14 January 2016 | Auckland
23 August 2015 | Beverage Reef
20 August 2015 | in transit to Tonga
Hanmer Springs, N.Z.
19 January 2016
Mac/ partial clouds/ 60s
Tuesday 1/19/2016 Hanmer Springs
We're driving into the mountains today. Well it's more like the foothills--maybe 1,200 feet, but it snows in the winter. It's summer here now. We soaked in the Hot Springs today. We chatted with a Scot who had been coming here for 3 years and he said the minerals work miracles on the lungs and the sinuses. He was a submariner before he retired. (I was thinking that the miracle was that he is above water now, but I'll see how we feel tomorrow.) Doing touristy things. Lots of very soft Merino wools, although one of the weavers said that possum (opossum) was the softest of all. Apparently, they somehow weave the fur "fibers" into yarn in some fashion. It is very soft and very expensive. Nice hikes all over.
Our first Cyclone came through the region in the last week. It's track was like a "pin ball" starting above Fiji, easting to Tonga, swinging back south of Fiji, heading west toward Vanuatu and New Caledonia then turning back east north of New Zealand before dying out. None of it came near us or Australia but it was interesting to watch. The Rule: you can't tell where it is going to go--so don't be out there. Everyone we know is following that rule; so we are all well away from any danger
Happy New Year from Auckland
14 January 2016 | Auckland
mac/ sunny and high 70s
Having left the Kook in Manly, Au and flown to Auckland, we’ve been traveling around the north island of New Zealand since 12/16. We stayed at a couple of B&Bs called “bachs” here and visited cruising friends who made this their final stop for the cyclone season. Gorgeous low rolling green hills and water everywhere. The weather has been interesting. It is much like the northwest in June—warm sunny days alternating with rainy cool ones.
The kids-Casey, Britt and Ben flew in to Auckland on Christmas day. We had rented a house in Matakana near Warkworth near the Eastern beaches north of Auckland. It was a great visit for us (I hadn’t had any face to face contact for about 13 months). They are off now and back home and we are traveling again.
Tonight we fly to the south island landing at Christchurch. Amanda, of the sloop Clark Gable (e.g. Gone with the Wind), who we met in Fiji with her husband Terry, had given up their house to us between Christmas and New Years and extended her hospitality by mapping out a land course for us through the south island. We’ll let you know how it goes!
In our absence, our sails are being inspected and a new boom blank is being shipped in from Western Australia. Wouldn’t you know, the distributor for my spars is on the west coast with our boat on the east coast with 90% of the Australian population and her boats. Go figure.
So what have we seen and learned. The people are great. Gracious to a fault; though a bit pressured in the cities like everywhere else in the world. Whangerei (pronounced Fangera) is the place to base your boat if you want access to every part and service needed within a walk around town. It’s a great little town as well. They have an iconic tree here, the Kauri, something like how we view our giant Redwoods. We saw one that had been excavated and carbon-dated. It was 2,000 years old when it fell and that had occurred 30,000 years earlier. It was still millable for wood uses. This wood is “hard” and was used extensively in construction in the 1800s and 1900s.
Deforestation has now taken its toll and the species is protected now. But trees are still found buried in swamps, perfectly preserved over thousands of years. It also makes great furniture. We were able to tour a museum dedicated to this giant tree. The gum industry was fascinating. The sap (gum) was harvested from the tree. It’s a bit like our maple syrup but the sap dries hard. It is used for jewelry and as a harder in varnishes. Similar to what we call amber. Very well done!
More later on the zoo (had to see a Kiwi before leaving) and Mauri Pa (village/fort).
Well, all for now. We are leaving our little motel at Mission Bay in Auckland.
Savu Savu, Fiji
24 September 2015
Wendy's off getting her second massage in a week. I'm hopeful that this is a record, but I'm doubtful. We mailed off our purchases to date to the States. This is the result of restrictive import conditions in Australia. It's just easier, we hope this way. No confiscations or fumigations and more room on the boat. Wendy is keeping her black pearl collection on the boat, but my carved wood bowls and our woven baskets are in the shipment.
We had a meeting of friends to settle out our route around the big island thru the reefs to Vuda Point our next official destination. We picked up all the waypoints from experienced cruisers in town. We have 3 packages of a 1/3 kilo of cava root on board now. This is the customary gift to village chief as we ask for permission to anchor off their island. Here, each bay, island, near waters and tidelands are privately owned by a family and administered by a village led by a Chief. The cava ceremony is really a request for permission to stay on our part. And, if granted, we become members of the village during our stay entitled to all the assistance and support that would be given to any other members of the village--on the Chief's part.
We've tasted cava before in Tonga. It's tan, milky drink that often tastes peppery and numbs the mouth. Traditionally, the root was prepared by village women chewing the root which was then placed in a bag (like cheese cloth) and stirred into water in a large wood bowl, then ladled into a wooden cup and passed from person to person around the big bowl. Thing are a bit more hygienic now with the root being ground instead of chewed. But the common cup is still passed from person to person. The ceremony can go on for hours, but the minimum is three rounds with the cup. We're also moving into more remote areas where money has little value. Everything is based on trading. We'll be carrying small parcel of staples and other desirables worth about $2.50 to trade for vegetables, fruits and other perishables. I'll let you know how it goes.
It's still raining here although the day has been sunny so far. We expect to get back to rain and limited visibility any time. It is slowing our departure for a bit. If you can't see reefs you can't travel around them.
21 September 2015
Taking day trips from the harbor to get some quiet and snorkel. Jacques Cousteau has a hotel here. His son Michelle owns it now. A bit dear because the rooms start at $2,000/night. But not a problem for us; we just anchor out front for free. Waiting for a weather window to head between the main islands down to Nadi to paint bottom, etc. before crossing to the west.
18 September 2015
We had a tsunami warning yesterday. This was connected with the big earthquake in Chile. Very sad. For us it was, in the end, a non-event. I say, in the end, because when we found out about it, it was supposed to hit us with a 1 mt wave in 25 minutes. There wasn't time to check it out with another source and still get out boats out to deep water. We were mooring in a fairly shallow creek but the bay outside had about 150 feet of water. So five of us dropped our mooring and got to deep water only to find out that, had we time, we would have found that the time was UTC or Zulu meaning the arrival was actually 12 hours later or 1:38am, not 1:38 pm today.
So we looked a little foolish, but better safe that sorry. As it turned out parts of the Marquesas' got a 4 foot wave, not pleasant but manageable if you're off any dock. We in Fiji didn't even notice it. I heard that New Zealand got a bit of a bump in places. The adventure continues.
17 September 2015
Arrived in Savusavu on Tuesday at 8pm. Surfing the waves the last day out. But cloudy and rainy. Just like home, put on long pants for a couple hours for the first time in months. Entered the bay between two reefs. An easy process until we got to the creek where the marina was and started looking for a mooring. Fortunately several friends knew we were arriving and had reserved a mooring. Matt from Perry was there in his dingy holding up the mooring line for us because it was hanging underwater and out of our reach. Finally, a full night's sleep. We always look forward to this first night in town.
Our passage thru the Lau Islands and up to Savusavu was uneventful. The same couldn't be said for our buddy boat, Aussie Rules. They ran into a pod of sperm whales that were surfacing right at their boat. At one point a male charged the stern and was about to hit the rudder. A scary proposition when the whale is twice the length of your boat and much, much heavier. Dave was heading away from every direction he had available without success. Rose, of course, was out with her ipad filming as much as possible. A very scaring time for them for about 10 minutes until the whales got bored and headed off. Were they playing? Were they mad? You can never know. We don't have any experience with sperm whales, only the humpback. It's entertaining to hear these stories, but terrifying to experience them. We saw them at a distance about an hour later, but they stayed off.
We checked in with bio-security, health, customs and immigration right at our boat. Jolene always arranges this so we don't have to go all over town tracking down the officials and their offices. People here, like everywhere so far, are very helpful, friendly and content with their lives. The ethnicity is changing with islanders, Melanesians, and Hindis and some others making up the population.
Savusavu is a great little town. Curley, an xpatriot kiwi came and stayed 46 years ago, runs the net and does a great job telling us what's going on. We spent the first couple of days exploring town; buying groceries (not that we need any)and trying out the geothermal hot springs. Wendy's on a roll and quickly booked a massage after loosening up in the springs. Jolene runs the small marina and is fantastic. Moorings are $3/nite. Everything is inexpensive here. I just bought some vegetable at the outdoor market. For $6 dollars Fijian, I got 3 tomatoes, a bunch of bok choy, head of lettuce, a cucumber and a bunch of beans. By the by, that's $3 US. Our typical lunch of fish, rice, salad will be about the same. Yes, it is cheaper to eat out than to eat on the boat. We've been catching up with friends during the day and at night.
We should be heading out to split rock for some snorkeling later today and then back to the harbor for a dingy raft and cocktails. Cruisers like to bring their dingyies together tied up to each other and drift thru the anchorage sharing snacks as they trade stories, plans and information. Great fun!