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.