Leaving New Zealand
31 May 2014 | Now in Fiji
We are back on the road again after being in NZ for the last six months. NZ was a great experience and we were able to experience a lot of various adventures since we were there for so long. We managed to purchase a car, 1994 Honda Rafaga, shipped from Japan with 250K Klicks and running pretty well. The price was right and we needed transportation as Opua (where we were moored) is really out in the middle of nowhere and NZ is not great on public transportation. When we first arrived we did some hitch hiking and we found that rather time consuming and that experience hurried us along to make the purchase of the car. It really takes several weeks to get the lay of the land so to speak and find out where everything is and who has the most reasonable prices. Everything, and I mean everything, is very expensive…….except used cars. They are cheap but fuel is expensive. So either way there are no bargains to be had.
We were in NZ during the summer but we found it very cool all summer long. They say four seasons will occur each day and they are right about that. We finally figured out that layers of clothing were the best option. Put it on and take it off and as the day progressed we were back where we started in the morning. All clothes were back in place and we were toasty once again.
We did some cruising but were really motivated when my daughter and son-in-law came to visit from DC. We were able to cruise some but not as much as Amy and Patrick would have liked. Remember we do this all the time so we moved the boat when the weather was good and tended to stay in one or two places for the week. It was not about the sailing anyway but the good company to share.
After their departure we geared up for getting the boat ready to move to Fiji. That meant hauling her out of the water and applying several coats of bottom paint to keep the barnacles away and that nasty green fuzz that loves to grow on the bottom. This took about four to five days and we did the painting ourselves. We used an extra quart of paint for ourselves to wear, as it seems no matter how hard we try to keep out of it we always manage to wear some of it. Shoes, sunglasses, hat, shirt…see what I mean.
Then is was time to sell the car…We started two weeks ahead of time in hopes that we could get a fair price for it instead of having to just give it away. We had friends that were going to have cars up to the last minutes because they purchased their cars from a fellow that would buy the car back for about half of what they paid for the vehicle. Very expensive but convenient. We on the other hand bought our car from Mr. Slick for half the price our friends were paying so we thought we could afford to take a hit if necessary. As it turned out we got a fair price for the car and we able to share our friends cars when needed. Keep in mind we were all doing the same thing ….getting ready to leave New Zealand. Some boats were going to Fiji, some to Tonga and some to Vanuatu and Indonesia or Australia. All going our separate ways. Some friends we will see again some not. That is the nature of the sailing community.
Once the bottom was painted and the main engine and generator repaired (after several repair issues) we got serious about provisioning. We bought all the things that we might not find in Fiji and then some. There was a wonderful old-fashioned butcher that vacuum sealed all the meat in useful quantities and then froze it. It made stocking our freezer a joy. The grocery store was next and we stocked up once again (making lots of trips) in a borrowed car.
We finally did our entire running around for last minute things like getting Fijian money because we heard it was much easier to clear customs and immigration if you have the cash on hand. Otherwise it would be off to the bank or atm machine in a taxi with the officials in tow. We think we are getting smarter as we travel but then sometimes we are not so sure.
We finally reached the point that a weather window appeared and we were now able to check out with customs and immigration. NZ is VERY strict about this and we were required to leave within one hour of completing the necessary paperwork. We were also required to send paper work to Fiji well in advance so they would know when we are coming and where we intend to clear in. If anything changed because of weather for instance we would be required to notify customs Fiji and advise them of our new plans. It all seems rather silly to me as Fiji is still a third world country and they still use carbon paper for receipts so that tells me that all this computer communication is lost along the way. But it sure looks impressive and who would ever know unless you came here.
The weather window opened and we got out all the warm clothes and new things would be pretty good for the first four to five days. We are able to get weather onboard using the Single Side Band Radio, which is helpful, and we also had Minerva Reef to stop at if the weather turned and we could always ride out a storm there. With the side curtains zippered we were snug on our passage. Thanks to Ron for pushing me in Panama to get the side curtains finished before we left Panama. I just didn’t want to do any more sewing but he was right and I too was glad that we completed the job. He was happy also as I must of told him 12 times how right he was…and I agree.
Well the weather did turn and we stopped off in Minerva Reef. I was truly a lifesaver as the autopilot malfunctioned and we were hoping we could get it going there on our little stopover. It took us five days to leave Minerva Reef because the weather did change and we rode out 45 knots of wind on anchor along with 27 other boats for several days. Everyone stayed put and we fixed the autopilot and were ready to leave when the weather turned favorable. Off once again for Fiji.
It always takes two to three days to get acclimated to the boat motion once we are on passage. I try to cook ahead so we don’t have to spend much time in the galley in rough seas and we get a chance to gain out sea legs. Every time we start out it seems like we are newbies once again but that soon wears off and we are back to being sailors. I tell Ron all the time “I am not a sailor, I am not a sailor,”(but I am!).
The passage went well and we arrived in Fiji with very few issues (what is wrong with that D____ autopilot. Thankfully we have two on board so we were able to switch to the other one and once again be on our way. Hand steering 450 miles would not be a fun thing to do. It is always good to plan ahead and Ron had this one planned for years.
More about Fiji as we get to know it better.
From The Crew of Always Saturday