Our Next 30 Years

30 May 2017 | 18 07.3'S:178 25.4'E, Royal Suva Yacht Club Anchorage, Suva, Fiji
28 May 2017 | 20 29.9'S:177 18.2'E,
28 May 2017 | 22 09.9'S:176 41.8'E, Lost
27 May 2017 | 23 43.9'S:175 53.6'E,
25 May 2017 | 25 34.7'S:175 51.4'E,
24 May 2017 | 29 09.3'S:175 31.2'E, Halfway Point
23 May 2017 | 29 09.3'S:175 31.2'E,
22 May 2017 | 31 24.06'S:174 39.74'E,
21 May 2017 | 33 35.6'S:174 21.4'E, Departure from Bay of Islands
06 May 2017 | Opua, Bay of Islands, NZ
30 April 2017 | 35 19.0'S:174 07.2'E, Bay of Islands Marina, Opua, NZ
21 April 2017 | Opua, Bay of Islands, NZ
19 April 2017 | Opua, Bay of Islands, NZ
16 April 2017 | Opua, Bay of Islands, NZ
15 April 2017 | Opua, Bay of Islands, NZ
14 April 2017 | Opua, Bay of Islands, NZ
09 April 2017 | Opua, Bay of Islands, NZ
01 April 2017 | Kiakoura, NZ
25 March 2017 | Te Anau, NZ
18 March 2017 | Wellington, NZ

Day 9 - NZ to Suva

30 May 2017 | 18 07.3'S:178 25.4'E, Royal Suva Yacht Club Anchorage, Suva, Fiji
We arrived Suva around noon local time. We had quite a ride getting here after winds built to 25kts plus last night. Once again I was reminded why we reef before night fall after pronouncing that we would go for it, and not reef so we could keep our speed up and try to arrive in Suva before dark the next day. By 8 PM I had woken the crew and we were putting the first reef in and before midnight the second call went out and the second reef was put in place. With the 2nd reef we were able to keep the boatspeed under double digits, and the comfort level higher. By daybreak the winds had eased and it was time to shake a reef out -WRONG. Luckily I elected to do a few housekeeping jobs (dumping the holding tanks) and let people get some breakfast before tackling that job. Good thing! within 30 minutes the winds were back in the 20-25kt raange and there was no doubt that we would make it to Suva before nightfall. Cindy made us a great lunch of chicken curry and rice while we waited for Customs to arrive and clear us in. We will have 4-5 days at least here in Suva to do a little sight seeing, provisioning and some time to work through a short list of things that were not as they should be on the passage. While this was certainly not the passage that had been forecast, it could have been much worse - as our experience last year reminds us. The take-away is that forecasting the weather during these transition times of year is still difficult, dispite todays technology.

Day 8 - NZ to Suva

28 May 2017 | 20 29.9'S:177 18.2'E,
Wind at last! Finally, around 8AM this morning the winds built to 8-10kts and came aft enough that we could put up the screacher. Since then the winds have built to 12kts (white caps just starting to show) and come aft a little more. This means that we are happy sailors moving along at 8-10kts! I am expecting that the wind will increase a little more by this afternoon and we will have to put the screacher away. That means we will slow down a bit, but still should be able to have what we need to make landfall tomorrow! Cindy is putting lunch (mushroom risotto and grilled chicken) on the table so it's time to go.

Day 7 - NZ to Suva

28 May 2017 | 22 09.9'S:176 41.8'E, Lost
Yes, we somehow lost a day? How did that happen? Here is what you missed - The seas were relatively calm. The winds were light. We motor-sailed the entire day. I was frustrated because we could never get quite enough wind to sail without the motors. Everyone read books or listened to books. Cindy, Malcolm and Dina played dominoes. The end.

Day 6 - NZ to Suva

27 May 2017 | 23 43.9'S:175 53.6'E,
Last evening we turned north and put the last few thunderstorm cells behind us from the nasty trough that decided to crash our passage to Fiji. The breeze filled in nicely and we had a quiet night with minimal motion (compared to the prior nights). This moning we turned to the northeast and started heading more directly towards Fiji. Unfortunately the trailing ridge that was associated with the trough and low, is keeping the wind speeds down, so we are motor-sailing today as the winds turn to the SW, Southerly and hopefully before too long back to the SE where all of this started. There are always breakdowns on a passage, and this one has been no different. A few days before we left Opua, we discovered that our Maretron WSO100 weather sensor was not providing valid Windspeed or Direction information (temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, etc were ok). The factory had replaced the unit over the winter when it had failed last season, and all was working just fine af ter I re-installed the unit at the masthead. It has really been a challenge to sail this passage without the WD/WS information constantly in front of us on a back-lit screen. I actually had to go outside and feel the wind on my face, and if I was really curious look up at the masthead fly (Windex). And at the most challenging times, like when it was raining or at night even. I don't know how I sailed all those years in dinghies and keelboats without an electronics package! And yet another important milestone was reached on our passage north - we put on the solar shades over the windows, and I changed to shorts and a t-shirt, with no socks. So I guess we are officially in the tropics!

Day 5 - NZ to Suva

25 May 2017 | 25 34.7'S:175 51.4'E,
We made it through the gauntlet of squalls last night. Besides the winds - gusting over 30kts, the rain - incredibly hard at times, and the waves - crashing over the coachroof from time to time, we had - lightening! I don't like lightening on the water - enough said. It all started around 6M and didn't finish until around 4AM. We are now sailing upwind to the WNW - away from Fiji, waiting for the windshift that will signal the passing of the low associated with this nasty trough, so that we can tack back to the north and continue on our way to Fiji. After reviewing the latest grib files, surface charts and satellite imagery (and most importantly in consultation with our weather router - Bruce Buckley) we are guessing that winshift will come later this afternoon.

Day 4 - NZ to Suva

24 May 2017 | 29 09.3'S:175 31.2'E, Halfway Point
Did I ever comment how difficult it is to forecast the weather a week into the future? Well, we seem to have missed a small low and associated trough that is about to make things difficult for us. If you are watching our track and wondering why we aren't heading directly to Fiji, this is why. We hit the trifecta. A cloudline this morning drained our wind and headed us to the west, as we avoided the storm cells. While we are back in more favorable wind for the time being, another cloudline is approaching tonight that will give us another round of squalls and windless patches. Then on Friday we get to encounter the trough, at which time you might find us sailing to the west! The trough line can have thunderstorms so we will be very cautious to avoid them and the high winds that they bring. A little more drama than I care for on our passages, but you have to pay to play in paradise.
Vessel Name: Full Circle
Vessel Make/Model: 50' cruising catamaran designed by Garry Lidgard
Hailing Port: Austin, Texas
Crew: David and Cindy Balfour
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S/V FullCircle

Who: David and Cindy Balfour
Port: Austin, Texas