05-May 2011

Ryan’s 9th Birthday

Because we thought we would not be in New Zealand for Ryan’s birthday, we celebrated one week early in Whangerai. It was the easiest birthday party ever!! Like custom, I made the cake and Chris decorated it with the birthday boy. We brought the cake and 5 litres of hokey pokey ice cream to the park and 20 kids ate with gusto! It was all gone in a matter of minutes.

When Ryan’s real birthday came along and we were still in Whangerai, he got to have a second birthday party. What a lucky lad.

A weather window?

Our weather windows keep disappearing, we think we will be leaving so we check out and pay the marina, call the customs to book a time, then the weather changes so we need to do it all over again!! The weather changes here faster than we can study it.

How many spares are enough?

Making room for everything is always such a headache!! On board, we have an extra dingy, extra sails (more since we bought the new ones in Auckland), extra school books, extra wifi equipment, extra laptops, tools, spare parts etc.

Where to store all this? That is the question. There is only so much room, but something has to give. It is so hard for me to get rid of our stuff but the foremost thought must be to keep the boat light, do we really need all this stuff? So we got rid of books, toys, clothes, games, etc. Bags and bags of stuff gone off the boat. At least we know it is going to a good home, there a few boats that took people's extras to bring to the islands.

You can check out but you can never leave.

We have been waiting almost 3 weeks now for a weather window to leave New Zealand, we finally left on Friday the 13th (bad omen?) 18 miles out we ripped our main sail(yes the brand new one!!!) and had to turn around leaving our buddy boat to head off on their own. Fortunately North Sails was extremely accommodating. They had someone meet us that night to help take down the sail and bring it to the loft, then they had the head sewer come in on a Saturday to fix it and also drive it back down here to us from Auckland.

So as of now we have our sail back all in all took 24 hours, however the winds out there are expected to be 50 knots tomorrow night so we ain't going nowhere!

May 17, 2011 - Passage to Fiji – 1220.58nm

The passage to Fiji was not an easy one, in fact it was right up there with one of the most difficult passages for us. We had very heavy seas and high winds the whole time, we only used our motor for nine hours out of the eight days (at least we saved on diesel). The winds were very gusty and squally all the time, therefore we were constantly reefing the main, unreefing the main, reefing the genoa and unreefing the genoa and always, always keeping an eye on the wind speed in case we needed to act quickly to change something.

We had rain and lightening, but we also had lots of rainbows, albatross and other sea birds to watch. We did catch a couple of fish, one mahi mahi and one tuna. But most importantly, we had winds from the South West, South, and South East which if you are heading North from New Zealand you want to have. Each day we were able to take a layer of clothes off. We started with hats, scarves, mitts, long underwear and layers of fleece. It was so cold. As we moved North, it got warmer and warmer. The only thing we did have to wear which we have never had to before on a passage was our foul weather gear, I mean the whole outfit, gortex pants, gortex hood, gortex jacket and rainboots. The cockpit was just soaked the whole time and this if very rare for us.

The kids and I kid you not, didn’t notice anything. They have their happy routine of reading books and listening to books on CD in the morning, then they get their computer time at 1300 and at 1500 they get to watch a movie until dinner. They couldn’t have been happier.

There was a group of boats who left a week before us and they had winds out of the North the whole time they were out, they had a miserable passage and it took them longer to get to Fiji. We waited for winds from the South and so at least all the waves and wind were behind us. It definitely is worth waiting for the right weather (and who cares how long that is) than leaving in the wrong weather!

We arrived in Savu Savu to rain and dark clouds. We got a mooring buoy, the Copra Shed Marina organized our check in and an hour later we were at the local hangout across the street having a $2.00 beer! We are tired but we are here. The boat handled beautifully like usual. It sure knows what it is doing out there (more than I do) just like the subject line of an email I just received regarding our boat– “Antares: The boat that doesn’t cry!” I have to agree.

Sad information regarding a fellow cruiser

We found out after our arrival in Fiji that one of the boats that had left a few days before us decided to switch course and head for Suva instead of Savu Savu. They arrived at 3:00 in the morning and hit the reef. From what I have heard, the chartplotter had gone out, the Captain had been up for 3 days solid, the crew wanted off the boat, and he fell asleep just outside the reef. They are still trying to salvage the boat but one of her hulls is split wide open. On May 31st there is a king tide so that is one more opportunity to get if off the reef, if that fails then the boat is gone. We all know how close we all can come to disaster, things happen fast out here if something goes wrong and our hearts are out to Troutbridge right now and all our best on getting her salvaged.

We have been resting up since our arrival, trying to finish the school year as fast as we can. We have done a few fun things – the kids went out with the local sailing school to sail opti’s on Saturday morning, we went to a womens fundraising events and bought a woven mat and tapa and had tea and cakes in the back of the market, unfortunately it rained so hard it was a washout.

We did what the locals do, and cooked our dinner in the hotsprings. We started out with just boiling a few eggs and that worked out so well that we upgraded to a whole meal. Here is the recipe: Put fresh caught tuna, potatoes and greens in one pot. Stick it in the hot springs, put a few towels over the pot, leave for 2 hours and go to happy hour, retrieve. Carry to dingy and get it back into the boat without burning yourself or dingy. Enjoy.