Two if by Sea

Hi everyone,

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Yay we see land!!!

After 7 days and 7 nights of sailing across the Tasman, we finally made it to beautiful Opua, NZ in the Bay of Islands around 1 am NZ time on Saturday. We had amazing weather the entire time although the wind wasn’t always what was predicted and went in the opposite direction of what we needed for at least a day or two. The last 24 hours we were motoring straight into a pretty strong headwind and were only able to average 4 knots/hr the last day which was somewhat frustrating as we just wanted to get there by that stage. It was a relief when we could finally turn off the engine and be still after pulling up alongside the quarantine dock earlt Saturday morning.

Andy and I moved into an easy rhythm of doing watches and cooking for each other and thankfully, our third crew member (the autopilot) is working great and did all the steering so we could mostly relax and read, watch movies or anything else to break up the time. For those that don’t know, everything on a boat is a bit of an effort when you’re underway and heeled over. Moving from one end to the other requires a lot of core muscles as you try to stabilize yourself and not crash to hard into the wall or the floor. Showering is also really fun and I mostly stood on the wall with my butt braced against the other wall…this works great until you actually add soap then it’s all just a slippery mess of trying not to crash into anything in the small space or slide to far over and land in the toilet.

The Tasman Sea is known to be quite fickle and at times with crazy weather that can turn at a moment’s notice. We were lucky enough to have beautiful blue skies every day of the week and the sunrises I saw every morning were incredible. I was always on watch when the sun rose as I would take over around 2 AM most nights and the sky would start to get light around 430 am with sunrise around 530 am.

When we left Lord Howe on Friday morning (Feb 17th), we had so much meat, dairy, eggs etc that we thought we’d have to discard once customs checked everything over in Nz. We were pretty creative with our culinary masterpieces and combined interesting ingredients to try and use as much food as possible. One night Andy added a seafood marinara mix to ham and cheese prepacked tortellini so we had lots of different protein sources for that meal and it was palatable at least. Fortunately, the quarantine inspector didn’t take every single thing as some things from Australia in original packages are actually ok. So we still have some food left and got to keep the bacon!

Rogue waves always seemed to hit when dinner was in mid prep and despite our best efforts, we’ve managed to have stirfry and another night, chicken fajitas go flying across the boat and greasing up under the nav desk…so much for cleaning as you cook…at least there was only a little that went flying so we still had enough for the actual meals those nights.

Despite being pretty scared of this whole part of the voyage and doing it with just the two of us, I realized that we work really well as a team, Andy is actually pretty patient and neither of us fell over the side. I think this bodes well for the rest of the year. We will be in New Zealand until sometime after the cyclone season finishes in the Pacific (March 31st) and after doing some minor boat repairs we plan on doing some actual exploring in the coming weeks. Feel free to come visit us!!

-Bre & Andy

 

 

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Land Ho! at Lord Howe

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Sunday morning sunrise

 

Hello everyone!

We arrived at Lord Howe Island on Sunday night ( Feb 12th) right before sunset at 7pm after a few days cruising along in the wild blue living “life on the lean” as Andy put it, heeled over at 20 to 30 degrees and moving along at 6-7.5 knots. Thankfully, we ducked in to  the lagoon when there was still light as it is not possible to get into the moorings at lord howe after dark. We dropped the sails, but had a bit of a drama with the mule sail getting unwound and wrapping around one of the back stays. This little sail used in light wind conditions and decorated with the southern cross had to be cut down at one of the ropes and quickly chucked downstairs so we could turn and get the leads in our sights so we could safely get into the channel between the outer reef. Leads are markers on the land that need to be lined up so the boat moves in the correct direction between any obstacles.

We may have tried to pick up the mooring when we were in the lagoon about 12 to 15 times as the wind was coming directly at us through a saddle in some hills at the north end of the island and funneling at us at who knows how fast maybe 30+ knots. It was frustrating to say the least, but we finally got our deck lines secured to the mooring line and was finally time for some food and sleep. We had a very rolly night with high tide causing the ocean swell to crash on the outer reef and continue over to us with lots of waves and noises keeping us awake including some kind of jingle bell in the mooring ball itself.

On monday morning we woke up and checked in with the jovial policeman, Simon and he looked over our customs documents and gave us some information about where things are and what we should do first. He seemed pretty excited as our yacht along with a catamaran were checking in that morning. Two boats at the same time! How exciting!

Although Andy visited the island a few years ago, it was great to get a little briefing from super excited Simon and then we immediately went off to rent bikes from Wilson’s. There are some cars on the island and the population is very small, but most people get along by bicycle. Cycling along the roads in the shade created by all the palm trees gave us a definite sense of being on an island along with the beautiful clear water and the soft clean sand.20170214_140813

After biking around for most of Monday, we went back to the yacht for low tide when the ocean swell is kept out by the reef so we could start getting some things fixed while the water was calm. I went for a snorkel around the boat and checked out the mooring chain and rope and saw quite a few fish while I was down there.

Yesterday, we went on a long and steep walk up a small mountain theb down to a beach that was strangely covered in dead birds. There were probably about 40 birds washed up on the beach. Andy’s thought was they could’ve been migrating and got tired and then washed up there with the swell..Who knows for sure, but definitely not a beach we stayed at for too long. After the beach we walked back up a million stairs and then another 500 meters of stairs to get to “Kim’s lookout”. This lookout was a great 360 degree view of the island and I definitely think all walks that long and steep should culminate in a beautiful lookout because why else would anyone want to walk uphill for that long?20170214_121305

After the lookout, we went to Settler’s beach and I tried to find some sea turtles. A sign near this beach suggested this was a good place to see them, but the tide working against the swell created pretty poor visibility so I got out after about 30 min.

20170214_142537 Then we went back to the boat at low tide to repair some minor deck leaks when the boat wasn’t rolling too much and we had the best night’s sleep so far.

Overall impression: beautiful, quaint island populated by friendly locals and the tourists are 90% retirement age. I guess retired peole are the only ones who can afford a $1000 flight to get here.

Looks like wind direction will keep us here until at least Friday and then hopefully we will be starting our voyage onwards to NZ by the weekend.

Goodbye mainland Australia!

Hello everyone! This morning we cleared out of customs and what we thought was a $600 ordeal ended up being FREE! Who knows if they charge more if you’re leaving from Sydney or if they don’t need money if you go to the customs office directly, but all our paperwork is done and we are ready to sail out into the beautiful blue ocean.

Next stop in 3ish days time is Lord Howe…for all intensive purposes we are only stopping here for provisions as once you leave Australia and clear out of customs, you cannot visit any other ports within Australia unless you need provisions and or fuel. After a short time in Lord Howe (for provisons) we will then sail onward to Opua in the bay of islands on the North Island of NZ.

The dingy and dingy motor are secured, we are fueled up and ready for the next few days at sea. We have a reliable source for the weather on our passage and should be a beautiful sail across.

There isn’t any mobile phone service or free internet in lord howe so we may or may not update the blog while we are there, but we are excited to discover this world heritage listed place while ya know, we get our provisions and such.

Until next time….

-Bre & Andy

The first 54 hours and Welcome!!

Hello beautiful people and welcome to the blog you all requested. Now you can live vicariously through this sailing adventure and stalk us not only on the find ship App (vjn3577 or Wanderlust V) but through occasional blog entries as well. For those of you who don’t know, the loose plan is to visit Lord Howe Island, New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia with a return to Sydney in Dec 2017 so captain Andy can go back to work eventually, although plans can always change.

Andy has worked tirelessly to get the boat ready and I helped to the best of my  ability. Last week was an absolute whirlwind with replacing the rigging, going for huge shopping trips for supplies and generally hustling to do all the essential things on the to do list. Finally, on Sunday night we dropped the mooring ball in Cammeray Marina and quickly left middle harbor through the last spit bridge opening at 930 pm. So quickly in fact I took a 3 minute shower then immediately sliced my foot on the oh so sterile shower door at cammeray marina. Andy thought I was dying because I was extremely dramatic about it, but don’t worry, I’m fine and my foot is also. Anyway, we are finally on our journey and as I am learning it is as much about the journey as the destination, maybe even more so. Currently, we are in Coffs Harbour in a very rolly anchorage in the ‘outer harbour’ as the real marina is still storm damaged from June 2016.

From Sydney up to Coffs we motored/motor sailed the entire way as the bureau of meteorology couldn’t have been more wrong on the weather and wind we were hoping for. The engine works great and we got into a rhythm of watching the horizon very easily. We were lucky to have glassy seas most of the way and even saw some playful dolphins along the way. I especially enjoyed the watches at night as I kicked back with a massive 500 ml coffee, blasted some music through the headphones and kept a quiet eye on the instruments, gauges and sails (when they were up).

The sunrises greeting us each morning and the waxing huge moon at night were especially beautiful and also seeing the phosphorescence (green glowing plankton) on the water when the clouds covered the moon .

I never thought I would say this, but I can’t wait to continue our journey on the sea as the current conditions at anchor are very bumpy and we’re clearing out of customs tomorrow then onto lord howe at the first available weather window.

Stay tuned for the next update…

-Bre (& Andy)