Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Royal Wedding

After the fiasco with the customs and tying and re-tying the boat we decided to go straight over to Pangaimotu island across the bay. We anchored next to the one other boat there, Larabeck, an American boat. We put the dinghy down and motored over to say Hello. Michael and Sharon had also left from NZ in the ‘letterbox’ window but from Auckland so had got there a day before us. (There still hadn’t been another good weather window out of NZ and there weren’t any other boats on their way yet. We heard 25 are waiting.) We went ashore to Big Mama’s, an island resort that teetered on the edge of the beach. To my delight there was a TV that had been wheeled in to watch the wedding and with several thumps and a twiddle of the ariel we got a picture. With the 12 hour time difference the live coverage wasn’t starting until 8pm so we had no choice but to sit down and enjoy a lovely meal with Michael and Sharon and enjoy a few beers, tough life! The 4 of us gathered at 8pm around the old crt tv with the staff and enjoyed the live coverage from the BBC world service. The staff cheered when the King of Tonga was shown going into the cathedral, they referred to him affectionately as G5 (George V). We all had a splendid evening which didn’t end until after 1am when we watched the procession of the carriages, good job the bar stayed open.

Arriving in Tonga

Thursday 28th April Day 10
position 22 28.4 south 174 41.8 west
131 miles in last 24 hours

Raising the Tongan flag

It was hot, hot, hot. The sea was 25C and the air temperature was 28C and Bill had his shorts on. We spent the afternoon putting up the mark II bimini cover that I had made while we were in NZ, we needed protection from the sun (there’s no pleasing some people!) I noticed on the chart that we were going over ‘Horizon Deep’ in the Tongan trench a sea area 10190 meters deep that’s deeper than Everest is tall, how amazing is that. Pity the depth sounder goes into melt down and turns itself off over 120 meters, well it is Raymarine. The wind was still coming from the north east but it was gradually dying as the forecast had predicted. We turned the engine on at 18.00 and motored through the night. When I went off watch at 1am I could just see the light glow in the night sky coming from Tonga.

Arriving off Tonga

We arrived off the approaches to Tonga the next morning. We had a tricky pass to get through but made it without any trouble. We made our way into the harbour of Nuku’alofa at 10.00. The only mooring avaiable was what they call ‘Med mooring’ which means you drop an anchor over the bow while you reverse in and tie your stern to a wall. The problem here was that it wasn’t a wall but a sloping pile of stones and it soon became obvious that we needed fairly long lines because we didn’t want to be too close not knowing what was on the bottom. Unfortunately as we were quite early in the season their wasn’t any one to help. We motored back out into open water so Bill could unwrap the dinghy from it’s long distance wrapping and pump it up. Then we had to get 2 Panama warps out from where they are buried behind the saloon berth. We went back into the harbour, I got into the dinghy and took the two Panama warps tied together with me. I tied them to a bollard on the stony wall and gently let them out of the dinghy while Bill was dropping the anchor and motoring backwards. I drove towards him and handed him the end of the line to tie on and make the boat fast. Unbelievably it worked really well first time although the whole process took about an hour. When the man from the customs arrived he was a big chap as most Tongans are. The only way onto the boat was using the dinghy as a ferry, he took one look at that and asked us to move to the fuel dock. Grrrr he had no idea how difficult it had been tying up but we moved as requested and were checked in by no less than 4 different officials. The second boat to be checked in this year.

So we had arrived in Tonga.
The journey took us 1 hour short of 10 days
We had covered 1358 miles in 239 hours giving us an average of 5.68 nm per hour, not bad although we had an average of 6.2kts from Fiji to NZ.
I’ll add some photos when we get internet access. This is being sent via the SSB radio

Napier to Niue – the last part

Monday 25th April Day 7
Position 28 11.3 south 174 15.7 west
162 miles in 24 hours

Sailing hard on the wind

We found our first flying fish on the deck this morning a sure sign we’re getting near the tropics. We’ve had easterlies for most of the journey so far but the wind was getting more north in it now. The squalls come from no where, the winds go from 15kts to 30kts to back to 15kts in a short space of time. We are sailing closer and closer to the wind making living more difficult with the heeling of the boat but the sea is now the most beautiful deep indigo blue and it’s 21.6C, warm enough to swin in. We don’t need coats any more and only wear salopettes at night. I spoke to Tim on Kittiwake a Westerly owner on the SSB this evening.

Tuesday 26th April Day 8
Position 26 25.5 south 173 31.9 west
121 miles in 24 hours

The wind dropped over night and went round on the nose. We motored from 2am until 11.30. We then sailed a bit, motored a bit then sailed a bit more but not really in the right direction. The wind had too much north in it and we were being pushed more and more off our course. We had made quite a bit of easting at the beginning of the journey and were now regretting we hadn’t made more. The rhumb line to Niue was getting harder to follow. When we first left the UK it was ‘To go where the wind takes us.’ Well the wind wasn’t taking us to Niue.

Wednesday 27th April Day 9
Position 24 16.6 south 173 53.0 west
127 miles in 24 hours

We took the decision this morning to sail to Tonga. The wind was on the nose, the bow was slamming into the waves and it was difficult making any head way; we were going slower and slower. We shook the reefs out, pulled out a full genny, changed course and didn’t look back. We now had our beam reach back again and at last we made some progress. It was disappointing not to be going to Niue but we did go there last year and Tonga was pastures, or seas, new. This morning we also clicked over 20000 miles since leaving the UK 2 years ago, another milestone. Later in the evening we entered lat 23 which is the latitude of the tropic of Capricorn. We were zooming along doing 6kts in 10kts of warm wind; we were back.

Napier to Niue – The middle 3 days

Friday 22nd April Day 4
position 34 31.9 south 178 09.1 West
165 miles in last 24 hours

Beautiful rainbow astern as we left NZ

We had the most beautiful rainbow over our stern this morning just after dawn. It was followed shortly after by passing the ‘quarter of the way there’ mark. I like to celebrate every little milestone because it takes my mind off the journey. We are up in lat 34 now so we can take our hat and gloves off during the day. We are getting a lot of squalls but they are helping us on our way and we are making good progress. We are also back in the western hemisphere. It’s Good Friday today. We were at sea for Easter last year and I made hot cross buns but I’m not making any this year, we are heeling too much. We had crumpets instead.

Saturday 23rd April Day 5
position 32 31.5 south 177 01.2 west
134 miles in 24 hours

Last night I spoke to my friend Anne on Hamah who are still waiting in Napier to leave. It seems the letter box of a weather window we left in has slammed shut and they’ve got northerlies forecast for the next week. We have now passed the ‘less than a 1000 miles to go’ mark. The wind dropped a bit today and we lost a bit of our speed but we’re still bouncing off the waves. James is best man today for one of his old school friends. Congratulations to Richard and Lucy on your wedding day.

Sunday 24th April Day 6
position 30 28.4 south 175 25.8 west
161 miles in 24 hours

Easter Sunday today and neither of us had the chance to buy Easter eggs before we left. It’s probably the first time ever that I haven’t had an Easter egg – lucky I’ve got plenty of chocolate hidden around the boat, extra rations today!! We reached the magical 30 degrees south today. It’s getting much warmer. I’ve put my boots, hat and gloves away and just have one layer under my jacket. We still go on deck in our salopettes because it’s still wet on deck with the squalls that keep going over us. We had 30kts of wind under one of them today but when they’ve passed they take the wind with them for about half an hour, very frustrating. It’s really difficult being on starboard tack (wind coming across the right side of the boat) all the time. I’m cooking ‘uphill’ so I’m strapped into the galley with a webbing strap. All the food is in the cupboards on the right hand side of the boat and we have to be really careful when we open a cupboard that things don’t go flying. There’s nothing out here, no ships, no yachts, no wildlife, nothing. Just the occasional bird flies over us. During the evening we passed the ‘half way’ mark, yeh. Happy Easter everyone.

Napier to Niue – The first 3 days

I’m writing a few more reports about NZ, meanwhile we’ve managed to get a weather window to leave. All the locals say go north on a dying southerly which is what we’ve got so we’re off.

Tuesday 19th April Day 1
The Customs lady came down to the boat at 12.30 to complete our paperwork and we left at 13.30. There wasn’t any wind in the bay but the strong winds from the day before had left a heavy swell. The surfers were out on the beach either side of the marina entrance as we got our first sight of the swell. It was quite impressive. Napier is in a long bay and the surf was rising as the water shallowed off. We managed to motor through it. As we looked back we could see snow on the tops of the mountains; it was definitely time to go. We hadn’t been to sea properly for months and it took us a while to get our sea legs, meanwhile my stomach couldn’t take it. ‘Why am I out here yet again?’ It took the rest of the afternoon to motor out of the bay. Bill caught a lovely blue cod that evening but wondered why I refused to fillet and cook it for dinner! When we turned north we put the main up with 1 reef in it and half the Genoa then turned the engine off.

Wednesday 20th April Day 2
Position 38 24.6 South 178 39.1 East 117 miles in last 24 hours
I feel a bit better this morning. The wind dropped over night and we had to motor for a few hours but just as we passed into latitude 38 it started coming from behind us so we put just the Genoa out. It was a bit rocking and rolling but I managed to check in with Russell radio on the SSB at 18.00, it was nice to know someone knew we are out here. It was really cold because the southerlies come straight off the Antarctic. I had fleece trousers on under my Musto salapettes, 2 layers on my top with my Musto fleece lined anorak over them, socks and UGG boots, a hat and gloves. Roll on the tropics.

Thursday 21st April Day 3
Position 36 40.8 south

179 42.9 west

134 miles in last 24 hours

Had a bit of a rolly night as we moved into lat 37 but the wind has gone round more on our beam so we took in the genny, put 2 reefs in the main and hoisted it, then put half the genny back out again. It felt a lot more stable. We are making good progress with speeds of 7 and 8kts at times which is fast for Camomile. We are gradually getting into the routine now, I always say it takes 3 days to get into a passage. We moved up into latitude 36 as we started to lose sight of NZ. We put the waypoint for Niue into the chartplotter – 1102 miles to go;deep joy.


Our position

Dawn over Cape Kidnappers

39 28.9 south

176 53.5 east

We left Wellington on Saturday 9th April and headed back out into the Cooks strait with the wind on the nose – as usual.  We turned east out of the straits and the wind turned also – still on our nose.  We past Cape Palister and headed north to Napier, at the same time as the wind also changed direction …. back on the nose again.  It seemed every time we changed direction so did the wind.  It took 3 days to get to Napier and the wind finally changed dirction allowing us to sail in the last bay.  At least we are out of the roaring forties now. 

The art deco architecture of Napier

Napier was badly destroyed by an earthquake in 1931.  The rebuilding of Napier in the contemporary architecture of the time has made it’s fasinating art deco design a real attraction.  We spent a week in the marina watching the weather while we continued to prepare the boat for her voyage back to the tropics.

More art deco


Our position

41 17.3 South

174 47.1 East

Camomile sitting on the side with downtown Wellington behind her

Just to finish off my reports for NZ.  We crossed the Cooks Strait safely again and arrived in Chaffers marina Wellington.  There was a good lifting system there.  Camomile was motored gently into the slings and was lifted but then a rolling platform was placed under her enabling us to clean the hull and service seacocks, etc.  This is downtown Wellington behind her and this is the wonderful Te Papa museum.

The Te Papa museum next door to the marina


Camomile all spruced up and ready to go back in the water

We sat in the slings overnight and the marina staff dropped her back into the water the next day all spruced up.  We filled up with diesel and went back to the pontoon and I got on with the shopping.  The next day was Sunday and we met up with Sharon and Nigel who we had met in French Polynesia last year.  They took us for a drive around the area so we were finally able to deliver the last letter we had collected from the whalers post box in the Galapagos island a year before.  I think the people were a bit wary at first but once they realised what we were doing they were really pleased. 

The main square in city hall

The next day we decided to do a city tour.  We walked through the main square at city hall and along the street to the cable car.  We jumped on and it took us on a short journey up above the city to the gardens where we walked back down towards the parliment buildings and finally we walked around the old St Paul’s cathedral.

The cable car that took us up above the city

The wonderful view from the top

Walking through the gardens

Inside the greenhouses

The Beehive - the NZ house of commons

The entrance to the Parliament buildings

Inside the old cathedral

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