Where are we

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.


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.