08 November 2008 | Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
30 October 2008 | Waya Island, Yasawa Group, Fiji
29 October 2008 | Drawaqa Island, Yasawa Islands, Fiji
23 October 2008 | Somo somo Bay, Yasawa Islands, Fiji
21 October 2008 | Blue Lagoon, Yasawa Islands, Fiji
16 October 2008 | Blue Lagoon, Yasawa Islands, Fiji
14 October 2008 | Sawa-i-lau, Yasawa Islands, Fiji
12 October 2008 | Musket Cove, Fiji
09 October 2008 | Vuda Point Marina
11 September 2008 | Vuda Point, Fiji
03 September 2008 | Musket Cove, Fiji
29 August 2008 | Suva
26 August 2008 | Nadi, Fiji
21 August 2008 | Lautoka, Fiji
20 August 2008 | In transit to Fiji
16 August 2008 | Uoleva, Haapai Group, Tonga
11 August 2008 | Lifuka, Haapai Group, Tonga
07 August 2008 | Haafeva, Haapai Group, Tonga
01 August 2008 | Nukualofa

Best laid plans.....

08 June 2008 | Niue
Surprise-Susan & Steve
Best laid plans

All of you reading this in the comfort of your study or office, and envying us our frolics in the tropics-know there is a price to be paid. At our last post we were on our way to Beveridge Reef, to snorkel in the calm lagoon in the middle of the ocean. The forecast was for the wind to pipe up. It began to build the evening of the 4th, and by midnight we were sailing on a nice reach in 12 to 16 knots. Wind continued to build, as the sky became overcast. Morning found us with 18 to 23 knots and building seas. We were doing 8 to 9 knots boat speed with the small jib and double reef in the main-much to fast for a daylight arrival at Beveridge. (Essential because it is visual navigation only to enter.) So we rolled up the jib and the wind went to over 25 knots, mostly on our quarter. Then we put in the third reef, to slow down. So we sailed on as the sky darkened and the wind and seas built. The waves were breaking occasionally, so the lower hatch board went in. No moon, dense clouds, virtually no horizon and the occasional "car wash." For those who haven't experienced a tropical rain shower at sea, it is an apt metaphor. The rain comes down so hard and fast you literally can't see-it's just a curtain closing in around you, driven by the wind. At times like these, on watch at 3:00am, with the boat rolling like a beach ball with every beam sea, cold and wet, you begin to wonder if being out here is such a great idea. Those of you who have raced to Hawaii are thinking "25 to 28 knots, put up the kite, great surfing!" In those conditions, with a full crew, Surprise is happily doing 12-14 knots. Well, with just the two of us in slow down mode it was the triple reefed main only, and 6 to 7 knots. Surprise wasn't happy but Otto kept her on track. The mast would rooooll down to leeward, Otto would give a little sigh, the wheel would spin and the boat would come back down to before the wind. At 7:30 on the 6th we were within 10 miles of Beveridge and knew there was no way we were going to get any closer. The atoll is tiny and has no land, just a reef, and it is not even correctly located on the chart. So we headed straight for Niue, weather unchanged. Our noon to noon mileage with the triple reefed main was 172. So much for slowing the boat down! To add to our happiness the computer stopped recognizing any com ports, so the chartplotter, e-mail, AIS vessel id system et al stopped working. That night was series of rain showers, 12 miles across on the radar, and two or three car washes. Wind finally began dropping and we were down to 3 knots boat speed so the engine came on for a while. Then the wind went around 350 degrees in less than an hour, from 5 knots back up to into the 20's. It finally called it quits in the lee of Niue and we motored into the roadstead at Alofi to pick up a mooring ball at 8:00 am. 91 hours, our longest double handed passage on this trip.

Niue is different that the islands and atolls we've visited so far; there is no beach or dock for boats or dinghys, just a wharf about 6' above the water. So to get ashore, you dinghy in and hook your dinghy sling to the hook on a hoist, jump out onto the steps and put the electric hoist (WWII vintage) in gear and up comes the dingy. Pretty straight forward in calm seas, very difficult if the wind/waves are pounding the wharf. No sandy bottom for anchors either, but the Niue Yacht Club has created a dozen first class moorings near the wharf.

There are signs everywhere in the small village of the cyclones that have devastated the island three times in the last six years; the population has dwindled to about 1,000 from 6,000. Who wants to start over every two years? Tomorrow we'll rent a car and explore the rest of the island.

A day's rest and calm water provided the right environment for sorting out the computer; on Surprise it is pretty complex since it coordinates everything except the Captain's noon beer which requires the Admiral's attention. We run 6 USB connections and 6 different serial ports to connect it all, and when something goes wrong it is a real hairball. Today, all is well.
Vessel Name: Surprise
Vessel Make/Model: Schumacher 46
Hailing Port: Richmond, CA.
Crew: Steve and Susan Chamberlin
About: Varies by voyage.
Surprise was built in NZ by Davie Norris at Franklin Boatbuilders in Christchurch in 1997. 2 Pacific Cups, Mexico, B.C. and Alaska. Next stop South Pacific. She is a performance cruiser designed by the late Carl Schumacher and, in racing trim, carries a PHRF of 6. Fractional rig, no overlapping [...]
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