Where are we

Sunday, 5 June 2022

Musket Cove

We have been anchored in Musket Cove since our last blog.  It is truly hard to tell exactly how long we’ve been here.  We are in very good company with Craig and Julie on Hullabaloo of Normandy and Colin Burmese Breeze.

Musket Cove is a very convenient resort island.  There are lots of moorings to rent if you find the depth at the anchorage of approximately 20 metres to deep for the amount of chain you carry.  We are happily anchored and are just a short boat ride from the resort itself.

Julie and I do yoga most mornings ashore.  It started with a group of ladies from various boats.


This is coffee time after a Yin yoga class lead by Diane, second from the right.


This photo was taken from the deck looking down at tiny fish being chased by the bigger fish in the stunningly clear water. 

The water is not always this clear. The tide runs through the anchorage first one direction and then the other.  At times it is crystal clear, then later is gets rather cloudy with ‘stuff’ being carried along. It wasn’t long before we realised that some of the stuff was what we call Sea Lice but are actually jellyfish spawn. We do not like them and they can take all the fun out of swimming.  The welts are extremely itchy, but that will stop if you can not touch them or let anything brush against. They go from puffy pink to dark red before disappearing after about a week.  Though many sites say they are invisible, I am sure I can see fine translucent tubes with little dots along them - and when I do, I don’t go in.  Other times, I find covering up helps, but anything not covered is fair game.

We are still waiting for a meaningful change in the temperature. It’s almost always 30+ degrees C. Right now it’s 32.1 inside in the shade. Recently, a cool wind comes up in the evening making the temperature a chill 27 or so, which actually feels quite cold. 

I keep thinking about the 40+ heatwave that came early to Indian this year and cannot imagine having to live and work in those temperatures.

 

We do get some spectacular sunsets and, with little light pollution, the stars are quite brilliant.

Tomorrow, we are heading back to Denarau. This is where we intend to leave Larus while we are away. I fly out to Canada late on the 9th of June and arrive early on the 10th.  Tim flies to the UK on June 17th.

We’ve been quite busy the last couple of days organising paperwork and the various travel requirements as well as filling the fridge with meals for Tim and Colin and disposing of or giving away food and cleaning the interior to discourage mould growing.

It is so exciting to be going home!



Tuesday, 24 May 2022

First Impressions Fiji

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.



This is our new staysail drying after a fresh water rinse. It is very humid here it took a long time to dry and we had many people stop to comment on what a fine looking sail it is.

It is hot here, particularly in the marina. Out at anchor will be cooler, but in the basin little breeze gets past the lush foliage. It is so hot we have ordered and other wall fan on the back of Colin’s, on Burmese Breeze order of 10.  Last night I had to resort to sleeping under a damp towel with the fan trained on me, a technique I first used in the Caribbean. Tim isn’t as bothered as much by the heat.

It is very Indian with a mix of people of Indian or African descent.  It’s feels very like Trinidad in some ways.  We went shopping in city of Lautoka, where you can find all manner of foreign supermarkets (air conditioned) as well as Fijian supermarkets (not air conditioned). It’s an interesting mix of East and West. 


We walked along the long harbour wall and spotted this Russian super yacht which has been impounded by the Fijians. It is purported to belong to one V. Putin.

The open air market was huge and needed a lot more time spent on it than we did. We had a taxi driver waiting with the meter running. He knew where to buy the cheap beer.

Tomorrow, we are taking Larus to Denarau Island (just a short motor to the south) with Colin on BB. The tubes on his dinghy are becoming detached and there is a guy in Denarau who can sort it out for him.  We will anchor off, tow Colin’s dinghy to the shore and then put Colin back on BB. We will then stick together so he has a means of getting ashore and we’ve missed his company. There is another supermarket in Denarau so I will pick up a few more things to keep us going.

After that, we will head to a resort island to anchor off so we can swim and acclimatise.

Another yacht, Hullabaloo of Normandy, that we have met in the past are coming out to play as well.

More to come as we get over what feels very much like jet lag with a side of heat stroke. Lol.

Many thanks to everyone for following us on our passage and for your good wishes. 

X Nancy and Tim








Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Tomorrow is looking good…


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.


Leaving as a High approaches NZ gives us a good wind direction towards Suva, Fiji. All the models are the same which would be expected as Friday is tomorrow. We should have moderate winds from the southeast and should be on a comfortable broad reach. 


By Tuesday, out halfway mark, the models are still pretty similar and we expect to be motoring through the High. We expect to motor for 24 to 48 hours in a slight sea. There might be a bit of gentle sailing but we are psychologically prepared to use the engine.  This is the most expensive of diesel tank at $1.69 US a litre we have ever purchased. The most expensive 60 litres of diesel we have ever bought was in Bermuda that at $2.09 a litre back in 2017. I shudder to think how much it is today.

FYI - Tim has a spreadsheet where he records when, where and how much our diesel purchases cost.

Our plan is to head eastward throughout the passage because the final third or so of our 9 day at sea will be in the Tradewinds which blow from East to West.  We don’t want to end up west of Fiji and have to sail East into the wind to get there.


By Friday of next week we expect to be a put where the wind speed mark is on the top of the high. This is the GFS model and is a little more extreme than the other models, but we are almost above the High and into the Tradewinds where the models agree more or less. We expect to arrive on Sunday.

We have some last minute stowing to do tomorrow and I’ve decided that our first night at sea will be a Methi Paneer curry, which I will make today.  I have dried methi (fenugreek) leaves to use up and paneer, Indian curd cheese, to use up and want a meal that will stay hot the longest.  We have 12 hours of night right now and once the sun sets it gets pretty cold.  For us anyway. We usually eat together in the cockpit but we might well take turns eating down below. We will have to see. 

When we left Tonga for New Zealand, we were told by someone who knew that the temperature dropped 3 degrees C each day as you sailed south.  It is warming to think of the temperature rising 3 degrees daily as we head north.

We might be finding it cold at the moment but the locals are made of sterner stuff.


The annual Paihia to Russell Open Water Swim. The distance is about 3.2 km and the estuary is tidal and would add to the challenge particularly for the slowest.

So our plan is set and unless there are some drastic changes to the weather in the latter half of our passage we will clear out with Customs and Immigration and then depart tomorrow morning.

We have brilliant sunshine and it should be a lovely, if cold, start to our sail Fiji. 

You can follow our progress via our posts to FollowingSea.com which are displayed at the top of our blog.

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Things to celebrate

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.


Tim using the Deck Snorkel to give the hull one last scrub.  Tiny barnacles start forming pretty quickly in the murky waters of marinas and river fed estuaries. He doesn’t expect to use the 5mm hooded wetsuit in the foreseeable future.


The beginnings of a happy freezer.  

We can’t bring any fresh fruits or vegetables into Fiji I prepare things like lasagne in the white container and muffins made with ripe bananas for the passage. I plan to have vegetarian meals frozen of the whole 9 day passage.  You can only bring in unopened meat and cheese from NZ into Fiji and I’d rather not have to worry about it on arrival.  There are still things to be used and replaced with Fiji-friendly foods.

We eat quite a lot of plant based meals these days. Our latest favourite is  Spaghetti and White Bean Balls. I have always avoided wholewheat spaghetti like the plague but had been given a very thin type by a friend and as the recipe called for it, I gave it a try. We were astounded to find we liked it better than the regular spaghetti. I have a lot of the bean balls frozen as you could eat them in a sandwich like a burger or serve them with a dip as a snack.

Other meals are chilli and curry and we have two of each type of meal. I make a big batch, have one meal that evening and then freeze two. Oh, and lasagne x 2!

We haven’t had to keep night watches for an awfully long time and I want life to be a simple as possible.  We generally do watches of 3 hours on and 3 hours off from dusk till dawn. After that we take turns depending how we feel and the daily chores that need to be accomplished.  

As part of our preparation to leave New Zealand, we’ve made sure we did things that we had always intended to do, but hadn’t.


This is Basin Marina, Whangarei where we took a berth for in December 2019. In the back of this photo you can just make out a crane poised over a large flat grey area. That grey area was the beginnings of the Hundertwasser Arts Centre.


Tada! 

I visited the gallery the day before we left the Whangarei area for the Bay of Islands. I thought it was amazing and there are extremely knowledgeable staff eager to take you deeper into the works and life of Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

Very shortly after this visit we headed down river and passed under the lifting bridge, Te Matau a Pohe,  inspired by the design of Māori fish hooks crafted of bone.


The bridge opens everyday at noon regardless of marine traffic, which can be pretty random, for those who wish to see it in action.

We had a final over night stay in Urquhart’s Bay at the mouth of the harbour and sailed up to the Bay of Islands the next day.

Our sail to the Bay of Islands was memorable as we were able to sail all the way up to Cape Brett, gybe around the big rock and then sail to within a mile of the entrance into the Bay of Islands. We have never managed that before. A moderate south easterly wind, allowing us to sail a NW heading to the Cape and then a SW heading toward the entrance, coupled with the high cost of diesel these days made us less inclined to switch on the engine until absolutely necessary. Sometimes it’s just convenient or the conditions uncomfortable.

We spent a lovely time with our first NZ friends, Jan and Rob. We met them in Basin Marina November 2019.


They welcomed us to their farm to feed the odd calf, pick olives, to eat, drink and be merry and we will miss them.

We’ve been at anchor for several days and are heading back to the Russell / Paihia area to do some more prep for the passage.  We still think we will be leaving next week sometime but the exact date depends on the weather forecasts.  The closer we get to the departure date the more reliable the forecasts become, so we wait and watch.

That’s all for now and but we’ll let you know when we are finally Fiji bound.

Nancy and Tim

Ps. And today’s weather is rainbowy.






 
























Thursday, 27 January 2022

From the Far North, Northland, North Island, New Zealand

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.


Tim enjoyed (a lot) using the scissor lift to get to those hard to reach places.


We also prepared and Coppercoat’ed the hull of ‘Into The Blue’ whose owner 
was also stuck back in the UK.

Those jobs done, we met up with Colin and his guests on Burmese Breeze for Christmas in Parua Bay, just a stones throw from Marsden Cove Marina.


Colin, Tim and I, Gerri and Richard on Christmas Day.  The weather almost all the time we were there was clear skies, but the wind blew and blew.  Parua Bay isn’t hugely sheltered and was a very choppy week. Colin and guests started to sail down to the South Island shortly after Boxing Day. 
 
They had a really good run down the East Coast, just over a week, and we were looking forward to following them within the next week or so.
 
Before that happened we were contacted by Dave and Leanne on Perigee and invited up to Basin Marina, Whangarei for New Years. 


As well as Leanne and Dave, we met Carla and Alex on Ari B. We had quite a spectacular spread starting with Leanne’s sushi rolls, followed by Carla and Alex’s chilli prawns and a main course of baked salmon. My contribution to the meal was the spuds as we had been at anchor for a week and potatoes and cream were the only ingredient I had a lot of.   I used a recipe from The French Cooking Academy which resulted in a subtle melt in your mouth Gratin Dauphinois.  

While in Basin Marina we picked up some shopping and saw how the Hundertwasser Centre had progressed since our last visit.


It isn't yet open but you get an idea of what a wonderful experience it will be when its finished.

On the 2nd of January, well provisioned we left Basin Marina to start our passage down to the South Island.  There are two routes to the South Island - one down the East coast and one down the West. Which route you take is completely dependant on the wind direction and it looked very much like we would be taking the West coast route.

We spent a day anchored at the mouth of Whangarei Harbour in Uruquart's Bay before hjeading north up the East coast toward the Bay of Islands.  We stopped the first night in Tutukaka and carried on the next down into the Bay of Islands. We stopped in one of the outermost anchorages on Urupukapuka Island to be ready for and early start to head further north the next day.

Well, once we’d dropped anchor, I turned on the hot water tap to find the water wasn’t hot. We had been motoring for at least half an hour which is plenty long for the water in our immersion tank to reach scalding point.  I mentioned this to Tim who had commented in the previous days that the engine seemed to be running a little hot, but put this down to a much warmer summer sea temperature.

A quick look in the engineroom showed nothing until we turned on the engine.  The engine water pump had failed and was spraying water quite spectacularly over the front of the engine.  The front of the engine just happens to the be least accessible phyiscally and visually. When he would have first checked the engine he could see nothing out of the ordinary.
 
All plans of continuing to the South Island by any route were now out the windows. We decided to head back to Marsden Cove Marina with the next suitable forecast that would allow us to sail all the way to Whangarei Harbour.  While we watied for a favourable weather window, Tim a chance to assess what he could do to reduce the chance of the engine over heating. He disconnected the altenator as charging the batteries puts more load on the engine and he rigged up a hose in the engineroom to quickly top up the heat exchanger should it be necessary.  Despite the failed water pump, there was still adequate water in the system below the pump to cool the engine. 

We didn't wait long before we had a forecast that would take us all the way to Marseden Cove Marina. We decided not to do the work in the Opua Marina in the Bay of Islands as the Whangarei area has a huge marine industry and any parts and tools needed would be more easily had. A big plus in favour of Marseden Cove Marina was that the car we have use of is parked there.

We had a cracking, if rough sail, down and were moored up in the marina by late afternoon.  We'd had a stiff easterly wind, which always seems to cause several metre high waves with a short interval between waves. When waves have a short interval, and the  7 second interval that day was short,  it makes the waves close together and because of that very steep.  When they are coming at you directly on the side it makes for an uncomfortably rough ride.  It also made us wish we'd fixed the dribble of a leak to one of our cabin windows where the sealant had perished, again, from the UV rays.

Happily, I had the forethought to make sandwiches before we left the anchorage and weren't forced to eat muffins the whole journey.

Marsden Cove Marina is landlocked except for a right-angle cut from the harbour into the basin.

 

We had no trouble at all motoring out of the anchorage at the start of the trip or motoring in the marina at the end.

Our engine is a Ford Transit Van engine and is pretty robust. The short amounts of motoring didn't even get the engine warm. It is also a very common engine so parts are cheap. Our water pump was $100 NZ while a Volvo water pump cost a friend £700.  

We started work quite quickly.  The engine room is quite small and in a pinch you’d eventually manage to change the pump, which is on the front of the engine, but you wouldn’t be happy!


To make things easier we took out one half of the cockpit floor. This not only allows access from above the engine, but light and air as well.


Access from the engine room doors or from above.


The only direct access to the front of the engine in the galley. The bulkhead is structural so that’s the biggest hatch possible.



My favourite photo. It shows how awkward a job it was.

We were done in record time. Once the pump arrived it was all over in a couple of days.  Without anyone else to help, I’m pleased that I learned quite a lot about our engine cooling system.

Taking the cockpit floor up is a pain, so when you have to it behooves one to think up any and all things that it allows you to do. Like taking taking out the generator to change the our working perfectly but old gearbox oil cooler which lives underneath it.

The generator sits at the back of the engine room. It would be much easier to lift out if we removed the aft cockpit floor panel, but this is a big job in itself.  The steering pedestal sits on top of the aft panel so all the hydraulic lines would have to be disconnected and the pedestal removed and it would add days to the job.

We managed in the past to get the generator out with only three people without disturbing the aft panel, but we were only two.  We use the main halyard to lift the generator vertically and we use a block and tackle to change the direction of pull to horizontal to get the generator out from under the aft panel.  Tim jury rigged a ‘slide’ made from a plank of wood braced on the engine. This allowed the generator to be tipped on an angle to 1) clear the aft panel above and 2) to get over the hump of our great lump of an engine ahead of it so that it could finally hang vertically from the main halyard and be lifted clear of the engine room.  

It would have been great to have photos, but I do think you’d need an awful lot of people helping before you had a ‘spare’ for that. We managed it with 2 but one could probably find work for 6.

We got all the engine room jobs done, resealed the cockpit floor and resealed the leaking cockpit windows with a super duper sealant, drive up to Whangarei for one more big shop and to find the KN95 masks before leaving the marina.

Gosh, I nearly forgot.  During our last few days in the marina, our electronic barometer did a strange thing. At about 7 in the evening in fine weather the Gale alarm sounded and then stopped.  Normally we need to cancel it when there drop in pressure fast enough to register. We shrugged and carried on with dinner. It wasn’t till the next day we learned of the eruption of Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai. No Tsunami Alert had been sent out and we learned about the eruption from reading the BBC news the next morning.  It seems that our barometer registered the air pressure wave created by the explosion as it passed us in NZ.

We cruised from the northern most islands of Tonga down to Tongatapu in the south visiting many of the island’s in between in 2019. We met many poor but generous people and had hoped, pre- Covid, to return.  We now hope that are more saved than seems possible from what information we have and that the country receives immediate and and long term assistance. We can help by donating to The Red Cross Tonga Appeal.

We are currently anchored on Mangonui in the Far North of Northland. 


The summer holidays are finished here and it’s very quiet. We are the only boat at anchor right in the middle of bay.  We plan to move in a day or two into the next bay north of us and continue to keep ourselves to ourselves.