New Zealand It Is!

We arrived in New Zealand after eight days at sea.

Our passage from Fiji was not the fastest nor the slowest. It was perhaps our calmest one. We sailed at an average speed of 6.5 knots and  motored for about 36 hours in total.

The big event of the trip was the catch of our biggest Mahimahi.

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Our arrival to New Zealand was very enjoy-fulled. We received a warm welcome from our friends on the radio and within 12 hours we had an invitation for a nice Thanksgiving diner with SeaQuester and Happy Monster.

Our Sea Monkey friends

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It was like we never left. Within 24 hours we put the music band back together, the aerobic classes and the massage therapy. There was already a line up for treatments.

We are starting our forth season here. New Zealand has become our second home. It always warms us to see friends that we had not seen in months, sometimes years.

This year we have decided to go sailing. Imagine,  what an idea!!! Since New Zealand has some of the most beautiful shores in the world, we have told ourselves that this year we will try to spend less time and money on the boat  and  more time on just enjoying the freedom of sailing. Hopefully Meikyo won’t have other ideas.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA First morning in New Zealand from our anchorage

 

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Fiji update

Here we are a few days away from November.  Like the previous years before we have spent a few weeks diving the wonderful protected marine park of Namena. Liliane did her 400th dive on her birthday. That’s all she wanted this year. Ya right!

Never the less it was our 3rd year in Fiji and we saw new things.

We snorkelled the Yasawas and saw the famous manta rays . After that we traveled towards Savusavu and meet our friends from  Kailani and went to the most spectacular show in Fiji, The Fire Dance. We liked it so much that we went a second time. The price was also very spectacular. $20.00 Fiji per person. Approximately $13.00 can.  for diner and show.

We had real nice encounters with sharks. They seem to be more and more curious about us. On one of the videos Liliane was approximately 2 feet from the shark.

So here we are now trying to decide if we are going to the Marshal Island or New Zealand this year.

Here we are with our friends Jennifer, Harley, and Sophia on SY Kailani at the fire dance

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Fire Dance the best show in Fiji

Shark encounter of the calm kind

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Fiji, fish frenzy

Meikyo is at anchor near Cousteau resort. There is a very nice snorkelling area near the boat. However… be aware the Sargent Majors have been trained to eat out of your hands.  If you don’t have food hide your hands !!!

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Suva, Fiji

We are in Suva for a few days to re-provision. We just finished having Erica and Andrew for their two week Honeymoon on the boat. It was wonderful to see them and we had a great time. We know they were torn to leave Cole, but we knew he was in good hands.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Champagne arrival with gift. A nice fish hook from Tonga  that Liliane gave to Erica so that Andrew could have the one that we gave to Erica a few years back. Now they are a matching couple. Liliane had to repair the one that Andrew was wearing after a few days but it should last now.

 

Our first anchorage was off the village of Nalauwaki on the north of Waya.  We spent a few days there waiting for the weather to change. Snorkelling was good. We hiked up past the waterfalls and walked over to the resort on the other side of the island. Lot’s of pigs!

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Unfortunately Andrew ripped his shorts on the hike. Luckily Liliane had a sarong he could wear to preserve his modesty.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Island changing room

Our next anchorage was near Manta Ray Resort. The highlight was swimming with the giant mantas. Very cool!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Preparing to snorkel with the mantas

Then on to Somosomo Bay, where we snorkelled the WW2 plane. Liliane got a nice picture of a juvenile lion fish on the wreck.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Andrew fetching a coconut.

We then worked our way up to the caves, which was fun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA In the chamber of the second cave

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The team surfacing

Unfortunately Andrew’s wedding band slipped off somewhere in the cave. Liliane and the guide did a search but no luck.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Liliane after the search

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Laundry needs to get done even on your honeymoon!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES Catch of the day.

A great sailing day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Liliane singing to the hermit crab

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES Winding down at Musket Cove

When they got back home we learned that Cole was sick with a case of croup, and Erica picked up a cold on the way back. There both on the mend which is good.

The holiday is over for us as well. Now back to work on boat projects. Liliane up the mast fixing the spinnaker halyard.

 

 

 

 

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Lautoka, Fiji

Well, we are back in Fiji again after a later than usual departure from New Zealand. We found the temperature was colder than we remembered on the trip up, needing to bundle up at night even above 22 degrees south. We stopped at North Minerva Reef for a week. We really like Minerva. Breaks the trip up from NZ and allowed us to wait out a bit of weather. We had the place to ourselves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The dinghy tied to the reef, Meikyo anchored in the background

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The reef dries out at low tide, that’s the ocean in the distance

Caught a couple of mahi mahi on the way with our magic lure, top of a pop bottle and a bag of chips!

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After checking in and provisioning the last couple of days, it’s time to leave Lautoka. We are planning to sail to Navadra, a small uninhabited island 28 miles from here.

Bye for now

 

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Fulaga, Fiji

Back in Savusavu after spending almost seven weeks in Fulaga. We absolutely loved it there. It is one of the very few places we’ve been that we had a tough time leaving. But it was almost two months since we had provisioned the boat and we were running low on supplies. Time to go when you run out of beer, gas for the dinghy and are down to your last few rolls of toilet paper! We are already planning our return next year.

Fulaga is in the southern Lau Group of islands. It is remote and tough to get to as it against the prevailing winds. About fifty yachts a season visit the island, which forms a circle about five miles across with a lagoon in the center. There is one pass into the lagoon. The villagers are very friendly and enjoy interaction with cruisers. They are known for their carvings using the local vessi hardwood. A supply boat comes about every three months.

Here is a link to an aerial photo of Fulaga

http://www.flickr.com/photos/45605800@N00/436261480/

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Limestone islands abound

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Beautiful in the lagoon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Great kyaking

IMG_6422 The Admiral with the Captain

001 Banana boat

130 Preparing to boil palm leaves for weaving

126 Transporting the table. Liliane was able to treat many of the villagers (including the chief).

135 Treating the chief with an audience

015 (2) Tara, Penena, and Asena  after treatment

IMG_2504 Kava party

IMG_2490 Drinking kava

IMG_2462 Village prepared lunch

029 Picnic day at the beach

049 Time to eat!

045 (2) Making your own plate

003 Can’t resist opportunity to treat someone

051 With Thai

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Hike up the mountain

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA View from the top with Brigit (Mariposa) and Thai

009 Vinnie carving our small bowls

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Koro (left) carving our large kava bowl. Jojo on the right.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Liliane  teaching massage therapy techniques at the school, adapting to local environment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Visiting the kindergarten class

We also did a lot of snorkeling and diving the pass. We had to time that with slack tide as you can get four knots of current. One day we had humpback whales in the lagoon (mother and calf).

Our next destination is Namena Marine Reserve, just south of Savusavu. We were there last year and did some awesome diving. Hoping to repeat that.

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Suva, Fiji

Back in the tropics, yeah! We arrived in Suva, the capital of Fiji after a two and a half day sail from Minerva Reef. Minerva Reef was a nice nine day break. We were there with a few other boats we know, so we snorkled, socialized, walked the reef, and caught up on a few boat projects. North Minerva reef (there is also a South Minerva) is quite interesting. Like a little oasis in the middle of the ocean. It is a circular reef, about 4 miles in diameter, with one entrance. The reef wall itself is about a half mile wide and dries out a low tide. The picture below is us walking the reef, the dinghy is anchored on the lagoon side, in the distance you can see the breaking swell on the outer reef wall.

Canon 282 Liliane and I with Amy (Morning Glory) and Sam (Catharpin Blue) walking the reef at low tide

DSC03729 Meikyo, anchored inside North Minerva reef

We left New Zealand much later than we had planned. We were all set to go the first week of May, just waiting for a good weather window. Then we discovered we had a leak in one of our fuel tanks. Replacing the tanks was a job we knew we would have to tackle one day, given the age of the tanks and what other Norseman owners had done. We just didn’t think we would have to do it now of course. After reviewing various options, we decided to build a fiberglass tank to replace the existing two 50 gallon black iron tanks. The main reason was that if we chose new metal tanks, we would have to go with a smaller size, as they wouldn’t fit through the companion way hatch (the original tanks were installed before the deck was put on). As well, our friend Ted is very knowledgable in fibreglass boat building and has constructed tanks in the past. So we hired Ted to help, and tackled the three week job. This is the part of the cruising life they don’t take about in the sailing magazines! Anyway, glad the job is done, and we are happy with the result. Now back to the fun part!

DSC_0016 Lifting out the first tank

DSC_0018 Easy to lift from the keel, hard part is to get them out of the boat!

DSC_0032 Cutting the tank in half

DSC_0039 Bottom half of one ugly tank

DSC_0043 Keel cavity after tanks removed

DSC_0014 Cleaned cavity that will become the new tank

DSC_0005 Not fun sanding inside the boat!

IMG_0267 Liliane glassing the new tank parts

IMG_0289 Cutting the fittings of the old tanks to reuse in the new one

DSC_0030 New tank with baffles installed

DSC_0001 Completed job!

We think we will depart Suva next week, after filling with diesel (have to jerry can it to the boat, yuk), getting fruit, veggies and beer. Then sail south to Kadavu (diving the Great Astralobe Reef), then east to the Lau Group, some of the most remote and tradional parts of Fiji. Next update will be more exiting stuff, not fuel tanks!

 

 

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New Zealand Update

Finally, a new blog entry! It’s not that we haven’t been doing anything interesting, it’s just that we thought we would save it all up and do one update. Our second season in New Zealand has been very different than last year. More sailing! Before we left the dock in January to go coastal cruising, we did the usual arrival maintenance, Liliane’s massage threapy treatments, karate, organized a crusiers Xmas party, New Year’s fireworks on the beach, organized a women’s self defence class, doctors appointments, catching up with old friends, etc etc. Click on the photos to enlarge.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALiliane performing on talent night at the All Points Rally in November. She won a nice dry bag.

IMG_0069 Womens self defence class. Due to popular demand, more classes coming in April

New Zealand offers great coastal cruising and terrfic trail walks. We first decided to sail to the northern tip of NZ. Beautiful anchorages up there and hardly any other boats. Feels like we had the place to ourselves. Then back down the east coast to the Hauraki Gulf.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABay of Islands

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABay of Islands

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Pohutukawa tree, Cavelli Islands

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Trail walk, Cavelli Islands

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Morning mist at anchor

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Meikyo at anchor, taken from the top of the “Duke’s Nose”, Whangaroa

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Bad hair day, Whangaroa

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We see these often. Still searching for that pot of gold.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Waipapa Bay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Waipapa Bay, red sky at night……you know the rest

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Cape Brett lighthouse, after a very long trail walk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Cape Brett

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Refreshly cold dip during trail walk, Great Barrier Island

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Going to shore, Great Barrier Island

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Low tide, Great Barrier

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA View from a low tide cave

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Takahe birds, Tiritiri Island Bird Sanctuary. Very inquisitive and rare (only 200 left). We called them “Jurassic chickens”

Listen to the Takahe, they sound like they have a rubber ducky stuck in their throat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Full Moon setting in the morning

All good things must come to an end. Back to Opua for a busy month of work to get the boat ready to sail north to Fiji in May.

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Back in New Zealand

We arrived back in Opua New Zealand Nov 9 after a tough 9 day passage from Fiji. This was our third passage between the Tropics and New Zealand, each one being quite different. On this run, we had a weather window  leaving Fiji that would get us to NZ before the next low pressure system ( they roll accross NZ every 5-7 days this time of year). We started out as planned and we were travelling in the vicinity of four other boats that left the same time as us. The trick was to get as much easting as possible, so we were hard to the wind the whole trip. Not the most comfortable point of sail, but the wind generator loved it! Here is a video clip before we got the strong winds.

About three days in, a large tropical low developed north of us, just south of Tonga. This came out of nowhere, certainly not picked up by any of the forecasters. We were in a much better position than boats that left a day or two behind us. As it was we had strong SE winds, 36 hours of winds 30+ knots. The strongest gust we saw was 47 knots. The boat handled it well, but we had some wave damage to our dodger. Water would then find it’s way through the hatch seals. We used every towel on the boat drying the ceiling and floor. Not fun, but we were much luckier than others. One boat was lost and the crew rescued by a freighter in the center of the storm. The sailboat Adventure Bound turned back and responded to the Mayday call and stood by the stricken vessel for 48 hours until the freighter arrived. They put themselves at risk and suffered some damage in the process. When they arrived in Opua this week, all the cruisers here gave them a standing ovation as they pulled into the customs dock. Various business and cruisers donated gifts to help them on arrival. Liliane donated a massage  to the two on board. Much appreciated!

When the weather calmed down

It felt great to arrive at a dock. But the work just begins. First step was to do a mega laundry and dry out the boat.

We have our dock space until Jan 19, that will allow us time to complete our boat project list and enjoy Xmas and New Years. Our good friends Ted and Karen have lent us their second car for us to use while we are here. We have joined yoga once a week and have rented a hall for us to train karate twice a week. Busy busy.

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Arrival Fiji

Saweni Bay, Fiji

It has been awhile since our last post. We arrived in Savusavu Fiji on Sep 10. We love Fiji! The check-in was efficient, the marina staff was very helpful, the market was awesome, and the people are very friendly. Think we will be coming back next season.

  Savusavu market  

    Happy hour on Meikyo

After doing some much needed provisioning, we left town and anchored for a few days off of the Cousteau Resort. We didn’t go to shore (they are not open to cruisers) but spent a few days doing some boat projects and snorkeling.

  Meikyo anchored off Cousteau Resort

Our plan was to sail northeast up to Viani Bay and Taveuni but the weather didn’t cooperate. We didn’t feel like beating 50 miles into the wind. Next year. So instead we sailed 20 miles south to Namena Island. We are sure glad we did.

Namena is surrounded by a barrier reef. The diving at the passes is fantastic. Paul and Mary from Bella Via joined us there for two weeks. Liliane, Paul and I went diving every day. Every other night we would all get together for cards or dominos. One morning they invited us for champagne breakfast to celebrate the birth of their first grandson. On the last evening with them we sang songs after dinner on Meikyo, Liliane leading us on the guitar. Great fun.

  And the band was born

Liliane and I dove on our rebreathers, felt good to be diving them again. The only downside about the diving is that the dive sites were between 2 and 3 miles from the boat by dinghy.  Paul has a larger outboard, so we used his dinghy. In return we lent him the gear and filled his tanks. The soft corals and fish life is amazing. This spot is certainly is on our agenda for next year.

Paul and I  also went fishing a couple of times outside the reef (Namena is a marine reserve). At the end of the second day fishing, we each hooked a large barracuda (about a metre in length) While Paul was fighting with his, all of a sudden his line went slack. When he reeled it in, a third of the barracuda was gone. A shark had taken that third in one bite leaving a clean cut. Amazing the power of their jaw to easily bite through the backbone.

We are currently at Saweni Bay. The plan is to take the bus to Latoka (2nd largest city in Fiji) to do some provisioning before Luc and Iris arrive from Canada.  They will meet us at Musket Cove marina for a week of sailing.

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