Rachael. Chesterfield Reef and Passage to Australia

Three yachts (Flour Girl, Allure of NZ and us) all departed Huon Reef together for a 2 night/3 day passage to Chesterfield Reef. We had an excellent calm and fast passage. Although the lumpy sea and wind direction made the sails slam (and the whole boat shudder) at times, the days were beautiful and sunny and we had a waxing moon for half the night. We even had to slow down so as to arrive and be able to eye-ball the reef entrance during daylight hours.

DSCF2790

Inside the Chesterfield Reef, heading for an anchorage near a sand cay.

DSCF2795

Looking for a good spot to drop anchor at Chesterfield Reef.

DSCF2971

A Google satellite shot of our anchorage near the main islets at Chesterfield, including the sand spit that disappears at high tide.

It remained windy whilst we were at Chesterfield. Onshore we had to carefully negotiate birds and nests and stay below the high tide mark as the eggs were difficult to distinguish from the sand and rocks. We snorkelled on an amazing coral head out in the bay, with such a multitude of different corals, fish, clams, schools of larger fish, a shark and hidey holes and caves to tentatively dive and poke one’s head into.

DSCF2811

Hello Giant Clam.

DSCF2822

A white tipped reef shark who stalked Justin for awhile.

DSCF2821 DSCF2825

We celebrated 3 birthdays at chesterfield in the six nights we stayed there Luke (10yrs) and Maria from ‘Allure of NZ’ and Philippe from a French yacht that was anchored there at the same time as us.

DSCF7300

Maria and Jason’s (Allure) yacht version of ‘Pass the Parcel’ alias “pass the increasingly stretched socks” with really ‘awesome’ prizes…such as garlic, undies, bandaids, toothbrush and a tin of baked beans. Awesome!

DSCF7304

Party games – Pin the Shark on Diver Dan.

DSCF7319

Our anchorage at Chesterfield Reef

DSCF7321

A Chesterfield Poem.

Birds, Birds, Birds, Birds, Birds, Birds, Birds, Birds, Birds
The Sky full
The Sand full
The trees full
The air full
The air filled with sound.
Birds.

DSCF7324 DSCF7327 DSCF7335 DSCF7352 DSCF7367 DSCF7384 DSCF7385It was hard to find a calm and stable weather window for passage to Australia. We left in strong SSE winds with the expectation that the wind would swing more to the East the next day, to allow us to set a better angle for Brisbane. Within the hour we were drowned with many waves coming over the front and side of the boat onto us and into the cockpit. We generally held good speed, but it was pretty uncomfortable for the first 2 days with a lumpy sea and the wind pretty hard on the nose. The following day brought inconsistent winds, the current was against us, we were moving so slowly and it was frustrating with the sails slamming when the wind dropped out.

DSCF7396

Giving the hull a scrub to try and get some weeds off. Would have been easier when the wind and swell were less.

DSCF2866

Khan’s hook-less fishing off the stern.

DSCF2868

Nice place to sit

DSCF2864

Surrounded by endless rolling blue.

DSCF2859

With little wind forecast we decided to motor to stick to our plan to get to Australia before the weekend (thus avoid overzealous overtime charges by the Quarantine department) as well as being mindful of tide times for the Brisbane’s Moreton Bay. We ended up motoring for about 40 hours.

DSCF2871

Re-filling the Diesel tank on passage

DSCF7420 DSCF7422

DSCF2855

Reading a good idea whilst motoring

During this time we assisted ‘Allure of NZ’ with an emergency oil supply as their dying motor was eating oil at an unexpectedly fast rate. We came along side each other doing a consistent 4 knots, Justin holding the boats about 5 metres apart so as not to hit masts in the swell. Jason threw a rope across and I tied on the container of engine oil and then Jason pulled the rope back. Twice over a successful operation and added a little bit of excitement to the day. Soon after the wind picked up and it was lovely to turn off the motor and we had a beautiful sail for the rest of the day.

DSCF2918

Coming alongside ‘Allure of NZ’

DSCF2920

DSCF2921

DSCF2923

Oil transfer success.

 

DSCF2904

We passed a number of huge Container ships and Car carriers when we crossed over the main shipping routes and closer to land.

DSCF2910

Still heading West and homeward bound.

DSCF2929

As we neared the Australian coast, our last raising of the Quarantine Flag….at least for this trip…

DSCF2939

Australia in sight.

DSCF2942

We entered into Moreton Bay and had a fast sail across the bay. Then despite tiredness Justin and I both needed to be on watch given the pitch blackness, to distinguish and make sense of the many navigation lights along the shipping channels and through the dock area and because of the mammoth size of some of the container ships coming toward or up behind us in the seemingly narrow channel! As per customs requirements, we finally tied up to the marina at Brisbane’s Rivergate Marina at 2am on Friday 14th November.

So as it panned out we were luckily able to visit both reefs and took the best part of 3 weeks to arrive very salty, extremely scruffy and rather tired in Australia, having scraped near the bottom of our food provisions and watched our water usage closely. Oh and despite our route planning to avoid overtime charges…we were unaware that the G20 had turned our Friday arrival day into a Brisbane Public holiday, so overtime charges for Quarantine we got…not happy Jan. Welcome Home!

DSCF2959

A surprise early morning welcome in Brisbane by a Movembered Simon and Frankie (no Mo!), who had flown up from Sydney.

DSCF2964

After 3 weeks of sea, sand and salt and dwindling food supplies, we celebrated with a Salad Party of the freshest food. Yum.

DSCF2966

After arriving on land, first the essential jobs of washing (us and the boat) and eating (fresh stuff) then onto the never ending boat fixing – finding the source of leaks.

 

Rachael. Heading back to Australia. Luganville, Vanuatu to Huon Reef.

After a fantastic two months in Vanuatu, on 26th October we set sail for Australia. I felt excited about this ocean passage and felt it was time for us to go. We intended to visit two mid ocean reefs on the way across the Coral Sea, but as always, the current winds and weather forecasts would be our guide as to what was possible and safe in the big blue. We had first heard positive descriptions of the uninhabited Huon and Chesterfield Reefs from cruising friends we met in Fiji and this had sparked our keen interest to visit them. We envisaged 3 days sailing to Huon, 3 days from Huon to Chesterfield then 4-5 days to Brisbane or Bundaberg, depending on prevailing winds at the time.

DSCF2595

Luckily there were some kids around for a pool party for Khan’s birthday at the BeachFront Pool, Luganville.

DSCF2601

Bob Marley is huge in Vanuatu. Rasta colors and hats everywhere.

DSCF7112

A Bislama notice in the Customs Office…prehaps a universal concern, for every stationary cupboard and every Controller blong stationery?

DSCF7121

Pity we were too early in the season, we would have loved to lie under this tree.

DSCF7124

The Luganville taxis. We could fit in 4 adults and 3 children plus the driver and sometimes the driver’s friend – a bit like a clown car when we all piled out. And even more cosy after shopping!

DSCF7131

About to set sail from Luganville, heading up the Segond Channel.

We set sail with fellow cruising families on ‘Flour Girl’ (Virgin Islands), with ‘Allure of NZ’ 24hours ahead of us. It felt quite different to have other boats close by when sailing offshore. The vessels handle quite differently due to their shape, size, sail set up and have their particular preferred sailing winds. This meant that whilst sometimes we were in visual contact with each other or could see a navigation light on the horizon, usually we could contact each other over the VHF radio to check how they were going, share weather forecasts (a big thanks David from ‘Flour Girl’) and of course to check GPS positions …that is, to see who was winning the race!

We left Luganville in overcast and rainy conditions. The two night passage to Huon was fairly rough and windy with the wind and swell hitting us on the on the beam. It usually takes us about 3 days to get our bodies into the rhythm of keeping shift watches throughout the day and night. Given this relatively short passage we didn’t have time to get over the 3 day hump. But, it was awesome to sail inside Huon Reef where we were welcomed with brilliant blue water, waves breaking along the huge arch of reef surrounding us and blinding white sand on tiny islands.

Too Big, Bit too close, not reef shark.

Khan wrote: “Yesterday the 30th of October we went for a snorkel with some of our friends. I was swimming with mum and all of a sudden this big shark came and circled us two times. I got scared and hopped out.”

DSCF2753

Khan wrote: “Jarrah , George and I found an injured black tip reef shark in the water. It started to move out slowly because it had a broken tail. Then all of a sudden this massive shark tried to bite it. We could see the big sharks tail thrashing around. Sadly it died. We picked it and went to show the others. After that we put it in the water and it sunk quickly. Bye shark.”

DSCF7269

Zac (9yrs) from ‘Flour Girl’ was keen for Halloween so the kids all dressed as pirates and had fun pirating.

DSCF7264

Why are pirates called pirates? They just Aaaargh.

DSCF2763

…the real priate that got left behind… Aaaargh!

DSCF2972

Chain of Vanuatu Islands on the right. Then Huon Reef above New Caledonia. Then further to the right to Chesterfield Reef. Australia’s Queensland coast on the left.

DSCF7136

The outer Huon reef

DSCF7143

Nice to be here.

DSCF7219

What color water is that!!

We stayed 4 nights at Huon Reef. Each day we snorkelled in beautiful corals, with turtles, reef fish and water so clear it was really easy to see the reef and bigger sharks heading straight for you! This was somewhat disconcerting and a bit cool at the same time. We kept each other close and remained on the lookout. There were huge Green Turtles everywhere who were busy mating, laying eggs or just lolling about. Huge.

We walked the perimeter of the sand islands, said hello to the birds and crabs and collected washed up thongs…is it that all the beaches in the world have washed up thongs?

DSCF7237

One night we awoke at midnight and took the dinghies into shore in search of laying turtles. We didn’t see any actually laying but were amazed by the power and gentleness of their digging and it was awesome to sit in the dark and watch these magnificent creatures at work. As careful as we intended to be, with a few of us on shore at the same time and given the usual isolation of the reef, it is difficult to know how much (if at all) disturbance or negative impact we had on the turtles, just be being there.

For more on Huon Reef (see Jarrah’s report on the following blog post ‘Huon Reef’)

Jarrah – The Blue Holes, Peterson Bay, Espirito Santo. Vanuatu

The Blue Holes- 19/10/14

We had just sailed up from Luganville and anchored in Peterson Bay. It was a beautiful anchorage and the water was awesomely clear. There were lots of little islands and we were anchored in the middle of lots of reef so we were very wary about where we anchored. We had been sailing with another boat called Flour Girl, on board were 2 adults and a 9 year old boy named Zac. They had also come up here with us.

A2BB

Hanging out on route between anchorages in Espirito Santo bays.

 

DSCF6664

About to transfer the outboard motor to the dingy, for shore access. A dollar for every time we’ve loaded and unloaded the outboard from boat to dingy and back. This is one of the priority jobs when we arrive at a new anchorage and somewhat challenging when there is wind or swell.

After lunch we joined them going to the blue hole which was meant to be really awesome. So we went across the bay in their dinghy and then up the river for about 2 kilometres until we got to a fresh water pool. We went under a bridge and gave some money to one of the villagers but found out that we were meant to give it to a man who was spending time up there and making sure that everything was all right.

DSCF2678

Jarrah, Zac and Khan paddling toward the river, in search of Blue Holes. Our Peterson Bay anchorage behind.

DSCF2622

Jarrah and Zac deciding a tow is preferable to paddling against the current.

The water really did have a really blue tinge to it. There was a small jetty which we tied the dinghy up to. There was also a rope swing that wasn’t very high but was really fun. We swung heaps of times and Kim (one of the adults off the other boat) was scared of the cold water so we had to wait like 15 minutes before she finally swung off the rope.

DSCF2644

A drop into blue.

 

DSCF2631

Show us how it’s done Mr Harris

 

DSCF2672

Magnificent clear fresh water at the Blue Hole. The water comes up from a cold underground spring and passes through calcium carbonate, which gives it the blue tinge (I think – Rache).

The water was really cold compared to what temperature we’d been swimming and snorkelling in, but at least it was nice to have a fresh water rinse off. All around the blue hole was lush green jungle so it was a perfect breeding ground for mozzies.

The next day we went to another blue hole this one was round the other side of 2 islands, near a resort.  The dinghy trip was longer and the water was colder at this blue hole. The swing was a ladder that went up a really high tree and at the top there was a platform. This blue hole was bluer and bigger.

DSCF2689

Is it possible to have too much fun? Khan at the Blue Hole.

 

DSCF2690

Jarrah about to take the big leap…

 

DSCF2691

Let go Jarrah!!

To get across to the swing you had to swim from some rocks and Kim was really slow getting in. In the end I swam over and got behind her and pushed her in!! She told me she would pay me back but instead of her doing something to pay me back I did something to her! When she went up the ladder she wouldn’t go straight from the top. So she started at the bottom rung and worked her way up. When she finally reached the top platform she was again too scared of the cold water so I tickled her toes ‘til she swung into the water.

Jarrah 18th November. Uri Island, Port Stanley, Malekula. Vanuatu

Port Stanley, Malekula – 12th of October.  (Written in Brisbane).

We really should have been leaving but just couldn’t resist going over for a snorkel on the clear reef 100 metres from our boat. So we went. Mum swam over, Khan paddled around in the kayak but Dad and I went in the dinghy. We jumped in and the water was beautifully clear.

I was swimming with Dad and we saw lots of turtles lazing on the bottom and swimming around the reef. Then Dad left to go snorkel somewhere else but I thought he was still with me so I turned around… I thought I saw Dad down looking really closely at the coral. Then I thought ‘that’s not Dad that’s a MASSIVE cod’. I was busy planning my escape route when the cod turned so that I could see the side of it and that’s when I realised it was a Dugong. I tried to call Dad over through my snorkel, keeping my eye on the Dugong just in case I had mistaken it for a shark. Dad must have heard me because soon he was over with me and we were snorkelling with this 2 metre long dugong that was only about 3 metres away. We stayed with it for about 5 minutes. It looked like a walrus without tusks. It was amazing!!!!

DSCF7074

Some crabs had red legs, some had red nippers, some had a red body.

DSCF7081

Khan and Zac searching for hours for crabs and hermit crabs.

DSCF7086

The family kitchen.

DSCF7089

Masing and family looked after us during our time at Uri Island, Malekula.

DSCF7093

Having anchored our dingy way out at low tide, a band of merry local children playing on a dug out canoe volunteered to tow it into us on shore.

DSCF7098

Local kids. Uri Island, Port Stanley, Malekula.

Khan 18th November. Epi and Malekula, Vanuatu

Epi Laman Bay

We did an overnight sail from Port Vila to Epi, Laman Bay. Dad was the first to go for a snorkel. Dad came back and said he saw a lot of turtles feeding on the turtle grass. So Mum, Jarrah and I all jumped in. Wow, it was so clear.  We snorkelled towards the front of the boat and there it was, turtles everywhere.  We came back to the boat.  From the boat I could see a dugong swimming it came up then down then up then it flicked its tail and swam away. We went in to the village and they said that there were a couple of dugongs and lots of turtles.

Epi (2)

A huge mango tree in the village at Lamen Bay. Sadly we were too early in the mango-season every where we went, but with the huge trees full of green mangoes we could easily imagine the yummy feast that would take place …after we had left.

Epi 2

The village at Lamen Bay.

 

Epi (3)

Hard at work grinding the green root for the nights Kava session. Lamen Bay.

 

Epi

One of the many, many massive turtles in Lamen Bay.

The next day (4th October) we sailed to the Meskelyne islands.

We got called on the VHF radio from another boat. They said they had organised a dance at 2:00 and the dingies will leave at 1:00 to go there. So at 1:00 we left to go in our dingy but everyone else said to hop into their dingy so we did. We got there and went to see the dance. Before that we had a tour of the village. Then we went to see the dance. A group of men came making music as they walked. There were two men playing a hollow piece of wood. There also were four people singing a song.  One man was dressed as a bird man who ran around the group of people. All the other people were dancing . It was really cool.

Awai (2)

The village men preparing to dance.


Awai (5)

Awai (6)

Awai (8)

Small Nambas dancing.

 

Awai (9)

The bird dance

Awai

The hollow log drum.

 

Awai (4)

Awai (3)

Banam Bay – Malekula

Banam Bay 1

At Anchor Banam Bay, Malekula.

Bbay 4

The Banam Bay village Chief.

BBay 3

Playing in Banam Bay

BBay 6

Jarrah being adopted by the local women in Banam Bay.

Bbay2

Kids in Banam Bay.

DSCF7031

Kayak water wars in Banam Bay with friends Kim and Zac, from Sailing vessel Flour Girl.

DSCF7034

 

Rachael 17th October, 2014. Luganville, Espirito Santo, Vanuatu.

Hello..Long time no blog!
We’ve been having an excellent time in Vanuatu over the past seven plus weeks. We’ve had many days sailing and exploring up the chain of islands as well as time feeling a wee bit weary and in need of a holiday!?

Vanuatu: Aneityum to Efatē
We arrived at Aneityum Island, Vanuatu’s most southern island, on 29th August after a 3 ½day passage from Fiji (see Justin’s blog entry for passage details). We arrived and anchored in the dark and woke to brilliant blue waters, palm trees and a clear sunny sky and thought ‘we like this…we like this a lot’. We stayed a week anchored between the village of Anelcauhat and the small, uninhabited Mystery Island. A week of snorkelling, walking, hanging out and chatting in the village, eating Pamplemoose and exploring the mysteries of Mystery Island. Mystery Island (about a kilometre long with white sandy beaches and surrounded by reef and beautiful coral blue waters) is a cruise ship destination and in the coming months the villagers said there were cruise ship bookings of up to 11 ships per month. Each ship unloads up to 3000 people on to the island for 8 hours. No ships came whilst we were there but we were fascinated by how the influx of such numbers and money impacts for the villages of Aneityum and the expanse (and expense) of paid activities that are offered.

Aneityum 7

Mystery Island beach…do we have to stay here?!!

Aneityum 8

Us playing ‘silly billies’ on Mystery Island!

Aneityum 12

Joseph, from Kenya but living and working in Vanuatu for the past 7 years, introduced us to village life in Anelcauhat. showing us Island cabbage of which we ate lots.

Anewityum 11

Anchorage at Anelcauhat, with Mystery Island behind.

Aneityum

Sailing a few hours to the north of Aneityum, we anchored overnight in Itchepthav Bay. This bay had a shoreline of smooth grey boulders and a lone man (and his dog) who had decided build a house there. The next day we sailed all day to Port Resolution on the east side of Tanna. Local villagers welcomed us in dug out canoes and gave us beautiful fresh vegetables and fruit. Merriam showed us around her village and introduced us to her community.

Merriam and co at Port Resolution, Tanna.

We arranged to visit the Mt Yasur volcano that cruising friends had raved about. It was awesome. In the late afternoon a group of cruisers packed into the Toyota ‘transport’ for a bumpy ride to the barren, earthy volcano base. From there we climbed up to the ashy volcano rim and were met by a chasm of volcano beneath us and deep rumbling explosions that shot molten volcanic rock high into the air above us. As the sun set and gave the volcano a back drop of black, the red hot rock explosions looked even more magnificent. I think I could have just sat there forever feeling the rumbling earth and watching the ever changing and ever impressive spectacle.

Yasur

Yasur 2

 

 

Yasur1

 

Yasur 4

 

Yasur 1

The next day we woke to rain and forecasts for unexpected north easterly winds to arrive at midnight. A north easterly swell and wind would make our Port Resolution anchorage untenable. So despite our prior plans to stay longer in the bay we, as always, needed to make decisions governed by the wind and weather. So we lifted anchor and had a very wet and rough, day long sail around to Lenakel on the west side of Tanna.

Whilst we were initially disappointed to leave an anchorage before we were ready, it opened up opportunities to explore places we would otherwise have missed. I suppose that’s the beauty of sailing in Vanuatu and Fiji, where we constantly have to make decisions about where to go and whether to stay longer or move on. Whichever choices we make, all options are good.

The anchorage at Lenakel was at times exciting (?) with big old cargo ferries docking during the night, the anchorage littered with old boat and vehicle wrecks and big surf breaking on the reef a bit too close to us. The bonus, of course, was for Justin to paddle off the back of our boat over to the reef for a surf.

Len 1

The yacht anchored behind us at Lenakel…anyone for a yacht surf?

Len 2

At anchor in Lenakel Harbour where big cargo ships came and went in the night.

Len 3

Cuttle fish

Len 4

Lenakel market with its carrot displays.

Len 5

Hard work on the Lenakel wharf. Dragging a bundle of Kava root for shipment.

 

Len 6

Discovering where coffee comes from. Organic coffee farm, Lenakel, Tanna.

Len 7

A planted crop of Yams, one piece of root planted in each pile. Lenakel.

Len 6 (2)

Justin paddling out from the boat, for a morning surf on the shallow Lenakel reef.

We day sailed to the next island, Erromongo and anchored at Dillon’s Bay. We spent about 5 days in the village. David welcomed us from his canoe, with papayas and grapefruit then took us to the nearby caves where his ancestors would shelter and to the sacred caves where past chiefs’ were laid to rest. In the village we spent time with Tonne, a teacher from the French-English school, and washed our clothes in the river. The Kava they drink in Vanuatu is processed differently to that in Fiji and all reports are that is stronger. In Fiji dried root is pounded to make a powder, in Vanuatu green root is ground and on some of the islands, including Tanna, young men/boys chew the green root then the well chewed root is spat into a pile to be soaked in water and the Kava shared. On Tanna Justin had a go at chewing the root …maybe there are some benefits of being in a male dominated culture, happy for the males to have this tradition for themselves.

Dillons Bay  10

Justin and Tonnie at the Dillon’s Bay Bilingual school.

Dillons Bay (2)

Dillon’s Bay river.

 

Dillons Bay (4)

Making practical use of the Dillon’s Bay river…washing clothes

Dillons Bay 3

David, one of our hosts at Dillon’s Bay.

Dillons Bay 2

David guiding us to his family caves.

Dillons Bay 5

Burial caves for past village chiefs. Erromango

Dillons bay 6

Climbing up to the Erromango caves.

Dillons Bay 8

Playing at Dillon’s Bay.

Our departure from Dillon’s Bay was scheduled for 1am, based on wind and sailing time so that we would arrive before dark the next day in Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila, on the island of Efatē. In the spirit of reciprocity, after we donated some goods to raise funds for the school, the school principal organised for some fresh bread to be baked for us and instructed us we were absolutely not allowed to leave without it. So in the pitch black, windy evening, Tonne left his three small children at home and paddled out through the swell, in a borrowed dug-out canoe to deliver us warm loaves of delicious fire baked bread. What a generous send off.

Dillons Bay 11

Warm and Yummy!

 

Once we picked up a secure mooring in a protected bay in Port Vila we realised we felt tired and it was really nice to just stop without having to worry about the holding of the anchor, the change in wind direction, the forecast torrential rain or even thinking about where to next. The arrival of a number of other yachts also with kids on board meant that Jarrah and Khan also didn’t want to go anywhere unless the whole kids’ gang was going. So we hung out for a few weeks in Port Vila.

PV9

Heaps of cruisers gather for a ‘Pot Luck’ dinner on shore. Port Vila.

PV12

Port Vila moorings and dingy dock.

Port V 6

Watching some fire dancing onshore from the back of our boat. Front row seats!

Port V 3

Port Vila, Market business.

IMG_5356

Jarrah helming as we head north up the Vanuatu chain of islands.

It was the end of September and we really had to work out where to go and wanted to be in Brisbane by the start of November. Our options were 1) to head east to Bundaberg via Huon and Chesterfield reefs in the Coral Sea, 2) sail south east to New Caledonia for a short burst of bagettes, cheese and all things French or 3) pay to extend our visas and head north for a another week or so in Vanuatu. All options had pros and cons and we couldn’t decide. Also many other cruisers were heading to the Solomon Islands and Indonesia and we were very tempted to continue sailing. Weather forecasts of 10 days of torrential downpours made Vanuatu less appealing and winds too difficult for New Caledonia, so we finally decided to head east to the reefs and QLD coast. Well that is until we woke up the next morning and all said we don’t want to go yet, and instead headed to the Immigration office to extend our visas and the market for fresh provisions. So we’re off further north up the Vanuatu chain.

Justin 17th October, 2014. Luganville, Espirito Santo, Vanuatu

Justin – excerpt from Arcturus II’s logbook – passage from Fiji to Vanuatu.

(I have tried to accurately transcribe from our log book so that the reader can get a feeling of what ocean sailing is like. However, the passage was fairly uneventful so don’t feel obligated to read!

We were sailing in a south westerly direction from Fiji towards Aneityum Island, the southern most island in Vanuatu, so winds from an easterly direction were behind us and pushing us along.

‘nm’ is an abbreviation for nautical mile. ‘WP’ is an abbreviation for waypoint. A waypoint is a point on a chart which the vessel is sailing towards. In this case we set a waypoint early on in the passage for just off the southern coast of Aneityum Island.

Generally, we reckon on doing about 150 nm in 24 hours unless tacking. From Fiji to Vanuatu is about 450 nm.

During the day, Rachael and myself were usually up and either of us might be on watch while the other prepared food, helped the kids or did other tasks. At night, we generally took it in turns with one of us on watch while the other tried to sleep. Although we are fairly flexible, a night watch usually goes for two and a half to three hours. I have tried to indicate below which of us was on watch at particular times at night.

When sailing, the kids usually go to bed about 7 or 8 o’clock and sleep right through! Sometimes one or other of them might try to keep us company on a night watch for a while but they don’t usually last too long).

Excerpt from Logbook.

TUESDAY 26/8

11.35. Wind: south 10 knts. Barometer: 1012. Vuda Point Marina. Start motor to leave marina. Cleared customs about 15 mins ago and must leave Fiji immediately.

12.15. Wind: west 12-15 knts. Stop motor. Two reefs in mainsail. Full jib. Doing 6.2 knts. (Motor total: 569 hrs 50 mins.)

13.25. Wind: west 12-15 knts. Course: about 200 deg. West of Denerau Island. Tight beam reach in flat sea. Very sunny. Sea breeze. Beautiful sailing. Salad sandwiches and fresh pineapple for lunch.

15.10. Wind: north west 15+knts. Just entering Navula Passage to pass through barrier reef and into the Pacific Ocean.

15.20. Wind: north west 20 knts. Course 238 deg. Set waypoint and course for Aneityum Island in Vanuatu. 445 nm to waypoint (WP). Caught up to Maxi Jazz a big catamaran heading for NZ that left just before us.

16.30. Wind: north, north west 15 knts. Course 238 deg. 437 to WP. Doing about 7 knts in very lumpy sea. 2 metre swell coming from the south and wind from the north. Pretty uncomfortable sailing but glad not having to punch into swell like Maxi Jazz heading for NZ. Strange that northerly wind has held in for so long given that we are about 10nm offshore. Passed two ships, one heading north the other south.

17.35. Wind: north, north west 10 knts or less. Barometer: 1010. Course 238 deg. 431 nm to WP. Wind dropping off but sea remaining very rough. Sails beginning to slam. Doing a bit over 5 knts.

19.10. Start motor. Wind dropped and swinging all over the place. Very frustrating. I think wind is slowly shifting to the southeast. Very rough and confused sea with two different swells crossing over each other. Mainsail slamming, took jib in. Kids gone to bed. No one felt like dinner.

19.20. Wind: east, northeast to northwest less than 5 knts. Changed course to 245 deg to try to allieviate some of the rolling from southerly swell which we are taking on the beam. There must be wind fairly close by because the sea is staying very rough and choppy even though very little wind here.

20.00. Wind: east to east, northeast 15+ knts. 420 nm to WP. Wind suddenly come up and shifted to east. 3/4 of jib out and two reefs in mainsail. Changed course back to 238 deg. Stop motor. (Motor total: 570 hrs 40 mins). Doing about 6 knts.

21.35. Wind: east 15 -20 knts. Course 239 deg. Steering 238 deg. 411 nm to WP. Sailing very well. Bit rolly. Rolled in about 3/4 of jib to stop it slamming with wind behind us. Doing about 6.5 to 7 knts.

22.40. Wind: east 20+ knts. 404 nm to WP. Doing well. Wind up a bit. Big waves. Very black night. No moon. Quite cool. Trackies, beanie and jumper on.

Passage 4

Keeping the Logbook up to date.

Passage 5 (2)

The rolling ocean behind us.

WEDNESDAY 27/8.

0105. (Rachael on watch) Wind: east 20+ knts. 389 nm to WP.

0200. Wind: east 20+ knts. 384 nm to WP.

0330. (Justin on watch) Wind: east 15 knts. 376 nm to WP. Wind dropping and mainsail starting to slam in very rough sea. Speed down to about 5

0600. (Rachael on watch). Wind: east 15+ knts. 361 nm to WP. Speed 5.5 to 7.5 knts.

0740. Wind: east 20 knts. Course: 239 deg. Course steered: 236 deg. 350 nm to WP. Lovely morning. Very rough and rolly night. Sea still rough and rolly but making good speed. 100nm since leaving Fiji!

0930. Wind: east 20 knts. 339 to WP. Just being passed by oil tanker High Endeavour. Tried to speak to them on the VHF radio but they were breaking up. They altered course to avoid us. Otherwise on a very similar course. Rough sea. Doing about 5.5 to 6 knts. Should have poled jib out but too hard to work on deck in rough sea. Weetbix and sandwiches for breakfast.

1030. Wind: east 20 knts. 334 nm to WP. Speed: about 6 knts.

1115. Wind: east 15 knts. 329 nm to WP. Slowing down as wind decreased. Need to get jib out with pole. Will wait to see if sea quietens a bit. Jarrah reading. Rachael just gone for a sleep in forward cabin. Khan playing in cockpit. Me just about to sleep in aft cabin. Bit more comfortable now but boat still lurching sideways when hit by a big wave and the mainsail causes us to roundup.

1240. Wind: east 20 knts. 320 nm to WP. Course 239. Steering 236. Barometer: 1012. Sea picking up again. We spent most of the morning reading or lying in bunks asleep. Jarrah into second book for the passage. Warm, sunny day. Few clouds.

1400. Wind: east 20 knts. 312 nm to WP. Fried rice with egg and bokchoy for lunch followed by fresh pineapple. Very hard to cook in rough sea. Not quite holding our required 6 knts.

1515. Wind: east 15+ knts. 306 nm to WP. Wind dropping again though sea still rough. Mainsail slamming when we roll on the bigger waves.

1810. Wind: east 15 + knts. 290 nm to WP. Sun just set. Gooseswung and poled out jib about half hour ago. Doing much better speed and boat more balanced. Speed: about 6.5 knts.

2005. Wind: 12 to 15 knts. Course: 239 degrees. Steering: 234 degrees. 278 nm to WP. Rachael and Jarrah gone to bed. Still very rolly. Mainsail slamming fairly regularly. Doing a bit over 6 knts.

2155. (Justin on watch). Wind: east 10 to 15 knts. 268 nm to WP. Sea becoming calmer but sails slamming every now and then because wind dropped. Beautiful night. Lots of stars.

Passage 2

Khan sewing cushions and animals from his old clothes. On passage Jarrah and Khan both spent hours each day sewing different creations.

Passage 3

Westward passage into the setting sun.

THURSDAY 28/8

0125. (Rachael on watch). Wind: east 10 to 15 knts. 246 nm to WP. Speed: 6+ knts.

0340. (Justin on watch). Wind: east 15 knts. 232nm to WP. Sailing very well. Jib still poled out and main two reefs. Speed: 6.5 knts.

0400. 230 nm to WP. Just got hit by an extra big wave causing an accidental jibe. Everyone woke up. Surprised how quick the boom came across even with the boom brake taut. Wind coming a little more from the north but only a few degrees.

0510. (Rachael on watch). Wind: east 10 to 15+ knts. Course 239 degrees. Steering: 234 degrees. 223 nm to WP. Just passed half way to WP – from Navula Passage to Aneityum. Speed: steady 6+ knts.

0610. Course: 240 degrees. Steering: 234 degrees. 216 nm to WP. First light. Cloudy skies. Sea much calmer. Speed: 6+ knts. Red fringed clouds.

0730. Wind: east 15 knts. Steering: 236 degrees. 208 nm to WP. Very tired – need sleep! Cloudy. Battery voltage down to 12. 6 volts.

1040. Wind: east 15+ knts. Course 240 degrees. Steering 240 degrees. Barometer: 1014 and rising. 189 nm to WP. Khan just found a flying fish on deck. Photo opportunity then threw it back. Breakfast – cereal and toast. Turned fridge off to save power.

1145. Wind: east 15 – 20 knts. 180 nm to WP. Just gybed accidentally. Wind shifting very slowly to a little north of east. Decided to leave main on port side and gybed the jib and pole to set it on starboard. Changed course to have wind more on starboard aft quarter.

1345. Wind: east 15+ knts. Course 240 deg. Steering 250 deg. 167 to WP. Continuing cloudy and fairly rough sea. Signs that the wind might drop.

1700. Wind: east 15+ knts. Course steered: 243 deg. 147 nm to WP. Wind dropped a bit and sails slamming regularly. Sea still fairly rough. Just finished happy hour.

1835. Wind: east 15 – 20 knts. Course steeed: 239 deg. 137 nm to WP. Wind picked up again. Able to change course a few degrees and keep sails goose swung. GPS says arrival time about 1445 tomorrow. Batteries down to 12.6 volts again. Turned fridge off.

2050. Wind: east 15 knts. Course steered: 245 deg. Changed course a little to keep sails full.

FRIDAY 29/8

0130. (Justin on watch). Wind: east, northeast 15 knts. Course 239 deg. Course steered: 240 deg. Under 100 nm to Aneityum Island!! Wind shifting more to north. Getting harder to hold goose swung jib on pole.

0245. (Rachael on watch). Wind: east, north east 10 knts. 84.9 nm to WP. Wind dropping. Wind generator virtually stopped charging due to light apparent wind.

0430. 75.5 nm to WP. Too little wind.

0620. ( Justin on watch). No wind. Start motor. 67. 2 to WP. Motor sailing with main two reefs and jib.

0940. Wind: east, northeast 10 knts. 51.7 nm to WP. Wind up a little but very lumpy, rolly sea with two swells crossing each other and a bit of chop on top.

1030. Wind dropped again. Pulled down mainsail and furled jib to stop constant slamming. Noticed that the top car on the mainsail had worn loose due to sail slamming.

1230. Wind: east less than 10 knts. 37.1 nm to WP. Spent the last one and a half hours sewing a piece of webbing to rejoin top mainsail car with mainsail. Also retired 2nd reef line which was wearing through due to constant rubbing on eyelet in sail clew. Unfurled and poled out jib.

Passage 5

Repairing the damaged sail fitting.

1320. Wind: east, northeast 10 knts or less. Course:241 deg. 32.2 nm to WP. Still motoring in light airs. Just had jaffles for lunch – first bit of cheese we have had for last couple of months – too expensive in Fiji. Followed by last orange. Khan just hoisted the Vanuatu friendship flag and the yellow ‘Q’ pratique flag.

Passage 6

Our next adventure begins as we change from Fiji to Vanuatu flags.

1425. Land ahoy!! First faint sighting of Aneityum Island shrouded in cloud. 25.4 nm to WP.

1720. (Changed to Vanuatu time – 1 hr after Fiji time). Just south of Flat Rock on south coast of Aneityum. Sun just setting. Will be dark entry into anchorage.

1910. Stop motor. At anchor in Anelcauhat Bay. About 12 metres deep with 50 metre chain. Good holding sand. Motor: 13 hrs 50 mins. (Motor total: 583 hrs 40 mins).

About 3 days 7 hrs sailing from Vuda Point Fiji to Anelcauhat Bay, Vanuatu – approx 450 nautical miles straight line distance.

Rache – 21st August. Vuda Point Marina, Lautoka, Fiji

Some snaps of Fiji (not in order) on our eve of departing, as we sit in a bar watching the sunset over the Mamanuca Islands. Tomorrow we clear customs and sail toward our next adventure in Vanuatu. We’ve been 3 months in Fiji and it feels sad to be leaving, feels a little like we are heading for home but we are very, very much looking forward to sailing in Vanuatu, which friends have raved about.  We are going to check into Anietyum, the southern most island in Vanuatu.  Our passage should take about 3 days….. 

Neomai, Littea, Jarrah at Dravuni Village.

Neomai, Littea, Jarrah at Dravuni Village.

Milli organising pandanas leaves for drying.  Nambauwalu Village, Ono.

Milli organising pandanas leaves for drying. Nambauwalu Village, Ono.

Makogai Primary School - combined younger classes.

Makogai Primary School – combined younger classes.

Peter the Head teacher, Makogai Primary School.  they had been donated computers.  There is no electricity in the village, so they had started fundraising to install some solar panels to power them.

Peter the Head teacher, Makogai Primary School. they had been donated computers. There is no electricity in the village, so they had started fundraising to install some solar panels to power them.

When we are off the boat we relish the opportunity to stretch our legs by walking.  On Kadavu the villages generally thought we were mad because why wouldn't we go by boat.

When we are off the boat we relish the opportunity to stretch our legs by walking. On Kadavu the villages generally thought we were mad because why wouldn’t we go by boat.

Usual household duties take lots of time to do.  This day was taken up by hand washing our clothes and bedding and filling up our water tanks.

Usual household duties take lots of time to do. This day was taken up by hand washing our clothes and bedding and filling up our water tanks.

DSCF5982

DSCF6016

Matasawalevu Village, Kadavu.

DSCF6020

Matasawalevu Village, Kadavu

Getting water can take many return trips in the dingy to fill jerry cans then back to fill up the boat tanks.  if low tide then carrying the tanks across muddy or coral low water.  a day's work.  Matasawalevu village, Kadavu.

Getting water can take many return trips in the dingy to fill jerry cans then back to fill up the boat tanks. if low tide then carrying the tanks across muddy or coral low water. a day’s work. Matasawalevu village, Kadavu.

DSCF6100

School Area Carnival for school children from Kadavu and the Great Astrolabe Reef – everyone arrives by boat. whole schools in one boat, about 25+ children and teachers and parents to cook for the 3 day carnival. Vunisea, Kadavu.

I

Non-stop netball and rugby action and passion. It was excellent to see and cheer-on the many children we had met at the villages along our way. Vunisea, Kadavu.

DSCF1826

Gumboots are the best footwear when you’re in and out of boats and mud. Vunisea, Kadavu.

DSCF1828

A multitude of stalls sprang up to feed the masses. Vunisea, Kadavu.

DSCF1847

DSCF1727

Hanging out in Nabourwalu Village, Ono.

DSCF1735

Milli, Isaac and Sammy’s family generously gave us heaps of delicious fruit and on the verandah, an afternoon tea of lemon tea and Taboi (flour and sugar and maybe coconut ? – boiled). Naborwalu, Ono.

DSCF1064

Justin doing an emergency alternator belt replacement on route to Savusavu from Split Rock, Vanua Levu.

DSCF1334

Khan showing there are many ways to row a kayak.

DSCF6118

Mailolo Lai Lai. (one for you Keith)

DSCF6120

Boat kids – Jarrah and Khan with Julian, Molly and Angelina. Mailolo Lai Lai.

DSCF6133

Buying spices at Lautoka market.

DSCF6137

Yes he is!

DSCF6144

Loving sailing in the sun and warm on the west of Viti Levu.

DSCF6156

What’s not to love!

DSCF6165

Not a bad anchorage, bit rolly. Uninhabited (by humans, but not by goats) Navadra Island, Mamanuca Group. A good place to explore, Jarrah and Khan made like Blue Lagoon and built palm frond huts on the beach to play with their hermit crabs and imagine being stranded.

DSCF1908

Mr Hermit Crab

DSCF1921

Nearly 8 months in and our first beach fire!! we loved it…even though in rained for the first time in ages. Navadra Island

DSCF6170

Bay at Navadra Island.

DSCF5976

Friend’s Ken and Di (Platinum IV) lent us kayaks to increase our fleet and so that we could go for a kayak at the same time. Kavala Bay, Kadavu

DSCF6007

Jarrah, Ken and Khan ran the muddy trails non stop back to the village store, in desperate search of an icecream. Kavala Bay, Kadavu

DSCF5977

..and boat guests don’t escape the mundane chores! Thanks Reima! Kavala Bay.

DSCF6061

Natalie, Jarrah and Khan on the village boat as we zoom out for a snorkell on the Naigoro Passage. Kadavu

DSCF6065

I love a bunch of bananas hanging on our back porch, a gift from Sailosi’s family. Matasawalevu village, Kadavu

DSCF6069

The women of Matasawalevu in the community hall making wall mats for a nearby resort. Three women spent days there weaving and slept in the hall during the night until the job was complete. Kadavu

DSCF6071

Yum. Vunisea, Kadavu

DSCF6078

Excellent anchorage at Vunisea, Kadavu

 

DSCF6106

Turtle Rock, on a walk from Vunisea, Kadavu

DSCF6111

The shell they call the turtles with. …none came for us. Vunisea, Kadavu

DSCF5681

Jarrah captaining the ship

DSCF5676

Justin and I pulling down sails while Jarrah steers us into the wind.

DSCF5711

Looking over the steep cliff down at the Bay of Islands, Vanuabalavu, Lau

DSCF5705

The kittens were a draw card for Jarrah and Khan (although Jarrah looks like she’s holding a kitten-baby!) Plantation village. Bavatu Harbour, Vanuabalavu.

BLOG5754

A cheery ‘Bula!’ from a boat load of workers. Suva Harbour.

BLOG5755

Suva Market

DSCF5742

DSCF5775

The Esplanade. Suva

DSCF5782

Suva sunset

DSCF5783

Jarrah and Khan and locals heading back along the wall, to Suva city.

DSCF5805

Sailing through the reefs calls for frequent checking of multiple paper and electronic charts. Accuracy varying from good (sometimes) to really, really bad. Rache on chart watch.

DSCF5829

A desperate Justin successfully begged a ride out to the reef for a surf. Suva harbour.

DSCF5836

…Guess whether Justin loved his first Fiji surf. Suva Harbour

DSCF5881

Ken and Khan having a stand up paddle race. Nabourwalu, Ono.

DSCF5967

Villagers from Kavala drop over to gift us fresh coconuts and Taro. Kadavu

 DSCF1799DSCF1797DSCF1796 

Friend Di taught a keen Jarrah how to weave using Pandanus and Coconut leaf stem (broomstraw). 

 

 

Khan: 21st August 2014

A Report about Beche De Mer

by Khan: Animal Reporter for the blog.

A beche de mer is a type of sea slug. In English it is called sea cucumber and in Indonesian it is called trepang.

Beche de mer live next to or on the coral reef. You can find them at all depths. They come in all different colours and patterns. Beche de mer crawl along the sand like a caterpillar. They eat plankton and rotting organic matter. Beche de mer are worth between 4 and 100 Fiji dollars. The expensive beche der mer can only be found at night. That is because it somehow shrinks during the day.

In Fiji the villagers collect beche de mer to sell to the Chinese.  

The villagers dive down to the beche de mer and pick them up with their hands or they hand spear them. The beche de mer can sometimes be so deep that you have to hold your breath for a long time to catch it and get back up to the surface. Sometimes the villagers have to swim down to 30 metres.

In some places of Fiji there are not many beche de mer left because they have been fished out. The beche de mer play an important role in the ecosystem. If we over fish the beche de mer we will have nothing to clean the ocean floor and the water will get more dirty. That could cause some coral to die. Besides that they are a beautiful animal to look at when you go diving.

beche de mer

Beche de mer