Fiji to New Zealand passage has begun!

Well, nine months almost to the day when Dick left Curacou, he has started his final passage to New Zealand. Yesterday morning he, Steven and his friend Colin Warrick set off in a favourable weather window. I think Dean is doing some weather routing for them and we can all watch their progress by clicking on the link “Where is Van Kedisi?” InReach should show their positions as they move closer over the next 10 days or so to the Bay of Islands. At last I have some photos to post as well. I will post Dick’s messages via ham and in recent weeks, from gmail as at last he was able to use his Alcatel hub for WiFi aboard Van Kedisi.

Sept. 13~~Ham ( all ham until I state otherwise)

Hi everybody, Thanks for the messages. It has been, and continues to be, very frustrating getting a connection on the Ham radio. There is general consensus among the yachties that it is an atmospheric issue affecting the propagation and ability to send messages. My best connection is via Hawaii which is a couple of thousand miles away. So here is a combined message so if I connect maybe I can get one message out.

Rick, I have added your email address to the inReach. But I think anybody can follow the progress on Mapshare – Marian? Not that there has been much progress. We did a bit of a trip to other anchorages here in the Vavau group in Tonga. Nice enough, but maybe we have been spoiled already with the idyllic islands through the Tuamotus and elsewhere.

Back here in Neiafu I caught up with Eric, Lynn and the 2 dogs on “Amaryllis”. Eric is pondering the difficulties of taking the dogs and the boat back to Australia. Australia, unlike NZ, charges Australians the full import duties immediately on entry. David and Jean passed through here too. David left his boat on the hard here and went back to Aus to deal with his divorce. While he was here he organized a fund raiser for Sandy, who organizes everything here, to replace her dinghy and outboard that had been stolen. Also met up with Reiner and his 2 German mates who will help him on the leg to NZ. He wants your contact info in NZ, Rick, which I will pass along.

It is the 3rd world here. They have run out of petrol. They have diesel for a few weeks. It is not known when the tanker will come. The many whale watch outfits here drop tourists in the path of whales here to get underwater photos. And the folk who get photos say it is the most memorable thing they have ever done. However, the whale research folks we worked with in Niue were less than impressed with the Tonga whale “watching” operations. Apparently there are too many licenses issued but the cash grab is too enticing to all involved. Somebody is doing a PHd studying whether the active interaction is good or bad for the whales. It would be interesting to see how they draw conclusions from that! Ha ha, without petrol to power their outboards there will not be much whale watching going on.

We have decided to stay to watch the rugby tonight – NZ/Springboks, and then set off for Suva, Fiji, 460 mile away, on Sunday morning. The downside of this is that the breeze, which is now favourable, will be dying after a day or so. Ah well, what we will do to see the currently awesome All Blacks take on their arch opponent. Like most watchers last week, I thought Argentina were the next best team at half time, but they could not stick with the men in black in the 2nd half.

Lyle, thanks for the Blue Jays updates.
Brian, all the best for your adaptation to your new bovine heart valve – it is awesome what the medical system can do.
Jamie, Rick, all our fellow boat crews send their regards.

Marian, if you can send roach bait with Colin it would be appreciated (little bastards).

Time to wake up young Steven and send him up the hill to get a couple of jerry cans of diesel – may need it motoring part way to Suva!!

Cheers
Dick

Sept. 17~~

We got underway at 0645. About 460 n.m. to Suva.
Great conditions right now – twin gennnies up doing 7 knots on course. Was sunny earlier but high overcast now. Single-hander Matt on “Tamata” within a mile of us also heading for Fiji. We chatted on the vhf. I even checked in with the net this morning and heard Russell and Jane on their way to Niue.

Steven says Colin will be in Vancouver about Oct 18 on his way to Fiji. His list, so far!, is Stugeron, hopefully roach bait and study stuff for Steven and duty free booze. If he could bring another container of Costco nuts that would be great. (I had to include this part~~cockroach bait, sea sickness meds and nuts/booze the important re-supply!)

I took stugeron last night and Steven took the last one a couple of hours ago. All well on Van Kedisi

Sept. 22~~Hi there,
We are safe and sound in Suva. It was an interesting passage. We got lucky near the end. The calm stopped and the wind went all the way around to the south-west, an almost unheard of direction, and blew hard enough to give us a good, if bumpy, end to the passage. We arrived at dawn, a 4 day passage. We were both well all the way and had a very enjoyable time. Motoring over the flat calm sea was nice – we even got to see a very clear green flash at sunset – first time for Steven. The Thai green curry mix with mahi mahi substituted for chicken was outstanding – and we can do it again! Waiting for check-in clearance at the Royal Suva Yacht Club – can take 2 hours or 2 days!

 

My Ham radio is not working as well as it was. I will poke around, but I have limited knowledge about a lot of it. The good news is that this morning I connected via an NZ station. Just understand that if you do not hear from me for a while that is the problem.

Feels like I am near the end of this odyssey. Next country to clear into will be NZ inshallah! I have an engineers’ lunch date on November 30 and Steven has LSATs on December 4. Wow – a schedule!

Oct. 1~~hello hello: I got up with the alarm at 0500, but it was 0525 by the time I had everything squared away and the anchor up. Enough of the lights in the harbour were working so I could safely find my way out. The lead lights for entering worked just as well for leaving. Kadavu and the Great Astrolobe Reef are east of south, not west as I had thought, so we were hard on the wind all day. Steven got up about 1300. No conditions to study while we were bouncing around. As we approached the north east end of the reef the seas smoothed out in the lee of the reef. The reef surrounds a number of little islands – a bit like the reef around Raiatea and Tahaa. Both the channel markers were missing where we passed through the reef from the outside to the inside. The charting was right on and with the chart plotter and the depth sounder it was all clear. We are anchored up behind one of the little islands. It looks like they are in the process of building a new dock. We will stay here 2 nights. Steven will study tomorrow and I will do boat work and go explore on land.

So heading south was a bit of a taster for the passage to NZ. Indeed, they call Kadavu “New Zealand lailai” – or little NZ. Gathering information for the trip south.  All well – Steven’s night to cook – cauliflower and potato curry. Pineapple for dessert. 4 fish dinners still in the freezer!

Oct. 2~~Second night here inside the Great Astrolabe Reef. Still anchored in the same place. My plan is to stay at least 2 nights wherever we stop so studies can proceed. The water is clear enough here, but not that incredible clarity we have had elsewhere. You could say i am getting a little jaded. You can only see so many incredible atolls and snorkel places! Tomorrow we move on, just a few miles, to a place that Ian from the Suva yacht club showed me on the chart. Supposed to be manta rays there all the time. We will see.

 

All well here – calmer than last night.

Oct. 3 (WiFi from now on)~~Hi there, we are at the island of Ono – still within the Great Astrolabe Reef. I had an excellent snorkel today at one of our stops, but no manta rays. We will spend a couple of nights here. Steven to study and me to work on a couple of boat issues. The starboard water pressure pump is acting up – well, not going at all. One of the 2 new ones I bought when we were in the Caribbean with Patti and Lyle.  (not Patti and Lyle; Cathy and Doug!) Ah well, keep me out of trouble. Steven a bit under the weather, sore throat. It will be good to get the roach bait and stop spraying poison around here. If we can get rid of the roaches for $C104 it will be money well spent. Surely getting an exterminator in NZ will be more. (I sourced a product made in Germany I had seen in some yachting articles online and was able to get it shipped from Ontario via Amazon)

We seem to be back in wifi range again.

The weather has improved. Nice and sunny from time to time. The little islands are picturesque. I talked to a Fijian in his boat today – while i was looking for manta rays. He suggested we go to his island and drink kava. We will see. Trev and Jan sent me an email suggesting another kava drinking family. ha ha

So all is well, except Bob McDavit warns of some wind event on the 9th in Fiji, so I will watch the weather closely and make sure we are somewhere protected for that. maybe after that we will do the 100 n.m. passage up to Musket Cove (Dick’s Place).

Oct. 7~~We are waiting for the weather here in Kadavu. We were to have left at 1400, but have decided not to. There is a lot of uncertainty about tropical depressions forming around Fiji and Tonga. So rather than sail into uncertainty and the possibility of 35 kn winds in Musket Cove we will stay here until things settle down. It is raining. There is good wind for us today and tomorrow, but the possibility of shitty weather on arrival will keep us here. The down side is there is not great wind after this and we may be rushing to get to Nadi by the 20th. So it goes.We have company – a couple of boats that we met in Suva – “Sundowner II” from Edmonton and “Sequoia” from California. Also waiting out whatever is happening.

Oct. 10~~The “weather event” is with us – wind howling, It was blowing into the bay from the north east to start and had us bouncing around. Now it has swung around to the south west which is much better for us – no motion, just a lot of wind. It rained all day. Steven went in to the store in the rain – I posted a couple of photos on Face Book just for kicks. We managed to get the last few innings of the baseball game on the live streaming site so that was great. Go Blue jays! We are anchored in 8m and we believe it is a mud bottom – held really strong when we pulled on it. We have a bit over 60m chain out. Probably stay awake a lot tonight.

Oct.11~~Two more boats joined the 3 of us who have been here the last few days. A 57ft Jeanneau and a 48 year old 65 ft Sparkman and Stevens aluminum ketch called “Rewa” with just one old guy, David, on board. We had a great happy hour on “Rewa”. There have still been occasional winds up to 30 kn and Steven went out for a pee at midnight and here was “Rewa” dragging anchor quickly between us and the Jeanneau. He was just clear of both of us. I was still up too and we used flashlights and the foghorns to wake up David who got control of his boat and re-anchored. We kept watch for a while, but things settled down, and he had re-anchored not upwind of us.

There is some sun this morning. The dinghy outboard is playing up a bit – only runs with the choke – carburetor cleaning looks like it is on the agenda today. it is a good work location for Steven here.

Oct. 12~~Did boat checking and rig maintenance today. Now making water and baking bread. Steven ashore for a ramble.

Oct. 14~~

Attached are a couple of photos of the tournament here on the island of Kadavu, about 100 n.m. south of the main island of Viti Levu.


The village here, Kavala Bay, has one store. There are no roads or cars. No electrical distribution. However, there is a tower on the hill and absolutely excellent wifi courtesy of Vodafone – who, unsurprisingly, were the tournament sponsors. 24 teams! The primary school boasts the only full size rugby field around. The tournament was hugely entertaining – hard ground, hard hits, enthusiastic support for the local teams, yellow cards, red cards – mainly for hard high tackles – but no argument offered to the ref. Excellent. No wonder the Fijians earned the 7s olympic gold medal. And should continue to dominate – the store is 10 minutes walk from the village, the school 15 minutes walk the other way – and everybody walks everywhere. Except the little kids – they all run everywhere. Steven and I were the only honkies. Tomorrow, after the Blue Jays game, we head back north to pick up Colin, 3rd crew member for the passage to NZ.

Oct. 16~~Safely through the Navula Passage at 0600. Timed perfectly – daylight shut down the lead lights when I was almost through – perfect. Now sailing in flat water towards Dick’s Place which is about 10 mils away. Time to make breakfast – Steven sleeping.

Oct. 16~~Dick’s Place. Ha ha – it looks a little different.
There are mooring balls and about 30 boats here. When you and I were here 36 years ago I think there was one boat anchored out here – but, it was the hurricane season when we were here. Got in at 0900. Getting organized to go ashore and checkout the groceries situation – and maybe a restaurant meal!

Back in early 1980 Dick and I went to Fiji on the way home from NZ. We had two weeks and found an ad for a little island off the coast with 8 small huts, a restaurant and general store. After a terrifying speed boat ride over rolling seas with no lifejackets in which we were totally soaked, we arrived Dick’s Place. Back then it was a delightful little spot and we had one of the best weeks ever on a South Pacific Island.

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Oct. 17~~Overcast day today, lots of rain this morning.
Watching the Blue jays on the vipbox streaming site. Down 2 – 1 at the
middle of the 5th inning. Still at Musket Cove – will head over to the other side for Colin tomorrow

Oct. 18~~Just motoring away from Dick’s Place now. Heading for Port Denarau which is just south of Nadi. Have relayed the bus instructions to Colin.We got them last night from a US couple who have been here for a few years.mainly overcast here, no wind to speak of. Heard one boat on the net this morning heading for NZ. Starting to focus on that now.

 

 

Oct. 20~~I have been living with a small leak in the hydraulic steering system. I believe it is at the seal in the hydraulic steering cylinder, located just behind the Princess suite. I have been dealing with it by simply topping up the hydraulic fluid. I was planning on fixing it in NZ. However, it has become worse so I have to fix it now. Andy and I replaced the seals in 2009. I have a complete spare cylinder. I have booked a berth at Denarau Marina for Saturday night so we will be somewhere secure to remove and replace the cylinder. It means draining the system and refilling it with hydraulic steering fluid and bleeding out all the air. We have also been getting the occasional message on the autopilot that the “drive motor stalled” and stuff like that. I also have a complete new spare drive motor, so my plan had been to get that installed too when I got to NZ. However, in view of the fact that we are draining and refilling the system, and getting these funny messages, I am thinking we will replace the motor here too. It has been working for 20 years! So wish us luck. We will have a week or so to make sure there are no bugs (uh oh, we have other bugs!) in the system before heading to NZ.

Listening to Gulf Harbour Radio on the HF. I will check in with them when we leave and take part of the sched every morning. Have not been able to hook up for email on the Ham for a few days which is a bit worrying as I need to get the GRIB files and routing info from Dean. Hopefully that is just a glitch in propagation at present. I will clean the antenna connection at the backstay and persevere to connect at other times of the day.

Winds mainly from the south at present. On the 29th there is pretty good wind all the way to NZ. However, it does keep changing. The weather for this trip is unlike any that we have dealt with – possibly a bit like the Agean when Dean and I crashed into it for 4 days – but there we got to anchor at night. We will look for a good window – we have time.

Nice sunny day today here at Dick’s Place. We will head back to the anchorage at Port Denarau this afternoon and tomorrow morning Steven will take the dinghy in to get Colin – unless we can get early entry to the berth already.

Oct. 21~~

Steven on dinner duty tonight – thai curry with the last of the mahi mahi. We are in the part to the marina that has the huge super yachts. “Dragonfly”, the monster super yacht powerboat that we saw in Papeete was here yesterday. According to our buddy David on “Rewa” it is owned by the Google guy, whoever he is, and the boat rents for $500,000 per week – plus gas!

Wish us luck that everything works on the autopilot test tomorrow!!

Oct. 22~~Watched the 2nd half of the All Blacks game – NZ on daylight saving time that I had not factored in. No worries, all the action was toward the end – a record victory for these All Blacks.

Boys still out checking out tourist town here.

This came in from Rick Lane who was wonderful crew from Panama to Moorea.

What a great game and of course result. The Aussie coach has had a wee meltdown on TV which has amazed the NZ public. The irony is – the clown depiction of him was done by an Australian cartoonist! Have found these on camera and now on a quest to discover how to down load some from my phone.

Best wishes, Rick (Photos below credit to Rick.) Later I promise to caption these but this is all taking too long today!

Oct. 23~~I got the boys up at 0630 and we made our way north to Lautoka. I had 5 things on my list and thought they would take a long time but I got them all done by 1310 which was when the customs closed for lunch. Got Colin added to the crew list. The boys did the provisioning and then after chilli chicken lunch at an Indian joint we did “top up” shopping. Then off to the anchorage nearby. Looking back at Lautoka we realized that we forgot to pick up the roast chicken for dinner – so the boys are off on a venture to try to get the dinghy close to downtown instead of the long way via the port. Good luck.
With all the moving Steven has not really had the opportunity for LSAT but maybe tomorrow as we head for the Yasawas there will be a chance.

I plan for just a few days in the balls Yasawas and then back down to Musket Cove where we will pick our time to go to NZ. Weather very nice right now. Swelly anchorages but hopefully we will find some calm anchorages in the Yasawas.

I managed to connect to NZ on the Ham on 7 MHz last night so that was encouraging. I got an email from Trevor and Jan listing the nets they are currently listening to. I was already listening to Gulf Harbour Radio from NZ where David talks about the weather and Patricia takes position reports. I will report to them on passage too. And maybe to Poly Mag net as well. I heard Stuart from “Time Bandit” on the net this morning and it sounds like he is enroute from Tonga to NZ already.

Oct. 24~~We are heading north with the motor, will anchor in less than an hour. Should show up on the website.
We need to use the kava the boys bought – sure you can’t take it into NZ!
All well. Ham radio still intermittent – hoping it gets better as we approach NZ as the shore station is in Porirua – where Pengellys are by chance.

Oct. 24~~For Dean but I thought it was interesting!

Hi Dean,

Departure is sort of imminent.

I have been playing around on the windyty website. If you go to “tools” and “distance measurement & planning” you can put in waypoints. If you go to the vk website:

https://sailvankedisi.wordpress.com

you can get the VK’s position (where is VK).

if you were so inspired, you could plot the VK position on a daily basis, and look at the upcoming weather for the next few days. On the menu at the bottom right, there are 2 formats you can select: GFS or ECMWF. ECMWF gives a 6 day forecast, GFS gives 10 days.

The general routing idea from Jimmy Cornell is to head a bit west of south until we get to the longitude of the northern tip of NZ. That way we use the SE wind to blow us a bit west, and then the winds with a westerly component near NZ bring us back.

The ham reception has been intermittent. So best if you can send routing information to both the Ham address and the Inreach. Basically what we are looking for is how far west to go, whether to go east or west if we encounter head winds.

I had been looking to leave later, but it does not look great to wait until the 1st, and if we wait beyond that until say the 5th, who knows if maybe we have to wait many more days.

All our buddies are in motion, 15 boats leaving from Tonga tomorrow (although the wind looks from the south to me…)

We are back at Dick’s Place. Got here just in time to refuel before they closed at 1700. Would not have been a big deal if we had missed – open at 0800 tomorrow. However, We plan to be off at 0600, so that is all good.

Boys are ashore hopefully spending the last remnants of Fiji dollars – hopefully that the store is still open.
We will go ashore for dinner tonight.

We have nearly made our way through the mountain of supplies i got in Panama. Main thing we have a lot of is flour and lentils. Fortunately they go together! Fresh bread and lentil soup every other lunch. (I bet everyone will look forward to a different soup!)

Oct. 26~~We are off to NZ. Looks good. We are through the pass and making 5.5 kn close hauled in the right direction.

Because this has taken so long I am going to post the photos together so they may appear a little small. However I do am off on some passages Sat. with Elaine and Ted Keating and Suzanne Woeller. Our first ferry is under 2 hours long~~Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo then a 4.5 hour drive to Port Hardy where we board another ferry which departs at 6 PM, arriving Prince Rupert the next day at 4 PM. If that all goes well, we take the same ferry overnight from Prince Rupert to Skidegate on Haida Gwaii to start our 9 day adventure.

 

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