Posted by: procamnz | December 3, 2009

Christmas News 2009 from Crew of Windspirit

Nathaniel aged 4 months

Tony & Mary in Prague

Isabella aged 2 1/2 years

Ethan aged 22 months

Caleb Price aged 3 years

After a very exciting time sailing to Fiji, around and back to NZ last year we needed to get our heads down and bums up and do some work to earn our keep. Tony was fortunate that he was able to keep his work going while he was away and has built it back up since we returned.

Over the last year, his work has taken him to Hong Kong, China and Taiwan. Then in September we both headed off to England and Europe for four weeks, some for work and some for play. We had a great, but extremely tiring time, meeting up with Dorothy (my sister) for three days in London. We had a lot of talking to do in such a short time, but did manage to get a bit of sight seeing in too. This time we bought a Eurail pass and traveled by train from London (On the Eurostar) to Brussels, then to Amsterdam, Paris, Prague, and to Berlin. We enjoyed the trips on the train as we got to see a lot of the countryside. We went on an overnight train from Paris to Prague, which was a new and interesting experience for us. Then after Berlin, we flew to Vienna for a few days recreation and on to Dubai. That was a whole new ball game for us, having never been to a desert country before. All in all we had a really great time.

I have given up nursing after doing it for nearly 40 years. I now spend my time doing the clerical work for the business, running our home affairs, doing maintenance on the boat and being a grandmother.

We had a lovely time with the family over last Christmas. Spent some time in Wellington with Rowena, Naomi and Al and our granddaughter, Isabella. We also visited my father and stepmother, June. They are only just coping at home with lots of outside help. Dad has given up using the computer now, which is a real shame but finds it too hard to go in to the spare room to use it. I thought about buying him a laptop but he would have trouble with the small keys etc and anyway his eyesight is pretty bad now. June is becoming very forgetful and muddled in her thinking.

We are really enjoying our four grandchildren. Caleb (3) and Ethan (22mths) are real trouble as they are so close in age that they, together, get in to so much mischief but they are a lot of fun. They are in Auckland. Rowena’s daughter, Isabella (2 ½) and Naomi and Al’s son, Nathaniel (4 months) are in Wellington, but we do get to see them every month or so. Fortunately there are now reasonably priced airfares to Wellington and so when I go there I get to stay for 2-3 days and really get to know them well.

This Christmas our friends have lent us their house again for a few days and so we will be having a traditional Christmas dinner with the family. It will be great because our kids and their kids will all be there. Also we have invited Tony’s sisters and their partners and they will bring Tony’s Mum, who has just turned 88years. She is well but VERY forgetful now but she still loves coming out and having a good time.

We are still living on the boat, but had a break earlier this year when we did a two-month stint of house sitting on the North Shore. After ten years of living on the boat, it is time for a change and we are actively looking for a house to buy and live in. We love the boat but now that we have the grandchildren it is becoming harder to have them visit and stay. Also we are yearning for a bit more space to stretch out and I want a wee veggie and herb patch. There is not a lot on the market at the moment but we hope it won’t be too long before we find the home that we both love and can afford.

I can’t think of any more news but will consult with the boss before sending this off. Well, the boss checked it out, made a couple of small changes and has left me to it.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Posted by: procamnz | November 9, 2008

Opua to Auckland.

It was great to meet again many of the cruisers with whom we have spent time in Fiji but there becomes a time when we want to get home and back to a “normal” life. We had been watching the weather for a window to sail down the coast but with South Easterlies predicted we were reticent to head out. However Tony was itching to get back to his neglected clients and we made the decision on Saturday to head to Auckland.
It makes me wonder how we can travel around the Pacific and always have head winds. But that is the way it is. Even though North-Westerly winds were predicted, we still sailed South in to head winds. It was an extremely brisk sail with large rolly waves. We were pleased to arrive at Tutakaka that night and have a good sleep. Then the next morning we headed out to an Easterly wind of 25-30knots for our sail to Kawau Island. This was again a fairly rough sail but we were greeted by a pod of dolphins and thousands of sea birds. We arrived at Bon Accord Harbour, Kawau Island at about 3PM, had a quiet drink and early sleep. These long sails are very tiring.
At present we are just north of Ragitoto Light, having a quiet beam reach sail for a change. We shall berth at Westhaven and then start the big clean up. The boat is absolutely covered in salt crystals.
It has been another successful cruise but we are pleased to be home.

Posted by: procamnz | November 6, 2008

The long trip home

We went in to Lautoka on Monday and returned our Internet Vodem. We were surprised to see that all the Indian women and little girls were dressed in the most beautiful Saris and glittery shoes. The clothes were all colours of the rainbow. The people were all preparing for the festival of Diwali, which is the festival of lights, similar to New Year for the Indian people. We were lucky enough to hitch a lift in to town with a very pleasant Indian man, who actually invited us to his home for the festival the next day, and he explained the meaning to us. Unfortunately we were not able to take him up on his offer because we ended up leaving before that.
We finally had the go ahead from Commander to leave Fiji on Wednesday 29 October. So even though Tuesday was a public holiday we decided to pay the overtime rates and clear customs on that day. While Tony took the taxi to Lautoka to clear, I was madly sorting out the last few jobs, which needed to be done before we left. He returned to the boat at about 11AM and we set sail for Momi Bay where we intended to stay the night and leave the next morning. However when we arrived there at about 2PM we found that an on shore breeze had set in, which would not have made for a comfortable night’s anchorage. Therefore, after a very brief discussion we chose to leave immediately and head out of Navula Passage and south to New Zealand. We are very pleased that we made that decision because boats that did end up leaving later got caught in bad weather close to NZ.
Our trip, although uncomfortable and very tiring was actually quite reasonable. Of course, it did not come without challenges. We each did three-hour watches from 7PM until 7AM. Tony took the 7-10PM and the 1-4AM watches and I took the 10-1AM and 4-7AM. This seemed to work for us except we then had, what I called, the 10 o’clock syndrome. This occurred every night except one. Something always went wrong at that time just after Tony had gone to bed. Usually we had an increase in wind speed and direction, but sometimes it happened to be the instruments that went crazy for no apparent reason. A couple of times the auto helm decided to run amok. Then the sails would back and all hell would be let loose. However we would eventually sort out the problems and things would settle down. But it did not make relaxing easy.
We were able to keep up to date with the positions of other yachts in the area by listening in to Des’ radio sked, morning and night. Over 6 ½ days off shore we did not see any other yacht, ship or plane until the last night when we all were starting to converge for the sail in to the Bay of Islands. That night we saw the lights of three other yachts. It was very hard to sleep that last night because we were excited about coming home. Also the wind and waves had started to increase ahead of the oncoming low-pressure system. We were very pleased to see the welcome sight of the Cavalli Islands and next to clear the Nine Pin. We then knew we were home.
On the radio we heard that there were 15 boats at Opua waiting to clear Customs and that there was no room at the wharf. It seemed like a good move to slow down, sort out the boat and have a well-earned hot shower. What luxury! Tony finished his shower just as we pulled up at the quarantine wharf.
We did not have to wait long before we were boarded by first Customs and next bio-security. No problems there except that they took any items which could be grown, e.g. chickpeas etc. Not a lot and we were soon on our way to the Marina for a well-earned rest.
While sailing in to the bay we received a phone call from our good friends Wendy and Warren who informed us that they would meet us at the pier with fresh bread, tomatoes and bananas. That was a real treat and they assisted us with our lines and making the boat fast on the marina. They stayed for about two hours and then left us to rest. It was really great to be welcomed home and such a surprise.
The last few days have been a blur with us sorting out bits and pieces and doing heaps of laundry etc. We have also enjoyed dinner at the Opua Cruising Club each night. The meals are reasonably priced, $10-12 each and the company is great.

Posted by: procamnz | November 6, 2008

Sunrise out in the ocean. 4.30AM

Posted by: procamnz | October 23, 2008

It is too hot

“It is Too Hot!
This is a saying that we are banned from using on Windspirit but is certainly true this time. Inside the boat with all fans running, hatches open and wind scoops in place it is 30C. It is even hotter outside. We are trying to keep out of the sun as it is a scorcher. If visiting Fiji, we would not recommend doing so at this time of the year. We just want to leave but every day we get an email from Commander saying “Delay your trip”. This is followed by all the reasons. It seems that NZ is still getting bad winter or at least the Pacific Ocean between Fiji and NZ is getting it. At this stage it looks like we may get away on Sunday or Monday. But we will have to keep watch.

Bulbul Bird

Yesterday I went to get us a banana from the fruit bowl and found they had all been pecked. The bowl is in the side cabin and we had not noticed that the bulbul birds had been sneaking in the window there and helping themselves. I put the insect screen in to the window to stop them entering and later Tony went down in to the main saloon to find a bird had flown in the front hatch to get more food. They really are cheeky little devils. It is far to hot to leave the screens in place all the time.
This morning we woke early and before breakfast decided to head out in the dinghy to the sandbar for a snorkel. It was low tide at 7AM. We had a wonderful time as none of the other tourists had risen so early. The number and variety of fish is astounding. We even saw a stingray swimming around but he soon disappeared. The colours of the coral are so beautiful. We had the place to ourselves for over an hour before the tourist boats arrived and by that time we were tired and hungry. So we motored back to Windspirit for eggs on toast.
We had a very pleasant evening the other night as we decided to shout ourselves dinner out at the Restaurant at Musket Cove. After dinner we took what was left of our wine and sat in the lounge and listened to the band. We may do that again tonight after dinner on the boat.
Tomorrow we plan on leaving here and heading back to Saweni Bay which is close to Lautoka. We are running out of fresh fruit and veg’s and so want to go to the market on Saturday. Then when we decide to leave Fiji it will be only a short trip to clear customs and head south.
This will probably be the last blog we will do until our return to NZ. We need to return our internet modem to Telecom Fiji for our refund.

Posted by: procamnz | October 18, 2008

The Waiting Game

Over the last few days we have steadily been going through the boat and checking on storage and organising things for the trip home. All the crockery is safely stored and pots and pans stacked so that they don’t crash about. We have attached the trysail to the mast so that it can be easily raised in storm conditions (which we don’t want). Now it is just a matter of waiting and checking weather updates for a suitable day to leave. The idea is that we look for a large anticyclone over western Australia which will slowly move towards New Zealand and bring good weather and fair winds. We looked at the seven day forecast yesterday and if we had left then we would have received 35-40 knot SW winds just north of NZ. That, we do not want. So now we will keep checking and hope we make the right call when the time comes. Among other internet options we are using the guidance of an American company, Commander, who do weather routing for cruisers world wide.
Yesterday was an inside day as we had several torrential downpours. So now the boat is well washed down and the tanks are full. We did several jobs and then spent the afternoon playing scrabble. As our family will know, it is very difficult to get Tony to play games but he is now enjoying this game. He almost beat me yesterday too. Hopefully the weather will be good today and we can spend some time ashore going for a walk and swim.

Posted by: procamnz | October 15, 2008

Blue Lagoon to Musket Cove

On Friday morning we woke to a glorious day, clear sky and gentle breeze. We left by the Western entrance sailing south. Our plan was to stop the night at Natuvalo Bay on Naviti but we were having such a great sail and it was still early in the day so headed south to Yalobi Bay on Waya. All went well until we arrived, went to anchor, and could not get shelter from the northwest swell. By this time we were fed up with rolly anchorages. So turned on the donkey and motored north again to Ceva bay on the south coast of Naviti. By this time it was quite late in the day. Normally we would not travel after 3PM because it is hard to see the reefs but we had been there before and had computer tracks which we could follow. We arrived at about 5PM to a calm, smooth anchorage and had a great night’s sleep. The next morning our plan was to leave early and head back to Saweni Bay but we received a visitor from a neighbouring yacht who asked for assistance with his autohelm. Tony was sucked in and so we didn’t leave until about 11AM. We had nearly thirty miles to travel. After all the windy days what should turn up but a windless day even though a strong wind warning had been issued. We had to motor all the way. Had our fishing line out too but no luck there.
Had a bit of a surprise on the way in to Saweni because the motor did a hiccup and dropped revs. Got a bit of a scare but Tony changed the filters etc once we got to anchor and it runs like a dream again. Must have got some muck in the wrong place but fixed now. Despite being very careful with putting diesel conditioner in the tanks every time we fill up we seem to have a little bit of residue diesel bug. The tanks are over twenty years old now and probably need a clean out. We will do that when we get back to NZ. Also we were running low on fuel which would have accentuated the problem.
We have anchored in Saweni Bay several times but this time we didn’t quite pick the right spot because at about 7.30PM the wind turned and when we checked the depth we had only 300mm under the keel. With another two hours to go before low water we were quite concerned. Tony pulled in about 10 metres of chain. We were then had about 500 mm under us. We were reluctant to move because it was dark and we could have made it worse for ourselves. By 10 PM we were just touching the coral but only gently and then all was well again. Guess we have a few scratches on the bottom of the keel now. We made sure that we moved before low water the next morning.
We stayed in Saweni Bay until Monday morning, then motored to Vuda again
so that we could do a few things like a rig check and buy fuel. We couldn’t believe that it cost over $1200 for fuel (diesel is F$2.28 + 5% credit card fee, NZ$1=F$1.03 after charges). We were getting a bit low on tucker and wanted to stock up on the essentials and went in to Lautoka on Tuesday morning. As soon as we arrived back we set off for Musket Cove, where we are now. We have been doing maintenance and packing up things etc. for the big trip home.
Yesterday we discovered that the water pump for the generator was leaking as a seal had blown and so Tony replaced it at once. Fortunately he carries a spare pump. We can manage without the generator but it uses a lot less fuel to charge the batteries than does the main engine.
As part of our preparations for the trip home I have made bread today and Tony cut it up and I made and froze sandwiches I am trying to make easy food for us. I made some pastry yesterday and today will make a bacon and egg pie and cut it into meal size pieces and freeze them. I will also make a pizza and cook some NZ chicken thighs which I managed to buy at the supermarket. I would have prefered to buy chicken breasts but didn’t want to buy Fiji meats. I will pre cook them as well. Then we wont starve on the trip home.
We have a few more jobs to do, like put on the trysail and the perspex shutters on the dodger windows etc.
Then we will just wait for the weather window and hope that we pick it right. From the sound of other yachties it might be next Monday or Tuesday. But who knows. There are a lot of people just waiting here for the same reason at us.
Have had a swim both afternoons. Can’t work all the time. Also, it is too hot. We meet some very pleasant Canadians in the pool yesterday. He was 82 and his wife, 80. Until two years ago they were still doing Ocean cruising but decided that they were now too old. They are having a boating holiday with their son and wife and their two sons. They have been here for three weeks. What a great couple. They are an inspiration to us all. We will have dinner with them tonight at the Island Bar where barbeques are set up for the cruisers. We can buy meat and veg packs at the little shop. As we are now running out of meat that is a great option for us and the men do the cooking.

Posted by: procamnz | October 12, 2008

The limestone caves of Sawa-I-Lau

After we had managed to extract ourselves from the village we motored over in the dinghy to the caves. These are set inside an enormous island of limestone. There is controversy over which clan of islanders own this treasure trove and also jealousy among the people. While we were there two boatloads of tourists arrived with over 40 people, at $10 per head. Also the Fijians sell handcraft on the beach. So the clan who claim ownership are bringing in a lot of earnings compared to other villagers. The controversy has been going on for over ten years and is now apparently t be resolved by court action. As in most places, it is the ones with the most money who can afford the best lawyers. So it will be interesting to hear the outcome.
We had to climb up quite a number of steps to get to the cave entrance from the beach and at the top was this sign. I guess some people have hard heads.


As in most caves of this origin we had to then climb down more slippery and dark steps in to the cave, ducking our heads to avoid overhanging rocks. At the bottom is a huge pool, which is about 18 metres deep and clear sea water. It is affected by the tides and is only open, we think, at low tide. We were lucky because for about the first 10 minutes we had the cave to ourselves and had a lovely swim. We had taken our dive torch and were able to investigate all the nooks and crannies. We had been told that there was an entrance under the water to another cavern but were not able to find this. We were sorry that we did not have a waterproof cover for our camera because we would have liked to take photos.

The entrance to the first cave

Later the tour people arrived en mass with masks and snorkels and we heard many different languages. They had tour guides with them and so we were able to follow as they were shown the underwater entrance to the other cavern. As a very nervous person I was reluctant to dive under, especially as we had not taken our snorkeling gear but Tony was very keen. As it turned out, although the entrance is very narrow, only a body’s width, it was virtually only necessary to duck your head under and count to about two and we were in another giant cavern. This one had only a small area where a minimal amount of light can enter, so we were very pleased to have our dive torch. It is hard to say how high the ceiling was but probably about 50-60 feet. We were very pleased that although the other tourists were noisy and disturbed our peace, we would not have found the other cavern if they had not arrived. The tour leaders, both Fijians, climbed up the rock walls several times, and dived and bombed in to the deep clear waters. They must have very sticky feet because some of the other people tried to climb and found the walls really slippery and had to give up. It was a lot of fun.
By this time is was about 11AM and time for us to move on. We are running out of time in Fiji and need to start preparing for the trip back to NZ. We had a beautiful sail back to Blue Lagoon, our stopping off anchorage for the night. When we arrived we found that friends of ours, JoAnne and Michael, from the yacht Destiny, were there. They have had a series of problems with their yacht this year and have had very little sailing time. So we were thrilled that they had managed to make it to the Yasawa’s. They invited us and two other couples for drinks that night. We had a great time and were sorry to go back to our boat. But needed some well earned sleep before heading south again the next day.

Posted by: procamnz | October 12, 2008

Blue Lagoon to Sawa-I-Lau

The Northern Pass of Blue Lagoon

Our ideas of buzzing around Blue Lagoon in the dinghy were thwarted after an aborted, wet, dangerous and wild trip because it was so windy and the seas were rough. We were definitely safer and more comfortable on the yacht.

On hearing Tuesday’s weather forecast we decided that we could be stuck for days if we didn’t made a move. So we sailed north of Blue Lagoon, through the winding pass and out to the Western shores of the Yasawa’s. We had a fast, but pleasant sail to Malakati on Nacula island. The anchorage has good holding albeit very gust as the wind whips over the top of the steep hills and slikes down to the bay, gathering momentum as it does. We dropped anchor in beautiful clear water and then went to shore to the village where we needed to present Sevusevu (gifts, including kava) to the chief and his entourage. We are getting used tothis custom now and are not as embarrassed as we used to be. Once Sevusevu is accepted, we have free run of the village and may take photos. The next two photos were taken while the people of the village were building a new house with flax and wood.

Thatching the house

The completed house

While wandering around the village we managed to get some snaps of other houses including the Chief’s house which apart from a small bedding area was completely empty.

Some of the village homes

The chiefs house

It was while walking that we met Setimile who is the village kindergarten teacher. We traded a few bits and pieces and she asked us to return the following morning to meet her children. After yet another sleepless night we returned to the village and visited the kindergarten. The children performed a Meke for us (singing and dancing). These 3-5 year olds were delightful. But there is so little money in the villages for any toys etc and so much empasis is placed on rote learning and visual recall. We had a lot of fun as the children delighted in having their photo taken and then rushing round to see themselves on the screen. We promised to print the photos and send them to the kindergarten.
As the forecast was for lighter winds and our next stop was known to be uncomfortable in strong winds, we headed to the northern most island of Yasawa. Our destination was Sawa-I-Lau which is famous for the huge limestone caves.

Nabukeru Village Sawa-I-Lau

We visited the village of Nabukeru to present Sevusevu and after this met a very pleasant lady, Vaseti who welcomed us in to her home. She was making a huge flax mat for the house. These need replacing every year and are made in the lady’s spare time. Vaseti was being helped by her mother-in-law, Louisa.

Vaseti, Mary & Louisa

Making the mat

With great amusement they showed me how the weaving is done and the process for dying the colours in to the fibre. The preparation of the flax is very involved and time consuming. Once again we were asked to take photos and print them on our computer. It seems well known that all (ha ha) yachts have these gadgets. We said we would do them that night and bring them back in the morning before visiting the caves. We were told that 8AM would be a good time to return only to find that breakfast had been prepared for us to have with the family. The village paster was there too. Our breakfast consisted of tea and boiled taro and we felt very privileged to be part of it.

Sunset at Sawa-I-Lau

Posted by: procamnz | October 4, 2008

Vuda to Blue Lagoon

After what seemed like a quick flight, (had a good book to read) we arrived at Nadi and were soon in the taxi and on our way back to the boat. No problems there, in fact the boat seemed a lot cleaner than it usually did on our return. The reason for that was that there had been a torrential rain fall the day before our return. That was great for us, although Tony did give Windspirit another good wash. On Friday we headed up to Lautoka and restocked our dwindling food supply, especially fresh fruit and vegetables and then on Saturday morning we left Vuda and had a short trip up to Saweni Bay where we had a few chores in store for us before heading to the Yasawa Islands, about thirty miles to the west of Viti Levu.

Waya, the southern most island of the Yasawas

All plans had to be put on hold because the weather forecast was for a trough to pass over the group and so we were not able to leave Saweni until the morning of the 29 September when the weather moderated. We had a pleasant motor sail to Cuvu Bay at the southern end of Naviti Island. Although not totally sheltered from the South East trade winds, we spent a comfortable night tucked in close to the beach. We even managed to take a pleasant swim and snorkel on the reef. On swimming back to the boat we had to swim through what looked like fine white threads. Unfortunately, where they touched the skin, we had small stings. Not that they were very painful, but uncomfortable. By night time the sensation had gone away. Perhaps they were some form of jelly fish.

Small Islet on the East of Naviti

The next morning, Tuesday, the weather forecast was for strong South Easterlies and we felt that it would not be wise to stay on a lee shore. Therefore, we up anchored and headed north, inside the outer reef, through the Nailavalava Passage and in to beautiful Vunayawa Bay at the north end of Naviti, where we hoped to stay for a while to explore. However, that was not to be as the wind did a spin and ended up from the North East, in to the bay. However the seas were coming from the other direction still and we ended up having a sleepless and very uncomfortable night. It was so rolly that it was impossible to do anything, including cooking. We went to bed early but then had to keep checking the anchor. Oh the joys of sailing!. We stayed two nights without even going ashore and as soon as the weather moderated we headed to Blue Lagoon, location of the two movies of the same name. What a beautiful spot. No wonder that movies were made here. We anchored north of the area where the Blue Lagoon Cruises have their allocated private beach and settled down for some rest.

The Riff Raff we need to share our anchorage with.
Our walk along the shore at Blue Lagoon

We had been having problems with the anchor winch that was only four years old and well maintained. It had cut out a few times and then restarted but now it has only half power. So Tony has been spending some time stripping and cleaning the terminals etc. Until we use it again we are not sure if that has done the trick or if he needs to take more drastic action.

A view from the top showing the narrow passages

Yesterday we went ashore and had a really long walk, the first for ages around Nanuya-Sewa Island. We started by walking around the northern end of the bay and then did some cross-country, steep walking until we found a path along the ridge of the island. The views were amazing.

A view from the top again- inside Blue Lagoon

The Eastern side of Nanuya-Sewa Island.

We could see for miles and also could see all the reefs. Pity they are not so clear when in the boat. It is quite frightening to be close to the reefs and they are very hard if you touch. We try to stay well away from them. On our walk we passed a communications tower. Knowing we did not have cell phone service we had not tried to clear our emails. But seeing this tower we decided to try when we got back to the boat. We have been using Mobile Connect, a telecom service, since arriving in Fiji, and were amazed to find that even in this remote spot we have full internet service. It is hard to stay remote in Fiji.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, that meant that Tony could catch up on his work emails too and so he has spent almost all of today working. That was not exactly planned for this time away but he must not neglect his clients if he can help it. However, he has now caught up on all his work and can rest with a clear conscience. The timing was right though because we have had really strong winds since yesterday afternoon and would not have wanted to leave the boat on anchor without us being here. We are thrilled with our Rocna anchor which we bought not long before leaving NZ and have not had any problems with dragging anchors. Touch Wood!
Yesterday afternoon the local supply ship arrived with it’s cargo. We were amazed to see that there were thirteen 44 gallon drums of diesel aboard and they were dumped in to the sea to float for the long boats to collect, tie up and drag to shore. It was a very difficult task for the workers because it was very windy and it took over an hour to bring the last one to shore, given the offshore strong wind. When the ship arrived and held station just off the shore many long boats arrived and people clambered aboard obviously finding their goods. The ship was packed in an unbelievably untidy way. Bags and boxes were just dumped on top of one another. It is amazing that the people managed to find their own gear, if they did!

The Supply ship with diesel tanks ready to be floated ashore
Like bees to a honey pot

Tomorrow we want to get out in the dinghy for a decent look around and hopefully do some snorkelling. We have been told that it is not only beautiful above the water, but also below.

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