Passage to Fiji – part 2

NOTE: Just found out that we are having technical issues with automatic posting to our blog and Facebook page. Paul is on the case to resolve as we speak but apologies if you are all getting fed up seeing the same posts multiple times!
Thursday 30 May (continued)

The afternoon was beautiful – flat seas, blue skies, the sun was out and we could even discard a layer of clothing. Sadly it wasn’t to last for long. The seas started to build early evening making it lumpy again and the wind picked up steadily throughout the night. The moon never showed up either through the dense cloud cover. Thankfully the engine high temperature alarm did not recur so we made good speed motor sailing northwards.

Friday 31 May

It rained, it drizzled, it was freezing cold and the wind continued to be on the nose so we cracked off to 60 degrees and continued sailing to the north west. During the night it was not pleasant in terms of wet and cold but the wind was manageable at around 23 knots plus higher gusts although we were being cautious and were sailing on main and staysail alone. The benefit of this sail configuration is that the staysail is self tacking so if the wind shifts suddenly (as predicted) then the sail just tacks across on its own.

This morning we were continuing to make good progress and were looking at the weather patterns to decide our next course strategy. We appear, currently, to be just on the upper fringes of the next low pressure area sweeping across New Zealand.

Still drizzling, cold and grey at lunchtime so nothing to report other than we have overtaken our friends on Serenity of Swanwick much to their disappointment and disbelief. The funny thing is that we haven’t actually clapped eyes on them yet! In the afternoon the wind had settled at around 18 knots and, at 60 degrees to the wind, we were enjoying a nice sail (albeit a bit bumpy) under full genoa and reefed main. The staysail is sadly now out of action as the furling line parted from the drum – an easy fix, but I prefer Richard not to go on the bow with tools to take things apart when at sea as the opportunity for bits to disappear over the side is very strong LOL. We can do without it……

By the evening the conditions were sublime. Flat seas, wind coming from the right direction at around 12-15 knots, no rain squalls and we were moving along beautifully. We could even plot a course to directly follow our rhumb line and that is a rare happy moment.

Saturday 1 June

The same conditions made for a comfortable sleep and overnight watches. And, happy days, it continues this morning. We are thoroughly enjoying ourselves right now.

And, of course, within 30 minutes of writing that everything went manic. I was on watch on my own – the wind went behind us, so I furled the main, eased the genoa, ready to run on that alone. Then the wind died….then it changed back and filled in. So out came the main, hardened up on the genoa, and just got her sailing nicely again. Huge rainbow and fast approaching squall with white out conditions….quickly reefed down and took cover. It came through quickly so I let out the sails again. Then the wind died.

I rested up and Richard took over. And it happened all over again…. Our speed really suffered through all this activity dropping to 3 knots at one point. Things appear to have settled once again so we are back on a reach doing 5 knots. Fingers crossed it stays consistent for a while. At the minute we are running the generator to top up the new battery bank.

Bye for now Jan

Passage to Fiji – part 1

Tuesday 28 May

We got cleared out by Customs at 9am and had coffee before settling bills and saying our final farewells. This was quite emotional with lots of hugs – this had been our second home for a while now – and we have both fallen in love with New Zealand. The scenery breathtaking, mesmerising and spectacular; the culture was fascinating; the people were warm and welcoming; and the weather can be lovely and horrible in equal measure. The only negative was the red tape and bureaucracy, but as they probably learnt it from us who am I to criticise LOL.

As we were having a quick lunch (only soup and bread) a huge gust of wind blew through with torrential horizontal rain from the north. OMG what have we done??? Too late, knuckle down, and any anxiety about the future passage was alleviated by a team hug. At 1pm we slipped away and the seas were lumpy with short intervals, so pretty uncomfortable. The wind increased to 25 knots and we headed out, at 60 degrees to the wind, under heavily reefed main and genoa.

As we finally got into deeper water the conditions worsened and the wind was now 30+ knots sustained with higher gusts. Then the emergency radio calls started with incidents of taking on water; crew illness; shredded sails; and steering problems. It was sobering to see so many of them turn back towards Opua on the AIS.

We carried on into the weather with waves breaking onto and over us on the port side combined with pretty nasty sea conditions. We both felt rough so took seasickness pills and decided to be careful so only had drinks and the occasional munch on a biscuit to take us into the blackness of a moonless night. As we got to our normal night watch times Richard decided to sleep in the cockpit rather than leave me alone on the helm. But it was way too cold and he eventually retired below. Later on we got hit by a 50kt squall and a wave that broke over us so I got clobbered being sat on the helm. My scream woke Richard up but I was securely tethered so perfectly safe in the cockpit just soaked, cold, and a little shocked. Thankfully two companionway boards were in situ so no water got into the saloon. I was also glad that my life jacket didn’t auto-inflate LOL.

Richard relieved me from duty and refused to let me back up into the cockpit until the conditions had moderated somewhat. I was uncomfortable down below but he was adamant. My hero!

Wednesday 29 May

At 3am the seas moderated as the time periods between breaking waves and swells lengthened. The winds then backed so we were not so pressed and were able to turn towards our rhumb line. By 10am the wind had died completely and we were motor sailing and the sea was flattening constantly. What a difference a day makes! Morphie, as always looked after us amazingly well taking it all in her stride. Thank you Morpheus, love you.
Having had no dinner the night before we ate a delicious breakfast of baked beans and sausages…always tastes so good when at sea. Just like camping LOL. Richard did a walk around of the deck to check for anything awry and I re-fixed the dodgers which had lost their fastenings during the night. At this point the engine high temperature alarm went off. What now?!? Richard did usual checks and all fine – very mysterious. So he checked everything again, particularly the water flow, the belt and the impeller and nothing awry. But, of course, we were now sailing in very light airs and losing ground. Engine back on and within 20 mins the alarm had gone off again. Engine off, Richard down the hole, while I try to keep our speed up. A while later and we restarted the engine – and gingerly left it running at only 1400 rpm. This helped our speed slightly but way below what we need to be doing to get far enough north to avoid the next low pressure system coming through.

Thankfully this time all was well and we gradually increased our revs. Phew! We caught up with Serenity of Swanwick over a very poor radio transmission so were relieved that they had come through unscathed also. Although not buddy boating we are going to check in with each other once a day on this passage. We had a lovely beef stew dinner watching the sun set before moving into our traditional night shift patterns.

Thursday 30 May

The night was perfect….flat seas and no rain although it was pretty dark as the moon didn’t come up until 3am. But the Milky Way show kept us entertained. The sun rise was spectacular and both of us slept really well. Difficult to imagine the very challenging conditions of such a short time ago. So we are just enjoying this peacefulness while it lasts utilising the plentiful hot water and making ourselves feel better by showering and changing into clean clothes.

Bye for now Jan

Leaving for Fiji today

Sunday morning we were up at a reasonable time and had coffee in the marina cafe. The weather was overcast and chilly with lots of squalls coming through so we returned to the boat and started looking in earnest at passage weather again. Tuesday was starting to line up on all the models as a potential departure date so we talked to Bob, the NZ weather guru, and he agreed to look into it for us. The rest of the day was just spent down below relaxing with the occasional spurt of activity.
Monday morning and we headed to the cafe for coffee and bumped into Phil and Sarah so we had a weather chat with them. We were all feeling a bit confused by the various models and the changes that were happening on an almost hourly basis! We returned to Morphie and decided to do our last preparations in stowing everything properly and getting grab bags ready to allow for a relatively feisty passage combined with high seas….but continued to sit on the fence about our actual departure time. The main concern was over a large low which is coming across North Island at the weekend and extending out into the Pacific – so we needed to be at 25 degrees south (which is about 500 miles offshore) to be certain of avoiding the strongest winds. So we talked, we prevaricated, we ran the weather models again and again and got Bob’s detailed passage information for both a Tuesday and Wednesday departure. By the evening the low had dropped further south so a very early Wednesday mo rning departure was looking more comfortable. So decision made we emailed customs to request a Tuesday check out for early Wednesday departure.
This morning, Tuesday, we awoke to an email from NZ Customs stating that they would only clear us on the actual day of departure – and the office opened at 9am on Wednesday. Very frustrating as they had cleared the Tongan rally participants on Monday for a Tuesday departure, so they can do it when it suits them! But this threw us into another debate – leave today into strong winds or risk leaving later on Wednesday and not getting far enough north to avoid the low. Or, even, abandon the whole thing and stay put for up to another two weeks?!? In the present circumstances we have chosen to leave this afternoon although the conditions aren’t great. We have faced this type of weather before though without too much difficulty and, if necessary, we can run with the wind on our port quarter and back to the rhumb line when conditions ease. We just need to get our sea legs back and had hoped for a more gentle reintroduction to ocean sailing LOL.
Anyway, you may have noticed no photographs with this blog. This is because I am now submitting via the Iridium Go! and testing out my new automated system for posting to our Morpheus of London Facebook page. So many ways of tracking us during this passage – you can follow the posts via FB; you can watch our progress by checking the Where are we now? page on the blog; or by subscribing to the blog itself so you receive email updates. Please note that when we are at sea we are unable to read your comments until we get internet coverage again.
Anyway, lots to do, so bye for now and I’ll keep you posted from the ocean when the conditions allow.

Waiting on weather in New Zealand

Sunday morning we awoke to the news of a tropical cyclone bearing down on Fiji. We also heard from Bob, the local weather guru, who confirmed that an imminent departure was definitely not on the cards. Oh well, nothing to do but just carry on with our jobs and sit it out.

Later in the morning we headed over to Serenity of Swanwick to catch up with Sarah and Phil who we had not seen since our Pacific crossing and joint arrival into New Zealand in late 2017. So we had a lovely reunion over a cup of tea. We then headed to the laundry. I returned to the boat with the clean laundry and cooked more passage food and made the bed. Richard, meanwhile, took over from me in the Visitors Lounge downloading satellite images of Fiji.

At 6pm he hadn’t returned so I walked back up and collected him before we went over to the Cruising Club for our Sunday roast. Beef with horseradish this week – very nice. We also chatted to a number of the Tongan rally people who are getting increasingly anxious about their departure, many of whom have never been offshore before, and weather delays were making them a bit jittery. Sarah and Phil joined us later on and we had a nice evening together.

Monday morning we picked up our small rent a dent hire car. We gave Sarah and Phil a lift into Paihia and dropped them off at the supermarket before we headed to the doctors. We saw the doctor together and got our regular prescriptions sorted out and she gave us six months supply but warned us not to try to get the prescriptions filled all on one day. Good advice – so we dropped the first lot off in the pharmacy – picked up Sarah and Phil again and returned them to the marina before we drove to Waipapa as we wanted to revisit the large Warehouse store again.

This time we were after cheap and simple gifts for children in the more remote islands that we plan to visit (and they can’t need batteries). Laden with lots of bubble makers, tennis balls, bouncing balls and boomerangs we were happy with our selection. Job done we then visited Countdown ourselves and got our bread and vegetable supplies for the week. We also got some petrol as we have heard that the Fijian petrol supplies often come pre-mixed, which is fine for our outboard but not good if we need to run the generator.

Richard then dropped me off at a local hairdressers while he returned to the boat and unpacked everything. He came and picked me up in town later and even recognised me with my very short haircut LOL. We then went to the dollar store to look for more girlie things for the kids and came across lots of small pretty hair slides which we thought would go down well.

We then returned via the pharmacy to collect our pills and back to Morphie and continued to organise ourselves.

We then had a quiet movie night on board. Although the tropics are getting battered with wind, waves and rain the weather here is quite settled with little wind although it remains cloudy, overcast, and cold.

Tuesday morning after a bit of a lay in and a leisurely breakfast we got everything out of the cupboards and made lists so that I could complete the Fiji advance notification documentation. Armed with evidence of the ORIGIN of ever item on board (packaged, canned and fresh) we both then went up to the Visitors Lounge to get online. I had fun filling in the forms and Richard continued downloading charts. We also ran the weather gribs again and there doesn’t look like a suitable weather window will be happening any time soon. We were really worried about Chris on Sea Bear as he left New Zealand on Tuesday and his tracker indicated that he was heading straight into the bad weather but he detoured and is now safely anchored in Minerva Reef – phew! Back on board we had a nice lamb dinner followed by another quiet night, this time reading and relaxing.

Wednesday and we continued just getting ready to go to sea. We are virtually at the end of our boat jobs just leaving basic cleaning, tidying, waxing etc to be done. I headed into town on the shuttle bus run by the marina shop to get the remainder of the prescriptions filled and left Richard working hard. One of the final jobs was to reattach the toilet seat which he had spray painted. There was nothing wrong with it except that the lacquer had come off and it looked dirty as a result. Amazing what a coat of special paint can do LOL, looks almost new again now.

By the time I got back from town my legs and back were giving me some grief. The cold and damp has not been helping so I took some time out, reluctantly took some medication, and rested up. Richard headed back to the Lounge again for more downloading. We then had another quiet movie night on board.

Thursday morning and we had a late start, neither of us wanting to get out of bed on these cold and chilly mornings. Richard continued to organise the rear lazarettes ready to go to sea as, with all the work that we had been doing along with Clive’s visit, things were not really in their right places for offshore passages. The time to organise everything is now. In the meantime, I got on with more passage food cooking and form filling. I finally finished the Fiji advance notification form, even with an idea of our plans whilst we are there, so all I need to do now is submit that once we have a confirmed departure and proposed arrival date. Fiji sure looks pretty…can’t wait to get there!

Later on we did a few boat jobs in the morning and then headed back to the lounge. During the afternoon it drizzled with rain so we had a cold and damp walk back to Morphie before having another night down below watching some more episodes of the TV series, 24.

Friday morning we treated ourselves to breakfast in the cafe.

The weather patterns remain unpredictable so our departure next week continues to be in the lap of the gods although next Wednesday is looking like a possibility. We contacted Bob and, again, the fronts are moving through very fast and would put strong headwinds in our path at least twice on the journey (with even stronger gusts) so we’re probably here for a while yet. Frustrating but we’re not going to risk our safety because of impatience. That happened to another cruiser earlier in the season when he got knocked down by a rogue wave, sustained damage and had to divert from his intended destination of Fiji to New Caledonia instead. The actual recommended time to leave New Zealand for the tropics is the end of May and the beginning of June, so hopefully it should settle down soon. Fingers crossed.

In the evening the temperature plummeted so we ended up wrapped in blankets reading and relaxing before having an early night.

It is now Saturday morning and it is a beautiful flat calm day here in the marina.

Richard is doing an oil change on the outboard and then he’ll secure it in the lazarette. We have decided not to secure it on the rail for this passage as we do anticipate some lumpy seas and don’t want to put any strain on our Kato arch as we have decided to leave the dinghy up there as it is significantly lighter than our old Caribe. After I’ve finished this blog I’m going to input the waypoints on our plotter for the forthcoming passage, which is about 1100 miles so will take between 8-10 days. Tonight we are planning to go to the cafe for dinner and then up to the club for a few drinks. We haven’t been out since last Sunday so it will be nice to be sociable again.

So the rest of the weekend will be taken up cooking more passage food (just one last meal to prepare) and cleaning….and, probably, more laundry….. The downside to this unexpected weather delay is that we will probably be at sea and will miss the European Champions League final. COYS.

Bye for now


Final days in Opua (perhaps?)

Sunday afternoon the weather deteriorated even further with the fetch in the anchorage pushing waves over our dock and then it started to rain. It was absolutely horrible.

However, we had all arranged to meet in the club, so we headed out wearing our foulies and got blown by the gale-force winds up the road. We arrived to find Chris (Sea Bear) but no Frances and Chris who had decided (very sensibly) to stay home and keep warm and dry LOL. And, of course, because of the storm there had been power cuts on and off during the day so we were disappointed to not even get the opportunity of having a roast dinner. But we had a good evening anyway and, thankfully, by the time we headed back to Morphie the rain had stopped and the wind had started to ease.

Monday morning our new battery bank was delivered and the battery monitor was activated. However, because the new Lifeline AGM batteries had a slightly bigger footprint, they didn’t actually physically fit in the space. Damn! But Chris the electrician from Seapower had a solution and they took the ‘spare’ battery back and ordered a new AGM cranking battery for the engine.

So we connected the new battery monitor to the new house bank and were pleased with its functionality. I spent the time in the Cruisers Lounge downloading customs and immigration documents and Google satellite images for Fiji via the Ovitalmap app.

I returned around lunchtime and Chris from Sea Bear came by as promised as he was going to give Richard some hints and tips for climbing the mast using the system he had purchased but not yet mastered. With Chris’ mountaineering experience he made short work of it and Richard was much happier that he could manage to get to the top of the mast without assistance if necessary. The wind was still howling so he didn’t go very far (although at least the rain had stopped) and the southerly direction meant it was freezing cold! We said farewell to Chris as he was leaving in the morning for Fiji and we had a quiet night on board keeping warm snuggled up in our fleeces.

Tuesday morning and I spent time in the laundry again. While Richard continued with his list of boat jobs. Today he was measuring up for spare accelerator and transmission cables; he also measured for a replacement gas pipe; he purchased a new engine ‘stop’ button; he ordered spare spark plugs for the generator and the outboard; he ordered a sight ranger for me (as I drive him nuts with my inability to read distances); and did some general organising.

In the afternoon we helped Chris and Frances on Usquabae go to the fuel dock and get themselves fuelled up for their imminent departure to New Caledonia. They are heading off to Indonesia this year so we will probably not see them again whilst cruising. The amazing freedom and excitement of travelling and visiting new places / cultures sometimes get offset by the sadness in saying farewell to new friends. In the evening I cooked for them and luckily they liked Chinese food – was a really good evening.

Wednesday morning and the refrigeration company visited as planned. They identified that the freezer (which had refused to restart since we had splashed back in the water) had sprung a leak so they took the compressor away to have a better look. Thankfully it was only leaking at the coupling and with a burst of gas both fridge and freezer were operational again. The ‘hunting’ which happens regularly, particularly on the fridge, was caused by the Carel thermostat controller which was having difficulty reading the probe inside the unit. As both units have been drawing quite a lot of power we decided to order two new controllers which would stop this happening and not damage our brand new battery bank.

In the afternoon, as the wind had died down significantly, we pulled out the genoa and stuck some reflective tape to it so that we could see the reefing points easier in the dark. Later on we picked up our dodger with the new ‘clears’. They look great and it was nice to get some shelter from the weather again in the cockpit. The new cables had arrived and so had my present – the sight ranger – so we had some fun pointing the laser at things to see how far away they were. We had another quiet night on board. Oh yes and Richard treated himself to a new fishing rod….

Thursday morning and I returned to the Cruisers Lounge to continue downloaded the Google satellite images….this is a time-consuming and tedious task….but we hadn’t been able to do it previously as this takes a lot of bandwidth and we needed ‘proper’ internet to facilitate the process. I also completed the advance notification of departure for NZ customs (we had to submit this a minimum of four days before our intended leaving date) and confirm the day before whether we are going or not. So we can make a decision day at a time once these had been submitted.

I also did some research about getting my blog to publish onto Facebook via the Iridium Go as the latest Facebook API changes had stopped me doing this directly when at sea. And I know that a lot of people read the passage blogs so wanted to continue to be able to do this. Anyway I found a few potential solutions and asked Paul (my amazing friend and techie support) to look into the available options.

When I got back to the boat Richard had been manically busy. He had installed the new tap in the galley; replaced the shower bilge pump; had removed the sea water intake to the heads; had fitted the new gas pipe; and installed the new ‘stop’ button. The jobs are definitely being whittled away on our ‘get ready to go to sea’ list!

In the evening we headed to the Cruisers Club for a fun evening hosted by the marina to say farewell to the cruising community. Food was free and plentiful and we had a good time catching up with some old friends and making some new ones.

Friday morning and Richard was up the top of the mast to tighten up the wind instrument which had worked its way loose and also to install a new radar reflector on the shrouds. Job done and he was quickly back down. After this we headed to the marina cafe for a late lunch and awaited our meat delivery from Churchills. They turned up exactly on time and we collected our box of NZ meat and official certificate of origin which should enable us to take it all into Fiji.

We headed back to Morphie and filled up the freezer. The guy then turned up to install the new controllers and we had to get our head around new settings in Centigrade when we had been used to Fahrenheit for so many years LOL. They are very smart looking and worked perfectly immediately – so we were happy with our decision. We then had another quiet movie night on board.

This morning, Saturday, and we started the day by heading to the fuel dock and filling up our tank and all our cans. NZ $500 later and we were refuelled – phew! We then returned to our slip where Richard organised the cans again and got them reinstalled on the rail while I cooked tonight’s dinner (making extra so that this can be frozen as a passage meal for our departure). On our return to the dock we were chased down by the Rent a Dent people who said they had been waiting for us since 9 am. Well, actually, the car was booked for this coming Monday not Saturday so we sent them away. Never mind….not our fault!

This afternoon we are spending in the lounge continuing to download charts and looking at the Fiji advance notification documentation. They want to know sooo much information which has to be sent to them prior to leaving here so I need to get this information organised pretty soon so I can complete the documents. And that means writing a complete list of all my stores….sigh…. The hardest bit actually is for the inter-island cruising permit. They want to know where we are going, when we are arriving / departing etc etc and we really don’t know right now! So we need to start planning our time too, all we have fixed is our arrival port at the minute.

Paul has speedily replied to me – thank you so much for all your support! I’m pleased to let you know that we will be publishing imminently a Morpheus of London Facebook page so, when we are on passage, we will be able to publish directly from our Iridium Go! You can follow us using the tracker (on the blog’s Where are we now? page) or subscribing to the blog, or you can now follow the new FB page. Please note, however, that just because I’m publishing updates it doesn’t mean we can see any comments until we get ‘proper’ internet access again.

We are now constantly checking weather and our proposed initial departure date of Tuesday is not looking so good this morning as some strong northerly winds and a low have appeared in the grib files but things change so rapidly and the models (as usual) don’t yet agree on the longer-term forecast so it is just a continued pressing on with our jobs until we can confirm our future departure date. We are both really looking forward to getting back to the higher temperatures in the tropics.

Bye for now


Time on the hard in Opua

Sunday evening we headed along to the Cruising Club for Indonesia night. It was absolutely rammed, that’s what happens when you offer free food and a couple of drinks per head to the cruising community. We enjoyed the informative presentation and the traditional dancing but felt personally that the organisers should have restricted attendance in some way to those who are travelling rather than just having a free for all as important questions from people joining the rally this year were drowned out by people asking daft questions like ‘Why don’t American citizens get special immigration treatment like New Zealanders? Really?!? Or how about ‘ Can I take my cat?’ Oh well, never mind. Was a fun evening anyway.

Monday morning we were up early and took off our dodger so that we could drop it into the canvas shop to get our plexiglass panels replaced. As we removed it and folded it on the dock one of the ‘windows’ completely split end to end, so glad we had decided to get this done before we left New Zealand.

Job done we headed into the cafe for breakfast and then met with the people who are responsible for the Sailing Fiji app and had a good Q&A session with them, including finding out which package is best to use for navigation as both electronic charts and paper charts are notoriously poor for Fiji. Well, it was Ovitalmap which is free to download and can be used off-line but heavy on the data, so that’s more time for me in the cruisers lounge next week.

Lunchtime we were ready to go and drove into the haul out area where the ‘beast’ was waiting for us. And of course we couldn’t have timed it better with the arrival of a sharp shower LOL. We were quickly secured in the slings and we climbed off the boat while we nervously awaited Morphie’s safe arrival onto dry land. She was lifted up and then jet washed. We were complimented on her clean bottom so that cold nasty job was worth doing, at least!

Morpheus was then placed in a brand new cradle and secured – ladder up – and we’re set after a quick clean of the hull.

We quickly went around the hull getting rid of any stray barnacles and Richard removed the bow thruster propeller to make life easier for the anti fouling to be applied. He also cleaned the keel cooler plates and the grounding plate, while I did some sorting down below. Once we were all set we had a quiet night on board eating the remaining food from the freezer as we no longer had refrigeration.

Tuesday morning and the guys started work on Morphie’s bottom straight away sanding her down. They said she was lovely and smooth and they seemed to be enjoying their work, singing along to the 70s/80s tunes blaring from their sound system. Loved the fact that they pushed themselves along on chairs underneath…..

I took myself off to the laundry with two loads and tried to get online whilst there. But failed miserably so just stayed there and read my kindle. By the time I got back, the guys had finished sanding and Morphie was taped up ready for the morning. Richard had installed our new battery monitor in preparation for the installation of our new batteries; he’d also re-marked the anchor chain at intervals and made up a new anchor marker buoy; he also rewired the bow washdown system and cleaned the windlass.

I left him to his list of jobs and returned to the cruisers’ lounge where I managed to get started on my list like activating the Pacific Islands Navionics chip; downloaded updated software for our Vesper unit; downloaded all the Go West Rally documentation into .pdfs plus some banking.

Around 5pm the guys had finished rubbing down and we headed to the Cruising Club for a quiet dinner.

Wednesday morning and I was back to the laundry with another couple of loads while Richard continued to get on with his long list of boat jobs. Today the engine got some attention and he created lots of lists of things to do; to buy; to order etc. He had also got rid of some very old flares and made sure we had a set of new ones in the grab bag. By now the EPIRB had been serviced with a new battery so we are getting there in terms of preparation to go to sea. He’d also got our dive tank refilled.

The paint guys, in the meantime, were now spray painting the hull. So much faster and smoother than rolling it on by hand. I did a walk to the Opua Store to get some provisions for dinner and we had a quiet movie night on board.

Thursday morning and the propeller and the rudder stock were rubbed down in preparation for a coating of Propspeed (the local product everyone uses here on metal instead of antifoul) and it sure looked good.

Before they returned, Richard quickly swapped the zincs out so that they were then masked up before the painting started. So apart from a few patches where stands had been and needed a touch up of more antifoul we were pretty much good to go. I spent more time in the laundry….thankfully the last load….and we carried on working until we had pretty much exhausted our list of things to do and we had another quiet night aboard. Final job was to install the new bow thruster propeller which, as it is brand new, doesn’t need anti-fouling as allegedly the barnacles don’t like shiny new plastic surfaces. We’ll find out whether that is true or not later in the season.

Friday morning and we were ready to splash.

The beast came to get us…we climbed down…and Morphie was lifted up while Mike climbed underneath to finish off the antifoul patches. We were then splashed into the water, thankfully at high tide and slack water so there was little current to contend with.

We then moved back into our slip on the working dock. Once secure we headed to the cafe for coffee while the boatyard guys came and washed her down to get rid of all the boatyard dust. So a successful end to a busy week.

In the afternoon we emptied all our food cupboards to make a shopping lift for the morning. Then we took a bit of a breather before heading to the marina cafe for dinner, live music and a celebratory bottle of sauvignon.

Saturday morning we met Chris and collected our rent-a-dent hire car. Chris is leaving on Monday to Fiji so this was his last chance to purchase fresh fruit and veg. We had ordered a mid-sized vehicle online (think RAV4) but actually ended up with a Nissan Note! Oh well, never mind, we’ll manage. First stop was the Packhouse Market in Kerikeri where we loaded up on fresh vegetables.

Next stop was Bunnings for some bits and pieces (but mainly a new tap for the galley as I managed to break the old one) before heading into the New World supermarket for non-perishables, then onto Churchills. They are a high end butcher who are coming to the marina on Friday to deliver orders to the boats leaving with the Tongan rally – they had agreed that, providing I came by on Saturday to make the order, they would deliver to us too (along with a NZ certificate to prove that all meats were local which is required to import meat into Fiji).

So job done, we then went to the Liquor Store for a couple of bottles of wine before our final shop of the day, Warehouse in Waipapa. We headed back in the car towards Paihia fully laden and we topped up the car with petrol. Then we headed to Rayz on the Bay for a late lunch and enjoyed sitting there looking across the water. Was a lovely way to spend the rest of the afternoon. Back on board we didn’t do much apart from unloaded our provisions and stowed it all away. Then we had an early night and awoke to howling winds and torrential rain.

This morning (Sunday) and it is a very miserable windy day with some heavy rain squalls. We’ve doubled up on some of our lines as they are forecasting up to 50 knot winds (we are currently seeing 30+ knots) and have taken refuge down below.

It is also Mother’s Day here in New Zealand, and coincidentally this is also the first anniversary of losing Mum so a pretty poignant day and feeling very emotional. I think of her everyday and miss her so much. RIP Mum, I love you. Here is a picture of us together having fun on one of our girlie trips – this time we were in Tobago.

Later on we are heading to the Cruising Club for a Sunday Roast along with Chris (Sea Bear), Chris and Frances (Usquabe) who are all leaving Opua next week. Mum would approve, she always loved a good natter over a roast dinner…..

This coming week we have loads more boat jobs to complete and then we’ll start looking for a weather window ourselves to leave for Fiji. We expect to be ready to depart in a week or so but we’ll just have to be patient and keep busy while we watch and wait for an appropriate window to open for us to move north.

Bye for now


Kawau Island to Opua

Monday morning we were expecting bad weather and it rained cats and dogs with strong winds and we ended up nodding into the fetch again, so had to re-anchor over the other side of the bay to try and get some respite. We stayed on board all day and spent the day getting Morphie ready to go back to sea and had a quiet night once all our tasks were completed (including getting the outboard on the rail and dink onto the arch).

Tuesday morning we were up early and did our final passage planning and I cooked an evening meal to eat underway. We proposed to leave at noon to allow us to arrive into the Bay of Islands in daylight. So we picked up anchor and motored quietly through the bay to turn to starboard to go through the north passage into the ocean, saying a final farewell to the boating club which had been our ‘local’ for quite a while.

As we approached the exit to Bon Accord harbour there was a Securite on the VHF but we couldn’t work out exactly what was said, although it was obviously the large yacht transmitting who was anchored off the entrance to the bay. We were just going to radio to ask him to repeat his message when we realised that a helicopter was coming in to land on the deck. Not something you see every day.

The wind was a bit fickle but obviously being bent by the proximity of the island to the mainland and we were running against an incoming tide so it was slow going to start with. Oh yes, did I mention how cold it was?

Once we had cleared the island we started to run downwind in light airs but the sea was horrible – lumpy and confused. Oh well, better get used to it I guess, sigh. We cleared the headland and decided to run closer inshore to get a better sailing angle and, once we had done this, we had a good run. The wind varied from 10-20 knots with higher gusts and it swung from SW to SE and back so we had to gybe a few times. We were sailing on genoa alone and making good time – by the time we had enjoyed a sunset at sea and it had gotten dark we were approaching Sail Rock and put in a second reef as the gusts were getting stronger. We had a forecast of 25 knots+ so were being cautious.

At around midnight I was struggling with the fickle wind and then suddenly heard a huge blow alongside the boat….then behind the boat….then alongside again. Richard wasn’t asleep yet so he came up and listened with me. The noise from the blows was getting less frequent and not so noisy but I think it was a whale (it was way too loud for dolphins) just a shame that we couldn’t actually see anything in the black of a moonless night at sea.

Come 3am on Wednesday morning the wind had moderated again so we shook out the reefs and continued to make good time towards the Bay of Islands. At 6am in the dark we turned and left the Hole in the Rock to port and pulled out the main sail as we were now beating into a strengthening wind. We had a great sail and eventually anchored in Pomare Bay, near Russell, at 9 am.

We were both tired so had a few hours sleep before heading ashore. We found the boating club (which was closed) and then walked into Russell itself (which was about 20 minutes away). We found the ATM and a small grocery store so that we could pick up some fresh eggs, bread and vegetables before we stopped and had a late lunch in the Duke of Marlborough.

We then wandered back to the Club (which was now open) and had a cold one then headed back to Morphie before the sun went down. For the first time in a very long time, we had removed everything from the cockpit and locked her down thoroughly when going out as there were some old decrepit cruising boats in the anchorage which can sometimes mean petty theft. We were fine but still took the precaution of locking dink on to the transom before we turned in for the night.

Thursday morning it was quite spooky in the anchorage as the water was shrouded in mist.

We pottered around the boat doing some domestic duties and were joined in the anchorage by Chris and Frances on Usquabe. They invited us over for sundowners so we joined them and had a lovely evening on board their boat catching up.

Friday morning we went through all our lists of things to do and sent emails to people in the Bay of Islands Marina to get ourselves organised. The paint guys are ready for us in the boatyard; the new battery bank and monitor had arrived; the new exhaust flaps were ordered; the EPIRB is booked in for a service and new battery; the dive tank is booked in for a refill; the refrigeration guys are coming to check out our systems (as these are the biggest pull on our battery bank); and Opua Canvas are going to replace the glass screens in our dodger which have just started to perish (but have done us proud with 11 years service). We are also in discussions with a marina in Australia who are going to organise our customs, immigration and biosecurity checks; and a boat yard further south where we hope to haul Morphie when we travel home. Oh yes and we started looking at routes to Fiji too….. As if that wasn’t enough we got in dink and sanded and varnished under the rail. Phew busy day! In the evening we met Chris and Frances in the Russell Boating Club and had another nice time with them.

Saturday morning we were up early on another calm day and, utilising the dinghy, we removed all the masking tape and went around a few times cleaning the stainless and washing the salt off the hull. She looked lovely! But we had been at it for about six hours solid and were feeling pretty shattered. So we had a quiet night in and enjoyed the Hobbit movie having watched a lovely sunset with Usquabe in the foreground.

It was funny to watch Bilbo in his house that we had visited not long ago LOL. During the evening the heavens opened and it rained so Morphie got another wash.

Sunday morning we had managed to secure a berth in the Bay of Islands Marina (Opua) for one night which suited us fine particularly as we could dispose of our rubbish. We had not had access to any trash collections or facilities for almost four weeks, so there was plenty of it!!! We took the outboard off dink, put him up on the arch, and headed the four miles around the corner to the Marina and onto the works dock. Got checked in, headed to Cater Marine and SeaPower (who are going to be making our credit cards nervous again shortly) and had a coffee in the cafe. Was lovely to be welcomed ‘home’.

Here’s Morphie snug in her slip looking very shiny and pretty.

Back on board and I’m blogging while Richard is checking out his new battery monitor as he wants to install it while we are on the hard. Tonight we are going to Indonesian night at the Opua Cruising Club which, as it is on our list of future sailing destinations, we are very interested in. Then tomorrow, Monday, we get hauled out and start living up a ladder again, oh joy!

Bye for now