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The goal is to get out of here

As much as we like Whangarei, the rest of the world is out there to discover. But to get out of here, we’ve got to get our work done. So it was back to getting busy.

So, in no particular order, here is what we got up to.

We called in a local supplier to provide some roll up blinds for the back of the boat. In the past we have often had to hang sheets at sun down to prevent the sun from going into our eyes. The new blinds will block 90% of the light but let us still see out. They will also help against chilly winds. Good down here. We’ve left this job a little late and may have to have the blinds delivered to Auckland.

I visited the bank to pick up our Vanuatu dollars. Only it turned out they’d cocked it up. Should now get the dollars on Wednesday.

I removed the old AIS unit and cleaned it up ready to sell to someone.

In the middle of everything we noticed that the bilge alarm was beginning to go off. This involved a big hunt for cause. Turned out the tee on the hot water line that goes off to the washing machine was dripping from two places. This may have been a very small issue for a long time but with the pressure from the town coming into the boat the drips were sufficient to set off the bilge every few hours. I tightened up the hose clamps and all was good. This triggered off a bilge cleaning session which was not on our list.

I raised the house batteries from beneath the guest bunk setting up all twelve on top of the bunk in the arrangement they’ll be eventually boxed. In their new configuration I needed to divide two of my old battery cables into two. I was able to get this done at All Marine before lunch time. With them all easily accessible I topped them all up. I ran out of water with four cells left. Fortunately was able to borrow a bottle from Pete from Nymph.

I took Dan from Division II to the wood merchant to order the marine ply and have it cut to the spec Dan drew up for the new battery box. Dan spent some time throughout the day touching up a few gelcoat splats we’ve found since leaving the yard and building the new box. Progress was good. He took the new box back to his boat to seal it up with resin in case any battery leaks.

We visited Norsand to see if our second motor had been taken by the scrap merchant. It hadn’t but when called, they promised to pick it up soon.

I paid a visit to the local Yanmar dealer to pick up spares for the motors. Enough to handle one change of everything. As ever, the local prices are 2-3 times that which I can source equivalents in the US. Having got the parts I spent some time looking up alternates in the US that Sam can bring with him.

I looked for parts for a water maker project I have in mind. I want to install an automatic cut off. The way we’re set up I need to create a vessel into which the water will rise when both tanks are full and then trigger the float switch I have. Spent a small amount of time looking for such a vessel but had no luck. May need to come up with a new idea here or get creative.

I made two attempts to test the single side band radio. They weren’t very successful but this is fairly normal for short wave radio. Particularly in town. I did manage to connect to one email station but not well enough to send or receive any traffic. May have to try a few different times of day and/or test away from the electronically noisy town.

At the end of the day I transferred all the fuel from our seven jerry cans into the port fuel tank. The fuel has been in these cans for a year so I had to use the filter as some crud had grown. It was a bit windy so the job got a bit messy.

Helen spent a lot of time cleaning and reorganizing. She also cooked up this years supply of chilli paste to add to curries and whatnot. Seriously vital and life enhancing work. This was topped off with a fine curry.

We finished the day off watching a movie. I had to wait up afterwards to call the Uk so it’s a bit of a surprise that I woke up so early this morning. Helen is still asleep and I await her arousal so I can fire up the generator to do this mornings wash and, more importantly, get the heating on.

Fiji->NZ: Day 3

477nm to go to Marsden Cove. All is well aboard.

Imagine a dinner plate 4 miles across and you sitting in the middle. That’s our world. From the deck of a sail boat the horizon is on 2 miles away and hence your universe is a 4 mile diameter dinner plate full of sea. If another boat shows over the horizon then we see further but that has yet to happen to us.

We asked ourselves how did things look different on day 3 compared to day 2 (remembering I started counting at 0). We came up with few things.

Lissa pointed out the excitement of crossing the line on the chart plotter over to where we had detailed charts. I switched over to the NZ map set a couple of days ago so we’ve been progressing towards this line of detail for some time. Lissa had the fun of crossing the line on her watch. Probably sounds quite trivial but on our dinner plate, these things become quite a thrill.

Helen and Lissa said they’d seen a contrail over us. Could well be a flight from Fiji to NZ. On Likuri Island (Robinson Crusoe) we met a Kiwi couple who said they’d be flying back on Wednesday and they’d look out for us. Perhaps it was them.

We had the fishing line out for the first time. Count for the day was zero. Now we’re truly back to normal passage making.

I’m sure we came up with a few more things but right now I forget.

For most of the day we had a clear blue sky which kept our spirits high. Coincident with a glorious sunset we crossed the half way mark. The night was just as clear. Without a moon in the sky the heavens were out in their full glory. Lissa got an extra lie in on her 2am shift as I stayed out star gazing a little too long.

Although we’ve seen no other traffic visually or on radar we did here one side of a couple of boats chatting on the VHF. They had their conversation on the emergency channel, presumably thinking no one else was around to hear. We didn’t recognize the voice or boat names so we didn’t break in.

I have been checking in to the Rag of the Air radio net (run out of Fiji) each morning to log our position and get their take on the weather. Because the net controller uses the same source of weather as I do I don’t really get anything new. We do get to hear the position of Nymph who left a day before we did from Fiji. We’re gradually catching them up so that creates a little excitement each morning.

If you’re interested in our path, we do post our position a couple of times each day. The positions can be found at

Cleared out

We’re officially no longer in Fiji. Except right now, we’re not sailing. So where are we? Well, it probably wouldn’t be wise to say.

What I can say is that anticipating a scrum at the customs office we left Saweni Bay before 7am and on just our head sail moved the short distance to the anchorage by the wharf at Lautoka. We immediately went ashore and plonked ourselves down, first in line, at the customs office.

We soon had our immigration form to fill in and as others began to fill the room behind us we were processed by the head of customs. In Fiji, the customs form filling is computerised. What this means is that the customs officer sits there and asks you all the questions on the form which he then types in. I’m not sure if this is the best use of his time but that’s the way it works.

At the end of an hour we were done. We waded out through the throng of cruisers now crammed into the office all waiting to clear out. We were glad we arrived early as well as processing Lissa onto the boat when she arrived.

So by about 9am we were off sailing. Our desired holding location for the Sunday weather window was just under 30nm to the SSW of Lautoka. The winds were blowing from the SSE which meant we had a bit of work to do to get there. We had to tack a few times down the west coast and once outside the main reef we were faced with oncoming 3 meter swells, all directly upwind. Helen was quite keen to wait a night before proceeding. Usually I concede to Helen’s needs of this sort but this time I blew all my credits (past and perhaps for my eternal future) by pushing the case for pressing on. It was rough. To make it while it was light we motor sailed allowing us to make a decent clip at 30 degrees apparent to the wind. With the effects of the swell and current we were still tacking through 100 degrees each time. We squeezed our way along the outside of the reef in a narrow band between the reef and further out where the seas got quite rough.

We made it to our destination by about 5:30pm. Helen got the dinner going (double sized so we have portions for our trip) while Lissa and I washed down the cockpit area from all the salt that had accumulated from the day’s spray. Peter from Nymph popped by (he’s the manager from Norsand boat yard in NZ where we’ll be hauling). It was good to chat and I was able to make some advanced arrangements for our haul out. Nice bit of luck. He’s in the same boat as us, so to speak, with respect to clearing versus leaving.

After dinner we went ashore, gave a gift of cava and enjoyed the company there.

Today we have our final boat prep to do. Yesterday was a good shake down and we discovered a few things that need sorting out. Once this is done we can relax the day away and enjoy our final evening here.