Tuesday, 26 November 2013

le coup de foudre*

Urupukapuka Island on a sunny day
It took one island. For two weeks, we ran around making plans, thinking ahead, imagining bigger centres. And then we came to this island. It may appear silly to you, but in one afternoon, we both decided we might actually already be where we want to be, for now anyhow. Opua is tiny, and while it’s busy in the summer, we’ve been told it is dead in the winter. I was afraid of feeling stuck, isolated. We wondered if there would actually be work for us here. (We still don’t know.) We almost overlooked this region.

Then, we sailed to the island of Urupukapuka right here in the Bay of Islands. Do you know how pretty it is here? It’s the kind of pretty that’s good for the soul. It’s the kind of pretty that makes you want to breathe deep and give Mother Nature a pat on the back while saying “Well done, my dear, well done.” One thing we had both agreed upon was that wherever we ended up, we wanted to go back to our Victoria habits of regularly sailing away and hiding out on weekends. Well, if we do stay here, we have a huge and beautiful playground to do just that.

A vibrant sunset in Otaio Bay
This is all in the “maybe” and “what if” stage. We’ll leave you with a taste of what it's like in this little haven. Of course, we could still change our minds…

*Le coup de foudre has a literal and a figurative meaning: While it actually means lightning bolt, it is an expression that is used to describe the feeling of "love at first sight".



Getting a little taste of the island the first afternoon (with the
Osprey crew)
There are some pretty cool trees here, this one had real potential
to hold a treehouse!

Yup, definitely chillier



The next day:
Capturing Nyon and Brian mid-sentence

Richard leads us toward Urupukapuka Bay

A nod to the Scottish blood in the family
In my happy place


Dramatic landscape, reminds me a little of East Sooke Park in Canada

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

a sort of nirvana

Entering the Bay of Islands, a sweet, sweet sight

Opua Marina on a gloriously sunny day
New Zealand feels a little like we finally reached the carrot at the end of the stick. It’s a place to pause. Somewhere one can look back and ponder the incredible distance travelled in the past 8 months. We’re still a little surprised. We crossed the Pacific Ocean to get here! We met incredible people, travelled thousands of miles, visited dozens of islands. And we made it in one piece. (More or less.)

New Zealand is also where we have rediscovered a world of plenty. Leiagh, a friendly local woman, took a few cruisers to Paihia, the town next to tiny Opua. Opua basically boasts a marina and many friendly marine businesses and not much else. It was a Thursday afternoon and Paihia’s outdoor farmer’s market was in full swing. There, we stuffed our carry bags with fresh avocadoes, oranges and lettuce. There is also a medium-sized grocery store in town. When Nicole and I stepped through the front doors, we were dumbfounded. We’d forgotten what grocery stores could be like. They have everything here. I picked up a large block of sharp cheddar cheese and asked Nicole, “Do you think I’m overdoing it if I buy this?” To which Nicole replied, “Are you kidding! I have the same one in my cart!” Our eyes were shiny with all the possibilities.

To say that our first week here was a tad overwhelming is an understatement. Yet we are not the only ones. Every day, there are new arrivals. Ocean travellers like us, a little shell-shocked, relieved to have finished another long passage, and not quite believing they’ve come this far. The main topics of conversation have revolved around passage making, quickly followed by food, hot showers, haircuts, and the Laundromat. I felt self-conscious about the sheer volume of laundry we carried into the Laundromat the other day, but only for a very brief moment. We are all in the same boat, pun intended. Every piece of fabric is damp after passage making, and warm clothes that haven’t seen the light of day in years, smell bad. Comforters and sleeping bags need a refresher.  Everything has to go in, and oh, the luxury of machine-washed laundry. It was as good as I’d imagined…

A cigar was just the ticket...
The best part in all this was reuniting with friends and acquaintances. We caught up with people we hadn’t seen since Mexico. We met others whose boat names we’d heard over the radio waves throughout the Pacific, and of course, there were the ones we had our first celebration with. Our friends on Dream Time and Bella Star were here when we arrived. A night of cigars and whiskey (or wine or beer) and stories was the perfect way to begin our stay here. We have since explored the area with the gang, and went as far as Keri Keri for Nicole’s birthday a few days later. We don’t need a reason to celebrate with these guys, but this was a great excuse to pretend we were normal and go to a “real” restaurant. Since then, many friends have arrived, and it’s difficult to walk from the café to the shower block without having to stop and chat with this boat crew or that boat crew.

The Dreamers, the Stars, and the Nyoners... Celebrating Nicole's birthday in style!
But the whirlwind is slowing down. We are now faced with decisions. Where we settle down and who do we contact for potential work. We also have to catch up on paperwork and real-life stuff. It hasn’t hit us yet, all the coming changes. Rick says he has a hard time shifting gears between having the boat in survival mode to a cosmetically pleasing coastal cruising vessel. (It’ll take us a while to get there.) We both welcome change, but we also wonder what it will do to us. We’ll just take it one baby step at a time. In the meantime, we await the arrival of a loved one in our midst. Canada is sending us our soul-sister, and we can’t wait.

Now, I must find my jandles, get ready to fill a trundler with Kiwi goodies while I call out g’day to all the friendly Kiwis as I wander the streets. Just you wait, soon I’ll sound like a Kiwi. With a French accent, that is.

~~~

Shout out: Just wanted to mention the Marina Shop folks, they let cruisers use their Internet for free, answer a million questions and give you boat insurance if you want it. We've been hanging out in their office harrassing them and they keep smiling. If you come here one day, go say hi to Bill and Laura.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

on the edge of the ocean

Some boats never leave Minerva Reef...
Photo courtesy of Bella Star

Nearing Minerva
It really is the middle of nowhere. Okay, more specifically, it is one tiny spot in the Southern Pacific. You can’t see it until you’re almost on top of it. We noticed the bobbing sailboats at anchor before we saw it. It, is Minerva, a submerged coral atoll 790 nautical miles from New Zealand. 

At high tide, you can’t see the reef. At low tide, you can walk on parts of it.  There are a couple visible wrecks and one navigation light. Apparently the Tongans built it, the Fijians blew it up, and the Tongans rebuilt it, but that’s the past. They seem to have come to some kind of peaceful agreement, and it’s now flashing its trusty light. When you’re anchored inside the fringing reef (in depths ranging from 14 to 20 m), you feel like you are at the edge of the world. At least, that’s how I imagine it would look like, if there were an edge…

Looking out of Minerva
Photo courtesy of Bella Star

I was hemming and hawing about stopping at Minerva Reef. I really just wanted to get to New Zealand, but Rick thought it would be cool to check it out. In light of the weather forecast, it seemed like a good idea to stop after all. It’s easier to plan for a weather window to New Zealand, the closer you are. This was the last stop before New Zealand.

It turns out that we loved it there. I didn’t realize that with the intensity of the past few months, being somewhere where there was nothing, but a bit of coral and a few boats was exactly what we needed. We felt ourselves decompress; we took in the sky, the water and breathed a sigh of relief. We were fortunate to have our buddies on Bella Star and Dream Time there too. We were in good company.

The Dream Team
Photo courtesy of Dream Time
We snorkelled a wreck and some of the coral, Nicole and I saw the biggest lobsters I have ever seen. Unfortunately (or fortunately for the lobsters) when Neville and Rick showed up ready to hunt, the lobsters made themselves scarce. They saw one giant who found a crevasse to hide in. I walked on the fringing reef with Aaron and Nicole, we were blown away by the colourful canvas. This sunscreen vigilante forgot to layer sunscreen on and ended up a glowing shade of red that night. In spite of that, much fun was had with the gang. We got to just “be” for a few days. While we did tackle some boat chores, everything (including us) moved in slow motion.

Girl Time with Nicole
Photo courtesy of Bella Star
Wonder what its story is...
Photos courtesy of Bella Star

This pit-stop turned out to be a gift. Sometimes, the middle of nowhere is perfect.

something a little different

Nuku'alofa, Tonga: Do you see Nyon? 
We were told, “Meh, it’s not nice.” “The harbour is dirty, it’s a sess pool.” “You don’t want to go there.” I’m careful to take those kinds of comments too seriously. I have loved some of the grittiest places just for the assault to my senses and for taking me out of my comfort zone. Needless to say, we weren’t sure what to expect from Nuku’alofa (Tongatapu Group). In the end, it was just a busy working town. I liked the harbour: the old rusty fishing boats and the fruit stands on the waterfront with carefully piled tomatoes. Nuku’alofa, was just fine as far as I was concerned. Our friend Aaron had a point, “For most people it’s just not their vision of the South Pacific.” True that, but I don’t mind the variety, the “reality version” of the South Pacific is just as fascinating. I don’t expect sandy beaches and coconut trees at every turn, (although we saw that nearby too).
Somewhere on the island
When we first arrived and just before we left, we anchored off Pangaimotu, a little island a mile from the main harbour of Nuku’alofa. That spot was very chill, and “Big Mama’s” was the quintessential South Pacific restaurant, with the rickety plank off a tiny floating dock. The deck was lined with long tables, complete with peeling paint and autographs.  Sandy floors and palm fronds completed the décor. The staff was always friendly and helpful and we enjoyed the vibe there. Earle and Anna own the place and offer a wealth of information. Anna is a constant presence. After all, she is Big Mama. One rainy afternoon, I explained to her how to read grib files and told her about our voyage, and she shared the history of Big Mama’s and life in Nuku’alofa with me.

We did med moor in the harbour proper for a few days: Nicole and Aaron, our friends on Bella Star, were already there and it was time for a reunion. This is also where we met Neville and Catherine on Dream Time, a fab pair we are so glad to have gotten to know since. We explored the area with this gang, and had a couple merry nights. We also jumped through the bureaucratic hoops (with ease, I might add). You have to present yourself at immigration, the port authority (only to check out), and customs upon arrival and prior to leaving the country. Everyone is friendly, it helps to thank them for their hospitality and talk about what you liked in Tonga.

Nuku'alofa: Fun times with Bella Star and Dream Time

Happy pair


As interesting as the town was, we were happy to return to Pangaimotu before we left Tonga. There was some drama in the harbour when we realized we’d crossed anchors with Dream Time. It got intimate for a while, oh the joys of med mooring in 20 knot winds! Once we anchored by Pangaimotu, the chill vibe prevailed. Well, mostly. We did have one crummy day.

Taking our stowaway from us, we were happy to
see it go!
We were busy preparing for the passage and many little things went wrong that day. I’ll admit there were a couple heated “debates”. Ultimately, it all came together, but we both had a pretty grumpy day. One of Rick’s tasks had been to clean and stow the secondary anchor and chain we’d used in the harbour. Both were caked with thick, grey, sticky mud. The anchor was double its weight when we pulled it up. Rick washed it down and dropped the chain, (sans anchor), off the stern for a while to rinse it. Later in the day, he tried to raise the chain. He could barely move it. Uh-oh. The water was not that clear and fairly deep there… He sweated bullets raising that chain, eventually using the manual windlass on the bow… It wasn’t coral, but what was it? We eventually found out. Our chain had wrapped itself around a large (150 pound) traditional style anchor with its own chain. That chain’s links were the size of my fist. I kid you not. (I won’t tell you about the colourful language when the chain skipped on the gypsy and the entire thing ended up on the bottom again. Rick had to pull it all back up again inch by inch.) I felt very sorry for him. Once it was up again we unravelled our chain but we didn’t want to drop the anchor back on the bottom as it could easily foul another boat’s anchor. So we left it dangling off our bow when we decided to indulge in Big Mama’s burgers one last time. Bella Star picked us up in their dinghy. On the way, Aaron placed a beer in Rick’s hand as a well-deserved recompense for a hard day’s work. Everything looked brighter after that. Rick told Earle about the anchor, who then offered to relieve us of our enormous stowaway. Things were much calmer and “normal” after that day.


Departure day: We left under a blanket of grey clouds. Once we were south of Tongatapu, the wind began blowing hard and the seas were confused.  It was time to bounce our way south, and rediscover temperate climates and… fast internet? A new chapter is about to begin. But first: Minerva Reef!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

landfall: opua, new zealand

Dramatic skies on the passage
The welcome sight of land
You want to know what a good landfall is like? I'll tell you. We arrived before dark, and the lush green landscape beckoned us into the Bay of Islands. As we neared the channel, a cluster of sailboats raced around us waving, some even shouted "Welcome". That put a smile on our faces. We noticed different smells, like some kind of pine? There are no coconut trees here. (I had to give Rick a hug when he acknowledged the sad truth and pouted.) As we neared the Quarantine Dock, a crowd on the Yacht Clubhouse patio all yelled and waved at us, "Welcome Nyon!" "Congrats on making it here!" How can you not grin. Just when I began to feel how tired I was, my lovely husband had already started heating up leftovers and pouring drinks. That's when I realized I was hungry too. What great timing.

It's quiet here, (we hear voices from the Clubhouse, but that's oddly comforting). What we don't hear is waves slamming on the hull and the wind whistling through the rigging. And we don't have to hang on for dear life anymore, just to stand up. The boat is. so. still. Tomorrow morning we'll be jumping through hoops with customs and then... (To be continued.)

Enjoying one of many sunny days on the passage
Nearing land


Some days were cold

Our first morning in New Zealand
It was cold enough to turn on the propane heater
for the first time in over 2 years...


Position: 35* 18.47'S 174* 7.19'E

day 9: land ho!

I woke up from my midday watch and saw New Zealand for the first time. We are almost there. In less than 40 miles, we'll be tying up to the customs dock in Opua. I am excited and relieved. We both look forward to a good night's sleep and reuniting with our buddies on Bella Star and Dream Time. This chapter is coming to a close.

Position: 34* 50.798'S 174* 42.705'E
Distance as of 1200 NZST: 153 nm
Heading: 230*T
Speed: 6.1 knots

Monday, 11 November 2013

day 8: on adaptability and convenience

We left Minerva Reef over a week ago. It already feels like a distant memory. I'm glad we didn't do the trip in one go from Nuku'alofa. If you recall, I had initially wanted exactly that. Pausing there for a few days did us a world of good. I think one of the biggest adjustments in our attitudes that has come from cruising is adaptability. Don't get me wrong, we're no perfectionists, we still crave for things to happen when we want them to happen or how we want them to happen. Having said that, we know it pays off to wait a day or a week for better wind. We also learned it's worth taking the time to fix that problem even though we wanted to leave today. And when the forecast no longer looks good for when we'd planned to leave, we can change our minds at the drop of a hat and leave right away. Like I said, we adapt. It's great when you can let go of rigid expectations because disappointment stops dictating how your day develops.

Our society has taught us to expect things to happen at the blink of an eye. Everything, and I mean everything, is about convenience. I like a bit of convenience (remember my daydreaming about a washing machine?), yet over the past two years, convenience is no longer as high on the list as it once was. What I wonder is, will I go back to expecting everything to be just so after I spend a few months in New Zealand, a country where everything you need or could want is at your fingertips? How does one balance the values that have become so important while living the life of a bohemian, and transfer them to the more stable life of an expat in a first world country? Will I be able to go without Internet for stretches at a time, and will I continue to bake bread, watch the sunset, and the moonrise? I hope so, because those are the moments that are magical, whether I am travelling the oceans or living aboard in a new country.

I try and remember this as I feel jittery with anticipation at our arrival in Opua. We are only 187 nautical miles away. I can't wait for a bit of convenience, yet I dread it a little too. I want to embrace a simple life in what I consider to be an affluent country. I want to be okay with not having a car, but a bike would be nice. I may not buy books, but I look forward to going to the library. Convenience comes in many forms, I am okay with that. And if I have to work a little harder for it, that's okay too.

Position: 33* 12.569'S 176* 56.308'E
Distance as of 1200 NZST: 117 nm
Heading: 215*T
Speed: 5.7 knots

Sunday, 10 November 2013

day 7: losing our "canadian"

Thank goodness, day 7 finds us going south again! For a while there, we were zigzagging back and forth without getting anywhere. This will put us in a good position for tomorrow's forecasted easterlies.

I was laughing at myself yesterday. I've been mentioning how chilly it's gotten as we get further south. Well, I looked at the thermometer this morning: it read 19 degrees Celsius. (That's 66.2 Fahrenheit for you Americans.) Yeah, that temperature had me break out not one, but two long sleeved tops that I layered over a tank top and, dare I admit it... Socks! Rick is in denial, while he has graduated to pants, he will not wear socks. He's been gloating about being sock free for over two years, it's a hard one to give up... He may actually succeed in waiting to wear them until New Zealand's winter comes around... I don't put it past him. We've both been wearing shoes too. When I lived in Victoria, 19 degrees was when you broke out shorts and flip flops... It's official, we've lost some of our "Canadian".

That's okay, our friend Dana will help set us back on the right path when she comes for a visit in December. One of her tasks, as our Canadian ambassador, is to bring us maple syrup. Don't worry, we have our priorities straight. Maple syrup, and maybe one of Phillip's Double Chocolate Porters? (We hear NZ has good microbreweries. We look forward to that, but Phillip's is home.) To be honest, just having a friend from Canada come to see us is enough, the rest is just icing on the cake.

Today is overcast, but we have a decent breeze (it's a little moody, but so far it has worked in our favour), and I'm about to have my last Trader Joe's Organic Hot Cocoa... I'm going to sip it very slowly.

Position: 31* 43.891'S 177* 28.0795'E
Distance as of 1200 NZST: 110 nm
Heading: 180*T
Speed: 5.1 knots

Saturday, 9 November 2013

day 6: passage fatigue

We've reached that stage. It's that time in a passage when we get busy fantasizing about "after we get there". It's not the healthiest way to spend one's awake moments on passage, it can provoke impatient outbursts or lethargic behaviour... but it passes the time. I'll let you in on a little secret (if it isn't obvious yet), although amazing moments abound on passages, as a whole, I'm just not a fan. I find them tiring, and at times frustrating. I'm calling it passage fatigue.

If you're wondering about what we dream of, "after this", well it's simple stuff really. A good night's sleep. A celebratory drink or two with friends. Coffee. A washing machine. Yes, you read that right, I'm told there is a laundromat with many washing machines in Opua. I'm excited to use a machine to do laundry, yes, really. In the 8 months since we left Mexico, we indulged in machine-washed laundry once. It was a $30 splurge in Bora Bora. And that was just 3 loads. Wash only. You see why we wash our laundry by hand out here. Bed sheets, towels, you name it. So imagine how exciting it will be to dump it all in at once, sit back with a coffee
and a good book and wait. Ah bliss.

Back to present time: I love that the sun has been shining on us for the past three days. That is definitely good for the morale.We're bouncing and rolling in these boisterous seas, the wind is whistling through the rigging and the waves continuously splash on Nyon's hull, with the occasional loud bang of a stray wave. I'm sipping my hot chocolate, wishing I could pour a little almond tequila in there, but knowing better. That's something to savour when we arrive. For now, I brace myself against the stove drawer as I type emails and stories.

We're headed WNW today. We have no choice really. At least we're nearing the rhumb line again. I sure hope the Gribs are right and that Tuesday is the magic day. Easterlies are predicted: that would mean Nyon could point directly to our destination. We just have to get through tomorrow, (winds on the nose). Cross your fingers for those easterlies, I'm crossing mine!

Position: 30* 57.176'S 178* 12.005'E
Distance as of 1200 NZST: 114 nm
Heading: 280*T
Speed: 5.1 knots

Friday, 8 November 2013

nz day 5: never eat shredded wheat

My grade nine geography teacher was convinced that was the best way to teach us how to memorize the compass rose. Begin at the top and go clockwise: Never (North) Eat (East), Shredded (South), Wheat (West). The debate aboard the boats doing this journey is more wheat or go for shredded first? Gribs say this one day, and that the next... Who's going to be right? Or is it lucky? We chose to go south, south, south. Our friends stuck more or less to the rhumb line. Yesterday we made great headway in 20 knot westerlies. Overnight, the wind shifted to south-west, so now we're going south-east, that's less preferable. We'll try westing but we don't want to go west-north-west if we can help it, not after all the hard work to go south. I'm dreaming about cereal as we try to decide which way to go...

I'm so glad we're not motoring, (sailing is 100% better), and the sun is shining again. All is well on Nyon. While Rick is snoring, I'm catching up on emails and debating whether to make bread or not. I'm just picturing myself dumping flour on a slightly damp sole. (The sole on a boat is the floor.) I'll let you know if I do (bake and/or spill). An argument for baking is that we are running out of crackers...

Position: 31* 05.333'S 179* 59.484'E
Distance as of 1200 NZST: 147 nm
Heading: 150*T
Speed: 5.6 knots

Thursday, 7 November 2013

nz day 4: somewhere over that puffy cloud

The one good thing about motoring is turning off the engine and hearing the waves hitting the hull and the wind as it fills our sails. Okay, that and not having to sit dead in the water. Our day started, or I should say, my watch started with Nyon barely sailing at 2 knots in 3 to 6 knot winds. Rick kindly agreed to turn on the engine while I picked up gribs on SAT email. We hate motoring, but we need to make headway south so that when the forecast SW winds show up, we won't be trying to sail directly into them to go to Opua.

At 1100, the sun is shining, and I've got a smile on my face. It's funny what a little wind from the right direction does for this sailor. We are finally sailing again, and not only that, we are going in the direction we want to go! We do try to keep a positive attitude whatever the conditions, but who are we kidding... Good sailing conditions are FUN. (And our windvane Wendy Darling does a great job steering for us.) That and since Beaker died (that's our tiller pilot), whenever we have to motor, we also have to hand-steer. And that is tiring after 4 hours.

Hand-steering is made easier when there is a land mass you can use as a landmark; steering by compass alone is challenging in rolling seas. Now what do you do when you have to hand-steer in the middle of the ocean? At night? Well, if the sky is clear you can use stars, it's amazing how much better I steer when a bright star leads the way. In the daytime, clouds can be handy, although using constantly morphing puffy white bits in the sky can sometimes lead you astray if you don't pay attention. (Of course, I always pay attention.)

And that ladies and gents, is today's report.

Position: 28* 55.296'S 179* 56.894'E
Distance as of 1200 NZST: 98 nm
Heading: 184*T
Speed: 4.7 knots

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

nz day 3: crossing the line

It's official now, we have crossed the International Date Line. (Tonga only pretends to be on the other side for a variety of reasons.)

Our longitude now reads East. The other offical bit, is that it's definitely getting colder: I had to layer this morning! The dampness after a rainy night didn't help in the feeling warm and fuzzy department: time for some hot chocolate.*

Last night we saw lightning, heard a touch of thunder and had buckets of rain fall on our heads as we sorted out Nyon in confused winds. We were both soaked by the end of that episode. The wind went all funky and the easiest thing to do was take in the sail (genoa)and wait a bit. When things settled, we were back on our merry way. 

*It is now early afternoon, the sun has come out and while the air is warmer, we are still wearing our long-sleeved t-shirts. The wind is fickle at best, we have been motor-sailing for the past 2 hours. Watching our fuel, hoping for more wind, going straight south to be able to sail into NZ more easily, changed the alternator belt, made notes of repairs to do in NZ: all in a day's work.

Position: 27* 36.087'S 179* 36.859'E
Distance as of 1200 NZST: 133 nm
Heading: 180*T
Speed: 4.5 knots (motoring)

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

NZ Day 2: surrounded

Last night was a first for us. We were surrounded by the lights of other sailboats who like us, are heading to New Zealand. (It's all about those weather windows.) I counted 6 boats, 2 ahead, 2 beside and 2 behind us... I am sure most of them have left us in their wake this morning. (I see only 2 boats now, I think one of them is Bella Star.)* When we have a choice, we sail, and conservatively at that, because of our old main. It's cool to know all these boats are on the same journey... Some of them we know personally, some of them
we know by name. The cruising community is small after all.

Other than knowing we are not alone out here, especially after that airplane (Airforce Orion) hailed us yesterday, life is routine on Nyon. We sleep, we eat, we adjust sails, we check emails and weather, and so on. Everything is well aboard, and we're both in fine form.

Afterthought: Rediscovered pleasure on this passage - hot chocolate! The weather is just cool enough for a morning cup of hot cocoa. Yum!

*It turns out the two boats near us are our buddies on Bella Star and Dream Time, we were able to chat briefly on VHF this morning with both, fun times.

Position: 25 degrees 42.891'S 179 degrees 58.145'W
Distance as of 1200 NZST: 122 nm
Heading: 205*T
Speed: 5.8 knots

Monday, 4 November 2013

new zealand: day 1

We bid farewell to Minerva this morning while munching on Nicole's chai muffins. They were delicious. And what a lovely stay we had there too.*

We are now enjoying a great sail (on a close reach). The winds are fairly light, maybe 10-12 knots, and the seas are pretty settled. The crew is in great spirits. We know to prepare ourselves for anything, (Catherine's wise words). Dream Time has done this trip more than once, and we appreciate their level-headed perspective on the journey. The New Zealand passage has quite the reputationamong North American sailors in particular. As far as Nyon is concerned, we payattention to the weather, and we go hoping for the best. This is a great start though, and we're enjoying it!

* We will post our final impressions (including photos) of Tonga and Minerva after our arrival in New Zealand... This being our last passage of 2013, we're taking you along for this ride first!

Afterthought: We just had Airforce Orion fly overhead, they have been hailing every sailboat that left Minerva today, to track our ports of departure and our intended ports of arrival, including (estimated) dates. That was a bit of a novelty.

Position: 23* 55.800'S 179* 02.313'W
Distance since departure: 22 nm (under way for less than 4 hours)
Heading: 206*T
Speed: 6.2 knots

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