The Adventure Continues

20 October 2013 | Fulanga, Southern Lau Group, Fiji
20 October 2013 | Village of Maunaithaki, Fulanga, Lau Group, Fiji
20 October 2013 | Village of Maunaithaki, Fulanga, Lau Group, Fiji
20 October 2013 | Southern Lau Group, Fiji
29 September 2013
10 August 2013 | Savusavu, Vanua Levu
06 July 2013
02 July 2013
01 July 2013
13 November 2012 | Vava'u, Tonga
04 September 2012 | Bora Bora, French Polynesia
31 July 2012 | Uturoa, Raiatea
14 June 2012 | Tiputa, Rangiroa, Tuamotus

Some Strange Things Happened on the Way to New Zealand

23 June 2013
When it came time to leave Tonga we found ourselves back in Neiafu. We were not quite ready to leave - we loved Tonga, and had not seen our fill - but the coming of the cyclone season and the insurance company said it was time to go! We had been working our way south to Nuku'alofa, where we had planned to "jump" to New Zealand, when we got chased back north by a nasty low pressure system that was moving to the SE just below Tonga. The harbor at Neiafu is well protected, and we waited out the passage of the low in comfort, and prepared ourselves and Bright Angel for the passage to New Zealand.

We cleared out of Tonga and left Neiafu for New Zealand on November 15. The tropical depression that had just passed played havoc with boats already on passage to New Zealand (including many of our friends), and resulted in one couple being rescued by a freighter after their boat was knocked down and the skipper injured. But the "weather window" in the wake of the low looked good, so off we went - with our next port of call being Opua, 1300 nm away on the North Island of New Zealand.

We worked our way south along the western edge of the Tongan Islands, saying we would come back some day and pick up where we left off! Just before we left Neiafu, a sailboat had apparently been found on a reef in the southern Vava'u Group, with her sails up and a dead crewman aboard. The Tongan Navy was investigating, and every 30 minutes they broadcast a warning on VHF radio to stay clear of the area. When we were south of Tonga we heard a US Coast Guard cutter (presumably from American Samoa, about 800 nm to the northwest) interrogating a British single hander (who had left Neiafu about the same time we had) over VHF radio. We saw the USCG cutter on AIS, and when they were through with the Brit we contacted them on the radio and gave them our particulars - we never heard from them again, and they soon steamed our of our "electronic sight" (we never physically saw the cutter). Sometime after we arrived in New Zealand, we learned that the boat found on the rocks in Vava'u had been bound from Ecuador to Australia, with two persons on board - and $10 million (US) worth of cocaine. The drugs were still on the boat when it was found, but the second crew member was (and apparently still is) at large.

When we cleared southern Tonga (and for several hundred miles thereafter) we saw something very strange in the water - streaks of pumice, mostly pea-sized pieces up to an inch or two in diameter, with occasional larger chunks up to basketball size. The pumice, a light weight, volcanic rock that floats, was apparently from recent underwater volcanic activity in the Kermadecs, NE of New Zealand. We had been forewarned of the pumice in the area, and like many others began checking our raw water strainers to ensure none of the extremely abrasive pumice made it into our seawater pumps where it could do some real damage.

About 250 nm southwest of Tonga, after we had covered about 500 of the 1300 nm to New Zealand, we decided to stop and take a break at North Minerva Reef - 23⁰ 27.43' S, 178⁰ 55.66'W. I had bought a "Minerva Reef Yacht Club" T-shirt in Neiafu, so I felt obliged to stop and earn the right to actually wear it! There are two Minerva reefs - North and South (about 50 miles apart) - the north one being easier to enter and with fewer obstructions (coral heads) to anchoring. North Minerva Reef is circular - about 3 nm across - with a 75 meter clear pass on the NW side. The depth in the middle is about 30 meters, and shoals to about 12 meters within a comfortable anchoring distance from the reef, which you can clearly see at low tide, but there are no islands or other dry land on the reef - just the surf crashing on the outer reef and the open ocean beyond. We anchored in the NE corner (see photo, above), where there was decent protection from the easterly winds. We were the only boat in the reef - and it was a surreal experience: anchored, alone, in the middle of the ocean!

There was plenty of pumice floating by inside the reef; Linda grabbed the dip net and started a collection! The next morning, the weather guru on Gulf Harbor Radio (on SSB out of NZ) warned us of a new tropical depression forming near Vanuatu that was expected to move SE below Fiji and toward Minerva. Staying put was not a viable option, so we took care of a few chores and were back under way by noon. With the new low threatening, the object was to get as far to the south and west as we could, as fast as we could; that would keep us out of harm's way, as long as the low followed the track it was supposed to (which they don't always do!). Anytime the boat speed dropped below 4 knots under sail, we fired up the engine; the winds were fairly light for several days as we were in a broad band of stationary high pressure, so we did a lot of motoring. This tactic worked well - we avoided the low, and eventually picked up some good sailing winds in the "squash zone" between the low and the high. The rest of the passage to New Zealand was fairly benign, except for the last 150 nm or so, when there were 20-25 knot winds well forward of the beam, and some choppy seas - a relatively small uncomfortable price to pay for what was otherwise our best passage to date!

When we were about 200 nm north of New Zealand, we had an unexpectedly close encounter with Kiwi authorities. Any boat travelling to New Zealand is required to give New Zealand Customs and Immigration at least 48 hours advanced notice of arrival, with boat and crew details, anticipated arrival date and time, and port of entry. We had done this via e-mail before leaving Tonga. Early one morning, just as the sun was coming up, there was a loud roar behind us and we looked up to see a Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion P-3 (with one of its four engines feathered) emerge from a cloud bank to our port quarter, flying at no more than 200 feet off the water as they swept past our bow; you could see the faces of the pilots as they went by! Just as they went past our VHF radio crackled to life, and they called us, by name, on ch 16. They asked for an update on our arrival information, and wished us a safe rest of our passage! What a royal welcome to New Zealand!

We made land fall at Cape Brett (35⁰ 03'S, 174⁰ 14'E) at dawn on Monday, November 26 - 12 days out of Neiafu. We sailed in through the stunningly beautiful Bay of Islands under cool but sunny skies to the quarantine dock at Opua, where our New Zealand adventures awaited!

Land Ho! Cape Brett
Land Ho! Cape Brett, at the entrance to New Zealand's Bay of Islands
Vessel Name: Bright Angel
Vessel Make/Model: 1990 Mason 44 Hull # 141
Hailing Port: Olympia, WA
Crew: Linda & Bob Hargreaves
Linda and Bob are long-time residents of Washington State - Linda was born and raised in Aberdeen and has lived in Washington all her life; Bob was born in San Diego, and moved to Washington when he was five years old. [...]
After leaving Olympia in August 2010 and sailing down the West Coast to San Diego, Bob & Linda joined the 2010 Baja Ha-Ha fleet and sailed to Mexico, where they spent a year and a half sailing in the Sea of Cortez and along Pacific Mexico. In April 2012 they joined the Pacific Puddle Jump and [...]
Bright Angel's Photos - Main
Every once in a while something will catch my eye that also tickles my funny bone. It could be a twisted sense of humor that makes me laugh, or maybe some cultural rift - who knows!? With apologies to any whom these might offend (and certainly no offense is intended) let me share a few of my chuckles (or in some cases sheer amazement) with you. LOL!
16 Photos
Created 21 October 2013
The remote island of Fulanga (also spelled Vulaga) in the southern Lau Group of Fiji is truly "Paradise Found!" We stayed in Fulanga for 35 wonderful, awe inspiring and relaxing days - and even then, we were reluctant to leave! Fulanga was resplendent with beautiful beaches, magical islands and the friendliest and most outgoing people you can imagine! With no apologies for the bulk of this album and its sub-albums, suffice to say that these are only a fraction of our digital memories of this magical place, and even less of the mental images that we will long cherish! Enjoy!
9 Photos | 14 Sub-Albums
Created 18 October 2013
One Saturday while we were in Savusavu, we took a bus trip with several of our cruising friends to Labasa (pronounced "Lambasa") for the day. Saturday is a big market day in any Fijian town or village, and Labasa is no exception - so there was plenty of hubbub and lots to see at the market. There was also a parade down mainstreet, and plenty of other unusual sights and sounds to stimulate our senses. Here are some of the highlights of that fun day!
52 Photos
Created 29 September 2013
14 Photos
Created 7 July 2013
We visited Auckland several times, and took some interesting side trips on the way back to Whangarei. Here, and in the sub-albums below, are some the highlights.
12 Photos | 8 Sub-Albums
Created 4 July 2013
We were not able to be home for Christmas in 2012, but we did get to have Christmas dinner with cruising friends Bev and Robbie (SV Mersoleil, from Seattle) and other boaters at the Riverside Drive Marina. Even though we were at Whangarei Marina in Town Basin, we got an invite to attend from Bev & Robbie, and were made to feel very welcome. It wasn't "Home for the Holidays" but it was a very nice time, nonetheless!
5 Photos
Created 3 July 2013
Going on walks or day hikes was a favorite pastime of ours in Whangarei, and there were always interesting places to go - around the Town Basin, in the hills and forests behind the town, and to the ocean beaches past Whangarei Heads. Please come along and join us on some of our favorite walks.
7 Photos | 7 Sub-Albums
Created 2 July 2013
We are not prone to visiting tourist attractions (or "tourist traps" as we sometimes call them), but we succumbed to a few "temptations" while in New Zealand - notably Sheep World (just north of Auckland), going up the Sky Tower in Auckland, and riding the Wynyard Loop trolley, also in Auckland. We hope you enjoy these photos of our visits to these "attractions;" for more information, see our blog post on "Tourist Attractions."
43 Photos
Created 1 July 2013
Linda wrote an "illustrated" Christmas Letter that she sent to family and friends from New Zealand in Dec 2012. That letter is now posted as a blog entry, and these photos are the accompanying "illustrations."
17 Photos
Created 30 June 2013
On December 8, 2012, we departed Opua and headed south to Whangarei. We planned to "park" the boat in Whangarei throughout the New Zealand summer while we focused on "land cruising" (sight seeing), a trip back to the States (in Jan & Feb), and boat projects (including a haulout in April for bottom paint and other jobs). The trip to Whangarei included two overnight stops - the first in Whangamumu Bay, and the second in Urquharts Bay, just inside Bream Head and at the start of the up river trip to the Town Basin in Whangarei. We tied to the dock at Whangarei Marina at 1630 hrs on December 10 - Linda's Birthday, with some help from our friends Bev & Robbie (SV Mersoleil), who then also helped us celebrate the day at Reva's Restaurant, just across the river from our slip. With the dock lines secured in Whangarei, our 2012 odyssey across the Pacific from Banderas Bay, Mexico - nearly 7000 nm all total - had finally come to a successful end, and we we ready to rest!
21 Photos
Created 29 June 2013
Our first stop, where we cleared into New Zealand, was Opua. Before moving south to Whangarei we visited some of the local sights.
17 Photos
Created 25 June 2013
Some things in New Zealand take some getting used to - like the lingo, the accent, the place names (at least those in Maori), and some of the unusual things in the grocery stores, about town, and out in the country. Here's a sampling.
21 Photos
Created 24 June 2013
Daniel's Bay (Hakatea Bay) - site of the TV series "Survivor Marquesas" - was our first stop on Nuku Hiva, an overnight passage from Hiva Oa. A higtlight of our stay in Daniel's Bay was the hike up to see Vaipo Falls, with a 2,000 foot drop supposedly the third highest waterfall in the world.
42 Photos
Created 6 August 2012
After leaving Hiva Oa, Hanamoenoa Bay on the neighboring island of Tahuata was the next anchorage we visited. It was a beautiful bay full of surprises - some good, some not so good!
9 Photos
Created 6 August 2012
Hiva Oa was our first "Landfall in Paradise" after leaving Mexico, and our introduction to life in the islands of French Polynesia.
14 Photos
Created 6 August 2012
Our 28 day crossing from Banderas Bay, Mexico, to Hiva Oa, Marquesas, was the culmination of many months (if not years) of planning and preparation. Shown here are some of final projects in Mexico, as well as some highlights from the crossing itself.
39 Photos
Created 5 August 2012
Just about everywhere you walk in French Polynesia is like being in a botanical garden - the flowers, trees, fruit - it's one of the special treats of being here!
43 Photos
Created 4 August 2012