Island Time: Hanging Out in Fiji

Paradise Resort with Paul & Karen of Gigi

We are taking it easy in Fiji this season, hanging out on the east side of the country (Vanua Levu, Taveuni, Kioa, etc.) for a while longer. The prevailing trade winds blow east to west, so it’s usual for sailors to begin in the eastern islands before moving along to the western groups.

Earlier this season we motor-sailed over to the island of Taveuni for a couple of weeks. We got in a little snorkeling, and some nice lunches at the Paradise Taveuni resort while there. Also a visit to the island of Kioa, sponsored by the resort. On the way over to Taveuni we caught a lovely mahi mahi. Fish for dinner, breakfast and lunch, and enough to share half with Paul and Karen of Gigi. Feeling optimistic, we put a line out again on the way back. This time we attracted not one, but TWO mahi mahi. Unfortunately Rand missed with the gaff and failed to bring the hooked fish aboard, missing out on another fresh fish dinner. So it goes sometimes.

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South Minerva Reef

Velic is currently anchored in the lagoon of South Minerva Reef. We were thinking we would stop at North Minerva, but it was mid-day as we approached the south reef and would be another four hours to the north reef, so we decided to stop here. The Minerva Reefs are classic atolls, but without the small motu islands with sandy beaches and palm trees. Once ancient volcanic islands, each ringed by a coral reef, the land has all worn away and all that is left is the coral reef and a shallow sandy lagoon. The reef ring is wide enough, and high enough, to break the ocean swell. At high tide no reef is visible, and it’s a bit rolly inside the lagoon. At low tide the reef is dry and wide, enough for a nice walk, and the lagoon is quiet. A large navigation buoy has washed up on the southern edge of the reef. It’s settled on the inside edge, high and dry at low tide, just the superstructure visible at high tide. It may have come from where? Maybe French Polynesia. It would have taken quite a storm to toss a very large steel buoy up and over the reef edge. It probably won’t go anywhere for a very long time. Continue reading

Cool for Warm

We’re leaving New Zealand tomorrow morning and heading north, back to the islands. Trading the cool autumn of Northland (yes, we are in fleece) for much warmer tropical climes (back to jandals and T-shirts and shorts, Oh my!). A small flotilla of boats has gathered at Marsden Point Marina, preparing to depart for points north and west. We have met so many interesting people this season, from all around the world. We had a final, pre-departure supper tonight with fellow cruisers at the small cafe here: People from Europe, Australia, South Africa, and yes, from the U.S. as well. All personable, with interesting stories to tell, and all feeling grateful to be “out here,” exploring our beautiful world. We feel so fortunate to be among them.

The weather forecast is favorable for the next several days. We will head toward North Minerva Reef, in order to have a good stopping off place should we need it. But if the weather continues favorable we may sail straight on to Fiji. We can reasonably expect to arrive before the end of June, possibly earlier. As always, everything depends upon the weather. Our next blog post will come from Fiji.

Where Are They?

A better question: What were we thinking???
In January we left this:

For this:
We had good reasons for our visit back to the Pacific Northwest: We wanted to see friends and family and also take care of some business. But we kept asking ourselves “Why did we choose to visit during the WINTER months??” Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. All in all, though, we enjoyed our visit stateside, seeing almost everyone, and getting necessary tasks done. Continue reading

Fiji to NZ 2018

Every passage is different, even ones that you’ve made before. We’ve just completed our third passage south from the tropics to New Zealand. During this passage we motored more hours than we’ve ever done before, a choice driven by the conditions – very light to nonexistent wind from the south as well as several days pushing through a north-setting current* – and the need to make port before a forecast  of strong south winds. But it wasn’t all frustration: We had some great sailing, too. Continue reading

Garden of the Sleeping Giant

There’s a small group of yachts here in Port Denarau Marina – the “malingerers” as someone called us – who are waiting for a good weather window to begin our late-season passages south. We check the weather forecasts and study the models twice a day. After absorbing the latest update, we wander down the dock, second cup of morning coffee or the evening beverage of choice in hand, stopping for a chat (or consult) about the latest weather prediction with whomever we run into. It’s the current favorite topic of conversation. Rand has organized two weather confabs — lots of talk about 500 mb, vorticity, troughs, ridges, highs, lows, and avoiding tropical depressions.

But we aren’t spending all of our time studying our laptop screens. Last week the crews of Velic and Scoots decided to visit The Garden of the Sleeping Giant. We all wanted to get out for some sight-seeing and Scoots had a new camera with a zoom lens to try out. Continue reading