Sunday, 24 July 2011


We are in Australia!!!

We arrived on the 18th after a pleasant passage form New Caledonia, mostls mellow with two days of 25-30 knots which made for fast sailing. We ended up sailing around Moreton Bay off brisbane for 24 hours since check in on a Sunday is $700 in overtime.

Jumping through hoops for the importation process and making a few changes to comply with Australian regulations. Also madly packing and cleaning and painting.

In a week we pick up a camper van for the trip down to Sydney and hopefully to see a bit of the countryside.

Friday, 8 July 2011

New Caledonia

Just had a lightning visit to New Caledonia and it was wonderful. Highlights were Beaufort at 40€/kg and a drive around the south part of the Island with a hike in a National Park.Red soil and clear streams. Lots of Nickel mining.

We had a rough Pasage here, but it was the first time in 3 000 miles that we had wind directly on the nose so we can't really complain. We leave for Brisbane in an hour or so.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Tonga to Fiji July 16 th - 21nd (520 nautical miles)

Once again we are on the move.  How we all love the little offshore adventures!

We left Tonga with good weather, winds a little lighter than we’d like but you can’t complain with blue skies overhead.

A bit of a scare leaving the islands of Tonga, we passed very close to an unmarked reef.  Luckily Chris was fully alert on watch and spotted the first line of coral heads.  He yelled down and we steered clear to deeper waters.  There was a moment of panic while we checked charts and all notes and found no reference to these reefs.  For any interested parties here is the GPS position:

Position of unmarked reef:
18 40.781’s
174 25.375’W

Once our hearts stopped pounding we had a few minutes of “what are we doing out here??” and then we made some popcorn and carried on.  We were more vigilant but what do you do at night when it is dark?  Make more popcorn!!!

We had light winds all the way to Fiji and gentle seas.  Luckily we were able to keep sailing at a steady 4 to 5 kts.  Once we passed through Oneata passage in the Lau group we found ourselves in lighter and lighter winds until we were finally motoring in flat seas.  Ahead we say dark clouds and lightening so we steered slightly north dodging the storm cells.  Luckily everything passed south of us and we didn’t even see a drop of rain.

Unfortunately the winds never picked up so we continued motoring south Viti Levu and headed for Kuvalo Pass.  We arrived at the pass in the dark and decided to stand off and wait for light. Several hours later we were hailed by an approaching boat and decided to follow them in, as it turned out they were much faster but kindly gave us waypoints. 

Our hesitation was over the lights, which on our chart showed a white light to port but in fact it is now a flashing red light.  We realised our way points were just fine but it was nice to have some accurate info from the boat ahead. The passage  was straightforward and well marked.  We motored up the clearly marked ships channel to Lautoka and we arrived just in time for an early morning check in with customs, immigration etc.

 Fiji looks beautiful and we already regret having so few days to explore these islands. 

Thursday, 23 June 2011

In the Kingdom of Tonga

Tonga has turned out to be everything promised.  We've only had time to visit the Vav'au group (northern group) and they are beautiful.  The anchorages are protected, close together and uncrowded.  There are loads of quiet beaches, great snorkelling and ofcourse, spectacular sunsets.  We really wished that we had more time to explore these amazing islands.

The people are reserved but very friendly and helpful.  The local market had delicious fresh fruit and veg and ofcourse - baskets - beautiful, lovely baskets.  Everyone was so nice how could we not buy a little something from them all????  There is some tourism but once you go out to the anchorages you leave that behind.

We did some hiking out of Neiafu harbour and it looked like the main island would be interesting to explore.  Time restraints had us rushing off to try and see a few anchorages before we left.

Chris and Charlie went for another dive with the local shop and really enjoyed it.  They explored Mariners Cave and "just a dive" (whatever that means???).  We went into Swallows cave with the dinghy and looked around, shame about the graffiti but the bats were cool. One of our favourite snorkeling sites was just off anchorage #16 ( the Moorings has numbered all of the anchorages and has a terrific map which anyone can buy) It was some of the best coral we have seen yet !

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

May 27th - June 4th Raratonga - Beveridge Reef - Tonga

We left Raratonga with a good weather hole although once underway we found winds lighter than predicted.  We managed to ghost along and reached Beveridge reef after 4 days.  It was impressive how little you saw until you were right there! The seas were calm so the breakers were not that big.  The pass was straight forward and we found the waypoints from Mr John's guide from the Club Cruceros website were all good.

It was magically working our way through this calm lagoon with beautiful turquoise waters.  We anchored in 12ft of sand and looked around us - sea met sky, not a palm tree or beach in sight.  We found the snorkelling to be fantastic on the reef side opposite the pass, near the pass it was less interesting.  The water was the clearest we have seen anywhere and the colours of both coral and fish were fantastic!  We spent 2 days snorkelling and experiencing this unique paradise.

Weather was changing so we decided to head off to Vavau, Tonga while we still had clear skies.
Our plan worked and although we had heavy squalls for most of the trip we did not experience high winds until the last afternoon coming into Vavau, Tonga.  The winds picked up to 25 and pushed us nicely along so we made harbour before dark.

As we worked our way through the misty islands we all thought of home and summers in the Broughton group and Blackfish Sound.  Just swap the palm trees for pine and cedar and it works!

It was straighforward entering Neiafu harbour and we found a mooring buoy to tie up.  Bad luck it was a holiday weekend so we could not check in for another 2 days.  We also crossed the dateline so lost another day somewhere along the way - time flies.  The weather we had been racing hit and we had strong gusts and heavy rain for the 2 days.  Good chance to catch up on school and get the boat tidied up. Nobody seemed to mind just hanging out and the days passed quickly.

We are really looking forward to exploring these beautiful islands!

Just a quick note of interest - our favourite passage food is POPCORN!! We make it anytime, night or day and gobble it up! Tinned butter is a godsend so we can even add those extra calories.  Even the heavy squalls seem to fade away while we munch our bowl of yummy bliss!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Cook Islands, Rarotonga

We had a great passage from Moorea, with gentle winds and a bright full moon. Very relaxing.
We caught a 48 lb mahi Mahi at dawn on day two, very fighty and delicious.

Arrived in the harbour (which is undergoing a major rebuild and dredging for cruise ships) and tied stern to the wall. Very European.

Really friendly Island, and everyone speaks NZ which is nice. NZ dollars are the local currency and they drink Steinlager and eat fish and chips. Very civilised.

Chris and Charlie did a three day PADI open water dive course, including four ocean dives, the last one on a wreck. Great fun and very professionally taught. The girls cycled right around the Island and Steff and the two teens hiked across as well.

We also went to the Saturday market which was very relaxed and had bacon and egg sandwiches.

Haven't had a chance to participate in the local Jet blast sport yet. All the local kids wait at the end of the runwayy for the big jets to take off and then hang on the fence to get blown horizontal by the jet blast. Apparently a dive mask is useful to keep the grit out of your eyes!

Heading off tomorrow (Thursday26th) for Beveridge reef which is in the middle of the ocean with no land around. If it is fine we willl stay ther two nights and then on to Tonga.

Friday, 13 May 2011


We had an exciting sail to Papeete Tahiti and hove to for a few hours before entering the harbour. We are now in Moorea enjoying the hiking and swimming. Tomorrow we leave for Raratonga in the Cook Isands. It should be a 6-7 day trip unless we get light winds.

We will miss the French islands and their friendly people. It has been a great chance for the kids to catch up on their French!