22 October 2007 | Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
21 October 2007 | Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
19 October 2007 | Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
17 October 2007 | Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
16 October 2007 | Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
15 October 2007 | Tomba Noloma Bay, Viti Levu, Fiji
14 October 2007 | Nananu-I-Ra Island, Fiji
13 October 2007 | Naingani Island, Fiji
12 October 2007 | Makongai Island, Fiji
11 October 2007 | Makongai Island, Fiji
10 October 2007 | Lesiceva Pt., Vanua Levu Island, Fiji
09 October 2007 | Savusavu, Fiji
08 October 2007 | Savusavu, Fiji
07 October 2007 | Savusavu, Fiji
05 October 2007 | Savusavu, Fiji
04 October 2007 | En route from Neiafu, Tonga to Savusavu, Fiji
03 October 2007 | En route from Neiafu, Tonga to Levuka, Fiji
02 October 2007 | En route from Neiafu, Tonga to Levuka, Fiji
01 October 2007 | Neiafu, Tonga
29 September 2007 | Vava'u Island, Tonga
Monday, November 12, 2007 - New Zealand at Last
12 November 2007 | Opua, New Zealand
Sand Dollar tied up to the quarantine dock at 11 o'clock last night at Opua, NZ to conclude the last passage of a 7-month cruise of the South Pacific. The passage was 1149 miles covered in nine days of mostly upwind sailing with two days of motoring in light winds. The sailing was "spirited" and, at times, uncomfortable. There were several days of high anxiety concerning a severe weather system that was forecast to bring storm conditions. Fortunately it did not occur. All-in-all it was a very good, fast trip and lived up to its reputation of not being for the faint of heart.
I am happy to be in New Zealand, one of my favorite places on earth and look forward to five months of local cruising in the Bay of Islands, fly fishing for trout in the South Island, and working on the boat. There are many cruising friends here whom I have met along the way and I feel fortunate to be among such a great group of people. We all rely on each other for technical assistance, aid in times of crisis, information of any sort, and emotional support. It is like one big international family following the same dream. Many of us do not yet know what we will do when the offshore cruising season resumes next April. There are many choices and lots of time to think about them.
This blog will be taking a break from regular reporting while I am land-bound and, except for occasional log entries describing inland travel, fly fishing, and wine tasting, will not resume until next April. I appreciate all of the comments sent and will finally be able to respond to them now that decent internet service is available. In the next few weeks I will be adding more photos to the gallery and inserting images into the existing daily reports. If you have enjoyed this blog and have not commented, please let me know who you are and send any suggestions you may have for improving its content. I would love to hear from you. Thank you for your interest and support.
Don Pratten s/v Sand Dollar Opua, New Zealand
Sunday, November 11, 2007 - Day 9 of Passage: Land Ho!
11 November 2007 | En Route from Fiji to New Zealand
Land was sighted this late afternoon about 30 miles distant through heavy clouds. It will still be another six hours before Sand Dollar is tied to the quarantine dock at Opua, NZ. The sailing has been very fast on this last day of the passage with winds 20 to 30 knots on the beam and 6-8 ft. seas. We have been "packing on the canvas" to get there as soon as possible. We are tired and cold. Today's noon-to-noon distance was 144 miles for an average speed of 6 kts. Landfall will be sometime around 11 PM. tonight.
All else is well onboard.
Saturday, November 10, 2007 - Day 8 of Passage: Weather Reprieve
10 November 2007 | En Route from Fiji to New Zealand
Tomorrow I hope to give thanks to the weather gods for moving the gale to some other part of the ocean. This morning's report was extremely encouraging. The low pressure system to the northwest of us and the high pressure system to the south were predicted to create a "squash zone", an area in which isobars are squeezed together producing very high winds. The squash zone is now almost certain to be located several hundred miles to the north, instead of right on top of us. We will still feel the effects but the wind will probably not be over 30 knots.
The noon-to-noon distance for today was a paltry 104 miles because of head winds and constant tacking. This gives an average speed of only 4.3 knots. As of 7 PM the wind has veered to the east and kicked up to 15 kts providing a much better sailing angle and speeds of 6 kts. The remainder of the passage, 164 miles, should be fast with an ETA in Opua, NZ sometime around midnight tomorrow.
All else is well onboard. The nights are getting much colder
Friday, November 9, 2007 - Day 7 of Passage: Nasty Weather
09 November 2007 | En Route from Fiji to New Zealand
The weather has deteriorated such that we are making very slow progress toward New Zealand. We made 95 miles noon-to-noon today for an average speed of 4 knots. However, only about 50 miles of that was actually forward progress. The rest was zig-zagging back and forth, tacking before the wind. The weather is predicted to become ugly in 2-3 days so we are hoping to make it into port before the "big blow" comes. All we can do is hope for an improvement and, in the meantime, get ready for rough conditions.
All else is well onboard. We are trying to get rest and prepare food for the next couple of days.
Thursday, November 8, 2007 - Day 7 of Passage: Slow Going
08 November 2007 | En Route from Fiji to New Zealand
The wind has been "on the nose" almost all day so progress has been slow. Our noon-to-noon distance for today was 105 miles for an average speed of 4.4 knots. At present, the wind is out of the south at 15-20 kts so we are only making about 4 kts toward Opua, NZ, 317 miles distant. Tomorrow's weather calls for more of the same. If we average 100 miles per day we will make landfall late on Sunday the 11th.
All else is well onboard. We finally landed a fish after losing the last two. It was a 30 lb bigeye tuna. Yum!
Wednesday, November 7, 2007 - Day 5 of Passage: Whale Sighted
07 November 2007 | En Route from Fiji to New Zealand
We were under power all last night because of very light winds but were able to sail during the day. The wind has not been over 10 knots so the going has been slow. I am trying to preserve fuel in case we have head winds and need to run the engine as we get closer to New Zealand. The noon-to-noon distance for today was 116 miles for an average speed of 4.8 kts.
This afternoon I heard a "whoosh" but saw nothing immediately. A few minutes later a whale of unknown species surfaced twice behind the boat and then disappeared. My crew, Uri, was quite anxious to snap a photo but he was not quick enough. It was the first whale he had ever seen.
All else is well onboard. We have been dragging a flying fish behind the boat as bait but there are no takers.