I hope you all had a lovely festive season and New Years. We escaped the ‘silly season’ madness and sailed over to the Great Barrier Island to spend Christmas there. It was an easy and awesome daysail across and plenty of dolphins to keep us entertained. A great start into the holidays!!!
We stayed on the west coast for the first few days before we headed over to the east coast in search for some surf. Cameron has developed a real love for surfing now as well, so if there’s no wind for kiting he’s off surfing and if there is neither than be assured he is driving us all insane :-) I wonder where he gets it from? Just kidding, the apple definitely didn’t fall too far from the tree there ;-)
Of course the anchorages on the east coast were a bit more roly than on the other side but we found a neat little anchorage all to ourselves at Harotaonga Bay (Overtons Beach). There’s plenty to keep busy with if you are an outdoors lover like us. Some may consider being out of cell phone reception is a downside to the place - we absolutely loved it. Instead of scrolling we played backgammon, chess and rummikub ;-)
We sailed back to Whangarei for New Years as we had some boat projects planned. Besides keeping on top of maintenance, we also want to do some upgrades and little projects we didn’t get around to do before we left NZ last year. So yes, a few jobs on the list!
In other news, if you follow us on social media you may have already seen that I’ve finally uploaded a slideshow of our Fiji photos to the website. I also added a link to the magazine article about us in the Pacific Island Living Magazine. I’ve attached links to both of them below. I’ve included a link to the article on their website as well as a link to the entire magazine in case you’d like to read more from around the Pacific :-)
We are pretty chuffed that we’ve made our debut in our first magazine and we are already working on a few others, including a major yachting magazine. Pretty exciting!!! I will share more once I’m able to. I’m also working on a video of our time in Fiji which I will share once I’ve edited it all.
It has been an awesome 2019 and we already know that 2020 will be an even more exciting year for us. We have quite a few expeditions in the pipeline for the cruising season in the islands. One expedition we are very much looking forward to is a very special trip in July with special guests but we can’t spill the beans just yet....
At this stage we are also looking to include the Regatta Week in Fiji to our itinerary for September. We only have spaces available in September and October, so let us know if you’d like to come aboard to ensure you won’t miss out!
Here are a few photos of the last few weeks:
After a 7-day passage from Fiji we arrived in Opua in the Bay of Islands. Once cleared in, we got a few essentials and set off to find our first anchorage for the next few days. With southerly winds forecast we opted to spend the next week in the Bay of Islands before catching the northerly winds down the coast to Whangarei.
We thought that having orcas next to the quarantine berth the morning after arriving was such a cool welcoming gift but we were fortunate enough to spot them again on our way out of Opua. Needless to say we couldn’t believe our luck to have them visit our anchorage at Moturua island that same afternoon. Simply amazing and truly mesmerising watching a pod of orcas cruise around the bay and hunting for stingrays in the shallows. A very special welcome back to NZ and it made me almost forget about the drop in water temperature - ha ha, just kidding - I'm still getting used to the cold water ;-)
If the welcoming party of orcas wasn't enough to make us like the look of that anchorage, then a supply of fresh mussels just a short paddle away or the fact that the snappers were biting were sure to be enough to convince us we had found a pretty neat spot. There is a lovely little hike up the hill for some nice scenic views over the Bay of Islands and a stunning beach on the other side of the island.
We even got brave at one stage and dared to get wet going for a paddle on our kayaks to explore a close-by sandbank. Almost daily we had dolphins visiting the anchorage and the kids were both lucky enough to paddle around in the kayak when a pod of dolphins came up close to them. The experience of a lifetime really!!! Lucky for them I was already on the deck with a camera and could capture those special moments.
We departed Moturua a few days later, mostly for a quick shopping trip to Russel to stock up on some fresh supplies along with some more bait and fuel which is the easiest to obtain there. Russel was only a couple of hours away so we left in the morning, had a quick stroll around Russel while getting our supplies and left again to make our way to our new anchorage at Urupukapuka Island.
This was another picturesque anchorage with a number of fantastic walks and beautiful beaches to explore. It was nice to spend our last few days in the Bay of Islands here while waiting for the northerlies to arrive. There are so many stunning little anchorages in the Bay of Islands and most of them within a stone's throw of each other. We've been so lucky to witness and experience such an abundance of wildlife while we were there and certainly will be back to experience some more!
With the arrival of the northerlies we made our way down the coast to Whangarei. Light winds saw us leisurely cruising down the coast with the asymmetric up. It was an awesome sail - sun shining, asymmetric flying and calm seas. The magic was happening!!! Just as we rounded Bream Head and made our way towards the harbor entrance, we had a pod of dolphins race alongside the boat, welcoming us into Whangarei. If the sail down the coast wasn't already awesome, that just made it epic!
I've got heaps of video footage along with photos of our time in Fiji as well as in New Zealand and I will work on editing some of those and adding them to the website in the next few weeks. I also have a few very exciting news to share in the upcoming blog posts, so watch this space for some updates from us soon but here are a few pics to check out until then xx
The crossing between the islands and New Zealand can be a tricky one, especially the return trip south. This was our 5th time doing the passage from the islands to New Zealand and dare I say one of our best trips!
We left Fiji on the 13th of November after the usual weeklong checking of weather forecasts and running weather routing on PredictWind ;-) Since this is a trip of about 1100nm that takes anything from 6-10 days, weather forecasting is mostly accurate for the first half of the trip and becomes more tricky for the second half of the trip. Nonetheless we pay utmost attention to anything that the models predict could potentially form up to the west of NZ towards the end of the trip and turn into a nasty welcome into the southern latitudes! Along the way we keep in touch on the various SSB nets and download weatherfax to keep updated on the weather.
As customs opened, we completed our clearance, downloaded the latest forecasts and lifted the dinghy aboard ready to lash down and get going. We lifted the anchor and were sailing just 15 minutes later enjoying the last few miles of lagoon sailing before we ventured through the main pass and out into the ocean.
It‘s always fun leaving out the pass, especially as we were rocketing through at an impressive 11.4kts! The seas were a bit lumpy and we had a steady 20kts southeasterlies but as always we are impressed with how comfortable Camara is.
We started off with southeasterlies before we enjoyed ESE and easterlies for the next few days. Camara absolutely LOVED the conditions - flat seas and winds on the beam which bring the apparent wind to about 60 degrees which is her sweet spot. Much to our delight we kept sailing at 6kts in 6kts true wind speed during the light wind patches when everyone else was motoring, catamarans included! Needless to say, boat, captain and crew were delighted! Such easy and comfortable sailing!
We did have to motorsail during a patch of really light northerlies before we encountered wind again to sail in on. The joys of sailing in and between two highs. A period of southerlies and SSW saw us head west for a few hours just north of North Cape in preparation to catch the SW and W winds in towards the Bay of Islands.
The weather gods really were kind on us this trip. No bad weather and no issues of any other kind other than going too fast at times to keep the fish on our bungees :-) But we won’t complain, we did the trip in 7 days and sailed most of the way so we are happy even if we lost a few fish along the way! The tuna we did catch, about 8 or so are still keeping my freezer well stocked ;-)
Arriving in Opua was probably the scariest part of our trip! We opted to clear into Opua rather than Whangarei as we thought it would be easier for our boat to go on the dock there rather than at the smaller quarantine dock in Whangarei, especially with a multitude of boats en route to NZ. Wow - what a mistake!
Night time arrival is supposed to be no problem at Opua, however we arrived not only to find an entire mooring field without anchor lights on nor did the dock have any lights set up. Luckily we had our spotlight charged and ready! The biggest issue we faced was very limited manouvering space between the dock and the mooring field for a boat our size and with our draft.
We found that out very quickly when we made our approach to the dock on our starboard side when the force of the pushing tide grabbed our rudder and pushed the stern out. We both realised our dilemma and what was happening and while Peter worked his magic at the helm with absolutely no space to really manoeuvre, I had enough time to flick one of the fenders to the port side and grab the mooring line just in time to throw it over and make my exit jumping off the bow onto the dock to tie her up. All on the opposite side of where all our fenders and lines were set up and of course in the middle of the night...OMG what a mission!!
While we waited for customs and biosecurity to arrive the next morning we were treated to a couple of orcas in the bay - what a welcome! Formalities were completed quickly and after stocking up on a few essentials we were off to explore the Bay of Islands while waiting for some northerlies to push us down to Whangarei. But that’s a story and pictures for another blog post soon. Here are some pics of the trip:
We sailed the Yasawas for the first time back in 2010 on our last boat and loved the many different anchorages and attractions each island has to offer. Fast forward to 2019 and we still think that island group is pretty awesome!!!
For those of you who haven’t been to Fiji, or the Yasawas, this island group has some very scenic anchorages with lots of them just a few miles apart. We took our family up there back in July as it’s an easy way to see a few different places and easy and quick sailing, mostly a few hours or a day trip between the islands.
Playful dolphins on your bow while sailing between islands and swimming with Manta Rays or diving an old sunken airplane are just some of the things you may get to enjoy and pass time with. Of course there is also the famous ‘Blue Lagoon’ anchorage (yup from the movie) which we love as it is a very lovely and protected anchorage and an awesome spot for kitesurfing at the same time ;-) Further north one can dive the Sawa-I-Lau caves which we had done 8 years ago but since the price jumped from then $10 to now $55 per person we gave it a miss this time around!
All in all we spent a few weeks here again at the end of the season when there were much less boats around and to get a few weeks of splendid kitesurfing in the tradewinds while our other favourite spot was lacking wind! One thing we were amazed by was the amount of pumice we’ve come across. This is from the underwater volcano eruption by Tonga back in August which has slowly drifted across to Fiji and is expected to make it across to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia! I’ve included some photos to show you the extend.
Here are are some pics:
Once our provisions ran out and the finals of the Rugby World Cup neared we made our way back towards Denarau and Musket Cove in a bid to reprovision and to be close to a large TV screen to watch the final of the RWC!
Lucky for us the wind has been providing us most days with kiteable conditions so we’ve been out there kiting our hearts out since we’ve come back. Winning the RWC was just the icing on the cake ;-)
With November comes the beginning of cyclone season so we’ve been getting the boat ready for our migration south for cyclone season and the daily rhythm of checking into the SSB nets and weather forecasting sites has started and is in full swing...I will let you all know when we are on our way :-)
While we aren’t looking forward to leaving this slice of paradise behind, we also look forward to some exploring and kitesurfing back in New Zealand and are already planning where to in Fiji next season as we are really keen to sail to the Lau Group next year! If you are keen to join us either in NZ or Fiji, please make contact to ensure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to be onboard :-)
How much fun could we have? Well, judging by the last month we’ve had plenty! Between Musket Cove‘s Regatta Week, plenty of kitesurfing sessions at the sandbank and now sailing & kiting in the Yasawa Islands we sure have kept busy, entertained and thoroughly enjoying ourselves! Nobody aboard Camara is complaining - that’s for sure ;-)
At the time of our last blog post the Regatta Week had just begun and we enjoyed quite a few of the activities during that week. Even went for a rum run with the kids though I passed on the rum and opted for the water at the drink stations because running uphill in tropical humidity was enough of a challenge - I assure you!
While we would never ‚race our house‘, we did enter the ‚Around Malolo Race’ with some awesome friends aboard as crew for the day. We made it clear to everyone that we weren’t going to seriously race but that it was all about a fun day out on the water!
We lifted the anchor about an hour before the race started to get a few tacks in and everyone comfortable working the sails. Unfortunately there wasn’t much wind AT ALL, in fact we had about 3kts true wind speed most of the course!!! I certainly had instances of raised blood pressure helming at times at a whole 0.2 kts of boat speed while passing reef barely 2 metres away. We’ve also never thought we’d overtake another boat, especially a cat, at 0.5kt boat speed! Our lowest boat speed that day was 0.2kts and our top boat speed was 10.7kts on the upwind leg! We never once turned our engine on, nor did we take any shortcuts on the course. What we DID do was have an awesome day out on the water with some pretty awesome people! Needless to say the rum & cokes never tasted better after a day of sailing and lots of tacking and jibing ;-) Here are some photos...
While there wasn’t much wind for the around the island race, we did get lucky at other times during race week and the weeks that followed to have some awesome kitesurfing. At times the tides didn’t line up for launching at the sandbank though, so we finally tried to launch off the boat! It’s so easy that we don’t know why we haven’t tried it sooner?!? At the moment I’m working on a nice edit of some kitesurfing we’ve done in Fiji but I have loads of footage to go through which is rather time consuming so I don’t have it ready in a hurry! This is why in the meantime I made just a quick little kitesurfing video the other day, check it out ;-)
So yes it’s been a busy few weeks, we’ve done the Regatta week, did a ton of kitesurfing except for the odd provisioning run to Denarau and have been in to apply for our visa extensions to see us through until we depart for NZ where we will sit out cyclone season!
I’ve also updated our website, added updated photos of the refit and added a ‘Sailing Schedule‘ which shows our sailing itinerary for the 2019/2020 cruising season for those interested in joining us for some sailing, kitesurfing, surfing and general adventure & exploring either in New Zealand or Fiji next year! I will add photos of our season in Fiji in the next few weeks as well so make sure you have a look ;-)
We are also very excited to say that our story will be published for the very first time in the next month or two and I will share it with you all once I can. It’s pretty special for us to make our first magazine appearance and further articles & write ups are certainly in the pipeline!
For now though we are up in the Yasawas enjoying our remaining time here and getting in a bit more cruising, fresh fish, kitesurfing and beachcombing! Keep your eyes peeled for our next blog post to read all about it and check out some photos...xx
It has been another busy month or so in our island life. We've been a bit quiet as we are clearly having too much fun :-)
We've had decent periods of trade winds which meant we've been busy kiting our hearts out and both our kids have taken to the sport with our son absolutely HOOKED on kite surfing! It's certainly a fantastic motivational factor in his home schooling - getting it done early in the morning to get to 'playtime', aka as surfing, kite surfing or free diving, as soon as possible :-)
If the wind isn't blowing, we've been making the most of the calm days free diving the stunning reefs around here. The sea life here really is amazing and we are just about guaranteed to encounter sharks, turtles and manta rays among the colorful other tropical fish each time we go out. Aren't we lucky!!!
We've also done some neat hikes for some breathtaking views of all the beautiful reefs clustering the islands and are equally enjoying 'island time' which means we are quite happy to relax on the boat with a good book in hand. After nearly 7 years of working 7 days a week on projects, whether it was building a house or rebuilding the boat, it is just awesome living life at a slower pace without having to feel guilty of not working on a long to-do-list!
Meanwhile the annual Musket Cove Regatta week has started on Friday last week and we are enjoying a bit of socialising and sailing for the week. We were really looking forward to the hobie cat racing as we've been in the finals about 8 years ago but unfortunately we didn't make it through the first round as we had absolutely no wind. Despite my competitive side emerging and me laying on the starboard hull paddling the cat around the entire course we lost out to the other boat. The young surfer dude aboard clearly outpaddled me - haha! If you follow us on our social media accounts you would have already seen a few photos pop up in our stories and there will be more coming ;-)
As I've mentioned in my last blog post, we are working on a few interesting things at the moment and hopefully I will be able to share some of them with you all soon! Have a look below at some photos I took of Camara under sail the other day and some videos from the last few weeks. If you haven't done so already, please subscribe to our YouTube Channel as we will utilise it a lot more in the future :-)
On a last note, if you've seen our posts in regards to looking for people who'd like to join us aboard, feel free to share those posts. We are keen to hear from anyone who would like to plan their next holiday aboard Camara.
I can’t believe it’s August already - time flies when you have fun! We’ve just got back to Malolo Lailai after having family over from Australia for just over two weeks. It was awesome showing them the boat and taking them sailing up to the Yasawa Islands. Having visited us on our old boat, it was quite a different experience staying on Camara in comparison. No crammed space and much more comfortable sailing at double the speed!
We loved having them onboard joining in on the experience and we soaked up each and every moment of this special family time! When you’ve lived away from family as long as we have (20 years), you treasure these catch ups however it always is just as sad having to say goodbye again!
We dropped them off at Denarau on Tuesday, got provisioning done straight after and sailed over to Musket Cove the same afternoon. The weather forecast is showing us wind all the way until Tuesday next week so we are in kitesurf mode until the wind disappears again :-)
I’m working on a few interesting things at the moment and will share them all with you over the next weeks and months, so stay tuned for updates on the blog, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube where I will be sharing it all.
Here are a few shots from the last month - enjoy. Videos coming soon ;-)
While we are getting more and more accustomed to the heat again, we’ve certainly enjoyed being back in he tropics again despite sweating it out most of the day ;-)
Island living is what it’s all about...dipping into the tropical water for swims, snorkelling, surfing, paddling our kayaks and OF COURSE kite surfing when the wind is blowing! Not to forget feasting on yellow fin tuna and enjoying papaya smoothies on almost a daily basis - absolute bliss!
But of course we do keep busy with boat projects here and there and getting ready for our family visiting in a few weeks. Biggest job we’ve got done is making a new stack pack. This had the highest priority to protect the sail from the UV and while the main sail was down we made repairs and improvements so we can use the full sail again if we want to. Let there be some sailing!!!
Now that we are in ‘Island Mode’ I will try and keep the blog regularly updated and have now started to post little videos on our YouTube channel as well which I intend to do on a regular basis, so please don’t forget to subscribe to not miss out! Here are the links to some of our videos of what we’ve been up to, more coming soon!
Bula everyone - and is it great to be here in the sunny tropics where the sun shines each day and the water temperature is 25 degrees! Absolute bliss to Camara AND her crew :-)
We‘ve been here nearly a week already but as it goes after an ocean passage like that from New Zealand to the islands, the first day or two are taken up with formalities and reprovisioning, followed by days of sorting, cleaning and acclimatising!
Camara‘s ‘Maiden Voyage’ went well and we are absolutely thrilled with her sailing performance and more so the comfort she offers while sailing. As this was her first offshore passage after the refit, we kept our eyes peeled for an ‘easy’ weather window, meaning not racing big low pressure systems etc.
We knew we would leave with strong winds forecast to lighten up by the evening and as we were going downwind it wasn’t too much of a concern for us. As it turned out the forecast 30- 35kts where a steady 30-40kts with gusts up to 56kts. We ran with just a staysail up and were super comfortable while still making progress at 6-8kts. By the late afternoon/evening the winds calmed down enough to change to the genoa.
Unfortunately the winds got really light not long after, to the point of no wind at all - as beautiful as the ocean looks all glassy and calm...it wasn’t much fun in terms of sailing and slowed our progress right down. Furthermore we picked up an issue with our fuel tanks which meant motoring wasn’t the solution to our no-wind-dilemma. This was compounded by the fact that the sailmaker never added slides to the reef points on the main sail resulting in a nice tear during our light wind period and meant we had to have he main fully reefed from then on to avoid any further tears or damage.
Saying that, she was sailing nicely as soon as she had more than 8kts. Luckily the remaining time we had winds between 15-26kts in which she took off like a freight train averaging at ease between 8-11kts.
As it goes with long passages like that, you come across any issues there may be and one of those was how the play in the helm affected our autopilot. Despite the hydraulics only turning the rudder ever so little, as soon as it went through the ‘dead play’ in he helm it would just turn into a vicious motion on the helm. Our short term ‘cure’ was for whoever was on shift to literally hold hands with the helm to avoid the helm doing its thing. It meant we couldn’t just sit there and relax while on shift but it sure as hell beat hand steering! The solution is easy - we just have to set up a locking/disengage for the helm to use while the autopilot is on or while we are on anchor.
Over all it was a good trip, a shame about the lack of wind at times but much better than racing or sailing through low pressure systems, especially on our first offshore trip with her! It took us longer than anticipated but I kept busy cooking English breakfasts and delicious feasts out there which certainly kept everyone happy and content along the way :-)
Below is a short video of our trip for anyone keen or who hasn’t seen it on our Facebook page yet.
Stay tunes for more exciting updates in the coming weeks and months - so long xx
Yes it’s true - the countdown is on. Cyclone season officially finished on the 30/4, however we’ve been watching the weather closely for good reason! With a ‘late season’ cyclone just last week and another tropical depression which has potential to be named as yet another late season cyclone in Northern Fiji, we are in no rush to head off just yet.
This is very fortunate as we have an unexpected but important last meeting on the 28/05 in town and are hoping by then the cyclone season should all but be truly over! Fingers crossed for a weather window thereafter! We’ll certainly be ready for it!
The last month/months have been really busy but it has been fantastic to be away from town, living the cruising/sailing life while getting jobs crossed off the to-do-list. Our last earthly possessions have gone - no more car, trailer or anything other than what’s on the boat. Some would feel uneasy about it - to us it’s a step closer to being free again ;-).
We’ve just sailed back up into town on Saturday for a quick provisioning run of fresh supplies and to get a few more materials. We’ll be leaving again tomorrow to do a bit more test sailing for the rest of the week before we have to come back again for what should be the last time before we head off.
It’s certainly getting a notch colder now and that is certainly an indicator to head north to warmer destinations :-)