Bula! Bula! We’re in Fiji

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After completing a few odd jobs, getting the hulls cleaned of barnacles from the nutrient rich waters of the Bay of Islands and enjoying a few of our favourite bays we decided it was time to do final food provisions and say farewell to NZ. We’ve had a great time catching up with old and new friends all around NZ.

Overlooking Otiao Bay at Urupukapuka

After checking out the weather models in Predict Wind we chose a window to go to Fiji and started the process of checking out with customs and getting John (my father) and our first ever crew member up to speed with SW. In NZ you have to give 4 days advance notice of departure and of course the weather models changed in that time so it was hurry hurry …. wait! Oh well the weather was good in the Bay of Islands still so we all hung out, had the odd jobs to do ready for passage, enjoyed some hiking trails to get some exercise and of course the nice weather.

John has joined the Seismic Wave crew

For our passage we took the N – NW winds prior to a front to make some Easting and then we turned North when the winds turned to the West and then around to the South. The first 3 days we saw constant winds of between 9 & 20knots with 1-1.5m seas so SW cruised along. We entered a small area of squalls and behind that very light to no winds so motor sailed for 2 days until the SE winds kicked in and we could sail on towards North Minerva Reef.

The colour of the water at Minerva is amazing

We chose North Minerva Reef as a stop for 4 days as it was a little more protected than South Minerva and thought anchoring in the middle of the ocean at a reef for a swim and some lobster hunting would be a treat on passage. Yes it was! No lobsters seen but some fish life and giant clams to see while snorkeling.

Enjoying a kayak to the reef

From North Minerva we had downwind sailing and as the SE trades gathered momentum we continued north with some very lively seas especially at the end of our passage into SavuSavu on the Northern Island of Vanua Levu. We were ready to clear in with Waitui Marina and were their first boat of the season but the 7th to check into SavuSavu.

View over to the 2 Marina’s here Copra Shed (left) & Waitui (Right)

Having 3 crew aboard for the passage meant we were able to get a lot more sleep at a time……ah bliss! What else do we do on passage….not much as John soon realized!

John contemplating life


Cooking a hardy meal. John even did bacon & egg pies from scratch. Yum
Preparing to fish. We caught 1 yellow fin tuna.
Snoozing & reading
Admiring our hitchhiker & his balance who stayed the full night leaving at dawn

All in all a very good passage given it can be renowned for being quite nasty. I think John will miss our evening sessions playing Sequence and strategizing against one another. Thanks Jeanette for the Sequence heads up.

Strategizing over a game of Sequence

Once we were checked in we were all ready to use those feet again and walk to the various agencies in SavuSavu to pay our fees, have a meal and drink off the boat and get a decent nights sleep.

Enjoying the views and a cold one at Waitui Marina

Before John left we organized an excursion with Sharon Wild of Naveria Heights Lodge into the jungle to go river tubing and for a swim in a hot volcanic natural pool. A lot of fun and very refreshing.

The tropical forest down to the river was so lush
Just flowing with the current ; watch the rocks ahead John
You just never know what else you’ll spot out here. The cows were very curious as we passed by

Well lots of sunsets to come fo us. John enjoying his last before flying back to NZ. Thanks John!

Looking forward to more beautiful Fijian sunsets

What now? Provisioning at the local fresh fruit n vege market and heading out of SavuSavu to enjoy the diving, snorkeling and people of Fiji.

The produce is so fresh & a good variety at the market

But we couldn’t miss the local rugby game where a team from Suva came over.

Saturday is rugby day with great support from the community for the local team

Now it’s time to get out and enjoy Fiji 🤗

Cruising Aotearoa

Aotearoa, the Maori name for New Zealand, translates to ‘land of the long white cloud’. Yes we did see some long white clouds along with plenty of sunshine too. Yeah!

We’ve spent 3 months cruising the waters around islands off the North Island and the tip of the South Island. Incredible scenery, heritage sites, lovely white and golden sand beaches, wildlife, beautiful coves and a raw natural coastline dotted with incredible foliage and small islands have given us plenty to see and do.

View across from Ake Ake Historic Reserve near Kerikeri, Bay of Islands

one of the many anchorages in the Marlborough Sounds (at French Pass)

This seal called out to us as we kayaked by and posed beautifully for us.

Auckland and North
From Christmas through to mid January NZ businesses shut down and everyone goes on holiday heading out to enjoy the water and natural scenery. Over this time period the weather was amazing so some of the outer islands in the North Island that we went to were busy with boaters. Great to see lots of boats out and about.

Pretty cool to be anchored off a vineyard estate at Waiheke Island where we enjoyed going ashore for tastings pre the New Years celebrations. Man of War bay was a busy place with people going ashore for a drink but boat traffic seemed to move daily. There’s lots of bays all around Waiheke to anchor, go ashore for walks or even to enjoy a meal at the main town; Oneroa on the island.

my parents joined us for a week sailing on their sail boat

The Department of Conservation (DOC) maintain a number of walks and hikes throughout NZ, which typically takes you on an adventure through natural forests with giant Kauri trees in the far North and ferns or along cliff tops to see amazing views. While out at Great Barrier Island we decided we had to hike up to a lookout to see the views and from Maungapiko Lookout we could see as far as the top of the Coromandel Peninsular where we had anchored previously.

views to little Barrier from Great Barrier at Maungapiko Lookout

While on Great Barrier we were able to enjoy the Port Fitzroy Mussel festival with local music and a variety of mussels to taste. Yummo!

Bay of Islands (BOI)
Summer of 2018 we had spent a lot of time in the BOI’s so returned to a few of our favorite islands. Friends, from SV No Rehearsal; Daryl & Annie, who we’d met in the Bahamas had arrived into NZ and contacted us for a catch up in Kerikeri. We all anchored off Kerikeri marina and watched the evening sailing races then went into the restaurant for fresh fish n chips and to enjoy the views over the bay.

Daryl & Annie were great hosts both on their boat and at their house

The Tall ships Regatta in Russell in the BOI’s saw lots of different boats out sailing during the day, a hangi (traditional meal cooked in the ground) for dinner and partying into the evening. A lot of fun.

Tall ships, classic boats, racing boats, you name it they came

While in Opua we cycled the old railway line to Kawakawa (11km) and back, which was an easy flat ride along a river estuary, over bridges and thru an underground tunnel. Why Kawakawa; well we were told you can’t miss the public washrooms made of colorful mosaic tiles by Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser who lived in the town and gifted them to the town.

this is the entry and the restrooms inside are also decorated beautifully in tile

Anchored off the Kerikeri cruising club we took the dinghy up the river to The Stone Store, which has been trading since 1836 and still is. The town of Kerikeri was perfect for getting groceries as there were 2 supermarkets and a nice walk from the Stone Store.

Far North
Having been to the Cavallis and Whangaparaoa Harbour in 2018 we continued moving further north where we found a couple of deserted anchorages with nice beaches and sand dunes.

As a high ridge developed over the north island we saw this as a good weather window to go up around the Northern Capes. Rounding North Cape we were approx 1/2 mile off shore and found a reasonable anchorage at Tapotupotu Bay about 2 miles from Cape Reinga. It had a bit of swell rolling into the bay but a good nights sleep set us on our way for slack tide the next morning with the current changing and helping us out around Columbia and Pandora banks. Pretty uneventful thank goodness.

Down the West coast we had 1 to 1.5m seas with a East push and S to SW winds so were able to sail part of the trip and motor sail a portion with a rhumb line towards Farewell Spit at the top of the South Island. 3 days with great fishing where 5 Albacore Tuna joined the crew filling our freezer.

Abel Tasman
We sailed right to Abel Tasman in the end as the winds got up at the end of Farewell Spit and it would have been a hard motor into Golden Bay with 30 knots on the nose. We settled on the marine reserve of Tonga Island and were not disappointed. Onetahuti Bay was a perfect anchorage with plenty to do and see. A hike on a portion of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track to Awaroa Beach (11km return) gave us beautiful views and good exercise.

Views back to Onetahuti Bay on our walk on the Abel Tasman Trek

Lots of sea ferries dropped people off along the coast for hiking and kayaking so we decided we needed to get the kayaks out too. The kayak trip north to Shag Harbour was awesome as we spotted lots of different birds and 13 seals one way.

One of the many seals we saw above Brett sunning on the rocks

The huge boulders along the coast were impressive and Shag Harbour was fun to kayak through with a dropping tide. The landscape down here is dense bush great for shelter on the coastal walking tracks and the water is clear and a green colour.

Inside Shag Harbour

Lots of beautiful horse shoe shaped bays to choose from and because of the Abel Tasman Coastal hiking track there are campgrounds on most beaches. Bark Bay was very picturesque and a great anchorage to get ashore and walk the track. 

It was then down to Torrent Bay (The Anchorage) where we hiked the Abel Track again to the suspension bridge Falls River Bridge with great views down the coast towards Nelson. Both Torrent Bay (The Anchorage) and Adel Island our next anchorage were popular with the local yachts.

Views from the Track towards Nelson

The tides were big, 5 metres when we were in the Abel Tasman. In the morning we kayaked through a river estuary at Torrent Bay and in the afternoon we hiked the track walking through the river estuary which was now dry (below right). Very strange.Nelson
In Nelson we caught up with my friend Jeanette who I knew when I lived in London, England. Perfect timing for Jeanette & Glen with helpers ,as they’d just bought a boat, so they had us gear up and help get Wairoa Nui ready for painting and anti-fouling.

Alas there were 2 forest fires while we were in Nelson 1 of which got out of control very quickly from the dry landscape bringing in 21 helicopters and fire crews from around the area. People and animals were evacuated and the fire spread to over 2000ha.

The second fire was started in the hills opposite the marina so not a lot got done on J’s boat. Given the close proximity to the first fire, helicopter crews were diverted to sort it before it reached Nelson town. 5 helicopters and 2 crop planes. Just incredible watching how they all worked together to put this fire out. The helicopters used monsoon buckets and given Brett had been involved in the development of fire buckets in Canada he was very interested. We definitely had front row seats for watching.

It wasn’t all fires in Nelson we did get the opportunity to climb to the “Center of New Zealand” to see the views over Nelson and ride our bikes around town and the waterfront. Lots of history here and the place had a great vibe about it.

Marlborough Sounds
After passing thru French Pass at slack tide we hiked up the road to see the tide turn. This pass has a reputation for being nasty what with all the eddies being created and the water being pushed thru the deep skinny channel.

French Pass after slack. this was dead calm when we went thru.

The Pelorus Sound is the longest sound of 4 within Marlborough Sounds with deep water coves and pretty secluded bays with huge mountains surrounding you wherever you go. Alas these mountains seem to have the wind funnel down them making sailing a little frustrating as the wind seemed to be on the nose a lot here. The mountains were stunning as a backdrop for our anchorages with mussel farms everywhere.

Havelock at the very end of Pelorus Sound is the mussel capital and what with seeing all the mussel farms in the bay’s we couldn’t miss a trip in for fresh mussels; yummo!

Just a stunning landscape

Lots of pretty anchorages, which we had to ourselves.

Would have been nice to go into the Queen Charlotte Sound and over to Wellington but with Cyclone Oma knocking on the door mid February and no access at the Wellington marinas due to a sailing regatta we scurried back thru French Pass to Nelson Marina, which was good as they could accommodate us.

Cyclone Oma had the forecasters baffled and it wasn’t looking good.

Back in Nelson
Hanging out in Nelson was great as Jeanette & Glen were perfect hosts feeding us, taking us to quite a few local craft breweries (no complaints here), a tour of the opening of the PIC peanut butter factory (yum), sending us on our way to cycle part of the Great Taste Trail, and just hanging out enjoying the town. Time flies when you’re having fun.

Cyclone Oma decided to continue on towards Australia and then back to the North so the only impact to NZ was winds and swell in Northland and on the East Coast of NZ. Oh well we had fun in Nelson.

Returning to the Bay of Islands
We had wanted to circumnavigate the North Island but were starting to run out of time as our 3 months were coming up and we had to fly out for a visa run. While in Nelson the East Coast of the North Island had been windy with a decent swell what with the impact of Cyclone Oma and we couldn’t see a weather window in the next week. We really needed another month to enjoy the East Coast and Bay of Plenty and as we were in Nelson it was over 200nm shorter to return up the West Coast.

Fishing was good again so no complaints from us. Had a pod of about 20 dolphins play with us, which is always fun to watch. Rounding Cape Reinga at slack again meant a good fast trip across the top with tide in our favour and down through the Cavalli Islands with its crystal clear water, which was a treat. The Bay of Islands is definitely a pretty area with a good variety in anchorages and it was nice to be back.

View from Urupukapuka Island over Bay of Islands

For us sailing in New Zealand has been about:
– enjoying beautiful scenery in some very busy anchorages especially in the North Island
– managing wind against tide so we don’t have a chop or eddies to deal with which slow your speed
– managing between 1.5 and a 5 meter tide change; in the Abel Tasman with the King Tides
– managing weather forecasts, which are typically pretty good unless there is a complex low then everyone’s baffled and predictions are not confident

We had an excellent 3 months cruising and were very happy with the changes we made to our boat over NZs winter. We really needed more time as its a big cruising ground. Oh well next time!

Time out

With coming to New Zealand foreign vessels are able to stay in NZ for a maximum period of 24 months so we decided to take the opportunity to enjoy some time off from sailing, get some boat projects done and visit family and friends in NZ, Australia and North America.

Before NZs winter set in and while the weather was nice we decided to tackle the 2 biggest time consuming projects; repainting the interior of the boat & extending the length of our hulls by 4ft with Maverick (our manufacturer) hull transoms, which we brought in from South Africa.

The hull transom extensions were a big project and thankfully Neville from Norsand Boatyard was keen to work on this project for us.

The last step of our hull transom was cut off

John (my dad) so kindly helping by sanding & painting the interior hull transoms

Neville from Norsand working on the new fit of the hull transom

The extra length extends our waterline so will be interesting to see the impact in the upcoming sailing season.

The final result

Even though the boat can stay 24 months Brett being a foreigner is only able to stay in NZ 9 months in an 18 month period, so we were also limited in the time we could be in NZ.

We used Australia as a base, which was warmer than NZ and great for catching up with my sister; Louise and family.
Ruben & Daniel my nephews are a lot of fun and definetly keep Louise & Stu busy.

These birds are as big as Ruben & Daniel

Trying to get fit we cycled and went hiking. Springbrook National Park in Queensland has lots of different hikes. Beautiful area. The beaches in Queensland are great for building sand castles with my crazy nephews and getting exercise on the what seems like endless white beaches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gold Coast has lots of events on to bring tourists in which while we were here included 2 free concerts and the GC600 Supercars racing.

Ruben & Daniel trackside

Time off the boat also took us to North America to see family and friends and of course an excuse to pick up boat parts in the US as they are expensive downunder.

 

The Screw in Panama City is always an impressive building.

 

We then hired a car in LA taking a road trip up to Canada.

 

 

Of course a stop at a fun park for the day could not be missed and given we’d both been to Disneyland and Universal Studios we chose Knott’s Berry Farm in Los Angeles. No crowds as we were there on a week day, what a blast!

Hang Time one of our favorite rides

Las Vegas with all its glitz is along the way. Guess who planned this part of the trip to get his poker fix.

Even caught up with Razina & Taz friends from Calgary at the Venetian

We took a walk through the Craters of The Moon Park in Idaho, which was really impressive and a good stop on the way to Canada. The lava fields are between 15000 & 2000 years old from repeated volcanic eruptions across the river plain in south central Idaho. After the molten rock cooled huge lava fields with lava tubes, caves and volcanic cones remained and you are able to walk amongst a select few as the area here is huge.

It was great to catch up and reconnect with family and friends in Canada given we’ve been off sailing for 5 years. Plenty of time for hiking, golfing and mountain biking, getting some exercise and hence feeling muscles we haven’t used for a while. Lots of good Alberta Beef too thanks to dinner with family and friends.

On arrival Doug took Brett out for his favorite; wings & beer

Golfing in Fernie, Canada with friends Dave & Jen

On return from North America we had help installing some electronics and completed some more necessary projects.

resealing front windows

 

 

Our 10yr old main sail couldn’t be patched due to sun damage so we had a new one made by Calibre Sails in Whangarei. Nice & shiny white.

 

 

 

Whangarei, NZ has definitely been a good place to do our boat projects with lots of marine services available and no tax on marine purchases / services 😉. Seismic Wave is looking great and after the winter season off we’re looking forward to summer sailing in NZ.

 

 

Merry Christmas and all the best to everyone in 2019. 🤗🎉

Cruising North to the Bay of Islands, NZ

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The Bay of Islands, recognized as one of New Zealand’s most popular summer destinations and you can see why with its natural beauty. We had travelled NZ by car previously so it was time to see it on Seismic Wave.

Vista from Russell

Rare Bay, Whangaroa Harbour

 

Dukes Nose in Whangaroa

There’s lots of islands with lots of beautiful anchorages, incredible scenery, dolphins in some of the bay’s and nothing is ever far away, so for us it was a great cruising ground. Even managed to find some nice anchorages with no one around.

Whangamumu Harbour an old whaling station with good hiking

A stunning vista from Robertson Island

Cavalli Islands bay anchorage

The weather while here in Feb/ March was cooler than we expected, a little drizzly at times so got some good boat washes and with the odd cyclone remnants pushing through they added to the excitement. YES Cyclones and here we thought we were getting away from all of that! The La Niña weather pattern apparently is a hint that Cyclones are common here in NZ and while we were here had 3 blow through. Who would have known.

kayaking near Deep Cove

 

 

All up we were able to get outdoors and enjoy some good weather; kayaking and hiking but alas the colder water here kept us from swimming.

Kayaking a river in Whangaroa Harbour

The Department of Conservation has put in lots of walking tracks, which is a fantastic way of getting out for some exercise and seeing the countryside. Most days we would get out and find a track which was typically sheltered from the sun meandering through the bush so you got to see lots of native plants or stunning coastal views. A couple of our favorites were:
Cape Brett Track from Deep Water Cove (2hours 10min one way to the Cape).
This track traverses through the bush (so shade) with stunning vistas all along the way with steep cliffs and rocky bays below.

Looking back at where we had come from

Brett at the Cape Brett lighthouse

Urupukapuka Island Walks
An island out near Cape Brett which has various tracks to different bays all of which joins up so you can do a loop to see beautiful vistas of neighboring islands and the stunning coastline.

Paihia to Haruru Falls (1 hour 15 min one way)
An easy track from the Waitangi Treaty Grounds to the waterfall follows the Waitangi River so is nice and flat and in the bush with plenty of shade. Haruru means “big noise” and you understand why when you get to the horseshoe shaped falls at the end which are rumbling. Wish we’d kayaked up the river, which some people were doing.

Haruru Falls the only falls in NZ with a horseshoe shape

There’s plenty of tourists abound enjoying the area as well. Cruise ships anchor off Russell and provide a spectacular view and help the economy here. An incredible
view one morning of the top of a cruise ship.

After the fog cleared it was the Queen Mary II in town

The R Tucker Thompson looked like a great way for tourists to see the bay’s

Getting food provisions was very easy. Russell and Paihia had decent grocery stores so we could stock up with fresh produce and both towns are easy to wander around and enjoy the views. Eating out is always a treat and we had a few celebrations so did venture out.

– Duke of Marlborough in Russell was a treat and very popular as its on the waterfront and so a really nice location

– Russell Boating Club has an excellent roast on Sunday’s and great entertainment care of the locals. We could have seen Belinda our sailing friend here for sure singing away.

– The Gum Store Bar & Grill in Totara North after a hike along the Wairakau Stream from Lane Cove was a surprise with lots of memrobelia of the earlier era here. The fast water taxi ride back to Lane Cove was a treat.

 

 

 

 

– Parua Bay Tavern out near Whangarei Heads with its spectacular views over the bay and good food – can’t forget fresh NZ scallops from a friend Max who we’d met in Aitutaki, yummo!

 

We had heard about the Twin Coast Cycle Trail from Opua along the old railway and tripped upon it one day when out hiking the trail between Paihia and Opua. Will have to do his next time as its right up our alley.

 

 

 

 

Before we knew it it was time to head back around Cape Brett and the Famous “Hole in the Rock”, which the tourist boats drive thru, and back down towards Whangarei for our haul out.


 

 

 

 

Heidi & Bevan our windsurfing friends from Tonga arrived at Whangarei Heads on their sea kayaks to catch up for the long weekend, so was great to see them again.
Has been fun enjoying the northern bays but for us we’ve come a long way and we want to see more of NZ next season so it’s time for a rest from sailing as winter is arriving here. We’ve got a few boat projects planned so time to be hauled.

5 Year anniversary on SW🎉🍾

It has surprised us that we have now been full time on our catamaran for 5 years. February 9, 2013 we arrived in Trinidad in the Eastern Caribbean to meet Johan and Marlene the previous owners who would be our mentors teaching us to sail and operate our new boat. WOW, how time flies. 5 years later and we are now in New Zealand with our boat and have learnt and experienced far more than we thought we would.
Initially we were planning on just cruising the Caribbean for 2-3 years but the lifestyle appealed to us what with the freedom to explore beautiful parts of the world so we just kept going.

With catching up with our friends and family in New Zealand and Australia it’s been difficult to explain the lifestyle. I think everyone thinks we are crazy and wonders what we do all day. The lifestyle is definitely not for all!
Highlights
– the amazing cruisers you meet along the way that you share a bond of this lifestyle with
– the variety of places you can travel to by boat and experience for as long as you want
– the underwater world with all sorts of creatures and colors
– freedom
Lowlights
– the amount of rubbish you find on some beaches
– saying goodbye to friends you have met along the way as you don’t always cross paths again
– for me being seasick but something I’ve been able to control with medication when needed, thank goodness

Our pace of life has definitely slowed down from the 8 to 5 grind but we keep active cycling, kayaking, swimming, snorkeling and hiking on islands to see what’s around the next corner. Life’s an adventure and to me it’s what you do to make it fun. But it’s not all fun; there’s still plenty of work and planning to cross oceans and ensure we get places safely.

We enjoy the diving when we get the opportunity

Incredible close up encounters with fish life

The people you meet and interact with on the islands makes the experience even better. We have met some real characters and gone on some big adventures with some.

 

Fresh fish is always appreciated and we love catching our own.

On the islands you don’t always get food products you are used to. Not a bad thing as we’ve experienced foods we wouldn’t otherwise.

 

 

 

Brett has become a handyman who now knows every inch of our boat and with regular maintenance work we seem to be on top of things. Here’s hoping it stays like that. As one of our friends always says “you’re fixing things in Paradise how bad can that be”.
We have never treated the boat as a prison so when we need a break we take time out from the lifestyle and become land lovers again treating ourselves to long hot showers, more space and a car that gets us somewhere really fast! Afterwards we always appreciated getting back aboard to set the sails and see where we are off to next. The countries we have visited are all different but I think Ecuador and Peru was an amazing cultural experience we took by land.

Sailing into New York and seeing the Statue of Liberty on our own boat was definitely a highlight for us. New York was so different to the Caribbean Islands and we enjoyed getting out to the theatre and seeing the City on our bikes.

Transport, no car here! Our dinghy is our car to get to land and luckily we have not had any problems with it. Once on land we quite often use our Brompton folding bikes to get out and about to get groceries, see the sights and explore. The best thing we could have bought to help us get about and stay active. Locals from the island are intrigued with how it folds up so we have lots of dialogue with people about our strange looking bikes.

After traveling across the Pacific to New Zealand in 2017, over 9000nm we’ll be spending the next year in these waters and doing some work aboard Seismic Wave in the off season. I think we deserve a break. 😉

Here’s to more beautiful anchorages

 

 

We’re hoping we have continued success fishing in the Pacific. Yes I caught this one, Brett is not the only fisher person aboard.

Hope this provided an insight into our lifestyle.

Fun times ahead! Enjoy 2018 😊

 

Holiday in Australia

We’ve spent the last couple of months in Queensland, Australia catching up with my family for the holidays.
Brisbane is a city with lots to do and even better for us we have family living here. The river winds its way inland from the coast with the city built along it so there’s lots to see and do. Stu, my brother in law took us out on the Brisbane River to see the sights. Nice! Even spotted a fellow Maverick owner; S/V Island Home anchored in the river. Small world.

Stu, Ruben, Daniel & Louise with the Story Bridge in the background

The boys Stu, Daniel, Ruben & Brett with S/V Island Home and the City in the background

There’s a long walking/ biking path along the river with all sorts of activities especially over the holidays, so no chance for being bored here (ah Ruben!).

At a Xmas concert in a Brisbane park on the river

The beaches in Queensland are amazing with beautiful long white sandy beaches and good surf. We spent quite a bit of time in the Gold Coast and loved walking along them for exercise, getting into a habit of going every day.

Ruben & Daniel came to Surfers to meet us for a little body surfing

We got our exercise walking the beaches here; Surfers Paradise in the distance

My sister, Louise organized a house in Kingscliff, New South Wales to celebrate the festivities. Great location on the Coast with a nice long beach but the pool at the house was appreciated as it was hot while we were there. Even managed a trip into the inland to the hinterland to see the Springbrook National Park.

The pool was a blessing, it was hot!

Hiking a trail to see the Natural Arch in Springbrook National Park

Stu & Louise at the Waterfall near the Natural Arch

We’ve enjoyed some time off the boat, the extra space and luxuries of being on land. Heading back to NZ to enjoy some of the NZ summer, and will cruise the Bay of Islands for a couple of months.

Lots of beautiful anchorages to be found in the Bay of Islands

Here’s to a great year in 2018.

Where to for cyclone season?

Had been waiting for a weather window and after 2 weeks finally got one. While we waited in Ile des Pins we enjoyed good weather and the company of other cruisers….

A protected bay with powder soft sand and crystal clear water. Do I have to leave?

Nice hike from the jail or water tower along the ridge to Pic Nga for the views

Can you guess where we have decided to go for cyclone season? 

On our trip south we had lively seas as we were tight to the wind the whole way. Did not stop us fishing and caught a couple of tuna to replenish our freezer supplies.

 

We arrived into Opua in the Bay of a Islands on Saturday 25 November, 2017 seeing lots of familiar faces at the Opua cruising club. A party with music and fancy dress was a great welcome into NZ. Time to rest and recover from our passage.

Grand Terre (Mainland), New Caledonia

After leaving the Loyalty Islands we sailed over to Canala, on the East Coast of Grand Terre, a base for the nickel mining in the area. Canala is in a very picturesque valley with mountains all around. We went by dinghy up the river spotting mines on the way to the town, a great stop to get some much needed groceries and see some local artwork and wood carvings all scattered around town.

we have our Baguettes and Brie; with a view down the river to our anchorage

The whole coastline has some amazing mountain scenery of rich oranges, reds and greens.

perfect anchorage with friends Oceana1 at Neumeni

Great place to get off the boat and go for a walk up into them there hills.

Lunch stop with a view to our next anchorage at Port Boqete

At Port Boqete we stopped at the marine park at Ile Némou for some snorkeling at the reef and along the shoreline around the anchorage. A lot of soft and hard corals but not many fish. Saw the biggest conque shell, which was still alive and great to see given everyone likes to collect shells.

with Bretts hand to give perspective.

On the shoreline we spotted a brightly colored church so went into the small Kanak village of Lémia, where 80 people live. Houses and the church only. The local store is 20km away.
Necis; a friendly guy with lots of personality, who liked to sing and tell us stories, showed us around the village. There was a well manicured walkway that separated the houses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our final stop on the SE coast was Yaté where we took the dinghy up the river to the hydroelectric plant to find the grocery store for ice cream, beer and wine. Not sure where it goes!

Seas and winds were calm so we decided to head straight to Gadji, in Ile des Pins, (see separate blog entry).

After enjoying the Kuto area in Ile des Pins we had a quick downwind sail to Baie de Prony on the South Coast of the mainland, catching a nice sized tuna along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baie de Prony has lots of anchorages where you could spend time seeing the sights from the many hilltops by hiking the never ending trails here or go kayaking and snorkeling.

a view of Baie de Prony from a hike we did to the lighthouse from Anse Majic anchorage

 

 

 

Up at the lighthouse Brett & Aline are admiring the views out to the lagoon.

 

 

 

Moose is an abandoned dog on Ilot Casey in Prony, who cruisers all seem to hear about. He reminded us an old friend and was very friendly and likes to go hiking with you around the island. A marked trail takes you around the island in about 1.5hrs and has some nice scenery. Moose along the way shows you how he survives on the island digging crabs and eating sea cucumbers! Of course all the cruisers feed him and give him water.

nice anchorage with mooring balls to protect the coral

a view over to the nickel mining operation in the Baie

Snorkeling at Illot Casey had some little gems amongst the mostly white hard antler type coral.

Amadee Island, South of Noumea has a 56m tall lighthouse built in 1862 in France and was disassembled and transported to Noumea for its opening here in 1865. Nice views of the marine park after climbing the 247 steps.

 

 

 

 

Illot Maître is a small island with a resort 3nm south of Noumea and a Mecca for kiteboarding. In the weekends there are upward of 100 kites out. There were lots of turtles floating around our boat, which was cool.

Kiteboarders getting ready with Noumea in the background

It was finally onto Noumea where we were lucky and got a berth at the Port Moselle Marina. There are hundreds of boats here in Noumea! We’ve been so lucky with the weather while here. Time to investigate the city, reprovision, make some passage meals, do oil changes, wash clothes ready for cooler weather and check out.

Load and loads of boats

A visit to the Museum near the marina showed the history of the people here. Really interesting with great exhibits and English signs, yeah! Some of these garments below must have been very scratchy on the skin!
We cycled out to Baie de Citron on a bike path to see everyone out enjoying the good weather. Lots of restaurants, clubs, hotels and a nice beach, you could see why it was popular.
The bar at the Moselle marina was a great place to sit back, relax and enjoy the music in the evenings. 

Sadly time to say goodbye to Aline and Luc who are heading to Sydney. Always tough saying goodbye to people you have had a good time with, but then this is part of this lifestyle. Will miss Aline’s fishing skills!
Happy Halloween everyone.

At Barca brewery at Baie de Citron and Halloween decorations are everywhere.

Oct 31 here so time for us to move on too.

Ile des Pins, New Caledonia

We’d heard so much about the Southern Lagoon and in particular Ile des Pins with its crystal clear blue water, white sand beaches and lots of reefs with colorful coral gardens.

Views up at Pic N’ga near Kuto

 

On a sadder note, from 1872 – 1913 Ile des Pins was a political convict settlement where France sent by ship its prisoners (3000 Frenchmen & 12 women) to the island. Ruins can be seen around the island and in particular the Kuto area.
Brett at one of the many prison ruins near Kuto built in 1881.

 

 

Gadji
What a beautiful spot! There are a few small islands and lots of mushroom limestone formations; a great place to kayak and snorkel.

this is not color enhanced, the sun was out & the lagoon here had incredible colored water

It’s the snorkeling here we will remember as it was awesome, other than the cold water to which our long wet suits had to come out. There was a good variety of coral with vibrant different colors and textures and plenty of fish about.
Kuto
Kuto Bay is nicely protected with a soft white sand beach and a resort with a restaurant right on the beach (serving very expensive food and alcohol). Interestingly no alcohol can be purchased at the local stores here you have to buy it at the hotel!

Anchorage with Pic N’ga Mountain in the background

We ended up staying in Kuto to wait out some strong gusty winds but it was a great place to be as the bay was protected, the bakery and store were down the road, there was a Dugong swimming around to watch out for and there were a lot of places to go hiking. Always interesting what you come across when out hiking.

Wandering around some ruins Brett & Luc came across some Prisoner cells; very small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

private beaches tucked away

A hike up the mountainous Pic N’ga trek (262m), the islands highest point with Luc & Aline had to be made to see the fantastic views. Great having a cruise ship in to give us perspective for how big the bay was.

the trail up the side of the mountain was well maintained and good exercise

Boats heading to NZ seem to use this as a jump off point for when they see a good weather window so we’ll probably take advantage of this protected bay for a good nights sleep before we head south.

A truely beautiful area with lots of outlying islands and reefs to visit. There are a lot more small islands with excellent snorkeling and diving so we will have to return. Until next time! Back to the mainland to see more sights. Time is flying……

The Lovely Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia

John & Leanne from the Down Under Rally (www.downunderrally.com) organized for 7 boats to clear in at Lifou in the Loyalty Islands, which was excellent and very easy. They even organized a van so we could all get a SIM card for Internet access and groceries after emptying our fridge and freezers of food for bio-security clearance. There were great supermarkets in Lifou for stocking up with fresh veg again and Brie and baguettes; yum!

back with all our groceries

Leanne from Ooroo and I hanging out on some interesting tables near the dock

We were then free to cruise the islands and reefs on our way to Noumea the main port for clearance. The Loyalty Islands are made up of 3 main Islands; Ouvéa, Lifou and Maré. We were lucky to see how special and different it was here compared to any of the French Polynesian islands we have been to. Not a lot of cruisers come this way after clearing in.

traditional Melanasian huts that local people live and congregate in

 

 

These islands still have a lot of culture and tradition alive in their everyday lives. Weaving, sculpturing, fishing all very common activities here.

 

 

 

Most of the population speaks French, very little English and the local language is a different dialect of Melanesian on each island. The women here wear very brightly colored long flowing dresses, which after being here in this heat with the sun beating down for a few days, I could see the benefits of. Everyone we met was very friendly.

Local Ladies cleaning the beach

Lifou and Maré are uplifted limestone plateaus covered in pine trees with big bays, crystal clear blue water and colorful coral close to shore. At Lifou, we walked to Notre-Damn de Lourdes chapel built in 1898 sitting high on the cliff at the entrance to the Bay near where we anchored.
The roads on both Ouvéa and Lifou were sealed and flat so perfect for getting the bikes out to see parts of the islands. A 25km plus return trip on Ouvéa to find baguettes had us passing lots of traditional homes and people coming to see what these strange folding bikes were. Shame our French is soooo bad!

Entering the Grand Chefferie in Mouli, Ouvéa to obtain permission to be here and visit the island

traditional homesteads on Ouvéa

the graveyards here are colorfully decorated

Lots of interesting looking churches.

Ouvéa was stunning with its long white sand beach. “Tres Jolie”. Time to relax, walk and enjoy the 25km beach with shells galore. Luc & Aline S/V Oceana1 after hearing how beautiful it was made the overnight trip from Noumea to join us and help us with our French!
The bridge between Mouli and Lekiny on Ouvéa had spectacular views within the lagoon and lots of fish, eagle rays and big turtles swimming in the current.

We’d also heard about the Lekiny Caves but it’s only possible to visit with a guide and only on certain days in conjunction with low tide. Was definitely worth the visit. Loved our transport to the caves along with friends S/V Oceana1 & Second Wind. Luc & Aline were great interpreters for all us English speaking people.

Lekiny Caves behind us, yes we cross this river.

great views back to the Mouli bridge

In 1953 a cyclone hit the island of Ouvéa and the local people all went to the Lekiny Caves to seek protection. They all survived even though the island suffered a lot of damage so the people built an alter in the main cave and special ceremonies have been held here since.
This has definitely been a special place to visit with very few cars, beautiful beaches, friendly locals and incredible sunsets again.
Off to see more of New Caledonia.