Posted by: procamnz | July 9, 2008

Rabi Island and Stay

The Usual Form of Transport Rabi Style

Friday 4 July 2008

On Wednesday 2 July we decided it was time to move on and set sail for Rabi, an island to the north of Vanua Levu. The British Government bought this island after WW.II, for the Banabans who came from Ocean Island in Kiribati. Their island had been desecrated from the phosphate boom. The population is now about 4500 people living in four villages. Their language is Banaban and not Fijian although the island is administered by Fiji. We anchored in beautiful Katherine Bay on the south coast and within minutes an outrigger canoe arrived and the local invited us to his house to drink kava. We had an interesting afternoon with them. Fortunately there was a young lady there who spoke reasonably good English because our Banaban consists of two words, hello and thank you. Those two words are not enough to have a good conversation. However, people did have a little English too.

Cooking The Rabi Way

The Bus and Road

The next day we needed to visit the town of Nuku where we needed to check in with the local police. This turned out to be an all day affair. First, we had to motor out dinghy over to the shore and bring it up on the bank to make it safe for the day. Then we had to get a ride on a long boat to the other shore of the bay. This was necessary because the road to the village had been washed out and can’t be repaired until earth moving equipment can be brought to the island from the mainland on a barge. Nothing happens quickly here. The power line to the village has been down for over six months now. After the

boat ride there was a short walk up to the road where we boarded a flatbed truck, which had been converted to a bus. This truck carried as many people as it needed. At times there were over 40 people, without counting babies on the ‘bus’. The road was unbelievably bad with ruts and mud and fords. The trip took 1½ hours to travel about 5-6 miles. We finally arrived at Nuku, saw the police and filled out the required form. Then we had 1½ hours to kill. There is certainly not much to do and so we went for a walk, looking at the houses, gardens and hospital before finally catching the very full truck back to our boat. By the time we arrived back we were sore, dirty and very tired.

Today, 4 July we will have a quiet morning and then do all the preparations for our trip back to the south coast of Vanua Levu and an overnight voyage to the island of Makongai where we plan to stay a couple of days before heading for Levuka, the old capital of Fiji. We have been told that there is some very good snorkelling at Makongai and also a lot of turtles. We are also looking forward to visiting Levuka where we need to check in with Customs. We don’t want to arrive there on a Sunday or we would need to pay Customs overtime rates.

Cats, Coconuts and Machete in Kitchen

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Posted by: procamnz | June 30, 2008

Fawn Harbour to Viani Bay 29 June

We woke to a still, sunny day. The weather forecast was not favourable for a few days and so we decided to leave Fawn Harbour and make our way down to Viani Bay before the weather deteriorated. We had to motor all the way because there was no wind but that was preferable to bashing in to a head wind. The trip was about 20 miles, less if we could have jumped over the reefs, but it was pleasant. We had flying fish jumping and flying all around us. There must have been some decent fish under there somewhere but, though we trailed a line all the way, we caught not a thing. However, one must not be too greedy. Because it was high tide when we entered Viani Bay, we could see very little of the reefs and were very pleased to have been given accurate GPS way points by some other yachties. Even so, it is scary entering through the reef. We picked up a mooring down the end of the bay and then had a lovely swim. When the tide dropped we saw that we had gone very close to a shallow patch.

30June. Isabella’s first birthday.

We were invited to go out on the catamaran, ‘Key of D’, with Truus and Steve and a guide, Jack Fisher, to go snorkeling on the reef. We left and had a pleasant ride on their boat but by the time we had anchored, the wind and waves had picked up and it looked too rough. So we had scones and a cool drink and waited for a while, but then decided to give it a miss for today. It was a shame but there is always another day. So it looks like a lazy day ahead.
We are in a rolley anchorage but the reef keeps the big seas at bay and so all is well.

Posted by: procamnz | June 30, 2008

Savusavu Onward 26 June

The Airport at Savusavu

Mary on the plane

We returned to Fiji after nine days back in NZ. We had six flights over that time. We left Savusavu by taxi and arrived at the local airport for our flight to Nadi. We flew on a 14 seater plane over the many reefs and then over the highlands of Veti Levu, the main island of Fiji. What a glorious flight that was, with magnificent views. Tony spent the time in NZ rushing from meeting to meeting and Mary enjoyed the time with the grandchildren.

The Views of the reefs from the plane

On our return to Fiji, we were very pleased to see Windspirit sitting on her mooring but not so happy when we opened up the boat to find mildew everywhere. The climate is so hot and damp and so it is a continual problem. So out came the elbow grease and bleach.

We had not filled up with water since leaving NZ at the beginning of May except for the rain which we collected when possible. So before leaving Savusavu we needed to fill the tanks and we would normally have bought water from the wharf, but as there was another boat booked to stay on the wharf for three days, that was a problem. So we had to use jerry cans and load them from the dinghy. We have three, twenty litre containers and had to do multiple trips to the tap. That took most of the morning as we collected 450 litres before the tanks were full, a very tiring task. Then we cleared customs and finally left early afternoon for our three mile trip to the entrance of Savusavu harbour in preparation for the trip the next day.

Next morning we woke early and headed off to Fawn Harbour, a distance of about 30 miles. Initially it appeared that we would have a lot of wind right on the nose and so we set a reef in the main sail and unfurled our stay sail. But the wind gradually died away to about 3-4 knots. So then we had to burn our precious and expensive diesel.

We set our fishing rod in a very scientific manner. It goes something like this.

“Okay, which lure shall we use?”

“Hmm! That glittery one looks good.”

“How far shall we trail it?”

“About that! No! Perhaps a bit further out.”

“Okay. That’ll do.”

Well! Lo and behold about twenty minutes later the reel screams. After lots of winding, we brought a beautiful bright yellow and turquoise Mahimahi on board. It was almost too beautiful to keep but my appetite for fish was too strong and it got the chop. We had both raw fish in coconut cream and fried fish for tea. There is plenty left in the freezer for two more big dinners. Yum!

Mahimahi for dinner

We arrived at Fawn Harbour about 2 PM. We threaded our way through the well marked reef and dropped anchor in 8 metres of water. It was like a mill pond. We were the only yacht in the whole bay. Heaven! It wasn’t long before we shed our clothes and swam in the beautiful cool water.

We also had a motor about in the dinghy before tea to check out the harbour. Most of the coral looked pretty dead but we did see three black and white sea snakes curled up in the shallow water.

Posted by: procamnz | June 11, 2008

Relaxing times

Savusavu Bay
The courier pack with the hydraulic parts arrived on Wednesday 4th June and we cleared customs on Friday afternoon so we could get off the mooring and have a change of scene while getting the autopilot pumps back in working order.

Once you have officially entered Fiji, you have to clear out with customs when you leave and then enter at the next port of entry relevant to the area of Fiji that you go to. Since we were here last time, the definition of Savusavu harbour appears to have become more restricted as yachts now have to advise customs when they leave Nakama creek, even if just going to Lesiaceva Point which is still within Savusavu bay. We cleared with customs on Friday afternoon and they gave us permission to leave early Sunday morning as we still had some work to do on the steering. We were getting tidied up down below in preparation for leaving when we saw the Police boat patrolling the river and as they came past, Mary heard them say “this is the boat that is leaving early this morning” so we hurriedly started making visible preparations for departure. About twenty minutes later, we saw them coming back in our direction so we quickly started the motor and slipped the mooring!

Savusavu District School. Note colour of Uniform
We anchored just off the Cousteau Dive resort which is located just before the reef at Reef Point, an area which has really good snorkelling. Once we had the steering all operational, we spent some time enjoying the warm water and snorkelling but then had a lot of rainy weather which was good for getting water into our tanks but not much good for snorkelling. We had initially intended going to Fawn Harbour but the wind forecast was for strong E to SE winds which would have made it an uncomfortable slog. Instead we enjoyed a few quiet days by the Point instead, got befriended by Bait, the dive master at Cousteau’s, who popped over most days to chat.

A small Village near Savusavu

The heavy rain was forecast to continue for some days so we later decided to return to Savusavu. We expected problems with anchor retrieval as snorkeling had revealed that the chain had crossed over an old coral bommie a couple of times which we thought may have happened as we could hear the chain growling on coral whenever we swung around. Our tropical anchor retrieval skills soon came back and we got the anchor up with no real problems.

Windspirit is now on a mooring close to the Copra Shed – Savusavu Yacht Club, where we will leave her while we fly back to New Zealand for a week or so. One of the guys from the Copra Shed will run our motor each day to charge the batteries, needed to run the fridge and freezer. We are flying on a small plane from here to Nadi on Monday 16th and arrive in Auckland later that day. Tony has a number of business meetings and we will also catch up with family in Auckland and Wellington. We fly back to Nadi on evening of 23rd, staying the night there and fly back to Savusavu the next morning.

The Lush Forest in the Highlands of Vanua Levu

Some people are having their emails to our winlink address rejected because it operates a white list. You can email us on our normal Windspirit address or text us and we will add you to the white list.

Posted by: procamnz | June 4, 2008

Life at Savusavu

Copra Shed Moorings – Savusavu, Fiji

The moorings in Savusavu are very sheltered and the people at the Copra shed, most helpful and organised. There is a laundry service at a reasonable price, two restaurants and a yacht club and also several shops. Two minutes walk away is the town with many shops and restaurants.

On 27 May, we took the local bus from Savusavu to Labasa, a three hour bumpy and drafty ride in a bus which was probably almost 50 years old and had open sides which was great when it was hot but as the bus travelled over the mountains, became very cold.

Inside the bus – note luggage of weed-eater

Labasa, population about 24,000 is the largest town on Vanua Levu and third largest in Fiji. It is on the north-western side of the mountain range and is about 5 km inland on the Labasa River. The sugar mill was opened in 1894 and has a predominately Indo-Fijian population. It was flooded to a depth of 1.2 m in 2003 Ami but there is no sign of it now. We had an interesting day shopping in the industrial area for steering parts and then wandered through some of the clothing stores and the local market. We bought some Yagona (Kava) which we will need to present as Sevusevu when we wish to visit some of the Fijian villages. About 350g seems to be the going rate for this and in return the villagers must offer full hospitality and take responsibility for the safety of their guests.

Yagona for Sevusevu

We look forward to that experience with a little trepidation. We finally arrived back at the boat at 7.30PM, tired, dusty, hungry and thirsty but pleased to have had the experience.

One morning we heard the sound of much squealing and laughter. When we looked out, this is the sight that we saw. The locals make rafts out of bamboo but this one either had a floatation problem or was overloaded. However, everyone made it to shore, albeit, rather damp.

The temperature at the moment ranges from about 22-30°C and is extremely humid. Sleeping is a real problem but we are adjusting to it. Because the mooring area is up the Nakama creek it would not be sensible to swim due to the pollution caused by no sewerage and general rubbish dumping. So we have not been able to cool off that way. Therefore it was a real treat yesterday to pop the 15HP motor on the dinghy and go for a spin out in to Savusavu Bay and have a swim. The only difficulty with that was the problem of boarding the dinghy from the water. We haven’t done that for a long while and Mary, especially had trouble. Good job no one was near with a camera. It was a whale of a tale but we managed. Next time we will remember to wear fins as they give a good lift.

Our spares have now arrived from NZ which will, hopefully fix the steering, once and for all. Tony has also ordered some more bits and pieces from Labasa. The last order he made was delivered on the local bus. The cost of delivery was $3.00. That is certainly good service. We have also received and installed a new rope clutch for the main halyard which cracked on the way up from NZ.

Tony is now working hard to finish the work so that we can get back to cruising.

The water catcher which Mary and Wendy designed and made in Auckland out of a tarpaulin is working well and we have not needed to attain water from other sources. It is easy to put up at the first sign of rain. However Murphy’s Law prevails though and as soon as the catcher is in place, the rain stops. The forecast for the next couple of days is for 6-8mm over a six hour period and so our tanks should be full if that happens. Hopefully the rain will also cool the temperature a little.

The new look. Tony cooking breakfast

Posted by: procamnz | May 29, 2008

Passage from Opua to Savusavu, Fiji

We left Opua at 8AM on 6 May with our good friends, Wendy and Warren. They
have done several passages to the Pacific several years ago and so thought
they knew what to expect but probably got more than they expected.

We had three days of ideal weather and seas, SW winds of 15-25 knots and
Windspirit sailed beautifully. We made 150-160 miles a day. None of us had
any issues with seasickness and were able to eat normal meals.

We had a small bird fly in to the cockpit on our third day out, a Welcome
Swallow. He came and went several times but was not interested in any
crumbs, just wanting to have a rest. He flew back and forth on several

On the morning of our fourth day out King Neptune decided to give us hell.
The wind picked up to 35 and then 40 knots from the west and the seas
rapidly built up. The bad weather was a result of a deep low over New
Zealand. The weather maps showed three fronts and we experienced each of
these – periods of one to two hours of consistent 42-45 knots with rain.
The boat was taking it all very well until the auto-helm packed up, taking
with it our wheel steering. We were not too concerned about that because we
had an independent hydraulic steering system all set up and ready to go, but
never anticipated that it would only last four hours (electrics affected by
salt water) and leave us wallowing in those rough seas. Also the hydraulic
fluid had leaked everywhere and was impossible to clean up at the time. The
boat was bucking around and very uncomfortable. We were using a very
reefed staysail and a small amount of mainsail (trysail size) and after a
while were able to set up the boat to sail on just those at about 5 knots
and only about 30 degrees off course. We kept that up for two days until
Tony was able to isolate the wheel steering once the weather eased a bit and
we were then able to take turns at wheel steering. The wind settled down to
20 knots average after 2½ days but the seas stayed high and gradually
deceased towards the end of the trip.

It seemed to take forever to get to Savusavu from when we first sighted
land. It took us another two days to get up the coast as we had either too
little or too much wind and needed to do many sail changes but finally
entered Nakama Creek, Savusavu at first light on 11 May, very tired but
happy to get in to sheltered waters.

We had no trouble with customs, immigration, agriculture or health
clearances. We just had to promise not to take anything off the boat in the
way of food etc. The authorities were very good to deal with.

We were all exhausted but spent that day tidying up the essentials and
getting settled in. On 12 May we spent most of the day in the town trying
to find spares etc and also looking in to our Internet options. W&W flew to
Nadi that day where they were staying for a few days before returning to NZ.

Several days were spent cleaning up the boat. The hydraulic fluid has
ruined the carpet and has filtered in to every nook and cranny. We also
took on quite a lot of water in the rough seas and are gradually flushing
and drying out.

Posted by: procamnz | April 23, 2008

Pacific Cruise 2008

Mary and Tony will be departing Opua bound for Fiji in early May 2008.

Posted by: procamnz | April 8, 2007

11 October to December 2004

We had a very relaxing stay at Musket cove. Did lots of swimming, snorkelling and socializing. There are some amazing coral reefs and fishes very close to Musket Cove. We were feeling quite sailed out by this time and were ready to have a rest before the long sail home. We also spent over two days cleaning our hull, the second time since leaving NZ. We had applied new antifouling in November last year and it failed allowing an enormous amount of barnacles and marine growth to attach itself to our hull. That was a big disappointment to us and of course we are now having to pursue compensation from the company who supplied us with the product. We will also have to lift the boat out of the water soon and do the job again. Not something we are looking forward to.

We decided that it would be prudent to have one extra person to help us on the return journey to NZ and John Goldsbury from Opua had offered to crew when we met back in May. We contacted John and he was happy to join us. He arrived on 24 October and as the weather pattern looked great for the next week so we cleared customs and immigration the next day. That was no easy feat because it was Saturday. But Tony was able to use his charms, some kava and cigarettes to move mountains.

We cleared Fiji on Sunday, making our way out of the Navula passage on the south west corner of Viti Levu at about 1 PM, immediately running in to short, sharp seas and winds of up to 47 knots, but mainly about 30 – 35 knots. We had a disgusting couple of days, not much food was eaten and we were drenched even in the cockpit, which is not normal for Windspirit. After a couple of days the wind and seas gradually eased we started putting up more and more sail but after three days even they were not helping and we had to motor. Now, we are a yacht and it goes against the grain to motor but when out at sea it is best to get to dry land ASAP before more bad weather arrives and so we motored for nearly three days, finally arriving at Opua at 2 AM.

We were thrilled to have John with us, even though we had a very easy trip back to NZ. He fitted in to our routine really well and he and Tony spent hours chatting. They have so much in common. It is always a worry when you get crew but we picked it right this time. It was a great feeling to tie up and open the bottle of Bubbles that Janet and Colin from Tara Dawn gave us for that special moment. It went down very well. We couldn’t believe that after all those years of dreaming, planning and also lots of hard work, that we had actually done it and in no worse condition than before we left. However we were ready to get back to a real life and job (for a while).

Everyone asks us the same question. Would we do it again? The answer is a definite YES. Despite the hardships and fears we had a superb time and learnt so much about the countries and the people. We don’t know when we will next get the opportunity to go cruising but right now we have embarked on a new adventure.

Just before we left NZ Tony was approached by a head hunter company about applying for a senior role at Industrial Research in Wellington. Well the long and the short of it is that Tony was offered the role, resigned from Navman at the end of July and within three weeks of returning to NZ we had shifted to Wellington to live. Tony has taken up the position of General Manager of Research and Development at Industrial Research Limited. It is the ideal job for him as it draws on all aspects of his qualifications and experience and he is very excited about leading a world class team of around 300 scientists and engineers. IRL head office in Wellington and have offices in Auckland and Christchurch. He will miss Navman where he built the engineering team from 8 to around 200 staff over five years during which the turnover increased thirty fold.

Mary will once again become the boat lackey for a while (she loves it!)and then apply for a part time nursing job early next year. At present we are living in an apartment on the Terrace waiting for the delivery skipper to bring Windspirit to Wellington. We ran out of time and energy and decided to get her professionally delivered when the weather looks right. However since leaving Auckland (we each drove our cars down) the weather over the whole country has been awful and so we have to wait. We have arranged to stay in the apartment until Christmas anyway. We are looking forward to having Spike, the wonder cat, back with us.

Many thanks to Dave Annett of Annett Computer and Navman who hosts our website and has kept the site up to date despite being massively overloaded with his business and development responsibilities.

Many thanks also to Greg Storz and Matthew Laws for their assistance and shore support during our cruise – it is invaluable to have people that will chase things up in the real (?) world for us.

Thanks are also due to the many people that have assisted us in so many ways before, during and after our great adventure. They all have a special place in our hearts – the adventure is not just the trip but the preparation and the people you work with on the journey.

Back to reality
Windspirit left Auckland on Friday 3 December heading for Wellington via the east coast. We have secured a berth at Chaffers marina on the overseas passenger terminal right next to Te Papa museum. Visitors are most welcome. Our mobile numbers are unchanged. Our shore email address is still: windspirit at

Posted by: procamnz | April 8, 2007

16 September to 11 October 2004

Our trip to Nadi went very well. While waiting for the bus to go to the main road where we needed to catch the bus to Nadi we were offered a ride by one of the local Fijians. He owned a sand blasting business and we had a very interesting discussion with him about business, politics etc. He actually took us to the Lautoka bus terminal where we could get the bus to Nadi rather than waiting on the side of the road hoping that a bus would stop for us. It is so interesting speaking to the locals whether they be Fijians or Indians. The conversation always turns to politics and of course each culture has a different view. Many locals feel that the majority of Fijians are lazy but that a few have thrown off the hold of kava and done very well for themselves. However most Indians appear to be very hard working but say that they are hampered by the system which prevents them owning land and so they get stung by the high land rentals.

Anyway we had a very pleasant day touring the city of Nadi, which is very much a tourist town. The shops sell mostly souvenirs or Palangi (white people) food and clothing. Lots of touts trying to coax you in to their shop. There is also a small market. We also took an 40 cent bus to have a look at Denerau Island which is about 3 Km from Nadi. This is a totally artificial town of hotels and resorts. Not at all our cup of tea but interesting to look at. There is also and exclusive marina there.

On 20 September we left the boat at Vuda point Marina in safe keeping and flew back to NZ for six days. Our youngest daughter, Naomi was having her graduation from university and as proud parents we needed to be there. We had a great but extremely busy few days, just managing to cope with the cold. We had left Nadi when the temperature was 33’C but it was only 10’C when we arrived in Auckland. Although we often find the temperature in the Pacific overwhelming we think we may have become used to the warmth and will find it hard to keep warm when we return to NZ. We also used the time while in NZ to buy some of the things which we were finding impossible to buy in the islands. Therefore our luggage was very overweight on the way back to Fiji but we were lucky and not charged excess baggage.

We returned to the boat at Vuda Point on 25 September and spent the next couple of days stocking up with fresh fruit and vegs at Lautoka. We also spent a day washing and scrubbing the decks which had become filthy from a combination of leaves, bird droppings and soot (from the burnt sugar cane). Then on 1 October we set sail for Musket Cove on the South Western end of Vitu Levu. We had a pleasant sail in sheltered waters, just like the Hauraki Gulf, arriving at about 3.30 PM in time to see the reefs which we had to negotiate on the way in to the sheltered anchorage. At that stage we had decided that we would stay put for a while and relax.

It is a lovely place and you get the total run of the resort. We are enjoying swimming in the pool. Free use of BBQs and wood provided. A $3 bar runs from 11 am until late. Met up with a couple from Cambridge, NZ, and have had several good snorkelling expeditions with them. We also walked to the top of the island – pretty hard going but fantastic views once we made it. Also had sundowners on a 103 ft yacht – the people we had brought a large mat from Savusavu for. They had arranged for 3 containers of medical supplies to go to the hospital in the Lau group and the mat was the thank you card! What a boat. Two 5 cylinder 25 kw gensets and a 10 cylinder main engine – all Mercedes and immaculate. The boat is like nothing we had been on before. It was designed by Ron Holland.

Been pretty busy at Musket cove as the young Israeli couple next to us had their 9.9 Hp outboard motor fall off the back of the dingy while planing. The casting split across both screw holes for the securing bolts. It was quite a way away from the anchorage so I went to tow her back and ended up with me being boat boy while her husband used by dive gear and bottles to find the motor in 15 metres of water. Took 3 bottles of air over two days. he got it all going with a little help from me.

The bigger drama was a boat called Wayfarer (1936) from Dunedin that dragged her anchor in a blow (up to 41 knots from nowhere after several days of less than 10 knots, lasted about 8 hours) in the middle of the night. We were on anchor watch and saw it drifting past us so called on VHF and used the fog horn. They were in bed, got up but were too late to stop it going on the reef. A lot of the guys in the bay including me spent many hours the next day getting it off with expert help from the Fijian guys that work at the resort – turns out that they have done it many times!

We are trying to take things easy for the next week after which we will be waiting for a suitable weather pattern to sail to New Zealand.

Photos to September 2004

Whales at Nuitaputapu

Fire dancers at Apia

Vailimi – Robert Louis Stevenson’s home in Apia


Fish market, Upolo

Windspirit at Wallis Island

Police band at Apia

Rainforest on Upolu

Windspirit at Savusavu

Eastern side of Upolu

1 September to 16 September 2004

Samoa to Wallis Island
We arrived in the French territory of Wallis Island after a rather light and boring passage. We had to motor for the last 12 hours. Until then we were flying our multi purpose sail (poleless spinnaker), the first time on our trip and as you can see we finally got the wind behind the beam after 2000 miles of having ahead of the beam. Well after finally arriving at the entrance to Wallis Island the wind suddenly started blowing 20 knots and the seas built up within a very few minutes. The rain started over the island and the visibility dropped and we had trouble distinguishing the markers. After circling around several times and going in close to the reef we almost decided to head straight for Fiji but finally decided to give it a go and headed in to the pass. Apart from shaking in my (Mary)boots ( which I was not wearing ) and getting a huge wave break over the cockpit and dousing us we finally entered the calm waters of the lagoon. Even inside the lagoon the navigation is tricky, although true to French standards, very well marked, compared to all the other countries we have visited on this trip.

Wallis Island
It was nice to find a safe anchorage especially as it blew up more in the night and we would not have wanted to be out at sea. We went to the port and cleared in with the Gendarmery and Douane (customs)and got our passports stamped. They are very informal and don’t even visit the boat. Then we want to do some sightseeing and expect stay here until the end of the week. If we had arrived a day later we would not have been able to enter the pass as the wind has been 25 knots since we arrived.

On Wednesday we had a great day ashore at Wallis. We need to know more French but everyone was very friendly and helpful and recognising the odd word helps. We printed off a couple of pages of French-English phrases and could point to them as well. Shopping was a challenge as the labelling is all in French. Bought some Baguettes and croissants as well as some French cheeses, pate and French wine. No trouble hitch hiking around the island. It has been blowing 25 knots since we arrived so a bit tiring on the boat and we do not feel that comfortable leaving the boat.

Wallis to Fiji
The trip to Savusavu, Fiji was a pleasure. We arrived in the river on Monday morning after a three day sail from Wallis Island. We made a seven knot average all the way with no motoring. There was a steady 20 -25 knot breeze and the boat just loved it, although the crew got a bit knocked about and bruised because it is hard to move about on a lively boat. Unfortunately we arrived too late to head in to a safe anchorage and at dusk the wind blew up and the sea state really came up. So we had to spend the night sailing 8 miles in one direction and 8 miles in another direction several times until day break and we were able to head in to harbour. Not good for one’s nerves and temper! However it is really lovely here and despite all the information we had received, we had no problems with customs, immigration, etc. They were very pleasant and came out to the boat without us even calling. They even removed their shoes to come on board. Very respectful!

After a great night’s sleep last night and were then ready to start exploring the town, looking for bakeries etc. We also visited the local hospital to collect a mat that we will deliver to Whirlwind, a super yacht that donated two shipping containers of medical supplies to the hospital in the Lau group. The mat was made by the ladies of Lomaloma to express their appreciation of his generosity. We expect to catch up with Whirlwind in Musket Cove soon.

Savusavu to Vuda Point
After an early morning departure from Savusavu on Saturday, we spent three days and two nights getting to Vuda Point. It was another annoying trip with the wind on the nose which ever way we went and then we arrived too late to enter the pass (that gains entry to the west side of Vitu Levu) and had to muck about all night again. That can be quite frustrating but it is too dangerous to enter passes when there is not good light and the distances are such that you just don’t seem to be able to avoid it. It gave us a chance to play with heaving to, which worked quite well – lay about 70 degrees to the wind and slowly fore reached at 1 knot. Had the reefed staysail and heavily reefed main – wind was only 12-15 knots.

Vuda Point
We arrived at Vuda Point marina on Monday and are well settled in. Nice to have the power plugged in and unlimited water available, and being able to just step off the boat to land. It is not really a marina – each boat goes in bow first and has two bow lines to shore and two stern lines to mooring buoys behind with fenders between you and the boats on either side. It was scary coming in and so shallow and narrow.

We had a lovely time at Vuda Point on Tuesday after we were settled into the marina. It is not a true marina but you can get off your boat over the pullpit and water and power are supplied. There is a resort right next to the marina and for $25 everyone on your boat can use their very nice fresh water pool for a week and are free to use their bar, restaurant etc. We have paid for the pool and will have dinner there one evening – most nights they have special price deals. Last night we chatted to an American couple on their honeymoon staying at the resort and then had a shower and a drink (we have AFDs – Alcohol free days – when on passage)and then had lovely fish and chips with a bottle of Chardonnay (supermarket cheapie but cost $25 here). Then back to the boat and crashed – very deep sleep after two nights at sea doing 3 hours on and 3 hours off with the odd drama to get the other one out of bed.

On Wednesday we caught the local bus (90 cents Fijian for 15 km) to Lautoka where we explored the town and did a little grocery shopping. We had a nice Indian vegetarian snack for morning tea. The main market is very good – great selection of fruit, vegetables and fish. Everyone in Lautoka is very friendly. We only saw one or two other white faces all day – not exactly a tourist trap.

On Friday, we intend to get the bus to Nadi for the day – it is apparently very geared up for the tourists, having the international airport there, but should be interesting.

It is incredibly hot – 33C at 6pm and made worse by the lack of any wind – great for sheltering the boat but hell on the people.

We are looking forward to sailing around this western side of Vitu Levu as it is sheltered from the trade winds and has flat seas as it is largely enclosed by a barrier reef.

Posted by: procamnz | April 8, 2007

10 to 31 August 2004

Today we were snorkeling with some friends on the reef at Nuiatoputapu, the northern end of Tonga and a dinghy came passed us. They called that there were whales in the bay. Well, we jumped in to our dinghies and raced out of the bay to see three huge humped back whales. There were two adults, about 40 tons each and a baby. It felt like we were right next to them but in reality we were probably about 100 metres away. What an absolutely awesome sight. They must have known we were there because they played, dived out of the water into the air and broached several times. Oh how we wished we had our camera there. We can’t stop thinking about them and how huge they were and so friendly. It was scary being close because our dinghy seems so small and they are so big but they never seem to hurt people unless you come across them when they are sleeping.

We are very lucky because we now have some good shots of the whales. They were given to us by an other couple who were in the bay. We will put some photos on the web as soon as we get to civilization, which will now probably be Fiji.

While in the Nuis we visited the local bakery. It is hard to believe how such great bread could be produced in such primitive surroundings. The building was a tin shed. The bread was all hand mixed and kneaded on a large wooden table. There was an earthen oven. To heat the oven they burnt a few small sticks and then heaps of coconut shells. When the oven was hot the embers were shovelled out and then the bread put in to bake.

We left Nuiatoputapu on 16 August and set sail for Samoa, passing several whales on the way. The trip was almost uneventful except for a couple of squalls which, in the daytime, you can see coming and prepare for them. But at night they arrive suddenly and you are not prepared. I cant believe how heavy that rain can be. The good thing is that up here one does not mind getting wet because it is a chance to cool down. The sudden wind changes can be a challenge. At one stage, while trying to reef the sails I (Mary) managed to steer the boat in two full circles before getting back on course. It is a bit like flying blind. At least in a boat you know which way is up!

We were at sea for two nights before arriving at Apia early in the morning of, believe it or not, 17 August (Crossed the date line). It is surprising though, that you can smell the fires of the countries quite a long time before you arrive. Also the rubbish can be seen in the sea about 20 miles off shore. We even saw a drum (musical) floating in the water. After we got to Samoa we saw that the local men use the drums to keep time in rowing their large canoes).

We entered the harbour at Apia after a wee fright. Our GPS gave us the route in to the harbour but our eyes did not like the look of the breakers and eyeball navigation beats the best electronics in the world. I am chief steerer and refused to watch the GPS and so we made a safe passage in to the harbour, instead of over the reef. Oh the temperature of Samoa is really oppressive. It is hard to do anything. But there is so much to do and see that it is essential to accept the sweating and wet clothing and get on with it.

The day we arrived we spent most of the time doing the customs, port authority, dept of health and immigration details. When we fly around the world we don’t realize how easy all those formalities are, and cheap. This little lot cost about $100 just to clear in and out Samoa. It is a lot more civilized than Tonga, but a bit too Americanized for my liking due to the proximity of American Samoa. Their navigation markers are back to front (bit scarey that, coming in to port). The Samoans use the American buoyage system of red, right, returning and they drive like maniacs on the wrong side of the road.

While in Apia we met the family of one of our Auckland friends. They are Samoan and have little English. We were fortunate that their daughter and son in law did speak fairly good English which helped. The Samoan people are embarrassingly generous and when you want to repay them the just shrug and say ‘It is the Samoan Way!’ It is interesting visiting a family’s home and having a meal with them and using bits of English and lots of miming. We were even given a tour of the island, all day. We were quite spoilt.

It is impossible to sleep in at Apia harbour because every morning the canoes (40 manpower) practice their rowing at 6 am and before that at 5 am the church bells start ringing. One thing you don’t need is an alarm clock. In Tonga it was the roosters and the church bell that woke us up. Then at 7.45 am the police band marched up the main road, raised the flag in the government foreground and marched back to their centre. A bit like changing the guard really.

We had a very enjoyable day at the house of Robert Louis Stevenson. What a beautiful home, especially for the era that he lived and what an interesting life he lived. The Samoans hold his memory in revere and his local name was Tuisetala (story teller). A very rich American has bought the home and made it a museum. He pays for all the upkeep. We even climbed the hill, which took just under and hour, and really steep, especially in the heat of day, up to his grave. The view from there of Apia was grand.

We cleared customs and immigration on Friday 27 August, leaving at 6.30 am on Saturday.

On 31 Aug (after crossing the dateline again) we arrived at the French territory of Wallis Island after a rather light and boring passage. We had to motor for the last 12 hours. Until then we were flying our multi purpose spinnaker, the first time on our trip and as you can see we finally got the wind behind the beam. There is a saying that gentlemen never sail to windward which I guess does not make Tony a gentleman because we managed over 2000 miles before we got the wind behind us. Well after finally arriving at the entrance to Wallis Island the wind suddenly started blowing 20 knots and the seas built up within a very few minutes. The rain started over the island and the visibility dropped and we had trouble distinguishing the markers. After circling around several times and going in close to the reef we almost decided to head straight for Fiji but finally decided to give it a go and headed in to the pass. Apart from shaking in my boots ( which I was not wearing ) and getting a huge wave break over the cockpit and dousing us we finally entered the calm waters of the lagoon. Even inside the lagoon the navigation is tricky, although true to French standards, very well marked, compared to all the other countries we have visited on this trip.

We were pleased to find a safe anchorage especially as it blew up more in the night and we would not have wanted to be out at sea. Today we walked up the road and hitched a ride in to the main village of Mata Utu where we needed to clear in to the Gendarmerie and Douane (customs)and get our passports stamped. They are very informal and don’t even visit the boat. We had in interesting trip. My schoolgirl French was really not up to scratch but with help from a page of French/English phrases from a Lonely Planet guide and lots of miming we coped. Actually we had a lot of fun and met a very nice local couple who brought us back to the boat. He is a TV cameraman and she a school teacher. One of the courses she teaches is English, but her English is really only a little better than my French.

We are thinking of staying here 4-5 days before heading to Fiji. We wont have time to go to Futuna Island because we need to get to Fiji in time to get the plane back to NZ for Naomi’s graduation.

26 July to 10 August 2004

Whilst waiting for the anchor winch to arrive we went to TePana Island for a few days to attend another cruiser’s 50th birthday dinner at the Spanish restaurant there. It was a great evening with the woman of the house doing the flamingo and her husband and sons singing and playing guitar, drums, castanets and tambourines.

The night after the party, there was a huge electrical storm which lit up the sky like day and it went on for over an hour. We were very pleased that we were moored and not out at sea, because it was quite scary. Then to top it off we finally had hail the size of marbles, the first time Tonga has ever had hail, and then it poured down with rain. We even managed to get a couple of photos of the anchorage lit up with the lightening. We disconnected the antennae from our electronics to reduce the possibility of lightning damage.

The anchor winch arrived on the fortnightly container ship service from Auckland. The ship has all its own container loading and unloading facilities. It took less than three hours to clear the winch (two large cartons) and the total charge to customs including wharfage was only T$9.90

A couple of guys from other kiwi boats spent two days helping me fit the winch. Had a few challenges getting it to fit – had to add two layers of 12 mm marine ply on top of the existing plinth to get the underdeck clearance and had to bet some plastic waste pipe and fittings to remodel the chain tube. Only problem now is that Maxwell sent me the wrong chain gypsy wheel despite me giving them accurate (digital vernier) measurements. They have now sent the correct (I hope) wheel to Savusavu for us and we are coping with the one they supplied for now.

We then had several days blobbing out in anchorages that we had been unable to visit with no winch, had a beach BBQ with some friends. We then spend a couple of days getting the boat ready for the next ocean leg to Niuatoputapu group, the most northern group of Tonga. We then cleared customs and headed up to Nuiatoputapu Island where we are presently anchored. Went ashore yesterday and gave the villagers a large Tuna we caught on the way up. We had also caught a Kingfish and that filled up what space we had in the freezer. Today we walked to the other two villages on the island. It is very unaffected by the western world. Only two government buildings (which look like they are about to fall down) have generators. There are a lot of traditional fales made from local materials – straight stems from trees and covered in coconut fronds although a lot of them have incorporated corrugated iron into the lower parts of the walls. There are a number of more normally constructed houses but only to a very basic standard. I had to make a phone call so walked 10 km round trip to the satellite station which has 105 solar panels and used the phone at the counter to call Fiji. Telephone service only came here in 1998.

Sitting on the boat, we look out across the sea to Tafahi Island about 3 miles away – it is a classic volcano island and landing there is a wet business through the swell, with rocks and coral on all sides.

The anchorage mainly has boats from Europe heading to NZ for the cyclone season. There are boats from Germany, Sweden, USA, Canada, Finland, Scotland, Belgium and Australia.

We expect to head for Apia at the end of this week, once the winds are favourable. It is another 160 mile leg which we can do in a day and a half if the wind is suitable.

Photos 3 August 2004



Sunset at Pangimotu

Friends from Nuapapa

Blue lagoon, Vava’u


Local bartering with us at Hunga lagoon

Naomi – Hunga lagoon

Daniel – teacher at Nuapapa

The girls at the Mermaid


Tony on local boat

Daniel’s boat

17 to 25 July 2004

We packed a lot of things into the last few days that Naomi had with us. We went to Hunga lagoon again, this time getting a mooring on the northern side by the game fishing lodge. The lodge is run by some kiwis that used to do big game charters in the Bay of Islands. It is easily the nicest facility (or building or any kind) that I have seen in Tonga. The day we went ashore, they had landed a 139 kg marlin which they would normally tag and release but a shark took a great bite out of it so it was done for. The lodge give the fish to the local villagers so it does not go to waste.

We have had further sightings of whales, some individually and some in groups. One was lying at the surface and seemed oblivious to our approach on our autopilot steered course. In the end we had to take avoiding action. Even then he did not bother to move but later turned around and dived.

We went to Mariners cave with friends from four other boats (all kiwis that we have got to know). Being as our anchor winch is dead, we went on Pied a Mer who kept station close to the cave entrance while we all went into the cave. The entrance to the cave is underwater (1.2 – 2.5 metres depending in tide state) just along the cliff face of the island. You have to dive down and swim about three metres to get in. It is a bit scary as you are diving into the hole and cannot see where you are going – it is all on trust and a case of mind over matter. Of course once we had done it, it was no problem going in and out. The air pressure goes up and down as the sea level goes up and down with the swell and the atmosphere gets quite misty at times.
We anchored off Kapa Island near Nuku and snorkelled on the best coral we have seen so far, pretty shallow and teeming with a wide variety of brightly coloured fish. Some of the coral was iridescent blue.
On Wednesday we returned to Neiafu so Naomi could get the plane to Nuku’alofa and do some sightseeing down there before flying back to NZ on Saturday. I spent Wednesday and some of Thursday fitting the spare circulation water pump on the Volvo main engine as the seal was leaking. Just as well that I had a reconditioned pump and the puller etc to replace it.

Our anchor winch is totally dead now so we are anchoring in shallow water (is less than 15 metres up here)or getting on a mooring when one is available. We are going to another cruiser’s 50th birthday on Tuesday, she has arranged dinner at a Spanish restaurant on TePana island. Looks like there will be at least five boats worth of guests, most of which we know, so promises to be a great evening.

Filled up with water on Friday and got 60 litres of diesel to tide us over until we leave when we will buy duty free diesel (T$1.03 cf $1.56 retail/litre) as we will take on close to 500 litres then. Used some of our water to do several loads of washing yesterday. The washer/drier is great to have on board. We only use the drier if we it is raining – because then we have the water to run the machine. We have caught a lot of water since we got to Tonga but it has not rained in weeks. Friday was only the second time we have put a water hose in the tanks to fill up. Other than that, we have relied on the 1300 litres we took on at Opua and a total of 400 litres put on board in jerry cans, the rest coming from rain.

Hope to take delivery of our new anchor winch on Wednesday (thanks to Matthew for his leg work to make all this happen) and have it fitted by the weekend. Then we will be planning our trip from here to Fiji via Nius, Samoa (where we will visit Roger’s in-laws), Wallis and Futuna Islands (where we will have to rely on Mary’s rusty school girl French) and then Fiji where we will spend 6-8 weeks before returning to New Zealand.

Temperature at the moment (5pm) is 33 degrees and not much wind to cool us. Got the Hella fans running – great devices, draw almost no current and have a long service life.

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