were now in Fiji and supposed to be arriving Kadavu the next day. We decided to sail out in the Astrolabe and meet them out there. Tacking out of Kavala bay was ok, but outside the entrance we got strong headwinds and Ono Island out in the Astrolabe was completely covered by rain. Why leave a nice protected bay with plenty of space for two boats on anchor? This trip became one of our shortest! One hour later after weigh anchor we were back and anchored and emailed our position to Ice Dancer. Dick was pleased with the choice of bay, because the approach from northwest was completely free from hazards.
Early next morning we got Ice Dancer on our AIS and two hours later we got visual contact. Nice to catch up with friends, although it was only three month since we met in Whangarei, there was a lot of updates to talk about. They had been running the whole night from Lautoka, where they cleared customs, to try to avoid the easterly swell in the afternoon and of course they had some sleep to catch up.
We took the dinghy and visited the village across the bay to try to get some veggies. This was a much better organised and bigger village. We bought papaya, cabbage, pumpkin and lots of nice tomatoes. We paid approx the same as on the town market, so everybody was happy!
Back in the boat we had dinner in Ice Dancer.
The next day we sailed out into Astrolabe reef to try to find the great Mantas.
We tacked back and fourth in the supposed “Manta area” without any luck, and anchored on leeward side of Yaukuvelevu Island among corals and white sand. We did a tour ashore and were astonished to find a deserted, almost completed luxury resort. The traces of the world economy can be found on very remote places!
The water was extremely clear and the snorkelling was fantastic. We spend the night anchored at Yaukuvelvu and sailed the next morning out to the main reef for snorkelling and lunch. The water was not that clear, probably because of the swell against the reef. Ice Dancer had left Kavala Bay and motored to Vatulutu, the bay we used some days earlier. We decided to join them and had a very nice open reach inside the barrier reef, many small reef and coral heads to avoid…
Ice Dancer, a Nordhavn 57, was obviously more of a “money object”. They got a delegation from the village telling them to visit the village in the afternoon and pay for diving etc… We were surprised. When we last visited the bay and the village there nothing was said about payment for diving. Perhaps they thought that Ice Dancer was a diving boat with a lot of divers.
When we arrived and were told about the “new rules”, the four of us decided to take the big dinghy and visit the village after a quick lunch and not wait the whole afternoon to visit.
Everybody was very welcoming and recognized us from last week, especially the small children, now not at all shy when they saw us.
This time we brought some Kava, but the Chief did know from last time that we been in Fiji for months so he made the ceremony short and included no drinking.
We were shown around in the village by one of the teenagers that had visited Ice Dancer during the morning. He asked how much the chief had asked for diving and our answer did perhaps not please him: “No money for snorkelling” and that was the “economic” result of our visit. A nice little remote village with a church and even a primary school, which, what we understood, had been paid for by the surrounding Diving Resorts.
We spent the afternoon snorkelling together with Gail and Dick.
Ice Dancer left for Kavala the next morning, being a better starting point for Suva and customs clearance for Tonga. We joined them in the afternoon to have a last evening together.
We stayed in Kavala another day after Ice Dancer left for Suva, mainly to cure Björn who had got some sort of gastric flue.
Thursday the 30th we left Kadavu and sailed north east out into the Astrolabe as a first step on our trip to Savusavu. We anchored among coral behind a little island with extremely clear water. It’s really a difference being 15 nm out in the reef, away from all villages…
We strolled around the island and when we came around to se Lindisfarne again we saw another sailing boat leave the area where we anchored. We think that they didn’t want to risk snuggling the chain among the corals, because we saw them later anchor behind the next island. The buoys we us to lift the chain from the bottom gives us obviously another advantage, we anchor often in places other boats won’t.
Friday September 1st early start to be able to reach Gau before sunset, 60 nm to the north. We were quite happy when the current of one knot against changed direction and we got the extra speed from following current. But even so it was a close run. We crossed the pass to Gau half an hour after sunset, and yes we actually saw the bottom 7 m down. No swell and no wind did the passage possible. At the actual anchorage it was pitch black and we had to use radar and echo sounder to avoid the corals, but again, no wind and no swell made it possible to do it relatively safety.
Sunrise was for once hidden behind the high Gau to our east. We left for Ovalau and the old capital Levuka after breakfast, where we anchored on the roadstead early afternoon. Luckily it was Saturday and the customs was not on duty. Levuka is one of those places where one should have a Zarpe when visiting. We had not planned to stay there so it was not include in our valid Zarpe from Lautoka to Savusavu. We knew that if we had told them about Levuka, we had only got a Zarpe to Levuka and then had to do the whole procedure there to get a new Zarpe for Savusavu. So we took a chance and stayed overnight and a short stroll on the streets of the former capital on Sunday morning, before leaving for the islands again. We were lucky to be able to buy some fresh veggies before we took the dinghy out to Lindisfarne and sailed 15 nm to Wakaya. The whole island is obviously a very luxurious resort. We found a protected cove on the north side, where only one of the houses was visible. To our great surprise we got free wireless internet right at the anchorage! As we had been out of internet for the last three weeks, we had a lot to catch up with.
The pass to the north looked very narrow and dangerous on the chart, but the pass was deep, more than 30m, but only 30m wide and with a dogleg. The dogleg did in fact improve the pass by protecting it from the swell, almost like a breakwater. As it turned out, in spit of the “chart appearance”, it was one of the safest passes we had used so far.
To our great surprise we got south westerly breeze and it gave us a nice downwind run the 30 nm to Koru, another sign that summer is around the corner. Koru has no surrounding reef, only partial around the northern tip. On the chart there was a deep passage between the reef and the island, but in reality there was very little water between the reef and the island. OK we got through, but it was shallow, sometimes only four meters. You really can’t rely 100% on the charts. On top of that the water was not very clear and made eyeball navigation from the mast almost impossible. Very slow progress was the key, and finally we found an almost perfect anchorage, at least the sunset was as good as it can be.
5 September we did the last 30 nm to Savusavu, which was supposed to be our last port in Fiji, before heading north. The wind was still favourable from south west, which made us sail quite relaxed wing-wing and with the jib, stabilising flat sheeted behind the main. No adjustment of the sheets during the whole day!
We got a mooring right in front of Copra Shed Marina and thanks to that a very good reception of Wi-Fi. In Savusavu it’s not possible to anchor between the buoys, but the mooring fee of 10 F$ are quite acceptable especially as the showers and live aboard fee are included. Savusavu is well known for its rainy weather, and already the first night it started to rain.
Now we were supposed to spend some days, preparing the boat and ourselves for the trip north to Japan and Alaska.
Our requests by email for a cruising permit for Micronesia have had no effect! On Noon site they consider it something like winning the highest prize if you get any answer from the officials in Micronesia, and yet you are obliged to have a cruising permit in advance. It’s not easy to live by the “roles” when the officials don’t! We know that they hardly ever use the rule that they can deport you after three days, arriving without a cruising permit. But still it’s a bad feeling, having to rely on there discretion… Wednesday morning in the rain Proximity came in with Rod and Elisabeth whom we met in their boat in San Francisco 2009. They had been sailing this year from Mexico, and last port was from Wavau Tonga. A very cheerful reunion and of course a lot of catch up to be done! Their plan was to spend some time in Fiji and then continue to New Zealand for the cyclone season.
Thursday and its still raining! It is almost unreal, we have almost not had rain in three months before this! The climate in the boat gets a bit humid when the temperature is 25 degrees C and it’s raining a whole day. Colder climate is much easier to coop with, it’s just to light up the heater and you get a nice and dry boat. And we were still planning to sail through an even more humid part of the world!
We had during the last month of and on investigated possibilities to leave Lindisfarne in Fiji from late October to January and then continue north. The main reason was the 85th birthday of Björns mother. But the only place our insurer accepted was on the hard in Vuda Point Marina and they are fully booked. To leave the boat in the water in Vuda or Savusavu should include a very high deductible and we were not pleased with those places ourselves. So we didn’t find a way to be able to leave the boat and travel to Sweden. On top of that it’s a La Ninja year which will give the area more rain, wind and cyclones, not a good year to either leave the boat or continue north in January… The Convergent zone was already very much to the south and that’s why Fiji has such a wet and soggy weather.
The thought of a break and a visit to Sweden didn’t want to leave our minds, and we suddenly came to the most obvious and cheapest solution. Sail back to New Zealand, park the boat in Whangarei for five months, and then sail to Alaska via French Polynesia and Hawaii instead of via Micronesia and Japan.
We will avoid the La Ninja cyclone season, we will retrieve a lot of insurance fee, we will be in Alaska at almost the same time as previous planned and we will be able to visit all our friends in Sweden. It’s almost ridiculous what a limited effect on our overall cruising plan such a “dramatic” change gives. Of course the itinerary will be different but those islands are still there to be visited another year…
When everything was in place and the decision was taken, all we had to do was to check out and wait for weather for NZ. Waiting for passage weather in rainy Savusavu seamed to be a bad idea. Our friends in Proximity wanted some moral support to their first Fiji “reef sailing” so the best solution was a three day trip across Fiji back to Lautoka and check out from there.
We left Savusavu the 10 of October with Proximity close by. In spite a doubtful weather report, Sunday become a nice and sunny sail through reefs and to an anchorage 50 nm west of Savusavu. An early morning start on Monday to cross Bligh Water south to Vitu Levu. Perfect 15 knot wind, but little too much from the south. No big deal, only to choose a more westerly passage through the reef around Vitu Levu than original planned. Some hours later the wind backed to more easterly and we could easily keep up with our first plan. This is cruising. Learning to adjust to the actually circumstances, avoid fighting the elements.
The day ended together with Elisabeth and Rod in Lindisfarne with a sun downer and later dinner.
Tuesday and no wind. We motored most of the day along the northern coast of Vitu Levu, inside the reef and anchored 20 nm east of Lautoka. No rain during the day but just as we completed the anchoring, the sky opened. Our get together in Proximity was postponed to the next day.
The last day to Lautoka was mostly rainy. Sometime we could see less than two hundred meters in the rain. A great surprise was that we could see the reefs in the rain. We were so brought up with the idea that reef was only visible in sunlight, and then preferably from behind. Now we have learned that sun and cloud together are what gives problem. Shadows from cloud looks like a reef in the sun… But if we are allowed to chose, a high sun gives still the best light for eyeball navigation.
Early start next morning to reach the customs in Lautoka before their lunch break.
We anchored 11.30 with Proximity rafted to save time. Björn and Rod took the dinghy to fix the papers. This was our fifth visit to Lautoka customs and our papers were dealt with rapidly. Both boats at the same time! But of course it was a girl who took care of us… We were now clear for Lautoka area and the surrounding Vitu Levu coast including Mamanucu, Yasawa. Before leaving for New Zealand we have to visit customs a final time.
Back in the boats the rain had begun again. We untied Proximity and hauled our anchor to motor the last miles to Denerau. The anchorage was quite full, probably due to the late season and people waiting for passage weather. We once again rafted Proximity onto Lindisfarne, not to have our boats in either end of the anchorage, because tonight was the occasion for the postponed dinner.
Proximity moved into the marina next day and we stayed at anchor, preparing Lindisfarne for the passage to be able to use the first available weather window. It looks like the 18th is possible, but we have to keep monitoring a high down at Tasman Sea.
18 October – 31 October 2010 Fiji – NZ 1150 nm
The trip down to NZ was relatively OK, even if the first five days was beating to windward in strong wind. But more about that later.
First we have to tell you about our mistreatment of the water maker.
A week before the passage to NZ we did discover that the meter for under pressure at the 5 micron pre filter was quite high. We were afraid that the feeding pump had lost capacity, but first we tried the most obvious, changing the 20 and 5 micron filters. We were in Savusavu when we changed filters and in that water you don’t run the water maker, not even for testing.
When we left Savusavu for Lautoka we run the WM to confirm that the filters were to blame for the high pressure. Everything was normal during the starting procedure, even if Annika in the cockpit thought she heard a small “bang”. The pressure was ok and the freshwater production was as normal 70l/h.
All is well you think, but as soon as we thought so the bilge pump started! Up with the floor boards, just to see saltwater flushing down into the bilge from starboard side where the membrane to the WM is placed. Rapidly turn of the WM because now Björn remembered that he had closed the outlet for the brine, to be able to back flush the filters, and forgot to open the valve…
Luckily we have a “normal” garden hose to that extra valve and when the process started, the pressure was built up even after the membrane, but before any damage to the membrane, the ”garden hose” broke and the brine flushed down into the bilge. We did not even notice it because we were so focused on the WM working as usually. But when the bilge pump stated…
The repair was only to cut the damaged part of the hose and connect again and everything was back to normal. Except of course for a lot of cleaning after the saltwater flush down on the inside of the hull down into the bilge.
Our friends in Proximity some hundred meters behind us didn’t notice anything of our “troubles” as we motored along inside the reef while we were cleaning and fixing the hose.
We are very happy that we had a garden hose which actually worked as a “fuse” and blow, not to let the membrane, or the rest of the equipment, get damaged by high pressure.
Now the trip back to New Zealand.
After a few days in Denerau with things to do and social activities with Proximity, Quest II and Blue Bie, we sailed Sunday afternoon the 17th to a bay south of Lautoka.
We knew that the customs would be pretty occupied on Monday morning after no service during the weekend. And yes, there were lots of boats anchored outside the harbour when we arrived early Monday morning. It’s obvious that the season is coming to an end and that people want to leave before the risk for cyclones gets to high.
Björn took the dinghy to be “hanging on the door” when customs opened and was served as number one, (one boat at the time!) and when he was ready there were nine boats in the queue. One boat had got new crew after they cleared in to Fiji, and the customs was not allowed to handle their passports. They had to go to the immigration office in town for clearance and then back to the customs… As we say, you never should be surprised when being in contact with officials, even if you think that you know the procedures.
With our papers cleared we sailed towards the pass 30 nm to the south. Half way there we stopped at Musket Cove to buy some cabbage, carrots and first of all, hanging onto a mooring to be able to get anchors and dinghy stowed away for the passage. Time fly’s and it was quite late when we were ready and left for the reef passage. By the time we were close, it was getting dark. We decided it was stupidity to start south in the dark and with the wind from the south and there is a safe anchorage just inside the reef, which we used. We had not planned to anchor and our bow anchors and chain was well stewed away, but our Manson Supreme at the stern windlass was ready to use. In the light breeze we kept the chain at the stern and with the wind scoop over the hatch we got a nice breeze into our aft cabin. That was a new experience.
Early Tuesday morning we weigh anchor and sailed out through the pass. Instead of yesterdays southerly we now had a nice breeze from east. Gentle sailing close haul with a sped of 5 -5,5 knots, a perfect way to start a passage. For once we were pleased with close haul.
Without that extra apparent wind we got out of the boat speed we had probably been just laying there with flopping sails! Thanks to the low wind speed the sea didn’t build up and that situation kept the whole day. After sunset we got a very bright full moon from a starry sky. The light was almost too bright to see the stars! A fantastic experience to sail at night on a flat ocean with light as if it was daylight, as the eyes got used to the moon shine.
In the very early morning we run out of wind and had to start the engine and it was engaged the whole day two. We motored across a flat sea, although a gentle swell from south east started to build in the afternoon. In the night we got new wind, from due south… Now we were in doubt, should we sail east or west? The grib files predicted east winds in a few days, and for that reason we choose an easterly course. Quite boring to go 100-110 degrees when course to the destination is 185 degrees. But if we had chosen west we had got 250 degrees and with the predicted easterly we were not fond of being that far west. But VMG 0 KN is never the less a pain!
After 5-6 hours the wind faded, and we decided to start the engine again and motor against the relatively modest swell.
Before noon the third day the wind increased and backed to southeast. The new grib files showed east, not northeast in a day or two, which made us be very carefully about our longitude. We decided to sail close haul, almost heave to, not to lose more than necessary of our easting. We actually didn’t try to sail effective, as we knew about the coming wind we tried to be as comfortable as possible in the 25 knot of wind and very confused sea with tide against the swell.
Sailing close haul our comfort wind speed is max 25 KN and 50 degrees to apparent wind, whereas 20-25 KN is what we wish as minimum to have a nice downwind sailing and we can coop with 40 – 50 KN, still with a high degree of comfort.
The fifth day, Saturday, at last after two days of “heave to” sailing, we got our reward. The easterly came and we could ease our sheets. Sunday afternoon, halfway to NZ, the sea state was completely in order with the easterly wind and we could sail full speed towards Whangarei in 60 – 70 degrees apparent wind.
Now we got three days under perfect conditions. Open reach and some tide with us. SOG 6,5 – 7,5KN! But nine days in a boat leaning 15-20 degrees is quite exhausting. Lucky that we are only the two of us aboard. The places to sit and lay down are quite limited when only “one side” of the boat can be used.
The wind vane (Wind Pilot) did a marvellous job the whole trip (except of course for the engine hours) and we had to shut down our wind generator because the house bank was fully charged most of the time.
The last night the wind decreased and we motor sailed the last fifty miles to make speed of course, but also heating and making water to have a shower before landfall was even more essential! Shower aboard a small boat is probably the biggest difference between downwind and close haul sailing in rough sea!! If somebody had told us that we could manage with only one shower a week, we probably only had shaken our heads in disbelieve. Now we know that it’s possible. It’s really unbelievable how you adapt yourself to the actually situation. But we don’t need to tell you the feeling of having had a hot shower in the cockpit an hour before landfall Whangarei!?
An hour before entering the river we came close to an American boat. We had a great benefit of our local knowledge! While they made landfall via the ship channel, we made a close curve around Whangarei Head and gained miles. They were probably thankful for the guiding in to the marina, because they slowed down and came close behind us. The marina is quite new and is not shown on older charts and the leading marks are not that obvious…
The customs came two hours after we moored at the Q-dock. We had time for a flush down with freshwater of our salt sprayed poor Lindisfarne.
Around noon we were cleared in and could continue up the river. The wind gave us a perfect open reach on completely flat water. What a perfect last sailing before our break of sailing. All the awkward hours last week’s sailing forgotten…
The river bend in an S-curve the final stretch into town, but for the first time we manage to sail all the way, in spite a tide of one knot against. Some excitements of course when the wind was to close when some of the beacons were close. But the tension kept us awake, which possible was necessary after nine days at sea. 100 meter from the pontoon we furled our sails, engaged the engine and five minutes later we were tied to the floating dock.
Almost as coming home. This was our fifth time we made port in Whangarei in two years.
What a pleasure to be able to stroll over the street and shop in well sorted supermarkets! It’s completely clear that Fiji don’t have first class meat, veggies and other food products.
Now we will “winterize” and clean Lindisfarne to be able to fly to Europe in mid November.
The difference in price between a pile mooring in Whangarei and marina in Fiji and our reduction in insurance fee (because of NZ instead of Fiji) almost cover our two tickets to Sweden!!
Those rough 1000 nm between Fiji and NZ paid off very well!
Total for 2010:
3970 nm – 8 months
Year 1998-2009 = 47 660nm
Annika & Björn