09 January 2019 | Australia
09 January 2019 | Australia
09 January 2019 | Australia
09 January 2019 | New Caledonia
03 November 2018 | Fiji and New Caledonia
03 November 2018 | Niue and Tonga
01 August 2018 | French Polynesia
09 July 2018 | Tahiti and Omaha, NE
28 June 2018 | Hao and Tahanea
28 June 2018 | Pitcairn and Gambiers
28 June 2018 | Easter Island
30 April 2018 | At sea, enroute to Rapa Nui
Day 1,421 Update
09 January 2019 | Australia
The end of December through the beginning of January were spent working on the boat. In the end, we plugged, sanded, stained and varnished all the trim (one of those projects that really should have been done before we left Florida or, at minimum, sometime during the last four years…anyway…). We also installed the new cap rail, repaired a few spots on the deck, buffed a few spots on the top sides and a few other miscellaneous projects. We were finally able to get the generator windings adjusted so it could be re-installed. Once reinstalled, we started it up and it ran for about five seconds then shut off all by itself. Ric did some trouble shooting and decided the fuel pump wasn’t working properly. With luck on our side, we happened to find a Yanmar mechanic at the boatyard near the mooring field who was able to get the pump working again (at no cost to us except a nice, big bottle of rum to show our sincere appreciation). Unfortunately, it didn’t solve the problem. So, we had to order a few parts which Lacey Marine was able to get the next morning. We’ll finish this project sooner or later…
Since Christmas Day came and went while we were busy with boat projects, we decided to treat ourselves to a NYE ferry cruise into Sydney Harbour. We enjoyed an early dinner at El Camino (a nice Mexican restaurant at Manly Wharf) then strolled along the beach (until it started to rain) to wait for the Manly fireworks to be set off at 9:00 p.m. We boarded the ferry at 10:00 p.m. and took a leisurely cruise into the harbour where we waited until the countdown to midnight for the spectacular Sydney fireworks display. It was incredible!!! We fulfilled a bucket list item and got to enjoy it will little to no stress (other than the cluster at the wharf during the ferry boarding). Seems like if they’ve been doing this for a number of years, they’d have it figured out by now. It was pretty much pure chaos but we just took the opportunity to people watch and smile.
The Saturday before New Years we took the 199 bus to Manly when took the Manly Ferry to Circular Quay in downtown Sydney for a day of being a tourist. We saw the Opera House, walked across the Harbour Bridge, enjoyed lunch at First Fleet Bar and Bistro (Sydney’s oldest pub), walked through The Rocks district, Hyde Park, St. Anne’s Cathedral and passed by many other popular Sydney sights.
On Tuesday, January 8, we were invited to Phil and Sara’s for dinner. Phil prepared barramundi and swordfish…yummy. We thoroughly enjoyed the evening and look forward to staying in touch with them as they are cruising the South Pacific.
The next day we received our official Customs clearance and importation completion document. With that and the propane gas certificate finished, the broker is now able to officially and legally list Sheric for sale. We hope she sells quickly.
So, back to work to finish things up before flying to New Zealand next week…
NOTE: We are still trying to decide if we’ll keep doing the blog once we are land lubbers again. Any thoughts?
Day 1,403 Update
09 January 2019 | Australia
Well…packing up the boat was more time consuming than we thought it would be. Where did all that stuff come from? Interestingly, we brought most of it with us from Florida four years ago. We didn’t acquire much along the way. So, we sold some things on Gumtree (Australia’s version of Craig’s List), gave some to a couple of consignment places to sell for us, sold a few items by word of mouth, took lots of stuff to Salvos (Australia’s version of Salvation Army), took just as much stuff to the dumpster and rented a cubic meter storage unit (from Kennards) to store the items we wanted to ship back to the USA. Everything else was going with us to New Zealand.
Selling the boat turned out to be more complicated than we expected. Before we could do anything, we had to contact Border Force to let them know of our intent to sell Sheric. They sent us some paperwork and restricted Sheric to Pittwater. We then had the boat valued. Next, we contacted an import agent (we used Dazmac) to assist us with the importation process which brings with it duty and GST fees. Next on the list was the gas man. Since the propane system is different in Australia, we had to have our system inspected and modified to comply with the laws here. At the same time, we were packing, cleaning, working with the yacht broker to show Sheric to potential buyers, getting the generator rewound, having a new toe rail made and started conversation with a shipping company (Chess Moving). We rented a car for two weeks to allow us to be mobile and independent of public transportation.
Our first day of driving the rental was the most nerve wrecking, stressful day we’ve had since we left Florida. Ric drove the entire time since Sherry pretty much refused to drive. It was in a right-hand drive car on the left-hand drive street. Completely backwards. We made it to the place where we dropped off the generator parts then tried to get to another place in downtown Sydney to have our iPad repaired. We attempted to find parking in four different garages with no luck. The streets are all one way and were packed with people and cars. It was nuts and we were frustrated so we threw in the towel and went back to the marina. We agreed we would rather be at sea in 30 knots with 10-foot waves than drive in downtown Sydney. We’ll be taking public transportation next time we go.
One Sunday morning we met Phil, Sara, Ollie and Hannah for brekkie (Australia’s word for breakfast) at Waterview Café in Church Point. Phil and Sara bought the catamaran, Muse, that belonged to our friends Carl and Anny from Canada. We first got together with them when we found Muse was sitting on the hard at Cove Marine. Small world…
Phil, Sara and kids are leaving in February for a year-long sail around the South Pacific. The kids are excited to be taking a 12-month break from school and the parents are busy with all the preparations that go with leaving land life for water life.
On Friday, December 21 we got word that the generator parts were ready for us to pick up. That same morning, the wood for the cap rail was delivered to the marina. We had lots of work to keep us busy for the next week (Christmas week). After getting back to Sheric with everything, Ric went to work on the generator. In short order, he discovered that the parts no longer fit together because the stator windings were spread out too wide. Unfortunately, this would require the part to be taken back for the adjustment to be made. And, it was the weekend before the holiday, the company closed at noon (it was about 1300 when the disappointing discovery was made) and they wouldn’t be reopening until January 3. Ugh!!! On to the next project…
Day 1,389 Update
09 January 2019 | Australia
We arrived in Coffs Harbour just after dark on Tuesday, November 13. We tied up to the quarantine mooring and fell into bed after hugs and kisses were shared for completing our journey to Australia. What an incredible feeling!!!
After a good night’s rest, we radioed Border Force to check when they would be available to clear us in. We were to take Sheric into the marina at 1000 and they would meet us at the t-head on Dock D. The two officials were friendly, efficient and finished in about 30 minutes. While we did have to relinquish our rubbish, food waste, the Tahitian lei and a long-expired container of pepper spray (who knew that stuff expires…says so on the label it does), we were able to keep Sherry’s shells (woohoo), baskets and wood carvings.
We spent a week in Coffs Harbour marina, at the dock, and enjoyed walks on the beach, walks to the shopping plazas, a ten-minute shoulder massage at the International Car Rally (being held that weekend after we arrived), the farmer’s market and a short hike up Muttonbird Island. Didn’t see any mutton birds as they usually come out at night.
With a good weather window, we set off from Coffs Harbour for Port Stephens and Cove Marine. We had a comfortable overnight sail to Shoal Bay where we spent the night on the anchor before making our way to Salamander Bay the next day. After a night there, on the anchor, we waited for high tide then motored up the river to the mooring field at Cove Marine. It was a little touch and go as we snaked through the channel with only seven feet of water under our keel (yes, even at high tide) but we made it without incident.
The morning of November 28 we hauled Sheric out of the water. Just after we got tied up in ways a squall came through the area. Even though we were tied to the dock at four points, one of our dock lines snapped off just as our anemometer recorded 90 knots of wind. Our dinghy, still in the arch davits, was crashing against the piling. We phoned the marina office and two of the guys came out to help re-tie us and get us pulled off the dock. Thankfully the squall passed through quickly after that and we were safe. In the years we’ve been cruising we have never been in those conditions. It was kinda scary.
Since we were unable to get back onto Sheric until after the marina guys finished pressure washing her and got her blocked up, we called for the courtesy bus from a nearby sports club to pick us up for lunch. Nice amenity. Cove Marine is in the middle of nowhere with only a few residential homes around so we took advantage of being in “town” and stopped at the grocery before getting a ride back to the marina.
It took us a week to repair some blisters and other minor defects (which included a chunk broken out of the back of the keel that we didn’t know about until we hauled), apply a coat of primer and three coats of bottom paint, replace the broken seacock, re-pack the rudder and repair a spot in the sole of the forward head. We did a little bit of polishing and removed some of the rust stains on the hull as well. Over all, it was a good haul out and things went well. Sheric was returned to the water and there were no leaks so we motored out of the channel (again at high tide) and spent another night at Shoal Bay before heading off for Pittwater.
Almost forgot to mention…we took a walk early one morning and saw two adult kangaroos in a field. They watched us for a bit then hopped away. They were too far away to get a good photo.
In record time (for us), we made Pittwater (which was 78 nautical miles from Port Stephens) in less than 12 hours. Thanks to the extended daylight hours of summer and the four-knot east coast current we completed the trip during the day. Arriving at Morning Bay on December 6 around 1700, we took a free mooring for the night. The next day we were in contact with DBY Yacht Sales and they set us up with one of their moorings not far from their Newport office. After meeting David and Sophie with DBY (they stopped by to greet us) we walked into Newport to find groceries and pizza.
Newport is a bustling little suburb of Sydney with lots of restaurants, a grocery, a beach, a laundry, etc. very near the Pittwater marinas and moorings. We are certain we’ll spend some time exploring the area.
Day 1,359 Update
09 January 2019 | New Caledonia
Our week-long stay in New Caledonia was restful and interesting. We rented a car for a day and drove to Decathalon (a French sports store) where we replenished our supply of inexpensive shirts, shorts, flip flops, hats and backpacks. After a drive around Noumea and the south coastline, we stopped for lunch on the beach at a nice Italian establishment. Ric satisfied his yearning for pizza and Sherry had a most elaborate salmon bruschetta dish.
Over the course of the seven days, we visited two museums…both were filled with local, historical information and artifacts as well as details about New Caledonia’s involvement with World Wars I and II. We also spent lots of time walking about and visiting the local farmer’s market.
We didn’t take time to see other anchorages around the island nor nearby islets (such as Isle of Pines which we understand is beautiful) as we needed to continue on to Australia since cyclone season had already begun. So for any cruisers reading this…if you make it to New Caledonia, be sure to leave time to explore the island with your boat. We could have stayed for a month and not seen everything. We feel the same about Fiji.
Clearing out with Immigration, Customs and Port Control went quickly and painlessly. There were no fees for clearance…we LOVE French territories. Then we settled up with the marina (not quite as painless) and met Jeff and Vicky for happy hour. They were taking their boat, Wraith, back to Australia which is home for them. They had been cruising for 18 years and it was time to get their land legs back.
Early the morning of November 7 (Sherry’s dad’s birthday, by the way) we set off for Coffs Harbour, Australia. It was a seven-day, uneventful voyage. We had to motor about 60 hours due to light wind but the rest of the time we had good wind strength and good wind direction. We are very thankful that we had a safe passage and didn’t have to deal with any adverse conditions or storms. Our friends, Roy and Ann on Serenity, made their passage to New Zealand the same week and also had a good experience…contrary to many of the rumors about that leg. We are thankful and pleased for them that they are home. We’ll be visiting them in January.
Day 1,352 Update
03 November 2018 | Fiji and New Caledonia
Our three-day passage to Fiji was pretty uneventful and a motor sail the entire way. We did catch our first yellowfin tuna (woohoo) which was delicious. We pulled into Suva Harbour on Monday, October 8 at 1500 in a downpour. Our friends, Dave and Yvonne on Abundance, were already anchored near the yacht club as they had arrived a few hours before us. The Fijian officials are sticklers about quarantine so we were unable to greet Dave and Yvonne (other than waving from a distance) until the next morning after we had been cleared. In fact, we had read that a cruiser was almost fined because someone pulled up beside their boat to visit prior to them receiving clearance. So, we abided by the rules and stayed put until the next morning. Once cleared, we set off to shore so we could pay all the fees (Biosecurity/Customs/Yacht Club) and check things out. Suva is Fiji’s largest city. The people are the friendliest we’ve encountered…even the teenage boys are welcoming and greeted us with smiles and Bula (hello in Fijian). About half of the Fijian people are of Indian descent with most others being Melanesian.
Fiji celebrated their 48th year of independence with Fiji Days. There was a military parade, a concert, a barbeque and various other activities around the islands. After checking out the museum and taking pictures of and with the guard stationed at the President’s palace, we joined the crowd at the sports field and enjoyed the afternoon’s entertainment of DJs, dancers, performers and loads of children. Since we mentioned the President’s guard…we’re told it is similar to Buckingham Palace where the “changing of the guard” is a formal event. The various military arms take turns guarding the entrance and the change is done (we believe) during the first week of each month. Anyway…we did get the gentleman to smile and acknowledge us even though he tried not to notice.
We took the next few days to make our way from Suva (located on the southwest corner of the main island, Viti Levu) over to the west side of the island to Lautoka and Vuda Point. We took about three days, anchorage hopping along the way, to get to Momi Bay (a large anchorage just inside the reef) and spent a couple of nights there. Our next stop was Saweni Bay located just southwest of Lautoka (Fiji’s other large city and also a commercial harbor).
After stopping in Lautoka and discovering that the outward clearance process would be quite cumbersome from there, we did some provisioning and decided to head over to Vuda Point Marina. We took on fuel then spent the night tied to the pontoon intending to clear out the next morning. At happy hour that evening we came across Stu (a gentleman we met in Shelter Bay Marina in Colon, Panama) and heard all about his story of losing his mast (in 15 knots of wind) on his way to the Galapagos and having to motor 500 miles to Costa Rica where he began a long, arduous search for a new mast.
The next morning, after checking the weather and consulting with Dave and Yvonne, we decided to forego clearing out while a frontal system passed through and made our way over to Musket Cove, about 15 miles to the west. John and Fran on Kia Ora were tied up to a mooring there. The next morning Dave came over to let us know that Yvonne’s brother was hospitalized with invasive cancer and Yvonne would be leaving the next day to fly back to the U.S. We joined them for breakfast at the resort on the island before they took off back to Vuda Point. The next five days were spent relaxing and doing laundry…since laundry only took a morning, we spent lots of time relaxing.
On Wednesday, October 24, we cleared out of Fiji and departed for New Caledonia. The predicted weather was to be calm seas and mild wind…instead we sailed away from Fiji in 25+ knot winds and 8-foot seas. After the first 24 hours, the conditions began to calm and by the end of the second day, we were motor sailing. Another boat that had cleared out the same time we did was not far behind us as we left the protection of the reef and the island. We lost sight of them visually and on AIS before nightfall only to learn later that they had turned back and waited two more days before setting out again.
Our approach to New Caledonia came early the morning of Monday, October 29 with a beautiful sunrise. When we arrived in Noumea (the capital and the most sophisticated city in the South Pacific outside of those on New Zealand) we called Marina Port Moselle to report our arrival and make arrangements for Quarantine. We tied Sheric up to the quarantine pontoon inside the marina and waited, only a few minutes, for the officials to arrive. New Caledonia is pretty serious of their quarantine rules. They took all the fresh vegetables and fruit we still had on board (a few potatoes, onions, one lime, a coconut and our organic waste). They also asked about honey, dairy products, corn, dried legumes and meat (which we believe they would have taken if we had any but we had heard about the strictness and ate what we could before we arrived).
We spent our first night on the anchor in the very crowded anchorage outside the marina. There were more boats than we’d seen since being in St. Martin. Interestingly, a good portion of the boats are local boats or those that are kept in New Caledonia during the off season. However, we did meet a number of cruisers that were staging (as we were) to go to Australia or New Zealand. The next morning we completed our Customs and Immigration clearances then moved Sheric into a slip at Port Moselle…we were treating ourselves. It felt quite nice to be securely tied up to a dock and not have to be concerned with anchors, moorings and other boats. We also used the hot showers and free wifi. The local farmer produce market and fish market were within a two-minute walk from our dock. Very nice.
On Halloween, in a moment of spontaneity, we jumped on a train tour and enjoyed a ride around the city. While it didn’t take long, the city (and island) is noted for the TV shows Lost and a season of Survivor. Also, one of the casinos is named Casino Royale after the James Bond novel and movie. It is a beautiful place and reminds Sherry of pictures she’s seen of the French Riviera. New Caledonia is a French property so it was fortuitous that we happened to jump aboard an English-narrated tour.
Day 1,324 Update
03 November 2018 | Tonga
Well, after a full week of waiting out the weather system that passed slooowwllyy over Tongan waters, we finally set off north for Ha’apai. After a full day of sailing, we stopped overnight at Nomuka Iki. The next stop was Ha’afeva. Both islands are bordered by reefs so they are pretty protected regardless of wind direction with the exception of west. Thankfully, the wind wasn’t from the west. We saw many whales and a couple of dolphins on the way to both islands.
The islands of Ha’apai remind us of the Bahamas. They are close together and all of them have white, sandy beaches. The only difference…the water depth around the islands is much deeper in Tonga.
While we were waiting to leave Tongatapu, we decided to change our sailing plans and go to Fiji, New Caledonia and Australia instead of New Zealand. We will still fly to New Zealand and spend an extended time but we want the boat to be in Australia.
Our final stop in Ha’apai was the main village of Pangai. We checked in with the Customs office and immediately checked out again, getting our “local movement” document for Va’vau. We were able to get a few groceries and purchased more data and voice minutes from the small Digicel office.
Back at the boat, we discovered one of the end caps on the water maker membrane had sprung a leak. There was salt water everywhere inside the cabinet. We’re not certain how long it had been leaking but the cushion on the settee was very damp (and had started to smell which is what drew our attention in the first place). After clearing out the cabinet, cleaning it up and expressing our continued frustration and disappointment with the Spectra water maker, we made our way to shore again and enjoyed lunch at Mariner’s Café while we decompressed.
It was a beautiful day with good wind strength and direction so we elected to head off for Va’vau. We wanted to be there before Ann’s return to Serenity. We departed Pangai at 1530, had the best sail since arriving in the Pacific and pulled into Neiafu harbor in Va’vau at 0630 the next morning, Tuesday, September 25. Initially we were unable to find an available mooring ball so we dropped the anchor across the bay and waited for a ball to open up. While we were clearing in with Customs, checking out the local vegetable market and getting rid of our accumulated trash, Roy grabbed a mooring ball for us which was located right next to Serenity. Boy were we lucky. We immediately returned to Sheric to move.
A number of other cruisers we knew were either anchored or moored in the harbor…Summer, Begonia, Where II, Eleuthra, Excel, Desidorada…It was great to catch up with everyone. The first evening we enjoyed a delicious fish and chips dinner at The Hideaway (a small houseboat in the anchorage owned by a Canadian couple). The meal is served in a newspaper cone that you hold with one hand while picking out the bits with the other hand. Since there is only one table, you either stand or sit on one of the six chairs. Barry and Char, the owners, prepare and serve then stay until the last customer leaves. We had a wonderful evening listening to their stories about Tonga.
Late the next morning we walked over to the boat yard to meet Ken, the welder. We had to get the mixing elbow for the main engine and a bracket welded. It was a nice walk and since we hadn’t been getting much exercise, it felt good to expend some energy. On our return walk, we stopped at Tropicana Café and purchased a paper chart of the waters between Tonga and Australia. We had received electronic charts of Fiji, New Caledonia and Australia (from our chart guy in Austria) which we needed to download. We were still trying to figure that out since there was almost four gigabyte of data to retrieve and internet speed in the islands is never fast.
Ann arrived in Va’vau on the evening of September 26. We met Roy and Ann at Mangos for a reunion dinner. It was great to have her back. She had lots of good stories to tell about her visit home.
Roy raced Serenity in the weekly Friday boat race in the harbor. Of the three weeks, he took first place twice. Ric joined Serenity as crew the third time Roy raced. They took third place after coming from a starting position of LAST. They had fun and we (the ladies) enjoyed watching from shore with cold drinks in our hands. After the race, we had dinner at Refuge (the race host/organizer) and danced to the tunes played by a local DJ.
We didn’t do much exploring outside of Neiafu (the main village). We did walk around the village looking for provisions. The small, Chinese-run stores didn’t stock much and they all stocked the same stuff but we were able to get a few things. We visited Falaleu Deli, owned and operated by Barry and Char (the same people who operate The Hideaway), and picked up some meat and prepared pasta for the next passage. We also enjoyed meals at BellaVista, Mango, Refuge and Tropicana Café. Our stores are dwindling quickly (mostly intended on our part) since we are trying only to stock enough food for the next passage. We hope to not have to get rid of much when we arrive in Australia.
On Wednesday, October 3, Roy and Ann departed for Nuku’alofa to pick up their guests who were set to arrive Friday. We paid our mooring and harbor fees, then began clearing out with the Officials. Turns out we didn’t need to extend our Visas after all. Oh well…. We were able to take on 200 liters of duty-free diesel fuel which topped off both fuel tanks and filled four of the seven jerry cans we have on board. When we had our clearance for Fiji, we departed the harbor and anchored at Kapa Island near the west side of the island group to wait for better weather. It had been blowing in the mid to upper 20s and the seas were over three meters (nine feet) so we elected to sit tight and let things calm down a bit. The anchorage (aka Port Maurelle) was fairly comfortable even though we were anchored in coral and the chain made grinding noises all day and night.
Side note…sorry about not getting pictures uploaded. It’s been a lengthy delay with just the textual updates as (have we mentioned it before?) the internet speed “sucks”…