Rapturous!

11 June 2022 | Savusavu, Fiji
31 May 2022 | Savusavu
28 May 2022 | Savusavu
24 May 2022 | Just North of Minerva
23 May 2022 | North Minerva Reef
21 May 2022 | North Minerva Reef
20 May 2022 | 1209 nm to North Minerva Reef
19 May 2022 | 229 nm to North Minerva Reef
18 May 2022 | 315 nm to South Minerva Reef
17 May 2022 | Amost half way to Minerva Reef
16 May 2022 | 169 miles from NZ
15 May 2022 | Opua, NZ
14 May 2022 | Opua Marina, NZ
30 April 2022 | Opua NZ
24 April 2022 | Auckland NZ
11 April 2022 | Napier, NZ
02 April 2022 | Marlborough Sounds
19 March 2022 | Siberia Valley

The Unstoppable Greg

11 June 2022 | Savusavu, Fiji
Susan Wells
Greg, the troubleshooter

We arrived in Savusavu two weeks ago. It feels like a month. I have acclimatized and gotten to know the town. Greg has barely left the boat. Lyn Pardee had an Unstoppable Boat. I've got an Unstoppable Greg.
After isolating the failed battery and connecting to shore power, we were able to relax a bit, sleep, clean up the boat, sleep and party with others on the Bula Rally. I slept, Greg spent most nights worrying about the worst case scenario. One of his few fears is being stuck in a marina watching others sail away. Fortunately, the Bula Rendezvous festivities took place while we were waiting for the circuit board so there was lots of socializing, dinners, market trips, geology tours and a visit to a cocoa farm / chocolate factory. The festivities ended with an outrigger canoe race between cruisers which my team won thanks to Tom and Susan on Nomad who had been US national canoe race champions.
Meanwhile, the circuit board was defying supply chain/ shipping issues and making its way to Fiji. Rapture was doing fine on three batteries and Greg threw caution to the winds, literally. We decided to sail to Namena, a no-take marine sanctuary three hours sail from Savusavu.
It was a lovely sail over. All systems were working and Rapture was fast and smooth on a flat sea. Greg wasn't exactly happy but his brow was smoothing out. He was moving. Anchoring was not easy. Two other boats were already there dispensing valuable and questionable advice. After 3 tries we finally managed to set the hook down into sand in 60 feet of water just 200 yards from the shore.
Namena is breathtaking. The anchorage is lined with high cliffs covered with native forest and invasive vine where hundreds of shorebirds roost at night. In the morning and evening they are all wheeling and squalling lit by the low rosy sun. The snorkeling right off the back of the boat was fabulous. The corals are not colorful but they are abundant and healthy, populated by a wide diversity of fish, small but plentiful. White tip reef sharks patrol the edges of the reef.







We spent two days snorkeling the reef and then we heard that the circuit board had arrived in Savusavu and Greg couldn't wait to get back and started on the battery project. The next morning early we got the boat prepped for departure and went to start the engine. Nothing happened! The ignition switch did not engage. Now what?
This has happened before and Greg had a spare ignition switch but when he wired it up, it didn't work either. Fortunately, he had an emergency start switch installed some time ago wired directly from the solenoid to the starter motor so he had a way to start the engine. After running a few tests to no avail, he decided to head back to Savusavu and solve the problem at the dock.
The next day, Friday, was frantic. The lithium battery technician, Jamie, in NZ, was only available on Friday as he was flying to Australia for the weekend. At 9:00am on the dot, Greg called him and the installation of the circuit board began. Step by step, monitoring progress with shared photos, Jamie guided Greg through the process. Jamie's ability to communicate clearly and Greg's ability to grasp the idea and follow the procedure was truly impressive. Within a couple of hours, Greg had disconnected and removed the damaged board and connected all the jacks, butt connectors and crimps, pushed all the right buttons in the right order, rebalanced the charges on the batteries and Rapture was back to full power.
Time for a celebration, but no, Greg was unstoppable. Without eating or drinking, he went straight into solving the ignition issue. By now, the sun was high and the lazarette where he had to work was like a sauna. I did my part slapping tools, screws, nuts and fuses into his hand on demand. He and his voltmeter tested all the wires, relays and solenoids with inconclusive results. He tried jumping the starter motor but despite the salty language, he hadn't found the problem. It was time to feed him. While we were eating, John Martin, the leader of the Bula Rally dropped by and recommended a local electrickery wizard who, amazingly, agreed to come by on Saturday morning even though the regional rugby play off was taking place at the high school. Rugby is a big deal in Fiji. The country even printed a special 7 dollar note to commemorate Fiji winning the 7-a-side international contests in 2020 (yellow) and again in 2021 (blue).
Pillay arrived on schedule on Saturday. Listening intently to Greg he bypassed repeating tests, and squeezed himself into the critical area. After about half an hour of grunts and puffs "Ah ha," he said, "a broken wire". The serial killer, Corrosion, had done it again.
Pillay removed a hidden relay solenoid with its broken wire and went home for lunch returning promptly having disassembled the solenoid, polished up the contacts and sealed the exposed wires with a layer of epoxy. Greg did not have a spare for this specific relay solenoid, but now has one on order sourced outside Fiji. Repairing and refurbishing equipment is critical in a country with limited resources. Pillay wired it all back together and the engine fired up faultlessly. Problem solved in 3 hours at minimal cost. As an added benefit Greg also knows a lot more about the ignition/starter system on Rapture.


Pillay, the electrickery wizard

While all this was happening, I was, once again, provisioning the boat for the next adventure. The town is one long, main street, semi-paved, with all stores within 10 minutes walk from the marina. First, the butcher where the meat is deep frozen and vacuum packed, meaning I had to rush back to the boat to get it into the freezer as soon as possible. Next trip, market, where I bought by the heap (no scale), kumquats, knobby green lemons, papaya, passion fruit, bokchoy, long beans, small imperfect tomatoes preferably green ,coconuts and hot habanero chilies. Unable to carry more, it was back to the boat to unload. Now, the supermarket: paper towels, toilet paper, tonic, flour, snacks, carrots (imported) and kiwis. Back to the boat with a stop at the bakery for sliced whole wheat bread to freeze and cinnamon rolls for breakfast. The last trip was with Greg to a fancy, expensive import store called Sea Lovers where we bought blue cheese, prosciutto, white NZ wine and dried basil. Now we're ready to leave the dock.
We're headed to Taveuni, the garden island, and the Somosomo strait with one of the best snorkeling/diving sites in the world.

Minerva to Fiji

31 May 2022 | Savusavu
Susan Wells
Nasty squall more than a day out from Savusavu

It was a busy, stressful voyage from Minerva to Fiji. Once again, we can count a voyage as adding a huge chunk to our sailing experience. Challenges faced and overcome do wonders for one's confidence. But why does experience have to be so hard earned?

The first half of the voyage went easily at a broad reach on the starboard tack. The wind became lighter and lighter as that low progressed further South away from us. There were a few squalls but nothing we hadn't seen before. Sometime after dark we ran out of wind and started the engine and that's when our problems started.

With a shrill squeal, the engine announced that the regulator on the alternator wasn't working. This meant that the engine was no longer charging the batteries. Greg dived below into the lazarette and started pushing buttons. Suddenly, all went dark, no chart plotter, no GPS, no autopilot. All that was left was the compass. The boat rapidly started turning up into the light wind. I grabbed the wheel to hand steer. "Keep it at 330 degrees," says Greg. So for one of the first times, I was handsteering at night. The compass, however, is calibrated for the Northern Hemisphere and does not read accurately for the Southern Hemisphere. Fortunately, I had already figured out that the deviation was 10 degrees so I steered 320 degrees. I was just relaxing with this when the navigation system reset and we were back to normal. It was a hair raising moment but I was calm. That was a victory in itself!

It turned out that one of the lithium batteries in the house bank quit working which impacted all charging systems we have on board: alternator, hydro generator, solar and partially impacted the wind generator. This all happened with about 70% battery charge left in the bank. The nice thing about lithium is that the batteries can be run way down to less than 25%. There was enough to keep the chart plotter and autopilot running for several days. We had 43% charge on the 3 unaffected batteries when we arrived in Savusavu which was good because we arrived on Saturday and wouldn't be able to get help until Monday. The batteries would not accept shore power. If it had happened earlier in the passage it would have been much more serious.

Greg traced the problem to corrosion on a bus on the battery which spread into the circuit board used to regulate the lithium battery. On a Sunday, the technician from the Juice Lithium battery company in New Zealand returned our call to talk Greg through reviving the system. Greg was able to disconnect the failed battery manually and revive all the charging systems on board including shore power which meant that we could run the air con in this hot, humid tropical climate. The failed battery can be fixed by replacing the circuit board that has already been ordered.

So we each had our victories and have come out better for it. Greg now knows much more about his batteries and the charging systems on board. Having a lithium battery go rogue on a passage was not a pleasant experience.

Go to the photo gallery "Passage New Zealand to Fiji" for photos taken on passage and Minerva Reef.



Arrival in Fiji

28 May 2022 | Savusavu
Susan Wells
We arrived in Savu Savu on schedule on Saturday morning, May 28th. The passage from Minerva was very busy with weather and boat systems so there was no time to write daily updates. This is just to let everyone know we're safe. I'll add the story in the next couple of days.

Minerva to Fiji Day 1 Wed, May 25

24 May 2022 | Just North of Minerva
Susan
Our second rest day in Minerva was a real treat. The weather improved and we had some sunshine for our snorkel behind the reef. This time we headed for a wreck located in about 10 feet of water behind the reef. The wreck is old, an old
fashioned steel trawler broken in two with spars and ribs jumbled on the sea floor. It must have happened when GPS was nonexistent, probably during a storm. They ran straight into the reef. And the fish love it. Beside the usual small tropical
fish we saw 2 feet long Sweetlips, a small white mouth Moray and the biggest Angelfish we've ever seen. There was coral all around the wreck, brightly colored and diverse and giant clams in many different colors. We have photos that we will
add to this post and other posts when we get internet in Fiji.
This morning early we left Minerva. It was raining and it promises to be wet and squally for the next 24 hours. The wind is low, though and we will be motoring through the day. The wind is supposed to back (shift anti clockwise) as the trade
winds kick in and we should have a fast sail on the beam the rest of the way. We hope to arrive Saturday morning.
We were glad to have stayed the extra days at Minerva Reef. In addition to the days of rest and being able to snorkel the reef, we avoided some unpleasant weather and seas if we had departed sooner. Being comfortable on passage is a big
deal, and waiting to head out can achieve this. As they say, there is nothing more dangerous on a boat than a calendar.
We wish Rapture's fairy godmother, Karen, a happy birthday tomorrow in the US. On a daily basis, we make use of all the little comforts you have added to the boat. We're thinking of you.

More Minerva

23 May 2022 | North Minerva Reef
Susan
Our last day before we arrived in Minerva reef was more motoring with a few mild squalls to add interest. At midnight, the "breeze" arrived and we could finally turn off the engine. It was such a wonderment to hear just the swish of the water against the
hull and the low whine of the wind generator, not irritating in low winds. To celebrate, instead of just switching places on watch with barely verbal communication of course and speed, we cracked open a beer each and sat, smiling in the darkness enjoying
the night and the sway of the boat. We sailed all the rest of the way to Minerva and passed through the pass to join our rally mates at anchor.

That evening, we were invited to potluck dinner on one of the catamarans to talk weather. Oh, the space. They have a full size washing machine and dryer! But no, we don't need a bigger boat. Our little Rapture kept up with the big boys, arriving just hours
later than them.
It is difficult to describe this place and photographs do not do it justice. The reef itself is only a foot or two above the water at high tide. Outside the reef the great ocean stretches for thousands of miles around us. The reef provides protection from the
waves and swells but not from the wind. It's a little disconcerting to have no land or headland to shelter behind and it takes a while to feel secure. The water here is amazingly clear. Today we went snorkeling for the first time since leaving Fiji. The water
temperature is 78 degrees, perfectly refreshing and so clear. There weren't many fish and all of them were small. I did see two octopuses, hunkered into holes in the coral. The coral is broken up, with not many sea mounts where fish can gather. We will try a
new place tomorrow and hopefully see better coral.
So here we are waiting for our weather window. We decided to stay at Minerva Reef to catch up on our sleep from the last passage and so we can get a good window to sail a fast reach to Fiji . The passage to Fiji from Minerva Reef should take 3 and 1/2 days at
5 knots (421 nautical miles) and we believe we can do it faster. However, the weather is being fickle now. We hope to be on our way Wednesday or Thursday. We could depart as late as next Monday as we have enough stores on board. We will know in the
next day or two if a Wednesday or Thursday departure is a go. While we are not opposed to motoring in light airs, we do not want to be headed in seaway above 15 knots true as the boat speed will slow significantly. And most importantly we want to sail a fair
portion of the passage without motoring.

Minerva Reef

21 May 2022 | North Minerva Reef
Susan
We arrived in Minerva Reef at 10:30 this morning. We are safely anchored and two smalll repair jobs have been completed. Now I'm going to sleep to the gentle rocking of a boat at anchor. I'll write more later.
Vessel Name: Rapture
Vessel Make/Model: Caliber 40 LRC
Hailing Port: Berkeley, CA
Crew: Greg Newman, Susan Wells
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Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora Bora
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Photos of the boat, people and places in the Bay.
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Memorial Weekend 2017 Greg, Susan, Mike and Toni Spicer, Nick Spycher
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July 25 to August 15 San Franciso, Half Moon Bay, Monterey, Morro Bay, Cojo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island, Santa Barbara Island, Catalina.
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Created 23 August 2015
The Food Saver vacuum sealer is a really useful device. The aluminum packs contain a 2 person serving. They just need to be defrosted and thrown in the oven - no prep work required. We could bake all 3 at once, or the crew that is sleeping can bake theirs when they wake up.
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Created 24 June 2014
Memorial day cruise from San Fran down to Monterey, but we turned West at Santa Cruz for about 50 miles before tacking North for a direct beam reach back to San Fran.
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Created 18 June 2014
The second overnight cruise. San Fran North West to Pt. Reyes, then south cutting east to Pillar Point and back to San Fran.
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