Saturday 7 September 2019

Post Fiji

Through various reasons this is a somewhat late update so apologies for that.

The trip up to Fiji was eventful to say the least with a couple of challenges. The first was the fact that the Skipper who was not feeling 100% just before leaving contracted the deadly Man-Flu as we left and two days out of NZ was not much good for anything with an aching body, not eating and the inability to get warm. The wind was a strongish South westerly to start with so she was a broad reach out of the Bay of Islands. We were making good time and running with the Sea, but the rain was driving into the back of the Boat and there was nowhere in the Cockpit that was dry. We resorted to staying down below, no Main, a Reefed Genoa out and the engine running to settle the boat down while creating some heat down below. The main agenda here was to stay dry, check our course and keep an eye out for other Vessels.

The second challenge was presented to us 230 miles north of New Zealand.
I was going down off watch at 0100 and Shelly was coming up for her turn. I reported that there were some lights off our Starboard beam that wasn't showing up on AIS or Radar so must be fishing boats. They were well over the Horizon so must have been at least 8-9 miles off us, so were adjudged to be  no problem on the heading we were on.
Around 0230, Shelly came down and said-'one of those boats are getting closer' so I got up to check.
At this stage, they were showing up on the AIS and it was a Japanese Boat called Hiroshama No7 and they were steaming at 14 knots on a converging course with us. I called them on the VHF several times but no answer. I then changed our course by 40 degrees to go under them. They immediately changed their course. Each time we changed course they changed theirs to bring us back onto Collision course.
At this stage we were approx 150 meters of them and I ran up and pulled our sails down, started the Engine and motored straight toward him with all our Lights( Tri-Colours, Navigational and steaming Light) on. I motored directly towards their beam to approx 50 meters, then turned sharply to Port to go directly behind him and away in the opposite direction. I could quite clearly see the boat was a Whaling Ship with all its lights on and the retrieving Shute on the Back of her.
I had the engine going full noise at 3200 rpm and doing 9.5 knots in the opposite direction. They could have turned 180 degrees and chased us if they wanted as they had a lot more speed than us but they didn't thank goodness and we slowly left them behind.

I have to say this was the scariest time Ive had on any boat before and along with the Flu and the time of the night, its something you don't need. What the hell possessed them to do such a thing I will never know, don't know whether they were bored, drunk or had had enough of NZ boats coming up and protesting against the killing of the Whales. Either way it was a scary scenario which I hope never to encounter again.

As a result, Shelly stated it would be her last Blue Water leg and I can fully understand.

The rest of the trip was pretty good with good winds and making good time, even though it didn't get warmer till we were probably 250 miles south of Fiji. We managed to get in in 6.5 days averaging 7.6 knots so a fast trip. We got into Momi bay just before dark so she was anchor down and a long awaited swim and beer for the night.

The next day was spent going into Vuda Marina, doing Customs and catching up with all the staff there and many a Cruiser that we had met there the previous year. It was like coming home.

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Fiji Bound again!

Brynlee, our new Grand daughter was born 19th April and we spent some time enjoying her new presence in our World. After making an early entry into the World and weighing just 5lb 14oz she had to have a little help to start with but after a month she was coming along gang busters.
After 6 weeks, she was sleeping up to 8 hrs and it was time that we started thinking about returning onto Falshator and leaving NZ again, this time back to Fiji.
The boat has been checked and several things fixed under  Warranty from Windcraft. They have been very good with the little things that needed addressing and never disputed any claims, fixing things like a new VHF handheld, new Outhaul line, new Mirrors(that had absorbed moisture somehow) and a couple of other things. Aaron from Windcraft is a pleasure to deal with.
The Rigging was checked as well as an engine service done so everything was ready to go again.

Our old Tender that we shipped up to Croatia at the start of our Journey was due for renewal. It was a Maxxon soft bottom and served us well with the ability to fold her up, put her into a bag and stow it away down below on the Legs. But she wasn't the most comfortable in a bit of chop, and 4 up was a challenge even in Calm water.  So it was sold along with the 4HP Yamaha and we splashed out on a new 2.6m Highfield with Ali floor and large Pontoons. To push her along, I bought a new 9.8HP Tohatsu, the best power to weight outboard out there and only 5 kilos heavier than the 4HP Yamaha.
Trying to clock up 10 hours to run the engine in before we left was not the easiest thing to do and took several days going up and down the far reaches of the Auckland harbour in inclement weather going into Winter, but managed to get it done and the first service before we shipped out.

We sailed up to Opua from Auckland going through the night, making use of the light Westerly that was due to die away to nothing the next day. We arrived out side the bottom end entrance of the Bay of Islands just on 0530, around two hours before sunrise, so we anchored up for a quick rest waiting for the Sun to come up before tackling the slightly dodgy entrance there.

We have been through our CAT1 assessment here and after having to acquire a few things, we have had that signed off and are ready to leave NZ. The only problem is the Weather is not playing ball. We have been holed up here in Opua for a week now and the next week doesn't look any better with several Lows coming through and strong Northerlies forecast.  Cards and Movies are pretty popular right now and trying to keep busy with little jobs is occupying our time but its not much fun when you have the mindset to get going but the weather won't let up!

The news from last week about a 80 ft Yacht getting into trouble 500km north of NZ resulting in one dead and another lost at sea is news nobody likes to hear especially when you are about to head out there as well. Our thoughts are with them, and it is another reminder that anything can happen whilst at sea resulting in tragic results.

Will keep you posted, once this weather picks up! :)

Monday 21 March 2016


Home bound

It was time to leave Fiji unfortunately as the season was coming to an end and we had to be back in New Zealand by the 6th December for Insurance purposes.
Shane, a friend from NZ flew up to help out for the leg back. He had to come up at a moments notice as he was busy with his Business, but was keen to do a Blue water leg, and we could not give him a lot of notice as it all hinged around waiting for a decent weather window. He worked in with this and we really appreciated it.
Farewell drinks with the local boaties in at Vuda Pt

Shane on board and rearing to go :)

The boat was ready, stocked well and all safety gear checked and ready. It was with sad feelings that we left the Marina at Vuda Point and the farewell song sung by the great staff there at the marina was a bit emotional.
                               Emotional Farewell song from the staff at Vuda

Initially we could not lay New Zealand and were 40 degrees off the Rum line but after 6 hrs we were starting to bring her back and even though it was hard on, at least we were going in the right direction.
A lot has been said about the return leg and the course out of Fiji for it, with a lot of people opting to take a more westerly course and then come back over as you get closer to NZ. I looked at the weather and we were going to get easterlies closer to NZ so decided to stick as close to the Rum line as possible and even when the wind swung out of the south, I elected to steer east of NZ rather than west so that we could pick up the Easterly when it did come round.
There was two days where we motored due to entering the convergence zone and having no wind. This was planned for and we had plenty of fuel on board. One of these nights when I was on watch, there was no moon out but all the stars were out in abundance. The sea was that calm, it was like a mirror and the stars were reflected in the sea. Along with the Phosphorescence in the water off the back of the boat, it all added up to a very surreal feeling on the back of the boat on your own.
The easterly took a while to come back and we were on the nose with boisterous seas and 25-30 knots of wind. It wasn't pleasant for some 36 hrs with the boat coming off the tops of some of the waves and taking a bit of a hammering but 'Falshator' soaked it up and took it all in her stride. The only problem we had was about 2 o'clock in the morning, we came off a big wave and the boat crashed down into the sea. The impact somehow tore the Anchor locking pin out and the anchor came loose and went out over the bow for about a meter. It preceded to crash back and forward into the starboard bow and did a bit of damage to the Gelcoat. we turned the boat down to run with the sea and I was hanging over the bow trying to pull the anchor in by hand. It was eventually gathered back up and lashed down. Incredible that we had come all this way and two days out of home we incurred the worst damage for the whole trip. That said, it could have been a lot worse.

                      The temperature starting to drop!

The last day we were able to get the Gennaker up and had a great ride into the Bay of Islands averaging 9-10 knots all the way in.
The temperature had dropped significantly, but the biggest change was the colour of the water around NZ. I had forgotten how green it is compared to other areas of the World.

There was a great atmosphere in at Opua, with a lot of boats coming in to clear there and the officials were efficient but pleasant to deal with, considering there were easily 10-15 boats coming in per day.
                         NZ Oysters, god have I missed them!

We spent a bit of time in Opua dealing with customs and our Bank. we elected not to import 'Falshator' at this stage to avoid paying GST and Duty. We brought her in on a Temporary Import classification, but this meant we still had to pay a deposit of the same amount which you get back when leaving NZ again. I thought it would be better for us to arrange with our Bank to keep the money there and get them to write a Credit Letter for Customs. This turned out to be a mission and took our bank two weeks to get organised. In that time we were not allowed to leave Opua Marina and were more or lesser held captive there until it finally came through.
                     Shelly nee Brett, rounding cape Brett on route to Auckland

When we finally left and headed down to Auckland, it was a grey dreary day weather wise but it was brightened up hugely when we saw our friends Barry and Sue coming out to meet us on the way in on their boat 'Bizzare' and then to top it off, all our family and a lot of friends were waiting at the Marina when we got in.
                 Barry and Sue with 'Bizzare' welcoming us into Auckland

It was a great end to our trip and its taken a while for it all to sink in, but we are both over the moon about suceeding and fulfilling our target.

I am overjoyed about the way the boat has both performed and also the extra work that went into her with extra Batteries, Solar Panels and the Watermaker. it has all worked out well and if and when we decide to take her overseas again, I wouldn't change anything in that department.

'Falshator', you have been good to us, have a well deserved rest now and we look forward to out next venture where ever and whenever that may be.

Saturday 17 October 2015



We just love Fiji and all it has to offer. From the friendly locals to the beaches and clear waters, it is a place you can spend forever cruising. There is something for everyone here and a good balance of diversity. You can have the isolated areas such as the outer Lau Group where the traditional ways are still in place, the Yasawas where there are many resorts and Bars etc. Or if you desire, there is the Denerau Marina area which is very westernised with shopping areas and even a ‘Hard Rock CafĂ©’
We have spent a great deal of our time around the Mamamanucas and the Yasawas.

                       Friends Rob and Stu from NZ joined us for a week.

Musket Cove has an annual Regatta which we got involved in. I happened to walk into the marina office there at the appropriate time and got accosted by Sophie there into running the Childrens games and the best dressed dingy event which was hard work but really enjoyable. We had a blast that Regatta week with a great atmosphere and reduced food and bar prices. There was a great band on every night and we danced away till the small hours every night. The body is still trying to catch up! 
Below are photos of the various crazy activities. 






We entered in the various events and did really well in the ‘Round Malolo Classic’ race taking out line honours for Monohulls on Falshator. The prize for this blew us away being a great Trophy, bottles of wine(4), groceries, a cell phone and sim card with $50 credit, 2 nights Marina berthage at Denerau, a $50 gift card from a Chandlery and $150 worth of diesel for the boat!
We shared the wine with Allan and Steve off an Ozzie catamaran called ‘Cool Change’ who came on board for the day and gave the cell phone to one of the locals in the shop there who had helped us out with our Clothes washing

                       On our way to taking Line Honours for Monohulls

                                     Victorious Crew!

Due to El Nino, this has been a windy old season according to everyone up here and you do have to pay attention to the weather whilst planning your next move. The further you go up the Yasawas the more out of the lee of the main Island group you get and there is very little shelter from the strong South easterlies up there.
Another thing to watch out for is the lack of soundings and accurate chart work around these areas. Going cruising up to the Yasawas, I found two apps that I used(Pro charts and Google maps) as they have great Satellite imagery and you can see all the reefs and Bombies(coral heads) using these. Although they are pretty accurate, we always kept an eye out as well and Shelly was quite often up the Bow looking out when we were going into areas where we hadn’t been before. There have been 5 boats that have hit reefs in this area so far this season so it is problem you have to watch out for.

We spent some time anchored off the Nanuya Island resort which is close by to Blue Lagoon. The anchorage here is well sheltered and has good holding once you have your anchor in.
The resort has a great little bar with reasonable prices on Food and drinks and to top it off it has two big screen TVs where we watched the World Cup Rugby games and the NRL final.

                   Shelly outside the Bar

                                   Just stunning

                      Good times with Debbie & Steve off 'Simmer Down'

                The Trek over the Island to Lo's Tea House

             The one and only 'Lo', world famous on Nanuya Island


We had a good bunch of Yachties around us here and there was always something going on, whether that be on shore or on someone’s boat. The management and staff at the resort are all friendly and the owner Ivan would bake us fresh bread every day. We could have stayed forever!

               Getting involved in the highly competitive games on Fiji Day

                  How to arrive in style- Fiji Style

                        The Caves at the bottom of Yasawa Island

We are now back at Denerau Marina taking up on the two nights free Berthage that we won and then we plan to go back out to Musket Cove to anchor for a few more days, (get our free diesel also) and then we are booked into Vuda Marina on the 25th October.
There we will get the boat ready and plan for our leg down to New Zealand in early November weather pending.
Cyclone season is fast approaching and the Met service is predicting a busy season of them this year so the first decent weather window we get, we will take.
Just waiting till after the World Cup Final on the 31st October-that’s if NZ makes it!! J

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Fiji bound

Vavau, Tonga to Fiji

                                 The local Immigration Company Vehicle

Our time in Vavau was spent trying to keep warm as the temperature had dropped and crazy as it may seem, after coming from Panama, Tahiti and the like, Vavau was cold to us at 15 degrees.
The cruising there is great with many sheltered Anchorages around the various Islands and plenty of depth close in, but the cost of Food etc was not cheap. We found the township in Vavau to be pretty rundown and its obvious there is not a lot of money around.
Sourcing provisions is a challenge here as the supermarkets don’t have a lot of stock and you have to pay close attention to the use by dates on a lot of stuff.
Unfortunately we were too early in the season to see any Whales that come in close to the inner waters to breed. It’s a tourist attraction that many people come to see and there are a lot of charter groups based here for that reason.

                           Inside one of the many caves
                          hanging out with 'Cathy and Sandy'

                           Beautiful Anchorages everywhere

After loading up the Chart plotter with 90 uncharted reefs, we charted our course through various waypoints setting a course to avoid them for our leg to Fiji.

                          Fish for Dinner enroute to Fiji !

We had a good sail over from Tonga, sea conditions were a vast improvement from the Niue to Tonga leg and we had 10-15 knots South easterlies all the way.
We got inside the reef system at the bottom west side  of Vitu Levu just before dark where we anchored for the night before going into Vuda Point the next morning.

We had the Health official come on board and spray the boat for Insects and then proceeded into the Marina there and tied up to the day Jetty for Immigration, where we were greeted by some friendly locals singing their welcome song. It was a great welcome and made us feel at home straight away.

                                 Immigration Dock at Vuda Point

Whilst we have been here in Fiji, so far we have had visits from our youngest daughter Tori and our oldest Fallan, who joined us along with her husband and our 3 year old Grandson. It was fantastic to catch up with them after not seeing them for 18 months.

                                Happy Hour with Tori at the Island Bar in Musket Cove

                                 Fooling around in boats

                        Cloud 9 for lunch

                                Just stunning

                                  Sunset at 'Dicks Place'

                                  Tori leaves today...  :(

                                   Zanders arrive  :)

                                 My Mini-Me!!

                                         Refusing to grow up-haha

                                         Loves his Coconuts

Having Kaiden on board  has meant to having lack of sleep for shelly and I. He wakes at 4 in the morning and is in our Bed for cuddles and then he wants breakfast staright away. He’s a machine, hes either running around at 100 mph or eating and for a three year old, boy can he put it away!
But we wouldn't want it any other way :)

                                    Boys 'just hanging out'

                                  Day tripping at Castaway Island Resort

We’ve booked a buoy out at Musket Cove and are enjoying the time in the sun here and the use of the facilities at both Musket Cove and Plantation Resorts.
We have done some local cruising with the family up to the Yasawas and back and around the Manamanucas  where you have to navigate visually as there are reefs everywhere and the charting is not good around Fiji, buts it been great so far.

We went out to Cloud 9 Pizza Restaraunt for the day and Kaiden blew everybody away out there by jumping off the Top Floor Hand rail into the sea. He just loves the water, not bad for three years old! 

Not sure what the plan is next, but one thing for sure is we are hanging out here for a bit and spending some time enjoying the friendly Fijian lifestyle, although all the Fiji Gold I’m drinking is starting to show around the waistline now!