Huon River Valley

The Huon (YOU-un) River is southwest of Hobart, and close enough to make a day trip. The highway through the Huon Valley is considered one of the most scenic drives in the state. It meets up with the river at Huonville, near the top of the river’s tidal range and the limit of navigation. The road then runs beside the river as it flows past fruit orchards, fields, and the small towns that are backed up against densely forested mountains. By the time it reaches the town of Franklin, the Huon has broadened into a wide estuary. At its lower end, it flows into the D’Entrecasteaux Channel before emptying into the Tasman Sea. Although we didn’t get all the way to the mouth, we enjoyed driving through the valley between Huonville and Greeveston. The Huon Valley is traditionally known for its fruit orchards, especially apples, and put us in mind of Oregon’s own Hood River Valley (minus the big, snow-covered volcano at its head).

A black swan family on the Huon. Black swans are native to Australia, poking a hole in probability theory.

Highlights of the drive for us were a stop in the small town of Franklin at the Wooden Boat Centre and – after a drive up into the mountains – a walk in the dense Tahune Forest, including along a steel canopy walkway that takes you through the treetops and high over the Huon River.

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Tasmanian Devils: the Midlands, Freycinet, and Port Arthur

We were in Tasmania for three weeks over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

As well as spending time with family, we enjoyed a few day-trips to interesting locations in nearby Northern Tasmania. We drove to the mouth of the Tamar River, one day visiting Low Head on the eastern side then, another day, driving out to Narawntapu National Park on the western side. This day trip included a stop at the pretty and popular Greens Beach.

Day Trip to Narawntapu National park

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Merry Christmas from Tasmania

We are visiting Ruth’s cousin’s family over the Christmas holidays this year. We left Velic lying quietly in a marina slip in Whangarei, New Zealand while we took flight across the notorious Bass Strait. Which, by the way, appeared as calm as a lake from the air. We could see a low swell from the southwest, and surface wind ripples from the south, but otherwise it would have been a good day for a sail!  Continue reading

Malolo Lailai and Mahi Mahi

Flying fish thrown into port by waves breaking over the boat. Boats are few and far between, so few fish suffer this fellow’s fate, although a few more were found later under sails that had been lashed on deck.

This little fellow had the misfortune to hit one of the ports, probably thrown up in one of the waves that struck the cabin side. We found his remains sloshing back-and-forth in the port’s bronze frame. A macabre little aquarium of our own. Continue reading

Sevusevu at Somosomo

Gecko at Blue Lagoon

In September and October we spent a few weeks exploring the islands on Fiji’s leeward side. There are two groups of islands that, together with the surrounding coral reefs, form an archipelago stretching north of Viti Levu for over 80 nautical miles . We decided to begin with the northernmost group, the Yasawa Islands. Both groups, the Yasawas and the Mamanuca Islands, are inside the coral reefs that surround Fiji, so no open ocean passage is required. The low reefs do break the southern ocean swell, but offer no resistance to the wind. Crossing to the islands and moving between them can be a bit rough and wet, especially if a strong wind is blowing.

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Vuda, the Hurricane Hole

Nananu-i-ra was lovely but it was time to move on. We left mid-morning on a Sunday in very quiet conditions. Motoring in flat water means we can run the water maker, which we did. Late in the afternoon we made a stopover in Toba Maloma Bay and had the place to ourselves all during the quiet night. While preparing to depart the next morning, Rand discovered salt water in the engine coolant. Our Beta is a fresh-water cooled engine, so there was a leak somewhere allowing sea water to enter the closed fresh-water system. We were heading for Vuda Marina (mBunda Marina) anyway, so this task got added to the short list of work to be done there.

We spent the next night of this coastal passage at anchor in the bay fronting Lautoka, Fiji’s “second city.” We anchored in front of small Bakana Island, along with a handful of other sailboats going to, or fro, or just hanging out more or less permanently, by the look of one.

Anchorage and resort off Bakana Island, in the bay in front of Lautoka.

Anchorage and resort off Bakana Island, in the bay in front of Lautoka.

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Volivoli Point is only a few miles from Nananu-i-ra. A channel separates the small island from the main island of Viti Levu, a channel easily crossed by longboat and ferry. We stayed anchored at Volivoli Point in part because strong south winds were blowing and the anchorage there is well protected. When the south winds subsided, we moved over to Nanana-i-ra.

This island is an idea get-away destination. Just across the channel is Ellington Wharf and the road leading to Rakiraki and supplies. The King’s Highway runs close to the wharf, bringing guests in from the international airport at Nadi.

But still, being a separate island with no bridge and no airfield, it feels remote and secluded.

The southern beach of Nananu-i-ra with Margarita and Velic. Ellington Wharf off left in the far distance, on Viti Levu, the “mainland.” These are all private homes, or private rentals.

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