Our string of world party flags came in handy again as our vessels courtesy flag (a courtesy flag is flown by a ship in foreign waters as a token of respect by a vessel that is visiting) because, it was impossible to find a Tanzanian flag in Tanga. However, when we were in the Seychelles the Seychelloise flag was everywhere and when we went to a shop to buy one the shop attendant just gave us the very large flag that was hanging outside her shop, all people on the street got such a kick out of it.
I like shopping for each countries flag once we arrive as opposed to having the flags pre-purchased a head of time. We get to experience the pride and joy of the locals when we shop for their countries flag.
The night before we set sail to Zanzibar the local yachties (about 15 International yachts are in Tanaga at the moment) hosted a Pirate Party for the locals and cruisers complete with roasted goat and live music
Everything Happens For a Reason
While we were frustrated and stuck in Padang for almost three weeks waiting for our new boat batteries to be delivered our mates on s/v Destiny set sail from Lombok to the Seychelles. We had buddy boated with Steve & Anna from Fiji to Indonesia and we had plans to leave around the same time as them en route for the Seychelles so, while we waited and waited they had already a 2 week head start on us.
Thank goodness we waited! S/V Destiny ran right into a dangerous low pressure system south of Cocas Keeling that punched constant 35+ winds and much higher gusts, unimaginable confused sea state and sustained wave heights at 5 meters. Destiny arrived safely in The Seychelles after almost 40 days of very rough conditions.
Thank goodness we waited!
What do you do when you are 22 days at sea?
I have been asked what we do onboard during a long passage and I often say “we are actually quite busy” but never really gave it too much thought to what we actually do so, here it is.
First of all we keep a strict watch schedule of 3 hours on 3 hours off so, someone is always in the cockpit. When we aren’t adjusting sails Martin is checking our course, getting weather updates and navigating. We also have to do daily checks on the lines for chafing and other boat maintenance tasks are constant.
During the day I have a “schedule” that includes exercises and stretching, working on the computer; editing videos, writing and working on a few “snapfish” projects. We always have a book to read; Martin has a Nook and I have a Kindle so there is no shortage of great books in our libraries. We fish on the calm days which will take up an entire afternoon when we catch a fish; cleaning the fish and the mess it makes onboard then dividing it up to vacuum seal ready for the deep freeze. In the afternoon we start preparing dinner early at around 3:00-4:00 and eat at 5:00pm so the dishes are done and everything is packed away before our night watch schedules begin at 6:00pm. During the afternoon we listen to BBC podcasts I have downloaded from Spotify which is a great conversation/ debate starter and breaks up the monotony.
I don’t count the days at sea; I count the nights because they are the longest and the most challenging of the watches. At night we have to keep a more diligent watch; not just for boats but for squalls you can’t see coming. I find the strain of checking the horizon particularly tedious when there isn’t a moon lit sky. On the other hand a clear star studded night on the open ocean has its own rewards. If I had a dollar for every wish I made on a shooting star during this passage…I could buy us a round of beers at the Seychelles Yacht Club $$$$$
After a fast four weeks in the Seychelles getting the steering wheel fixed and struggling to get our fridge repaired; we left before we had to go through the “boat import” process & without our fridge getting repaired. Off to Tanzania now… we are both excited to get to Africa.
What a horrible trip…10 days of into the wind “motoring” from Lombok to the Mentawai Islands off the West coast of Sumatra. The passage took us so long that we missed meeting Martin’s friends (by 1 day) that had been visiting the Mentawai’s local surf camp all the way from South Africa.
This is what sailing in Indonesia looks like…trying to find clean diesel in every port!
Mentawai- Taupejat was worth the trip
A bit about this video: “Marty” surfed everyday that he could for a month between several of the famous surf breaks: Telescopes, Suicides and Icelands. Kayaking through the mangroves was my pastime. We met many of the local expat community and many foreigners that have businesses in the area. Gidion & Chantal are South African’s that own the Bilou Villas Surf Resort; they were helpful introducing us to the locals and contacts in Padang that would help us get our 6 new Trojan boat batteries that we desperately needed. By far the most interesting character we met owns the property and bungalows that was directly in front of where we anchored…Terry a.k.a The Juggler Smuggler was made famous in the T.V. series Locked Up Abroad after he was busted in Japan smuggling hash in his juggling balls! Terry is a fellow Texan so we had a lot in common and he was seriously one of the most entertaining people I have had the pleasure of knowing. His hospitality was as big as Texas and I’ll never forget our visits with him; particularly when he wanted to show us the massive python he had just caught and caged in one of the bungalows but when we got there the massive 11ft python had escaped!
We met all kinds of interesting folks; our anchorage neighbor for three weeks “Witty” from Australia was always up for spearfishing, BBQ & beer (not in that order). Afternoons ashore to visit with locals at “Brad’s Bakery” or at the local Mentawai Surf Bungalows was our regular social outlet. Ashley a South African we met through Marc on s/y Millennium had just finished having a traditional boat built and was excited to show us his new home before it’s maiden launch. Han’s and Kat a young American couple had a similar however much smaller traditional boat built that they intend to live on while they continue to travel and surf many of the Ment’s surf breaks (they have spent “half-years” in the Ment’s for over a decade!).
We got a taste for island living; fresh and delicious eggs from Terry, hand pressed coconut oil delivered to Shenemere, Witty often had fish on the “barbie”, fresh bread from Brad the Baker and a plentiful vegetable market was all we really needed. The memories we made and the stories to be told about our time here was for us what cruising is all about. Priceless!
Exploring Cubadak island while we wait for our new batteries to be delivered
In Padang to pick-up 6 new batteries for Shenemere and top up with fuel & provisions
Padang Harbor was an industrial commercial port however, the upside was the friendly locals that helped us load our new batteries and distribute the old batteries to a few of the fishermen as well the convenience to clear out of Indonesia.
We are now ready to set our sails for the Indian Ocean to the Seychelles & Africa. Anticipating a 30- day passage.
MotoGP- Mandalika, Lombok
The Indonesian motorcycle Grand Prix is part of the Grand Prix motorcycle racing World Championship. It was something I’d never experienced so we took the opportunity to travel to Mandalika and what an experience it was but, for all the wrong reasons. The race was exciting however, a logistical nightmare when the race was over. 80,000 spectators trying to catch a few buses back to their cars took us 7 hours; 2 buses and hiking on the muddy roads in the pitch dark & rain back to our car after a bus got stuck and blocked traffic for miles.
Off to Explore the Southern coast of Lombok: Belongas Bay Beware! Navigational Hazards Afloat
Gerupuk Lombok is home to five surf breaks
This small village is big on fishing within a large inlet made up of several bays. The locals here make their living from commercial fishing or surf tourism. Conditions were favorable for Marty to surf most of our time in Gerupuk.
Gerupuk to Kuta on scooters and some kayaking adventures is what we’ve been needing…
Gili Air, Lombok is known as a popular tourist hotspot; mostly young party goers pre-covid. We arrived to the more traditional Gili Air as most of the hotels and bars were closed and awaiting Indonesia to open up to tourists. The water is crystal clear, the surf was cooperating and the island was ripe for exploring on foot.
We went to Bali over Christmas and New Years and enjoyed a much needed break from the boat. Exploring Bali’s inland cultural treasures was a real treat. Also, resort accommodations with breakfast included for $18 USD a night! I enjoyed browsing and practicing my bartering skills at the artisan market in the mornings and spending the afternoons strolling through the town. We had a lot of fun at the Monkey Forest; Martin making friends :0
Back to Lombok
We went to Lombok to start the process of stowing the boat in preparation for our trip back to the USA. We got distracted for a few days when Captain SImmone on the mega yacht Immortalis pitched up in the anchorage. Captain Simmone had spent the last 2 years refitting an old Japanese fishing vessel into a recreational charter boat and he was keen to celebrate and show us the ropes on Immortalis. He asked me for help with a video of the boat as it is destined to charter in the near future. This video is the “unprofessional” cut of the video I did for the owner.
Pictures are worth a thousand words…our quick 6 week trip to the states
Back to Indonesia
The trip back was much more cumbersome than the trip to the states. The Quarantine in Jakarta added 4 days to our journey back to Shenemere. Next stage of our sailing journey will involve an Indian Ocean passage to Africa. Blessed to have had the time with friends, family and baby River to help fill our emotional tanks for the next long passage.
Indonesia has 18,000 Isles covering over 2 million square miles…many choices! Martin was keen to check out the famous T-Land surf break on Rote Island. Surf was off so we waited a few days for conditions to improve and enjoyed meeting the local expat community and exploring the traditional side of Rote. Unfortunately, what used to be a thriving tourist hotspot was void of any signs of tourism.
Rote Island to Komodo Island Shark Attack!
Monitor Windvane or Lure? On my watch I was startled by a knock/ bang on the monitor windvane rudder. Then another hit. As I looked off the back of Shenemere I thought initially I was seeing a whale…whatever it was it was fat & long but, that just wasn’t logical. Another hit on the shinny paddle when I realized I was witnessing a massive shark attacking the windvane! Everything slowed down. I attempted to scream for Martin to come up but I had lost my voice to shock. Martin did make it in time to see the enormous black fin as the shark was aborting it’s effort to relieve us from our main mode of steerage.
It was the following day when we arrived at Komodo Island that we lifted the rudder to survey the damage.
#sailing #indonesia #shark #sailingshenemere #Respect
We were excited to meet up with Lisa and Mark on S/V En Passant in Komodo. Enjoyed having fellow cruisers to explore Komodo National Park and socialize with them at Rinca Island before we all sailed to Flores.
Needing fuel and provisions we headed off to the main town in Flores- Labuan Bajo
Indonesia is not a Muslim nation according to their constitution. The archipelago is a multifaith country and officially recognizes 6 religions. So far in Kupang, Rote & Komodo we didn’t see the majority Muslim population represented…that changed when we got to Flores.
While we were sailing/ motoring to Flores there was a violent volcanic eruption at Mt. Semeru off of Java that killed 48 people. A week later there was an undersea quake off of Sumatra triggering panic in Indonesia. In addition to seismic activity in the region we have to contend with navigational hazards including Fish Attracting Devices, fishing nets, unlit fishing boats and floating debris have made sailing at night likely to have unfortunate consequences :0
Next to Lombok-Gili Air and Bali for Christmas.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Breakage Was Our Constant Companion
Years of “day sailing” might be equal to the amount of wear we had on all the boat’s systems during this 29 day passage
We Ate Well- Tuna and Wahoo
Jimmy was our local go-to-guide for pretty much everything we needed. Kupang was too spread out and the language was a barrier for immigration, phones, stamps and boat repairs etc. Jimmy was always there to watch our dingy and organize what was needed. We took him out to the Triple 9 Club the night before we left to thank him for all his help.
Indonesia changed the quarantine from 8 days to 3 days however, it still took us 12 days to get completely checked-in. Two PCR tests, Health, Quarantine, Immigration, Customs & Harbor Master officials all work independently. Pre-Covid it cost about $200 to check into Indonesia now it costs about $2000.
First Impressions & Highlights of Our Brief Visit to Kupang
We quickly filled up with fuel/ propane, provisioned with veggies and had the Monitor wind vane welded before we set sail to Roti.
David and Martin showed the local kids how to fly the drones
We enjoyed visiting with the kids on Makogai. The kids were keen to fly the drone and showed me their homemade “blow dart guns” (pvc pipe with corked steel darts) they basically shot-to- kill anything on the island with trained proficiency.
Beachcombing at it’s best
“Our new normal” is having to burn our rubbish just like the locals. No garbage collected and the “garbage dumps” on the main islands are just large fires to throw your garbage on. So now we take the trash to the beach and burn it. Rik and Saunne from SV Incentive joined us for our rubbish burn, beach combing, kayaking/SUP and snorkeling adventures on Makogai.
First stop at the top of the Yasawa Group: Sawi-i-Lau
Sawi-i-Lau is the odd limestone island amid a string of high volcanic islands. We came here to explore the caves but, we weren’t received by any locals and we didn’t want to approach the village uninvited so we had to explore on our own. On the way to Sawi-i-Lau we sailed into a large pod of Pilot Whales with their babies.
Nanuya Lailai- home to the celebrity of all the Yasawa’s beaches,
the Blue Lagoon
Beautiful Blue Lagoon where Brooke Shields gave fame to this crystalline and glossy beach in the movie Blue Lagoon did not disappoint. However, most of the beaches were private resorts (Turtle Island Resort $2,700 per night) and even though there aren’t any guests here due to boarder closures there were security guards protecting most of the beaches.
We met the Aussie owner Ivan that was maintaining the Nanuya Island Resort during the boarder closures by keeping a shop open for the locals & employees to taking care of the property. We were invited to make an order of veggies and he would get together what he could for us. We came back in the afternoon to a huge box of eggplants, bananas, cilantro, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, oranges and potatoes! We had been down to one cucumber and three carrots so the fresh veggies were a culinary celebration!
DENARAU ISLAND MARINA & RESORTS
Marty Surfs Restaurants with only yachtie’s in the lineup
Thank you Fiji.
Sincere gratitude to all the wonderful people we met in Fiji. It would be so easy to Stay in Fiji however, this would be our third time here and we are drawn to unchartered waters as the cyclone season is imminent. We have set our sails for Indonesia.
XXOO to all the amazing yachtie’s we met this cruising season. It was an intimate-quickly acquainted community of cruisers, surfers & kayakers. We all seemed to embraced the “Silver Lining” of Covid Cruising/ FIJI BLUE LANES CRUISING. We are grateful to have the unique opportunity to sail through the islands of Fiji and truly appreciate the Fijians for their fortitude. BLUE LANES allowed cruisers to explore Fiji by water while the country remained in various levels of lockdown.
Cheers to all the cruisers we chilled with…fondest memories XO #Galliant #Brave #Heritage #Patches#Periguine #Incentive #HooDoo #Indigo #India #Wildthing #Sequia #Ibis #FlipFlops #Hallabaloo of Normandy #Seaglub #SpiritofMillenium #Persuasion
Fiji established Blue Lanes Initiative allowing yachts to explore the islands while following strict safety guidelines including quarantine upon arrival, covid tests, AIS tracking by the Fijian Navy and weekly itinerary updates. Once we received approval and were granted a cruising permit we were also issued a Blue Lanes approved burgee flag that is an assurance to locals that our vessel does not pose a threat.
Fiji is aggressively vaccinating its population in an effort to control the spread of Covid on the main island of Viti Levu. In our case we arrived and quarantined on Vanua Levu and sailed to the Lau Group; all the areas we have visited remain Covid free at present. (Mid-August ’21)
Llil -Steve’s crew from NZ to Fiji on Destiny is in Fiji to teach women empowerment skills so she has access to the people in the villages (we are to limit our exposure) and was able to take all the school supplies, glasses, linens and a childrens clothes that Cindi on Zensation and I collected and distribute to the villages on Taveuni.
Once out of Quarantine we only spent a few days at Savusavu- Copra Shed before we hit the road to the Yacht Friendly…
Paradise Resort- Taveuni Island
Paradise Resort is unusual because normally resorts prohibit us yachties from visiting their properties however Allen the owner of Paradise Resort has 8 complimentary moorings and has always allowed yachties to visit his resort. He said the guests are are simply fascinated by the “sail guests” and the dynamics of the guests interacting makes it unique. This turned out to be a win-win for the resort during the lockdown as no tourist have been allowed to fly into Fiji however, the Blue Lanes Initiative has allowed yachties to safely cruise the islands. Allen said the “sail guests” have allowed him to keep the resort open, maintaining a few staff to prepare the meals and maintain the grounds has benefitted the local economy and kept the jungle from overtaking the property.
Allen still maintains the dive boat and takes visitors to the spectacular local dive spots: Orgasm (Vuna Reef), The Great White Wall (Rainbow Reef) and The Zoo. They have bakery on site and provide fresh veggies and eggs…really what else could a yachtie ask for! Meat; and what do you know the local butcher closed down his business after his workers refused to get vaccinated so instead of enduring the government fines for unvaccinated workers he just sells fresh meat directly to Allen who sells us the fresh cuts of beef. The butcher tosses the fresh carcass on the beach with the pools of blood attracting a plethora of shark species…large shark fins can be seen swarming. Apparently when he was in business it was advised Not to swim on Tuesdays and Thursdays however now he is on his own I am a bit concerned that we don’t have his “slaughter day” schedule!
Llil and some of the local kids came for a visit onboard
We had a fun afternoon hanging out with the local kids which I was surprised to hear hadn’t ever been invited on a boat before.
FULAGA- Southern Lau
Weather was just right! Off to the Southern Lau Group- Fulaga– popularly known as “Vulaga“
The 24 hour sail from Paradise to Fulaga was uneventful. We arrived in the morning to eyeball navigate our way through the narrow pass and the coral reefs within the lagoon. Anchored safe and secure in this spectacular lagoon. The village chief requested that the yachts in the lagoon consolidate all of our cruising permits and kava on one boat to minimize social contact. S/V Brave was nominated and on our behalf took part in the significant and ancient sevusevu ceremony that is performed by the Chief for us visitors to seek acceptance into a Fijian village. However, due to Covid restrictions we were asked to limit our contact with the villagers and not go to the village.
We met a local from the village; Alfereti while he was out in his kayak and in the course of our conversation he invited us to visit his land where he showed us and a few other yachties an ancient burial site and his vegetable garden. We all cooled down with some refreshing coconut water.
Next stop in the Southern Lau Group- Ogea
Another beautiful reef protected island and this time the local village was welcoming to our visit onshore. We left early with a group to make the hike to the village. We met with the Chief- Matu Tabu i Tui Nayau to present our gift of kava for the traditional sevusevu ceremony. At the Chief’s house we sat on a mat while he blessed our visit to his village and invited us to look at his beautifully carved bowls and traditional masks. The people of Ogea are known for their carefree and happy approach to life; this was evident in the village we visited. We were invited to sit with a local family and drink coconut after coconut of naturally hydrating goodness after a long hot walk. We learned a lot about their village and the challenges they have had to deal with. Mostly life sustained on food they grow and fish they catch remains unchanged.
Vanua Balavu- Little Bay with Big Adventures
Our first stop at Vanua Balavu was the main “town” of Lomaloma. The Chief, Nurse and a Policeman came out on a longboat to greet us and requested our cruising permit and immunization records. In the most friendly way we were asked to please not visit the village and after we presented our gift of kava to the Chief we were permitted to cruise the many bays of the island.
Just a few hours around the corner we tucked into the cutest “Little Bay” ever!
Martin rescues local Fijian man in his sinking kayak
Early in the morning Martin hears a call for help from a local who is taking on water in his fishing kayak.
Tui was grateful for Martin’s help and invited us to come back at hightide for a visit to his farm. We grabbed the crew from S/V Brave and headed back up the river later in the morning. Tui lives on a sizable piece of property that he manages to farm and raise pigs. He uses his horse Daisy to help collect the massive amounts of coconuts he needs to feed the pigs everyday and calls the pigs from the fields using his conch shell. We really wanted to see all the pigs come running to his conch shell blows however, at 4:30 AM the tide was too low to make it back up the river. Tui and his doggie Devil were a jolly pair and he even had the kids take turns riding his horse Daisy.
In 2016 Tui lost his house in Tropical Cyclone Winston that ravaged Fiji and Tonga. This house was delivered as a pallet of materials via helicopter from the New Zealand Government and was built with the help of volunteers in less than 2 weeks. It is a strong yet simple house that Tui was very proud to show us.
Next Anchorages on Vanua Balavu- Plantation Bay
We waited out a few days of strong winds and bad weather tucked right up and in this secure bay with our mates on Brave. On the third day the organizer of the Bula Rally showed up to open the yacht club so we met a few other yachties as the boats started to arrive for the upcoming Lovo Feast. The lovo is basically a feast of chicken, fish, pork, sheep, taro, yams, cassava etc. that is wrapped in banana leaves and placed on hot stones underground; the bounty is then covered with more banana leaves & coconut stalks and left to cook for several hours. The food was copious and the company of sailors delightful.
Bay of Islands- Dangerously Beautiful
David joined our crew while he is working on getting a crewed position back to New Zealand to sort out his Lagoon Catamaran that he has not been able to visit in over 18 months. David had been helping a Kiwi single- handed captain Theo on his boat Heritage for the last few months. So when the 4:00 AM hail on the radio ” Calling all vessels * Calling all vessels* Sailing vessel Heritage* Do you copy ” David jumped on the VHF. Between spotty WIFI and VHF communications we found out that Theo had been waiting off the pass entrance for the morning light when he lost his steering and ran his boat hard aground on a reef.
We went to Theo’s aid as soon as the sun was up and found him hard on the reef however in a better situation as he was somewhat protected by an outcrop of land. This bit of protection was his savings grace as the winds had picked up and the conditions turned blustery. David got in our dingy and went to Heritage as the approach was too dangerous for us on Shenemere. After a few hours of Heritage slamming hard onto the reef; with engines throttled forward and sails up… the tide came up just enough to propel Heritage in a few halty fits up and over the reef to safety.
Safely back at anchorage Theo came over to thank us for help rendered (we really didn’t do anything but in our community moral support is valued) with a few cold beers, can of lamb mutton and cash for the diesel. His steering cable is broken and he will need to use the cumbersome emergency tiller to get to a port that has parts. There is damage to his rudder but the full keel and hull seem to be OK. He will head to SavuSavu to fix the steering then onto Denarau to haul the boat out.
Here is some footage of this classic ketch- S/V Heritage in the Bay of Islands
Priceless surf anchorage- Taveuni off of Qamea Islands
We rounded the corner from Maqai and Martin was pumped…the surf was up and S/V Manuavi was anchored just off the reef so we knew the surfing was on. We anchored next to them and shot over to get the surf report. Happy to hear that Adam, Rachel, Josh, Iwana and Leah all were wiped out after two solid days of great surfing; sadly for Martin the wind was picking up and conditions were deteriorating.
He did get this amazing drone footage of our anchorage for the night just off the reef. It was pretty special going to sleep with the roar of the waves and the gentle roll of the swell.
We are officially Grandparents and we are over the moon!
Sarah and Justin welcomed into the world River Hendrix Koning
August 5th 2021 * 8lbs 10oz Healthy Baby Boy
SAYING A LONG GOODBYE TO NEW ZEALAND AND A SLOW HELLO TO FIJI
New Zealand has been a wonderful host to us over the last 19 months. I truly believe we won the Covid country lottery. The hospitality of the Kiwis, several auto-immigration extensions and the fast and hard lockdown that allowed us to live mostly unaffected by the global pandemic was remarkable. Usually we would have been here only to sit out a cyclone season and would have missed the exploring we did overland in the van or the fabulous summer sailing and hiking we enjoyed. The best part of this visit to New Zealand was reuniting with all the folks we sailed into New Zealand back in 1998…you can’t make new friends like these! Keep in mind these folks sailed and immigrated to NZ so they now live in amazing houses but we still refer to them by their given boat name. Bill and Irene (s/v Faraway) lived just up the road and so accessible to us for a chat, tea, hike, fish, sail or just a place to stay when Shenemere was hauled out. Cruising, hiking and art appreciation with Jenny and Dennis (s/v La Ruche). Fishing and art exploration with Cheryl and Henk (s/v Omega) in BOI’s was priceless. Norge (s/v Irish Mist) made the long journey to visit with us all and even brought his photo albums; what fun we had looking back. Our tribe remained intact after all these years and it’s remarkable the amount we all have in common. Martin and I did a lot of road trips to meet his school mates that have since immigrated to New Zealand. Gavin & Sharon, Martin’s childhood friend was always accommodating our comings and goings through Auckland. We had hilarious adventures with Richard and Marlene Koekemoer. Brian & Felicity Fuller hosted a SA reunion in Cambridge and Brian and Gavin cruised with us in Great Barrier Island. We met a few of Martin’s family that had immigrated to NZ as well; always real to connect with family when you are so far away. What a treat “The Caribbean Tribe Meet-Up” with Byron Pick his wife Stephanie (+2), Jenny Pick and Elizabeth and Garth indulging in an hysterical recollection of events when we were so very much younger sailing carefree in the Caribbean. A fortunate stroke of serendipity my close Kiwi friend Suzie from Miami had since moved back to New Zealand so we we were able to hang out. We had met Kiwi Malcom & Pauleen in Fiji last year and remained in contact with them so whenever we were in each others vicinity (Auckland, Whangarei or Opua ) we got together. Gosh we were incredibly lucky meeting all our ole mates in such a beautiful country and to be insolated in the Covid free bubble that New Zealand’s boarder closure provided, that we were safely and freely able to socialize. However, even though were no cases of Covid there was an economic impact and there were many folks that needed help. The Red Cross of Whangarei helped during this crisis by providing food, resources and support to the people most vulnerable at such a time. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with these good people + helping good people. I met some amazing people, made lasting friendships and have an opportunity to continue to volunteer as I travel (stand by…Fiji Red Cross possible opportunities). I was also very fortunate to have met Chef Leman, Shauna, Gaby and Rachel at Affair Catering over the summer. I had such an authentic experience with these amazing women; dang they made me laugh. I value the time we had and consider them my sisters. Probably the best and most unexpected New Zealand experience was being in one place and on a dock for 1 year. Naylene, Sharon and Brian @ Town Basin Marina helped us through this newbie experience. We hit it off with Naylene and Phil (Marina Staff and Dock Neighbor); BBQs, Holiday parties and any excuse to visit their authentic nature paradise @ The Hideout was such a fabulous treat. The highlight of all highlights was to witness their wedding. A real Kiwi Wedding in the bush and an unforgettable wedding party! Naylene’s neighbor Sue was such an inspiration and always a laugh. Sue gave me a traveling hippy skirt that I will cherish forever. I told Sue that I want to be just like her when I grow up and I mean it XO. Sharron and Andre were entertaining and always keen for an impromptu braai. Then there was actual boat work to be done; our haul out was supposed to be a 2 week event however, it went on for many weeks. We were quickly absorbed in the fold of the boatyard ole timers and what fun we all had. Kate & Robert on s/v Sylph along with Michael (40 years fishing on Quo-Vadis) were a regular dinner event that often lasted hours. Wesley on s/v Rose Marie, Liberator, Barking Mad, Ryan, Babs and John on s/v New Zealand Maid all made the challenging boatyard blues into a memorable time. Every Sunday Rob had a generous BBQ in a secret corner of the boatyard were everyone gathered mostly discussing boat projects with cold drinks, delicious BBQ and warm laughs. We were blessed with some amazing dock mates/ “Covid refugees” at the Town Basin Marina to share the day to day living experience with much as you would with your neighbors at home…a “chin wag” in the morning and a sundowner at the end of the day. The Town Basin Marina had a vibrant social schedule of ladies luncheons and weekly socials among other activities that provided us the opportunities to meet all kinds of International sailors. We are so grateful. Our Daughter Adrien sailed the seas with us and weathered the storms and has decided to set her anchor in New Zealand with her partner Donovan. We will miss her dearly, trust her immensely and believe that New Zealand is a great place to live. Our dearest friends Elizabeth & Garth -our buddy boat s/v Irwinish since Miami and decades of collective history between us have decided to stay in New Zealand. I can’t write this without the raw emotion of knowing how much we will miss the frequent belly laughs and familiarity that we have together. “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” -Winnie the Pooh. As for Shenemere we have set our horizons on distant ports. Fiji-Indonesia.
We spent the last few weeks in New Zealand back and forth to Auckland to service the life raft and swap out our van for a car Adrien could drive. We caught up with the “original” New Zealand Sailing Fleet of 1998 at Cheryl and Henk’s beautiful home. Grateful that Jenny & Dennis and Norge all took the time out of their busy schedules to come up and see us off. Irene and Bill put on a spectacular Braai for our farewell; a meal that will go down in the history books. The anticipation was killing us; we’d been talking about this final night out for awhile… Elizabeth and Garth treated us to tomahawk steaks at Bad Habits Restaurant. A “few” final good byes to Adrien & Donovan as we waited for a weather window.
Waiting and Waiting for a weather window to sail to Fiji
Finally got our weather window
After more than a month and a half of waiting for a decent weather window to head the 1000 miles north to Fiji we had to first navigate the new Covid testing requirements and Fiji’s Blue Lane protocols before we could even make an appointment with New Zealand customs to depart. A massive logistics operation was underway which included an eight hour trip to Auckland on a Sunday in order to receive the results on Monday and get Fijian Government approval to depart on Tuesday. So much for the good old days of picking a safe weather window and setting sail; new protocols make a stressful passage like this one more dangerous. Such is our new reality.
The Fijian Blue Lanes protocols allow the time at sea to go toward the 14 day quarantine requirement. We spent 5 days in the quarantine lagoon which was just the amount of time we needed to rest up, tidy up and fix up. Once out of quarantine we moved to a mooring ball outside the town of SavuSavu on the Island of Vanua Levu which is at present Covid free. However, just a day ago a supply ship was turned around when crew tested positive for Covid; it might be weeks before the next supply ship. We are allowed to walk around town but need to have masks to enter into stores and are required to have the FijiCare Covid Tracing app on. The Fijians are friendly, the weather is hot and the water is warm. We are relieved to be making our way in pursuit of a circumnavigation…one passage at a time. Peace