Cruising the Fiords

We have arrived in the fiords and so far have sailed through George, Charles, Nancy, Milford, Thompson, Bradshaw and are currently anchored in Doubtful Sound. Unfortunately we cannot post any blog updates while in the fiords as SSB does not seem to work while we are surrounded by he magestic heights of the fiords. We are currently in Teanau getting some supplies and have found some free Wifi. We are heading back to the boat shortly and will be off the grid for quite some time again. We will post our adventures when we have some reliable Wifi. We will say that we are having an amazing time and have many stories and pictures to share with you when we can. The only price to pay for our cruising through some unbelievable scenery is the hoardes of sandflies. Unfortunately for Denny they seem to like him more than me. But we have learned to adapt and now keep ourselves covered from head to toe, even while sleeping. So it’s all good.

Our next cruising plan will be Dusky Sound and onward to Stuart Island.

We will post our locations and stories when we can.

NZ – North of the North Island

SV Nyon in Te Pahi

SV Nyon in Te Pahi

Our freezer has been fixed. Northfreeze may have been expensive but the repair man knew what he was doing. After a couple of attempts to use a vacuum pump to suction out the moisture and any oil out of the freezer system the freezer worked better than ever. The first vacuum pump nearly caught the cockpit on fire but luckily we were on board to see the smoke and unplug the machine. We spent a fine evening by the Te Pahi Islands with Rick and Kyra on Nyon (we met them in the Marquesa). It was a nice anchorage with just our two boats there.  Click here for Google Map Link

We left Bay of Islands and motored to Whangaroa. Out first anchorage was in Rere Bay nestled among rock outcrops and cliffs. It gave us a sense of what the Fordland’s may look like. Click here for Google Maps link. The bays are narrow and it’s hard to imagine what this place would be like during ‘crazy busy’ cruising season. We could see the famous Duke’s Nose and planned to do the hike up the peak but Denny walked on something sharp and got a cut on the bottom of his foot while climbing to knob which overlooked our boat anchorage. We did take pictures and capture the spectacular scenery. DSC_7219-1

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DSC_9984We spent an entertaining evening with a beautiful couple and their 4 young boys. Six of them on a 34 ft boat and you would think it would be chaos but not with those boys. They were funny, talkative, interesting, considerate and just all around great kids. We gave them a tour of our boats and talked a lot about how to prepare for offshore sailing which they would like to do in the near future. Maybe someday we will see them somewhere in the high seas!

Collecting wild Oysters

Collecting wild Oysters

We checked out the Whangaroa Harbour town, fueled up and disposed of garbage. There wasn’t much else here so we pulled up anchor and moved to Touwai Bay, a little bay near the Oyster farm. Click here for Google Map link . For the most part we were by ourselves except for the  late night arrival  early morning departure power boats and the many seagulls

waiting for a snack

waiting for a snack

that liked to hang around for the hope of some scraps. Denny of course checked out the Oyster farm and learned a few interesting facts and came back with 2 large oysters for sampling. They are harvested in June so the samples we were given were supposedly undersized. Denny shucked them ‘for his woman’ and it was the freshest, biggest oysters I ever had. Superb!!

 

 

I don't know

I don’t know

enjoying the moment

enjoying the moment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some facts that Denny learned about Oyster farming:

Oysters are grown in sacks attached to 2X4’s. Wild Oysters attach themselves to the posts as well because they tend to congregate and these are hacked off and also placed in bags for future but are worth less because of imperfections. Profit margin is very small and it’s hard work.

DSC_7260While Denny was Oyster farm information gathering, I finally managed to get my Kayak into NZ waters and explored the East side of Whangaroa Harbour.

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Our last stop North of the North island was Mangonui Harbour. Click here for Google Map link . On the way we caught a Kingfish and it took Denny 45 minutes to bring it to the side of the boat and then he got away. But we were sure that he was smaller than the legal 75cm legal catch. About an hour later we did catch a Skipjack Tuna which Denny easily brought it on board, cleaned it and cut it into nice Tuna steaks. Despite our fresh fish on board we still went out to dinner at the ‘world famous’ Mangonui Fish Shop. It was probably the best fish and chips we had in NZ and plenty of it as well. We sat next to a German couple who were touring NZ. Their goal in life is to complete all 6 world class Marathon races. So far they have completed 3 which included New York, Chicago and Berlin. It’s the Toyko marathon they are really looking forward to. Denny makes it a point to meet people and learn about their passions.

Today is Saturday, February 25th and we would like to wish our beautiful Allison a very Happy Birthday. Besides celebrating that very special occasion we are also starting our trek to the South Island. We will be leaving at 5pm so that we can round Cape Reinga in daylight. The weather window is not ideal for a sailboat and quite a bit of motoring is expected but we are anxious to get to the South Island. Hopefully we will be able to post our progress using our SSB. Denny replaced the cable while in Marsden Cove and it yet has to be tested. Other than SSB and a satellite phone we will be off the grid for probably a couple of months.

Dropping Anchor for the First Time in NZ

On January 20th, we returned to our boat in Marsden Cove, New Zealand.

Our next adventure will be sailing around the South Island. It will be a colder, challenging, with “gales of mosquitos” the locals tell us. We see it as a place of beauty, wildlife, isolation, and  the chance to serve up some freshly caught fish and shellfish.  We spent 3 weeks doing boat maintenance, provisioning, and visiting our friends in Dockland 5. We have to say that the hardest part about continuing with our sailing plans will be saying ‘so long’ to our very good friends. And we would like to add a ‘thank you’ to our friends, (you know who you are who) gave us a ‘Bon Voyage’ gift.  Besides the delicious homemade scones, we were gifted back candies we tried to offload on the D5 ‘For Free’ shelf, an abandoned, ceramic fish plate which we snuck on their deck for some tender loving care. This was all packaged up to look like a fully loaded candy sailboat with Landfall signage on the side complete with a sail and replica of ‘Barb and Denny’ made from wood ice cream sticks. That brought on the laughter. I would include a picture but that would reveal the creative culprits. No worries, we will have our revenge!!

We left the dock on Saturday, February 10th and made is as far as Whangaruru.  Our NZ sailing started with a beautiful Spinnaker sail. At 7pm we dropped anchor in NZ for the first time in a large protected bay and witnessed a stunning sunset and a full moon rising over the bluffs. It was a peaceful, quiet night. Click here for the anchorage  Google Map Link

Next morning we were gone by 8 and dropped the fishing line while we exited the bay. Within 10 minutes we had a fish on the hook. Nice size for lunch but he got away as we tried to hoist it into the boat. Can’t really say what we had actually caught. Our fishing luck continued by catching a small tuna which we threw back as we thought he was too little but then we caught another Tuna, this one even smaller.  We returned that Tuna back to the sea as well but now regretting not keeping the first Tuna. All I kept thinking was the Tuna steaks we could have had on the grill if our standards had not been so high. It won’t happen again. Now all Tuna caught will be keepers, maybe. As we rounded Cape Brett the wind picked up and we sailed through gusts of 25 to 30 knots of wind but it didn’t last long.

Bay of Islands is cruising paradise with lots of little bays with beaches and tramps but also many many many more yachts. We sailed around a little bit exploring the Islands and finally anchored in Otaio Bay off Urapukapuka Island. Click here for the Google Map Link As the weather forecast for the next day was not supposed to be good, we decided to stay 2 nights here. This may have been a good decision as Dennis ended up working our freezer which had stopped working. Considering it was very full, this was not a good thing. Next stop was Opua Marina where we finally had our freezer fixed and where we spent some time with our friends on Nyon. Click here for the Google Map Link

The weather for the South Island is starting to look better with a ‘large’ high moving in in the next 8 – 10 days. We will head to the beautiful bay , Whangaroa, where we will wait for the weather window to sail the 700 miles to the South Island Fiords. We will keep you posted.

Family time and Road Trip

Living on a sailboat and anchoring and cruising in places where there is no reliable Wifi makes staying in touch with family a challenge. So going back to the USA and Canada  during the Christmas holiday was special as we got to spend some time with our parents and all of our children.

During this trip home, we also did a fabulous road trip with Denny’s daughter Jenny and hubby Tyler, Jenny’s close friend Kathleen and her fiancé, Jeff and our friends Bill and Ella. As the saying goes ‘Go West young man, go West!!’. It was a 3-day road trip to Deadwood, nestled in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It used to be a lawless wild west town started by the Black Hills Gold rush and it harbored many gambling saloons and brothels. It’s the very place where Wild Bill Hicock and Calamity Jane met their demise.

Jenny planned the whole trip and she was a fantastic hostess. On the way we made a stop in Sturgis for lunch and we tried to imagine what the town would look like during the famous yearly bike rally. Deadwood is now just a modern day gambling town with a lot of history. We tried to re-live the history by dressing up in Wild West costumes and acting out our part!

Deadwood

As far as gambling went, we tried our hand at Blackjack and Roulette and Denny and I can say that we didn’t win or loose but we all had loads of fun and laughter. An afternoon was spent playing shuffle board, drinking beer and eating lots of free popcorn which only made us want to drink more beer. We decided to have a shuffle board tournament with some serious competition. Some of us took it more seriously than others! The pictures tell the story!

Denny 1

Playing with the camera instead of shuffle board

Tyler 1

I can drink beer and play at the same time

Ella 1

I am gonna win!

Barb 1

What is Ella doing that I am not!!

Bill M Deadwood 2017 (32 of 175)

What to do. Wipe them out, hit and stick, how fast to push, where to aim????

But the highlight was our visit to Mount Rushmore. It was a beautiful, cool, sunny day. Even the drive there was spectacular with a stop here and there to play in the snow. Bill M Deadwood 2017 (80 of 175)

Bill M Deadwood 2017 (101 of 175)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill M Deadwood 2017 (115 of 175)We were able to wander around the park and museum at leisure without having to jostle through thousands of tourists that normally go there during the summer vacation. We were told that during peak season an average of 10,000 people a day visit the park. Pictures do not capture the enormity and grandeur of the sculpted faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln. I tried to the a selfie of the moment with Denny!! Bill M Deadwood 2017 (138 of 175)Bill M Deadwood 2017 (140 of 175)

Bill, please take the pic!!

Bill, please take the pic!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We decided that maybe we could make this an annual Christmas Holiday event and next time we would hope that the rest of our children could be there as well!!

Merry Christmas

I guess we should have posted that we arrived in New Zealand!! Some people are still wondering whether we are still out there. We do have a slow boat and we do love sailing but we have made Landfall!!

Denny is now with his family in Minneapolis and I am with my parents in Ontario. I did get a visit from my son before Christmas and I will see Ally in the New year. We will be back together in New Zealand sometime mid January.

We would like to wish all our family and friends a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year.

Fiji 2016 – Vuda Marina

17 40.873 S – 177 23.213 E

Link to Google Maps

Posting by Barb :

dennys-birthday-2016We have been in Vuda Marina since November 1, Denny’s birthday. We celebrated his birthday at the Sunset bar with our good friends Barbara and Michael from Astarte. The bar must have known it was Denny’s birthday because they had half price pizza. Denny didn’t have a birthday cake as we were en-route to the marina and I didn’t seem to have the ingredients to make a cake (not that I am such a great baker anyway). But Denny did get to savor a pack of Oreo cookies!

We have been sitting here at the marina preparing for our passage to NZ. We finally have the weather window we need (at least we hope so) so we will be leaving as soon as we check out with customs and immigration. Check out scheduled for November 8th. We will do our usual en-route postings. We hope to get to NZ by November 21 and then back to Canada/USA for December.

We will be seeing some of you soon!!dsc_7152

 

Fiji 2016 – Anchorage # 15 – Balulailai

October 28 – 31

16 44.918 S – 178 29.199 E

Link to Google Maps

Posting by Barb :

It was a smooth slow sail to Balulailai. This would be our jumping point to Vita Levu and onward to Vuda Marina. When we arrived at the reef pass for Balulailai it looked a little risky. It was low tide and the passage looked very narrow with large rocks jutting out. But we had no trouble getting through and no trouble anchoring although there wasn’t much room. We could see 2 people on shore but they quickly left and we didn’t see anybody for the remainder of our stay.

We did the usual snorkel, dinghy rides and kayak trips. Our dinghy propeller is not working 100% again. Denny hit another rock in Naviqiri transporting locals back to shore.  Balulailai was a peaceful quiet anchorage. It is freehold land and from what little we could find out about this place it is a 9,999 acre estate owned by foreign owners. So this meant no villages and no power boats. But we were surrounded by goats, cattle and horses. They  disappeared during the heat of the day and didn’t re-appear until the next day.

The plan was to leave by 6 in the morning, pending weather and head to Vita Levu, a 10 hour sail. Every night at midnight the wind would pick up and it would rain heavily. Twice we postponed our departure. The third time we just decided that we would leave although the rain was heavy at times.

This was our last anchorage on Vanua Levu and the end of our cruising in Fiji. We did everything that we set out to do when we decided to do the north of Vanua Levu. We hiked, snorkeled reefs, kayaked, fished and caught fish, visited villages, explored remote places, explored busy cities and tried to learn more about the Fiji Culture. It was amazing that once we left Rabi Island we did not see any other sailboats. It’s this isolation that maybe made the people on this part of Fiji so welcoming and genuinely friendly. We loved every minute of our time here in Fiji.

Fiji 2016 – Anchorage # 14 – Naviqiri

 

October 22 – 28

16 39.266 S – 178 35.329 E

Link to Google Maps

Posting by Barb & Dennis:

We pulled anchor and headed to Naviqiri on a fairly windy day so we had a great sail to our next anchorage.dsc_6884 As we had arrived late Saturday evening we spent the Sunday hanging out in the boat and occasionally we could hear the 4 part harmony from the numerous church services through out the day. On Monday we headed into the village and completed our Sevu Sevu ritual. This was a more animated process with it ending in a chorus of chanting and claps. The kava was quickly pounded and shared with anyone that sat around the bowl. Denny had a quick tour of one of their sources of income; selling of their pine trees to outside saw mill. They were paid $10 per tree and basically did nothing as the trees were cut and hauled out by the sawmill operation.

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Our hosts Freddie and Sera and their grandson!

I had tea and hung out with some ladies for a little while. We were invited to share lunch with some of the locals and it was as a Thank You to me and other ladies  for helping to roll the Voi Voi leaves in preparation for the drying process. The lunch was a bok choy, fish, tomato, noodle and spicy chilis soup. It was so good!! dsc_6882There was lots of activity as they were preparing the site for their once a year Naviqiri Day. We returned to the boat with a usual supply of papaya and lots of mangos as it was growing in abundance. We were invited to the special day which would take place on Thursday. They wanted lots of photos taken.

 

 

dsc_6894-1The next day we were hanging around the boat and Barb yelled that we had company coming.   We watched as we saw three people paddling in our direction.  as soon as it was obvious that they coming to our boat, I jumped in the dingy and drove out to them and asked if they wished to come and visit.  It was three girls paddling using a board and stick to paddle out.  So I towed them back and they came on board and had some Coke and cooks.  They look at everything and are really intrigued by it all.  I think they are more interested in us then we are in them.  It is so fun to share.

dsc_6955We were a little late for the special day thanks to a surprise visit by some young boys from another nearby village. The boys wanted to hear all about USA as it was their dream to someday go there. When we arrived in Naviqiri we were greeted by Sera and Freddie our hosts and given very fragrant Leis to wear for the day. Everybody was dressed in their finest and their temporary sun shelter was decorated with Voi Voi leaves and flowers. We were rewarded with a tapestry of vibrant colors as the Fijians believe in bright, sunny colors. Lunch was the traditional fish with cassava but it also included a very nice spicy tomato salsa and spinach cooked in coconut milk. Everybody, except one particular lady wanted their pictures taken. dsc_9907Denny was often surrounded by kids asking for more pictures. We promised we would send them the pictures of the day. We took about 400 pictures and it took Denny hours to sort and flag the pictures to print and mail. We donated some money to their fund raiser which was flush toilets for the few homes that didn’t already have it. We ate, drank cava and danced for most of the afternoon. And that was the end of our Fiji village experience for 2016. And now just a mere sample of the hundreds of photos we took:

 

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The only lady who didn't like getting her picture taken

The only lady who didn’t like getting her picture taken

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The effect of Kava

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Fundraising Committee

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Preparing the meal

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Hot chocolate break with Sera and family at her home

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Barb Learning local dancing

Barb Learning local dancing

 

 

Fiji 2016 – Anchorage # 13 – Dreketi River, Nabekavu, Navidamu

October 18 – 22

16 31.569 S – 178 52.474 E

Link to Google Maps

Posting by Barb:

We had a beautiful wing on wing sail and anchored in 10 ft of water in heavy mud bottom. The anchorage was not well protected but at least it would be great holding. Even at 10ft of water we were still quite far from the villages and from the Dreketi river. We were nearby 2 villages and each village had about 10 power boats. So for such a small area this meant a sea highway of continued boat traffic and some with large coolers in the middle of their boat. We had the usual ‘bulah’ and drop in’s with invitations to come visit their village.

dsc_9809-1Our first excursion was a dinghy ride up the Dreketi river. It was very different from our last river trips. Very jungle like and we felt more like we were in the dsc_9792-1Amazon. Dreketi is the deepest river in Fiji ( no worries about hitting a rock with our newly fixed dinghy prop). We meet a few ladies up river washing clothes in some pretty murky water but other than that there was very little traffic. On the way back it started to rain quite heavily. It rained heavy enough to set afloat new growth seeds.  We were soon quite drenched. We made a stop into Dreketi to refuel and bought a few fresh tomatoes, bread and a few potatoes.

Our next stop was a visit to Nabekavu village. We brought our Kava and met the head of the village. He accepted our kava but then asked us to show our cruising permit. That has never happened before. We agreed that we would return with the permit. There really wasn’t any Sevu Sevu performed at this village, our Kava just disappeared. On our way back to the boat we were stopped by the Methodist pastor and he asked us to ‘hang out’ with him. dsc_6750And from there local men started appearing all dressed in their finest and we were told that there was a fundraiser to pay their portion of the Methodist district church van. The fundraiser was a Fijian lunch packet which included a whole fried fish and a couple pieces of cassava. While the lunch was being prepared in a gargantuan pot we sat around and drank Cava. dsc_6738Three hours later we left with our lunch packets, papaya and pineapples and we promised to return in the evening for the Youth Church service. It started to rain later in the afternoon and our trek back up the hill to the village turned out to be a muddy challenge as our footwear collected layer upon layer of clay as we made our way to the church. The service started late and it was practically empty. We thought we were in the wrong church until the Methodist pastor made the closing statements (he must have been delayed by the ongoing kava drinking as he showed up late and backup pastor did the sermon). We think that the kava drinking may have affected church attendance. Despite that the 4 part harmony was still beautiful despite the limited attendance and we were made very welcome. Denny even had to get up and say a few words!!

Our fundraiser lunch packet along with some fruit gifts

Our fundraiser lunch packet along with some fruit gifts

Our last stop at this anchorage was Navidamu village. From the beach we were taken to where a house under construction. Considering the minimal tools they had at their disposal I thought they were doing a great job.  The Lay Pastor gave us a very organized tour of the village. Pictures of some our stops:dsc_6758

what would OSHA say!!

what would OSHA say!!

 

First stop - Methodist church. In need of a few repairs but brand new, great sound system

First stop – Methodist church. In need of a few repairs but brand new, great sound system

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Stop 2: Visit to a house to show us how the Voi Voi leaves are prepared for weaving

Stop 3 :Breadfruit lunch preparation

Stop 3 :Breadfruit lunch preparation

Stop 4: The makings of straw brooms.

Stop 4: The makings of straw brooms.

Stop 5; Preparing the Voi Voi for the drying process

Stop 5; Preparing the Voi Voi for the drying process

Stop 6: Weaving at it's finest

Stop 6: Weaving at it’s finest

Stop 7: Hello to a lady who was 114 years old.

Stop 7: Hello to a lady who was 114 years old.

Final stop: Lunch of cooked mango with our tour guide and family

Final stop: Lunch of cooked mango with our tour guide and family

Fiji 2016 – Anchorage # 12 – Nasea

October 17 – 18

16 28.139 S – 179 01.749 E

Link to Google Maps

Posting by Barb:

Our return anchorage to Nukubati was to visit the village Nasea. We waited for the school boat to pass by and then we followed them into the village. dsc_9745 A little girl asked if she could ride with us and she proudly stood at the front of the dinghy as we arrived idled into the village. Nasea was a little disappointing. dsc_9741-1We handed the Kava and they quickly did a mock Sevu Sevu and then went straight to pounding the Kava. We did understand that it was ‘freehold’ so Sevu Sevu was not necessary. They progressed to preparing and drinking the Kava and invited Denny to participate. But they continued to talk in their native tongue making Denny feel a little unwelcome. We understand that it’s probably because they could not speak very good English. Tino, who works at the resort, was probably the only one that made a genuine effort to make us feel comfortable but he was on the way to work.dsc_9755

dsc_9751 dsc_9752I was given a little better welcome. I was introduced to the oldest lady of the village who was 109 years old. She had a little trouble waking up from her nap and felt a  little shy with me being there. The ladies who gave me a tour of the village. They had much better English Language skills so were much chattier than the men. One of the young boys scampered up the Papaya tree and they loaded me up with papayas! They showed me the Kava that they had harvested but from what I could understand very little was sold, it was mostly consumed.dsc_9761-1

dsc_9773Tino dropped by the boat early next morning to say good-bye. He was returning from the resort after a Kava night with the wedding guests. He was tired from the late night affair but he made the special effort to drop by and say he appreciated our visit and was sad to see us go. When we asked if we could take his picture he quickly pulled out his Bulah shirt and got dressed up for the occasion. I guess Denny should have done the same!! He was actually teary eyed when he left.