Passage from Fiji. 35:18.9S, 174:07.3E

Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Sun 3 Nov 2019 05:25

Monday 21st we checked the forecast and it appeared that the weather window existed for our passage to Opua so we cleared out with customs. A very easy process organised by the marina, one official checks all the paperwork, issues the clearance and stamps passports we were free to go. We weren’t in a hurry having decided to leave after lunch but were delayed a bit longer by the traditional farewell. A garland of flowers was draped on our bow and the staff sang two songs that we presume were to wish us well and a safe journey, all in Fijian of course.

The staff at Vuda Marina, sing farewell

Flowers on the bow. Their scent was with us until half way into the passage

We had a good breeze so clear of the marina sails were set and we headed for the pass 18 miles away. As we sailed down Sarah noticed that the freshwater pump was running, a quick check round and we discovered a joint in the forward head tap had come apart. Why do these things happen at the most inconvenient times? A bit of replumbing, the forward heads are isolated and the problem is temporarily solved.

As we left the pass the wind picked up and by 5.30 we were bowling along with two reefs in the main and a well furled genoa. It is normal to get strong winds at the point as the wind accelerates around the end of the island.

The wind was now fair for the next three days until we entered the high pressure area and the engine went on, we knew that there would be calm periods for the next 500 miles, we managed to sail occasionally but had to rely mainly on the engine until the early hours of Tuesday when we encountered  a frontal trough between a high in the Tasman and a high NE of New Zealand. Very quickly we were into winds of up to the high 20’s and on the nose. When we sailed up to Fiji we had wind of over 30 knots but our angle on the wind was better, now we had to sail as close as possible to the wind which made for a very bumpy ride with Serenity slamming into waves  and crashing into the troughs. This continued until we were approaching Opua and in the shelter of New Zealand on Thursday.

Motoring through the calm, with the autohelm steering for us.

Another lovely sunset.

Life goes on onboard in all weathers. This was during the calm.

Approaching the Bay of Island, with the Q (quarantine) flag flying.

Alongside the ‘Q’ dock waiting for Customs and Bio Security clearance.

Just over a 10 day passage, 1100 miles in a straight line but more like 1200 sailed. During the trip we checked in with the South Pacific Cruisers Net morning and night.  This is a radio net on long range radio run by cruisers for cruisers. It gives a lot of support just knowing that there are other people out there with you and that at least twice a day someone knows where you are. It also allows you to plot other boat positions and know what weather they have, if you can’t be heard by the controller then someone who can hear will relay for you, there were boats checking in sailing from Tonga, Vanuatu and Fiji to New Zealand and New Caledonia to Australia, so the net covers a large area.

Having cleared into New Zealand on Thursday afternoon we met up with Stephen and Grace on Watermusic who we had regularly chatted with on the way down; they were always quite close to us – 100 miles at the most, and in the Cruising Club in the evening we met up with the crews from Loupan and Into the Blue, regular contributors to the net. We also met a French couple from Elusive Butterfly another Moody 376 like ours.

Now we are spending our time thoroughly desalting the boat and planning repairs and general maintenance.

Everything out of the lockers and a washdown and spray with antimould.

One casualty of the voyage, our bow light was hanging off by its wire when we arrived having broken a weld.