Saturday, 13 December 2014

Photos from Doug's Last Few Days Onboard


A few photos from Doug's last few days onboard (All photos by Doug unless he is in it).
Benjamin conducting engine checks before I remove the heat exchanger and exhaust elbow.

He concurs that the heat exchanger should be cleaned and the exhaust elbow replaced.

Rig inspection time

Rig inspection (continued)

More rig inspection.

Craft time with Doug...

The Team !

And Victoria prepared breakfast ...

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Come see us in Halifax!! Fluenta Halifax Open House



We will home in Canada from 15 Dec until 26 Jan, and are hoping to visit with as many folks as possible.

Friends, family, and blog readers in the Halifax area are especially invited to our "At Home" on 29 Dec 2014 graciously hosted by Liz's sister Marilyn.  We will have a bit of a slide show from our travels.

Here are the details:

We will supply drinks.  Please bring a plate of Christmas goodies to share.


Saturday, 6 December 2014

Settling into New Zealand


Landfall  New Zealand ! Not in the tropics anymore ... (Doug Munn photo)
Hello!

Well, it is over a week since we emailed to say that we were safe and sound in NZ.  To make landfall, we diverted to Opua, which was 60 nm closer than Whangarei.  Opua is a sheltered little bay with a marina and Customs in-clearance, but not much of a town; it was a bit anticlimactic to see how calm it was there on Friday afternoon when we arrived (surely we could have carried on to Whangarei??) but when Max ran into some folks who arrived later that evening, they were pretty shell-shocked from the windy conditions, and we were glad to have done what we did.  The Customs/Immigration/Quarantine process was really efficient, and even though we didn't have time to "prepare" the boat (read: tidy up after our passage), they were very understanding, and took a minimum of items away in their black bag (mostly cured meats that we had had aboard for treats on passage - very little that we can't replace here in NZ).
Official NZ Welcoming Dolphins. (Doug Munn photo)

Our friends in SV Sequoia.  Small ocean ... they left two hours ahead of us 850 nm prior and our CPA when they came back on AIS was 550 ft. (Doug Munn photo)
We were doubly glad to have diverted to Opua when we left the "Q" (Quarantine) dock and took the last available slip in the marina. By coincidence (I love coincidences ...) two of our kid-boat friends from Tonga and Minerva Reef were already on the dock, and a third (Exodus) arrived from the anchorage the following day.  The kids were in heaven!  We were a little off the beaten track (we were actually on the work docks associated with the boat yard, which meant that the handful of other boats there were boats that local folks were doing work on.  In other words we had no neighbours, and therefore no one to complain that our collection of ten kids were too noisy!)  The grown-ups enjoyed a reunion of sorts as well, particularly as we arrived in time for a free BBQ that evening hosted by one of the dock-side businesses.  (In contrast, the dock in Whangarei is pretty, but much more anonymous, as there are so many townsfolk who come to the harbour front to socialize that it is hard to tell the "yachties" from the locals).  It was especially fun to connect with our friends on Adamaster, as we haven't seen them since they left Mexico in March.  Rocket was 8 months old and Benjamin was 3 months old; now Rocket is 16 months and Benjamin is a year!
All the girls (SV Lumaz and Nirvana girls) over to Fluenta to watch "The Sound of Music".  All the boys are over to Exodus for a boy movie.

Exodus comes to the same dock as in Opua ! Time for Lego ... (Doug Munn photo)
We were only offered two nights at the marina, and it looked like the weather was going to have blown through by then as well, so on Saturday, we did the usual coming-alongside chores (three loads of laundry at the dock-side laundromat, and a small supply of groceries at the local general store) and then went to the Opua Cruising Club for dinner (decent food and a jam session of cruiser-musicians).  Along the way, we stopped to help one of the cruising dads celebrate at an impromptu birthday party that his wife and kids held for him.  With four kids on board, it was a non-starter to not celebrate a birthday!  As we went to bed, the boat was ship-shape, and we were prepared to leave shortly after first light on Sunday.
Benjamin's First Birthday Party.  Cake decorated by Victoria. (Doug Munn photo)

Benjamin's First Birthday Party.  Cake decorated by Victoria.
It turned out that Benjamin (or rather Benjamin's stomach) had other plans for us!  We were rudely awakened just before dawn by a an explosion from his tummy and lots of crying; this was repeated every few hours until supper time, when he had one last bout, and was all of a sudden fine.  We called the marina office just after they opened on Sunday, and not only did they welcome us to stay an extra day, they left us in our slip and shuffled the boat that was supposed to have taken our place.  We were so grateful!

I spent most of the day with Benjamin asleep in my arms (nice, but not especially productive), then we had two rounds of company come by the boat - Chris from Whanake (our friends from Niue) came by in the late afternoon, and Michael from Patanjali (last seen in Mexico before his Pacific crossing in 2013) stopped in in the early evening.  The result was that we all had dinner together aboard Fluenta - complete with Benjamin making up for lost time chowing down on bowls of pasta :)  [On the menu: fresh albacore cooked on a hot pan in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, served with pasta and stir-fried fresh veggies, tossed salad, and fresh bread - it was so nice to have been to a grocery store that weekend].  I really love the way cruisers socialize without the advanced planning that we are used to in other places.
Internet and coffee from a coffee shop !
By Monday morning, Benjamin was back to normal, so after a stop by the laundromat and the Vodafone office (3G chip for our iPad - check!), we headed out around noon for an anchorage a few miles down the coast.  We did a "scenic tour" of the Bay of Islands as we left - we are really reminded of both the East Coast (Cape Breton) and the West Coast (Gulf Islands) as we travel here - it is so pretty, with green/wooded hills coming down to clear blue/green (but not turquoise) water.   The sunny weather didn't hurt either.  Once we were out in the open ocean, the wind picked up, and we sailed to the bay we had picked for our anchorage (Whangamumu).  I can't imagine what it is like here in the high (summer) season - even on a spring weekday, there were a half dozen boats in a small anchorage, but we found a space near the back where we had lots of swing room.
Cape Brett
Approaching Cape Brett
Capt Doug at the helm.
We were not the only ones to visit Opua.  (Doug Munn photo)
Whangamumu (love the NZ names !) Anchorage. Not a bad place to be stuck although I did not see much of it while being sick. (Doug Munn photo)
Not in the tropics anymore photo#2
Dinner was a repeat of Sunday night, but this time it was Victoria's turn to feel unwell.  By bedtime, Johnathan had joined her, and by morning, Max, joined both of them.  Doug and I kept eying each other to see if we would be next, but perhaps we had spent enough time with Benjamin and his germs that we were immune.  Whatever the reason, we were the only two left standing on the boat, and the others were very flat.  It was a pretty quick decision that rather than beating into a headwind to get to our next anchorage, we would spend an extra day in a calm and serene location.  At one point in the day, I think that we were all asleep!  By Tuesday morning, Max was back on his feet (the kids were still not 100%, but at least they had stopped being sick every few hours) and we travelled all the way to Whangarei Town Basin in the one day (via the fuel dock at Marsden Cove), rather than breaking the journey into two more legs as we had planned.  There was hardly a breath of wind, so it was again a motorboat scenic tour of the (very pretty) coastline.

Whangarei Bridge shaped like a Maori hook (Doug Munn photo)
Whangarei is located about 12 nm up a river from the open ocean.  A dramatic lifting bridge was built last year (inspired by the shape of a Maori fishing hook, it is quite spectacular to see).  The bridge is closed during rush hours, but it had reopened again by the time we got there, and we were able to reach the marina by about 6pm.  Unlike all our tropical destinations, we still had plenty of light to see where we were going, as the sun is setting later and later, and the twilights are quite long.  Our slip wasn't ready (someone is having engine trouble and is delayed leaving) so we are tied up on a long dock, rafted outboard of a beautiful boat that we have been admiring across many anchorages on our journey through the South Pacific.  It was designed by the same designer as our boat (only significantly longer), so it is quite neat to be beside them and to note similarities and differences.  The nice thing about this dock is that it is on the "town" side of the marina, and a very short walk to the marina office/lounge/laundry/showers, etc.
The view from the foredeck of Fluenta.  Our friends Breeze ahead of us in front of the Christmas tree.
Max got going on Thursday morning with the long list of calls and arrangements we need to make to start our off-season boat works (sail inspection, watermaker pump removal, autopilot drive warranty work, etc) and to do a whole series of scheduled maintenance (oil, filter, engine/oil cooler zincs, prop and shaft zincs, etc) [At least doing this downtown there is live music to work to most days.  Max].  With our 3G chip and marina pay-as-you-go wifi, he was able to use Skype to make calls.  Everything in Whangarei is close - the town basin really is right in the center of the town, and most of the shops and walking distance away.  On a funny note - after all the debate in Canada about "Sunday Shopping" there is hardly "Saturday shopping" in Whangarei - many of the shops close at noon, or at the latest 4pm, so some of the errands that we wanted to do today will have to wait until Monday.  I have walked to town separately with both Victoria & Johnathan, which has been a nice way of doing some errands and spending some time with them on their own.
The view aft of Fluenta.
It looks and feels like home in many ways (could be the waterfront in Victoria or Halifax, both by virtue of its scenery, as well as its weather).  There are lots of pretty little shops next to the marina, and there are numerous boating shops and service providers around.  We are having typical spring weather - cold (need a fleece) nights and warm (need sunglasses and no sweater) days - and I have found a couple of second-hand shops where I have bought V&J some long pants and long sleeves to tide them over until we reach Halifax.  On Friday afternoon, I got us a cell phone (seems much more expensive here, but at least we have comms) and we will get a second one when we come back at the end of January.
We do not need to put up a Christmas Tree here as the town has already done it for us.  This is where all the local bands play to give me music while I work on the boat.
Now that we are stationary, and there are no other kids to play with, the kids and I have been spending our mornings (and much of our afternoons) on school work - especially doing lots of math.  Victoria's teacher had sent an email to all the parents looking for the first Math test to be submitted.  Victoria wasn't what I would call enthusiastic about doing the work (who would be?  I tried to get her to do it all in one day, but it turned out to be a crash course in several different areas that she hadn't been taught yet, so I was kind of pushing on a rope or trying to teach a pig to sing.  Or in this case, since the pig likes to sing (at the top of her lungs when she is getting fed up) it was kind of like trying to teach a pig to do math...)  At the same time she was asking to buy the ingredients to make a certain yummy dessert.  This afternoon (after struggling to get her to finish it for two days) I told her that we would have the dessert once the test was ready to send to her teacher.  In the time it took me to finish making supper, she had finished the test, and she and Max were able to walk across the street from the marina to the super-sized grocery store...  Perhaps I need to work a little bit on my motivation techniques :)  Johnathan has been reading, reading, reading.  On Thursday, he told me that fractions and word problems were not "real math"; on Friday, he happily completed some addition work sheets that I gave him.  Once again, I was reminded to start where he is, rather than trying to coerce him into being where I want him.  Of course, fractions and word problems are not only "real math" they are a part of the first unit in his curriculum, but I will take things one step at a time :)  (Otherwise I will be trying to teach two pigs to sing, and it really does get ugly and messy quickly, especially with an almost-toddler crawling around underfoot!)
Saturday morning rush hour.  We are at the end of the navigable portion of the river so not a lot of boat traffic.
Speaking of that almost-toddler, Benjamin turned one this week!  We arrived in Whangarei at suppertime on 3 Dec (his birthday) but I decided to wait until his Mexican birthday (ie 4 Dec here) to celebrate, in the hope that I would feel more prepared.  As Thursday was my first (long) day of pig-singing lessons, I felt anything but celebratory, but Victoria and I picked up a plain sponge cake at the big grocery store across the street, and she decorated it while I made dinner.  We followed the Polynesian tradition (cake first) and took Benjamin's picture with his little cake as soon as it was all ready (Victoria decorated one for him and one for the rest of us) not so much because we like the tradition, but because by the time we were ready, dinner was so late that I was afraid that Benjamin would fall asleep or melt down before the cake course !
Not quite in the tropics anymore ... diving in the Town Basin to change the prop and shaft zincs.  Had lots of air left so checked the neighbours' boats as well.  Dropped the allan key into the deep ooze below which was not smart as it took a long time in zero vis.  No sharks for the first time in a long time but I wouldn't have seen them.

Well, I think that pretty much catches us up.  This will be the last of my sailmail "dits" until we gear up to go back to the tropics in a few months.

We are working pretty much flat-out at the moment to get ourselves and the boat ready for our trip to Canada in about a week (Victoria is continuing to count down the days for us - marking off a block on her chart is the first thing she does each morning), but we are well and enjoying the transition to terra firma.

Love to everyone,
Elizabeth
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At 06/12/2014 10:20 AM UTC SV Fluenta was at 35°43.45'S 174°19.56'E












Brush with Celebrity - Laura Dekker

On Friday evening, we attended an annual Meet & Greet for "international yachties" (that's us) and some of the local vendors.  In addition to seeing some friends that we hadn't seen in ages (SV Red - Mexico 2013; SV Beguine - briefly earlier this season), we had the chance to meet the folks behind Gulf Harbour Radio, who volunteer their time to provide detailed weather analysis and forecasting to the entire cruising fleet over SSB radio.  [These folks provide an amazing service so it was nice to thank them in person - also great to have a chance to talk meteorology with a meteorologist who has also cruised worldwide for over 15 years]



We also had the chance not only to meet, but to invite to join our table, Laura Dekker, the youngest person to sail solo around the world.  Victoria absolutely glowed when she was speaking with Laura, and it was she who invited her to join us.  Laura was born in Whangarei when her parents were cruising, and she has lived here for the last two years.  I am sure that there will be more visits (perhaps using Trickle as transport) when we return in January, as Laura lives aboard her boat Guppy on a pile mooring in our marina (pile moorings are basically sets of two telephone poles with the boats tied between them).  Laura (who is now 19) has just published a book about her circumnavigation, and Victoria has already started to read it.  Not only did we have a brush with celebrity, but we had dinner with her too :)


Saturday, 29 November 2014

Minerva Reef - More Photos


On the reef.

Minerva Reef

Johnathan getting ready to hoist the RHIB

Anchored off the windward side of the reef in the lagoon.

Tiger Shark ! (SV Nirvana photo)

Tiger Shark ! (SV Nirvana photo)

Minerva Reef (SV Nirvana photo)

Minerva Reef  Pass(SV Nirvana photo)

Fluenta from SV Nirvana's mast (SV Nirvana photo)


Meanwhile Benjamin finds the children's toys.

On the reef.




Calmest seas we have ever seen on passage - on the way to Minerva from Nuku'alofa.  Johnathan with one of his coconuts.
BBQ'ing on passage for the first time.