The web diary from Start to Present.

Mon 15 Sep 2003 15:10
11th September 2003. From Ureparapara, a deep crater in northern Vanuatu.

Dear All,

Herewith the latest instalment of our exciting adventures on 'Kokiri'.
Since we last wrote from Epi we have sailed via the Maskelyne Islands to
Malakula and thence onto Santo and Ureparapara where we are now anchored.

Our fridge, it turned out, was un-mendable in the short term and so we are
heading off without cold beer and frozen meat. However, since we have run
out of beer anyway it is a manageable loss.

From Revolieu Bay on Epi we coasted up to Lamen Bay to see the very tame
Dugong. This ancient mammal is often called a 'sea cow', but looks to me
like a Hippo with a whale tale and a face like a bull dog, and is in fact a
member of the same order as an Elephant. Its family, which includes the
Manatee, is called 'Sirenians' because the sailors who first saw them
thought they were mermaids. Perhaps too long at sea with no women
unhelpfully distorts the vision! We could not believe it when we saw it as
we were snorkelling alongside a turtle and it appeared without warning.
Katharine had never seen (let alone swam with) giant turtles before and so
was pretty excited about them. Peter saw the Dugong coming up to the
surface while I was underwater, also coming up for air. We almost collided
and the first that I saw of the Dugong was this huge animal 2 feet away.
Peter was nearly helpless with laughter. It was very tame and did not mind
us snorkelling around it, diving down to watch it eat, or swimming around it
when it came up for air. Peter even managed to ride on its back, which is
apparently very bristly. We watched it for ages, its huge mouth churning
through the sandy bottom, sifting out the tiny blades of sea grass which are
its only diet. When on the bottom it walks on its two front flippers with
its whale like tale just hovering above the seabed. When swimming it
suddenly becomes quite graceful and seems almost more at ease. Since this
Dugong, we have seen a number of others just making way alongside us. There
are in fact three in the bay we are anchored in now. We have heard them
more than seen them, coming up for air near the boat and coughing like an
old man.

From Epi we had a short sail across to the Maskelyne islands which looked
amazing as we sailed in. Captain Cook called Vanuatu the New Hebrides as he
thought they were like the West Coast of Scotland. As we approached at 7
knots with the wind on the quarter in the evening light you could see why.
Lovely, rugged little islands with sharp black satellite rocks and crashing
breakers. The only real differences from the Hebrides were the palm trees,
the temperature and of course a huge fringing reef between us and our
anchorage, throwing up wreaths of spray lit up in the orange setting
sunlight. It was magical. The Maskelyne group proved to be as exciting as
they looked on the chart and we spent a lovely few days visiting the local
village, (where we exchanged rope for paw paw, lettuce and grapefruit)
snorkelled on the stunning coral gardens, (were we saw a cuttlefish and a
poisonous banded sea snake with a bright yellow head and distinct black and
white stripes) and exploring the top end of uninhabited bays.

We left the Maskelyne group in the early morning to head up the rugged coast
of Malakula for Port Stanley, which apparently had a 'marine reserve' with
plenty of giant clams and so caught our attention. Beating gently out of the
reef strewn North East Channel was fun, particularly when a family of three
dugongs enticed us toward them. We enjoyed a beautiful day of downwind
sailing in the easy conditions, switching from spinnaker to flanker and back
again. Some hasty bearings with the hand bearing compass confirmed our
position and the chart's accuracy and so we trusted ourselves to skirt the
serious reefs in the failing light and carry the spinnaker right into Port
Stanley (which incidentally does not have a port associated with it). A
magical moment was captured as the spinnaker dipped and rose in front of the
setting sun and the silhouette of a dugout made its way across our path. We
dropped the chute and quickly gybed around the inner reef before beating up
the protected waters of this natural harbour and dropping anchor near the
village on Uri Island, guided to the best spot by three dugouts.

Before we had everything stowed conversation was flowing and we were invited
ashore to dine with the village on laplap. Laplap is the basic foodstuff of
these parts, made from yams, manioc, taro, banana or what ever else is
available and cooked in banana leaves under a pile of hot stones buried in
the ground. The result is enhanced with fish or chicken and squeezed coconut
and served on the hot banana leaves on the floor. Quite a feast was in the
offing as one of the village girls (about 30 with several children already)
was to be married (traded with?) the next door village. Four huge laplaps,
each about three foot in diameter were laid out on the floor of the communal
house and the string band was in full swing. Speeches and presentations were
made by everyone and the bride-to-be bawled her eyes out from start to
finish. We finished up being dragged out to dance (to everyone's amusement
and probably considered as payment for dinner!). We must have at least
broken the proverbial ice as we were invited to attend the wedding the next
day on Uripiv (pronounced entertainingly yur-a-pig).

We were planning on sailing over with Willie, the chief's deputy, to show us
the best place to anchor but when he appeared the following morning things
weren't going to plan. The promised big canoes had not appeared to carry the
wedding party over and so we volunteered Kokiri. About an hour later we had
thirty eight people on board and untold piles of bananas, yams, woven mats,
flowers and other wedding gifts. Unfortunately sailing seemed out of the
question with so many on deck but we managed to get the anchor up and
motored down the harbour with mournful choruses of hymns to accompany us.
The bride wore the definite expression of a sheep on shearing day;
terrified, confused and trying always to stay at the back of the crowd, but
knowing that at some point the inevitable horror for something was going to
catch up with her. Katharine was buoyant with excitement and Kokiri was
thrilled, though we did have to close off the heads sink seacock which was
suffering with our new trim (we must have been eight inches down at the
bow). All disembarked at Uripiv without trouble and we anchored in a lovely
sandy spot just off the beach. The wedding was delayed for three hours as
the groom had disappeared completely, apparently to tend his garden, but
this didn't seem to disturb anyone. Some mother-in-laws I know should be
thankful that this sort of thing doesn't happen often! We were shown the
island and given an excellent lunch before the wedding got underway. A very
entertaining but affair with speeches, prayers and giving but virtually no
notice paid to the couple at all. The bride only made an appearance for the
last few minutes, where she was handed over to the other camp still in
floods of tears and accompanied by horrendous wailings from the women and
children she was leaving behind. We never discovered who actually profited
from the arrangement!

We were treated to dinner again that night and honourably thanked for our
help and presented with an extraordinary yam, about three feet long and
decorated with flowers. Even now it still sits on the stern deck, as it is
quite impossible to stow anywhere else. After fixing the village outboard
the next morning and being given another prize yam for the service, we then
tried to have a swim and see the giant clams, only to be told that entry to
the marine reserve would be 1000 Vatus (about six GBpounds)! We declined to
pay this and left later that evening, marvelling at the way the local's
minds worked!

We sailed overnight to Luganville in Espiritu Santo Island to get there on
Friday morning, and quickly tracked down the local refrigeration engineer
hoping to get some sort of process under way to get the fridge up and
running again. He could only talk about "parts from New Zealand" and "two
days alongside to vacuum out the pipes" and stuff like that, refusing to
even mention prices, and so we instantly took a dislike to him. We had now
decided to continue without refrigeration until we can bear it no longer
rather than be slave to expensive machines. Leaving Luganville, which was a
major US base in WWII and still shows many of the signs, including many
wrecks and old equipment, we headed round the corner to Pulikula Bay where
we spent a couple of days catching up with maintenance and explored the
wreck of a lovely old British tug. We stopped briefly at a beautiful coral
anchorage yesterday afternoon and dinghyed up a river to a fascinating
blue-hole spring for a wash, but set off again before dark.

We sailed overnight and anchored this afternoon in the dramatic remains of a
breached volcanic crater, surrounded by the high crater rim on three sides.
And, believe it or not, we have been invited to another wedding in the
village here! This one sounds more organised and should be followed by
kastom dancing and even, if I understood correctly, a disco!

So there should be plenty more to tell next time. We aim to head for the
Santa Cruz Islands at the end of the Solomon Island chain at the being of
next week and will formulate a plan for the future sometime after that. We
sincerely hope that all is well with you all back at home and would love to
hear any news as it comes along.

Lots and lots of Love,

Peter and Katharine


28th August 2003. From Epi in mid Vanuatu.

Dear All,

Hello again, friendly folk at home, this time from the Shepherd Islands.

We made it out of the jolly but uncomfortable town of Port Vila last Friday,
having yet again run into the brick wall that is our financial situation,
but at least roughly prepared ourselves for the months to come. We succeeded
in arranging our PNG visas with the consul in her house at the top of the
hill (typically) and survived her savage dogs. The Kava bar was somewhat
enjoyable but the taste was equivalent to the horrors of Afghan red seal of
days gone by. (reference for P's Friends!) The effect is virtually
unnoticeable but your whole body seems to want to reject the poisonous taste
as I am sure it instinctively knows that this stuff does you no good.

The Shepherd's are the easternmost group of islands in Vanuatu and it was
here that we headed next. We had borrowed a book from the UK about the
charting of this group of Vanuatu in the 1890s and so although there is
nothing in any of the pilot books for this area we were determined to see
these Islands which are reported as being "Beautiful beyond description!"

However on the way we stopped at the Cook Reef. The Cook reef it an
entirely submerged reef about 5 miles from the nearest Island. When we were
still surprisingly close there was no sign of it until we started to see the
breaking waves on the reef. The wind was blowing quite strong and we got
down the sails and motored gingerly towards the breakers. Reef and Coral
heads are much easier to see the higher up you are, so K actually climbed up
the mast steps unaided, in all the swell, to get a better view! Very Very
brave! From there we could clearly see our way in and we motored through
one of the gaps in the reef and up the inside in good deep water! There we
were in relative calm and surrounded and protected by no land what so ever,
only breaking waves. It was our first actual coral reef and it would be
fair to say that we were more than a little excited to be sitting in the
middle of it! It is supposed to be one of Vanuatu's best dive sites and we
saw more fish and live coral there than either of us have ever seen before.
We even saw a Moray Eel. It has its eye fixed on Peter as it swayed from
its crevice in the rock with the current, opening and shutting its little
mouth with a row of perfect razor sharp teeth!

As the reef is a day anchorage only we had a cracking 5 mile sail over to
the near by Island of Emae and were met in the anchorage by a huge pod of
small spinner dolphins jumping right out of the water and some actually
doing somersaults! Peter jumped in and followed them around but I think
really only managed to frighten them out of the bay!

We started with Tongoa, the largest of the Shepherd Islands and had a
fantastic welcome. As they are not in the pilot they get very few visitors
and we were show around the village by an excited group and taught how to
crack freshly picked (what we thought were) Brazil Nuts with a stone and
given as many as we could carry (which, incidentally, we are pretty much
unable to open back on the boat even with a mole wrench!) We also succeeded
in getting information on the anchorage on the smallest of the Shepherd
Islands, Buninga.

When we sailed in there was much whooping and calling from the beach and the
hills and there were soon 3 dugout canoes deployed to help us anchor. We
were then accompanied ashore where our dingy was taken from us and carried
up the beach by many little hands. The children of the island were all
there, it seemed, to welcome us. We were then guided up the steep hill to
the main village and sat on a rickety bench under a large Banyan Tree in
front of the village dancing ground. A small group of men crept towards us
and we tentatively shook hands with the Chief of Buninga! Chief Willie! It
turned out that we were the first yacht ever to go to the Island in living
memory and possible since 1890 when the survey was made! We just could not
believe it and nor could they!

We asked if we could climb to the top and we all started off. I felt very
big, very white and very clumsy as we were guided up the hill by the chief
and a whole tide of children. We saw their look out and climbed the lookout
tree, saw their numerous gardens of yams, taro, pineapple, island cabbage,
peanuts etc etc. We were taken to their spring which they are so proud of
but is actually a worryingly small muddy puddle, many 100s of meters up from
the villages. We went to all four lookout points, saw all their villages,
were given more coconut than we could eat, and oranges and more coconuts for
the boat. We had a fantastic and truly wonderful day.

In return we took them printed pictures for our trip around the Island, of
Chief Willie with his arm around Peter and standing with Katharine in front
of their small spring. We also took them what we thought would be much
needed reading glasses for the old people of the island. Here we miss
judged it. They all dived in to our bag of glasses, young and old as if it
was a bag of sweets, put them on, saw that they were no good as they
narrowed their eyes and then swiftly put them in their pockets and
disappeared. We will always treasure the site of Chief Willie squinting
through a pair of pinked rimmed grandmother specs, before proudly claiming
them his own. The whole thing got out of hand and unfortunately we lost
about 25 pairs of specs! Oh well you live and learn!

Since then we have had a beautiful sail with spinnaker and cold beer up to
the island of Epi where we had another fabulous snorkel with enormous Parrot
Fish on spectacular reef and we are now anchored in Lamen Bay watching two
large volcanoes on either side of us smoking quietly. We have spent a
wonderful afternoon of backbreaking effort discovering that our
refrigeration system has failed in the most dramatic fashion possible,
pumping salt water merrily through its most delicate orifices. We plan a
large BBQ for tomorrow!

Lots and lots of love to you all

Katharine and Peter


16th Aug 2003. From southern Vanuatu, heading to Port Vila.

Dear All,

Herewith our occasional letter from afar, and my attempt to recollect and
relate our doings of the last few weeks.

We have at last left New Zealand and safely made it from the Tasman Sea into
the Coral Sea, via a one thousand mile stretch of the Pacific Ocean. The
trip from Whangarei to our landfall at Port Resolution on Tanna in the
Vanuatu group was largely uneventful, taking nine days. We had winds from
three to thirty knots and tried ourselves on all points of sail, including
the last three days hard on the wind. But Kokiri stood up to it all without
any trouble and arrived in better condition than when she left. Some days
out, we heard over the short wave radio from Mum and Dad on Troubadour that
brother Al has persuaded Mel to marry him (lucky folk) which gave us great
excuse to celebrate. We passed Hunter Island close to, an uninhabited rock
(mountain) in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nothing but water
thousands of feet deep, and would have loved to have stopped to explore this
mystical looking place. It was disappointing to hear that it has been laid
claim to by New Caledonia and thus won't be suitable for the new Ingramland
colony, but we will keep looking.

Tanna had plenty to intrigue us. Aside from being our first experience with
'natives' (who are all very friendly, easy to get on with and show no sign
of eyeing you up as tomorrow's dinner (though further north those views are
apparently likely to change!)) there is a shocking looking wreck at the
entrance to the anchorage, a mere three weeks old. A 55ft English boat lost
control when leaving with a strong on-shore wind, despite advice from the
local people to stay put however uncomfortable the anchorage. The result was
that they were swept onto a reef at the entrance of the bay where they were
smashed about for an horrific eight hours before the villagers could reach
them with ropes and help them off. The boat now is firmly wedged between the
rocks with her aft quarter ripped completely off, and resting 30m or so
further up the beach. We were shown around by a village girl who described
the scene in vivid emotional detail. There but for the grace of god., a
lesson to us all. The village received everything that was on board from
engine to mainsheet track and in the tiny village market along side the
bananas and other fruit you could buy very smart, almost new snatch blocks!

Tanna has a truly active volcano only a few miles from the anchorage we were
in. Not wanting to pay the exorbitant entry fees that a wily government has
set up to tempt the passing tourists or even be 'guided' in a 4WD up the
well worn track to the summit, we set off on foot with a Canadian bloke, his
Danish girlfriend and some fairly vague directions from another yachtie up
the back route. This took us on a easy path through the jungle, up valleys,
over ridges, past huge Banyan trees covering hundreds of square metres,
through burnt out villages (the result of a 'disagreement' apparently),
through a Cargo Cult village where the inhabitants await the return of their
prophet John Frum and his plane-fulls of precious western cargo (this
religion resulted from the American occupation during WWII and, as it is
pointed out to sceptics, they have only waited 55 years for their messiah
whereas other religions have waited 2000 years or more), past smoking
fumaroles and hot springs and eventually up the 45 degree ash and cinder
slope of the volcano to the summit. We then peered gingerly over the edge
into the crater bowl where the three separate craters throw lumps of glowing
magma hundreds of feet into the air. You cannot actually see the molten
lakes which are in deep holes but the smoke, red glow, flying tongues of
glowing molten rock and thundering sounds do assure one that they are there.
Not showing a morsel of fear, Jason and I borrowed helmets and breathing
masks from a group of French volcanologists who were camping out there
taking photos and headed down into the crater to get a closer look. The
experts explained which the most active side was, warned which way most of
the ejected boulders were flying and offered such helpful advice as "If it
goes off and the magma boulders are ejected towards you, don't run, just
look up and try to dodge them as they fall", which sounded simple enough. We
wisely didn't actually look right over the edge of the mouth of hell but
spent a good few minutes strutting around the smoking rocks and listening to
the terrifying echoes of the gases escaping from the magma before making a
quick and safe getaway up the steep slope back to the rim. Personally I
found this pretty exciting but Katharine's nerves might take a while to

As I write this, we are sailing off the dark and foreboding coast of
Erromango, on route for Port Vila on the island of Efate which is the
capital of Vanuatu and where we need to complete our customs clearance. We
should be there for a few days hopefully getting our Papua New Guinea visas,
sorting out affairs and generally getting ourselves together to head into
the Darkest Pacific. All is very well on board, our fishing skills our
improving (two bonitos to date and the line ready to go over just before
dawn) so we're not staving yet, the boat is in excellent shape with chafe
being the only maintenance issue, and we haven't even forgotten to take the
anti-malarial Doxycycline yet so hopefully we're covered on that score. And
we're really having FUN! (Sorry about that).

We hope that all is mighty fine in England and will be in touch again soon.

Lots of Love to you all,

Peter and Katharine.


30th July 2003. From Whangarei, but almost ready to leave NZ.

Dear All,

It is almost a month since we last wrote to you and we are now poised to
leave New Zealand. Our deadline for leaving was 1st July, so we are a month
late, but we are well know always to be late for everything, and it really
does not matter. The boat was simply not ready a month ago, but now she is
really well set up for the next 14 months or so of solid sailing!

We left Nelson at the end of June and set off for D'Urville Island which is
right at the top of the South Island to wait for a weather window to head up
the West Coast. When we got there, a low pressure system started to head New
Zealand from NE Australia. These are apparently the worst types of Low so
we were pleased that we were somewhere safe to sit it out. We were in an
Anchorage called Greville Harbour which is a deep inlet completely
surrounded by New Zealand Native Bush. It is the lushest, most beautiful
dense type of forest full of all the familiar forest flora interspersed with
amazingly tall and varied fern trees. This really adds to the richness of
the surroundings. Our brief walk ashore proved impossible as it is pretty
much impenetrable. There is no one for miles except an isolated farm
nestling in the shelter of the surrounding hills at the entrance. Once in
side the harbour through the bolder bank there is certainly no access except
by boat.

The Bolder bank is famous for the ease of catching fish, Blue Cod (which is
neither blue or at all cod like!) We spent a beautifully sunny afternoon
drifting off the bolder bank where we caught 4 Blue Cod! They were just
very eager to eat our hook it seemed as they were amazingly easy to catch.
I would like to think all our catching would be like that, but we shall see.
The best thing was that I (Katharine) managed to actually fillet them,
almost bonelessly, about which I am still very excited! We cooked them in
Batter. Hmm. not sure we made the batter quite right!

It turned out that the weather was wrong for us for about 10 days, and so we
were forced to stay in the absolutely lovely place. There were Cormorants
and Turns all around us and one Gannet who seemed to live there and rule the
place, spending his time majestically circling the bay, occasionally diving
headlong into the water. And the time was not wasted; the boat was worked
on continuously so that by the time the weather was right we were really
happy about setting off up the difficult west coast. We were after all in
the Roaring 40s in mid winter!

We watched the weather very carefully the whole time we were in Greville,
and were sure we had left at the right time. No! We got an absolute hiding
across to North Island. Instead of the forecast following winds, we started
out being close on the wind, and then the forecast 20 knots got up to a
steady 40 and eventually 50 knots on the beam. We could not believe it, but
as usual the boat was magnificent and we hurled along under trysail and
scrap of Jib. Life improved greatly when we got the self steering to work
properly and it seemed to thrive in this immense wind and huge seas. The
seas were just crashing over the whole boat the whole time. It was the sort
of weather that Peter had always dreamed of since he was given his oilskin
jacket for Xmas in 1990. Unfortunately, this far down the line the sleeves
leaked! I have never seen so much water in the Cockpit.

So we stopped in New Plymouth some way up the West Coast for R and R and to
wait for the weather which sounded exactly right for leaving the next day.
On the way in we passed a large sea lion colony with the whole side of the
Island covered with huge fat lumps of mammal!

There is nowhere else to stop on the West coast so the next afternoon we set
off heading around the top of North Island.

It all started so well!

We stated with the forecast strength of following wind and a beautiful
sunset. However it started to head us until we were actually close-hauled
and being pushed

Rather closer to the coast than we wanted! The next day the wind came
around to a more forecast angle but it blew like hell. There were squalls
all around us and we think we may have just been moving inside one for about
8 hours. The wind was blowing again a steady 50 knots and at one point we
actually saw a gust of 66 knots true on our wind machine. We could not
quite believe it, but there it was. The following sea had started quite
reasonable but was building and building all the time till it seemed to me
to be absolutely enormous. We were now dangerously close to jibing and the
wind vane started to slip so that we actually did jibe at one point. We
took down the main and ran under tiny minute jib running the electric
autopilot. We had to run the engine with it due to a failed engine battery
and frankly pitiful service batteries!

As the wind started to ease we put the trusty trysail back up to steady the
boat and managed to get the wind vane to work. By the time we morning came
we were almost through the squall and by that night we motored in complete
flat calm around the north end of North Island.

North Island is also lovely, and while in Houhora harbour, not far south of
North Cape, we cycled over to 90 mile beach to see the huge rollers crashing
in onto the land.

As we made our way south to Whangarei, we stopped in Whangaroa Harbour. It
was absolutely beautiful with huge cliff like surrounding tops growing
vertically out of again wonderfully lush sub tropical bush. It is a great
big harbour with masses of arms and islands, but really sheltered with only
a tiny entrance. It really made me want to be a child with a packed lunch,
a sailing dingy and no deadline to be home so I could just explore all day.
It really was a staggeringly beautiful place with beautiful weather and to
top it all we caught 3 red snapper which were absolutely delicious.

Whangarei is where the boat was built and we have met the designer and seen
all the plans and where she was built. He is an exceptionally nice man and
today he insisted on driving us across to the other side of the Island to
see the Kauri Museum.

So we are waiting for the weather. We have a fully serviced engine, new
batteries, a new spray hood, a fantastic sun awning and less money than I
care to (or dare to) think about! A huge list of things to do which we are
resigned to not finishing and a massive list of things to buy none of which
we can afford, but we are none the less extremely well set up and
desperately excited about the next part of our trip. Heading north to

All our love as ever and long may the reported lovely English summer
continue. Hope you are all well and larging it.

Katharine & Peter


29th June 2003. From Nelson as fitting out progresses.

Dear All,

Here is finally some news from Kokiri in New Zealand!

Life here is very very good. The boat is better than we could ever have
hoped for and she is very nearly kitted out for us to head off! But to get
her ready we have worked both ourselves and, more critically, the bank
balance to the bone!! We hope that our fishing skills will match our pricey
fishing gear and we will not starve!!

We arrived in Nelson at the beginning of May and Kokiri was already out of
the water waiting for us to start work on the bottom. We stripped all the
old antifouling off and sanded it all back, a job that we are not doing
again until we are rich enough to pay someone else to do it. However we got
there in the end and were very satisfied that the hull was sound with no
signs of osmosis. We then had a lovely thick smooth 4 coats of antifouling
put over and the work was worth it. She looked as good as new!

Back in the water was a very exciting day, and we were afloat. But the work
was far from over. We now have new rigging and a thoroughly serviced mast,
with a brand new mast step which was fabricated at a moments notice by one
of the fantastic engineering shops around here. Nelson is an amazing place
where they will just make you whatever you require at short notice and
perfectly, and cheaply too. There is apparently more fish landed here than
anywhere else in Australasia, so there is a huge industry set up to service
all the fishing boats which is very convenient for small yachts to tap into,
and the people could not be more friendly and keen to help.

The boat now has new upholstery, new fresh water system, book shelves,
pictures on the walls, new nav equipment, nav and cabin lights that work
etc, etc, and she finally looks and feels like a boat ready for sea, instead
of a work shop where we clear the tools from the galley to cook and then
from the forecastle to go to bed and then from the cabin in the morning to
start the jobs again.

By the beginning of June we were desperate to leave Nelson. We were
spending too much money and had the advert jingles from the local radio
firmly stuck in our heads. A sign that it was defiantly time to move on.
We have had a wonderful time in Nelson. People could not have been nicer,
both cruisers and New Zealanders alike. Loads of the cruisers have been to
some of the places we are planning to go so we have been gleaning
information about the dos and don'ts and where all the lovely places are to
visit. We just can not wait to get ready and see some of the fantastic
places we are going to see. Yippee!!

We left Nelson on the 8th June and headed off across the Tasman bay for Able
Tasman. We left in no wind but a breeze picked up on the way and suddenly
we were finally sailing our boat. OUR BOAT!! Unfortunately we discovered
that none of our hand bearing compasses worked as they are manufactured for
the Northern Hemisphere, and the dip renders them completely inaccurate in
the South! As our new GPS was still in its box down below and the old one we
bought with the boat has a doggy LCD meaning we can only read the degrees
and seconds, we were relived to see the lighthouse on the point we were
heading around and concluded there were a few other things we needed to do
to the boat before heading to the Islands!

We spent 6 blissful days in the Able Tasman, working on the boat in a
gorgeous anchorage called The Anchorage for those of you who have been to
Able Tasman. The Bird song in the forest was amazing, it almost sounded as
if it were taped. We were nearly expecting to find hidden Disney style
speakers in the trees! Despite all the work we did find time to go ashore
for a lovely walk around to the point with amazing views up the coast. It
has a reputation for being a beautiful place and it really is. After a
while and a few other anchorages we decided to head across the bay to D'
Urville Island. We had been listening for sometime to the forecast and
heard that the gale we had sat out had passed and they were expecting 20
knots in the bay. Perfect we thought for a run across the bay. We started
off motoring and then the wind started to get up from behind us, and up and
up and up and up. Until we were running in a huge sea strait for a lea
shore with a steady 40 Knots of wind. We had reefed and reefed and ended up
with no main and just the jib. We decided the unknown bay, in the dark with
an uncertain Radar, with a massive onshore wind, was a little foolish so we
put up the main with 3 reefs and started to close reach back for Nelson. No
sooner did we do this than the wind changed and we found it coming from
ahead and then it just dropped, so we diverted for a beautiful inlet called
Crosilles Harbour were we were very sheltered from the wind and the sea!
The Boat behaved amazingly well and we were so pleased by how she handled
the sea and the wind. In hindsight it was probable the best thing that
could have happened as we found out loads about the boat, some of the
problems and loads of her attributes!

Spent the next day mending and changing things before heading back to Nelson
to get diesel, a southern hand bearing compass and food!

So we hope to leave again tomorrow and wait for the weather to head North.

We are Happy, well and thrilled with our boat and New Zealand. What could
be better.

Loads of love to you all. Hope that summer is well underway in the UK and
all is well with the world.

Katharine & Peter


4th Feb 2003. From New Zealand, before buying Kokiri.

Hello from New Zealand.

We have been having an exhausting and very exciting and interesting week.
We have looked at 30 boats ranging from dreadful to fantastic and cheap to
too expensive and are now trying to make a decision.

We first of all videoed each boat really quite thoroughly which was a real
help with remembering one from the other. We then sat down and watched all
3 and a half hour of it and came out with 10 possible boats. Cut them to 6
and are sending you some pictures of the 4 best ones for you to see. Any
comments would be warmly received.

1.. Jupiter. (1965) The perfect boat. S and S, fantastically beautiful
lines and triple diagonal Kauri Glassed (two diagonal and one straight
planked.) The trouble with her was that she was too expensive, (about
$130,000 asking price) Too big at 42 feet, and she was in quite a bad state
and it would take both time and money to get her up to the trip and they are
both things that we don't really have. My worry is that we would just go on
finding serious problems and we would run out of money. However she is the
most lovely boat to have but not the most practical for this purpose at this
time. We have decided not to put in an offer, but are very sad about this.
Thought you would like the picture. Excellent value if any of you would like
to put in an offer.

2.. Iorona. (1968) A Woollacott designed boat (ever heard of him?), this
time of single planked Kauri Glassed. She is cheap only about $70,000. She
had a problem with her heads and so stank which I have to say put me off.
Ketch rigged with all the extra sails to play with, and very strongly built
and she even had a wind vane. A step up onto the foredeck which makes her
look slightly unusual, but she was very beautifully built and would
certainly do the job at a price we can really afford. Peter (to my
surprise) really likes her despite her long keel. I think she is fine.

3.. Graduate. (1977) A New Zealand design and again she is triple skinned
kauri glassed and down below all the kauri beams and planking is varnished
and she really does look fantastic. I mean really beautiful. Her hull
shape is not the most beautiful, but in fact she is just doesn't look like
either Jupiter or Kokiri but I thought they were very fine. There is some
thought that she is flat bottomed and would slam in which case we will not
get her, but we are trying to get some pictures of her out of the water.
The trouble is that she is expensive. She is originally asking about
$129,000 but the owner realistically only wants about $105,000. We put in
an offer for $96,000 and he has said no and we are told by the agent he will
take $100,000. She does however need some expensive gear, which is a
problem that the next boat does not really have.

4.. Kokiri. (1974) A Pacific 38 a common New Zealand design. Classic
lines with the required fin and skeg hull shape. She is amazingly well
equipped and will need only a little extra to get her off shore. However
she feels rather plastic because she is single skinned glass and all white.
I am sure some painting could sort this out but compared to Graduate she is
nothing like as tactile and beautiful below. The other problem is that her
cockpit is a bit too big and plastic and not that comfortable to sit in at
sea. The spray hood is also a bit on the low and wet side. We have taken
her out on a sea trial and she did seem to go well. She has a second
forestay, trysail track and is basically a really seaworthy boat. We have
put in an offer of $96,000 and are waiting for a response from the owner who
is a charter skipper in the Caribbean and desperate to sell apparently. She
was on the market for about $125,000 but has already been reduced to
$105,000. We shall see.

Anyway pictures are attached. Please do let us know if you have any
thoughts at all. It is all quite exciting yet a little scary at this end so
any comments, help, etc at all would be gratefully received. And by the way
we are in New Zealand if you don't already know.

Hope all is well in England

Lots of love

Katharine and Peter


Dear anyone who's still reading,

If you've managed your way to the bottom of this, you might have some
suggestions as to how we can improve it. Photos will appear one day when we
feel we can afford to send them and we hope that the excitement will build
throughout the trip. We aim to be in the Solomon Islands for Sept-Oct, PNG
from Oct-Dec, FSM from Dec-Jan, the Philippines from Jan-March, Japan from
April-May, and then the Aleutians, Alaska and Canada arriving near Vancouver
about Oct 2004.

We'd love to see anyone on route and hear as much news from home as
possible. E-mail pingmarine {CHANGE TO AT} hotmail {DOT} com anytime and we'll pick it up when we
can. Or you can always call our Iridium phone (at great expense) on +8816
214 65773.

Take care everyone,

Lots of Love,

Pete, Katharine & Kokiri.