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 :-)
Before I know it it’s been a few months since I last sat down and updated the blog. Some of the major jobs during that time has been getting the mast & rig up, the boom on and the generator in. Here are a few pics if you don’t follow our more up-to-date Facebook page and Instagram:
But during that time we’ve also had to ‘move out’ of our shipping container which has been invaluable during this refit! Unfortunately it’s amazing just HOW much stuff you can fit in there so we’ve spent a fair amount of time sorting through and carting stuff back to the boat. Needless to say there has been chaos aboard for the last few weeks ;-)
Pete has been busy with the installation of the generator, plumbing in all the tanks properly, rebuilt the water maker system, repaired and installed fuel & water level gauges for the tanks, mast wiring and he list goes on and on...
Most importantly though we are both now focussing full-time on the last jobs to get her ready for the islands! There are still a million things to do and lots of test sailing to be done but we are back living the cruising life and the islands are just around the corner now - one last push to the finish now :-)
Check out yesterday’s magic in the anchorage after a nice downpour ;-)
I hope you’ve followed the launch via our Facebook & Instagram accounts. We were too busy prior to the launch to update the blog and once we were in the water went straight into ‘cruising mode’ for the holiday period!
WOW - what an amazing Christmas present we had this year with the launch of Camara!!!
Since we launched Christmas Day, we headed straight to one of our favourite anchorages down the harbour - Urquarts Bay. No leaks, motor purring along and the water temperature reading on the depth sounder showing us its warm enough to make the most of life afloat again. Swimming, free diving, snorkelling, kayaking, paddle boarding, kiting, fishing, hiking, fresh fish & scallops - Just pure bliss!!!! Here are some pics:
But after New Years we headed back up the river that Sunday because as much as we could have kept on enjoying life, there is a mast waiting to be put up again along with a few other jobs. Repaint the boom, paint the generator, put the rigging back on the mast, mast wiring and so on. But we’ve already made a good head start so far. The boom is painted, fittings going back on the spreaders and the mast:
Finishing the rig, getting the generator and boom ready, those are our main priorities over the next few weeks. We are getting excited to soon see the mast & rigging go back on!!!
I’ll be posting frequently on our Facebook page & Instagram over the next few weeks, so make sure you follow along. Of course I’ll try and keep the blog updated more frequently again as well with the holidays being over.
On that note - if you’ve missed the launch, here is the video again:
Wow - it’s been a massive few weeks, months and years but the final countdown until we launch is underway. At this point stress levels rise at the same time speed as the excitement, however some of the nerve wrecking moments, like lifting her with the crane and putting the keel back on are done and dusted already! I’ve shared photos of it on Facebook and Instagram but I’ve promised a video, so here it is.
Of course it wasn’t just a 5 minute exercise to get everything prepped or to put her back on her keel on the day. It’s been weeks and weeks of getting ready to move the keel, move the boat and then of course getting ready for the big day, organising the crane, making sure we have enough materials etc. So in other words, there were quite a few stages involved in this phase. The very first one was moving the keel on the Friday to the slipway and then prepping the keel over the weekend for the big day. Here are some pics:
We also spent the weekend getting the boat ready to move to the slipway on Monday. A huge day for us as she’d been sitting in her spot at the back of the yard for nearly 3 years. Many hours of blood sweat and tears to get to this point, so as you can imagine, to us, this was quite a huge milestone reached! Here are a few pics of the move:
Once the boat and keel were both on the slipway it was time to have everything ready for when the crane lifts the boat. Firstly, the crane lifted the boat, then the yard had to move the trailer out from under the boat. The keel was sitting on the cradle down the slipway which then was winched up the slipway to under the boat. The yard uses the loader which operates a big hydraulic winch system to do that.
While this was happening Peter started mixing the epoxy and the Norsand crew started spreading the epoxy on the keel plate and around the bolts. The crane then lowered the boat slowly onto the keel bolts, while we used lines off the bow and stern to help with the positioning over the bolts. Once she was sitting on the keel, chocked and the first few nuts were tightened, the crane was able to leave. Here are some shots:
This was obviously a huge moment for us and a part of getting the keel back on accomplished but the job was far from over! We had to wait for the epoxy to cure before we could do the sikaflex seam on the joint, sikaflex all of the outside bolts in (we had only used a few to help position the keel), backfill the keel bolts from the top with the epoxy, touch up areas we couldn’t prime or antifoul prior to moving the boat and getting the rudder back into place and the steering reconnected etc. As usual - a million jobs...here are some pics:
A special thanks goes to the awesome Norsand crew! Without them this wouldn’t have gone as smooth as it did! Thank you Craig, Neville, Rob, Muzza & Shane for the awesome work! A huge thank you to Kevin, the brain behind the slipway operation and an engineer of a kind, for working out all the logistics of the movement of the boat and countless valuable advice along the journey over the last few years!!! We can’t thank Jo &Murray and their entire team at Norsand enough - it wouldn’t have been possible without you!!!
Less than a week to go until we launch - so watch this space - it’s getting exciting!!!