Sept-November 2017…in case you were wondering

Our adventures in 2017 don’t seem like a distant memory just yet, but for those of you who wanted to know what else we did after August 2017 (when I last wrote in Vanuatu), we’ve been busy working, studying and acclimating back to the pace of Sydney life.

Australia Day 2018:

australiaday2018

Rewind to the end of September 2017: After meeting up with our friends Loreta, Nathan, Marc and Nicole who we hosted on board for about 5 days around Port Vila in Vanuatu, we flew to Tanna and spent 2 days exploring the amazing volcano.volcanoteam

volcanous.jpgAfter flying back to Vila from Tanna, we hurriedly cleared out of customs, refuelled and restocked the boat then met our friends at their hotel for a huge Italian feast on our last night in Vanuatu.

The next morning, we left them on land to fly back to Australia and we had a great 3 day passage over to New Caledonia where we cleared in @ Noumea, then picked up a mooring at Ilot Maitre and proceeded to spend the last 5 weeks of our adventures kiteboarding and enjoying sunset drinks with other yacht friends. We did not feel like exploring any more at that stage and spent our time hauling the boat out to install the depth sounder, and putting another layer of antifoul on the hull. We then proceeded to hit a coral in the mooring field at Maitre, and hauled out again to tidy up the small scrape (that I take full responsibility for).

We had an uneventful dream passage from Noumea, New Caledonia back to Australia as we were aiming for any part of the Australian East coast (from Bundaberg to Newcastle), but luckily the wind cooperated and we were able to maintain a course to clear in at our first choice of Newcastle where customs was a breeze and Andy’s dad, Colin met us for a little sail down from Newcastle to Lake Macquarie.

sailinglakemacquarie

In Lake Macquarie, it was lovely to spend a couple of nights visiting with Andy’s dad and step mum after nearly 8 months travelling. When they asked what we’d like to eat, I said, “anything besides cabbage or banana.” I also really appreciated doing ALL of our washing that we’d been saving up for about 2 months since Vanuatu. The luxury of land life was short-lived as the tides in Lake Macquarie meant that we had to leave sooner than we expected or risk scraping the sandy bottom on our way out of the shallow, rarely dredged channel.

When we arrived back in Sydney at the end of November 2017, we originally believed we had organized a mooring at the marina we had the boat at before, but that was not the case, so it was a nerve-wracking few weeks having the boat anchored in Blackwattle Bay in Sydney before we found our new home at Northbridge Marina…where we’ve been for nearly a year! boatnorthbridge

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Let’s play guess the depth: Vanuatu part 1

DCIM101GOPROHello everyone,

Last we wrote, we had just arrived in Luganville, Vanuatu on the island of Espiritu Santo and we were taking care of things like customs, water refills and general relaxation after being at sea for a week. Over the course of the past 2 weeks we’ve discovered a bit of this island and after a few days going up and down the east coast, we’re back anchored outside of Beachfront resort waiting for two friends, (Tasha and Amanda) to arrive this afternoon with hopefully a working depth sounder.

We tried our best to be good little tourists while we’ve been here. After our initial few days of recovery, we snorkeled at Million Dollar Point and saw the artificial reef growing on a pile of WWII relics. When the USA pulled out of this area after using it as a base to deter the Japanese from any advancement further into the Pacific theatre, they trashed “A million dollar’s” worth of equipment by lining it all up and “driving” it into the sea by weighting down the accelerators with bricks and rocks. Before that, the U.S. tried to sell the equipment to the Vanuatu government at the time, but the French were ruling then and refused, thinking the Americans would leave the equipment anyway…well I guess that didn’t work out how they expected.

We met some fellow yachties when we got back from snorkeling and after helping them load some of their provisions into their dinghy, we found out they were doing the Millennium cave tour the next day. We decided we might as well come along and after a day of climbing up and down a bunch of ladders in the jungle and floating down a river, we were pretty tired for the next two days. This made us realize just how out of shape we’ve become despite what we consider exercise like hauling water and swimming almost daily. It was a great day out and is owned and run by a local village who do a great job.

Andy went on a couple of dives on the wreck of the Coolidge over the next 2 days (no good photos unfortunately) and then we motor sailed up to Hog Harbor/Champagne beach on the NE corner of Santo. DCIM101GOPROchampagnebeach

After snorkeling and kayaking our way around the Champagne beach anchorage, we made our way through an extremely dicey pass to anchor behind Oyster Island (midway between Champagne beach and Luganville). Several people we met wanted to give us the waypoints to get through this reef area, but even with the way points, we would’ve landed over a pretty large coral bommie, so we took it slow and I was at the bow keeping a keen lookout with a pair of Andy’s reef spotting polarized sunglasses. We have no idea how shallow the pass actually was as our depth sounder has been iffy at best and hasn’t worked since Wallis.  Wanderlust stayed off the coral and the bottom and we anchored in a very sheltered spot. We dinghied up a river to the Matevulu blue hole and had a swim in the fresh water.

We left Oyster Island the next day at high tide and thankfully followed our path on the chart plotter from the day before so no coral surprises. Then we anchored down in Pelikula bay and checked out a couple of surface shipwrecks.

Thankfully it is now raining profusely and the scorching day has finally cooled off. We are stocked up with fuel, water and all kinds of tasty treats for a week with Tasha and Amanda and we are headed slowly South to meet up with more friends towards the end of September.

Until next time,

Bre & Andy

Where’s Wallis?

Hi everyone,

I work fast I know…after reading the last blog about our final days in Tonga, it’s another back logged entry about our short time in Wallis. We left Vavau, Tonga on August 2nd and arrived on the reef fringed island of Uvea (Wallis) on August 5th in the early morning. We then floated outside the reef for a few hours until the sun came up so we could make it through the pass through the reef in daylight.

wallissunrise

Heading for the pass at sunrise

Anyone thinking of going to Wallis, the pass close to low tide is probably the best time to go through as quite a bit of current can pass through the area and on our way back out, it was a bit bumpy where the pass meets the open ocean. Wallis is located NE of Fiji about 200 nautical miles away (241 land miles or 388 KM) 13.2959° S, 176.2057° W. It became a French protectorate in 1965 and now has imported French cheese and baguettes as a result.

We considered going to Wallis way back when we were at Big Mama’s Yacht club at the beginning of our time in Tonga. We heard the snorkeling was amazing and not many people go there so we decided to go to Wallis and skip Fiji. Upon arrival in Wallis, we were surprised that the police (Gendarme) spoke some English as we were trying to practice our French phrases over the 2 day sail and learning to say (we are on a yacht) was proving quite difficult. They were able to stamp our passports for entry, then we waited until customs was open on Monday to complete the proper yacht arrival forms. We did this with our friends Hamish and Ulrika on Adamite who we met when we were originally in the Ha’apais. Wanderlust and Adamite were yachts 57 and 58 to visit Wallis this year.

We were happy to get some baguettes and never made it back to the boat with our first one as we ate the whole thing on the walk back to the dinghy. wallisbaguet

After anchoring in the extremely windy East side of the island we quickly made our way down South where Andy was able to prepare his kite for some kiteboarding. However, the island was in a wind shadow so I dinghied him and his board out away from the wind shadow while he kept the kite up at the 12 o’clock position, then he hopped off very impressively and was on his way. After being spoiled in Tonga with pristine kiting conditions, he was less than impressed, but the snorkeling was beautiful and I’m glad we chose to go to Wallis. We failed at charging the gopro so sorry, no photos.

On our last day in Wallis, we anchored down the southwest side near some fuel silos and the guys on Adamite were kind enough to dinghy us all in so we could clear out and hit the shops. I of course grew tired of walking quite quickly and had read that passing passenger trucks will usually stop for hitch hikers. We all hopped into one of 3 trucks that would eventually take us to the the large supermarket (SEM). If you are reading this and plan to visit Wallis, this giant supermarket is on the main road LEFT after the police station (where the road splits in three) we did not choose this third route when we originally went exploring. We managed to get a giant bottle of red wine for $20 and somehow spent $30 on 4 tomatoes…the fresh produce was expensive, but not that expensive…apparently the scale thought 4 tomatoes weighed 1.5 kg and we didn’t realize until after we were back on the boat…Thankfully, Hamish thought to find out at the supermarket where we actually had to get back to and the people made him a sign for the side of the road. A kind lady in a tiny blue car managed to shove all four of us and her young child into the car and took us back to where the dinghy was. I was actually amazed we made it back to where we started from.

hitchhikewalliswallischurchwallisbanana

We departed Wallis on Thursday, August 10th and had a beautiful sail all the 960 nautical miles to Luganville, Vanuatu.bresleeppassage We even had a bird hitch hike on the boat for 4 consecutive nights.birdpassageThanks bird for decorating Wanderlust with all your poops. After 7 days at sea, we arrived yesterday and we are currently anchored off beachfront resort off the island of Santo in Vanuatu and so far we’ve found the people of Vanuatu extremely friendly. Beachfront is also a one stop shop as they allow yachties to use their wifi and pool if you buy drinks or food. They have a drinking water tap to refill jerry jugs, hot showers, a book exchange, and can send laundry off for us as well.  Everything we could want.

Until next time,

Bre & Andy

 

Viva Vavau!

mounu

Hello Beauties,

We just arrived in Vanuatu (August 17th), but we needed to update the blog for the past few weeks of activity so bear with us. Last we wrote (Sometime in July) we were looking forward to Tash and Patti coming to visit and were feeling a bit annoyed over all the inconveniences of paddling without an outboard and having steering fluid leaking about and an electric autopilot that finally bit the dust.

HOWEVER, we are doing much better and everything is working in our favor these days and we are loving life 100% rather than 96% like that last blog post seemed to insinuate.

Tash and Patti arrived on July 22nd and we enjoyed having them onboard because we went new places and were on the move rather than chilling out in the same anchorage for many days or being on a town mooring for multiple days trying to sort our outboard situation. Unfortunately, our outboard situation was only sorted miraculously towards the end of Tash and Patti’s trip and we got a brand new 5hp mercury for super cheap…amazing I know. We liked to paddle everywhere by then although the paddling wasn’t conducive to Andy’s kiteboarding necessities. Tash and Patti were also able to deliver our new autopilot motor which is working beautifully!paddlingwithTandp

The first day that Tash and Patti arrived, we went for a swim into swallow’s cave and even saw 2 whales on our way.

We anchored for the night near the island of Nuku and went over for drinks on our friends’ catamaran Halo after some snorkeling. DCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPRODCIM101GOPROOver the next week we snorkeled at Coral Gardens and swam under a meter wide overhang into Mariner’s Cave. Both were incredible, but the gopro didn’t take good photos because we tested out the red lens and it made everything dark and bloody looking. We spent a few hours down the south of Honga in an area named “blue lagoon” which turned rolly and crazy after a few hours when the tide came up so we anchored in a different area for the night. Andy was able to get a lot of kiteboarding in off the island of Mounu and even tried to teach me some more, but I am not yet able to incorporate the board as I’m still trying to wield the kite appropriately.

Tash, Patti and I went whale watching one day and it was ok, but very windy and choppy so Tash and Patti went again the next day and had a better experience. Of course we went to our favorite restaurant, Aquarium a few times and then it was sadly time for Patti to leave and then Tash departed a few days later.

After dropping Tash off to catch a taxi to the airport, we made our way around to tie up alongside Halo and clear out of Tongan customs on August 1st, get our duty free fuel and prepare for our departure to Wallis on August 2nd.

We had a bit of a bumpy passage up to Wallis which started out by momentarily catching a massive marlin with our brand new, sparkly pink lure…which we promptly lost along with 30m? of high grade fishing line. At least the line snapped and the rod remained on the boat. It was quite the spectacle of jumping and flipping for oh about…5 mins. Overall, we had an amazing 2 months in Tonga and would recommend visiting to anyone. We especially liked the restaurants, Aquarium for amazing food and margaritas as well as Tropicana for anything and everything someone one a boat would need like lpg, book exchange, laundry courtesy flags and the BEST cheese and ham toastie on the best brown bread.

Stay tuned Wallis and passage to Vanuatu post next…

Boat life is the best life,

Bre & Andy

 

Anchor chain music: Boat life part 2

Hello beautiful people,

We’ve been silent on the blog front for quite some time as we’ve been discovering the beautiful Vav’au group of Tonga and….surprisingly *sarcasm* dealing with multiple breakages and equipment failures. Don’t worry, we’re fine and things could always be worse right? (Note to self: never write that again or think that either)

Way back on June 27th we left the Ha’apai group and had a beautiful sail up to the Vava’u group. Well, the next morning our autopilot, the third crew member that steers the boat so we don’t have to stand at the wheel on passage, decided to die. Andy deduced that it was the motor component and took it to get serviced. Great! However, when the motor was reconnected it didn’t provide enough torque (strength) to move the hydraulic arms that move the rudder. Since then, we’ve been hand steering around the islands and thankfully they are all super close together with idyllic beaches and crystal clear water.  Also luckily for us, we were far enough away from other islands when we temporarily lost steering on Monday. Andy was checking for hydraulic fluid leaks and the end of the hose completely burst. Andy cut off the broken bit of hydraulic hose, reattached it and all without  having to dig out the massive yellow pipe we can use to steer if the hydraulic system completely fails. Andy brought the autopilot motor back to the mechanic and ordered a new motor for the autopilot along with quite a few other boat essentials for our friend Tasha to bring along (Thanks Tash)! So at this stage we’re crossing our fingers that something works out and we don’t have to end up getting a whole new system which would require much more time and lots more money. The autopilot was my favorite component on the boat and we need it to work for our next passage as 2 people plus hand steering for multiple days means exhaustion and we aren’t even considering that as an option.

A couple of days into our time in Vava’u we heard about a Fakaleiti show at a local bar. Fakaleiti means in the manner of a lady and refers to Tongan men who are raised as females from a young age especially in families that have too many boys. This type of transgenderism is accepted by the community and is present in a few other South Pacific countries. The show was hilarious and the ladies had amazing lip syncing paired with hip thrusting that kept the crowd entertained. A few times the innuendo embarrassed some of the crowd, but it only fueled the fakaleiti’s fire.

For the most part, we’ve anchored in crystal clear water in giant sandy patches but often times, the chain finds a bit of rock to rub against to serenade us with grinding and random bangs just when we’re going to sleep. We’re quite used to it these days and Andy has only had to dive to retrieve a stuck bit of chain once so we’re counting ourselves pretty lucky so far. Of course we have a second anchor as a just in case… The snorkeling hasn’t been the most stellar I’ve ever seen, but at many of the anchorages there are lots of small fish, anemones, and live coral.

When we arrived in Neiafu, the main town in the Vava’u group, we were excited to find it well stocked with fruits, veggies and other essentials which was a welcome change after subsisting on a creative blend of potatoes, carrots and onions for half of our time in the Ha’apai group (after our freezer broke). Tonga is not cheap by any means as a lot of meats and cheeses are imported from NZ or the US and are priced accordingly, but we aren’t suffering and depriving ourselves, we’re just paying 3x the price and thinking they’ll be plenty of time to make it up when we have to work again. I tend to get carried away when I go to the shops and even the market. For example, I saw this pile of glistening pineapples yesterday, grabbed one and paid $14 AUD without even a worry in the world.

We had high hopes of catching quite a few fish on our travels this year, but so far I think we’ve caught 4 or 5 fish that are each good for one meal for 2 of us. A few days ago we went offshore about a mile to get down to a lagoon on the east side (Honga) and we saw a few whales although they weren’t too close to us. We stayed one night in the lagoon and the next day we went a bit more south in choppy seas. When we turned into the islands, we hooked a Mahi, however the line snapped before Andy could reel it all the way in. Not only did we lose another lure, but we also lost a decent sized, delicious fish and as a result, we invested in some high grade fishing line so that the new line won’t snap as soon as Andy goes to reel in a tasty catch for our next meal. Hopefully we can keep all the lures we still have left and start landing some fish. The fishing is only passable outside the islands and no one has had much luck when traveling between islands up here.

I’m not sure how long term cruisers do this boat thing on a budget because just when everything is going great, another thing breaks. Yesterday, our dinghy outboard bit the dust completely and is never coming back to life. About a week ago, the start cord detached and that was an easy enough fix for Andy. Of course we had to paddle our hearts out straight into the wind to get back to the boat from the furthest dinghy dock in town.  Then a couple of days ago, the engine stalled out completely and we drifted 300m away from the boat in 25 knot wind and realized the engine would not start again so we had another fervent paddle into the wind, Andy changed the spark plugs and we had another 3 days of use. Now it is never coming back to life as the fixes Andy could think of didn’t work and we brought it into the mechanic in town and the engine compression is the problem. We are now faced with getting a reconditioned outboard with a 1/4 size engine or paying 3x the price of a similar engine in Australia to get one shipped up from the main capital of Tonga. I am voting for the cheaper, smaller engine and hoping for the best, but the good news is we get 2 new crew (Tash and her mom) on Saturday so they can help paddle if all else fails.

In amongst the frustration of failing parts, we’ve had some beautiful days with wind strong enough for Andy to go kiteboarding and I even had a fourth go of it, but when Andy tried to introduce the board, it was too much for me as I was just figuring out how to drag my body through the water, keep my mouth closed, and try not to drown. The island was surrounded by a shallow (knee deep) sandy bay so if I got too much water in my mouth, I could just stand up, realign the kite and try again. Maybe by the end of the year I’ll actually get on the board, but I’m taking very small baby steps and prefer to make sure Andy doesn’t travel too far away from the island he started from (when the ideal wind is offshore). Kiteboarding is meant to be practiced with onshore winds so if your kite fails or the wind drops, you float back to shore (with the wind), but having a dinghy with a motor that works means you can get picked up if you happen to float away from the island you started from.

We’ve also been lucky enough to spot a few whales since we’ve been up here although none of them have been very close. A few nights ago we saw a pod of about 3 or 4 when we were at anchor with our chain rubbing on a rock, but they were at least a mile away. The local operators run the humpback whale swimming/sighting cruises and if any yacht or visitor is swimming or less than 300 m away from a whale, there is a serious fine and probable revocation of your visitor visa. With all of the dramas we’re having and waiting for parts, we are definitely not going to jeopardize our time in Tonga and risk getting kicked out. We’re planning to swim with whales when Tasha and Patti get here provided we get some light wind, small swell days.

As I write this and my laptop starts to die, I went to turn on the generator and it kept cutting out. So now Andy is reading the manual and trying to figure out what the problem is after the several things he thought of didn’t work.  At least I don’t have to try to fix anything, I just have to hand over tools and feed the mechanic. For now, it’s getting dark and we’re recharging the batteries by running the engine. I hope you enjoyed living vicariously through this post and sorry if any part of it came across as too complain-y. We’re still floating, we have money and time to deal with things as they arise and Vava’u is a beautiful place. vavauisland.jpg

Until next time,

Bre & Andy

 

The indispensable machete: cruising the Ha’apai islands

Hi everyone!

Miss us? We are loving island life, meeting fellow cruisers and relaxing with little to no plans day to day. *Drone photos and kite photos courtesy of Michaela Huss on S/V Alita*

Currently, we are anchored off the island Uoleva near a fantastic sandy point perfect for kiteboarding. Andy is in heaven and I even practiced flying a kite for a few hours a few days ago and surprisingly didn’t crash. There is an amazing kiteboarding resort nearby with friendly owners Glen & Karen. Luckily, Glen gave Andy some advice about fixing his larger kite that got damaged over 10 days ago so now he has 2 kites again that he can use in a variety of wind speeds. 

andykite.jpgWhen we last wrote, we just arrived in Tonga and checked into customs etc. We ended up spending 10 days anchored off Big Mama’s yacht club on Pangaimotu and departed on June 7th for Kelefesia island after stocking up on fresh supplies and clearing out of customs. Tonga requests clearing in and out of the various island groups as a courtesy which has been very easy so far.

We spent the night of June 7th-9th anchored off Kelefesia which is a beautiful island with giant cliffs at the ends and a coral reef right up to the beach on one side. Bringing the dinghy to shore at anything other than high tide was not really possible. We were in company with SV Alita, home to our friends, Michaela and Marcus and Michaela’s brother Alex, visiting for 2 months.

We had a big bbq on Wanderlust on the night of June 10th as the freezer died and we were anchored off Nomuka island with our friends on Alita, our friends on Maharangi and sharing the bay with another yacht, Luna C which has 3 kids under 7!  We had 7 people on board for the BBQ and Andy grilled up a tasty beef roast, sausages and bbq chicken…not all of our meat, but most of it. It was a great get together with everyone even if it was the result of more equipment breaking. On the bright side, the batteries get a good charge during the day without the extra power consumption  of running the freezer.

We walked all around Nomuka and had a nice swim in the beautiful blue water…all the islands we’ve visited have beautiful clear turquoise water so we’re getting used to it, but still consider it remarkable.

hapai2After Nomuka, we went to my favorite island so far, Vonukuhihifo where Andy had a day of good kite surfing and Michaela, on Alita made a drone video for him and it coincided with his birthday on June 12th! He was landing some jumps and this was the first time he was able to kite again since January so a really nice day. We had a delicious feast on Alita on Andy’s birthday of fresh fish and finished the night with some very gooey brownies that I brought along.

hapai3It’s nice traveling in company with another yacht and great because Michaela and Marcus are familiar with the islands after visiting a couple of years ago. Also Michaela is a very inventive cook and shared  some yum German recipes with us. So far, we’ve made pretzels and pizza from her recipes and they didn’t turn out too bad for the first try.

After the island with the really long name, we sailed up to Lifuka to check in to the Ha’apai’s and were a bit disappointed at the lack of selection at the shops. We did find some basic bread though and stocked up on tang and eggs. Finally in Lifuka, we bought a machete which is extremely useful for chopping up coconuts to drink (green ones) or eat (brown ones already on the ground). We learned how to climb coconut trees (by tying your legs together about hip with apart at the ankles) and shimmying up a palm tree. Only trees at the perfect angle of 45ish degrees work for this method. Yesterday, I finally perfected boat bread using the “18 hour bread recipe” and it came out chewy, flavorful and looks like bread! It’s not super dense or under cooked like my previous attempts although all the baking has increased our cooking fuel consumption and we will eventually need to refill propane and fresh water when we reach Vava’u. We have no plans to head to Vava’u anytime soon as we are very much enjoying the uninhabited islands, the beautiful beaches and the company of other cruisers down in the Ha’apai group.

Until next time,

Bre & Andyhapai

Cyclone on the Rhumb Line: NZ to Tonga

pangaiamoto.jpgHi beautiful people!

Sorry for the delayed update, but this is more than likely going to be the pattern over the next 5 months when we’re in places with spotty wifi or none at all. Thankfully after 2 weeks at sea, we dropped the anchor off the island of Pangaimotu (the home of Big Mama’s Yacht Club) and finally stopped on Saturday, May 27th! What a relief to get to Tonga after a slow and sloppy passage. What have we been up to for the past 2+ weeks at sea? Well, we departed Whangarei, NZ on Saturday, May 13th after spending more than 3 weeks in the marina getting colder by the moment and making good use of our fireplace onboard. Now, we are sweaty, snorkeling and enjoying the sultry humidity…and fixing things that broke on the way or that decided to break once we arrived in Tonga where things are difficult if not impossible to come by.

Andy’s guesstimate for our passage to Tonga was about 5 days to Minerva reef and another 3 or so to Tonga, but being a bit overzealous at estimating, I guessed correctly that the passage would take 2 weeks and we didn’t even stop at Minerva on the way. We went all kinds of directions on our passage and veered so far from the rhumb line that I figured we’d get there when we get there as long as we could hopefully avoid the 40+ knot winds and the 4-9 meter seas predicted near Tonga if we continued on our course into a massive tropical depression over a week ago. We avoided the majority of the bad weather and the crazy seas, but we got to use the storm sail and the boat kept floating! Day 1: Departing through the Whangarei bridge

open bridge wander lustdepartwhangarei.jpgAll the days on passage seemed to have blurred together, but the highlights include getting drenched by a massive wave while ensconced in the cockpit with Andy immediately yelling “you’re wet, but the wave snapped the clamps off the port light”, then a day or two later the head sail ripping, then one of the furlers got jammed and a sail wouldn’t furl in, then we had to conserve fuel and most recently the charge on the batteries is dodgy at best. Cruising is not all pina coladas and sunsets as I had been warned before we set off on the trip. I am still happy to be on this adventure and only was a little worried when we were getting reports of gale force winds and 9 meter seas at one stage (far to the North, but essentially on our proposed route). We safely avoided all of that drama and hung down south for about 3 days going 1-2 knots overnight when the waves were 3-4 meters because we didn’t want to damage anything else in the middle of the night and waited for the tropical depression to go by far to the North of us.rainbowtotonga

Andy was especially fantastic at macgyvering everything that broke. For the port light, which is a window that can be below sea level when we are heeled over, he wedged a piece of the shelf against it to keep it closed and then took some sailor’s friend (sika-flex) and attached some timber to the outside of the window to dampen the force of future waves. This worked quite well surprisingly and no waves came flooding into the boat.  It also helped that the window was on the high side the whole trip and the swell lessened over time. The only casualty for the window drama was some of our clothes got soaked as they were on the shelves below the window with the broken securing mechanism. Nothing laundry service can’t fix. atseatonga

After the headsail ripped, we had a day of calm weather allowing Andy to take the sail down and sew it back together and it ripped along a seam making the fix less dramatic than it could’ve been. For the furler which we knew was dodgy, but worked just fine in NZ, duct tape and pvc pipe have “fixed” it once we got to Tonga. For the passage though, Andy had to go up near the mast in 3-4 meter swells and gently furl in the staysail while watching that the line stayed on the furler and didn’t come off and get wrapped around the stay or who knows where else.  Thankfully he was tethered on and he is a boat spider monkey who can balance no matter what. fixsail

As on the last passage to Nz, we spent this passage sleeping, eating, sleeping some more and checking the weather multiple times a day. I wasn’t especially bored, because I was asleep or on watch with a giant cup of coffee and if I had to do it again, I would. Getting to Tonga and having all the future island time to look forward to makes it worth it. After arriving on Saturday, we had to wait until Monday to clear into customs and that was a testament of patience. We’re on Tonga time now. Quarantine was quite relaxed and just said “don’t throw any fresh stuff over the side”. Quite the difference compared to the strict quarantine in New Zealand. Already I’m thinking we may have under provisioned on coffee and beer, but if all else fails we have a boat full of pasta, rice and tinned veg so we won’t starve.

The markets actually have a decent selection of fresh fruit and veg and we are looking forward to eating lots of tropical fruit for the next 6 months. We’ve met quite a few people off the other yachts anchored nearby and rafted up with 2 other boats clearing into customs which helped pass the time as we waited…and waited…. Generally people are heading up to the Ha’apai island group and or Va’vau to the North, so we’ll most likely see a few of these people again on the trip. We are especially enjoying the snorkeling, cold beers and delicious food that Big Mama’s has to offer, but we’re looking forward to getting things sorted again so we can continue the voyage to remote islands, white sand beaches and prime locations for kiteboarding. Keep an eye on us on http://www.yit.co.nz (Wanderlust V) as we will update our location and activities via HF radio onto that site when we are on passage/away from wifi/ etc. If you’re curious about the exact route we took and the things that happened on passage, feel free to log onto the yachts in transit website and read all about it as Andy updated daily.

bigmama.jpgFor those that may come visit us, we’ll be in Tonga for probably 6 weeks-2 months as a guess and the humpback whales are coming end of June/ July. Then Fiji, then Vanuatu, then New Caledonia. We really hope some of you can make it. For those that can’t, enjoy the vicarious experience.

Until next time,

Andy and Bre

 

 

Imminent departure Nz to Tonga

Hi Everyone,

We haven’t had anything to report over the past few weeks of biding our time in Whangarei, NZ, waiting for a cyclone free weather window, until now. We are heading off tomorrow for Tonga and depending on our average speed and whether or not we stop off at Minerva Reef, we should get to Tonga in the next 2 weeks. (This is a gross overestimation on my part, by a long shot). Andy is guesstimating about a week…We have enough food on board to not starve for many months and I’d bet money that we make it back to Sydney in November with some unopened tins of asparagus  and probably a bag of goon or two (boxed wine). 20170430_160759.jpg

We were really lucky to be holed up at the Town Basin Marina in Whangarei and we’ve been spoiled with convenience as everything is so close by.

images (8)It is easy to walk to the supermarket, the gas station and anywhere else you need to go to get anything boat related or life related.

We also were lucky enough to have great boat neighbors, (Doug & Sandra) who have spent many seasons in Nz and were extremely helpful with insider knowledge about Whangarei and the islands. They even shared a bread recipe with me that I failed at very much..I’m going with it was too cold for the bread to properly rise.file-4.jpeg They also lent us their collapsible boat bikes so we could cruise around on some trails. FB_IMG_1494550205030

It’s been an amazing 3 months in New Zealand, but we are more than ready to head for warmer climes. We are waking up early tomorrow for our last land showers and then back down the river to clear out of customs at Marsden Cove and then into the ocean again! Follow our progress on http://www.yit.nz (Wanderlust V) as we will update our location regularly and the findship app isn’t nearly as accurate.

Until we post again,

Bre & Andy

Hot baths and hot springs (Great Barrier Island to Whangarei)

Hi everyone,

Last we wrote, we had made it to Great Barrier Island (GBI) and were anchored in Smokehouse bay for 3 uneventful days. Smokehouse bay is very popular with yachts visiting GBI because there is an ingenious wood fired bath set up, hand wrung laundry and a pit toilet. Last Saturday we met a few fellow yachties around the campfire and it wasn’t until our second visit to the bay that we actually had a hot soak in the bath. The land is for public use in perpetuity and it is up to the yachties and a trust to keep the place maintainted. They’re doing a great job of it so far. 20170420_10154120170420_10150620170420_10134520170420_10135320170420_101304 After leaving Smokehouse, we contined further down the West coast of GBI to Whangaparapara (wh pronounced ph) and spent a couple of days walking on some nice trails. The first walk we did was to Whangaparapara summit which we did in “jandles” NZ for flip flops or if you’re Aussie, ‘thongs’. This was a smart choice especially on the way back as i slid down on my ass once, and fell crossways on my knees once. Andy was walking a bit behind me so he could laugh at my slips and skids as I traipsed down the ‘mountain’. Summit and mountain are very generous terms to describe the trail. I would call it a “lookout” at best. 20170417_134211.jpg

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The wind picked up at our anchorage in Whangaparapara harbour when we got back so we didn’t sleep the best, thankfully the next day we were planning to visit the ‘#1 must do’ in GBI. We were going to visit the Kaitoke hot springs! After reading a review that it was ‘wallowing in a shallow warmish pool’ we were more than excited to commence our who knows how long hike to get there. We walked along the old tramline track to the hot spring (that was decommissioned in the 1940s) and came back via walking 5k along the road as the ‘gentle incline’ of the tram track started out great for the first 500 m then became mud, ravines and creek crossings which Andy loved and I complained about. At least we had on proper shoes though!

20170418_124057After we returned to the boat it was getting pretty cold so Andy hooked up the fireplace and we enjoyed relaxing with a bottle of red and some spaghetti to replace all the calories we must’ve burned traversing ravines and creeks.

The next morning we went back to Port Fitzroy for some lunch at the boat club and then we spent another night at Smokehouse bay where we actually used the hot bath after Andy chopped a bunch of wood and had the fire going for a couple of hours to warm the water tank. We went around the corner on our last day to Bradshaw Cove where there are some old war bunkers in the brush. Good thing we didn’t bring any unruly children that may’ve climbed into the bunkers…

We left at 5 am the next morning (Friday April 21) to make it to Whangarei Marina before the office closed and we made pretty good time. Andy let me sleep in for the morning so I’d be less cranky and thankfully the radar and chartplotter helped Andy get the boat up the narrow river channel to the Marina as visibility was poor at best. Luckily, I got to test out my wet weather suit and donned my sea boots for the very first time which all worked great. After checking in to the Marina we stayed in for the rest of the afternoon and cozied up to the fireplace.

We will be in Whangarei Marina until we get a good weather window to make a break for Tonga. We are enjoying the central location and being a few 100m from all necessities will make provisioning extremely convenient. On the way out, we can clear out of customs at Marsden Cove Marina (at the river’s mouth)and top up fuel.

Thanks for reading,

Bre & Andy

Soaked through (Opua to Great Barrier Island)

Hi everyone,

Last we wrote we were hoping to start exploring some of the offshore islands near the Eastern coast of the North Island. Before leaving Opua last Sunday, we filled up water, did laundry and savored showering at the Opua Marina facilities one last time. Of course, as soon as the laundry was out of the dryer and I was back in the dinghy, halfway to Wanderlust, the wind picked up and the rain set in.  There was nothing to do aside from get drenched and learn the lesson to put washing in a dry bag next time or trash bag (like everyone else I saw at the laundry). The dinghy also had 100L (100kg) of water filled jerry cans in it weighing it down so there was no way to go over the waves, instead I had to plough through them.  We left our anchorage in Opua the next day (Sunday, April 9) and anchored around the corner from Cape Brett lighthouse at deep water cove (Maunganui Bay).

capebrettWe set off earlyish the next morning with all intention to head for Poor Knight’s Islands, but after going around Cape Brett, the sloppy seas and the previous night’s super spicy curry had us both feeling sea sick. Neither of us vomited, thankfully, but we decided to get out of the swell and try again the next day. Andy changed course for Whangaruru harbour and just as we were turning in, we snagged our first fish! It flopped around for quite a while spraying a bit of blood around the cockpit and making a huge mess. The best sight ever for someone feeling dizzy and nauseous. Hopefully we’ll try to improve the method next time and bleed it before it comes onboard.

We got a slow start the next morning and set off for Poor Knight’s, renowned for it’s diving. Unfortunately, once we got there we were unable to anchor safely so took turns hopping into the dinghy and exploring a large cave on the islands.

2 tank dive trips cost $280 nz and depart from Tutukaka harbour (on the mainland) where we would later anchor for the night. Andy is very mindful of the tides, currents etc especially when we’re anchored and therefore we reset our anchor in Tutukaka around midnight as the tide was still going out and we would probably end up with less than a meter of water under the keel. It was a very rolly night’s sleep and neither of us got any complete sleep.

We left for what we estimated to be about a 10 hour trip to Great Barrier Island on Wednesday and had been forewarned by Andy’s boat mate, Neil, that a downgraded cyclone was coming to NZ and would cause dangerous winds and seas on Thursday. We had wind on the beam, 20-30 knots the whole way to Great Barrier and made record time averaging 7.5 knots the whole way, shaving 3 hours off our estimated time. The best part was a huge pod of dolphins swimming along with us for quite a while and doing acrobatics out of the water. dolphinsdolphin jump

The worst part was the v-berth mattress got pretty saturated coming out of Tutukaka Harbour as the foward hatch seal is a bit dodgy. When we got to our anchorage in Great Barrier Island at Port Fitzroy we decided to spread baking soda and rice all over the mattress to help absorb as we weren’t going to see sunshine for another two days. (It didn’t work spectacularly), but today is SUNNY so they dried on the deck.20170414_093342.jpg

Thursday morning we were woken by strong winds, but we were in a well protected anchorage and the wind gauge only recorded a max of 30 knots so it wasn’t as bad as some of the weather predictions and at least we’re already on the water so the ongoing flooding on the North Island doesn’t affect us. We waited out the wind and rain by reading, playing scrabble and bananagrams and baking 4 doz. oatmeal cookies! Andy ate 5 of the first batch…IMG-20170413-WA0000.jpeg

Today, with the sun shining and cabin fever to shake off, we ventured into Port Fitzroy which is a shop, one restaurant and an information bulletin. We hiked/tramped on an easy track for a few km to a waterfall and had a swim. It was cold, but made the cool air feel warm once we got out.

We now are across the bay anchored at Smokehouse bay and plan on taking a hot bath later today or tomorrow in the on site outdoor bath tubs. We’ll most likely spend the next week or more exploring around Great Barrier.

Stay tuned,

Bre & Andy