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Vanuatu
August 22019

It was around 11pm. (August 16th, 2018) Julie wakes me up and says she’s tired, she needs some sleep. I’m somewhat dazed (what time is it?  where are we?)  “Are we through the Pass?” I said.

“Yes, we’re clear of New Caledonia, and now in open water”

That exact moment,,, I felt immense pride in my wife.  Julie had just piloted us through a convoluted and narrow pass that lasted many hours and was subject to strong currents. It was a pitch-black night and her only references were the radar and chart plotter.    Thoughts of the last 7 years flooded through my mind as I realized just how far my wife had come as a mariner.  I was both impressed and proud.

Time I got my butt out of bed I guess!  By the time I reached the pilothouse, INFINITY was set on her course and all I had to to do was a quick check of the Nav aids, and make my 1st double espresso.  We were transiting at 8 knots, in smooth seas.  HEAVEN!

We are on our way to Vanuatu, having just spent a few months in New Caledonia.  Our ultimate long term destination being Australia.  We’re certainly not getting through this cruising period in quick fashion our we?  9 months in Mexico, 18 months in Hawaii, 6 months in French Polynesia, 18 months in New Zealand, and I know we’ll be spending at least 18 months in Australia!  Jimmy Cornell would have a dicky-fit! (with recommended circumnavigation times of 2 years!).

Vanuatu is a remote destination and we spent all of our time at anchor.  When living this way, you seem to be more immersed in what you are doing, and the camera is always a secondary thought for me.  So, there are not as many photos for this destination as I would have liked.  Funny though, the memories of Vanuatu are burned deep into my mind, and I will never forget.  So, perhaps more writing this time, less visual.

 

 

Our actual route through the Islands of Vanuatu (copied from our track on iSailor)

 

 

This is my view from INFINITY ‘command central’.  It was a pleasant night with calm seas, and the dawn is now upon me.  As the sun is rising, Jay is tucked up safely in bed, and I silently give thanks to God,,, it simply does not get any better than this, and I’m grateful.

 

 

 

Always a spiritual experience for me. These moments are a very major reason why I keep cruising. I love this connection to the universe.

 

 

Approaching Vanuatu, the most southerly Island of TANNA.  From 12 miles out, you can see the active volcano smoking.

 

 

 

As we get closer to Tanna, the sights, sounds, and smell become vibrant

 

 

Entering the small harbour of Port Resolution

 

 

INFINITY at anchor in Port resolution

 

 

Our personal “Welcome to Vanuatu” party.  We gave them a gallon of diesel in exchange for the warmth & good-will we received.

 

 

We are at anchor in Port Resolution, Tanna.  You can’t see it, but to the left of us is the “Port Authority” to officially enter Vanuatu.  Two other yachts were also anchored in the harbour, so I hailed them on VHF 16, and asked them what the ‘go’ was?  I had actually pre-arranged this check-in process from New Caledonia, and after further VHF calls I was made to understand that Customs was waiting for me!  So, I quickly stuffed our passports and vessel forms into our dry-bag, and paddle-boarded to shore to formally check into Vanuatu.  First time for everything!

The check-in process went smoothly.  With our Passports stamped, we were warmly welcomed into the country of Vanuatu.  We were interested in visiting the Volcano, but only local currency was accepted and I had failed to secure any Vatu (local currency) in New Caledonia  😕  Seems the Volcano tour would have to be relegated to another time.  The weather was starting to pipe up too, and the anchorage was becoming uncomfortable even with the flopper-stoppers deployed – so we made a firm decision to press on to Port Villa!

 

∞∞∞∞∞               ∞∞∞∞∞               ∞∞∞∞∞

 

The transit up to the Island of EFATE, (Port Villa) wasn’t too bad.  But we were tired from our journey from New Caledonia, so the relief of our arrival in Port Villa was palpable.  Julie and I secured a mooring ball in the harbour (and hoped for the best! 😜)  Our Nordhavn 62 is 77 Tons, but surprisingly easy to secure to a mooring.  We prefer to use our own anchor of course, but there simply wasn’t the swinging room for this and the anchorage appeared to be well protected.

 

At anchor in Port Villa, this was our view to the south.

 

 

,,, and the view to the North

 

 

remnants from the last hurricane in Vanuatu. (apparently sustained winds of over 160 mph)

 

 

Here’s the proof of what Hurricane Pam can do   : (

 

 

We are always proud to fly the Canadian flag.  Without fail, every time, every location, we always get a welcome comment.  Words like “you’ve come a long way”, or “I have an uncle in Toronto” repeatedly break the ice with locals and fellow cruisers.

 

 

 

Once Julie and I have settled  INFINITY in “at-anchor-mode”, we typically launch our dinghy and go exploring.  Our first order of business was to “check-in” to the Port Villa ‘Marina’, which we paid for a week’s time on our mooring.  The main priority for our first walk into town is usually in search of Internet access.  Once that’s done, we relax a bit, and can focus on our new environment.   The townships are becoming almost familiar to us now, sharing the same level of disrepair, vibrant markets, and warm hearted locals.  I always find myself mentally asking the same question, “could I live here?”  And then I realize there is really no need to go down that rabbit hole when you own your own boat!  My self imposed stress levels immediately subside, and I enjoy the day.  😉

 

 

we certainly felt ‘welcome’ in Vanuatu. 🙂

 

 

A must-do activity for us, a stop at the local markets.

 

 

Julie’s signature flower – birds of paradise!  Worth every penny, and they always add that tropical ambience to INFINITY.

 

 

 

 

Not a care in the world today.  Living the dream.

 

 

Different market, different vibe. Clean floors, new buildings, elevated prices, and note the lack of locals? We are in tourist-ville, but none-the-less a fun experience. (Money stayed in pocket this time though!)

 

 

Back on the boat.  Peace.  Our own private sanctuary.  After the hustle-&-bustle of the markets, scooters wizzing past, and sharing the close proximity of hundreds of people in small closed-in spaces, – it’s always a relief when we come back onboard, and are instantly transported back to our own familiar reality.

After a while spent chilling’ on our upper-aft-deck (our favourite go-to place on INFINITY), it dawns on me that I could be Paddle-boarding!  5 minutes later my board is inflated and I’m off exploring again in a much more intimate way.  The relationships I’ve forged, and the information I’ve gained from the deck of my SUP is amazing.

 

 

(Andy on his SUP) “in my natural habitat, checking the boats out, doing my own thing”

 

 

We’ve planned on staying a week in Port Villa, so we decided to book a few trips to see the Island of EFATE.  Our Infinity bag is permanently on stand-by, ready to go. (Thank you Joy& Steve Drover!)

We usually leave the vessel for no more than 12 hours at a time, so mostly just day-trips.  I’m constantly aware that INFINITY is on a mooring of somewhat unknown security, and of course we have our batteries to think about, which will need a recharge after a days use.  (It’s at times like this that I do consider a Solar power installation, but then end up rationalizing – “do I really want to stay away from INFINITY for extended periods in unknown waters?  🤔 uhm, we’re cool for now!)

 

 

our INFINITY bag, always ready to go with our beach-ware, our tourist essentials

 

 

A day trip to one of the many Falls in Vanuatu.

 

 

You could swim right under these Falls, and into a small cave.  It was cool!  👍

 

 

 

 

Other days, we’d spend just walking around the island, taking it all in, and this day was just outstanding.

 

 

our daughter Chloë is never far from our thoughts – always many reminders.  Based on the name, we indulged ourselves in some impromptu chicken-rice.  Not bad, not bad..

 

 

 

So what do you do when the weather turns to custard??  You go viewing Super Yachts!

 

 

 

 

It all looks so cool, until you think about cleaning it!  (But then you’d probably have crew for that!  😜)

 

 

The sheer size and majesty of these vessels is awesome

 

 

 

 

 

Back onboard INFINITY,,, we continue to watch the weather deteriorate.  So, it’s movie and popcorn time tonight!

 

 

 

 

And when you get bored of movies, it’s back on deck for some daily maintenance.  Our vessel maintenance plan goes like this:  “We do what we can, when we can”.  This time we had an afternoon break in the rains, so we pulled the folding bikes out and gave them some love.  I think Jay likes doing this stuff even more than I do.  I like working on simple mechanical systems, and Julie enjoys giving our gear a new lease of life.  We are a good team.  👍

 

 

 

 

new gear-shift and brake cables required this time. That moist salt environment is hell on the equipment.

 

 

The weather wasn’t improving and we had it, so we decided to press-on to Espiritu Santo.  This way, we could transit up North during the poor weather period, and enjoy Luganville when the weather improved.

 

 

Entering the Luganville channel. On a whim, I tried the VHF radio to see if our friend from New Caledonia, Cheryl Stone (on her sailing Cat – ‘SubZero’) was there. She was!!

 

 

 

Well the weather did not improve a whole lot,  so we kept busy getting the toys out.  😜

 

 

One of my favourite pastimes is sailing, and our MiniCat  certainly scratches that itch!  It takes about 30 minutes to set up, so when we know we’ll be at anchor for say a week or so, we’ll take the cat out of the bag!

 

Setting up the MiniCat.  See Video Link below!

 

Taking the MiniCat out for a burn!   (Video)

 

 

the real Vanuatu

 

 

DIVING

 

We repeatedly kept hearing about the President Coolidge dive site .  The first time was when when we were in Tahiti.  Then it came up again, while discussing international dive sites with fellow boaters in Savusavu, FIJI, and then a third time from our friend (Greg Palmer – who co-incidentally Captains the 30m M/Y ESPIRITU SANTO) in New Caledonia.  Every account mentioned Allan Powers Dive Tours, so our decision was made even before INFINITY’s hook was settled on the seabed.

 

Dive Site Description:  SS President Coolidge

Site Type: Wreck Dive – a big one!   {Shore Access}
Depth: Top: 20M, Bottom: 70M;
Location: West of Million Dollar Beach, just outside of Luganville, Vanuatu

 

The SS President Coolidge was an American luxury Ocean Liner, built in 1931.  She was operated by Dollar Steamship Lines until 1938, and then by American President Lines until 1941.  She served as a troopship from December 1941 until October 1942, when she was sunk by mines in Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides, part of current-day Vanuatu.

The Captain attempted to run the ship aground in order to potentially save it from sinking. During the attempt however, the ship hit the reef, listed badly, and eventually slid into the channel, resting in 70m of water.  She had 5,342 troops on board – all but two onboard were saved.

 

 

 

Diving Video Link below!

 

 

Andy & Julie Diving the SS President Coolidge (Video)

 

 

The photos below were taken from Allan Powers’ books.  We spent an hour after the dive going through the texts.  They were a privilege to browse through and incredible historical value.

 

 

 

 

 

We spent our remaining days lounging by the pool with fellow international voyagers at the Luganville Beachfront Resort.   The hotel was only a few minutes’ dinghy ride to the beach, and was ideally situated right off the anchorage, welcoming cruisers from around the world.

 

The pool is nestled in between the thatched roofs.  The pizza here was pretty good too!

 

 

Pool to the left, and the walk down to the beach lis ahead

 

 

the view from the Beach.  My heart always skips a beat when I see INFINITY out at anchor ❤️

 

 

The map below, marks the position where INFINITY was anchored for a week.  We were comfortable there, and having the resort available to us, for swims, pizza & beer, was a welcome bonus.  However, our long awaited destination of Australia awaited us, and it was time to press on.  I think I’ll clearly remember our departure from Espiritu Santo, forever.

 

 

 

 

It was 7pm, and absolutely pitch black outside.  Must have been overcast because there wasn’t a single light or twinkle in the sky, no markers, nothing.  As we were bringing the anchor up, I remember looking around the surroundings and thinking this was probably the most ‘absence of light’ I have ever seen, and apart from the odd anchor light and some scattered lights ashore, there weren’t any references at all.  It was actually kind of eerie.  Even the sound of the hydraulic windless seemed unnaturally amplified due to the stillness of the night.  Anchor up, and threading our way through the anchored vessels, It occurred to me that I had probably not thought this departure through as well as I should have.

Underway, the shore lights disappeared from sight as we left the metropolis of Luganville, and I was presented with a new intensified blackness that I had never ‘seen’ before.  I scrambled into the pilothouse to dim any light I could in order to get some sort of reference ashore.  Nothing.  The only information available to me was the Radar and Chartplotter.  (please do not fail me now),,, my instruments were telling me the shoreline was closing in, and we were speeding down the river at 11 knots with the favourable tide.  I knew we were hustling through the water, but I could not even see it, or feel it, or hear it (I could only smell it),,, it was that still outside.  It was like a scene from Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’.  We were fine though.  And as I glanced at the instruments and got myself acquainted with the new reality, I could hear Julie below in the galley chopping vegetables for a slow-cooker meal for the transit – and a sort of calmness overtook me.  It was like a hand touched my shoulder and said “easy – enjoy!”  So I did.

The final exit through the channel shallowed to less than 500m wide, so I just kept her bang in the middle and prayed for no traffic.  Not to worry, we were certainly the only vessel on that water that night.  An hour later, we were into the Coral Sea, and making our way towards our milestone landmark – Australia!

 

 

 

More Information»
New Caledonia
February 62019

New Caledonia, starts in Vancouver.

My new position at work changed our schedule to a  ‘6-weeks on – 6-weeks off’ routine.  (How this is going to affect our cruising is anyone’s guess??).  I had been travelling back-and-forth from Brunei to Auckland, for the last 6 months, though this time we decided to rendezvous in Vancouver.

Our last week in North Van was spent tearing around, tidying up our affairs with business, family & friends.  We always look forward to going back to the boat, but this time we were even more excited because we were finally making the push out of NZ and into warmer climes of New Caledonia!

Julie scored some great Airline seats.  We were flying from Vancouver to Auckland, –direct– for $700 USD, with Air New Zealand.  👍

 

 

passing the time at Vancouver Airport (YVR)

 

 

Packing up all our bags, the taxi to YVR, checking-in, going through Customs & security, boarding the aircraft – it was all going so perfect.  The seats turned out to be better than expected and the flight was like 3/5ths full.  There was room to spare everywhere, for everyone!  Julie and I had the 3 starboard seats to ourselves, and they’re the ones which fold down to form a bed, called a Sky-Couch.  This ain’t our first Rodeo, so no sooner had the seatbelt sign gone off, we had those seats transformed into our palatial berth, shoes off, blankets pulled up, drinks in hand, movie on.  14 hours of this for $700 USD?, man-o-man I pinched myself.

DING DING!
“Ah, folks this is your Captain speaking,,, we’re encountering a problem up here on the flight deck. Absolutely nothing to worry about of course, just that I would rather not continue the Journey like this, so I’m making a landing to get things put right.  Nearest landfall is Honolulu”

Damn!  I knew I should have let things ride,,, should not have pinched myself back into reality.  Julie’s headset is off now, asking what’s going on.
“They’re landing the plane” I said.

“What? When now? Why? Where?”  I have to admit I was quite impressed, she only missed out the “who” and she’d have nailed every question possible in one sentence.
“Apparently the Captain is not happy to continue the flight because his Radar is goosed and he knows there’s weather up ahead”
And so our plane banks to port with one of those big sweeping, pinned-to-your-seat, turns.  In 30 minutes we were on the Tarmac of Honolulu Airport.  An hour after that we are back in the air.

We go through the whole transformer thing again with our bed.  Roll of eyes at each other, but we’re on our way…again. We were perhaps 45 minutes into our movie when ‘DING DING DING’ announces the beginning of another message over the intercom system.
“this is the Flight Deck speaking,,,ah,, we’re still having issues up here, and with that weather ahead of us, I sure would like to see it.” –long pause– “I’m turning around, we’re heading back to Honolulu. Fasten your seat-belts, ETA 53 mins.”
Even INFINITY has two radars for God’s sake!!  I’m not sure whether I should be angry or mildly amused. I looked at Jay for clues.  She had the corners of her her mouth raised, we’re all good!  As we descend towards Honolulu, we get more information, and the Captains’ calling it quits. We’ll all try again tomorrow.

So it looks like an impromptu ‘mini-break’ in Hawaii will be forced upon us!  Not to worry, we’ll survive. 😜

 

 

Not a bad view from our Hotel room. I could get used to this!

 

 

Despite humping around 4 hockey-bag sized hold-alls, full of boat spares, plus all our personal gear, we decided to treat this as a Holiday and go with the flow.  It was almost one year ago that we were last on Hawaiian soil, and I realized I missed it.  Felt like my soul was home.

 

 

We spent most of the day on the beach. Perfect.

 

 

We have this wall area on INFINITY in our Salon which has been bare since we moved aboard.  We have been on the look out for something to adorn the space, and we found it.  3 Honu’s (Hawaiian symbol for good luck) made out of Hawaiian Koa.  Julie has had this special association with the Honu since our time spent in Hawaii in 2014/2015.  It was a great opportunity to take advantage of the unique set of circumstances which brought us here again.  Purchase made.

 

 

 

It did not take us long to get settled back onboard INFINITY, since it feels more like Home than any place else.  We like to leave the boat super clean, so our time coming back can be as enjoyable as possible.  We were immediately rewarded with the new carpets we had installed last trip;  I had actually forgotten.  Jay had the Honu’s up in no time, and they looked great!

 

 

Honu’s on the wall. I smile every time I walk pass them.  New carpets through out the boat too!

 

 

Operation “New Caledonia” was in motion. It took us a week to pull it all together.  (To do all our last minute shopping, say our final ‘good-byes’ to all our NZ friends, refuel INFINITY, return our rented car, and receive our travel-pack of Nespresso pods). Finally, we were good-to-go!

 

 

Saying our final Good-bye’s

 

 

,,,and we’re off! New Caledonia, here we come.

 

 

I wrote a few notes during the transit, and copied them here below; as follows:

 

June 09, 2018
1600:   Got away from the dock, no issues. Commenced Journey at 1600.
1900:   Weather turned very cold, have to wear sailing jacket, with a sweatshirt underneath. Feels great to be underway again, like a huge achievement has been accomplished.

Status:  61.5 miles / 57.9 gals. @ 0001. June 10th.
Position:  35 41.9 S / 174 42.7 E

 

 

June 10, 2018
1000:   Adjusted (tightened) stuffing box gland.  Emptied Head-tank
1400:   Tx fuel from mid tank – 145 gals
1500:   First 24 hours completed. Status below. Daytank now reading 260.

Status:  178.2 miles / 160 gals. @ 1600
Position:  34 11.89 S / 173 15.68 E

 

 

June 11, 2018
0300:   ER Check. All ok. Daytank 190 gals
0330:   wx still up. Uncomfortable, short seas, jerky movements onboard.
0400:   moon very bright this morning. luminous
1400:   turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day.
1645:   Seas still up, but smoother.
2200:   TX 140 gals from MID tank. WX indications on radar

Status:  350.2 miles / 320.7 gals. @ 1645
Position:  31 38.08 S / 171 50.27 E

 

 

June 12, 2018
0245:   ER checks OK.
0300:   passing squall, winds 27kts, very loud, lot’s of rain.
0500:   wx actually pleasant now, smooth, calm seas, light winds.
1100:   tx fuel, 140 gals. Daytank was 110
1140:   wx gone to shit, as forecasted. With us for 24 hours.
1800:   noticed fwd bilge pump running constantly, motor warm 🤔
1815:   decided to isolate the fwd thru-hulls, in case of siphoning effect

 

 

June 13, 2018
0145:   Tx140 gals fuel from MID. ER checks ok
0200:   checked fwd space for water. Seemed same.
0205:   opened up bilge bulkhead manifold in ER. Flow activated pump, then stopped.
0300:   aft bilge now cycling frequently
0530:   wx still rough, 28kts heavy seas.
1300:   woke up to calmer seas. Thank God.
1345:   aft bilge seems ok, no real gain in level. Aft bilge pump still runs continuous on auto
tx 120 gals fuel from Port tank.
2000:  wx moderated as forecasted. Using the ECMWF forecast, bang on for this transit.
2300:   ER checks ok. First signs of Stab belt deteriorating. Threads found on floor. 260 Nmtg.
2305:  tx fuel – 70 gals from Port Tank.

Status:  666.6 miles / 632.9 gals. @ 1620
Position:  26 57.5 S 169 00.5 E

 

 

 

 

June 14, 2018
0035:   tx filter getting clogged, currently tx’ing 70 gals per fill.
0217:   beautiful clear star filled night, spiritual.
1015:   Stab belt failed. Changed out for new one. ME hours: 9626
1045:   tx fuel from Port tank,
1100:   during belt change, noticed the hyd oil cooler pump coupling is loose! Will adjust.
1105:   during belt change, noticed the wing engine raw water pump is leaking. Will change out.
2115:   tx fuel from Port tank.

 

 

June 15, 2018
0255:   running water maker, and emptied heads.
0830:   passing through Dumbea Passe – Hello New Caledonia!

DIESEL
FWD 450:  full
MID 580:   tx 145, 140, 140, 140
PORT 680:   tx 120, 70, 70, 70
STBD 580:  tx fuel 70 gals from Port tank

 

 

Google-Earth plays a significant role in my pre-transit planning. I copy a few images to my Mac, and review them as we make our approach.

 

 

Our Marina is the middle one. Note how many boats are at anchor! Also note the small clear path leading to the dock. That’s where we are going.

 

 

Heading into the Port du Sud Marina – the very first sighting of our new domicile.

 

 

INFINITY all secure at her new Berth. 

 

 

Once we arrived, I made a phone call to our Agent, that I had prearranged from New Zealand. Chloë Morin is a special young lady, and we were fortunate to work with her.  We first heard of Chloë when we were in Tahiti, and the seed was planted that using an Agent may be the best way to enter certain countries.  The first (and only other time) we used an Agent, was in Fiji.  Both times, expensive but worth it, especially when there is a language barrier.

 

 

You can see Infinity berthed at the end of the pier

 

 

So, established in our new spot, we hit the Market.    Fresh fish is always good.  Jay grills our white fish with fresh ground sea-salt, black pepper and lime.  Simple, succulent, and superb.  Tonight, it’s fresh Dorado!

 

 

My fish favourites list;   Salmon, Ahi Tuna, & Mahi Mahi.   In that order.  👍

 

 

the local Markets are always interesting, and can be fun too

 

 

our bounty for the afternoon. (maybe I’ve been cruising too long, but it looks so luxuriant, vibrant & healthy – my mouth is watering!)

 

 

Wanting to explore a bit further, we took the scooter off the boat, and headed out to see what we cold see.  Some of you long-time readers may notice that one of our scooters is now red.  Well, there’s a story to that – one which I’ll cover later in the INFINITY maintenance page.  The Ocean finally had it’s way with one of them, so we replaced it with this newer one in New Zealand.  It’s pretty zippy, and gets the job done.  👍

 

 

Out & about, exploring the Island.

 

 

The Groupama Yacht Race was in full swing while we were in Noumea. The race takes place every two years, and Noumea comes alive with sailboats and yachts of all shapes & sizes. It’s absolutely fantastic. I personally love seeing the Trimarans fly!

 

 

 

 

 

The Pastries in New Caledonia are world famous, and I can attest that the reputation is not unwarranted. 😜  To counter the calories, we’d often go for walks along the shoreline.  This particular day, Jay and I walked for 8 1/2  enjoyable miles.

 

 

Boulevard along the shoreline, connecting a few of the Hotels in the area.

 

 

NOUMEA – AUGUST 7, 2019 – LIVING THE DREAM

 

 

Hotel Coffee & Pastry stop. I sat here for an hour, sipping superb coffee, soaking up the morning sun, and discussing cruising in New Cal with our good friend Jane.  (from M/Y ESPIRITU SANTO)

 

 

No rush — enjoy the moment

 

 

After a few weeks of getting to know Noumea, we decided to slip the lines and head to the south of the Island, to Ile des Pins.  We overnighted in a secluded cove (Anse Majic) mid transit, and rendezvoused with a couple of cruisers who we had met at Port du Sud, Noumea.

 

 

the evening upon us.   John & Kat’s self-built WHARRAM bathed in the universal splendour we shared that night

 

 

early morning coffee,  thanks of Gratitude come easy.

 

 

Chantal & James Fine — yours truly — John & Kat  —  totally chilled  —  enjoying each others’ company.

 

 

And onwards we press on, finally dropping anchor in Ile des pins.

 

Anchor set. Flopper-stoppers out. We’re all set for a week of bliss.

 

 

Beach walks are often a time for reflection.   Sometimes, it all works out.

 

 

 

 

You have a moment.  when you jump off the dinghy and your bare feet land on soft, pure white, powdery sand.  In the exact same instance, you become aware of the afternoon sun warming your shoulders, and your body gliding through the crystal-clear water – and you realize that everything is perfect with the world at this moment in time – as God intended.

 

 

Welcome to our new back-yard.

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect time to get out the MINICAT!

 

 

 

We actually bought the Minicat in New Zealand but didn’t really have the weather for it.  Cue in some sunshine at Isle de Pins et Voila!  Julie and I had some great fun together, and I got my sailing fix!  It has turned out to be a great activity for the both of us.  No doubt the Minicat coverage will increase as we move on.  You can read more about the model we bought here.

 

 

Check out that cloud overhead!  Who cares, we got minicat!!  Just building, so no sail up yet & sadly very few photos this time.

 

 

Sailing is part of the Culture in New Caledonia.  I love it.

 

 

Always on the look-out for INFINITY.   Accessorize, accessorize.  😉

 

 

 

Back in Noumea – Who mentioned Pastries??
We were told by the local boaters that there was this one place you gotta try in town. Would have been rude not to investigate.

 

 

We made it.   And no, those two bags are not stuffed with pastries,,, this time.

 

 

Heaven’s cafeteria.  (what I imagine it to look like)  I’ll have two,,, of everything please!   😜

 

 

On the way back to the boat, we’d often go past this shop.  Disappointingly, we never did try one of these.  Perhaps the next time in New Cal – you are mine!   (I’m hoping they are sweet )

 

 

that fresh crap only lasts a few days.   Better stock up on the real McCoy! 😜 😜

 

 

Our last night out, we enjoyed another pleasant evening with Greg & Jane from the 30m M/Y ESPIRITU SANTO

 

 

 

 

Time & Tide wait for no man.   Lines cast off, we are on our way to Vanuatu!

 

 

 

As we press-on to Vanuatu, this my personal lasting memory of New Caledonia,,, sigh

 

 

 

 

 

More Information»
New Zealand
January 212018

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.

It has been over two years since my last blog, for which I am truly sorry.

Truth is, Julie and I we’re ‘down-unda’ in New Zealand, and lost to the world, (in our own world), convalescing after a serious bout of ‘over-boating’.  Careful boat aficionado’s, it could happen to you too!  😮

We spent virtually 10 straight months cruising from Hawaii to Fiji – and then another few months from Fiji to New Zealand.  We were exhausted, the boat was tired, and it was time we all enjoyed a break.  We flew home back to Vancouver a few times, and I of course had to go back to work.  INFINITY was also in need of some love and attention after many months of deferred maintenance and hard use.  What better place to catch up on things, than one of the World’s boating Mecca’s – Auckland – New Zealand!

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

 

First up then, the Stats from the Fiji-NZ transit for the Offshore savants, (and Dreamers alike).  The first and last entries (below) were partial days, but we show fairly consistent milage in between.  I plan our days at Sea to cover 180 nautical miles per day, burning 150 gallons.  As you can see, we were not far from this, (and we usually do better), but this passage certainly could not have been described as ‘favourable’ conditions.

 

 

FIJI – NZ (2016)
nautical miles per day fuel burn (Gallons per day)
Oct. 24th 58.1 52.8
Oct. 25th 172.3 135.1
Oct. 26th 178.7 147.6
Oct. 27th 167.7 148.3
Oct. 28th 175.7 135.7
Oct. 29th 176.6 140.2
Oct. 30th 153.2 139.4
1082.3 899.1
Averaging:  1.21 nm/Gal.

 

 

 

          Our transit from Port Denarau, FIJI, -to- Opua, New Zealand.

 

 

We arrived Opua, NZ, during the dead of night, exhausted but elated.  Not much to see, everything closed for the night; so we shut down INFINITY and went to bed.  The next morning, bright, full of sunshine and promise, we saw several other boats at the Customs Dock with the NZ Customs Officers already going from boat-to-boat, checking-in the 6-odd vessels that arrived during the night.  Formal entry into New Zealand was a straight-forward process.  They were expecting us, as I had been in contact with NZ Customs prior to leaving Fiji. That’s the way we like to roll on INFINITY 😉👍

Once checked-in, we decided to press-on down to Auckland, rather than stay in Opua.  We had reservations at Gulf Harbour Marina, and were keen to get established in our new ‘home’.  Who knew that we were going to spend the next 18 months in Slip N-25?

 

Our immediate goal was to take some time out from cruising and decompress awhile.  After which, I planned our time in New Zealand to be a ‘catch-up’ period – for boat maintenance, visiting my Uncle John (my Mom’s brother), and getting myself immersed back into work.  The diesel isn’t going to pay for itself!

The first week we pampered ourselves by doing nothing.  In that I mean, we slept-in often, and caught-up on some TV mini-series during rainy afternoons.  We hired a car and spent the next 3 weeks exploring the local Township of Whangaparaoa and meeting our Dock Neighbours; which N-Dock coincidentally turned out to be a mini-Nordhavn coterie!

 

 

N40 – CELLO

 

 

N52 – MERMAID EXPLORER

 

 

 N62 – GREY MATTER

 

 

 N76 – RELIANCE

 

 

and our personal favourite!   N62 – INFINITY ∞

 

 

At the end of November, 2016, Work in India was looming, the call had finally come. We decided that Julie should go back to Vancouver and spend Christmas with family.  In the end, we flew to Vancouver together and I caught a flight to India from there.

Now, fast-forward 105 days (to Mid-March, 2017).  Work completed, money in the bank, and I’m in desperate need of a Jay-fix!  We rendezvoused in Hawaii for a week (our self-designated ‘perfect-place’), and then flew back to NZ & INFINITY together.

All good so far right?  But this is where things go awry.  😮  With a maintenance plan & some funds in place, we commenced what we assumed to be a routine period of up-keep.  Not so fast. Mr. Murphy and the Chaos sisters had other plans! The routine maintenance period turned into a few months of hard work.   (I’ve actually written about this phenomenon before, whereby I defined a period of 15 years to be the naturally occurring lifetime of any bolt-on component in a trans-oceanic vessel).  Well, many of the remaining components which were not tended to before, (without being repaired or replaced), played “GOTCHA!” this time.

Before you, lays a brief outline of what kept us on the verge of entering the Twilight Zone.  😜

 

Equipment failures & mediocre luck during the 2016 season

 

  • Weld on flopper stopper pole (STBD-side) parted in the Tuamotus Islands;
    • Re-welded, and painted at Gulf Harbour machine shop
  • flopper stopper wire-rigging failed in Fiji
    • Replaced with a Dyneema harness in Auckland.
  • Polished some rocks with not one, but 2 propellers on our Yamaha 60HP outboard engine in Bora Bora.
    • spare prop installed, & new spare purchased and entered into inventory
  • Anchor winch failure in Aitutaki.
    • parts shipped from Australia, and repaired on-site in Fiji.
  • Davit slew ring loosened, NZ.
    • retightened 3 main fastening bolts, easy fix!
  • FWD & Bustle bilge pumps stopped working mid ocean!
    • older units removed, & replaced with new Whale Gupler models in NZ.
  • Sub Zero refrigerator condenser fan & relays stopped working in Tahiti
    • replaced on-site, after being shipped by DHL from Vancouver
  • Fuel leak on 20KW Generator fuel pump. Replacement required in Rarotonga
    • new fuel pump shipped from Seattle (Hatton Marine),,, love those guys.
  • Upper-Aft-Deck Cushion lost  (blown off in Bora Bora)
    • replaced in Fiji  (we’re still in therapy with this one)
  • Stbd Stabilizer HP-Gauge failed. Mid ocean!  (still too soon to talk about)
    • effected an immediate repair, & refilled header tank with spare Hydraulic. fluid  (Thank God we had spare!)
  • HYD oil cooler impeller failed while in transit, during extremely rough weather
    • straight-forward swap – although did require shutting off the main engine mid-ocean  😮
  • lost my iPad in Hawaii
    • please, let’s move on.
  • hydraulic hose burst, emptying all 12 gallons of Hydraulic oil out of the Reservoir (again)
    • Okie dokie, locate spare oil, overalls on, engine off, effect repair, fill up tank, engine on, on we go!
  • TRACE inverter failed, so replaced both
    • Replaced with 2 new Outback Inverters, nice!
  • ITR Furnace fuel pump failed (tear in diaphram)
    • straight-forward repair
  • hot water tank failed  /  had to remove  (this job was a nightmare)
    • Replaced with a new Torrid stainless steel unit, shipped from Seattle
  • Inverters and hot water tank were both ‘lost’ in NZ Customs.
    • Around two weeks MIA, fortunately we had other work to occupy us 😬
  • iPhone lost overboard, just too add insult to injury ; )
    • silver lining here, replaced with a shiny new-to-me iPhone 6
  • Underwater cleaning tool (Wave Blade) failed.
    • One tool NOT recommended by me, but at least it did work well for a couple of years.
  • Dive Compressor belt split, of course had no spare at the time.
    • Supplier located in NZ and ordered 2 spare.
  • Dive Compressor HP gauge failure.
    • BAUER supplier located in NZ, gauge replaced along with new HP fill-whip for good measure.

 

 

What can I say?  It was a challenging time!!**
However,,, we came to terms that we both like to have INFINITY fully operational and looking great, and this was just necessary maintenance after cruising for an extended period of time.  And while we were at it, we slotted in a few more projects and vessel upgrades:  (a few to be detailed later in our Projects section)

 

Full varnish of the teak cap-rail

Full vessel waxing, from stem-to-stern.

New Dinghy and scooter covers

New flopper stopper covers

Twin room Cabin revamp

New teak corner on bustle/swim step

New Headliners through the boat.

New Carpets through out the boat

 

**One thing I can absolutely guarantee a couple considering crossing oceans in their boat is that equipment will break down, and you will get though it. The blessing, or the beauty in this for me, was that these very trying times actually brought Julie and I closer together because we got through all these events together.   I came to understand that I can trust my partner in any situation, and she would actually be my number one pick for any ocean transit.  After 35 years of marriage (at the time) it was an epiphany for me to realize this.  As I write this, I’m both humbled and honoured to have had this time, and these experiences together.  So you potential cruising aficionados, get on it, stop dilly-dallying, buy the boat and get out there!  The cruising life is full of potential enrichment and experience, even when the chips are down.

 

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

 

To break up the hectic work-scope on the boat, we’d take INFINITY out to the local Islands to keep our souls engaged in the Cruising game, and revive this wonderful lifestyle.

 

Entering the Great Barrier Islands, which was only a short 40 mile hop from Gulf Harbour.  Felt very much like being back in British Columbia!

 

 

Sunsets like these were typical & beautiful. You did not have to wait too long to be reminded why we do this.

 

 

Back in Gulf Harbour Marina, slip N25 – Julie putting together a few bites for our friends / neighbours dockside

 

 

Ross & Jane Burton – Nordhavn 40 – CELLO. We became good friends over the 18 months spent in NZ. Their dog ‘Henry’ was the cutest dog I have seen in a long time. They were always welcome onboard INFINITY

 

 

,,,and some friends become like family!  The two Julies together.

 

 

Every blue moon, when you and the universe are connected, the gift of friendship-for-life is bestowed upon us.  It happened to us in New Zealand with Murray and Julie Bailey. A chance meeting I guess, fairly innocuous.  I’d noticed this guy cleaning his boat one day (80′ custom, ‘AZZARRA’) and we’d exchange the “I’d rather be doing something else” look at each other.  This happened on a few occasions and over the course of a week we’d stop and chat.  We learned that he too, was happily married of many years, to a ‘Julie’

I began to look forward to our chats, and within a month our door was always open to this most wonderful couple.  As often as our schedules would allow, we’d share a dinner together, and of course they invited us to their amazing property looking out over the Hauraki Gulf.

Cruising is, and always will be, most about the wonderful people you meet along the way.  My take on it is that if we had not made the bold choice to cross oceans, and visit distant shores, we would not have met the souls who have enriched our lives. It’s actually not about the boat, it’s about the people – the boat is the icing on the cake🧁

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

 

 

With many of the projects, and maintenance, and 5 months behind us, we decided a Road Trip was in order!  We had no specific plans other than to head to the South Island.  I did a quick scan of Google-Earth and marked out a few places of interest:

Wellington:          we had to catch the Ferry there

Christchurch:      the location of a Trimaran builder Farrier Marine

Queenstown:      I have some friends that live there

So with a very loose agenda in hand, we took off.

 

 

 

 

Driving through Auckland, we saw these ‘Noddy-type’ Postal vehicles everywhere. It hits you how each country has many of their own peculiarities, which make it special.

 

 

This particular peculiarity, we found hard to adopt.  Note the lack of shoes,,,  Kiwis of all ages, from 4 to 40 sporting the Hobbit theme.   Cold weather did not seem to be an issue. 😮

 

 

Wellington Museum – overlooking Wellington Port. We spent an afternoon there. It was an interesting place and I enjoyed it, but it occurred to me as we were walking out the door, that I enjoy walking up & down the Marina docks even more.

 

 

Wellington declared itself a Nuclear Free zone in a benchmark vote, which 5 years later was adopted by the whole country.  Nuclear powered vessels are barred from entering all NZ ports.  The reaction was interesting – New Zealand was officially downgraded from ALLY to FRIEND status.  Fast forward to 2018, the US is in the process of approving easier trade and investment agreements.  We certainly did not see any evidence that the Nuclear-free decision caused any harm what-so-ever.  In fact, the waterfront city was named the world’s most livable City by Deutsche Bank.  I believe the factors were cost of living, climate, safety and pollution levels.

 

 

 

Our ‘ride’ over to the South Island, crossing the Cook Strait and bound for the Port of Picton

 

 

This was my very first glimpse of New Zealands’ South Island. I had been waiting over 50 years to see this, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed! 👍

 

 

 

Picturesque, rugged beauty – meditation worthy.

 

 

This is one of my favourite shots.  We were bombing down South, with new horizons to explore, empty road ahead, music cranked, the future bright & clear. The moment is permanently burned into my brain.

 

 

Occasionally we would get out of the car for a stretch when the scenery would provoke it. (reminded me of Merritt, BC)

 

 

 

Having arrived Christchurch, we discovered the best way to tour the city is by hopping on & off the Tram that weaves its way through the city, stopping at all the attractions.

 

 

 

This Trolley transited right through this back mews.  Kinda cool.

 

 

We found the City to be an eclectic blend of the old and the new.  Not too long ago, Christchurch experienced quite a severe Earthquake, and the rebuild process was evident everywhere.

 

Earthquake stabilization & rebuild ongoing

 

 

Earthquake rebuilding. The old in front of the new.

 

 

This one was an Art Gallery, which I actually DID enjoy. (Note to self: you like Art Galleries, not Museums)   Never did get to see the Trimaran builder.

 

 

Neil Dawson’s Chalice sculpture, located in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square.

 

 

Christchurch Botanic Gardens, founded in 1863.  When Julie and I owned our house back in Vancouver, we were really getting into Gardening.   Atriums like these are another place where I feel connected to God, it’s like Church to me.  

 

 

On our way again, next stop, Queenstown!!

And here I have to introduce you to another great friend, Mr. Martin Hardy.  Martin and I worked together in Trinidad, Singapore, and China, and we have kept in touch over the years.  Turns out he had a property in Queenstown which was coincidently available.  “Why don’t you guys stay there” he said.  He did not have to ask twice.

 

Queenstown is an incredible place. And yes, this is the view from Martins house.

 

 

Yep, what did I tell you? This was going to be a very comfortable week.

 

 

woke up to this every morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

zoom into the wee car, and you’ll see a stellar individual,  Mr. Martin Hardy

 

 

The SHOTOVER JET

 

In 1986, I was working in Saudi Arabia with another Diver called Stuart Anderson.  He had spent some time in New Zealand and kept raving on about this Jet Boat ride, saying I just HAD to do it.  Stuart, you were not wrong!

CHECK OUT THIS LINK, HERE.

 

Julie and spent a few days and nights just walking around Queenstown with no other agenda other than to explore the town at our leisure.  Our Digs were only a mile out of town, so there was no rush to do anything.  On impulse, we thought we’d check out the ICE BAR.  (Actually, I think we had free tickets 😜)

 

they dress you up,,,

 

 

and push you in!

 

 

Bartender! Give me a cool one!!

 

 

Now this is more our speed. We imagined our daughter Chloë (who lives in Norway) snuggled up in this chair with Harley. Aw,,,     (actually, I wouldn’t mind climbing in there myself!)

 

 

We had heard that this place, called  ‘The Cow’  was pretty cool, so on a cool afternoon we checked it out.

 

 

 

Oh yeah!   This place is going to do just fine!

 

 

Someone call a Cop, a Pizza is about to get murdered! That Garlic Loaf was smothered, and infused, with garlic butter. Yes, it too went the way of the Pizza.

 

 

A bit further afield, probably 20 minutes drive from Queenstown, was this delightful little area known as Arrowtown.   “Where History meets Nature”

 

Yes, that is a Harley Davidson, and yes I am checking it out unashamedly.

 

 

The Car version of the Nordhavn 62!

 

 

Back to our digs,,,towards the end of the week we found ourselves scanning the local property market. 😮

 

 

those Queenstown pies aren’t going to work themselves off. Jay and I try to get 1/2 hour of some form of exercise in each morning.

 

 

It was time we were heading back up North again.  We took the route heading west, past Milford Sound (sadly) and up the west coast of the South Island, stopping whenever the mood took us (quite frequently as it happened 😜)

 

Traveling back up the west coast of the South Island. Very rugged, wild, spectacular scenery

 

 

Taking the Ferry up to the North island. I always feel so comfortable back on the water.   Here I’m taking a moment to thank God for our time on this earth.   Who could blame me?

 

 

Meet Zach Rohland.  We first met this fine young man in North Vancouver, dockside, helping his family bring their boat ‘FAMILY TIME’ alongside.  Months later, we all met up in San Diego.  We decided there, that we would loosely ‘buddy-boat’ down the Mexican coast, and up the Sea of Cortez, to La Paz.  We spent months together in 2013 with the Rohlands, and just knew we’d all run into each other again.  Cruisers do that.  So I wasn’t really that surprised when I got a text saying “where are you, I’m in New Zealand”.  Well one can’t leave Divine intervention like that unattended, so after a series of texts, and hundreds of miles of driving over multiple days, we finally met up for one night in Tauranga, North Island.  It was like we had seen each other yesterday!

We spent the evening catching up, devouring two large Pizzas, and recounted what each of us had been doing over the last 4 years.  Zach had been in this area for a few days and asked if we were going to see Hobbiton while we were so close?  Why not?  While the whole Hobbit thing does nothing for me, I do think that the Lord of the Rings was Epic, so we put it on the agenda.

 

Zach & Jay at the Pizza Library.  Bethlehem, Tauranga.

 

 

 

 

Hobbiton turned out to be a great day, and a fun experience.  Those impromptu events usually are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had always wondered what became of Stevie Gorton?

 

 

After the the Hobbiton visit, we pointed our car North again, back home to Gulf Harbour Marina, to our friends and INFINITY.  We are always happy to rejoin INFINITY, even if it’s been just a few weeks away.

 

Quite often, we were rewarded with these amazing sunsets

 

 

this time, I stared into the sunset wondering if we are we going to miss New Zealand?

 

 

While I was at work, Julie stayed with the boat and caught up with a necessary full wax job . Here is  INFINITY spic & span, and ready for Sea!

 

 

After this downtime in New Zealand, I got a call from work to report on the status of a new-build Diving Support Vessel, which was being built for the company in Norway.  It was supposed to be a two or three-day affair.  In-&-out.  To this very day, (two years later) I’m still working on the same boat.  You can read all about the vessel delivery trip, from Norway to Singapore, here.

 

I travelled back & forth from Auckland to Alesund over the next 6 months, Julie and I patiently waiting for a favourable time to move on to New Caledonia.  Finally, we managed a slot when INFINITY was ready for Sea, and I had a clearing of time away from work.

 

More Information»
F I J I
June 92017

BULA!   Welcome to FIJI !

Uncharacteristically, this FIJI Listing is going to be a long one. I warmly suggest you dig into it when you have your favourite beverage by your side, and a clear 35 minutes… : )

Fiji wass our penultimate destination for 2016, and more-than-managed to live up to the magnificent reputation our cruising peers suggested it might be.   In a word ,,, Awesome!

 

AITUTAKI    FIJI   (arrived Aug/29/2016)

Total trip time:  7 days, 16 hours

Total trip distance:  1360 nm

Total fuel used:  1012 gals.  /  1.34 nm/gal

 

 

 

First things first though. If you have frequented our blog in the past, you may recall our anchor winch failing (almost catastrophically) in Aitutaki, Cook Islands, during our final recovery.  Not understanding what mechanical support lie ahead in Tonga, we decided to by-pass Tonga, and head directly to Fiji where support was assured.   (I am SO glad we topped-up our tanks with Tahiti’s duty-free diesel when we had the chance  ????).  However, arriving FIJI under such conditions (an unplanned destination, and the ability for us to change plans quickly), was immensely rewarding.

During our transit to Fiji, I made contact with James Ellingford / N62-PENDANA.   James confirmed that Port Denarau Marina was indeed the place to go, and offered to manage our arrival in Fiji with Customs, Agents, and service providers.   All was waiting on the quayside when we arrived.  Thank-you James!

 

PORT DENARAU

After the legalities of checking into Fiji were completed, we immediately tore into the Hydraulic Winch problem.

 

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Upon stripping it down, we found the keyway-key had sheared, the clutch-cones were damaged, and the main shaft was scored.

 

 

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This is the gearbox.  The hydraulic motor mount broke off and you can see part of it still attached to the gearbox.  All the bolts were loose, the seals were shot, and of course all the oil had leaked out.

 

 

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All internal and external components have been removed.  We replaced all damaged components for new, and rebuilt the winch in place.  This was a relatively easy job.

 

The project got off to a good start.  We identified all the parts required, and left the ordering of parts in the service providers hands.  We then decided to rent a car for a few days and check out Nadi while our parts were to be flown into Fiji from New Zealand.  Not my brightest move.  Julie and I usually handle all repairs ourselves.  This time however, I decided to hire professionals to quarterback the project as I was exhausted, both mentally and physically from the anchor-failure-drama, and the week-long transit to Fiji.  The last two days of which I was on ‘high-alert’ as we threaded our way through Fiji’s insufficiently-charted waters.

It seems there was an issue behind the scenes, between the NZ distributor and Maxwell.  Old part numbers conflicting with new Maxwell 3500 HWC drawings.  Days rolled on.  When I inquired about the delay, only then was I informed about the issue.  (The British have a saying – “I was beside myself!“)

In retrospect, I blame only myself.  I should have ordered the parts myself (as we always have done) and managed the entire project between us (as we usually do).  The delay in receiving the parts was further complicated by the Marina needing our slip for other pre-booked vessels.  We played dock chess for a week, moving 5 times during our stay.  Ali @ PDM was a star.  Ali – God bless you my friend.

Our agent, Josephine Morris (Jo), from Yacht Partners Fiji, cleared the parts through Customs and had them delivered to our boat in hours.  Jo continued to provide exemplary service to INFINITY  throughout our entire time while in Fijian waters.  + 10!

Our hydraulic windless was rebuilt in just a few hours, then function tested and put back into service.  I suppose we’ll never know for sure what the exact root cause of the failure was, and I have many theories.  But having stripped and rebuilt the unit, I’m convinced of the Maxwell quality and satisfied INFINITY  is good-to-go for another 16 years.

 

 

We rented a car for a few days, and zipped around Nadi to see what we could see.  The Sleeping Giant mountain was repeatedly suggested as something you should see, so we drove out to the Botanical gardens.

 

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Our rented charabang for a few days

 

 

Normally, I’m not really a flower guy.  Oh I can appreciate it alright, like when Julie and I used to get ‘garden-fever’ when we owned our house, but I thought of this trip out to the Gardens more as something to occupy some time.  I was pleasantly surprised by the tranquil energy and vibe of the place.  In  fact, I’d welcome the chance to visit the local ‘Gardens’ in any future destinations we go to.

 

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The next day we headed out to familiar territory, and tried-out the  Sleeping Giant Zip-Line.  Just the drive out there was an adventure in itself.

 

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And of course no visit to a new destination is complete without dropping-in to the local Market.

 

Nadi market.  Typical island flair,,, great place!

 

 

During our stay at Port Denarau, we met a great couple (Gerard & Trish Knight).  Yes, Gerard Knight is James Knight’s brother.    We enjoyed a fun afternoon together, and invited them over to the marina for some cocktails on  INFINITY.

 

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Sept. 9th, 2016  –  Celebrating our 28th Wedding Anniversary

 

 

 

We were asked if a Nordhavn Rally was taking place because there were 5 Nordhavns gracing the docks, 1 x N60,  2 x N62’s, 1 x N75 EYF, and 1 x N78.  I t was cool spending time with the Captains, and the owners.  As you might have guessed, all good people     :  )

 

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Nordhavn 78 – SIRIUS

 

 

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Nordhavn 60 – OCEANZSPIRIT

 

 

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Nordhavn 62 – WALKABOUT

 

 

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Nordhavn 75 – LADY GREY

 

 

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Oh, my personal favourite,,, Nordhavn 62 – INFINITY

 

 

While sitting at the ‘Rhumba’ at Port Denarau Marina (PDM), sipping our rum & cokes, we watched one of the most wonderful sailboats I have ever seen, slip gracefully into Harbour.  A famous quote sprang to mind.

“Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made.”  – Robert N. Rose

The vessel was s/v ATLANTIC, and she must be seen to be fully appreciated.  While studying the boat from our bar-stools, I had this realization come over me, ‘our days here are going to be cool’.  PDM is temporary home for many super yachts, cool yachts, and other fine ocean crossing craft.  Pinch me now.

 

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INFINITY next to some big dogs.  (Helps us keep our perspective as we travel).

To our Starboard side was Senses,  (owned by the dude who owns Google).

To the Port of us was SuRi.

 

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this plane was actually lowered off of SuRi.   Apparently it was time to be replaced by a newer model.   Yep,,,

 

 

 

MUSKET COVE

 

With our windless repaired, and our stores replenished, it was time to move on and discover FIJI.  But just around the corner was Musket Cove, a must-see location near Nandi.

 

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flying our colours as we enter Musket Cove

 

 

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S/V  ENCORE    (our neighbors in Hawaii)

 

 

The timing our our arrival at Muskett Cove was just perfect.  Everyday was filled with fun events, followed by an evening party.

 

 

 

 

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non-stop events, people flying-in & flying out at regular intervals, daily.

 

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Cloud 9.  Yes, that’s right.  A Bar & Pizza joint right out in the middle of Ro-Ro Reef, opposite Malolo Island.  The only way to get there is by small boat (dinghy).  You anchor your boat just off the platform, or tie your boat right up to the platform rail as we did.  The Bar is surrounded by crystal clear water, around 20’ deep, and ideal for snorkeling.  The top level is perfect for diving-off of.  Rock music is playing and the vibe just says –“PARTY”–.  I loved this place, it was unique and a lot of fun.

 

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with Monty & Margy from the sailing cat  WHISTLER

 

 

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Another great cruising event, in another fantastic tropical destination.      :  )     ????

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After regatta week,,, Musket Cove turned into one of the most peaceful & tranquil anchorages we’ve ever been in.

 

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Jay & I went sailing on a Hobie Wave (a small Catamaran) this afternoon, and what great fun!!  We had such a fun afternoon, we have decided to buy a small sailing Catamaran for INFINITY.  Because we require one which can be assembled on site, our choice is between two models, the MiniCat or the SmartKat.  Which one will we choose?  Which one would you choose?  Our next Listing for New Zealand will reveal all.     ;  )

 

 

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Funny story:  27 years ago Julie and I were visiting New Zealand.  Our trip to the south island was scuppered because all the Ferry’s were booked solid.  So, feeling cold and needing some warmth, we booked 10 days in Fiji instead.   27 years later we find ourselves in the exact same resort!  We spent a fun afternoon going down memory lane at the Plantation Island Resort.

 

 

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Yep, 27 years ago we stood right here  (BC)  “before kids”.

 

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Musket Cove was great, but we can’t stay here forever.   Anchor up & heading north up to the Yasawa Islands!

 

 

NAVADRA ISLAND

Our first stop on the Yasawa Islands tour was Navadra Island, which consists of two islands joined together by a small inlet.  It’s the perfect Island-get-away that you dream of, and we shared the bay with only a couple of other boats during our whole time there.

 

 

 

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This cave is still used by the local Fijians for the occasional ceremony

 

 

Margy (from s/v WHISTLER) organizing the party

 

 

From our boat, we had the most stunning view of the hill top beside us.  I kept looking at it during my morning coffees, and mentioned to Julie how it was toying with me.  “We should climb to the top of that mount”,,,  seemed like a good idea at the time.

 

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half way up the hill

 

 

at the top of our summit!

 

 

getting nostalgic, we decided to build a North American Inuksuk to leave our mark

 

 

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now we get personal!   Leaving the  ∞  card behind.   ;  )

 

 

my favourite Navandra photo!

 

 

Monty & Margy (from s/v  WHISTLER), got their Drone out and managed to capture some great shots of INFINITY from the air.  Note to self:  must buy a Drone!

 

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WAYA ISLAND / NALAUWAKI BAY

 

On our next stop, just 15 nautical miles north from Navandra, is Waya Island.  We met some wonderful locals there and got some great diving in.

 

the view from here was great!

 

 

unfortunately, our 300 lb CQR adopts this attitude too often

 

 

Once we met with the Chief, we were invited to walk around their village.  It left a huge impression on us, being surrounded by such lovely people.  And by lovely I mean folk without any agenda at all  (well, perhaps some Kava or fish-hooks) button attachment to the outside world or even a consideration about it.  I found the experience calming, something with a purity about it.  I liked it.

 

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our guide (Pauli)  for our mountain top excursion

 

 

half way up this one!

 

 

and to the top we make it!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

water break for everybody

 

 

Julie and our Paulini shaking it out,,,

 

 

Waya Island village view from mountain top

 

 

INFINITY on the right.   s/v ENTICE (Greg & Karen) foreground.

 

 

Ya, we fell in love with this too.    We will return     ;  )

 

 

sometimes, the photos we take do not capture how truly beautiful a place is,,, and sometimes they do!

 

 

While we were on Waya, the was a group of Volunteers from Australia rebuilding the village school that was damaged in the last Hurricane.  God bless these guys.  While social media prevails with negative stories, as Jay and I travel we consistently see good, bright, positive deeds done by wonderful people.

 

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these village kids took a shine to Julie

 

 

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the children revelled in showing us the new fresh-water pipeline that was installed at their village last year. The new line is piped right to the village from a mountain top spring. The original water supply was contaminated by wild animals.

 

 

Julie and I donated some items to the local village at Nalauwaki Bay.  (various items that we had onboard INFINITY)

 

 

the kids seemed to like the masks & snorkels we picked up in Hawaii – Thanks Dad & Joan!

 

 

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here comes the school bus – really!

 

 

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the presence of God everywhere you look

 

 

Back in the water for some more diving.

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Pauline and Amelia hanging’ out

 

 

Yeah, that’s it.  We trekked right to the top of that right-side peak

 

 

leaving Waya Island, and heading north to the Blue Lagoon

 

 

NACULA ISLAND / BLUE LAGOON

Navigating through the Fijian Islands is done in daylight, and by sight only.   Many of these waters are uncharted, which make it easily the most treacherous waters we’ve had to navigate in, by far.   Vessels going aground are common.  Lately, our navigation is assisted with Satellite imagery, using an iPad app ‘MotionX-GPS HD’.  This simple software is a revelation to me and has saved our bacon once already. (entering into Blue Lagoon).

While we were anchored in Nalauwaki Bay, we spent some time with Greg & Karen (s/v ENTICE), and they mentioned a couple of activities they enjoyed during their stay in Blue Lagoon.  I have come respect the opinions of other cruisers who have gone before you.  It’s usually hard-won knowledge, and something we can capitalize on while cruising to new anchorages.  So, when they suggested we venture out to a nearby Island to buy some fresh vegetables, and go mud-crabbing with with Shirley, that sounded like a good plan.

 

 

We dinghied over to a neighbouring Island near Blue Lagoon, and met the local Vegetable farmer who welcomed us to all that was in season.

 

 

You can’t get any fresher than this!

 

 

 

During one of my morning paddleboard excursions, on our third day at anchor,,, behold!  What do I see?  The sailing vessel  Red Thread – who we last saw in Tahiti!  I paddled right over and said a big hello to Jesse & Neil, who with cruising with their good friends from the USA, Katrina & Tyler.  It was a blast to see these guys again, and just reinforces why international cruising is so cool.

 

Katrina, Tyler, Neil, Andy, Julie, & Jesse,  impromptu group meeting – they’re the best!

 

 

INFINITY gets to relax in the sun too.

 

 

getting ready for the mud-crabbing-collection adventure.   Tooling up with heavy socks & water shoes.

 

 

getting our game plan together with our host, Shirley.

 

 

 

 

into the mangroves we go

 

 

,,, and keep going

 

 

Shirley recounts the crab-catching-plan one more time

 

 

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be adventurous they said,,, it will be fun they said,,,

 

 

we can see you!

 

 

Turns out the “plan” is to stick your hand up a black mud filled space, feel for the crab, and yank ‘im out.

 

 

I had a better idea.   I’ll hold the bucket!

 

 

Yep,  Shirley could catch these fish by hand too, so they made up some of the menu that night.

 

 

Neil was right in there. You-the-man Neil!

 

 

all washed up,  heading out for the nights’ Fijian feast.

 

 

All the food we gathered and caught that afternoon, was cleaned and prepared by Shirley’s family, and we we’re invited to their home to enjoy the feast.

 

 

 

Yep, that’s the mudcrab. Tasted good, if not a little ‘muddy’

 

 

Shirley’s sister, and our wonderful host for the evening.

 

 

The feast in full-swing!

 

 

awesome experience, wonderful night,  great people!

 

 

 

 

 

SAWA-I-LAU  ISLAND

 

Sawa-I-Lau was yet another, quiet, tranquil anchorage in the Fijian Islands chain.  Additionally, the location is also renowned for it’s underwater cave structure, which is open to cruisers.

 

Hook is down, dinghy has been launched, and we’re going to investigate the caves.     (excuse the steam on the Go-Pro lens)

 

 

 

 

 

 

looking for a spot to anchor the dinghy.

 

 

 

 

steps right up to the Caves entrance

 

 

 

 

 

 

how cool is this place!?       ; )

 

 

Slowly, as we threaded our way through the Tuamotus Islands, French Polynesia, and the Fijian Islands, I have been doing more Free Diving and loving it!  This cave was only 50′ deep but gave me another safe opportunity to explore.  As I approached the bottom, I found a CASIO Waveceptor watch.  The strap was broken, but I scooped it up and got the strap fixed for $10.  I now love wearing the watch as it reminds me of FIJI.

 

 

    Sawa-I-Lau Caves video from our FaceBook page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local  Sawa-I-Lau islander, and our cave guide for the day

 

 

 

 

Just before the sun started to set, I’d get the paddle board out and paddle around the island, which was full of intricate rock formations and shallow waters.  I could have spent a month in this one spot.

 

 

 

 

YASAWA ISLAND / 8-MONTH BEACH

 

From Sawa-I-Lau, we moved further up North to the tip of the Yasawas Island.  Apparently there are beaches there, (8-month-beach and Champagne beach), that are recognized as some of the worlds best – with silky white, powdery sand.  In fact, local folklore has it that “it will take you 8 months to wash the sand completely from your hair.”

Well, turns out we didn’t even get a sniff at the beach.  We arrived in cloudy unsettled weather and things did not improve once the hook was down.  As I was pondering the situation, I saw a trimaran entering the Bay.  It looked peculiar at first, and  it took me a few seconds to figure it out.  It was dismasted!

Once they were settled, they hailed INFINITY on VHF 16, and I paddle-boarded over to their vessel to see what assistance we could provide.  Jeff & Jose Allen told me how the dismasting events unfolded, and indeed, they were lucky to be alive.  Their Norman Cross designed trimaran suffered some serious damage.  We worked out a plan for the next morning.  I would provide them with our Satellite Phone and a few gallons of diesel.

Morning came, and over I paddled.  Julie and I had invited them over for lunch on INFINITY, but as the morning progressed, so did the weather, and it became increasingly obvious that no lunch-date was going to be had.  :  (

I wish I could tell you that was the only issue.  Not so.  While we were sitting there at anchor, a local weather system passed right over us.  Seas rose over 5m with breaking waves, sustained winds over 50 knots howled through the rigging.  It was getting ugly out there and my cavalier attitude was disappearing fast.  INFINITY was pitching up and down wildly and then BANG!  Anchor chain running out uncontrolled a-freaking-gain!  I ran out of the Pilothouse in terror, and grabbed some 1” nylon line.  The reef was only 30 meters behind us!  I bent on the 1” line with a rolling-hitch and secured it to our centre-cleat.  As more chain began to run out, it was halted by the line.  Thank you God.  Two more lines soon joined the chain, one to the Port cleat, and one to Stbd.  OK, now that that was in-hand, Julie and I went around the boat securing everything.  It was kind-of a disaster really.  The Flopper-stoppers were both deployed and there was no way we could recover them now.  They held strong for many hours but the 6mm stainless-steel wire harness eventually parted.  So there we were.  Connected to the seabed, pitching and rolling wildly for the 12 hours the Storm Force winds lasted.  By luck, I installed separate retrieval lines to the Flopper-stoppers, so we were able to recover them as conditions allowed.  It was an altogether horrible experience and probably the worst boating experience we’ve had to date.  It’s not all sunshine and Champagne you know.     ;  )

 

     The ‘Bad Day’ video from our You-Tube channel

 

 

Jeff & Jose’s Trimaran “STRAVAIG”

 

 

 

 

SAVUSAVU

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Savu Savu was a much, much better experience altogether.     :  )

After the storm force winds abated the the Yasawas, we picked up anchor and cruised on over to Fiji’s Northern Island of Vanua Levu.  Here, we were going to see our friends Mike & Cheryl who we met in Hawaii.  They have chosen to build a house and settle part-time in Fiji.  We were looking forward to see what the appeal was.

 

INFINITY anchored at the mouth of the Nakama Creek.  Still waters with plenty of clear blue depth, and swinging room.

 

 

 

John & Sandy’s FPB64 – TIGER, in the foreground.                                  (While I’m a Nordhavn aficionado, I do appreciate these very purposeful Dashew boats).

 

 

The weekly supply boat rolls on in, on schedule.

 

 

The Parade is on!  & the town stops.  I needed a break anyway, we grab a coffee and watch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We felt quite charmed with Savusavu, so much in fact, that we found ourselves looking at property.  Yep, ‘wouldn’t it be great to own a slice of this heaven?’  Little did we know that this thought process was going to occupy us over a 6-month period.   A spending an enjoyable week in Savusavu (promising to return), we picked up anchor and cruised back to Nadi to make plans for our final transit to New Zealand.

 

The majestic faces of Savusavu,,, just another day in Paradise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once back in Nadi, we dropped anchor in Musket Cove again.  We have only been there twice before but somehow it felt like coming into a home anchorage.  From here, we organized our immigration and refueling to be done at Port Denarau.  The forecast was good and we’d soon be on our last leg to Auckland, New Zealand.  All-in-all, this Journey has been a wonderful, glorious 8 month period.  A lot of work, and a lot of challenges, but one so worthwhile!

 

Next Listing     >>  New Zealand.

 

 

 

 

 

More Information»
Cook Islands
September 32016

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Rarotonga is the vibrant centre of the Cook Islands and is where government resides. Circular, and only 32 km in circumference, it is dominated by high mountain peaks from which lush rain forests provide a dramatic backdrop to a palm-fringed shore.

The island is almost completely encircled by a reef, however there is no navigable lagoon, or free anchoring here.  Avatiu Harbour underwent a huge harbour realignment and dredging project to straighten the east quay and dredge the basin to 10m. This project was completed at the end of 2012 and the harbour has now re-opened to visIting yachts.

The end result is a better arrangement for yachts, however locals warn (and I can confirm!) that the harbour is now even more exposed and open to the north winds and seas brought on by frontal passages, (luckily most of the weather comes from the ESE).     (Source:  noonsite.com)

 

TAHITI    RAROTONGA   (arrived Aug/02/2016)

Total trip time;  76 hours

Total trip distance;  622 nm

Total fuel used:  498 gals.  /  1.24 nm/gal

 

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“Motor Vessel INFINITY, INFINITY, INFINITY,,,,,HARBOR MASTER”

               Harbour Master, this is INFINITY on VHF 12 – go ahead.

“Harbor Master here Captain,,,, – Richard wants to say ‘Hello’

               “Hey Richard!    How you doing Dude?!”

Of course, Richard, is none other than Nordhavn Dreamer & esteemed Global Entrepreneur, RICHARD BARTON.

Richard has been a casual acquaintance of INFINITY, via the Nordhavn Dreamers website, and we have emailed each other from time to time.  Richard understood we were on our way to Rarotonga, reached-out and extended a warm welcome. 

He has shown us around the Island, and looked after our importation of our fuel pump.  And his wife Willy invited us over to dinner at their beautiful house on the west side of the Island.  We’ve also met & hung out with their daughter Trish for a few days.  What a great family!  It’s wonderful people like this who make our cruising so worthwhile.

 

 

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Richard Barton and Andy Nemier, on  INFINITY’s  upper aft-deck

 

 

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Julie, together with Willie, Richard, & Trish Barton

 

 

This morning, (Aug/09/2016) we installed the new fuel pump for our 20 KW Generator.  She’s a go!!  However, minor upset occurred trying to remove the stop solenoid.  As we unscrewed the solenoid, it came apart in our hands  :  (    Perhaps it can be rebuilt?  For now, I plugged it off and have to stop the Genny by using the manual ‘stop’  on the machine itself.  No biggy, apart from the fact that the “auto-shut-down” feature will no longer operate.  We’ll have to keep a closer and more frequent eye on the oil pressure and engine temperature.  UPDATE:  (18/AUG/2016)  The fuel-stop solenoid has been repaired, installed, and is working like a champ!)

 

 

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Our generator with the leaking fuel pump. You can see the blue gasket material we used to stem the diesel leak, and the funnel-&-cup arrangement to gather the overspill during operation. Crude, but effective.

 

 

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leaking fuel pump removed. Prepping faces for installation of new pump.

 

 

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New fuel pump installed! The fuel delivery lines are not-yet attached.    Shiney!

 

 

 

 

I have always been interested in the South Pacific Islands and the Polynesian / Melanesian / Micronesian cultures in general.  I think many of us have been at one time or another.  My own personal interest started in high-school geography class and the wonder blossomed through-out my twenties, and thirties.  I travelled internationally for a living, and my interest grew stronger.

But it wasn’t until Jay and I bought our Nordhavn, and we crossed the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii, that my interest in this diverse culture began to be addressed.  We were welcomed into Hawaii with open arms and could actually feel the ALOHA spirit radiate through the Hawaiian people.  We loved the Bishop Museum and the local Luau’s, and basically any other opportunity which immersed us further into their culture.

But we had a whole world to explore and we were not getting any younger, so onwards we pushed – further south and further west – towards French Polynesia.  All through the Society Islands, their own unique culture was immediately evident – from the most open & accepted personal sexuality, to the most amazing display of Tattoo’s.  Almost everyone, it seemed, had a Tattoo prominent on their body.  This was a revelation to me.  I have always respected well intentioned Tattoo’s, especially one’s which told a story.  I even considered getting some sort of tribal Tattoo myself years ago, but simply could not justify it.

Once we reached Rarotonga, and I saw with my own eyes, that a major percentage off the population (young & old alike) were adorned with ink.  I stood in awe how every persons’ Tattoo was different from each others.

Jay & I were asked if we would mind being interviewed for the Cook Island News, and of course we said ’sure’.  It was during the interview, that I noticed Soloman’s Tattoo.  I remarked how striking it was, and he asked us if we wanted to hear of his Tattoo’s story.  I was enthralled to hear how each symbol represented a certain time or path in his life,,, it was truly unique to him.  At that moment, I knew that I was finally going to live-out a life-long dream of getting a Tattoo, one which told my own story.  Two days later, my personal canvas was done at Polynesian Tattoo, in Rarotonga.  I could not be happier with the results.  I will forever be reminded of the wonderful experience we’ve had in Polynesia and fulfilled another dream.

 

 

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Infinite dreams,,, endless possibilities,,, without boundaries. 

 

 

My Tattoo is a traditional Polynesian interpretation of my own personal journey: the union of two people, traveling together to foreign lands by sea, guided by the sea-birds and the warrior spirit. Our family is close-by in our hearts.  We are all kept healthy from the fruits of the land, the sun, and positive energy.

 

 

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  • If I had to compare an Island the most like Rarotonga, MOOREA stands out as being the closest.  Lush green lands fringed with palm trees, surround high Jurrasic-like mountains.  The pride the Rarotongans the have in their Island is evident everywhere you turn, substantiated with well kept lots and manicured grasslands.

 

 

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  • A unique aspect of Rarotonga culture is the placement of loved-ones who have passed-on.  The tall gravestones, shrines & Slabs are placed in the front yard of many homes.  We’ve been told that they are positioned in this way so the family can be close; as they sit on the shrines and commune with those passed on.

 

 

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  • We had several occasions to take our scooters around the Island.  We visited some Markets, the many beaches, and of-course the fine local hang-outs.

 

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Once our scooter had been offloaded, we kept it close by the boat for the two weeks we were in Rarotonga

 

 

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I often stopped so jay could hop off and take some photos. This was actually one of my favourite days.

 

 

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Everywhere so clean, clean, clean,,, (Singapore clean). This church was just one example of how I will remember the Island. Fond memories.

 

 

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Just one of the many beaches along the Islands’ Eastern side

 

 

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I could go on & on,,,,

 

 

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manicured lots surround many homestead. The Rarotongan’s are very Land Proud.

 

 

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we stop for some medicinal hydration

 

 

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,,,and enjoy the magical sunsets, night after night.        : )

 

 

As always on our travels, we’ve been  meeting lots of interesting cruisers.  One such couple was Riley and Elayna on s/v La Vagabonde.  They have a website and facebook page directing you to their set of You-Tube videos.  These guys started sailing completely new, and are now crossing oceans.  Talking to them was rewarding and satisfied my sailing fix for another few weeks !     ;  )

 

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Rarotonga has been the best Polynesian Island for me yet,,, But it’s all about the boat for me, and Rarotonga is unfortunately limited in the services and moorage it presently can offer passing cruisers.  The Port Authorities did the best for us, and we certainly appreciated the efforts they went to to accommodate us.  We would love to see a bonafide marina opened up to the cruising public which would surely augment the burgeoning tourist industry on the Island.

 

 

 

 

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This morning (August 19th) we arrived Aitutaki after an overnight passage.  The forecast was somewhat favorable, but the reality was different.  Of course it was much worse, 20 knots of wind on-the-nose with an posing current made an uncomfortable ride.  But we got here safe and sound and we’re currently sitting here nicely at anchor (1030) – there is no way we can enter Aitutaki lagoon, as we draw too much,,, small boats only.  Our anchored position is about 750 meters North of the Arutanga Passage (which is the small-boat access into Aitutaki), and just 100 meters off the coral reef.  With 60 meters of chain out (in 15 meters of water), this only gives us a 40-meter buffer between us and the rocks.  Although we’ve encountered similar anchoring scenarios throughout the south pacific atolls, and we are confident in INFINITY’s ground tackle, this never really feels comfortable.  The ‘edge’ is there.

But what to do?  Be totally safe and blow off this destination,,, No, gotta do it, but I need to be constantly vigilant, and make peace with the edge.

 

 

Rarotonga – Aitutaki

time –  20 hours

miles –   146 nm

ave speed –  7.3 kts

Fuel –  128 gals

mpg    1.14 nmpg

 

 

We called Aitutaki Port Control on VHF 16, and informed them of our arrival.  They knew we were here, and I confirmed our anchor position.  We spoke to a local contact (Teina Bishop) and we’ll try to hook up with him tomorrow when we go ashore.  This afternoon, Julie and I are just lounging onboard INFINITY, reading, eating, relaxing, and watching how INFINITY handles the local weather.  Both Flopper Stoppers are deployed.

The next morning we dinghied into the Port, and I noted the 4’ depth in a few parts of the channel.  Looks as though it was a good call on anchoring outside the reef!  Trina Bishop is a dear friend & business colleague of Richard Barton’s, in Rarotonga.  Teina owns a few businesses on Aitutaki, and was a member of local Parliament for over 30 years.  He picked us up at the harbour and gave us a tour around the Island.

Aitutaki has been involved in a number of commercial activities, but the only sustainable one has turned out to be tourism.  The Island is a shining example of keeping local culture infused with an up-to-date lifestyle, and another great tribute to the Cook Islands.  Aitutaki is outstandingly beautiful and was a worthy stopover for us.  We probably would have never seen this Island if it wasn’t for INFINITY.

 

 

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Teina Bishop and Andy,,, INFINITY,, way, way, in the background.

 

 

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a common sight,, goats roaming around the fields. This kid was on the Hospital grounds.

 

 

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I tried to get some photographs of the Island, by standing in the back of Teina’s pick-up truck as we slowly descended the hill.  This one, is the best shot!    Jay Nem!!

 

 

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typical back-road, Aitutaki

 

 

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Aitutaki,,, it’s all about the Lagoon,,, and it’s gorgeous!

 

 

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discussing the Island, over a few cool ones at Teina’s Hotel/Restaurant

 

 

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a room with a view!

 

 

During our stay in all of our destinations, we try to remain flexible and go with what Mother Nature has in store for us.  When I looked at the upcoming forecast, it showed days of rain & strong winds ahead.  Considering our vulnerable anchoring position, we decided to call it a day.  I got on the VHF radio, and canceled our Island Boat Tour we had planned for the next day with Teina, and made preparations to get out of there comfortably, while we could.

Well,,, during the recovery of our anchor, our hydraulic windless failed (perhaps shear pins?) and we had to recover it using plan B, (using the davit,,pulling up 9 inches at a time).  This operation took a few hours but we got there in the end.  However, now we were in a dilemma,,,our planned destination from Aitutaki was going to be Tonga, but we were unsure of the support we could get there.  A Trawlers anchoring capability is a major system which must be 100% fully operational and we needed to get the unit sorted soonest.  Next destination then??  Fiji!    1400 miles away!

 

 

tatoo again, cause it’s cool : )

 

 

More Information»
Tuamotus Islands
August 82016

 

We had just purchased some last-minute items ashore, and said good-by to Cindy (our agent) in Tahiti.  As we were making our way back to INFINITY, at Taina Anchorage, we both noticed the weather had increased significantly.  By the time we had hoisted the dinghy onboard, it was time to get out of the anchorage,,,Pronto.  The flopper-stoppers were still deployed but I didn’t have the luxury of time to stow them;  the big Catamaran behind us was getting closer by the minute as their moorings were sttetching out with the blow.

Julie asked me when she should come up on the anchor?

“Now” I said, “right now”

I flashed up the main & wing engine’s, and started the hydraulics.  As Jay was hoisting the anchor, I lifted the flopper-stoppers just clear of the water, leaving the poles still deployed.  We’d be OK for a bit like that.  The last look I had at the wind instruments, we were showing 30 Kts, gusting higher.

We managed through the anchorage, and meandered around the Island reef.  With Julie at the Wing-Station-Helm, and I stowing the flopper-stoppers, diving equipment and the rest of the cruising ensemble.  By the time we were leaving the Tahiti Port entrance I was beginning to think that the journey ahead may turn out to be a pleasant one.

About 2 hours later, I went down below to use the head;  and that’s when I noticed 2 ports had been left open,,,

(I’m not even going to go into the circus which followed, but just imagine an 8” hole in the side of your ship which goes underwater periodically). Yep, Cruising in Paradise is punctuated with punishment from time-to-time.  It seems we are unintentional disciples of universal balance, the Ying-&-Yang at play once more.     Roll-on Rangiroa!!

 

 

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TAHITI    RANGIROA (Northern Tuamotus Island)

Total trip time;  27 hours

Total trip distance;  208 nm

Total fuel used:  158 gals.  /  1.31 nm/gal

 

 

 

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entering AVATORU Pass, NE corner of Rangiroa

 

 

Rangiroa is 45 miles long and 15 miles wide, and is the largest Tuamotu, and the second largest atoll in the world.  There are two passes into Rangiroa (Avatoru pass and Tiputa pass) but the anchorage that yachts favor is near the Tiputa pass and the KIA ORA Hotel.

Rangiroa means  Vast Sky in Tuamotuan, and houses about 2500 people on almost 80 km2.   The chief town is Avatoru, located in the northwestern part of the atoll.

 

 

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at our chosen rest stop, anchored out in front of the KIA ORA Hotel / Rangiroa

 

 

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KIA ORA Hotel grounds.  Not a bad spot, eh?      INFINITY in the distance

 

 

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,,,just something about seeing your own Nordhavn out in the anchorage from the Hotel Terrace.    Pinch me now       ; )

 

 

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Julie contemplating life,,, We spent a few evenings at the Hotel Bar, watching the sharks

 

 

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this has gotta-be my signature shot.   Azure waters, abundant sunshine, and your own Nordhavn faithfully waiting to carry you off to your next destination.                   I-AM-A-HAPPY-MAN!

 

 

ARANUI V    new ship in French Polynesia.    Passenger / Freighter

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ARANUI 5 anchored in Rangiroa

 

Aranui 5 is a new custom-built, dual-purpose passenger/freighter that sails from Tahiti to the Marquesas, Tuamotu and Society Islands in French Polynesia on a 14 day all-inclusive cruise. Designed to offer all of the comforts of a cruise liner, while operating as a supply ship, Aranui 5 is classified as a small vessel, accommodating approximately 254 passengers and 103 cabins.

 

 

TE MAO  TAPAS BAR

The TA MAEO Tapas Bar Bar is owned and operated by Patrick & Sophie.  I phoned patrick on our Satellite phone, and he came and picked us up from the Hotel dock.  Thanks Patrick!!

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our view for the night

 

 

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this beer was lovingly brewed at 12%. It Belgian, rare in these parts, and needs to be sipped from it’s own glass

 

 

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Oh yeah,,, it IS gooood!

 

 

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Jay playing peek-a-boo.   Or I think she is because of those Belgian 12%ers.

 

 

Island life:  So, this morning (July 12th), we dived the Tiputa Pass in Rangiroa – which was a ‘drift’ dive.  We saw schools of Barracuda, 100’s Black-tip sharks and a Hammerhead Bull shark.  The Hammerhead was BIG, looked well-fed, and was totally freakin’ awesome.  Later, we took our bikes ashore to explore.  We ended up in a small Tavern, met an Australian couple (Aurelio & Gary), and shared a few beers & pizza.  Fun afternoon!

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our view from the local Tavern. We were ‘holed-up’ here while a squall passed overhead.

 

 

One day, a few months ago,,, Julie started picking up random coconuts and shaking them, to check for milk.  Every now & then, we get Lucky!  If we have room in the Sub Zero, we’ll keep them for happy -hour.  It takes a few days for them to completely cool, but once they reach refrigerator temperature, the thick coconut husk keeps them perfectly chilled at 38º for hours.  I drill a half-inch hole into them and Jay pours in the rum.  It’s fun and decadent at the same time.     :  )

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This morning we woke up to a 50’ Beneteau “GOA” anchoring in front of Infinity this morning.  Last week, (while in Tahiti Taina anchorage) we had our hook down in front of them.  Made me smile seeing a familiar boat sharing a Far-away anchorage together.

The only background noise in this anchorage was small boat craft and children’s laughter (jumping off the pier)

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THE BLUE LAGOON

Accessible only by boat, the Blue Lagoon resembles an immense natural swimming pool filled with marine life.   We spent a memorable afternoon of snorkeling and relaxing on the pristine beach.

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A quick side story to the Blue Lagoon,,, towards the end of the afternoon, the winds started picking up, and virtually changed the landscape and mood in minutes.  We knew the forecast wasn’t pretty, but having SO wanted to see the Blue Lagoon, we decided some time there was better than no time there.  However, right now it was becoming increasingly obvious our time was rapidly running out.

We jumped into the dinghy and very carefully threaded our way out of the shoal waters, 60HP engine partially lifted to avoid another EPO (Equipment Purchase Opportunity).  By the time we got back to INFINITY, the winds were over 30 knots and the seas were building rapidly.  I have never seen the bow raise & fall so much in the last 4 years of our ownership.  What-to-do?  I briefly considered towing it behind but in these conditions I could foresee it turtling, and that would have been an insurance job,,,in the Tuamotus???  I had to go back to Plan A.

Our vessel’s davit is more-or-less centrally positioned, so we decide to go for it – lift the dinghy back to deck.  Julie clambered back onboard and positioned the davit to the recovery position, as I motored up to the hook.  The hook was rising and falling at least 3 feet, and I quickly realised this was going to be a one-time event.  I was inwardly stressing about a shock-load, so the timing had to be ‘just-right’.  Fortunately, it all worked out fine, but I have discovered the limits to our equipment.  You live & learn.  Recovering the anchor was also a memorable event.  The wind was howling over our boat at such speed that it was shrieking, making the most horrible noise.  I had no choice but to simply tune it out.  I couldn’t hear Julie on the bow and had to follow hand signals.  The thrusters were way overpowered in this situation, and were useless.  Luckily, I had been practising using the main engine and rudder for close quarter positioning over the last few weeks, and this is what got us out of there.  There was the very real danger of being pushed into the surrounding coral, as the anchor left bottom.  That time I looked back at the waterline and saw Black Smoke out of the exhaust, rudder hard-to-Stbd, wind howling,,, smiling to myself & thinking  – I love this stuff and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!

 

 

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watching the sharks and Rays at Avatoru Pass.     Notice the kid’s rope swing??

 

 

Our diving in the Tiputa Pass was awesome and just wet our appetite for more.  We heard Fakarava is the place to go for diving, so we planned our exit from Rangiroa.

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exiting Tiputa pass at slack water. You would not be mistaken thinking the weather was rough. 3-5′ seas, winds 35 kts, normal day.

 

 

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this wasn’t for the feint of heart.   Tide tables said  “Go-now”      : (

 

 

Although we knew the weather for the transit to Fakarava would be ‘on-the-nose’, it actually proved to be one of the 4 worst (rough) passages we’ve ever had in INFINITY.  At one point, I posed the question to Jay, if we should bug-out of there and head back to Tahiti direct.  Fortunately we both decided to dig deep, and soldier on.  After all, his is what INFINITY was made to do.

 

 

 

 

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Our move to Fakarava was all about the Diving.  There are North and South passes to dive and they both have great diving, although the sharks at the South Pass was one of the best dives of my life!

This was something that both of us really wanted to do, but I must admit to being a little apprehensive (sometimes I know too much!)  Turns out, coming here was one of the best cruising decisions we’ve made so far.

 

 

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Fakarava is the second biggest atoll of the Tuamotus archipelago and is considered the Mecca of scuba diving in French Polynesia.  The shape of Fakarava Atoll is roughly rectangular and its length is 60 kilometres (37 miles) and its width 21 kilometres (13 miles).  This atoll was classified as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO.  The diving at both passes is excellent.

Pass Garuae (north) is very wide and easy and is near the town of Rotaova, which has 855 inhabitants;

Pass Tumakohua (25nm further south) is a little more tricky to negotiate but well marked.

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La Paillote   Cafe · Rotoava – Fakarava North

We stopped off at this quaint cafe for some cold beer and wonderful French Panini’s for a few days running.  Their little pier was frequently busy with customers and fishermen.

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The walk back to our boat always brought a smile to my face.  I loved this Island.

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Another cool business we discovered in Fakarava North, was::  FAKARAVA YACHT SERVICES

Stephanie and Aldric have set up their Yacht Services business out of their home.  You are free to come & go during business hours, to lounge on their porch and surf the net.  They monitor  VHF 77.

We thought it was a cool idea, and a great resource for us; – our “go-to” couple for info on Fakarava.  They also offer laundry  /  internet access  /  airport pick-up  /  bike rental  /  and all services & requests.

 

 

FAKARAVA SOUTH

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our chosen anchorage in Fakatava South

 

 

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And now, what we came here for – Diving with the sharks!

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early morning, about 0600, sunlight just penetrating through the water, and yes, those are sharks above us.

 

 

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the only underwater camera we have is the Go-Pro, which has a huge field-of-vision. You have to get quite close for an image to be clear enough underwater. This was about as close as I wanted to get.

 

 

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,,, more sharks,,, there was actually hundreds of them!

 

 

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Julie in her element

 

 

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that Knobby was about 12′ away from Julie.

 

 

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back on INFINITY, after the dive. More sharks,,, they were everywhere, and I started to view them as just another fish.

 

 

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She looks like a natural at this.     :  )

 

 

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My parting memory of Fakarava.   Awesome.

 

 

All short videos can be viewed on INFINITY”s FaceBook page

 

 

What a wonderful journey back to Tahiti this was turning out to be.  The wind is a cooling 9.5 knots at our stern, assisting us along towards Tahiti.  The sky is clear and the stars are shining brilliantly.  It would be perfect, if not for a leaking Generator fuel pump which my mind is continually chewing over as we transit.  Always something negative going-on in the background, while you are immersed in blissful paradise.   I chuckle to myself at times contemplating the Grand-Scheme of things and how there’s an obvious sense-of-humor at play.  The Ying-&-Yang – God continues to keep me on my toes.

We’re on our way back to TAHITI, to close out our time in the Society Islands.  We need to:

  1. Officially check-out of French Polynesia
  2. Order a 20KW fuel pump from Hatton Marine, in Seattle.
  3. Top-up on diesel  &  Head to Rarotonga!

 

More Information»
Moorea
June 242016

Under Construction…  /  Visit #2 immanent

 

 

Visit #1

 

The transit over to Moorea is perhaps, 20 miles away.  It didn’t take long before we could see her lush mountains contrasted against the azure blue sea.  It was a perfect day.

 

 

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approaching the entrance to Cook’s Bay

 

 

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I wonder if Chloë will remember this?

 

 

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my guess?     Probably for the rest of her life!

 

 

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from any angle,,,  the view is stunning

 

 

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Julie and Andy,   –  considering anchorage positions as we motor into Cook’s Bay

 

 

On this particular day, the Pilot House is climate controlled, Adele is heard playing in the background, over the gentle thrum of our engine, and all systems are ‘go’.  As we slde into Cook’s Bay, each one of us is secretly looking for King Kong.  It’s a surreal experience.

 

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Julie and I confer a bit, then decide this particular area looks good to drop the anchor for a few days.

 

 

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Anchor down.  Feels good.  Pinch me now

 

 

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Our backyard for the weekend.

 

 

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Our day quickly ran into dusk,,, we opened a bottle of wine, played some cards, enjoyed some music, and contented ourselves with an early night.

 

Morning brought some clouds and a change of pace.  We unshipped our fast dinghy and made our way towards the Moorea Yacht Club.  We quickly got the lay-of-the-land from the YC staff, and continued our exploration by foot.

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Into the main street Moorea we go.

 

 

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as we’re walking along, we’re each taken with a sense of Jurassic Park.

 

 

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Baked goods and Baked Bread a’Plenty!

 

 

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Time for an Espresso & a treat. Jay & I have not had a worthy Vanilla Slice since we left England – until now!

 

 

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After our explorations, it was back to the Yacht Club. We indulged in the Pizza, which was awesome.

 

 

Now back at INFINITY, and all safe & sound.  Our night unfolded with some Hinano’s & popcorn as we watched a movie on the upper aft-deck.  It occurred to me how fortunate we were to be here, as a family, enjoying this prehistoric vista, on May 23rd, 2016.

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Next day, some water activities.

 

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Islanders practising

 

 

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Julie and Andy taking the paddle-boards out for a spin.

 

 

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INFINITY ∞ as I remember her in Moorea, May 2016. Moorea, we’re not done yet,,,, we shall return.

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Information»
Tahiti
June 232016

 

On May 15th, 2016, we picked up anchor from Bora Bora Yacht Club at 12-noon, and made our way over to Tahiti.  The journey was rather unpleasant, as we had headwinds-&-head-seas throughout the entire journey.  Mercifully, the transit was a short one.

 

BORA BORA    TAHITI

Total trip time:  22 hours     

Total trip distance:  152 nm

Total fuel used:  128 gals  /  1.18 nm/gal

 

 

It’s always great to be heading to a new destination, but the feeling of anticipation was almost palpable with Chloë & Kal.  No doubt they appreciated Kiribati and Bora Bora, but Kal in particular was looking forward to the great ‘Metropolis’ of TAHITI.

 

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Chloë surveying the scene, as we enter the Channel towards Marina Taina, Tahiti.

 

 

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Finally, med-moored up to the marina quayside, Chloë & Kal stretching their legs

 

 

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Our first night at dock,,, Tell me what better way to celebrate than a family pizza & beer evening at the Dinghy Bar?    Let the good-times roll!    Update:: by the end of our time in Tahiti, I’d end up enjoying/devouring about 12 of these 4-cheese and pepperoni pizzas!!

 

 

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We were tied-up next to the marina entrance, so had lots of space, and always an opportunity to get the paddle-boards out.

 

 

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INFINITY ∞   secure on it’s med-moor – facing the Island of Moorea,,, typically always providing a great sunset.

 

 

 

The Marina Taina was home to some of the most beautiful and current boats in the world.

 

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Though we were enjoying our time at Marina Taina, our time with Chloë & Kal was coming to an end.     :  (

Over breakfast, we etched-out our plan for the remaining week.

  1.  Take INFINITY to Papeete Marina in the City so the kids could enjoy the weekend nightlife
  2.  Then head to Moorea for a few days,,,
  3.  Head back to Tahiti, and rent a car for a couple of days to fully explore the Island.

 

 

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transiting towards Papeete Marina via the inner-causeway, (between the Island and the outer atoll reef).

 

 

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the scenery is always spectacular.

 

 

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entering Papeete Marina, directly situated in the middle of the town center – For two days,,,,, perfect!

 

 

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alongside Papeete Marina

 

 

 

Our son Kal loved the time in city of Papeete, remarking that this was his best time in the two months onboard INFINITY.  (I wasn’t quite sure how to interpret that, but we’re happy he found his bliss  ; )

After the weekend in Papeete, we departed Tahiti, and transited over to Moorea.    (Moorea was great & turned out to be better than expected).

With Moorea under our belts, we headed back to Tahiti to rent a car, and do some exploring!

 

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