Starblazer - 25/05/2015 - Exploring the Ha'apai
In the introduction to Ken's Cruising Guide to Tonga he describes the Ha'apai as like the Tuamotus, of French Polynesia, a sentiment with which I agree to some extent.There are a lot of islands, a lot of reefs and a lot of long sandy beaches, there are also a number of passes between islands and reefs.The one missing feature is the narrow pass into a circular atoll, something I can do without though we entered Minerva Reef quite easily, exiting was an altogether rougher experience!.The Ha'apai are divided into several island chains.From Ha'apai Beach Resort on Lifuka we wriggled our way between reefs and shallows and went south to the next island, Uoleva.The anchorage toward the southwest of the island, tucked between two reefs, gave access to Serenity Beach Resort run by Jackie and. read more...
Starblazer - 22/05/2015 - On our way back to the islands
Starblazer is on her way back to rejoin World ARC in Musket Cove, Fiji where we said goodbye last July to our friends who continued around the world..We have learnt some interesting lessons on this leg.Perceived wisdom says leave New Zealand on the back of a low pressure to get favourable winds to the islands.Our departure on 02/05/2015 was into the middle of a high so the routing suggested motoring east for 2 days before picking up south easterly to easterly winds to bear off towards Minerva Reef and Tonga.I'm sure weather forecasting is one of the dark arts (though we have friends who will quite rightly disagree), the wind filled in from the east north east instead of southeast somewhat sooner than expected and it was a beat all the way..Yes, you can anchor in the middle of the ocean. read more...
Starblazer - 7/02/2015 - Back to Opua.
Once we had relaunched we set off to return to Opua for more repairs.Our trip down to Whangarei had been rushed, with only one overnight stop, because the weather was expected to deteriorate, so we decided to head back up more slowly.Having been relaunched at midday, it took a while to get the water flowing through the engine (again) and we finally left soon after 1300.It is quite a distance to Whangarei Heads so we decided to anchor in Parua Bay, about 5nM from the entrance, inside Whangarei Harbour.The anchorage was almost deserted, very sheltered and very quiet.Next day we headed off towards Tutukaka Harbour, not far by road but quite a long way by sea.Tutukaka is a popular holiday area though I'm not sure why.There is little infrastructure except a marina, a launching ramp and a very. read more...
Starblazer - 19/01/2015 - A month on the hard
IJust like most sailors back home, Starblazer came out of the water in mid December.There the similarity ends!When the rain stopped the average daytime temperature was in the mid 20s, quite unlike December and January in the UK.We removed the fuel tank though it was too big to go up through the companionway so we strung it up sideways in the saloon.John set about putting new sealant in the gap between the forward end of the keel and the hull while we were held up in slings then tightened the forwardmost keel bolt when the boat was lowered back onto the keel.Christmas Day was spent largely in the cockpit, inside the tent, as the saloon was rather a no-go area though we managed to rig up the TV to watch the 2013 Christmas Edition of Downton Abbey!We are rather late converts, having. read more...
Starblazer - 18/12/2014 - It never rains but it pours (both literally and metaphorically)
Our camping weekend started damp and got steadily wetter throughout Saturday.It actually stopped raining at about 1300 hrs, long enough for us to find a picnic area to eat our pasties and stretch our legs.From there I took over driving, first time behind the wheel since May 2013, first time in an automatic since my Oldsmobile Cutlass in Waseca in 1984! To add to the challenge, we were in a gorge area where the hills and twists and turns were challenging and continuous, especially as the weather deteriorated.My driving can't have been that bad because John managed to doze a little.He claims it was nervous exhaustion.Our first destination was Cape Reinga on the NW tip of New Zealand.It is a very special place for the Maoris, the point where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea, where. read more...