02/04/2012, Tauranga, New Zealand
We left Funafuti for Fiji at 7.20am on 5th November and had 590 miles to get to Lautoka. The first three days were a mixture of sailing and motor sailing until the SE trades kicked in. They finally set in at the 12.12 degrees south and we were able to cut the motor and were bowling along at between 5.5 & 7 knots. Fran & Dave went out East and we just headed straight south and so at one point they were 80 miles behind us. Certainly had a rougher sea than we had had for awhile!!
After hitting the 12 degree mark when the SE set in we then had 48 hours of really rough weather- anything from 15-40 knots over a 48 hour period - we were hard on and with 3 metre waves coming on to the beam of the boat made it pretty uncomfortable, even being well reefed down. I was in to the sea sickness pills. We finally hit the top of the Yasawas and then 10 miles south of that went to port to go into what is called Bligh Water and it was as bad, if not worse and had 25kts right on the nose. We had 28 miles to go across that before we could turn down to flat water in to the Inner passage. At about 5.00pm there was an awful bang from down below, couldn't see anything, checked the sails and rigging and then Dave walked along the deck and said "we have a problem", the deck had cracked and down in the main saloon the stainless steel dogs/lugs that support the side shrouds on the port side had snapped. We hurriedly took down the main and Dave rigged up some halyards for support but then with the rough seas and the pressure being applied to the rigging we were pretty worried that we might loose the mast. Dave also did a Gerry fix it job with vice grips which held all in place. However we finally got through that 28 miles which took us 5.5hrs and were then into calmer waters and at 3.45am on 10th November we found a calm anchorage (strictly illegal but we weren't going to attempt going in between reefs in the dark with unlit markers). Had a couple of hours sleep and then were away at 6.15am in calm waters to Lautoka where we dropped anchor at 10.55am on 10th November. Having got there discovered the starboard side s/s lugs/dogs were also broken. Unbelievable that it happened when these lugs are 20mm thick but guess it was just metal fatigue.
Spent the afternoon doing Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Health which all had their fees and ended up paying overtime for the latter. Don't know why we could not fill out some of the Customs form while waiting in the queue but that did not seem to be allowable.
The next morning (11th) we headed off to Vuda Point marina where we were leaving the boat for 12 days. The next morning we had a rigger in Fiji come and look at the repairs which needed to be done and he also took the alternator away to be rewound. All this being done while were were away for a week.
That afternoon (12th) we got a taxi from the marina to the airport where we then caught a bus to Pacific Harbour where we had booked a week in Fiji Palms timeshare. It was lovely to have a week in luxury and be off the boat after so long at sea. On the 14th our friends, Don & Linda Jenkins from San Francisco arrived and we had a great week there. Was really great to be eating salads and fresh vegetables again and I never cooked an evening meal the whole time we were in Fiji. We did a day trip up a river to a true Fijian village where they provided lunch and showed and displayed their crafts and also had a swim under a huge waterfall. All in all a great day out. Another day we went kayaking up the nearby lagoon where there are some fabulous houses, had a day in Suva where I got new lenses for my glasses as the special coating I had on mine was all coming off and I could hardly see out of them. Couldn't believe that they were done in just over an hour - progressive and transitional lenses for $NZ240.
Fran and Dave came for a night which was a barbecue night at the resort which we all enjoyed. We had an American couple (Fran & Ernie Hopcus) staying below us and we did a few things together, including going to a Japanese restaurant for dinner. They have been staying with family in Blenheim (NZ) for the past year and headed back there the day we all had to check out. The four of us caught a bus back to the Vuda Point turn off and then had a taxi pick us up and take us back to the marina on Saturday 19th.
The rigger did a great job on our repairs and we caught up with a few little jobs over the next three days, including filling our gas bottles. Also spent part of a day in Lautoka. Linda got a taxi to the airport on the morning of 23rd to fly to Auckland and then head up to Whangarei to spend the week with Geoff Kivell and Raewyn Park. After she left we headed over to the fuel dock and refueled (great not to have to do the carting of containers) and then motored on up to Lautoka. Went ashore 30 minutes before they were due to knock off for lunch but Customs would not clear us out as they said it took over an hour (a load of rubbish) so Dave went back at 2pm to do the job and was back on board for us to up anchor and leave Lautoka at 2.55pm. We motor sailed down to Momi Bay where we dropped anchor just after 7pm and spent the night for an early take off from Fiji to New Zealand.
02/04/2012, Tauranga, New Zealand
Have got a bit behind with our blog and thought after receiving an email from some fellow yachties who are in Borneo and interested in following in our tracks through to New Zealand that I had better get cracking and finish it off.
The trip from Tarawa to Funafuti, Tuvalu was virtually uneventful with a mixture of sailing and motor sailing although predominantly the latter. It was a 735 mile trip taking us 6 days. We had predominantly E to SE winds generally in the 5-6 knot range and we finally dropped anchor in Funafuti just before 6pm on 1st November, 2011. En route Dave had another birthday, one of many he has had over the last few years while on a passage.
Tuvalu is a very narrow atoll and they were having a severe drought with serious water problems and both New Zealand and Australia had sent up desalinators to help relieve the situation.
We enjoyed Funafuti and met some really nice people, including some Kiwis who administer a Trust Fund in Tuvalu and come over twice a year - two of them had family that Fran & Dave knew well, with one having them in Te Kauwhata. Half of one day was taken up getting fuel and then doing our clearances. A NZ Hercules flew in two days before we left to pick up Army personal who were dismantling the desalinators the NZ Govt had provided. All their breadfruit, banana & coconut trees were dying with the lack of water. Air Pacific flies in on a Tuesday and Thursday from Fiji so saw all that happening.
10/25/2011, Pacific Ocean
Our passage from Ebon to Tarawa was really a very nice and comfortable passage with virtually no wind and flat calm seas so had to motor sail the whole way and what little wind there was, was on the nose. On Monday, 17th October, while I was on watch we had the most magnificent sunrise and for the rest of the day we had absolute mirror glass sea and there was no differentiation between the sea and the sky - I have actually never seen anything quite like it. Took some wonderful photos of Melric 11 as they were motor sailing along with reflections of the boat in the water - was absolutely amazing. Being slow going we never dropped anchor at Tarawa in Kiribati (pronounced Kiribass - ti is pronounced s) until 0950hrs on Wednesday 19th October. We ended up having to wait 2 hours for Health and Customs and after we had had lunch the two Dave's decided they would go ashore to Immigration as it appeared that they were not going to come to the boat so had to take a 20 minute bus ride to go there. In the mean time Fran and I had a visit from Quarantine - we thought we had done that with Health but no such luck. Had drinks on board a US boat called Savannah that night who had arrived in that morning along with a couple of other yachts that were already in Tarawa.
Thursday morning we hit shore and had a look around what you could call of the so called town Betio and had lunch in town as well as going to an ATM to get money as they use Australian dollars and we had none. Also organized our fuel by tanker for the next morning to be delivered at the wharf (10am) and pumped in.
Friday morning, Melric 11 and us were at the wharf well before 10am to get our fuel and ended up being stuck there most of the day - tanker finally arrived at 2pm. Was a bit of a mission with their big hoses and Dave ended up covered in diesel with it backfiring up into his face etc. so he was not a happy chappy. Finally got back to the anchorage to hear that Savannah had been broken into while ashore and we were at the wharf and had two Apple Mac computers, Ipod, binoculars and various other things stolen. They had broken the lock with a crowbar which was left on board as well as a hat. The other two boats which were there when we arrived had also been broken into. It appears that boats on there own are targeted. The Police do not appear to be very concerned and you could say, were not that helpful.
The four of us were going to catch a bus to the Lagoon Club - a half hour bus ride- on Friday night to watch the Wales - Aussi game and as the two of us were anchored in front of us they were going to watch our boats, however Fran was not happy so she stayed behind. The two Dave's and I went and it took nearly an hour for us to catch a bus that was not full to get there, so consequently we missed the first 20 minutes. It was Election day in Kiribati and also pay day! An Aussi Expat gave us a ride back.
Saturday and Sunday were spent on board all day as it was pretty windy with it blowing straight into the harbor but by Sunday afternoon the wind had died down and the two Dave's and I caught a bus (we ended up only having a 5 minute wait) out to the Lagoon Club again to see the All Blacks finally win the World Cup. The broadcast actually came from Fiji Television and we were able to watch it being played on a big screen. It was certainly nerve wracking. We got a ride back again with the same guy as Friday night.
Monday morning we went to the supermarket to stock up on some supplies - weren't able to buy any fresh fruit or vegetables and then we watched Fran & Dave's boat while they went in. The guys then went later in the afternoon to do Customs and Immigration so we could leave early yesterday morning but no they weren't allowed to so had to go back yesterday morning and do it and we finally left the anchorage just after 11am
Seven miles out Dave noticed the rev counter had suddenly stopped working and that the batteries weren't being charged so we ended up stopping for 1 ½ hrs while Dave put the spare alternator on, had a few problems so in the end Dave C had to give a helping hand so finally we took off again at 3pm.
As usual we have very little wind and are motor sailing and we finally crossed the Equator at 4.15pm today so are now officially in the Southern Hemisphere. We are heading for Funafuti in Tuvalu which from the Equator is 612 miles where we will spend a couple of days and hopefully we can get more fuel and then straight on through to Fiji and hoping to arrive there on 10th November.