Starblazer - 15/06/2015 - The art of sailing slowly! .
We cleared out of Tonga a week ago, heading for Vanua Balavu in the northern Lau group of islands.These are reef strewn waters where charting is far from accurate so care must be taken when approaching landfall, ideally with the sun over your shoulder to help pick out the isolated reef areas.It was a journey of about 280 miles, or 48 hours at 6 knots, or 56 hours at 5 knots, averaging more than 6 knots was unlikely because the GRIB forecast showed not much wind on Monday becoming less on Tuesday.There was no way we could expect to complete the distance by Wednesday morning 40 hours after leaving Tonga.Our passage plan was to sail as much as we could, only reverting to the engine if the speed dropped to below 3 knots and using it towards the end if necessary to reach our waypoint off the. read more...
Starblazer - 6/06/2015 - My words came back to haunt me!
The minor problem concerning water in the petrol was very minor however the rest of our cruising in Vava'u was not as easy as we had hoped.The few days following my last log threw up more problems than we would have liked.John states that he likes solving problems but even he would have not wished for what we have experienced..We had a couple of very peaceful nights anchored off Kanutu then set off in perfectly calm conditions for the Blue Lagoon, an anchorage where sunlight from behind is essential to see the reefs alongside and ahead as you enter.We had two minor problems with coral before we reached Blue Lagoon but managed to reverse off both times (remember my comments about reversing off for later) and entered the lagoon exceedingly carefully and anchored successfully, setting the. read more...
Starblazer - 31/05/2015 - Foiled by the weather
We hadn't intended to leave the Ha'apai until the end of the week however the forecast suggested the wind would back to the north by Thursday which would make the trip to Vava'u difficult!John completed the internal clearance on Monday morning and we intended to head north to the next island on Tuesday, however the whole day was overcast interspersed with showers.We don't particularly mind getting wet but we do need good visibility to wriggle between coral outcrops so we stayed where we were.The knock-on effect of this was that we faced a 75 mile passage in less than 12 hours of daylight.No, we are not scared of the dark either but see my previous comment aboutgood visibility..Dawn slowly brightened the horizon just before 0630 and by 0635 I could see well enough to start weighing. read more...
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...