May 152010
 

I’ve been a little behind getting pics up from New Zealand. Here’s everything since Tiffany and I sailed down to Auckland back in February:


Bay of Islands, April 2010

Bay Of Islands Photos from my month sailing around the Bay of Islands, first with Amber from back in Bham and then with Delaware Johnny and Marisa up from Franz Josef.

Haruki Gulf, Feb/Mar 2010

Haruki Gulf Photos from my time in Gulf Harbour, sailing with Iwona’s family out to Tiritirimatangi and out to Great Barrier Island with Tiffany.

 Posted by at 1:52 pm
May 142010
 

Bodhran anchored off Lautoka Fiji
Bodhran Lautoka

Saturday May 1st was the ideal day to leave New Zealand. Unfortunately about 40 other boats thought so as well. 30 some of them were part of the Island Cruising Association rally to Tonga and had cleared customs the day before, but there was still quite a line at the customs office in Opua. By 10am we had cleared customs and immigration and by 11 we were on our way, killing the motor and setting sail after we cleared the Opua ferry lane. The wind was fresh and favorable, but the clouds were threatening. A rainbow shown over Pahia to send us on our way. Too bad the rain part was also there as I actively sailed in the rain for maybe the 10-12th time in my sailing career. I’ve really been a pretty fair weather sailor for years now. The only time I get caught out in the rain is at sea where I button up the boat and hang out down below until it drys out. We were still in the crowded Bay of Islands waters and had the rally driving hard behind us to catch up, so a soggy captain dawned his foulies and kept a watch, but he wasn’t happy about it.

Leaving New Zealand with the ICA rally close behind
Leaving NZ

The weather window leaving New Zealand was great with fresh south westerlies turning to southerlies for the first 36 hour easing to moderate south easterlies for another day before the wind died and we had to motor for 8 hours before we started getting some light easterlies. A low was passing over the north island compacting the isobars in the trades. So we got a few days of reinforced trades blowing out of the east at 25-35 knots with 10-12 foot seas. It was a bit uncomfortable having the waves right on the beam, once in a while a cresting wave would time it just right and fill the cockpit with water, but generally the new combings did an admirable job keeping the cockpit dry. As that low passed further to the east it killed the trades and brought the wind around into the northeast and eventually the north. The wind stayed mainly in the 10 knot range and we had made 120 miles of extra easting in the first 3 days, so we were able to still able to point Fiji during the last 300 miles of light wind.

Here’s a little video Johnny took mid passage
Sunrise at Sea

We slowed the boat down the last 36 hours or so to make sure that we’d arrive at Nuvula Pass south west of Viti Levu at first light. Even though we were trying to make 3-4 knots, normally a bit slow for pelagic fish, we caught a nice 20lb mahi mahi around sunset our last day at sea. The wind died completely that night and we had to motor the last 4 hours to arrive at Nuvula Pass at 7:30am. The pass was wide and easy to navigate even though the thick cloud cover made it impossible to see the reef. On the other hand the 10-12 foot swell running did a nice job of pointing out any shallow spots on the approach. The 20 mile motor up to Lautoka was uneventful and we dropped the hook 10 days to the hour after leaving Opua.

Johnny with the mahi mahi he pulled in a day out of Fiji
JohnnyMahi

Sunrise landfall at Viti Levu:
Landfall

Fiji is an interesting country with about a 60/40 split of native Fijians to Indians descended from laborers brought over by the British to work the sugar plantations. The cross cultures sometimes clash but they make for a unique atmosphere with amazingly intricate Indian garments hanging in shop windows and the smell of curry in the air. The customs folk were friendly and clearing into the country took about 5 hours with not too much of the old run around, though the heat was oppressive for someone who has now been out of the tropics for a year and a half. The highlight of the checkin process happened when I came out of customs and found the my skiff had been carried under the small bridge to the wharf that it was tied up to and had been trapped amongst some gnarly girders and pipes by the rising tide. There was nothing to do for it, but to jump in the foul harbor water and swim under to bridge putting all my weight on one portion of the skiff or another to free it from whatever it was pressed up against slowly working it out. Fortunately nothing punctured, but it took me a good 20 minutes to work it out of there.

With customs cleared we went off looking for some cold drinks and internet. We found the internet for a ridiculously cheap 50 cents an hour, but drinks in Lautoka at 4pm were nowhere to be found. Oh well, Johnny ran into his buddy Jeremy on Facebook. Jeremy was a helicopter pilot down in Franz Josef and is now flying tourist out to all the resorts out of Nadi here in Fiji. So we spent the next day with Jeremy heading out to a reef not far out of Lautoka to do some snorkeling. After that we motored down to Seweni Bay for a night where we met an old Aussie sailor, Bob on Serenity and then took off the next day and had a very slow sail the last 3 miles down to the Vuda Point Marina where Bodhran will reside for the next 4 months while I go home and work for the Summer and attend Tate and Betsy’s wedding in September. I’ll be back here in Fiji right after the wedding and should be able to get a month and a half of cruising in before cyclone season kicks off again next December.

Motoring out of Lautoka on a windless day:
Motoring out of Lautoka on a windless day

Another video Johnny took trying to navigate in close to the reef off Lautoka:
Spreaders

Snorkeling in Fiji:
Snorkeling

Johnny and Jeremy on a little resort island we got kicked off of:
Johnny and Jeremy on a little resort island we got kicked off of

 Posted by at 8:25 pm
Apr 292010
 

Typical view out Bodhran’s aft port on a less than spectacular Bay of Islands day:
Typical view out Bodhran's aft port on a less than spectacular Bay of Islands day

So John called me out. I was complaining about the weather in the last post and just put beautiful sunny pics on the blog. Well here’s some less sunny ones:

Scenes like this:
Rainy opua anchorage

lead to scenes like this:
JohnnyRanfurly

But all that’s behind us now. The weather has changed. It’s sunny and beautiful right now. The wind is going to start building out of the SW on Friday night and we’re scheduled to clear customs at 9:00am Saturday morning. Marisa got off the boat this afternoon and will be heading back to the South Island. The trip up to Lautoka, Fiji is a bit over 1000nm. Normally Bodhran averages 118 miles a day in the trades, but with the variable wind patterns crossing the horse latitudes to get up north, it’ll probably take us 12 days or so to get up there. I’ll be sure and get an email off to everyone once we make port.

Our intrepid sailors overlooking Russell refusing to pose when prompted to:
Johnny and I overlooking Russell

 Posted by at 4:20 pm
Apr 222010
 

Bodhran anchored by herself in Urupukapuka Bay:
Bodhran anchored by herself in Urupukapuka Bay

Ahhh, if only we’d been able to leave Monday. Here I sit in the Bay of Islands having a grand time with Delaware Johnny and Marissa, but I’m ready to get underway to Fiji. Too bad the weather’s not going to cooperate right away. There was a high southwest of NZ which created some favorable winds last Monday, but Johnny and Marisa had just got here and customs requires you to give a 4 day notice before departing so that they can do a background check on the crew and make sure that there’s no outstanding fines or warrants on any of the crew before departure. Now the high has slowly moved to the northwest and is shutting down the wind north of here. A low is coming up behind it which will bring northerlies at the beginning of it, but should have favorable winds on the backside. So hopefully early next week we can be getting underway.

Johnny and Marisa hiking around Urupukapuka Island:
Johnny and Marisa hiking around Urupukapuka Island

So in the meantime, we’ve been out exploring the Bay of Islands a bit more. There has been lots of good sailing, lazy mornings, music making, hiking and figuring out different ways of cooking mussels. So far steaming them open, breading them and frying is the best, but they’re pretty good just on their own. We spent one night on Motorua Island and two more on Urupukapuka. Yesterday we were treated to a beautiful sunny day. Seeing how we were anchored off a long sandy beach, it would have been criminal not to take advantage. Today’s cloudy and cold again. So it goes. I’d say the climate here is starting to mirror what it’s like back home right now. Surely a sign to be on my way.

Bodhran anchored off Motorua Island:
Bodhran anchored off Motorua Island

Another classic pastoral New Zealand landscape with sheep grazing right down to the beach:
Sheep in Urupukapuka Bay

Johnny and myself on Urupukapuka Island:
Bodhran anchored by herself in Urupukapuka Bay

We’re back in Opua to grab some internet, weather, and supplies. Then we’ll head back out in the islands for a few days. Hopefully next Monday or Tuesday Johnny and I will be on our way up to Fiji. We won’t have much time when we get up there though. Johnny’s got to fly out and start guiding on Ranier by May 17th and I’ll be hauling Bodhran and coming home to work by the end of May myself. I’m really looking forward to the passage, but it’s going to be nice to be on my way home again and see everybody in a month or so.

 Posted by at 4:28 pm
Apr 082010
 

One last trip to the beach the morning Tiffany flew back to the states:
Beach

Well here’s another blog post in keeping with my current trend of infrequent unsubstantial posts. I’m finally back out cruising, but I’ve been in New Zealand so long and it’s so similar to my own culture that I’m not particularly inspired to write too much. When I last updated the blog, I had just got back to Whangarei with Tiffany. It was just a few days before Tiffany had to fly back to the states and she really wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate her time here before she left. So we checked out the two places in Whangarei, but had no luck. It was too last minute, but one of the guys recommended a place in Auckland. So the day before Tiffany flew home, we went down to Auckland with the idea for Tiffany to get a Tui tattooed on her somewhere. The Tui is a endemic bird of New Zealand with a striking white tuft under their throat, and a metallic blue, green, brown and black color scheme to the rest of them. They can mimic other birds, and we even came across one with quite the English vocabulary in Whangarei. Probably most impressive is that they’ve got a beer named after them. So it’s pretty fair to say that the Tui, not the Kiwi is the coolest bird in NZ and a fine subject for a new tat. Fortunately the artist in Auckland outdid herself and came up with a great design mixing in a bit of Maori design with otherwise accurate depiction of the bird. So Tiffany got her Tui, we stayed the night with Arek and Iwona one more time, hit a west coast beach on the way to the airport and then I was back on my own up in Whangarei.

Tiffany’s new tat:
Tui

So Tiffany getting her new tattoo set a number of things in motion. I’d wanted to get some new ink myself to immortalize my making it across the Pacific and my time in New Zealand. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really thrilled by either of the tattoo parlors in town. Then Christian on Irie was introduced to Billy, a Maori fella who does tattoos out of his home. They talked for about 3 hours, Billy slept on it and had a design in his head the next day when Christian and I went over to Billy’s house. Billy was such a genuine, spiritual person. I immediately felt that this was the guy I’d like to have come up with something for me as well. My first tattoo, I asked for the turtle shape and the story that I wanted it to tell but never saw the finished product until it was done. This time, I just talked with Billy and he came up with the right tattoo for me. Basically he wanted to capture me in the overall theme of the work, and then add in the members of my family so that I would have them with me wherever I go in my travels. Having family incorporated into the tattoo is a very Maori thing and the Koru (fern stalks) all connected to my central bloodline represent my grandfather, parents and 3 brothers. The overall shape is a very stylized hammerhead shark representing tenacity and my connection to the sea. There are various scales and sharks teeth to further the maritime theme.

My new tat:
Hammerhead

Other than that I set into a number of boat projects and doing the normal Whangarei thing trying to spend the next few weeks getting as much done as possible. Then Amber, an old friend from Bellingham who’s recently got hired on with the university in Christchurch, wrote and wanted to meet up for Easter. I was certainly ready to be back out on the water again, so I recommended that we meet up in the Bay of Islands. I quickly finished up what I was working on in Whangarei, saw a great weather window that allowed me to make it up north with SE to SW winds the entire way got around Cape Brett 6 hours before gale force Easterlies came in and Bob’s your uncle, I’m now in the bay of islands.

Beautiful downwind sail north. It was so nice, I could sit in a deck chair while underway:
Beautiful downwind sail north

I anchored on the west side of Mimiwhangata this time as a midway point to the passage north:
west side of Mimiwhangata

Rounding Cape Brett:
Rounding Cape Brett

I hung out for a few days in Omakiwi bay waiting for a system to pass and then headed into Paihia where Amber was going to arrive after something like 12 hours of travel. It’s not that far, but easy to get around, NZ ain’t. We had a great 6 days on the boat together. Supposedly Captain Cook named the Bay of Islands due to the great number of islands it contains, but I only count 6. The rest are really just hazards to navigation. Still the 6 islands offer a ton of good anchorages, lots of hiking trails, fishing, shellfishing, some chilly swimming and some really great sailing. The wind generally blew 15 knots every day and then died off in the evening so we could sleep peacefully. What more could you really ask for? Oh yeah and there’s a pod of dolphins here that tour boats go out and plop people into the water to swim with. We sailed by them twice. The first time they seemed to be disappointed that we weren’t going to stop the boat and hop in the water. They just keep coming up along side and turning to look up at us. The did a little bow riding, but mostly they just gave us the eyeball.

Omakiwi and the beautiful water of the Bay of Islands:
Omakiwi

Amber and myself overlooking the anchorage on Roberton Island:
Roberton Island

We sailed down into Opua so that Amber could grab a cab, the first of 8 conveyances that it would take for her to get back to the south island. This’ll be my home base for a little bit. It’s basically a big marina, a chandlrey, a restaurant, and a general store, but it’s a good anchorage where I can take care of all the finishing touches I need to do to get Bodhran ready to head offshore for the first time in 18 months. My buddy Delaware Johnny just finished up the season guiding down at Franz Josef and will be meeting me up here for the passage to Fiji. Phil and Melissa on Mira just left today. There’s been fog in the morning a couple of times, cold rain and cold nights. Definitely time to get back into the tropics.

 Posted by at 5:41 pm