5th May - and onto the other side of the world, New Zealand, for a season of exploration in Fiji. When having a Mid-Life Cruise you may as well misadventure and the Yasawa Islands, Vsnua Levi, Taveuni and the Mamanucca's are just the places for it.
I'm joining David aboard S/V Rewa in Whangarei. We met in Balboa, Panama in March of last year before sailing to the South Pacific. I was aboard Dances with Dragons with my friend Wayne Harris, aboard a 58' Camper and Nicholson hailing from Houston.
David and I are sailors, divers and world travellers. He's from Maine, I'm from England and neither of us like cold climates, especially those continuous grey skies which loom for months at a time. We are tropic birds who chose to bask in warmth.
Arrived in Auckland where David met me at the airport. The boat, a Sparkman and Stephens ketch called Rewa was in the town basin marina in Whangarei in the exact spot where some Italian friends were berthed in 2009. Aboard was Irish Robbie, a 24 year old Yacht Master with stories of travel and adventure rarely experienced by
someone so young. He reminds me much of Alastair and his friends and I feel very much like a second Mummy to him. What a pleasure to encounter him and to share our music and the journey as we sail to Fiji - he is a modern day Peter Pan with good morals, values and sense of humour.
After a week of getting the boat straight we moved to Marsden Cove Marina, berth A17 which is remarkably close to the new home of my friends Pamela Lambert and Trevor Brooke's (Warrens relatives). They kindly allowed me to spend a day of preparing food for the passage in their state of the art kitchen which was preferable to doing so aboard. A tennis court at the local school provided entertainment on a couple of occasions. My friend Julie spent a morning with us and I hadn't seen her for three years in Thailand so it was an emotional time. Edith, a Swiss chocolatier living North of Auckland joined us as the fourth crew member and very soon became comfortable with being aboard. She's a delight, easy going, cheerful and lovely company.
A weather window opened
up so we refuelled, stayed on the fuel dock overnight and the next morning cleared out. By 2pm we were underway for the 1200 mile passage to Savusavu. Cold weather was driving us to warm waters and a 7 day journey. Light winds meant much motorsailing but with relatively flat seas it was a comfortable time with hammocks and beanbag on the foredeck while motoring - life is good. Double watch schedule - Team Won being Robbie and Tigs and Team Slackers being Edith and David. Four hour watches day and night and wind conditions from 4-23 knots mainly following seas and the wind from the stern quarter.
A somewhat eventful 9 day passage but also absolutely wonderfully varied and the reason I love sailing so much - amazing sunrises, sunsets, moon rises, moonsets, 1000 faces to the ocean, bioluminescence, night watches for star gazing and great likeminded companionship and music tastes amongst crew. A very rare sighting of a double green flash was seen by David and Robbie though personally I think they stared at the red glow too long which gives the impression of a green hue, just messin'.
The through hull
for the exhaust (has a valve which you can close in heavy weather) which allows exhaust fumes and water which cools the engine to exit the boat, and for reasons unknown closed during the starting of the engine. Possibly due to an electrical fault. The air pressure built up until it blew a hole in the exhaust manifold. The boys, David and Robbie removed the unit and repaired it with fibreglass. It took 24 hours to harden fully at which point we started the engine due to very light winds but the problem reoccurred in a different weak spot which blew the base off. Now out of resin needed for a second fix we had no option but to reschedule our port of entry from Savusavu on the island of Vanua Levu to the capital of Viti Levi which is Suva ... an easier entry for a vessel under sail and with no ability to enter under steam.
The perfect landfall under sail into the anchorage and went ashore to the royal Suva yacht club for landfall drinks dinner and pool. Last year I was here with James on Alpheratz and beautiful memories of our time on
the island flooded back.
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