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Day 1,122 - Sailing to Fiji (22° 37S 178° 00E)
14:12hrs - June 26th 2010
Farewell Fleece

What a ride! With wind gusting to over 30 knots, and Dream Time surfing down 10 - 15 foot seas, we're howling along towards Fiji in record-breaking time.
In the last 24 hours we've covered over 150 nautical miles, averaging a little
over 6 knots an hour (and regularly hitting double digits) all this under a reefed main and a heavily furled headsail. It's moments like these Catherine and I are thankful that we have a solid cruising boat under our feet. Even when we're surfing down the face of a 15 foot wave (our top speed being 13.8 knots) it's a smooth and exhilarating ride.

Now we're in the 20°s I've been peeling away the winter layers - trousers, fleece, thermal tops, and am very happy to once again be sporting my cruising uniform - surf shorts. The air temperature is back into the 80's and the sea is an inviting 72.6 degrees Fahrenheit. And if all this isn't enough to make you whoop and carry-on like you've just won the lotto, we just pulled in a nice skip jack tuna for supper.

Damn, it's good to be cruising again!

 

 



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We would like to thank
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their valuable contribution and support.
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Day 1,119 - Sailing to Fiji (28° 54S 175° 23E)
12:17hrs - June 23rd 2010
At Sea Again

For a passage leaving New Zealand in winter, that has the potential to dump even the most experienced sailor into more than they bargained for weather, we are feeling pretty lucky right now.  We are 4 days out
of New Zealand going north, at 28 degrees south, and so far we have had ideal conditions.  The wind has blown at the right strength from the right direction, and the seas have been pushing us enthusiastically in the right direction, and as a bonus, even the moon has agreed to accompany us when it gets dark, so all in all a lovely ocean passage.

At night on my watch, from 10pm to 3am, I have moon and stars to gaze at and endless podcasts and books to listen to on my trusty iPod, and when it’s my turn to sleep I am able to crawl into my little lee cloth nest and snooze away in a rolly sea till its Neville’s turn to sleep.  Considering that only last week all of the boats that left to go north had to turn round and come right back because of much worse than expected weather and seas, we are more than pleased with our choice of weather window (so far). 

We’ve even had 2 surprise fly by visits from the New Zealand Air Force.  They were out doing routine surveillance, checking in on boats in the area.  Quite impressive as they were able to hail us on the radio using our boat name after doing a low loud and exhilarating fly by. Then they called us on channel 16 in their friendly Kiwi Air Force way, asking us when and where we left NZ, and what our intended destination and e.t.a. was. Then after wishing us a pleasant journey, off they flew.  It's impressive and reassuring to know that they were up there keeping such a good eye on things.

Well we still have plenty of miles to cover before we get to Fiji so we’re going to keep watching the forecasts carefully and sending our thank-you’s to the weather gods, and we’ll keep you posted.

 

Day 1,118 - Sailing to Fiji (30° 51S 175° 01E)
15:43hrs - June 22nd 2010
The Socks Are Off!

With southeast tradewinds blowing through our rigging - the first time in over seven months, and our lattitude steadily counting down as we sail almost due north, I've begun shedding my winter clothes, approximately one layer for every 5 degrees of lattitude. Catherine, however, has decided to keep all of her five layers on for now, or at least until the air temperature gets closer to a more agreeable 80 degrees.

We officially cleared-out of Opua and waved goodbye to New Zealand two days ago, steering Dream Time directly to Fiji which is a little over 1,000 nautical miles away, or about 7 - 10 days of sailing. We're approaching 30° south, the area where the unfortunate cruisers who left last week, after finding the sea conditions too dangerous, returned to port - a disappointing 600-mile round trip journey. Thankfully the weather conditions for us, at least for the next week, look perfect (or as perfect as you could hope for in winter). We did have a brief spell of 33 knot winds on our first night, and with our new hull, Dream Time sliced through and over 6 foot swell at an alarmingly comfortable 8 knots, putting us 12 hours ahead of schedule.

The first few nights at sea are usually the most challenging. Thankfully we've never been victims of seasickness, but sleep deprivation, at least in the first 48 hours, is sometimes a problem. Unless the conditions are absolutely perfect, acclimating to our sleep schedule usually requires a little effort. After-all, forcing yourself to nap at 4 in the afternoon, or being woken from a deep, coma-like slumber at 3 in the morning (without being grouchy) doesn't come naturally to me. But after a few nights we're usually
settled-in, as long as we keep to the schedule, which, if you're interested is:

3am - 8am:
8am - 10am:
10am - 2pm:
2pm - 4pm:
4pm - 6pm:
6pm - 8pm:
8pm - 10pm
10pm - 3am:

  Neville's watch
Catherine's watch

Shared watch & lunch
Neville's watch
Catherine's watch
Shared watch & dinner
Neville's watch

Catherine's watch

It's almost 4pm and I've been told I have to get ready for bed, so - goodnight!





 


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Day 1,115 - Opua, NZ (35° 18S 174° 07E)
13:07hrs - June 19th 2010
Until Next Time

It seems that almost all of the cruisers who chose to leave last weekend returned to Opua within 1-2 days - wet, tired and I suspect, feeling a little defeated. The weather system that we chose to avoid by staying comfortably berthed in Opua delivered on all its promises, bringing gusty, gale force winds and very confused choppy seas to the area - not a great way to begin a 1,000+ nautical mile passage. So with two choices; stay on the boat and fixate on bad weather systems, or go exploring for a few days while we waited for more favorable weather, Catherine and I opted for the latter and rented a car.

For three days we drove our pink Barbie car in conditions that would have made the engineers wince and the hire car people reach for our insurance rental agreement. We drove along 90-mile beach (it's actually closer to 63 miles) - an area that the road maps specifically state as "suitable for 4WD at low tide only". We drove along river beds, up to towering sand dunes and all the way to Cape Reinga, the furthest north you can possibly drive in New Zealand.

We visited Cape Reinga lighthouse and watched the waves from the Tasman Sea roll past the headlands and collide gently with those sweeping in from the Pacific Ocean, and spent much of the afternoon just relaxing on the grassy cliffs, looking north and dreaming about the tropical islands we miss so much.

But it appears as though we may not have to wait much longer and that the weather gods have taken pity on us. A weather window has opened up and it looks like we'll be heading out to sea tomorrow. With a forecast between lows predicting 15 - 20 knot southwest winds for much of the passage north, we really couldn't ask for anything better, especially for this time of year. We may decide to stop off at North Minerva reef, which is about 800 miles from Opua or two-thirds of the distance to Fiji, much will depend on the weather. Another system is predicted to build in the tropics and sweep in front of our path, if the conditions deteriorate Minerva Reef may offer us a little sanctuary.

So thank you New Zealand, we've had a wonderful time here, and I suspect we'll meet again!





 


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Day 1,110 - Opua, NZ (35° 18S 174° 07E)
10:33hrs - June 14th 2010
Ready, Steady... Wait!

OK, call me a big baby but with a weather forecast predicting wind gusts of 50 knots and 20 foot seas enroute to Fiji, we've decided to wait in Opua for a little while longer. Sure, we really want to get back up to the tropics, after-all, everything is ready - our tanks are full with diesel, we're topped-up with water, our cupboards are stuffed with all the cruising essentials and I even changed engine filters. But as tempting as the lure of Fiji is, the thought of sailing through a squash zone (predicted by Bob McDavitt) even a 'small' one, still gives one pause for thought. So along with the majority of cruisers still in Opua, we'll be waiting for another weather-window to open up. The thing is, some cruisers have been waiting here for over a month, let's just hope that's not the case for Dream Time.

On a positive note we did have a wonderful, dolphin-escorted night sail from Gulf Harbour Marina up to the Bay of Islands, and with another week to lounge around in Opua, we plan to make the most of it - hire a car and drive north, up to Cape Reinga, the very northern tip of New Zealand. Heck, if we can't sail there right now, at least we can get a little further north, even if it is in a car.





 
 


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Day 1,106 - Opua, NZ (35° 18S 174° 07E)
14:29hrs - June 10th 2010
And We're Off!

June is a notable month for us generally but this June is turning out to be especially grand. It was June 1st 2007 when we started out from New York on this magnificent adventure, and in June this year, 3 years later, in New Zealand, we are being launched back in the water after several difficult months of unexpected but successful hull repair.  We are very happy to be back in the water again  floating in our little home with all its cozy comforts (fyi - check out all the new interior boat shots we took) especially knowing we are now in a significantly stronger boat than the one we arrived in, and one that will keep us sailing safe and dry for years to come. We owe enormous thanks to Nick, Tony, Mike, Stuart and Margaret and everyone at Osmosis Solutions for all their fantastic hard work and infinite patience.  We tortured them daily with endless anxious questions, and paced nervously up and down the boatyard waiting for news or the latest update, and then on June 4th we got our final all clear, and Dream Time was returned to us, repaired, restored and better than new, and free to continue on her merry nautical way.

It’s hard to believe that we have actually been here for seven months now!! and even though it practically feels like home, our time in New Zealand has come to an end. The boat repair work delayed our original May departure, so we are here rather later than we would have preferred, and a chilly southern winter is closing in fast, so it’s definitely time to get back up to the warm tropical sun again.  We are watching the weather carefully now here in Opua, and along with some of the last Fiji bound boats to leave New Zealand, we will take the first good north bound weather window we get.

Next stop Fiji!!!!