Astarte Christmas 2016
Stuck at the dock
Workers on the clock
No cold beer
Where's the cheer?
With Christmas almost here.
Will the work be done?
Will we have island fun?
A new galley is great
but we still wait and wait
Holidays are in the hands of fate
In NZ its "silly season"
Called that for good reason
Everyone goes on holiday
it's summer so time to play
No work gets done for many a day.
No Christmas cookies this year
No decorations we fear
There's no room to cook
Or even read a good book
Astarte has an Un-Merry look
But we have each other
No need for another
Perhaps we can untie
From the dock that we're by
And an anchor spot we'll occupy.
So Santa please find us
On the eve of Christmas
We've tried to be good
As all people should
Come see us if you could.
We still have our hopes high
That all the work will be dry
A fridge and freezer with ice
Galley counters would be nice
And a dinner better than beans and rice
Merry Christmas to all our family, friends and log readers
Warm holiday greetings to you. We wish each of you a very happy and joyous holiday season. Our hopes are for your good health and unlimited happiness in 2017. It is a new year that promises some interesting times.
We are currently on the north island of New Zealand in the Bay of Islands where it is summertime. It is also what is known as "silly season" here where most businesses shut down for at least a week – some more like two weeks and people go out on their boats or in their caravans (motor homes) and enjoy the beauty of this island. It is a great and healthy attitude towards work and life. Of course, we are up against the deadline to get our major remodel project completed before everyone takes off. As we write this, we still aren't certain if we will have a completed galley or not before everything shuts down!
Our year has been a really good one aboard the good ship Astarte. Can you believe we are about to begin year eight of cruising fulltime!
We enjoyed some friends who visited us early in the year while in New Zealand. Sue came in February and we enjoyed visiting some of the Harauki Gulf islands. We went on wine tours, hikes, dinghy exploring, kiwi spotting, a Kawau Island music festival and city time. Barbara flew back to the states with Sue and had some special time with her family and friends which she really enjoyed. It included a presentation of our travels to Carol's school. Our friend Tom also arrived in New Zealand for several weeks and it too included some island time and city time. He even got into the kayak "Bob" at least once! It was a splash! Thanks to both of our guests for their time and visits.
In May after waiting and waiting for a decent weather window to depart NZ, we finally left for Fiji via Minerva Reef. But we only got out about 300 miles when we lost our head sail roller furler. We made the decision to turn back to facilitate repairs in New Zealand rather than continuing on to Fiji. We also made the decision to always forego a trip to Minerva Reef. It is now "taboo" for us. It seems every time we head there, something bad happens. The first time from Tonga to Minerva we had the very worst weather we have ever had. The next time to Fiji, we got another storm. This time, a major mechanical issue. So no more Minerva for Astarte.
We made it safely back to New Zealand after a night of heaving too for bad weather. There, we had an expensive new roller furler installed and within ten days were off again for Fiji. We lucked out with a quick repair and a decent weather window. The trip to Fiji was raucaous, but fast. We checked into Savusavu on Vanua Levu in June. We decided to do a circumnavigation of Vanua Levu, something not many people do. It was a terrific experience, but certainly not for everyone. We enjoyed lots of village time at various stops and met many wonderful local Fijians. We were welcomed into homes and made many friends. We took lots of pictures for our new friends. "We're Fijian, we love our picture taken" was the line we heard a lot!
Our route around the island took us to Rambi Island as well where we could have stayed for weeks! We had many stops on the northern side of island and went out to Kia Island which is a remarkable place. We wanted to stay longer but weather drove us away. When we turned the corner to the western side of the island and more stops, we spent some time in Numbawalu where we had the privilege of meeting a wonderful family and the Prime Minister of Fiji, Mr. Banimarama. It was a thrill.
Back in Savusavu after completing the island's circumnavigation, we prepped for our guests Kathryn and Mark making their fourth visit to Astarte. The weather was perfect with the exception of wind for sailing. They were in the water as much as aboard! It was a great visit to Rambi Island and then on to Taveuni where we left them in the hands of a "nice place" the dive resort Paradise Divers. Thanks to them for a great visit and the opportunity to cook goat curry! (The goat was procurred from Palmlea Farms on the north coast of Vanua Levu where we enjoyed some special time with Julie and Joe).
After dropping Kathryn and Mark off, we then headed to cruise the Lomaviti Group of islands. We made a quick one night stop at Koro Island then on to Ovalau. This is where Lavuka is, the original capital of Fiji was located and is a world heritage site. We stayed near the village of Rukuruku and enjoyed this village that was badly hit by Cyclone Winston the previous year. We saw a fair amount of damage from this devastating super cyclone during our travels but it really came to light in this village that was still holding school in tents five months after.
We made a few other stops than onto Suva for a dentist visit and some re-provishining. We went to Beqa Island, another nice stop where we spent a week. Then it was time to start thinking about leaving for NZ again – where did the time go. But the adventure didn't end. In Vuda Marina, we hauled the boat to do a quick bottom cleaning. During the process of getting into the slings, we discovered that the transmission didn't engage. After lots of stress and weighing the situation, Michael ended up flying to NZ to get a new transmission, flying back and installing it. We missed one weather window (thankfully in the end) and caught the next one which ended up being a decent passage.
The passage was long, more miles than the rhumb line, with the wind forward of the beam for most of the trip. We had a few days at the end of motoring when the wind died. We made it ten days to the Q dock in Opua in the Bay of Islands.
Once settled in our reserved dock space, the work began immediately on a few projects - the big one being the redoing of the refrigeration box. Removing the old one meant a major construction project in the galley There have been a few delays and hiccups along the way setting the two and a half week project well beyond that time frame. We are now simply hoping that before the shop closes on Wednesday, we'll have a working refrigerator and counter tops completed. The rigging project (a problem on the new roller furler) is still awaiting word from the manufacturer and the rigging shop but doesn't look like it will happen before the holidays.
So we are working to the last and that means no holiday preps aboard. It will be an unusual year but we are hopeful of going out to an island and dropping the anchor and at least enjoying some time away from a dock with friends.
Happy Holidays to all and thank you for being there for us.
Michael and Barbara
Currentlly at anchor. Got away from the dock on Christmas Day.
At 12/14/2016 2:09 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°18.95'S 174°07.22'E
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