Posted at 13:11h
June 9 & 10, Day
We are continuing to
sail westward (and northward) on the great Pacific, traveling from Opua, New
Zealand to Savusavu, Fiji! We expect a 7-10 day journey with a possible stop at
Minerva Reef. We are on Day 2. We left the dock yesterday, Sunday at noon. We
motored out of the Bay of Islands marina, then anchored while Dick cleaned the
bottom. After being in the Marina for two months there was build up on the
bottom, including lots of barnacles. Dick was able to tryout his new toy, a
diving hooka. (It is kinda like scuba gear, but the compressor stays on the
boat, so it is easier to swim around). After the Captain was happy with the bottom
cleaning and had taken a hot shower, we pulled up anchor at 1500 and departed
the Bay of Islands. After 6 plus months, we are leaving New Zealand! On the AIS
we could see sv Tioga (with captain Frazier, who we met in Tonga), further
ahead was sv Whisper and sv Ice Bear. We have all scattered, the last boat we
saw on AIS was Ice Bear early this afternoon. So far, our patience waiting for
a weather window has paid off!
It is now Tuesday at
0200, I have another hour on my night shift. The weather has been calm and
gentle. We had no wind until this evening around 2100, when I came on shift.
The wind began picking up, so out went the genoa, engine went off and we
started sailing! We had been “motor-sailing” (when there is little or no wind,
commonly we sail with one or two of the sails out, the sails may provide a
little propulsion, but most of it comes from the engine.) Having a sail out
also helps the boat stabilize a bit against the swell. Tonight, we’ve had wind
between 8-16 knots. Since it is right on the nose we’ve been sailing
close-hauled and had to tack once so far. It feels great to have the engine off
and sails out.
It is always difficult
at the beginning of a passage, luckily, we have had good weather. I’ve been
feeling tired, and sometimes wondering, why are we doing this? I know I am not
the only one who has a hard time adjusting back to life at sea. At the
beginning of our journey (2016) we met sy Anna Caroline (a Dutch couple) at the
northern end of Vancouver Island who had sailed all the way from Holland to
British Columbia. They talked about how the first several days of a passage is
always hard, they joked about always wanting to sell the boat. We have never
felt that distraught, but I do wonder… Are there people who do really enjoy
this? (If you do, please comment!)
Thursday, June 12; Day
1200 Here we are, out on
the wild blue Pacific! When I crawled out of the quarter-berth this morning,
Dick said look ahead. Much to my surprise, there was a sailboat at about 10
degrees, she was going to be passing our bow, about a mile ahead. Dick had been
tracking sv Ice Bear, for a while. They first appeared on our AIS and then when
they were about 3 miles away, Dick could see them on our radar. She looked
beautiful in the deep blue water with the beautiful light blue sky, scattered
with clouds behind. We called and chatted with them on the radio, all was well
aboard with their 3-person crew. Ice Bear was one of the boats that left
Opua with us and are also on their way to Fiji.
I feel a little piece
of mind knowing that other boats are in our vicinity. We also have an email
check-in group with others that left Opua in the same weather window. Last
evening, we heard that another boat who had left Opua on the same day, had put
out a Mayday distress call. (This was downgraded to urgent.) They had lost some
of their rigging, so their mast was compromised, but were working on a fix and felt
they had enough fuel to make it back to Opua. (This did change, they ended
up abandoning ship and were airlifted to shore, leaving their boat out at sea.
The boat was recovered several days later! Uggg)
Today is a beautiful
sunny day, with a few clouds around. We’ve had good winds from the South West,
15-20 knots all day. We’re sailing at a broad reach and Maia is enjoying speeds
of 6-8 knots. We have a reefed main, full genoa and staysail set. Swell is 2-3
meters from the SE, so we are getting some surfing in. Spirits are high as we
make our way North. We are about 2 days out from Minerva Reef, we will stop
there if it behooves us.
Yesterday, Wednesday, we
had a front come thru that brought afternoon showers and a lull in the wind. Dick
took a lot of the afternoon shift, while I caught up on sleep! By sunset
the front had passed, we were sailing again, had a peaceful night, a waxing
moon that set around 0100, then a starry sky filled the night.
Meals have been going
well, as we froze meals before our journey and filled up our new Engel freezer.
It has been nice to pull meals out each day for dinner and then easily cook
them in the oven or on the stove top. Tonight, we’ll have chicken soup and
quesadillas (with fresh avocado). We’ll probably snack on some of our homemade
pickles, for appetizers :-). For breakfast we eat separately (as I am sleeping
in after staying up on my shift until 0300-0430). We’ve been enjoying Lala’s (that’s
me) homemade granola. For lunch we also prepare our own, whenever the mood
Saturday, June 15; Days
5 – 6
Friday, day five we
had lots of wind, beautiful sailing weather and a clear almost full moon. As
the winds blew from 18 – 23 knots, all day (and night) the swell got lumpy and
made it difficult for moving about and sleeping.
Lighter winds returned
this morning and the swell has mellowed. We turned the engine on at 1100 and
have been put, put, putting all day (into the night). The weather has warmed,
and it felt Hot this afternoon! No foulies (foul weather gear) worn
It is a quiet and calm
night, and the clouds are spread across the sky. The moon has peeked out a few
times from the thin clouds that give a pinkish tint to the sky. The moonlight shining
through the clouds, gives off enough light to see all around. With the calmness,
there is a distinct 360 horizon.
The night shifts have
gone well. Is this because of the long naps, the fullish moon? Why do I (Laura)
get energized at midnight, 0100, 0200? Listening to podcasts, writing, playing
word games, all seem to help with the late night / early morning awakeness.
Sometimes, I “daydream” as I gaze at the open ocean, moon and stars.
Seeing a shooting star seems to deliver a small bolt of light and energy into
the quiet night.
It is now Sunday at 0420
and South Minerva reef is 10 (cautious) miles off to our Starboard side. We
will be heading into the reef pass on the north west side of North Minerva reef
and will enter after dawn using the GPS waypoints we used (and confirmed)
during our visit last October.
Sunday, June 16;
We entered the pass at
0800 and made our way to our old anchorage on the NE side. Sel Citron was also
anchored there. We tried to give them a wide enough berth so they did not feel
imposed upon. Sel Citron has been part of our email check-in group, we were
hoping to meet them later in the day and possibly get a little socializing
It took us a bit of
time to get the anchor down, (finding just the right spot.) Also, had to gaze
and be amazed at the clear beautiful water. I called Dick up on deck to see the
heap of chain sitting on the bottom, that we could clearly see 30 feet below.
We had a delicious
Sunday Father’s Day brunch, followed by naps, although I found it hard to
sleep. It was so quiet, hearing only the sound of the waves hitting the reef and
the bubbles coming up from the bottom of the boat. It felt wonderful being
anchor down inside this seemingly calm reef.
We decided to get the
dingy off the deck and get her ready, so we could escape the confines of our 41-foot
tiny home. We found this a warm process, and both jumped in the beautiful warm
greenish, blue tropical water. Captain Dan from Sel Citron stopped by to share
his stories of hunting the crayfish and invited us to join him and his crew for
dinner at 1730 ish. We continued to enjoy our quiet afternoon, checked the
weather and discussed boat projects that should be completed before leaving
Minerva reef. We had an entertaining evening on Sel Citron. It was great to get
off Maia and party with the “boys”. They had fresh fish for appetizers, huge
crayfish (lobster) tails for dinner, we brought a salad, Dan made a tasty
dessert and plenty of wine was shared.
Monday, we caught up
on some extra sleep, made water with our watermaker and diesel generator. Dick
worked on the Genoa reefing line that was chaffing. We checked the weather and
got in touch with Bruce, the weather router, who confirmed that leaving Tuesday
morning around 1000, would be good to make it to Savusavu by Friday afternoon. We
hoisted the dingy, tied her on deck and got Maia ready for our continued
passage to Fiji.
We enjoyed a beautiful
sunset and full moon rise with Minerva Reef all to ourselves. Quite the surreal
experience being the only ones enjoying this magical place.
Thursday, June 20; Day
At 1100 the wind is
blowing slightly, the swell has gained a little punch, we are motor-sailing
with the main and genoa. By tomorrow, Friday afternoon we want to be into
Savusavu! Because of this, we are on a time schedule. Fiji is strict about
check-in, if you are outside of “regular” business hours (M-F),
overtime charges apply. Currently, it’s hard to just sail, because our
speed goes way down and then we are worried about not arriving on time. So, we
are motor-sailing, but the engine is driving me CRAZY! It’s probably a
combination of everything, bigger swell = queasy stomach = sea sickness =
feeling super crappy = seasick meds = tiredness = crankiness & negativity ☹
We spotted land by
1200, the southern Fijian island of Mataku! We still had to sail North, to an
approved port for check-in. In the afternoon the wind picked up, and we started
sailing! Unfortunately, along with the wind the swell also picked up. We took
turns on the helm, alternating with napping, though I napped more and by late
afternoon we had a nice steady wind with bigger swell (2-3 meters), we were
bumping around quite a bit. We’d been sailing 7-7.5 knots all afternoon; we
were now making great time with arrival into Savusavu by early morning. By the
time I started my nightshift, we were able to furl the genoa to make things a
little more comfortable. Our max speed for the day was 10.6!!!, with an
average speed of 6.47 – wow, that’s a good sailing day!
Friday, June 21 (Happy
Solstice, we are going into longer days 😊)
Around 0500 we rounded
Karo Island and then had a straight shot for Savusavu. As we neared the Island
of Vanua Levu, the winds slowed, and we leisurely made our way into the
Savusavu Bay. We called the Copra Shed Marina on the radio several times, but only
received a reply when were almost in front of the Marina. The good news was
that they had a mooring ball available for Maia. The even better news and
surprise was that our friends Lisa and Henk, from Harlequin, were there and
tied up to the dock! (They had left New Zealand about 6 weeks earlier.) Also,
awaiting our arrival was Jennifer and Mark, mv Starlett, who had left New
Zealand a day before us.
The marina guy, Siti
motored out to us in his small tender, pointed us in the direction of the
mooring and handed us our mooring ball line with a winning smile. He let us
know that we would first be visited aboard by Health. Because another sailboat
arrived just before us, the health officer would visit them first and then come
to Maia. We took the dingy off the deck, mounted the motor and got it ready to
motor the officials to and from Maia. We had just finished getting the dingy
ready when the health officer was dropped off on Maia, from our new neighbor,
also checking into Fiji. After we answered the officers questions, he filled
out forms, warned us about not drinking the tap water, and keeping protected
from Mosquitoes, he signed us off and told us we could take down the quarantine
flag! Dick dingied him into the dock and we awaited the visit of the Immigration
Our visit with
Immigration and Biosecurity went well. The officers were friendly, questions
were answered, forms were completed. We were cleared to move about in Savusavu.
We still had to apply for our Cruising Permits so we would be allowed to visit
the outlying islands.
When we enter a new country we purposely enter with little or no
fresh produce, eggs, honey as these are items that are commonly confiscated.
However, the little we had, was not taken :-). (Yea, I got to keep my New
Our next task was walking
into town, finding an ATM to purchase Fijian dollars!