Thursday, August 10, 2017

Widow Maker

An iridescent green skirt over a red skirted lead headed lure seems to be the magic fish catcher on Astarte. It is our widow maker. The last eight fish we've hooked have been on this lure. We've even managed to land some! We call it the widow maker because two of the recent fish we've managed aboard have been mahi – and because they mate for life and we've landed the male bull mahi...there are a few mahi widows. That makes us sad.

On our trip yesterday around Udu Point on the northeast corner of Vanua Levu, we were told by some locals that we were guaranteed to catch a fish around the point. Boy, were they right!! We first hooked a medium sized mahi. Got it near the boat before it shook itself off. Then an hour or so later, we hooked what we thought was a tuna because it never came to the surface. Because we have no internet to confirm what it is, we think it is a rainbow runner. We got it to the boat, landed it and Michael cleaned it and we got several good sized fillets. It was redder meat. We had it for dinner last night and it was very tasty.

About an hour later, after we made the turn around the point, we hooked a HUGE mahi. It was a fighter and because we were sailing at that point it was harder to slow the boat down. We got the headsail in to slow it to 3.5 knots and Michael fought the fish for quite awhile as it kept running when it caught sight of the boat. We finally got it near, gaffed it and even managed to get it aboard. It barely fit through the space between the back stay and the railing. He was a very strong fish and it took both of us to hold it down to get a tail loop on it. It is probably the largest (not perhaps the longest) mahi or fish we have ever landed aboard Astarte. We hooked and released a larger marlin.

We think we are catching fish now because we were gifted a vacuum sealer from our friends Sandy and Rankin of SV Gypsea Heart. Since we have a good way to save the fish for future meals – we are now catching more!

Our travels since leaving Bula Bay have taken us to a few stops. We were first did a 25 mile trip to Taligica Island. It was just an overnight stop though we did have late afternoon visitors to the boat for a tour. As one said, "once in a lifetime experience."

We left the next day to head another 20 or so miles to Nubu. Nubu (pronounced Noom-Boo) means "deep" in Fijian. It was an interesting narrow cut into the reef and an "S" curve to get to the anchorage. We were looking for a home for a few days to wait out some predicted heavy winds. We got relatively close to the shore but still had to anchor in 50 feet of water. This was a very pretty anchorage and near a small river. Our friends on "Land Fall" had told us about this spot and said there was a small cascade/waterfall at the river end. We dinghied to find it and found an very interesting spot. It wasn't the easiest spot to get up but we found a side with lots of footholds to make our way to the river. There were many, many deep pools – very deep – in the river with small trickles over the edges. They went on and on. The river was sided by lots of trees, butterflies, birdsong and it was very pretty.

We came back the next day with a loaded dinghy. It was filled with dirty laundry, water filters from the water-maker to be cleaned and shower gear. Tide was lower and we had to walk the dinghy over the shallow mouth of the river – but once over that we could motor back to the stream. We got everything ashore and started our projects in a beautiful, shady spot. Most of the pools were too deep to even stand up in. They had steep sides. By the sides of the stream you could tell that during rainy season the river flows pretty mightily.

We repeated the routine the next day with more laundry (we hadn't done any for five weeks!) and Michael took a pretty good hike up the stream. It was a very nice spot.

We did put out a second anchor because of the predicted wind and because we were in such deep water with reefs around us. It gave us more peace of mind. We set the danforth anchor with the dinghy. During our stay here, we had three local boats stop by the boat to visit. They had nets that they were using to go out fishing. We invited two of the boats aboard and enjoyed meeting the people and learned about the area (including that it was called Nubu which means "deep.")

After five days in Nubu we made our way around Udu Point to leave the north side of Vanua Levu and start our way south again. We had a 37 mile trip to Rabi Island (pronounced Rahm-bee) and Albert Cove. This is one of our favorite spots – and one we took Kathryn and Mark to last year during their visit. Normally there is a family that lives on shore – but right now there is no other boat here nor anyone ashore. We have the place to ourselves. And Kathryn and Mark will be happy to know, the "guardian spade fish" are still here.
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At 8/10/2017 7:02 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°26.68'S 179°56.24'W

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

DIFFERENT WAYS TO CATCH A FISH

FIRST – New photos on page.

We continue to enjoy our time on the north coast of Vanua Levu. After we left Kia island and Michael recovered from his hike with Save to the top of the split rock, we made our way to Malau and Labasa for a reprovisioning run. On our way here, we caught a small fish of unknown variety, but it was tasty for dinner.

We anchored off the lumber mill and took the dinghy to shore where the guards at the mill would watch the dinghy which you tie up right behind their guard shack. Tuni, Daniel and Simi, the guards were all on hand and we had a nice visit while we waited for the bus.

We caught the 0830 bus to town and did a shopping run for meat, produce, diesel, bread and ice cream. We caught the 1300 back loaded down with watermelon,a jerry jug and many bags. We picked up sweet treats for the guards as well. The next morning, Michael took the propane tank in to the fill station on shore (we paid for the fill in town the previous day). The timing was good because just as he was returning, the cooking gas ship came in to moor, to put in 50 tons of cooking gas to the station and they don't do fills when the ship is in!

From this quick stop we made our way to Tivi Island about 10 miles away and slowly sailed most of the way. Like last year, we were met with a "mirror" greeting. Someone on shore flashes a very large mirror at you as you enter the bay. Once anchored in this quite protected anchorage, fixing the dinghy is the high priority. It is taking on lots and lots of water because the port side tube is separating from the floor and leaves quite a gap to let in the water. Michael managed to do a temporary repair to hopefully cover us until we return to NZ for a more major warranty repair.

We also sat out some bad weather in Tivi – a morning of 35 knot winds – and a bit of rain (the first we've seen since we left Savusavu).

Once the weather was past, we made our way another short jump to Bula Bay (that's what the locals call it – most boaters call it Blackjack Bay from an old guide). It is near the Wainikoro River and a pretty anchorage. We made our way up the river to get more diesel – it was easier to do it here than by bus – so we would get two more jugs. It was a fun trip up the river, several fiberglass open boats passed us. They are so kind here. One boat filled with a giant barrel of fuel and six men (all smoking) on board slowed down as the passed us. That's better than they do in the Intercoastal Waterway!

We stopped and chatted with some folks on shore near their garden. They told us there was also a boat in Tivi Island ...we told them that was us the other day! One evening a boat with three fishermen, stopped by the boat in Bula Bay. We usually don't like it when boats come after dark. They were heading out to the reef to fish for the night and wanted to see the yacht. We invited to come back the next day in daylight. They did return around 4 pm the next afternoon and gifted us a beautiful fish. They called it a salmon cod – it was a pretty red fish with blue speckles on the skin. It was nicely chilled and a good size. That's one way to catch a fish – invite fishermen aboard to take a look at the boat. It was a very tasty treat as well – very firm white fish. Lighty sauteed it was a very tasty meal.

The next morning, two of the three returned to the boat this time with a large casava in hand along with the "how to" on cooking it. Aleki and John had become "friends" and liked knowing the people on the yacht. We had half the casava that night for dinner. We did a snorkel near what we called "Kiss" island – the shape was like a Hershey's Chocolate Kiss. It wasn't great coral – quite algae covered and pretty beat up – but there were some pretty fish to be seen.

We left Bula Bay and went out Sau Sau Passage through the reef. It is a pretty wide opening in the Great Sea Reef. Once outside the reef we would head east along the outside of the reef for about 20 miles. The wind was right on the nose – so we motored. The goal was to catch a fish – this time on a line and not getting one tossed into the boat from a friendly fisherman. Optimism was the keyword of the day for fishing. We had a spoon off the handline, and the fish catching "green and red" squid on the pole. We were barely making 5 knots against the wind and swell. We had the main up as well to try to steady the ride. Just as we were getting towards the end of the trip with the next reef entrance about 2.5 miles away, the rod's reel started to spin off at a high speed. "Fish On!"

Michael fought the battle with a very nice bull mahi. We actually got it to the boat and after several attempts to gaff it – the line broke! But Michael had his hand on the leader so he wrapped his hand around it (not a good idea) – but we got the mighty fish aboard and tail looped. It was a strong fish still even after a gaff and a long fight. It was a beauty.

After filleting it – it was a six meal (for two people) fish. We enjoyed the first helping that evening in our new anchorage near Tiligica Island. Within an hour of anchoring, we've already had three guys on board to see the boat and take pictures. We are an unusual sight on this side of the island.

Fishing has been better aboard Astarte – two on the line, one as a gift – three different varieties and we'll enjoy the mahi for several meals.
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At 8/3/2017 8:23 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°11.30'S 179°46.26'E

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Village Life

We talk a lot about our visits to various villages here in Fiji. You've seen some photos on our photo page of villages. But here are some descriptions of a few different types of villages we've got to know.

Most are a lot larger than your first impression. You see a few homes from the water and usually one larger roofed building which is almost always in the best location on the hill, and it's the church. Once you enter the village, you see many, many more homes than you first thought – they are tucked way back, often tiered along a hillside. Some are settled more in the brush. Because we are always visiting water-sided villages, they often have at least one fiberglass open launch with a Yamaha outboard (15 to 40 horse depending on the purpose). Some villages, like Ligau here in Kia, have many boats because the village income is based on the sea – fishing in this case. The boats are tied to wooden poles (branches) stuck in the mud or they use a homemade re-bar grapple style anchor.

Once in the village, all the homes are open. The windows seldom have glass in them – though a few are the old-fashioned slatted "jealousy" windows. Breeze is critical in these tropical climates – so they do what they can to get some air through their homes. Some homes have some basic furniture – but most have very little in terms of conventional furnishings. The floors have beautifully woven mats made from the pandanus leaves. We often see women weaving together in the community rooms or in the shade and often see the pandanus drying in yards. They even have mats that they roll out for company – which we often get when we go in to do sevusevu or are invited for tea. The family gathers on the mats for all meals – they have better knees than we do! Sometimes, there are chairs, tables and sofas in the homes – but that is usually the exception. Many now have beds – though some still use the woven mats as their place to sleep. Because the homes are so open to the elements, it does make sense not to have too much "stuffed" furniture that would collect dampness, mold and critters.

Some villages have no general electricity – not on city power! There are lots of solar panels popping up and they are getting bigger and bigger and more refined with large installations. When we first visited villages, you'd simply see these little panels or flashlight/lanterns that had solar outside sitting in the sun during daytime hours. Now days, places like Kia where we are now, have just had solar panels put near each persons house on large poles connected to large batteries with 300 watt inverters. Some villages also use a village generator – this often runs for a set amount of hours each day – often only two hours each night. If a village has a major clinic or school, it often has its own generator.

Kids go to school from "kindy" to grade eight. Many villages that are large enough have their own schools and sometimes a few villages have to combine. If the villages are close enough the students walk to school or as in Kia, get school "boated" to the central village. If the villages are too far, sometimes the students are housed at the school like a boarding school from Sunday night until Friday afternoon. We were told in Navidamu that it costs $250 Fijian dollars per student per year for the housing which the government pays. They are certainly doing it on the cheap (that's about $125 US). The government pays for the schooling including transportation, meals, teachers, classrooms and some supplies. The parents must provide school uniforms and some school supplies and backpacks. The country used to charge school fees – but that has recently been eliminated with the government picking up that tab. It has put a large importance on education and the school fees made it difficult for some families to send multiple children to school. Most classes are taught in English, though Fijian is still the language you hear spoken most by the children and they are very shy about speaking English. We are pretty sure they understand more than they speak.

Church is the central part of village life and the villages pretty much shut down on Sundays and every puts on their best clothes and heads to the church. Drums often beat a countdown to the service (every fifteen minutes) to make sure nobody is late.

Sports are still favored in many villages – the kids certainly play rugby and netball. Some soccer and volleyball is also around. There are some adult teams as well, that challenge nearby villages during special events and holidays. Rugby is THE sport in Fiji thanks to the gold medalists "Fiji Seven" Rugby team from the Rio Olympics. Kids still run around and are typical of kids everywhere.

Over the few years we have noticed that some villages are changing – as is everything in the world. Fewer people are gardening now because if they have a way to make money (like fishing) they can just buy stuff. Rice is now eaten more than the root vegetables that were grown in the gardens like cassava, taro or yams. That is leading to more diabetes as well amongst the populations. Because there is more and more solar power, there are more and more televisions in the homes and satellite dishes on the roofs. When we were having tea the other day at Save's home, a group of women were sitting in front of a very large television watching Chinese soap operas – glued to the screen. More cell phones are popping up and when the teachers from Koroinosola visited the boat – they couldn't take enough "selfies."

You can't stop "progress" and everyone deserves a chance to upgrade their lifestyle. But it is still really special to get to some of these villages where community is central. People working together for the betterment of their village and their futures. We still like not seeing a television in sight and seeing people gardening together, weaving together and laughing while sitting in the shade of the large mango trees.

In some places we are still like a spaceship that has landed in their bay. People still want to come out and see the boat. There are still great and funny differences – we were showing one of our fish identification books to someone aboard and when we look at it we comment on how pretty or unusual the fish are. Our guest was commenting – "Oh that's a really tasty one. That one's good. That one is bony....etc." Food gathering is still a high priority.

We are still privileged and honored to get invited to the warmth, kindness and generosity of these villagers. Glad we are experiencing this now and not in ten years!
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At 7/24/2017 7:15 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°14.05'S 179°05.21'E

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Palmlea Farms and Kia Island

The wind finally settled enough to make the 18 mile run along the northern coast of Vanua Levu to a mangrove surrounded anchorage in front of Palmlea Farms. We came here last year and got to know the owners Julie and Joe – former cruisers. The "farm" is a small resort with a few rooms, a nice restaurant with great view and hundreds of goats. They raise the largest meat producing goat and have quite an operation. We enjoyed two evening visits and nice meal with Joe and Julie. They had several guests the second night so we scooted out of that anchorage and came to Kia Island.

Kia Island is located in a large horseshoe bend in the Great Sea Reef. So it is surrounded on three sides reef and the water is crystal clear. There are three villages on this island – Daku in the northwest corner, Ligua in the southwest corner and Yudu on the southeast east side. We came to the middle village Ligua that has the school for the entire island. The children arrive in the morning from the other two villages by a "school boat" - an open fiberglass 22 foot boat with a 60 horse Yamaha. There are 56 children in the school.

Upon arrival we had to re-anchor several times to avoid the many "bommies" in the bay – and Michael had to keep diving in to check that we were clear of them. Where's anchor boy? A boat did come up as we were anchoring to see if we needed any help – it was two guys with about nine giant lobsters on the floor! Once settled in about 30 feet, we went to shore for sevusevu.

Because we had been here last year as well, we did know a few folks and Save (prononced sah-vay), the torongo ni koro, was on shore to meet us. It was great seeing him again. Last year we did some nice family pictures for him but had to leave because of weather prior to delivering them. Luckily our friends, Lance and Michelle from "Sweetwaters" made the delivery for us! Save thought that was pretty cool. We did sevusevu with Save and Varesi, the village elder.

After a nice visit we went to the school to see if they wanted school photos and then to Save's house for tea and pancakes. (this is a traditional treat with tea of fried dough – very tasty).

The anchorage is interesting here – the wind funnels around the high island around the north and south points. Where we anchored, we would get gusts from either side of the boat at different times, which meant that Astarte would go around in circles. With all the bommies around this makes for interesting noises aboard and hopes that we don't get tangled or do damage to the reef. It gets a little rolly when the tide is at its highest point as the waves come over the protecting reef structure and we get some swell. But it doesn't last but a few hours a few times a day.

We did school pictures the next morning and had intended to have Save and his grandchildren out to the boat later in the afternoon. But we got some sort of stomach bug – no surprise with all the hand shaking and kids around! So we asked to postpone the visit when Michael delivered the printed photos to the school. Perhaps tomorrow.

We are the first boat to come to shore at Kia this season. That makes it interesting with lots of boats stopping by to visit Astarte on their to or from fishing expeditions. The island is renowned for fishing prowess. They provide much of the fish for all of Fiji. They work hard at it though. One boat of four young men stopped by after they had been out for two days on the reef – this is an open 22-foot fiberglass boat – no bimini or protection from the sun and certainly no facilities for comfort! They were out there in this for 48 hours.

The next entry will be some observations on the changing village life in Kia.
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At 7/20/2017 9:43 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°14.04'S 179°05.22'E

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Windy Fiji

It is blowing 20 plus and has been now for a few days. It is predicted to last until NEXT Thursday and then only lighten a bit before more fronts, troughs etc. hit the area. We are settled in an okay place in Vunisinu Bay – a pretty large cut in the reef that goes quite away back. But the wind is still hooting through here, but luckily we don't have too much fetch. The noise of the wind though gets old and we are only into day two of the solid bluster. We have 175 feet of chain out in 4 meters of water (14 feet) so we should hopefully hold well. The gusts make us heel over though so you have to hold on below. Feels like being offshore.

We enjoyed our visit to Navidamu Village. It was like visiting family – many people remembered us from last year. We had Tomasi and his wife to the boat for coffee and cake. He is the "toronga ni koro" and we learned a lot about how village life works and why this particular village seems more industrious than many we visited. They have lots of village projects that are initiated – a new one is for the women, who will collect seaweed, dry it on racks that have been built on the beach and sell it. Plus, there is lots of weaving of mats and baskets going on in the community building. This is also the village where every family has planted sandlewood trees. Sandlewood when mature (20-30 years) sells for $150 (Fijian) per kilogram of the wood to the grower. That means each tree is worth a small fortune to a family. Many villages plant and grow the trees, but this one has a mandatory tree growing plan, as ordered by the chief.

On Thursday afternoon, we went to visit the school. It is a relatively large district school of 110 kids or so. About half live at the school because their village is too far for a daily commute. They come late Sunday and leave Friday afternoon. It was a really special visit as the teachers got the entire school out in the field, neatly lined up and seated and we talked to them and they asked some questions (how old are you? What do you eat? And things like that!) Then the children sang us some songs. One was particularly funny (though we couldn't understand the Fijian words, one of the teachers explained it). The youngest children sang and danced about the villagers fishing, gardening and then how the white men came and stole the people and stuffed them on bags! No wonder we get strange looks from some of the youngest children! We were invited for some juice and snacks and then watched the kids play some sports – the young girls were playing net ball and the boys "flag rugby." On our way from the school, a young boy ran up and gave us a big bag filled with "white bone" (or bokchoy cabbage). We later traded with another boat that showed up in the anchorage – a stock of cabbage for two papayas. It was the first boat we'd seen in a few weeks.

We also found one day (Wednesday) where the wind was a bit lighter and we took the dinghy up the Draketi River. The Dreketi is the deepest river in all of Fiji. We left bright and early when the tide was high so we could make a direct route from Astarte to the mouth of the river. It gets very shallow and has sticky mud banks. We made it into the river (getting a tad damp on the way) and then worked our way up the river several miles to the village of Dreketi. It is more like a very large bus stop as large buses stop here on their way to Labasa or the ferries in Nabawalu. There is a small vegetable market, a few small groceries and a place to buy fuel. We needed some gasoline to re-load the tank for the trip back. We were able to buy fresh bread, some fresh fruit and vegetables and had a roti lunch out. The people were very friendly and we got lots of invites for tea or dinner – but had to pass so we could make it back to the boat. We picked the only calm day to do this. The wind has been more consistently strong this season. And though on the north coast (which should be the lee of the island) it seems to really come roaring over the hills in big gusts. It is disquieting and we don't remember it as much from last year. Maybe our memories are going.

We left Navidamu yesterday (Friday) and left internet behind (bummer) and made a short trip to what we had hoped would be a more protected anchorage and bay. The trip was long for less than ten miles. We had very strong head winds and big wind chop. At times we could only motor about 2 knots against the conditions. We made our way into the deep bay – as far back as we felt safe to go and dropped the hook. Unfortunately the wind is still howling through the rigging but we certainly have less fetch here than we would in Navidamu.

Based on the weather forecast, we may be stuck here for some time. This looks like the best bay on the charts within a 20 mile radius. Our next stop we hope is at Palmlea Farms to visit Joe and Julie. Don't know when we'll make it there. Don't want to bash into 20-30 knot winds for 20 miles.
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At 7/14/2017 9:15 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°28.69'S 178°57.45'E

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Naviqiri Grapevine

Many cruising yachts think that they can sneak into an anchorage and nobody will know they are there. They are so wrong.

After our adventures in Koroinasolo, it was time to turn the northwest corner of Vanua Levu and get on the north coast. This meant that we would sail around "monkey face"" " mountain and through some narrow cuts in the reefs. It was a relatively calm day and the seas were flat, so certainly a good day for this trip. We put the headsail out and had a pleasant sail around the point and through the reefs until the wind was on the nose and then we motored. We worked hard at spotting the "monkey's face" but still aren't certain we saw it. Even with great directions from the teachers we had aboard! Maybe we just don't have good enough imaginations.

Our destination was the village of Naviqiri where we spent almost a week the previous year. We arrived early afternoon and went into the village that afternoon for sevusevu. Sera and Freddy were our hosts last year and Freddy is also the "toronga ni koro" so we sought them out. As soon as we landed the dinghy, several women from the village recognized us and we were welcomed back as family. Sera came up to us and one of her first questions was, "you lost something in Koroinasola?" The grapevine had worked fast – that anchor and chain event had happened the previous day – and already it was news in this village. Others also asked about it. So if you think they don't know what's happening in their own anchorages and even in surrounding villages...you are very mistaken. The grapevine is alive and working overtime in Fiji.

We did our sevusevu and found out that the chief had been one of the men in the meeting Michael attended in Koroinasolo. So he heard the story first hand and brought it back to his village. We enjoyed a visit with folks and went back to the boat with a few fresh lemons (for lemon cake!) We had Sera and Freddy to Astarte the previous year and served them tea and lemon cake and since then we know Sera has asked other visiting yachtie friends of ours for "lemon cake".

The next morning we returned with lemon cake in hand and had a nice tea. That was followed by a long trek up the hills for a promised great view. Our guides on the walk were three young children (it was Saturday so no school). We had Rosie (grade five), Charlie (grade seven) and little Charlie (kindergarten). The were very polite children – "Man Charlie" (that's what we ended up calling the older Charlie) carrying Michael's backpack the entire trip which he accomplished without shoes. The other two did the hike in flip flops! Little Charlie got the nickname "Speedy" (or Speeti in Fijian) because he probably climbed the hill three times running up and down and talking non-stop in Fijian. Rosie would politely walk near us and pull away tall grasses from our pathway or pull sticky nettles off Barbara's skirt!

The walk was steep on back roads and paths and over a burned out area. The views from the top were worth the effort. We could see the entire bay and even the other side to Rukuruka Bay. The island of Kia could even be seen in the far distance.

Upon our return to the village, we took our three young guides to Astarte. Only Man Charlie was at a yacht once previously. They were excited about the ride in the dinghy (they called it "speedboat" though it doesn't go very fast with five people). We served them some cookies and soft drinks and gave them the tour. They became "celebrities" on shore because they got to see the yacht. We were served a nice local lunch by Sera and Feddy of freshly cooked yams, chopped dalo leaves in coconut milk and fresh papaya. Yum.

We headed back to Astarte as we were quite worn out from the heat and long trek up the hill. Of course we had the huge following of children to help us launch the dinghy.

We decided to take off on Sunday for the twenty plus mile trip to the next stop. When we went to start the engine though – it wouldn't start. Michael knew exactly what it was because he had commented a few days prior about the battery switch seemed to not be a solid connection. Luckily we kept the old one when we replaced it with this one a few years back. It was located, still worked and then installed. The engine started and off we went.

We arrived in Navidamu Village around 3 pm but because it was Sunday, we opted to not go into the village to do sevusevu. We would do it the next morning.
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At 7/7/2017 7:15 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°39.37'S 178°35.73'E

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Chiefs, Teachers and Koroinasolo Justice

We stayed a few days near Koroinasolo Village. We took a walk to the primary school which has four teachers and 52 students Grades 1-8 (they combine 1st and 2nd, 3rd and 4th, 5th and 6th, and 7th and 8th.) We met the head teacher, Mr. Tom and agreed to come back the next morning to take "class photos" at 10:30. The next day came – but the head teacher and another teacher weren't there as they made a trip into Labasa (the largest town in the area – about a two hour drive away). So we agreed to come back the next morning.

Michael decided to take a walk that afternoon up the road. He met road workers and learned about the area. Upon his return to the dinghy, he found that our anchor and chain had been taken and someone tied the dinghy to a nearby float. Not a good thing! He went back to the town and looking for Milly, whom we had met earlier in the day (and taken a picture of her baby which we had printed and given her). Milly spoke very good english, so Michael asked her the proper etiquette of getting to see the village chief and explained why. She told him he really needed the "toronga ni koro" to introduce him to the chief – but Philip was also gone to Labasa. Michael told her he would be back first thing in the morning to see Philip and the chief. She asked if he wanted to see the police that were in town, but Michael declined at this point.

Thursday morning came and Michael was well prepped on how he was going to deal with the chief regarding the missing anchor and chain. He dressed in his sulu and made his way to the village. He found Philip, who happened to be in a meeting with the chief and several elders. He explained exactly what had transpired and how disappointed he was that a village that depended on the sea for its livelihood would steal, boat equipment from another boater. He also told them he would prefer to deal with it locally through the chief first rather than dealing with the police – which got him lots of positive nods and approvals. He was invited to sit in a place of honor next to the chief and one of the members at the meeting left. The chief and elders continued their meeting for a short time in Fijian, and after a while, the man who had left returned, and the chief turned to Michael and told him his anchor and chain were back in his dinghy.

Sure enough, next to the dinghy there was our anchor and chain. With this happy outcome, we decided to continue with the planned picture taking at the school. When we arrived at the school, everyone already knew about the stolen anchor and chain. In fact, the entire village knew!

We took class pictures and returned to the boat to print them. As we left town, we saw Milly again and thanked her for her help and she was pleased that we got the anchor back and was so sorry something like that had happened in her village. We had arranged for the four teachers and spouses to come to the boat that afternoon at 3:30 to see the boat (none had ever been aboard a "yacht") and pick up the photos. At 3:15 Michael went ashore to pick them up. He waited and waited and finally at 4:15 returned to the boat. At 4:30 they showed up – I guess that's Fijian time! We had a great visit with them and they took more pictures aboard – posing selfies in every part of the boat!

After a few hours they departed with one of the teachers taking off her skirt as she was leaving to give to Barbara. (She did have shorts on underneath!). They were a hoot.

Friday morning was calmer than the previous week and it was time to move on so we went around "Monkey Face" Mountain and sailed to our next destination. At the next stop we learn that the Fijian Village grapevine is very effective.
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At 7/7/2017 7:15 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°39.37'S 178°35.73'E

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Chiefs, Teachers and Koroinasolo Justice

We stayed a few days near Koroinasolo Village. We took a walk to the primary school which has four teachers and 52 students Grades 1-8 (they combine 1st and 2nd, 3rd and 4th, 5th and 6th, and 7th and 8th.) We met the head teacher, Mr. Tom and agreed to come back the next morning to take "class photos" at 10:30. The next day came – but the head teacher and another teacher weren't there as they made a trip into Labasa (the largest town in the area – about a two hour drive away). So we agreed to come back the next morning.

Michael decided to take a walk that afternoon up the road. He met road workers and learned about the area. Upon his return to the dinghy, he found that our anchor and chain had been taken and someone tied the dinghy to a nearby float. Not a good thing! He went back to the town and looking for Milly, whom we had met earlier in the day (and taken a picture of her baby which we had printed and given her). Milly spoke very good english, so Michael asked her the proper etiquette of getting to see the village chief and explained why. She told him he really needed the "toronga ni koro" to introduce him to the chief – but Philip was also gone to Labasa. Michael told her he would be back first thing in the morning to see Philip and the chief. She asked if he wanted to see the police that were in town, but Michael declined at this point.

Thursday morning came and Michael was well prepped on how he was going to deal with the chief regarding the missing anchor and chain. He dressed in his sulu and made his way to the village. He found Philip, who happened to be in a meeting with the chief and several elders. He explained exactly what had transpired and how disappointed he was that a village that depended on the sea for its livelihood would steal, boat equipment from another boater. He also told them he would prefer to deal with it locally through the chief first rather than dealing with the police – which got him lots of positive nods and approvals. He was invited to sit in a place of honor next to the chief and one of the members at the meeting left. The chief and elders continued their meeting for a short time in Fijian, and after a while, the man who had left returned, and the chief turned to Michael and told him his anchor and chain were back in his dinghy.

Sure enough, next to the dinghy there was our anchor and chain. With this happy outcome, we decided to continue with the planned picture taking at the school. When we arrived at the school, everyone already knew about the stolen anchor and chain. In fact, the entire village knew!

We took class pictures and returned to the boat to print them. As we left town, we saw Milly again and thanked her for her help and she was pleased that we got the anchor back and was so sorry something like that had happened in her village. We had arranged for the four teachers and spouses to come to the boat that afternoon at 3:30 to see the boat (none had ever been aboard a "yacht") and pick up the photos. At 3:15 Michael went ashore to pick them up. He waited and waited and finally at 4:15 returned to the boat. At 4:30 they showed up – I guess that's Fijian time! We had a great visit with them and they took more pictures aboard – posing selfies in every part of the boat!

After a few hours they departed with one of the teachers taking off her skirt as she was leaving to give to Barbara. (She did have shorts on underneath!). They were a hoot.

Friday morning was calmer than the previous week and it was time to move on so we went around "Monkey Face" Mountain and sailed to our next destination. At the next stop we learn that the Fijian Village grapevine is very effective.
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At 7/7/2017 7:15 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°39.37'S 178°35.73'E

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Baulailai to Koroinosolo

After a few days in Baulailai, we moved on to the next location … a new place for us. Prior to leaving Baulailai, we did meet the Indo-Fijian family that lives in the bay - Nilesh, his wife and three children. We enjoyed our time in this pretty spot watching the hundreds of goats on the hillsides, listening to the very loud cows hidden in the trees and hoping the fire we saw burning on the other side of the hill wouldn't make it over the ridge. The fire burned a very tall tree and it was alight most of the night looking like an old fashioned beacon. I had cut my foot while launching the dinghy in the morning, so we wouldn't be able to hike around or snorkel for a few days so we made the decision to move on. Its not a bad cut, but in this tropical environment it is always safer to keep it dry and out of the water.

We entered Rukuruku Bay, an inlet in the far northwest corner of Vanua Levu after negotiating our way around the reefs at the entrance of Baulailai. This is a long narrow strip of water between the hills. When inside it looks land-locked. We made our way down the few miles in 10 meter water towards the village at the end of the bay. There were seven fiberglass boats with outboards at anchor near the village – so it looks like a prosperous village. We had been told it was a very traditional village by Nilesh.

We anchored in about 4 meters of water (13 feet), but the spot is still very windy despite the tall hills all around. After lunch, we went to do our sevusevu in the village. Sevusevu is a ceremony where visitors present a gift bundle of yagona (the dried plant which makes the drink kava) to the chief and asks permission to visit the village. When you get to village and make your way ashore, you ask for the "toronga ni koro" (the man who will connect you with the chief for the presentation ceremony). As we made our way up a path through some gardens we asked a man working in the garden for the "toronga ni koro." He said it was he and his name was Philip. He took us into his home and it was the shortest ceremony we ever had. We never got taken to the chief, Philip simply invited us to sit down on the carpet, he asked Michael to write down our names and the boat name and then he clapped three times, took the yagona and that was it!

We then were invited to the other room for a cup of tea and some freshly baked rolls. There we met George, his wife and youngest daughter and an older girl. Later another young girl came into the house in her school uniform. After our visit with the family, we took a short walk around Koroinosolo. The village is on a hillside so there are three levels of homes. At this point, we had our large entourage of children showing us around. Michael took out the camera and that got all the kids posing and giving their hand signals! They love their picture taken. After our short walkabout, we got back to Philip and George and family's home where a young boy scurried up a coconut palm to get us some drinking coconuts. These young boys are amazing. The coconuts were then opened – one the traditional way on a stick that was imbedded in the ground and then "the faster way" with a machete or bush knife.

We got back down the hill with about 20 or so children who then helped us launch the dinghy which was now hard aground with the outgoing tide.

Today, we'll head back to the village in the afternoon to go visit the school. We watched as the fiberglass boats all left this morning with five guys in each. They came blasting out with a quick "drive by" Astarte with waves and yells. Off to work!

We'll probably stay here a few more days then make our way around the northwest corner of the island and get on the northside of Vanua Levu.

Happy Fourth of July – Patricia on Gulf Harbour Radio his morning played the USA National Anthem over the radio prior to the weather report.
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At 7/3/2017 7:42 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°44.16'S 178°31.60'E

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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Sailing North Through the Reefs

We enjoyed a few days anchored near Nasonisoni Pass. On Friday, a Fijian holiday, we headed 25 miles north towards Nabouwalu. This is a ferry stop and where we met the Prime Minister of Fiji last year. We had also made friends with a family here and we thought it would be fun to visit Police Constable Michael and his family again. As we approached Nabouwalu though, the winds were really blowing and there was quite a swell. So we decided to skip the stop and go ten miles further and get into the more protected Mbua Bay. This is a deep bay and very sticky mud for holding. There isn't much wind protection from the short mangroves, but its relatively shallow (5-6 meters) and lots of room. It was a windy night, but the anchor held well and there was no swell. Sorry though that we missed saying hello to our friends.

The next morning (Saturday, July 1), the sun was shining and steady 15-20 knot SE breeze was still blowing. We decided we'd take advantage of the good visibility and make a 14 mile trip to Bualailai. It is another spot we stopped in last year and remembered liking. It is inside a reef and surrounded on three sides but relatively high rocky hills with mangroves along the water. There is a sandy beach on one side and river/stream.

We managed to sail the entire way with a small headsail – not wanting to go too fast through the reefs. It was very comfortable, less rolly than the previous day's trip. Last year when we did this trip we went the opposite way and fought the trade winds – so it was a lot slower going, less comfortable and certainly required the services of our trusty engine and diesel fuel. It has been nice to be able to sail up the coast this year because we decided to go around the island clockwise instead. We'll pay the price on the other side!

We hope this will be a comfortable stop to spend a few days. Weather permitting we'll take a good walk, snorkel, explore in the dinghy and perhaps meet the family that lives up the stream. It is pretty protected here though the wind is still blowing off the hillsides. Lots of goats on the hillsides to watch.
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At 7/1/2017 8:05 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°44.92'S 178°28.98'E

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Dreaded Nasonisoni Pass

Reefs in island groups provide many benefits to ocean life. They also a source of danger to boaters. Last week an Oyster 61 found a reef in southern Fiji with four New Zealanders aboard and was destroyed. The people got off safely and went to a nearby island and were later picked up.

When we were in Savusavu, a call went out on the radio seeking volunteers to go out and help a US flagged Hylas 44 named Kia Ora from Seattle that came to grief in Nasonisoni Pass. Michael was one of the four boating volunteers to go out with a dive boat from Namena Divers. The dive boat had a captain, two divers and two deck hands. The other volunteers were Ted from "Roundabout II," Ian from "Cables Length 2" and Pete from "Larakin." This international crew (Canadian, Australian and one that now calls Fiji home and US) went out in the early afternoon for the twenty plus mile trip to "Kia Ora" which had hit the reef in the pass. Because tide was out and still going out, they were hard aground resting on their port side. The divers placed a few anchors and a line to a coral head to secure the boat for the changing tide and did a quick inspection though the hull was mostly out of the water. After some time on sight and attempts to move the boat, Ian was willing to stay aboard with the stressed out couple overnight The dive boat and other volunteers returned to Savusavu around 8 pm with the plan to return to the stricken boat earlythe next morning on the high tide.

The next morning at 0730 the volunteers and dive boat went out again. When they arrived at Nasonisoni pass, the boat was upright and almost floating. Divers went in the water to inspect the hull with good instructions on specific problem areas to really look at carefully. They also checked out in what direction the boat should be pulled to safely remove it from the ree fwithout additional damage. A bridle was made up with Astarte's old anchor rode, and the dive boat got the Hylas off the reef. The dive boat then got all the anchors up while "Kia Ora" motored for about 45 minutes to check things out. The dive boat then reset the main anchor and "Kia Ora" motored back to the anchor for hook up. The dive boat and all the volunteers returned to Savusavu giving the owners of the Hylas time to rest and recover in a safe anchorage. "Kia Ora" did call the rescue vessel when it was about 2/3 of the way back to Savu Savu, asking that the dive boat return to help bring up their anchor. The captain said to get some rest and he would return in the morning. Stressing that a good nights rest was surely needed.

It seemed like a successful recovery. Until the next morning...
A call on the radio said that "Kia Ora" sunk and the crew had gotten off and dinghied over to another boat at anchor who were bringing then to Savusavu. "What?" was the exclamation on the lips of all the rescuers and dive boat personnel. The boat was left floating and there didn't seem to be any major damage to the hull. It motored quite awhile while their anchor was being reset by the dive boat. What happened? According to the owners, they say that boat started to take on water in the early morning. They abandoned their sailboat when the water was knee deep below and went to ask for assistance from the nearby sailboat at anchor. The boat was still floating but they did not want to go back aboard to recover any items or watch it. They simply came to Savusavu.

We can now definitely say the boat has sunk. As we came through Nasonisoni Pass today, we saw the very top of the mast with the wind instruments barely sticking up out of the water at low tide.

These lessons are great reminders how you must always be vigilant while cruising and especially when sailing around reef strewn waters. Much discussion over beers has taken place over the last few weeks. Finding where the water was coming in and trying our hardest to stop it was top of the list along with really listening for the bilge pumps working. We have also determined we need a very long, very strong line that could be used as a tow line should we need it. The line they had broke when the dive boat first attempted to tow it (that's why Michael brought Astarte's old anchor rode which was ultimately used as the bridle).

We made it through the Nasonisoni Pass today as we begin our travels around Fiji this year. We always have a bow watch when going through passes and sails down and motor on. We do our best to time tides so we enter on slack water.

Seeing sailboats lost on reefs is very sad – for the owners and also for the damaged reef. We have safely anchored just around the corner from the pass. Luckily the tide is coming in so we can no longer see the mast of "Kia Ora."
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At 6/7/2017 10:48 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°46.65'S 179°19.94'E

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Escape from Savusavu

A variety of new pictures have been posted – so check them out.

It is so easy to get "stuck" in lovely Savusavu. You are safely connected to a mooring, restaurants abound with good, inexpensive fare ($5 US for fish 'n chips for BOTH of us! Or $8 US for a curry dinner for both). You can barely cook aboard for that amount. You can get fueled up relatively easily with convenient petrol stations. Cooking gas is a mere cab ride (for a few bucks) away. And there are plenty of places to meet your fellow boaters or locals for a Fiji Bitter beer. Internet is very good and we had some business to get done – so that was one reason we stayed so long.

But before we hit the three week mark in Savusavu, we did make our escape. We didn't get far – we are now anchored near the Cousteau Resort just outside of town. We had intended to make our way around a point and towards Nasasonisoni Point, but you have to hit getting through that cut in the reef at the right tide and today's tides didn't coincide with our timing. Tomorrow, we hope to get a VERY early start and make it to the reef close to slack water at 1000 – it is a 20 mile trip so hopefully we can do that.

It has been a fun time in Savusavu, especially this past weekend. While the America's Cup was being fought in the waters off Bermuda, the Fiji Nationals were taking place in Savusavu waters. This was for the "Optimist" and "Laser" classes. It would determine the sailors who would represent Fiji in other international sailing events. Our friend Dave on the beautiful yacht "Rewa" offered his boat as the committee boat and part of the start and finish lines. We went to help (or at least have a great vantage point to watch.) The kids were incredible and the winds were everything from mild to wild. We met some interesting folks aboard and learned about the Fiji sailing program. The young man and woman who each won the Laser class were pretty remarkable, intuitive sailors. The boy will be competing in China in December representing Fiji.

On Saturday night, we also went to a barbeque at the "Planters' Club." This is an older establishment and it was a fun night. The wahoo served as the fish option for the barbecue was very tasty. (cost $5 US each). The cruising community came out in force – and we sat with 14 other boaters.

While here, we also enjoyed a lovely dinner aboard Beth's and Ken's yacht "Eagles Wings." They caught a yellowfin tune on their trip from NZ to Fiji and we lucked out with an invite to share the catch. Beth prepared the fish in a very tasty way known as Black and Blue Tuna.

There was also a funky carnival in town – with a scary Ferris wheel that threw out electrical sparks on the night we went! We could hear the carnival's nightly entertainment from the boat – a mix of Hindi and Fijian music (and it sounded like a polka now and then!)

It has been a fun time here – but it is time to break free and move on to some favorite places. We did finally decide to redo last year's circumnavigation of Vanua Levu and visit some of the friends we made in the villages. This time though we decided to go clockwise rather than counterclockwise. We'll hit some of the old favorite spots and stop in some new places as well. We have no firm schedule – no guests this year – so we don't know how long we'll take.

We are loaded up with kava for sevusevu ceremonies (bought it form a kava dealer this year) and have lots more photo paper.

Congrats to New Zealand Team Emirates for taking the America's Cup 7-1. It will be exciting to get back to NZ and get to Auckland to experience the kiwi's thrill of victory.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Cousteau Resort
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At 6/7/2017 10:48 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°46.65'S 179°19.94'E

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

ARRIVED IN SAVUSAVU, FIJI

We have safely arrived on the lovely island of Vanua Levu in Fiji. It was a passage of almost 11 full days (261 hours). As passages go, it was one of the better ones. There were lots of days of very light wind sailing/drifting – but with nothing big and bad in the forecasts, we were happy to sail instead of burning the fossil fuel. We hit one relatively short spell of winds on the nose and a few hours of really hearty winds as a front passed on Day 6 and the last 24 hours of the trip were quite boisterous with steady 20-25 knots and pretty large seas from behind. Of course, that happened when we were actually try to slow down to arrive in daylight – but we simply couldn't get the boat to go slow and still retain steerage.

Here are the numbers for the trip. Miles made towards destination by day: Day One: 130; Day Two: 145 (might be a new Astarte record); Day Three: 109; Day Four: 116; Day Five: 100; Day Six 70 (this was the day with head winds so we did several long tacks and probably covered well over 100 miles but only 70 towards destination); Day Seven: 97; Day Eight: 94; Day Nine 108; Day Ten 128.5; Day 11 (21 hours): 97.5.

We ran the engine for 36 hours only – not bad out of 261 hours of passage. We could have run it more as we had a few very slow nights – but they were pleasant and comfortable so why run the engine? We would have motored more if bad weather was on the horizon.

The fishing score: One striped marlin (got to the boat and released – saved the lure, but the billfish fish has a token piercing); one good sized mahi mahi that we got to the boat but it shook itself free right before the gaff...and we were kinda glad as its mate for life was circling around. One skipjack tuna – quite a good size and big fighter that we got on board. Not knowing at first it was a skipjack, Michael did filet half of it (then we read it is best used as bait!) All in one day and all on the same lure. On board the boat we had a flying fish, a houndfish of some sort (a long pointy spear and it flopped around our inflatable – not a good thing!) and some type of weird looking parasitic creature.

We didn't see much in terms of marine life. Michael heard dolphins around the boat one night but didn't spot any other creatures other than some seabirds – mostly boobies and petrels.

We had great weather most of the trip with little to no rain except the last 24 hours where we had pretty steady squalls with lots of rain and low visibility.

There were a few ships we passed along the way and our new AIS unit works great (except at night where the LED masthead light interferes.) We ran optional navigation lights so that the AIS would still work at night. We called a few of the ships to check on how our AIS was working – as well as the new radio.

We left Marsden Cove in New Zealand on May 27, 2017 at 1100 and arrived Savusavu, Fiji on June 7, 2017 at 0800. About a dozen boats left with us that day and even more from other ports in NZ so the route had lots of cruising yachts underway.

Michael hosted an ad hoc radio net each night at 1700 (with a different name of the net each night). It was good to follow the progress of the yachts that left Marsden together on the same day: 360 Blue, Freycinet II, Cables Length II, Scoots, Tregoning, Randivag, Roundabout II, Silhouette, and Avalon. A few boats got tangled with line or nets along the way, it seems the waters are getting more and more garbage floating about. Many of the boats headed to Minerva Reef where at one point the count was 21 boats at North Minerva and about 9 at South Minerva...that's a lot of boats in the middle of nowhere. We chose to continue to Fiji and not stop in that "taboo" to us territory!

Upon arrival in squalls in Savusavu, we proceeded to the Q dock at Copra Shed marina and awaited the officials for clearance. First came Matai the Health official. It was old home week as he was the same person who cleared us in last season. We had a nice visit and catch up with him as he did the paperwork ("Did anyone die on passage?") Then it was Kumar, the biosecurity man (again, same one as last year so we caught up on his family etc.) Next came the two women – one from customs (Camari) and one from immigration (Alivina). With formalities completed and stamps in our passports we were free to get off the boat. We were number 41 so far this season. We then checked into the Copra Shed with Preeti on hand to greet us.

We took a walk into town to get some Fijian money and meat pies from the "Hot Bread Kitchen." Michael got all the sim cards and gear for local phone and internet set up. Then we left the dock and headed out to a mooring ball (the same one we occupied for a few weeks last season). After a good nap, we went out for a few beers and pizza and to watch some of the rugby game on TV (The Lions (British Empire team of best of English, Irish, Welsh and Scots) vs. NZ Blues) from Auckland).

Now its getting the boat back in order from passage and deciding what we are going to do this season in Fiji.

Special thanks to all the folks who sent us messages while on passage (we enjoy them) and to Gulf Harbour Radio's David and Patricia for the daily weather forecasts and YIT site. Also hanks to Tony's Maritime net and all the net controllers for keeping a watch on us. Those contacts certainly help us on the passages.
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At 6/7/2017 10:39 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 16°46.66'S 179°19.94'E

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

TOMORROW

After fits and starts, stress over "to leave or not to leave" and looking at weather four times daily...tomorrow (Saturday, May 27) looks like the departure date. We aren't alone, there will be a flotilla leaving over the weekend heading to the warmer latitudes. From Marsden Cove where we are, there are at least a dozen boats waiting for the right passage weather. In other parts of NZ, more are chomping at the bit to take off. We had two other dates we thought looked good – but this one is the best so far so we'll take it. The last two ended up being quite boisterous runs for the boats that did leave....big headwinds and monstrous seas. So we are glad we waited...and are hopeful this will be a more pleasant run. We did have to apply for an extension for our visitors' visas...for what will end up being be two days! This extended wait also meant provisioning, cooking...re-provisioning, re-cooking and baking.

We have enjoyed the time with all the other waiting boats – we've had two sausage sizzles (one tonight), two rounds of Mexican Train dominoes games (one with nine boats) and pizza night. Michael took a tour of the nearby oil refinery with a group. He also finally spotted the leopard seal (see last entry) and it was chomping on a dinghy! His description was it was huge with enormous teeth.

So we leave – please send all your best thoughts for a safe and easy passage. We will keep up with position reports on the YIT site as long as all systems work on board. So feel free to follow our progress. There will probably not be many entries during the passage unless it is flat calm.

Finally...
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At 5/15/2017 8:41 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°50.22'S 174°28.12'E

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Departure in Sight

Well at least we hope it is! It is now Wednesday in New Zealand and we are anticipating getting away from the dock in Marsden Cove on Saturday morning. Some boats are taking off on Thursday and some on Friday and Saturday. The winds are still pretty strong with big seas on Thursday – and Friday is … well it's Friday. There is the old superstition about not starting a passage on a Friday. Our two experiences of leaving on a Friday have been the two worst trips we've had... so we'll go on Saturday.

Here in the Marsden Cove Marina we are hoping to see the Leopard Seal that has been spotted here. It has come up from her home ground in the Antarctic. It isn't exactly your friendly ball-tossing seal. This one seems keen on chomping inflatable dinghies. She has gotten four so far – one was up on a dock finger, one was hanging on the side of the boat, one hanging on davits (that's quite a leap) and one floating (but not now!). She also has taken a bite out of a few fenders as well. Perhaps they look like food or she is just a juvenile delinquent. They are a protected species so nothing can be done – though the marina has told the Department of Conservation that they probably should do something to protect her because there are four pretty mad people in the marina. We just hope to see her – keeping our distance from her mouthful of sharp teeth.

We have the boat pretty ready and if the weather holds over the next few days we'll be on our way to Fiji. It should take us ten to eleven days. So if anything big happens in the news – you'll have to e-mail us as we won't be able to get online! Remember, you can track our progress on the YIT site. www.yit.co.nz and look for Astarte. If the radio works we'll send a daily position report to them.

So now just the last minute off shore cooking, baking, tidying and securing the decks and below decks.

Fingers crossed for a great passage – and before our visas expire!
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At 5/15/2017 8:41 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°50.22'S 174°28.12'E

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Friday, May 5, 2017

The Same Old Story

Waiting for weather. That is the mode aboard Astarte right now. Waiting and watching the ever changing weather patterns. We were all set to leave this weekend for Fiji – but then this late tropical cyclone "Donna" kicked up between Vaunuatu and New Caledonia. And because these systems can change their minds without a thought to the cruising sailboats out there – we chose to not take that window and wait. We are in good company as the boats are piling up here in Whangarei as well as in Opua – all waiting for the weather to dash north out of what is getting to be a very cold New Zealand.

We awoke to 45 degree (F) this morning and winter is definitely coming here. Have to go and buy an extra blanket today! Hopefully we will be able to leave next weekend but with the systems changing so quickly – we can't make that call yet. We are pretty much ready to go – fueled and provisioned up – just the last minute breads and veggies for the passage. We may head down towards Marsden Cove later in the week to be ready to check out and leave.

For now we are just getting little projects done.

Buy your May/June copy of "Ocean Navigator" today. We have another article in it!

Start wishing for good weather for us.
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At 4/18/2017 9:33 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°50.88'S 174°31.86'E

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Whew...

Other than the start of ulcers from the stress of waiting...all is good aboard Astarte after Cyclone Cook passed.

We kept listening to radio warnings, "All ships. All ships. Cyclone Cook will approach the southern end of Great Barrier around 1300 hours Thursday. Make sure you are in a safe place and let someone know where you are because there will be no rescue quickly. 90 knots of wind are expected near the center of the cyclone." That's enough to get you scared to death.

We were well prepared. We found what we thought was the best anchorage – protected from three sides for the clocking winds. We put out lots of rode on our main anchor and then put our second anchor out and had a third ready to drop. There were six boats in this anchorage – three sailboats and three motor launches. All were pretty spread apart so we had safe room between each other.

Then we waited...and waited. We saw some squalls as the morning wore on – perhaps mid 20 knot winds and rain. Noon came...1300, 1400. We tracked the barometer and it dropped as expected, but not dramatically. We went from facing east to southest to south to south west and then west – but quite slowly. We saw blue sky to the north and figured that was the eye. Then the blue sky was south. Around 1600 the barometer started to slowly rise. It was passed. We believe from listening to reports from other boaters that perhaps the center stayed further offshore and away from Great Barrier. A later report said it was to go ashore in the center of the the Bay of Plenty which would have it put it further east.

Needless to say, we finally got our appetite back and had our first meal of the day around 1800 and felt we were both lucky and prepared and we picked our spot well. We could see more wind above the tree line.

Today we now get try to get the anchors up and stored again and the boat back in order. Thanks to all who sent us phone texts and e-mail and provided us some extra weather info especially David and Patricia from Gulf Harbor Radio via Tony's Maritime Net.

All good aboard Astarte. Hope the rest of NZ fares as well.
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At 4/7/2017 10:01 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 36°11.04'S 175°21.59'E

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Cyclone Cook Approaches

Well, at least the remnants of what is Cyclone Cook! After hammering Vanuatu and New Caledonia, the cyclone hit the colder waters but is still heading towards NZ. We remain out at Great Barrier Island in what we hope will remain a protected anchorage. The major part f the storm should hit us on Thursday (early afternoon) – and hopefully pass through quickly. It all depends exactly where it hits land in NZ. As of this writing it's course takes it over the Coromandal Peninsula and across the country to the south. If it goes anymore west, we are in the eye. Predicted winds are 70 knots with higher gusts. Not pretty. We put out a second anchor yesterday in a lull of wind and rain. We have plenty of fuel to keep the engine running should we need it to take pressure off the anchors. It at least is moving a bit faster than originally predicted. We thought it would pass over us in the dead of the night – so at least the daylight is some consolation. We've been seeing lots and lots of rain already and 20 knots. The storm is supposed to pass with the winds clocking (so depending on what quadrant of the circulation we are in- will depend on what we get hit with. The storm didn't dissipate in the cold waters but they are saying it could be the worse cyclone to hit NZ since 1968 NZ has had so much rain in the last few weeks, flooding is predicted. That's the good news of being on a boat. It is Thursday morning so we have at least two more days of this mess. It's too bad because it's Easter weekend and normally a very busy time for the Island. Not sure many people will be crossing from Auckland or Whangarei to get out here in what is predicted to be six meter seas (20 plus feet). WE should be protected from any swell in here.

We have enjoyed our time out here up to the storm. We took two long hikes while anchored in Kaiarara Bay. The first, we went to at least seven bridges on the way towards the lower Kauri Dam. That was about a three and a half hour walk mostly uphill. The next day we decided to walk to the town of Port Fitzroy – it took a bit longer and was up and down along the shore. It was about an 8 mile trek – one of the longer ones we've done in awhile. We were pretty tired on the return. We were all disappointed because we had hoped the Port Fitzroy Boat Club would be open for a "cook's night off" - but it is closed on Monday and Tuesday. So we settled on ice cream bars from the general store (along with some bread, eggs and onions) and made the trek back. We met some interesting folks on the walk. They are from Hamilton, NZ and building a home on GBI. It is a nice piece of property with an incredible view and nice folks.

We left Kaiarara Bay and came back to Kiwiriki to sit out the predicted winds and rain. We should be pretty protected from the swells. Last night was calm but we awoke this morning to gusty winds in the low 20 knot range. We are sitting in a small inlet within the bay but it is pretty swirly in here. The boat faces one way and the wind hots us from a different direction. So we swing a lot. It will be a long few days - but we'll have full water tanks. The winds are predicted to get to 30-35...but we hope not!

We have gotten lots of small projects done while here – winches have all been cleaned, internal cleaning done and lots of baking to take the edge off the cooler evenings. We are enjoying the time out here. If only the internet was better and the storms were already over – it would be perfect!
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At 4/7/2017 10:01 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 36°11.04'S 175°21.59'E

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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Great Barrier Island

Finally! We made it to Great Barrier Island (GBI) or "Barrier" as the locals call it. We really like this place. It is about 45 miles off the mouth of the Hatea River that leads to Whangarei. We had to motor / motorsail the entire way on Thursday to get here unfortunately – but it was a beautiful, sunny day with just a half meter swell. We had expected it to be cloudy and drizzly so we were pleasantly surprised. We left at 0645 – in the dark and made it to Smokehouse Bay anchorage about 1530. There were 11 boats there already – we had thought we'd have the place to ourselves.

On Friday, we launched the dinghy and Michael went ashore to check out the facilities. Last time we were here the water tank had a leak so hot showers were not available. He cut some wood and checked things out and it looked like we were in luck for a nice hot shower! We took advantage of it, followed by two more boaties who did the same. It is a great place that is maintained by volunteers and the property donated by a family. It's fun to watch the comings and goings of this very popular anchorage or "bay movies" as we call them.

It's Saturday, and we decided to move across the way because of the predicted NE winds that would pick up as the day wears on getting to about 15 knots. We aimed for a new anchorage for us – Kiwiriki Bay. It wasn't very far (you can still see Smokehouse from here.) As we entered the bay, we were greeted by two dolphins - a very large mother and her calf. They followed us all the way into the anchorage playing in the bow wake and really checking us out with rolls and eye contact. It is always a warm greeting. We had a pod on Thursday greet as we approached Great Barrier as well.

We are enjoying the place – doing projects and relaxing. Some major cleaning and reorganizing of the forward head yesterday and Michael is cleaning the mast winch this afternoon. We may try our hand at some fishing for snapper here as well. We got a book from the "Gypsea Hearts" called "How to Catch Fish and Where" and we'll see if it helps!
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At 3/30/2017 7:10 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 36°11.89'S 175°19.86'E

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Let the =?ISO-8859-1?Q?=93zero dollar days=94?= begin!

After eleven days in the Whangarei Marina, we untied from the dock and headed down the river. It is too easy to stay in that great marina and keep spending money and tackling more projects. Plus the social times are tempting! We got a whole lot done while at the dock – cleaning the boat inside and out from all the yard dust; doing tons of laundry including all the blankets, mattress cover and curtains; getting the engine blessed by Tim who discovered a worn fuel line so that got replaced (oh the language!); fueled the boat (jerry jugging cans from the petrol station); had our propane tank inspected and filled; replaced a raincoat; re-installed the repaired SSB/ham radio; made new dock lines and a new snubber line; re-provisioned the boat; and enjoyed lots of social time with friends. We also celebrated our 20th anniversary in style with dinner out at the "Love Mussel" (perfect eh?). It was a very busy eleven days....and costly.

Today. it was a foggy morning when we headed out of the Town Basin area – pretty unusual for here. As we made our way down the river the fog got thicker and thicker. We had a bow watch the entire way. It didn't clear until we were close to Marsden and our anchorage in Urquharts.

We will make our way over to Great Barrier Island in the next few days. Tomorrow the winds look to be in the wrong direction so we will most likely wait until Thursday. Rain is expected for this afternoon and tomorrow as well.

It is nice to be at anchor in a pretty place. No place nearby to drop any kiwi dollars which is a good thing. We kind of have been going crazy with the spending! Now we have to remember how everything works, how to sail and anchor and get our sea legs back. This is a good test of the boat systems before we head back to the islands in about five weeks.
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At 3/25/2017 12:56 AM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°43.40'S 174°19.53'E

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Splashed!

Astarte is back in the water on Friday morning and in a slip at Whangarei Marina (Town Basin) for about a week. It was a bit less than two months out of the water at Docklands 5 and lots and lots of work done to Astarte. We worked just about everyday, so we are knackered and looking forward to taking it easy for a few days. We still have to get the boat reorganized – getting tools and supplies re-stored and the dirt from the yard cleaned up. The boat is mighty dusty!

On Friday, we had a visit from a former colleague of Michael's. "Hoagy" and his partner Mary are in New Zealand for some exploring and they were nice enough to come by Whangarei. We enjoyed a few bottles of bubbly and wine and a nice dinner out. Michael and Hoagy caught up on the work gossip and we enjoyed their company. It is great to have visitors we are just sorry the timing was such that we couldn't take them for a sail.

So in order to share the pain of all the work we accomplished in the yard...here's the list.
Bottom paint scraped off by hand and sanded to the hull. Blisters ground out and dried and then re-glassed, faired, and sanded. Hull washed then waxed. Anchor dropped and chain cleaned. Anchor locker cleaned out. Thru-hull replaced. Prop removed and cleaned up with zirc fittings installed. Shaft and strut cleaned and polished. New zincs put everywhere. Inside sole (floor) removed and refinished (4 coats) and re-installed after major cleaning of floor areas. Salon table removed and refinished (5 coats) and re-installed. Hydraulic centerboard ram sanded and painted. Major stove cleaning. Four coats of two-pot barrier coat on bottom. Three coats of anti-foul/four coats at high impact spots. Greased centerboard pin. Checked all thru-hulls. Re-installed prop and treated prop/shaft/strut with "prop speed." Removed air conditioner unit from boat (haven't used in eight years)- giving us some additional storage and removing about 25 kilos of weight. Rebuilt wooden wall where AC was hidden. Installed new VHF radio (after testing many possible issues with the radio problem). Fixed water heater problem by replacing a hard to get at hose.

All this along with the day to day chores of living in a yard. That means climbing a ten-step ladder hundreds of times to get on and off the boat. Using the bathrooms on land and doing most of the cooking and dishes off the boat. Grocery and supply gathering was a few miles walk away...and we needed lots of supplies for all the projects so the walk back meant we were loaded down. Laundry still needed to get done.

Tired? We are!
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At 1/28/2017 7:04 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°44.37'S 174°20.32'E

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Still At Work

It's been more than a month in the yard at Docklands 5 with "Astarte" on the hard getting lots of care. That means hard work for us but progress is being made.

It took a whole month of seven days a week of hard work to take the bottom paint off by scraping, sanding and grinding it down to "no paint." Then repairs on some blisters we made, by re-fiberglassing the ground out spots, filling and fairing them. Once that was completed, the paint layers starting going back on. We put on four coats of barrier coat. And as of this writing, we have two coats of bottom paint. The rain has now started, forecast for five days – so no more painting for awhile.

The hull has also been washed and waxed – more hard arm and shoulder work for Michael! The interior floor has been sanded down to bare wood and four coats of a new finish put on them. The main salon is all completed with the boards reinstalled after a good cleaning of all the areas under the boards. It looks great and no shoes are now allowed below decks! Our carpet from Michael's mom has been cleaned as well so we are sparkling fresh on the floor!

The SSB radio has been sent out for repairs and we are waiting for that to reinstall once fixed. Today's project on this rainy day in the boatyard is to clean out the anchor locker which means clearing out the V-berth and reaching into the anchor locker for a serious clean-out. Not a pretty job. We will also "work" and grease all the the thru-hulls and the centerboard pin.

It really has been non-stop work along with still getting the daily chores done (cooking, laundry, cleaning, shopping etc) – none being easy while on the hardstands in the yard. The good news is the yard has a nice community area with a microwave, toaster, grill and big sink so we do our main meal in there daily. This was particularly convenient when the floorboards were out of the boat. It was hard to move around.

We will both need to sleep for three straight weeks when this big project is done. At this point the plan is to get launched hopefully in the next ten days or so and head to Whangarei Town Basin for about 5 days and then off to Great Barrier Island or Kawau for some R&R. After a few weeks out it will be time to return to Whangarei and provision up for leaving the country and heading to the islands (still TBA). We have to be out of NZ by May 24.

So lots to still do and time is ticking away.
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At 1/28/2017 7:04 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°44.37'S 174°20.32'E

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

EIGHT YEARS

We left the dock in St. Petersburg, Florida on February 9, 2009. Today in New Zealand, we celebrate eight years of full time cruising and living aboard SV Astarte. We have had the pleasure of visiting 31 countries (several multiple times). More than 120 islands within those countries where we have met amazing people on land and on other boats. We have made some lifelong friends from around the globe. It has been an amazing time for the two of us.

There are times it feels like only a short time ago that we left the US and at other times it feels like decades. Some days are filled with great memories and others are ones we want to forget. But there have been definitely more of the good times in our years afloat.

Now we have to pay the price of those eight years of full time cruising. Like anything that gets well used, you have to do repairs. We have been great about taking care of our boat with regular maintenance and upgrades. But this year we've had some really major ones! We've had to replace the head sail roller furler in June. We now have a new transmission that Michael installed in November. There is a new refrigerator/freezer box with all new insulation and upgraded systems. This also meant new counter tops and a refurbished galley area. Now we are in the boatyard doing a major bottom job and interior varnishing. So this will be a big year for Astarte as we enter year nine of cruising.

The great news is we have been healthy, happy and still enjoy this lifestyle. We are grateful to the many family and friends we have who have helped us in big and small ways. We can never fully express how much your help means to us. Thanks also to everyone who stays in touch through the time and distance.

We are grateful to have had eight great years of cruising aboard Astarte together. How many more? Who knows!
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At 1/28/2017 7:04 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°44.37'S 174°20.32'E

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hard Aground


On purpose! We have been lifted out of the water and are sitting on the stands in Docklands 5 boatyard in Whangarei, NZ. We will be here for about 6 weeks or so. The work began pretty much as soon as we came out of the water with a hard pressure wash bottom cleaning. Once settled with ladders and stands, we got into life “on the hard.” And it is hard. Climbing up and down the ladder dozens of times each day – who needs a gym membership.

In fact, if you want to get in shape, fly to NZ and help us out! Volunteers wanted. You too can look like this.




No that's not one of the old “ghost busters” it's Hawk in full regalia fighting layers of bottom paint! He puts in two hours each morning and two hours each afternoon with a scraper, vacuum (to collect all the scrapings) and back breaking, shoulder aching, hand hurting work.
Meanwhile, Barbara has been finishing the sanding and varnishing in the newly refurbished galley (new fridge and freezer are working great). From that project it's on to the the cabin sole (floor) and taking out all the boards and sanding. The main salon table will also be taken down to bare wood (redone two years ago but not looking very good). So lots of hard labor for all parties on board. Plus just the day to day stuff is more difficult on board – doing dishes means taken them off the boat in a bucket to a sink in the community room. Plus, just going to the bathroom is a ladder climbing project! With all that said, we're probably not getting many volunteers, are we?

We remind ourselves though that we have been out eight years and living aboard full time and cruising. So the wear and tear on the boat is expected and needs to be maintained. This is the price we pay for the enjoyment we get in all these exotic locations. The aching muscles don't seem to understand.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Tutukaka and Beyond

After a night in Puriri Bay, we decided to move on to Tutukaka – a place we had not stopped at previously. We enjoyed a slow, leisurely sail there – turning the engine on after the wind died and the sails started to hang limp and bang. But it was easier than the previous day's run to Whangaruru.

We snuck into a good anchorage spot in Tutukaka. Getting into the cut is a bit tricky, but range markers (or leading marks as they are called here) keep you centered. There is a lovely marina here beyond a breakwater and a small island (Phillip's Island) in the cut. We chose to anchor though (trying to keep the zero dollar days going) and found a home near Phillip's Island in about 3 meters of water (10 feet). It got pretty shallow under the keel at low tide! But we were protected from most directions and the bay is a "gale force" anchorage with good holding and little swell.

The name Tutukaka is interesting. According to Dillon, the man at the marina, it means Snare the Kaka. The Kaka is a native parrot and on the endangered list so the snaring was obviously quite successful. There are few Kakas left in Tutukaka.

We went into the marina and the above mentioned man Dillon, was very, very friendly and helpful with information. He directed us to the walk we wanted to take to the Tutukaka Lighthouse at the entrance to the cut. It was described as a two hour leisurely walk. We have learned that the kiwis are much more fit than us. Leisurely to them is difficult for us! Or at least part of it was! It was actually a very nice walk – up to the ridge, along the ridge road, than down 180 plus steps to a beach (best walked at low tide) and then up the other side to the lighthouse. This "up" was more difficult but you are rewarded with a magnificent view. Of course a young boy and his dad ran past us as we were coming down (and then passed us again and ran up the stairs (twice!).

It was a good hike and we rewarded ourselves with lunch out, a beer and an ice cream cone! So much for the weight loss from the walk and the zero-dollar days!

Tutukaka is where many dive boats go out from to the Poor Knights Island group – a nature reserve that is supposedly one of the best dive spots in NZ. There are also many fishing charter boats out of the marina and they go for marlin and bigger game fish here. There is a large "Game Fishing Club" on shore. The board outside tells the story of many big catches of various fish (most tagged and released). There is also a good display of stuffed fish inside the club on the walls. Some giant blue marlin, plus just the heads and tails. Impressive creatures. There were also other fish from grunard to ocean sunfish and dorado on the walls. We wished they were open for lunch as they supposedly have the best fish and chips along with great fish stories. Some other time.

The lift at Docklands Five is repaired and we are now scheduled for a Tuesday haulout. It was Friday and the weather was about to turn sour so we decided to get out if Tutukaka while we could. We left bright and early to go the 25 miles to "the Nook" on the Hatea River. This would get us close to Docklands and in a protected spot with good holding. The predictions were for NE, then SW winds 20 to 45 knots!

We were surprised that the Nook was relatively empty with just a few boats and most of those were on permanent moorings. We snuck in quite a way and dropped 100 feet (30 meters) of chain in about 4.5 meters of water. At low we are seeing about 3 meters. We got in just in time as the wind started to pick up soon after we were in the river. We saw 20 knots regularly and it kept up throughout the night. We saw sustained winds at 25-30 for a long period from the N/NW (we had better protection from N/NE) and there were a few higher gusts. It wasn't a very restful night, but we held. By morning the wind shifted to W/SW which is the worst direction in here, but still better than most other places on the river. It is supposed to last until Tuesday – so we will just ride it out here. Hopefully the winds will settle a bit and the forecast is for offshore and not inland! There is a bit of a fetch here when the winds are in the westerly quadrant.

For now we'll just enjoy the last few days (as best we can in the windy conditions) before we head to the haul-out and non-stop work.

Sunday, January 22. 2017
The Nook: Lat: 35 47.44s
Lon: 174 27.76e
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At 1/21/2017 10:55 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 35°47.44'S 174°27.76'E

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Whangamumu to Whangaruru

You gotta love the names! We went all of 15 miles from Whangamumu's former whaling station protected harbor to Whangaruru's Puriri Bay. We thought we could sail and gave it a good try, but the southwesterlies were stronger than we hoped and right on the nose along with the seas...so it was very slow going. It took about five hours to make that short distance.

We are settled into a bay that has a campground on the shore. There are lots of very fancy tents set up. Some look to be five room tents- tent technology has come a long way. So much for "roughing it." There are also lots of SUP (stand up paddleboards), kayaks, small boats and tenders near shore, so lots of activity.

We enjoyed our time in Whangamumu getting two good hikes in – though the "all uphill" climbs were tiring on the legs that hadn't seen much exercise recently! We spent some time socializing with old friends and made some new ones as well. We played some Sequence and "Settlers of Catan" with Sandy and Rankin and just enjoyed our time at anchor.

Puriri Bay isn't as pretty as Whangamumu but it is well protected from any swell. The wind has been changing direction 180 degrees every day so anchoring is an ever-changing proposition. We have been having South-west winds in the mornings and evenings and north to northwest winds in the afternoons. You just have to make sure you have good swinging room in the anchorage to go the various directions. The last day in Whangamumu was very crowded as boats are now making the move either south or north and this is a good stopover point on the North Island as people go between Auckland and the Bay of Islands. There were several quite large mega-yachts in the anchorage on that last day as well as the whole collection of very small to our size – both sailboats and motor launches. That made for good entertainment watching the boats come, drop anchor and then leave. Being there a few days, we had seniority in the anchorage.

Now in Puriri, there are not many boats (yet) – but a few. We'll decide later after checking the forecast again if we stay or leave here tomorrow. Another front is working its way across the island so some bigger winds are predicted for Thursday.

For now, we continue to enjoy our "zero dollar" days and time at anchor.

Tuesday, January 16, 2017
Lat: 35 22.01s
Long: 174 21.40e
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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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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Whangamumu

We have enjoyed time in the Bay of Islands at a few different places before heading back into Opua for the last of our rigging work. We were lucky to get a slip for Monday and Tuesday and connected with the rigger who had the part for the roller furler. That got fixed and the rig got adjusted. Michael had also been spending a whole lot of time trying to connect, then trouble shoot the installation of a splitter to connect the AIS and the VHF radio to the same antenna on the top of the mast. When connected we would not be able to hear the radio. After putting on new connectors and trying everything he could, we ended up hiring someone to come with a VSWR meter to check things out. Then Michael put on all new connectors and still nothing. It seems the brand new splitter box we got isn't working. So now we have to return that to the manufacturer and wait for a new one. Bummer.

After we finished with the boat projects, laundry, a resupply of food, and mailing our immigration extension paperwork, we were off again. Now we are making our way south towards Whangarei. We spent a few nights back in the Bay of Islands and then headed to Whangamumu where we are now at anchor in a very pretty bay.

This used to be an old whaling station. The remnants of that place remain as a historical reminder. We took a nice hike up the hill to a pretty viewpoint and it reminded us that we had been lazy sitting on the boat too long! The uphill was tiring!

Our friends on "Gypsea Heart" sailed in as well and we met some other folks in the anchorage - which is always fun. Michael went and spoke with a few teenagers who were in the water the previous day for hours. It is cold here and they were free diving so he wanted to know what they were going after. People collect scallops, crays (lobsters), oysters and various other critters. Later that morning the two boys came over to Astarte with a cray for us (lobster). How great is that! They just made us promise not to tell anyone where they were diving. Lips sealed! We gave them a giant candy bar as a thanks, but we came out way ahead in that deal! Nice guys – so New Zealand.

It is sure nice being out at anchor and enjoying meeting new folks and spending time with good friends. Plus it helps the budget. We've enjoyed many game days on Gypsea Heart. Today, we'll take another hike and perhaps meet some other new folks. This is a really nice spot. The lift at Docklands is broken so our haulout that we originally scheduled for Wednesday won't happen so we have a few days to kill. We'll find out on Thursday if it is fixed and when we can get hauled. Until then and the major work time, we'll enjoy time along the north island coast.
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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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