June 1 - September 10, 2014
We spent 6 weeks in New Zealand
working on Andromeda. By the time we were done, it was end of May getting
There was even ice on the dock a
We decided it was time to head to
as soon as the wind looked good for this 1200 nautical
in the water after 6 weeks working on her, all
clean and shiny, like new! New rigging, epoxy
barrier and paint, many repairs and improvements.
finishes waxing the hull to preserve the new paint
before leaving Whangarei, New Zealand.
first few days we had good wind and a fairly
comfortable ride, sometimes even running for hours
with a spinnaker up.
was still fresh so we enjoyed every sunray while
it lasted and took off the bimini.
And we even caught a beautiful huge Mahi-Mahi.
the wind came up from the wrong direction and the
swells built, the sea was very confused so the
ride became rather uncomfortable We even had lots
of water coming over the cabin top and bimini
which is very rare.
headed for Minerva reef, a sunken atoll, and we
were lucky to just make it against the wind and
increased to 30-40 knots with constant rain
squalls coming down.
very happy to be anchored safely inside.
days it was even too rough to enjoy the normally
superb snorkeling and diving but we were happy to
just rest after getting so banged around for the
past two days and nights.
in Minerva - finally the rainy clouds left and we
had some sun.
could do some sowing repair on the ripped bimini
for a week for the weather and winds to improve before we
set sail for Fiji, still
another 800 nautical miles away. Fortunately, the rest of
went pretty smoothly with the exception of a broken
alternator and wind generator. Iris emailed ahead and
found a machine shop in Lautoka that could fix both
and Lautoka was also the port of entry.
14 days at sea it was great to be back at
civilization - and having a wonderful market with
great fresh produce and cava to stock up. Cava
drink is made by grinding up the dried plant and
soaking in water.
you give some dried cava to local chieftains as a
“Sevu- Sevu” arrival gift. We tried some at the
many stands in the market and it put a smile on
our face rather quickly. No wonder the Fijians are
so welcoming and nice.
Iris finishing up
putting back rebuilt alternator, new mast head
spent a few days checking in, re-provisioning, and
having new bearings put in the alternator and wind
And we made friends there with a local cab driver
that took us out to a great dance club where the
locals rather than tourists hung out.
We had a fantastic time and danced till the wee
hours of the morning.
well recommended destination was Musket Cove only
Cove is comprised of a big resort and marina that
is very cruiser friendly. It is located in a very
sheltered harbor where many cruisers hang out.
are usually at least 20 to 30 boats there and most
evenings you could find a lively crowd at their
very cool yacht bar and a volleyball game going on
on the beach. It’s a great place to meet new
people and socialize with friends.
hungry the restaurant was only a short walk down
the beach and the food very good.
Cove is also great place for daily walks and
swims, good therapy for my back.
Andromeda was a reef we swam along a few times a
day. We got to know the coral and its inhabitants
sheltered anchorage and a resort with all the
amenities one could wish for. To the right the
view from the restaurant overlooking the pool and
reef is visible at low tide. At times when the
anchorage is crowded we are very close when the
wind blows us that way.
Cove marina from the air. A new friend Kurt does
areal pics with his drone and a gopro. Really
got down to the 60’s F a few nights so our sweet
bartenders Va and Josie had to bundle up. This is
very cold for them. We loved the design
of the beach
bar with all the wood and supports using the whole
tree. Bar and tables are giant slabs from huge
hard wood tropical trees.
after several days at Musket Cove we would head out
to a little island called "Namotu" only an hour
away. Here, the water is crystal clear, the beach
has beautiful white sand, and a short dinghy ride
away are some of the world’s best surf
breaks! Fortunately these include 2 where you
don’t have to be one of the world’s best surfers.
usually one that goes for it but found out the hard
way that a break called "restaurants" was beyond my
physical condition and ability.
It was a
big day and the waves were barreling well over head
expert surfers were lined up at the takeoff, well
inside of me so every wave had somebody on it by the
time I was ready to paddle in.
I tried a
few times going in a bit to catch some of the
smaller waves but inevitably a big set would come
through and totally wipe me out every time!
I experienced very long hold downs and the waves
break on a shallow reef that also banged me up a
bit. And paddling back out through these waves was
no easy task especially when you’re exhausted
spirits were further beaten down when one guy yelled
at me for being in his way (my duck dive under was
not good enough) as he came ripping down inside the
barrel. After a bit of a heated discussion he
suggested that perhaps I should not be there. I
said, possibly, but after coming so far I had to
fortunately there were other breaks that were not so
crowded and more my speed. Most times Iris could
join me on her boogie board and we both got many
waves and had a great time. If I limited my sessions
to an hour or so my back was usually ok.
came up one day and we wanted to go kite boarding.
Namotu is a private island (with a small resort
catering mostly to surfers). I asked the owner, a
guy from Australia,
if it was okay to rig our kites up on the beach. He
said OK but for that day only. I think it would have
been better if Iris went over in her bikini and
surf was good a few other boats would come out to
Namotu for the day but normally returned at night.
Depending on the tide and wind the anchorage could
become very uncomfortable. Catamarans are more stable though
at times, it could be a bit bumpy, but tolerable on
Tavarua and Viti Levu
in the backgroung.
Big day at Cloudbreak, towed in by jet ski.
the world best big wave surfers! Amazing pic.
on a fairly big day was too much for me. Perhaps
next time when I am in better condition and have
practiced for a week or 2.
good company with Google founder’s super yachts.
They had all the toys -and used them! Sea plane and
helicopter coming and going all the time.
new guests. Shame we were not on the list for dinner
getting a good one on her boogie board at Swimming
day at Namotu Left - got lots of rides.
Cove also had a good place for kite surfing.
A big sandbar was exposed at medium to low tide a
short ride away.
many wonderful sessions and was able to improve her
skills. Depending on my back my sessions tended to
be very short. I anchored Andromeda close by so I
could relax in the hammock reading and also keep an
eye on Iris. We usually had a few other kiters for
company but it was never too crowded.
into a comfortable routine spending time between
Musket Cove and Namotu: socializing, surfing,
swimming, kiting, hiking, and playing volleyball
Fiji has many
lovely island groups and destinations we wanted to
explore but after all the work on the boat and the
long trip from NZ, (my back being the worse from
ware), we both had no motivation to go anywhere
bar very popular at low tide
spot to watch all
very relaxed and kiting well.
out for a short spin about to jump jibe.
across the Pacific we didn’t meet many other couples
we had a lot in common, or felt a bond for.
met some people we really enjoyed spending time with
and hopefully will see again.
we will see one of them very soon, Blanka, a lovely
czech girl. After kiting one day Iris gave a fellow
kite boarder a ride back to
Tevake, the boat he was staying at
He invited us to come back for drinks later that
evening and we met all the friendly crew members
including Blanka. We all got along well and became
world, Blanka works in Barcelona
managing a hotel and some apartments. We are booked
end of October and she recently arranged a nice
apartment for us to stay in.
is lucky tonight with 3 blonds for company!
friends from SV Skye, Arjan and Maia with new baby
Isabella. They said I was the only other one she
would let hold her
the Tuamotus we became friends and partied with 2
Mexican brothers, Jorge and Xavier, and their
family/crew. (Each has their own boat.)
ran into them again in Port Denerau. Happy reunion!
was BBQ night at the yacht club island bar. You pick
your own meat or fish, grill it yourself and choose
side dishes from the buffet. Always draws a goo
been smelling diesel for a few weeks and discovered
a small leak in or around our 600 liter stainless
steel fuel tank. After exhausting searches and tests
too numerous to detail we narrowed it down to a
small crack in one of the bottom corners that you
cannot see (or reach) because the tank is fiber
glassed in at the bottom.
probably happened in the very rough seas coming from
the inspection hatch we could access 2 of the three
compartments in the tank.
the bottom, thoroughly ground the edges down and
then filled the corners with epoxy putty and then
covered this with liquid epoxy.
repair I used a kite pump to run a pressure test and
found that the leak was coming from the third
much work Iris and I were pretty distraught as the
repair now became extremely difficult if not
impossible. The boat is basically built around the
tank so there’s no way to get it out, or access
parts of it, without cutting huge holes in the
bulkheads or deck.
came up with the idea of reaching in through the
access port to cut a hole in the wall that separated
the second and third chamber. Even with my long arms
I could just reach that wall with the cutting blade
on my angle grinder.
you’ve tried something like that, it it’s impossible
to describe how hard it is to cut a nice whole
through 2mm stainless steel at arm’s length, and not
go through the side of the tank by mistake! I built
a support to rest my wrist upon which helped
greatly. I just managed the job after much time and
seven broken blades.
hard part - if we can just reach the hole in the
wall of the third compartment how do we repair it?
goodness Iris could just get her shoulder and head
through the inspection port so she was able to reach
in and very patiently put the epoxy putty on the end
of a stick and mold it into place.
like this for many hours and her body suffered from
the contortions. Great Iris has such determination!
held our breaths as I ran another pressure test.
God it worked!
out the 200l gasoline.
cleaning all the goo and sludge out. Nasty job.
celebrated our success with some bubbly that evening! This
whole ordeal ran over three weeks. We were soo happy to be
able to fix this seemingly impossible problem!
I do find great satisfaction in being able to use my
ingenuity to fix “MacGyver” things, sometimes with only
limited materials and tools available.
Of course we
hadn't planned in
such a long repair time and at the end of it we realized
time was becoming short before we flew to Germany
and if we wanted to see
some of the other islands, we better get going. The wind
forecasts looked good so we decided to cruise around for a
couple of weeks.
to our location at Malolo Island is
the Mamanuca Group so we headed there. These islands
are located within the barrier reef so the sailing
was very tranquil.
We spent a
very enjoyable week hopping around to various
locations each with its own personality. One was
where they filmed the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks.
It was also very memorable because while we were out
kite boarding Andromeda dragged anchor and started
drifting away pretty quickly in the 25nots!
Fortunately, there was nothing close
by for her
to hit so we hopped in the dingy and retrieved her
without too much worry.
many islands so close together, very friendly
people, no worries about crime, ideal climate,
crystal clear water and great waves, Fiji truly is a
thing lacking was fish to catch or spear for dinner.
All the reefs we snorkeled on had been almost
completely fished and spear-finished out, and even
the smaller, but still edible fish, took off in a
hurry the moment we were in sight!
had a very enjoyable and relaxing week and would
have liked to continue on to the Yasawa Group but
the forecast looked bad for returning so we started
our trip back.