Not seen fog whilst on the boat for a long time, and this morning we wake up to a reasonably thick covering. Its clearing a bit now - we can see the next pontoon over. It was very lovely to have a duvet on the bed last night. Until we left the tropics, we’d just been using the cover, but as we came south from Tonga, we put the duvet back in but used it on our ‘pilot berth’ where the off watch person sleeps whilst we’re underway. Last night was our first night back in our proper bed and
Arrived, and cleared in
We are now legally in New Zealand. The complex and onerous procedures we’ve all read about are applied by thoughtful people with a nod to common sense - which means that all our preparation was greatly appreciated and we flew through the paperwork. We lost a few food items which we knew we would and had fished out for the guy. Mostly things that could grow (eg. popcorn) and fresh meat. Suprisingly all dairy was fine, as were our tins of fish and meat. We also lost our fresh fruit and vegetabl
My phone has just roamed into a NZ network. The first time roaming in 7 months due to EEs inability to sign roaming agreements. That aside it means we are very close. So close we've slowed down to arrive at dawn... More later..
All being well, we should arrive in Opua tomorrow morning. Ideally, early enough that we can clear in that morning and move into the marina at slack water, high tide. Nautilus and Vega should arrive on Saturday. They have a bit further to go than our 110nm. We are all lacking wind and doing some motor sailing to keep up or passage speeds. Our other task is getting ready for the inspection. Our freezer is almost empty, we have finished the honey and lots of other food stuffs. We will have so
The light stuff
We are definitely in the light stuff. Wind speeds are averaging 8 knots from various angles around south. This means we are having to tack towards NZ. This doesn't worry us as we've done enough upwind work to places like Guyana. The sea state is very nice indeed. The killer is the current! Just like when sailing from the Essequibo to the Maroni, the current here is pretty strong. Far stronger than I had imagined and it hurts our tacking angle considerably, especially with such light winds. It'
What a day!
It had everything. Champagne sailing downwind in blue skies and sun, upwind sailing in pitch black and rain. Parasailor hoists and drops, gennaker hoists and drops. Foredeck work at 3am involving both of us, 30+ knots of wind, 5. Knots of wind. So much water my life jacket fired. We've seen our first ship for a long time, though just on AIS. (Obscure fact: the great circle route from New Zealand to Panama is well south of French Polynesia and actually passes pretty close to Pitcairn! It explains
We finally managed to get across the high. We motorsailed from around midday and tried to sail from 5:30pm, but the wind was too inconsistent. We hung on until the speed dropped to under 2 knots and put an engine back on. At 10:30pm we switched the engine off and made slow progress. When I came on watch the wind had gone right behind us, so I gybed the gennaker leaving the main on the preventer. This gave us quite a speed boost and we carried on like that all night. At dawn we out the parasai
We are currently under the gloom of an anti-cyclone. MetBob the weather god lists 9 reasons to hate anti-cyclones, top of which is the lack of wind. We certainly have that along with the cloud cover and rain showers. Yesterday the fleet began to motor. Loupan did some motoring the previous night, when we were slow due to the main. Vega started shortly after. By midday, She-San were motoring. Nautilus gave up sailing the same time we did - 15:30 and for the last 15 hours we have been motoring s
First day - good progress
It was pretty rough when we left Minerva, but we took advantage of the stronger winds to make some good progress. The winds and sea state eased during the day and dropped right off overnight. This left us a bit slow as we only had a bit of mainsail out and wanted to raise it carefully during daylight. Nautilus passed us in the night maintaining good speed in lightish winds. We could see their light most of the night until the last 3 hours or so. Once we got some daylight, we careful raised the
Welcome to the Eastern Hemisphere
We are now in the Eastern hemisphere :) Nautilus beat us by a few minutes.
Off we go...
After a very nice gathering for sun-downers on She-san last night, the fleet is on the move this morning. She-san is first out of the gate and will be closely followed by Nautilus and Vega. We’ll leave an hour or so later, Loupan probably the same. The models look good, with some motoring in 36 hours time for a day to punt through the high, then we should be able to sail most of the rest of the way. If we’re slow, then the threat of the low is receding with the latest model runs showing a h
New Zealand prep continues
We continue to prepare for the leg to New Zealand, as well as relaxing a bit here in Minerva. We’re basically in a holding pattern waiting for a weather window - and we may have one tomorrow. One of the things we have to do before New Zealand is get ready for the inspection of things we’ve acquired during our trip. The wonderful shell necklaces from Amanu shouldn’t be an issue as Anthony had no problems with them when he flew through Auckland. We have some wood products which may need che
Diving North Minerva
This morning we used the light winds to dive the outside reef of Minerva North. We thought about diving the pass but it didn’t look to interesting and had a bit of current, so we decided to do the wall. This was most definitely the correct call. It was superb! Up there as one of the best dives I’ve done in the Pacific. The drop off seemed infinite - it just disappeared down into the inky dark blue as far as you could see. The visibility was very good, and the coral was superb - better even
Welcome to Minerva Reef
You really get an impression of how hard it was for the early navigators when charting the Pacific when approaching places like Minerva and Beveridge reefs. The reef was impossible to see until we were a few miles away, and even then it was just a thin occasional line of white breaking water. Very easy to get wrong and impossible to see at night. People say you can hear the water breaking on the reef but from upwind, I very much doubt you could hear anything over the wind and wave noise onboard
Just 15 nautical miles to the anchorage inside Minerva North reef. It's an isolated reef that is used by many yachts travelling between the tropics and New Zealand. It gives good protection from the swell but not from the wind as there is little above the water at high tide. We had a great night. Lots of stars, easy sailing with gentle 8-12 knot winds and low swell. We've slowly been catching Nautilus even though we are under gennaker only. It's been a comfortable distance though - started out
Inspection this morning and we've found that one of the bolts on the boom (that we replaced in Panama) has failed. We've taken the main down for now and are doing 5-6knots under gennaker alone. We'll arrive in Minerva tomorrow and then we can drop the sail off and get to it better to fix. We may need to straighten out some twist in the universal joint, but I think we can fix it. It's turned into a gorgeous day. Sun it out, hardly any clouds and very warm. A relief after last night's watches!
The wind is cooperating nicely for a change and we are making good speed towards Minerva reef. So far we have covered 100nm in 15hrs leaving us just 160nm to go. Given our average speed so far, it's likely that we'll arrive at dawn or just after, so some easing of the sheets may occur for the last few hours. Nautilus are making good progress too, but not had an update from them yet this morning. Certainly far better than last Thursday. One thing we are noticing is that we are already wearing
Pit stop in Tongatapu
Yesterday, we sailed down from Nomuka Iki to Big Mama’s Yacht Club with some fickle winds that ended up going quite a long way south - but still sailable to with 3 miles. The (slightly illegal) stop off here allowed us to have dinner with many friends we’ve not seen for a while - there are now a dozen boats here - far more than when we were here with Anthony. Pirlouit, a Belgian yacht we first met at Mangreva are here for a few days before heading out to Fiji. Solace is another boat we’ve
The Duplicat curse strikes again. We can’t take all the blame ourselves though, we were talked into trying PredictWind out - an app on the iPad (and other devices) that not only gets the European weather model, but can do the passage planning. It showed 10-12 knots from the E or NE today, which would have been fine. Indeed - it was for the first half of the day. Then it went wrong... Now the wind has shifted to the SW and is only blowing 5 knots. We’ve opted to anchor at Nomuka Iki as there
The Ha'apais have been rather nice. Lovely anchorages, very relaxing. The diving was good, though not spectacular (we have been spoilt!). The coral at Nomuka Ike was stunning though. The capital of the group is Pangai on Lifuka island. Here is rush hour: It's a quaint place which definitely has no sense of urgency. This forklift has been missing a wheel for sometime... We had thought to get a few cans of diesel here so we could leave topped up, but the island is out of diesel. The ferry may
Back to the Ha'apais
Now Anthony had made his flight back to the UK, we were free to leave Nuku'alofa. We had a somewhat whistlestop tour of the Ha'apai group as we came south, so we decided to head back. However, before we did, we revisited Big Mama's yacht club where Earle helped organise diesel for us. We had a final meal there where we met Barry and Julie, originally from the UK but now living in NZ. We had a very pleasant lunch with them before heading back to the boat. We had put 200l of diesel onboard (10
And then there were two...
Anthony left the good ship Duplicat this morning, on his journey back to the UK and the world of work. It wasn’t without a few last minute hiccups of course! We’d planned to use the water-taxi from ‘Big Mama’s Yacht Club’, Pangaimotu - the resort on the island where we are anchored. We could have taken our dinghy - its just over 1.5nm to the mainland, but it was easier and drier to use their big boat. However, with the front coming through last night, we had lots of rain and wind - and
Whale of a time in Vava'u
We've been having a whale of a time in the Vava'u group of islands, Tonga. Literally, we swam with whales! This is an organised event, as to do so from your own boat risks large fines and probable loss of boat. It's also not cheap, but well worth it. We didn't have as much luck as some, but we still swam with them whilst they swam past us, and to hear the song up close was incredible. This is a pair we spotted early in the morning. As well as this, we caught up with old friends and new. It
Getting hot in the tropics
Over the weekend, 3 more boats arrived here - 2 of which we know from Samoa. On monday the weather front arrived, as did the customs agents to clear in the other boats - so they were ferried around in the drizzle and we got our passports stamped. We will pay our clearance fees when we go to get our inter-island clearance before leaving on Thursday. Manta finally left this morning as the wind had shifted back to the SE with the passing of the front. Not much else happened - we caught up on a fe
Anchored at Niuatoputapu
We arrived at Niuatoputapu safely. The entrance through the reef looks hairy from a distance but once you get "eyeballs on", it's pretty straightforward. There are good leading markers (though unlit - only the foolhardy do these passes at night!). Tafahi , the volcanic island we passed on the way in looks menacing in the distance. Niuatoputapu looks gorgeous and the spine is begging to be hiked... The only other boat here is Manta - a boat we know from the Gambiers and also more recently in S
Sailing to New Potatoes
It's easier to say "New Potatoes" than Niuatoputapu, and every cruiser knows where you mean! Niuatoputapu is one of the islands that makes up the Kingdom of Tonga. Anthony leaves us on the 29th of this month from the bottom island, Tongatapu - so we have a month to explore them with him, before he leaves. Niuatoputapu is the northernmost visited island and one of the smallest. It was very badly damaged by the 2009 tsunami which badly affected the south coast of Samoa and Pago Pago in American
Robert Louis Stevenson is a big deal in Samoa. He settled here as the climate was good for his TB and was accepted by the locals. In fact he made many friends with the chiefs. You can't visit Samoa without seeing his former home which is now a museum. We turned up and was surprised to find a huge corporate event being set up. With the garlands and "Gift Distribustion" tent we wondered what was going on. Alas it was the closing down of Samoa's largest private employer! We had a tour of the m
Diving in Samoa
Trevor, the marina manager, recommended Dive and Snorkel Samoa as a better operation to go diving with then the more local one. Ty came and picked us up at 8am and we headed off to a small bay at the NE end of the island. We first had to pay the local to use their beach - in fact they had a little fale (guest hut) setup which we could use to shelter from the rain. It's unusual to be shore diving - it was Bonaire where we last did that. It was nice not to have to tow the dinghy too! The three o
Loving Samoa II
Today we got a hire car and set off to explore. Tom from Running Tide was joining us as well. We first headed to Samoa dive & Snorkel to firm up arrangements for a 2 tank dive on Monday. They were out diving though, so we headed to the Papapapai-tai falls. Not quite what we were expecting though and nowhere near as impressive as Keiteur, but a nice view, nonetheless. From there we headed to Togitogiga Falls for some swimming. The hire car broke down here - the rough track threw the positive b
We knocked a couple of boat jobs off the list and rewarded ourselves with a "fiafia" - a Samoan musical and dancing evening along with a Samoan feast. We chose to go to Aggie Greys though it's now a very wish Sheraton. The feast was superb. The whole pig cooked in the traditional umukua style was incredibly succulent with wonderful crackling. Palusami, coconut cream wrapped in taro, was also very delicious. As the host for the evening said "You need to have firsts, seconds and thirds. If you d