The people of Fiji are extremely friendly. ‘Bula’ or even ‘Bula Bula’ is the traditional Fijian greeting and we hear it all the time. People are very welcoming even outside the marina. When we first arrived on the customs dock, after we’d had our Covid RAT, cleared in with customs and immigration a group of 15 or so marina staff arrived on the dock to sing us a song of greeting. Eventually, we were moved to our current location in the inner basin.
Where are we
Tuesday, 24 May 2022
Wednesday, 11 May 2022
Tomorrow looks like a good departure date. Having had a drop of cold condensation from our aluminium window frames land in me as I climbed out of bed this morning, it’s about time! New Zealand is having a winter blast from the south east.
Picking a departure date needs a lot of patience because weather being weather and there isn’t a darn thing you can do about it.
To help us decide, we use a number of computer based weather models created very various countries GFS (American), ECMWF (European), ACCESS (Australian) and ICON (German). We access these models using an app called Windy on our iPads - no account needed for basic functions.
Wednesday, 4 May 2022
We have a number of things to celebrate and be grateful for.
May 2nd, 2012 is the date we left England to begin our circumnavigation. 10 years on and we’ve only made it halfway, though we aren’t completely to blame for that. We are very glad to have the opportunity to spend so much time up in New Zealand and avoid the worst of the Covid lockdowns.
Larus's has benefited greatly from our lengthy stay. Over the 2 and a half years here, she has new sails, sail covers, anchor, stainless steel chain, generator, wind generator, steering pedestal and Tim installed the pre-ordered solar panels. We refreshed the Coppercoat on her hull and replaced the bearing on the rudder.
We have been here long enough for Tim to have two teeth implants and for me to have surgery to remove a pesky benign lump from might right knee that has probably been causing me issues for years.
As you can imagine, Larus is truly shipshape and Bristol fashion and we aren’t far behind her.
Why mention this all this? Bragging? A little. Reassurance? A lot. Satisfaction that our floating home and crew are ready and willing for our next adventure? Definitely.
We are pleased to announce that there is a very good chance that in just over a week’s time we will be on our way to Fiji.
Just as exciting, we have flights booked to Canada and the UK. Flights, I might add, that are fully changeable and refundable. What flights would be available should it be necessary to change them is another issue altogether and we don’t see any need to even worry about that at the moment.
Having been cloistered in Jacinda’s protective embrace, we have little experience of living with Covid in the community. We just head to anchor whenever it raises its ugly head. It’s a little unnerving though as the ‘everyone’s going to get it eventually,’ attitude of the moment could scupper any part of our plans. Getting Covid in no way fits into our timeline so we are taking every precaution.
So far so good.
The cyclone season officially ended on the 1st of May and we seem to have a good weather window in the next week or so.
Our time is now spent preparing for the passage.
Thursday, 27 January 2022
All is well for us down here in New Zealand. After booking 2 sets of flight for a visit to the UK and Canada, starting a passsage on Larus to the South Island and having them all cancelled, I have been loath to mention any plans.
We are both double vaccinated, will be getting our booster in the coming weeks, are fit and well, lurking at anchor in some of the more remote cruising areas north of the Bay of Islands, and are keeping very much to ourselves. Prior to leaving the Whangarei area, we stocked up on KN95 masks and all my Bin Inn staples and went out to anchor.
We left Marsden Cove Marina on the 20th of January and prior to Tim going out to yesterday for milk, we have been keeping ourselves to ourselves. We knew it was just a matter of time before the Omicron variant escaped the NZ border quaratine facilities and we decided to put ourselves out of its path as best we could.
We aren't busy now but we had been pre and post Christmas.
Before Christmas we were helping out friends who are stuck in the UK and who's boats are on the hard in Marseden Cove Marina.
We finished a partial completed job of peeling the brown metallic 'wrap' hiding the rather tired hull of Supertramp.
The wrap really wasn’t that keen on coming off. Heat and brute force did the trick.
Friday, 10 September 2021
We're back in the Whangarei area in Marsden Cove Marina. We had planned to be here just a couple of days to check on friends boats that are out of the water when the Delta variant raised its ugly head in Auckland. We have just come out of approximately three weeks of full Covid lockdown and will be at Level 2 as of noon today. We have been safe and well throughout and are due our second Covid jab in about a few days.
We spent the previous month in the Bay of Islands. We like it there for the convenience anchoring off Paihia and dingying ashore to the shops and laundrette. We also have the use of a car and we take advantage of the free parking across the road from the Paihia Police Station. This is not as secure as it sounds as the station is seldom manned.
(Funny story from pre-Covid. Tim and I still had the hire car I did all the touring in and we drove from Whangarei up to Paihia to meet Jeremy and Suzy from Joy of Shamrock. It was summer and as a holiday resort Paihia was really busy. Parking is limited and we could only find a few 30 minute parking spots free. I popped into the tourist office to ask where the nearest long term or better yet free parking was. The gentleman at the counter started to explain and then noticed the Tilley hat I was wearing. It turned out he was a Tilley hat enthusiast. He pointed to his Tilley hanging on the hook behind him, then leaned in close and said quietly, 'There's no parking attendant on duty in Paihia today.' Happy day.)
When we moved up to Larus up to the Bay of Islands, Tim took the bus down to Whangarei to bring the car we are looking after for the absent owner up to Paihia.
We haven't used the car as much as we'd like because of the winter weather. Depending on the wind direction and strength and/or the swell direction
and height we will move to the most sheltered bay for the conditions. We often end up quite a long way from Paihia.
For our biggest forecast blow we headed
to Pipi Bay, Motorua Island. It's a long narrow high-sided horseshoe shaped bay. It very well sheltered from the southwest through to the northeast and is seldom trouble by swell. When we arrived there were already two boats tucked into
the bay so we ended up farther out than we hoped. It is a good deep
bay and with a well set anchor and lots of chain out we were in a very good
The two day forecast called 30 knots winds gusting to 45 knots and periods of 40 knots gusting 55 knots, but as expected we experienced nothing like that. Our maximum gust was just over 40 knots. In the bay the surface is nice and flat so all we had to suffer was the flukiness of the gusts.
Stuck on board in bad weather makes getting exercise ashore difficult, so when we do have a break in the weather we go walking.
There are some lovely walks in the area - a very steep one that takes you up to The Lookout for views across the bay toward Russell, an 8 km one-way coastal walk to between Paihia and Opua and a new walk for us from Paihia to the Hurua Falls.
The walk to Hurua Falls followed along the river, through the mangroves up to the Falls.
did not know all these things about this type of mangroves. The
mangroves in the Caribbean that we are more familiar with are quite
The falls were farther than I thought, 6 km one way rather than 5, making it even more of a blow to discover that the public toilets were being refurbished and not open.
Stoats are a big problem for Kiwis (the bird) throughout New Zealand. I think that they were brought in to keep the imported rabbits population in check, but kiwi chicks are a much easier meal. Traps are found all along the path and all have a message of some sort for example: 94% of kiwi chicks are killed by stoats. The trap photographed was at the top a particulary long and steep hill. The traps are baited with a chicken's egg.
The walks are more limited in the Marsden Cove area. It's flat as a pancake and more residential, but being on the coast makes the walks that we can do ever changing with the rise and fall of the tides.
More walks photos. I enjoying taking them more than Tim enjoys waiting for me to take them.
My foot and a Horseshoe Mussel surrounded by a little rock oysters. The oysters are edible but the Horeshoe Mussel is not. Piahia walk.
The most beautiful stick I have seen in a long time. It was over a foot long and surprisingly heavy, a dense hardwood possibly. Space is at a real premium on a boat and I am almost content with a photo. Paihia walk.
The mouth of Whangarei Harbour is a short walk from Marsden Cove Marina, One Tree Point. One Tree Point is such a great name for an area.
Tide In. Variable Oystercatchers
Last but not least a totally unrelated photo taken at the thermal springs near Piahia. Laura and I visited in January 2020 and they have been greatly refurbished. Tim had been longing for a bath and this was our only option.
Sunday, 11 July 2021
After leaving Whangarei and between weather windows, we made our way back up to the Bay of Islands, via Tutukaka. Tutukaka is about a 4 hours sail north from Urquart's Bay. With strong winds and a rough sea forecast from the SW, we popped into Tutukaka for two nights. It was very pleasant to be happily, if gustily, anchored well out of the large seas we could see thundering past the harbour entrance.
The next day with a reasonable wind direction and the seas reducing in size we finished our passage up to and around Cape Brett and into the Bay of Islands. The sail up to Cape Brett was one of the best we've had in a long time. We were on a close hauled beam reach, which is our fastest point of sail. A slight current was with us, we had a quite a flat sea except for 1 metre swell that gently propelled us forward another knot or 2 in speed so that at times we were making NINE KNOTS. We never make 9 knots, so to be able do that in such comfortable conditions is memorable.
Sailing can be more or less enjoyable for all sorts of reasons.
A flat sea and comfortable motion and the right amount of wind from a good direction that allows you to sail a direct route, meaning that the wind not on the nose. But we don't want it directly from behind either as a running before the wind is a slower and often very rolly point of sail.
Warm and sunny beats cold and wet and, I think, warm and wet might well beat cold and sunny depending on just how wet and how cold we are talking about.
Heeling at a comfortable angle so that you can make a sandwich or use the toilet with relative ease.
Day sailing so we can both sleep at the same time and going a good enough speed so that you aren't tempted to turn on the engine or that you aren't slowing down the closer you get to your destination. It is very discouraging to see the distance continue to reduce while your arrival time gets farther away.
Long distance sailing is similar but the length of time it takes changes your perception. Far a start, if you arent enjoying the conditions, they'll change in time and you'll just have to wait it out. What you will have is time to get into a routine and everything slows down. Sailing off shore with no chance of running into any land at all for days or weeks is in itself very restful.
With our latest New Zealand Visitor Visas extended to January 2022, we won't be going any great distances just yet.
We are currently anchored in Assassination Cove. The website, NZPlaces.nz, under the link says of Assassination Cove, 'French explorer Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne was slayed and possibly eaten here in 1772.' This is not why we came.
Our reason for being here is the very good protection it provides from an Easterly gale which will blow over the next 48 hours on and off. There are about 10 boats anchored in the area as well waiting for this weather system to pass through.
While we're waiting, its a good time to show you some of my favourite New Zealand things - their public Toilets.
When I made the Hundertwasser post I didn't have a photo of 'the Seed', and this was taken by my friend Susan who visited in December 2019 into January 2020.
Seed was a taste of what to expect from the finished Hundertwasser Art Centre. My interest was piqued by the artist and later when my sister, Laura, arrived in January 2020 we made a visit to the Hundertwasser Toilets in Kawakawa.
Tada! There is a tree growing through the building and a roof garden, which is a Hundertwasser theme.
A wonderful glass bottle window at the end of the corridor.
The star of the mural is the Pukeko and you really can see them everywhere, real and in paint.
The Playground also had a very fine Hop Scotch board.
About halfway between Whangarei and Auckland are the famous Matakana Toilets. Laura and I took an enourmous detour to visit them after spending the morning watching sheep shearing at Sheep World.
The detour was worth it. Perched above the Matakana River, carpark and picnic area and on the main Matakana roundabout is this very impressive public toilet.
It is quite a hike up from the carpark.
The symbols outside the toilets were handmade and each one individually made. Someone else like them too as they stole a couple. Shame on them.
The interior doesn't quite live up to the exterior, but they were clean and they worked.
Susan and I found the most in touch with nature public toilet on a walk to Soda Springs on the foothills of Mount Tonagriro.
This really is a state of the art eco-friendly facility. You even had to bring your own toilet paper. You are warned of that at the start of the trail. I like that it blends in so well the its environment and has guy wires to stop it from toppling over a strong wind.
Last but nearest and dearest to the hearts of Susan, Laura and myself are the Helensville Public Toilets.
State Highway 16 passes through Helensville and is an alternative route, which avoiding the Auckland City Centre, and a convenient stop between Whangarei and Auckland Airport. The drive from the east coast to the west coast is a lovely change from State Highway 1 and all its roadworks. These roadworks have been underway since we arrived in Nov 2019. In their defense, it can't be easy widening and repairing roads in a country that was formed by volcanism. In fact it's hard, damn hard.
On the way south from Whangarei, you take a right at Wellsford onto SH 16. State Highway sounds very grand when it is two lanes only as are most of the SHs outside of those servicing Auckland or Wellington. The road winds its way over ridge backs, down into valleys, over rivers and past fields with many places to stop and look at the views.
About halfway to Helensville if you keep you a look out to the west you will see a large areas of grazing pastures scattered with at least 20 sculptures large enough to be seen as you drive by.
The two in this photo are easy to see.
I think there are four in this one. From left to right - 1) the four uprights, 2) the back figure on the hill top, 3) a yellow cone like thing, and 4) the red lump on the far right.
I read that the land isn't open to the public except on very rare occasions as it is a working farm.
It didn't occur to me to take a photo at the time of the Helensville Public Toilets as they look like just any block of three stainless steel toilets, but they are very much more than that. With a press of a button the door glides open. Another press to close it and a calm and reassuring voice tells you how the toilet operates and that the door will open in 10 minutes time, ready or not. Then the music swells and you have the pleasure of listening to an instrumental version of the What the World Need Now Is Love Sweet Love.
I never listened to the end, but thought you might like to.
This link opens in Google Maps and Helensville Public Toilets.
The link opens in google maps and if you look left you will eventually
see the coffee shop with the date scones that Tim was very fond of.
We are still anchored in Assination Cove. There is still a gale blowing but we are well protected and though we have experienced winds of 30 knots, gusting 40 occasionally it is due to calm down this evening. We are anchored in about 5 metres of water with 80 metres of chain. Lots of chain keeps the anchor being plucked out of the seabed because of strong gusts and that in turn means that every horizontal tug on the anchor by the swinging of the boat causes the anchor to bury itself further and further into the seabed.
We aren't going anywhere! We will probably have to drive Larus over and around the anchor to loosen it from the mud before we can haul it up. .