Idyll in Whangarei (Not)

Our last post was back in February when we wrote about our visit to Tasmania. We both really enjoyed our visit and too-brief tour of this beautiful Australian state. We realize that it’s completely feasible to sail Velic there. Yes, we know, the Bass Strait lies in the way. And yes, we know, the Bass Strait is known as a sometimes difficult piece of water to cross. But so is the Columbia River Bar, and we’ve been across it a few times. As every sailor knows, it’s all in timing and weather. Choose the right time and weather and, as they say, “Bob’s your uncle!” Continue reading

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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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Hobart

We recently spent about a week in Hobart, the capitol of Tasmania. It’s a great city to visit – not too big, not too small. The central business district and waterfront area is easy to walk, which is great for tourists. What was just as important to us, though, is that we were in Hobart just after the finish of the renowned Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Continue reading

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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