2018 Opua to Suva

Sun 20 May 2018 03:51


We weren’t quite expecting to only spend 4 nights in Opua before sailing north but when a good weather window appeared – it wasn’t going to pass us by……..


Heading off in light north westerlies the Bay of Islands slipped behind and gave way to a golden sunset.  It’s always a real bonus to stay dry for at least the first night – and we managed to do this for the entire trip.


However – we were clearly still a long way away from the tropics and really needed to rug up at night under clear skies.  The bonus here is a blinding array of stars with the southern cross revealing itself early in the evening.  It felt good to be underway.



The winds came round to the SE and we enjoyed some sunny, relaxing sailing and motor sailing on a direct line northwards. 



Carl is chief cook on an offshore passage, heating all the meals we have frozen before we leave – and a mighty fine job he does too.



Now this happens every time …….. we never see another ship – and in the middle of the night – half way through the passage – the fishing boat with their AIS and most lights switched off pops up on the radar.  Directly on our course (of course).  We take a bit of evasive action and eventually they realise we’re there and switch everything on which is definitely helpful at this point – but would be so much easier if they just had on all the time.  We suspect they have something to hide – and in this case the Yu Rong (ha ha we kid you not) wouldn’t have wanted to be any closer.  Here they are on our Nav screen – a mere 0.8 nm away!



Getting into the warmer lattitudes now we had our first batch of misguided flying fish on the deck one morning.  Allegedly they are rather good fried for breakfast – but I think we’ll stick to Harold’s home made muesli…….



By now that nasty low brewing just off Sydney that visited NZ 4-5 days after we left was starting to “feed” off the weather around us pulling hot air down as it intensified.  For us this meant that the expected brisk easterlies were now brisk east-north-easterlies which as the sailors among you will know is forward of the beam L  Anywhoo – luckily Navara sails well to wind but with a “lump” to the seas rather than a “swell” we really did need to have a hand hold on something at all times.  Sometimes it’s just best to lie down J

Harolds feet

We were powering away quite nicely, but it gets pretty tiring after a few days (and nights).  The way we’ve set up our two-handed watch system we really only see each other for 2-3 hours a day.  The rest of the time one of us is snoozing / resting and the other running the ship.  Some people are better at daylight snoozing then others ……..



Towards the end of the trip we had our closest ever approach by another vessel at sea.  It turned out to be a 23m Oyster yacht called ENSO (they had their AIS turned on) and at 3.20am they appeared to be wanting to come and have a close look at us.  We called them on the VHF and the british skipper appeared to be filling in his night watch imagining he was in the Volvo ocean race and confirmed that he was fully aware of our position – we should maintain our course – and he would “take our stern”!  Okey dokey we think and this thing roared past us about 300m meters away doing over 10k.  You have to ask whether you really need to be that close hundreds of miles out in the open ocean but we were mildly disappointed that it wasn’t in the daylight as it must have been an impressive sight.  You can see on the Nav screen how close the twat is ……



Well FINALLY the winds come round to the east and in the warm, moist tropical air we are pleased to see the main island Viti Levu on the horizon.  Land Ho!!!!!




As tradition has it – it doesn’t really matter what time it is or what state we’re in – we celebrate our landfall with a stiff rum and a large (fried) breakfast.  Hhhhmmmmmm.  The trouble is we now had to stay awake until the customs and immigration, biosecurity and then health officials all have to pay us a visit, but we managed to pull it off (just).



After a heavenly hot shower and a blissful 13 hour sleep we hit our favourite spots in Suva.  This harbour gets a bad rap from cruisers that it truly doesn’t deserve.  The harbour is cleaner every time we visit and food and shopping are great.  The neighbours however are a bit dodgey …..



Well – in a couple of days we will have been here a week – so where to next?  Our plans for the season are all on the eastern side of Viti Levu which means we need to wait for a break in the tradewinds to head in the direction we want to go.  Basically, when you get a big low in NZ, we get winds more from the North (rather than SE trades) – and it looks like this is happening on Tuesday for us.  So we intend to sail over night halfway to the southern Lau islands to an island called Matuku.  It’s a blown out volcano – great anchorage, lush, mountainous and described as somewhere in between Morea and Bora Bora.

   (sorry Mike for stealing photo)

Going off the beaten track as we do however means that we won’t have any cell cover or internet for some time.  So you’re probably not going to hear anything more from us for a while and then there’ll be a flurry of blog posts some time further down the track.  We will however be using our sat phone for positioning only – as that thing costs and arm and a leg to use.  So if you ever want to see where we actually are, you can go to:




Just like when we were sailing north – it will say when we are about to go to another island and confirm whether we got there safely – that’s about it J 


After a week or so in Matuku (you really can’t plan this things in any detail) we intend to wait for another break in the tradewinds and then sail into the Southern Lau islands – which are basically halfway between Fiji and Tonga.  Depending on the weather we hope to island hop from Kabara, Vulaga, Namuka-i-lau, Komo, Moce, Oneata, Lakeba visiting old friends and making new ones - then north to Vanua Balavu.  By then I think it will probably be the end of June / into July and hopefully we’ve had some internet access along the way and can give you an update – but we’ll just have to see – it all depends on the technology and the weather gods.


Anyway – in the mean time – hope you are all well and that winter is still holding back a bit.


Bye for now



Linda and Carl

PS – something always breaks on passage – well - we managed to snap the main halyard on day 3 – thankfully in the daylight for when the sails all come down (yikes).  Lucky we have a topping lift that can quickly fulfil the role (that’s the royal “we” J)  Here’s poor ol’ Harold going up the very high, sticky end to thread a new line …… rather him than me ………… but at least this is done in Suva & not at sea!!


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