Sailing Yacht SEA BUNNY

Fiji and New Zealand 2002-3

After the rally, establishing ourselves in NZ

After the Blue Water Rally left Musket Cove in July we had time to "chill out" for the first time since leaving England 16 months before.  We both did PADI dive courses before taking the boat to Vuda Point to lift out and have the boat antifouled while we tool a trip to the UK.  It was then our intention to join the Musket Cove to Port Vila rally but the gremlins decided that the boat needed further time on the hard and put us there for a month instead, just giving us time to head straight for New Zealand before the start of the cyclone season.

In New Zealand we had a month exploring the Bay of Islands before heading to Aukland.  Christmas was spent with Susan's Aunt Riet in New Plymouth after which we cruised the Hauraki Gulf and Great Barrier Island and then south to Tauranga where we based ourselves.


Musket Cove

Musket Cove

After the departure of the Blue Water Rally in mid-July we remained at Musket Cove for 3 weeks. The marina looks quite empty!

Susan did her PADI Open Water Diving Course and Richard an "Advanced" Open Water course at the excellent dive school.

Malolo and Malolo Lailai

Malolo and Malolo Lailai

We explored Malolo and Malolo Lailai islands taking long and thoroughly enjoyable walks

Photo: The village - Malolo Island

Vuda Point

On the hard - Vuda Point

At the end of July we take Sea Bunny 15 miles back to Vuda Point Marina near Nadi to lift out and leave her there during three-week trip back to the UK

We left a few jobs in the hands of the yard at Vuda Point. However, on our return few of them had been done (the weather had apparently been bad). The boat was, however, covered in dust from the large aluminium boat whose hull was being ground down and faired just upwind.

A few days concentrated work by us and the yard got us ready in time to head back to Musket Cove for the Fiji Regatta Week.

One of the last jobs we had had the yard do in Vuda Point was the greasing of our Autoprop self-pitching propeller.

Photo: On the hard at Vuda Point

Musket Cove Regatta

Musket Cove Regatta

As we entered the marina at Musket Cove and put the boat astern we got violent vibration and loss of power. We managed to manoeuvre Sea Bunny into a berth. It seemed as if the engine had come off its mounts.

Investigation, with the help of Ralph from Kastaway, did not reveal broken mounts. However, on snorkelling down for a look Richard discovered only two blades on the propeller and a stern bearing coming adrift from the stern tube.

We were fortunate enough to score a tow back to Vuda Point with a sister HR42, Hesperine and so missed most of the Musket Cove Regatta and had to withdraw from the Port 2 Port rally to Port Vila.

Vuda Point again

Vuda Point again

Having lifted out again the extent of the damage became apparent. It would be necessary to cut away the fibreglass around the stern tube in order to re-thread it. It would then need to be built up. The shaft was bent and would need to be replaced. The propeller would be sent back to the UK for refurbishment and for a diagnosis of the cause of the problem. We settled down for a long haul.

The diagnosis from the UK is that the greasing was done without releasing the exit screw for the grease. The resulting hydraulic pressure had the effect of stripping the thread on the boss.

Photo: The prop comes off

Rest and recuperation at First Landing

Fortunately Vuda Point Marina is next door to the First Landing Resort and marina users can use the facilities of the resort for a nominal charge. This meant that we could go over for lunch and a swim in the pool, or for meals in the evening.

Land tour Viti Levu

While the yard were rebuilding the stern tube area we took the opportunity of hiring a 4WD for a tour of the island of Viti Levu, including the road across the centre of the island from Sigatoka to Ba. The village of Navulu in the highlands is the only village in Fiji with only traditional bures. Our host in the homestay just outside the village is a cousin of the chief and takes us on a village trip on the Sunday, including an open-air church service and wedding.

Photo album - VitiLevu tour

Click on the thumbnail to view larger image

Central Viti Levu trip

Musket Cove again!

Eventually, after a month, the repairs are complete, we negotiate a settlement with the yard and are ready to head back to Musket Cove for a few day's R&R.

We have only a few days before we should be heading south out of the cyclone belt before the beginning of November.

We spend just over a week in Musket Cove, swimming, diving and getting ready for the passage to New Zealand.

Departure from Fiji

Departure from Fiji

We decide to go back over to Vuda Point for final shopping for the trip and to clear out from Lautoka. This seems easier than doing it all on the ferry. We get a last swim at First Landing.

We leave Vuda Point at 1220 on 25 October.

Photo: First Landing pool

Fiji to New Zealand - 25 October 2002 to 3 November 2002

Fiji to New Zealand - 25 October 2002 to 3 November 2002

We sailed direct from Fiji to Opua in the Bay of Islands. The passage was mixed, starting off as a close reach, then some calms then increasingly on the nose, including a few fronts with 35-40 knot gusts and heavy rain. It got significantly colder and the sea temperature dropped from 28°C inside the reef in Fiji to 17°C as we approached New Zealand.

After clearing the reef we could see another yacht on broadly the same course. This turned out to be the Canadian yacht Dolphin Express, also heading for Opua..

We were getting very good weather information from Russell Radio, based in the Bay of Islands.

Towards the end we developed a leak from the exhaust, under the bunks in the aft cabin. We were able to patch it sufficiently to continue to use the engine.

Having made reasonable westing, ending up slightly to the west of the recommended waypoint 100 miles due north of North Cape the wind goes round to the south west and we are taken too far east. We get hit by a front with 45 knot winds and torrential rain. It is all over in 45 minutes and we are in bright sunshine and light winds!.

We make landfall just before dusk on 3 November and are alongside the quarantine dock at Opua just before midnight.

Bay of Islands- November to December 2002

Bay of Islands- November to December 2002

Our initial time alongside in the marina at Opua is involved with getting ourselves organised with rig checks, sail checks, fixing the exhaust etc. We hire a car and drive to the car auction in Whangerei, buying a car, We visit 5 separate ATMs to get the cash together!

To try out the car we head north to Cape Reinga at the very north of North Island.

We spend a very pleasant two weeks out in the Bay of Islands in excellent spring weather and very few boats around. Unfortunately our camera is playing up and will not focus properly.

After a return to Opua to stock up we head south towards Auckland, stopping at the old whaling station of Whangamumu, anchoring in Tutukaka, sheltering from a gale inside Whangerei Heads and opting out of Man of War Bay on Kawau Island in a strong westerly, preferring a sheltered nioht near the mainland shore. We finally arrive at Bayswater Marina in Auckland on 15 December.

Photo: Cash for the car

Northland scenes

Auckland - December 2002 to February 2003

Auckland - December 2002 to February 2003

We based ourselves in Bayswater marina, over the harbour from Auckland. From here we took the car down to New Plymouth to visit Susan's aunt for the Christmas and the New Year holiday period. On the way back we visited Tauranga to check out the marina facilities and did a quick tour of the Coromandel peninsular, getting back to Auckland just before a period of heavy rain hit the area. A replacement engine for our generator was waiting for us at the marina and was fitted over the next two weeks, during which time we managed to watch some of the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Photo: Mount Taranaki

Hauraki Gulf

At the beginning of February we leave Bayswater (it is booked out for the Americas Cup month). First stop is Waiheke Island, all of 4.5 miles, where there is wine festival.

We anchor in Rocky Bay on the west of the island and the morning get a bus. Others on the bus take us in hand and make sure we get off at the right place. They also advise us on which wines to try.

It is a good day, with some excellent wines and vineyards in spectacular locations. We keep on bumping into our new friends and are invited to join them for dinner at their bach (Kiwispeak for a beach house), just above the anchorage. They are members of the Hamilton food and wine society and have wines to suit.

The next day the wind is forecast to go westerly so we move round to the east side of the island. We invite our new friends to a meal on the boat and also the crew from Hesperine (tow from Musket Cove to Vuda Point) who have a house on the island. We visit the exhibition of sculptures on the headland round one of the bays.

Moving on to Islington Bay, between the 700 year old volcanic cone of Rangitoto and the much older Motutapu Island, we go ashore to climb Rangitoto. This is not a lot of fun as the sun on the black lava makes things very hot. There are good views over to Auckland though.

A walk on Motutapu the next day is much more pleasant.

A day sail up to Kawau Island and anchorage in Man of War Bay follows. We do the walks and visit the Mansion House, established by early govenor George Grey.

Hauraki Gulf views

Great Barrier Island February 2003

Great Barrier Island February 2003

Leaving Kawau at 1100 on 9 February we motor out to Great Barrier, leaving Little Barrier to starboard and making water to top up the tanks. We first visit Port Fitzroy to dump our rubbish as the promised barge on the passage in is not in evidence. We then head to Kiririki Bay and anchor in 8.4 metres. We avoid going too far in as this bay has a reputation for mosquitos.

After a couple of days, spent deck caulking, we move up to Warrens Bay, anchoring off the DOC (Department of Conservation) centre and campground. This is within reasonable dinghy distance of Port Fitzroy, the general store and the yacht club. The yacht club is our location for watching the Americas Cup.

Between races we are able to hire a car for a round-island tour and take the boat over to the famous Smokehouse Bay, where a wood-fired boiler and a bath are available. Susan partakes. There are also smokers for fish, washing sinks and barbeques.

After a couple of weeks we feel ready to move on southwards and set off. However the skipper has mis-heard the weather forecast and when they repeat it, promising 45-knot plus winds we turn round and return to our point of Kaiarara Bay. This proved to be a wise move as the next morning we get a storm with 70-knot gusts howling off the hills and accompanied by torrential rain which instantly turns the bay muddy brown and brings all sorts of debris down the stream at the head of the bay. We discover that the holding is not good and drag. Using the engine we are able to hold position until the wind moderates and we can re-anchor using two anchors. Fortunately this happened at 1000 and not at night.

We stay another week waiting for conditions to head south,spending the time doing boat jobs and having an initial try at deck caulking

Photo: Approaching Great Barrier

Great Barrier scenes

Great Mercury Island

Great Mercury Island

The passage from Great Barrier to Great Mercury, about 40 miles, was into a stiffish southwesterly, but we make reasonable time. In Mercury Cove we are hailed by someone on the jetty and invited to pick up a mooring.

The next day we go ashore on the west side of the cove (the east is private) for a walk.. The farming areas of the island are open to the public, but not the woodland at the south. We cross the island and find a deserted beach in Rocky Bay. Richard takes the opportunity to go snorkelling, but it is not overly interesting.

Back at the cove we are joined by Keith and Carol on Kirsten Jayne, who help us to celebrate Susan's birthday.

On leaving we try to find who to pay for the mooring but discover they are provided free of charge.

Photo: Rocky Bay, great Mercury

Storm-bound in Whitianga

Storm-bound in Whitianga

The weather looks as if it is about to deteriorate again we move n the short distance to Whitianga and a berth in the marina. Leaving Great Mercury we foul something around the propeller. The cutter works but we develop a noise. Kirsten Jayne also makes the trip.

Two days later there appears to be a window to get as far as Slipper Island, half way to Tauranga. However, as we head out it is clear that the wind will head us and also that the anchorage at Slipper Island will be exposed. Both Sea Bunny and Kirsten Jayne turn back into the marina.

We take the opportunity of what turns out to be a weeks's stay to collect our car from Auckland and then, with Keith and Carol, to drive down to Tauranga and check out the marina again. The coastal scenery on this trip is superb with excellent views of the Alderman Islands. Keith & Carol's car has been delivered by friends to Tauranga so we can leave ours in Whitianga and they will give us a lift up to collect it.

The cinema in Whitianga was showing the now famous New Zealand film Whale Rider. We all went to see it on a very wet evening

When we finally leave we have some vibration and noise from the stern gear which causes us to reduce speed when motoring. Fortunately we can sail most of the way to Tauranga., where we arrive after dark, anchoring below the bridge ready to go into the marina in the morning.

Photo: View to the Alderman Islands

Tauranga - March to May 2003

Tauranga - March to May 2003

We lifted out in Tauranga at the Bridge Marina, antifouling and polishing as well as getting various bits of work done. The noise was sorted - the cutter had come loose. After re-launching we set off for a couple of weeks exploration by land, leaving Sea Bunny in the marina.

New Zealand Land Tour - March 2003

We drive out through Roturua and Taupo and on the east coast road out to the art deco cities of Napier and Hastings.

Taking the less well-travelled road fown the east side of the central ranges we visit Martinborough and stay in a remote homestead turned into a homestay.

A few days with friends Margaret and Steve who were in Algeria with us in the late 70s and who now live in Wellington enabled us to explore New Zealand's capital or "toy town" as they call it

From Wellington we head back to do Tongariro Crossing - a 17 km walk around the volcanic peaks in the centre of the island.

Album - NZ land tour



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Last Updated on 7 December 2010

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