Passage from Tonga to New Zealand
35° 19' South
174° 09' East
Hello from Opua, New Zealand. I'm writing this on Thursday, November 12, 2005, November 11th for those of you east of the International Dateline. You'll have to excuse me. I'm using a keyboard we obtained in Mexico and there are many characters I cannot locate.
We successfully left Nuku'alofa, Tongutapu, Tonga on Thursday, October 27th after spending two super busy days prepping the boat for the passage south. Our first five days out we had boisterous winds and seas. Though a bit uncomfortable with the wind forward of our beam, we were making great time averaging around 150 miles daily. As we should know by now we should never count our chickens before they hatch. Nevertheless we were super excited at the thought of making it down to New Zealand in seven days. Five days out we had only 320 miles to go. That night the wind shifted to directly on our nose which meant we couldn't go directly towards our destination. The winds held steady from the southwest blowing at 15 to 25 knots for the remainder of our trip. Thus our two days turned into four.
We were so excited when we finally spotted land. It truly felt like we fought for every mile those last few days and I was starting to wonder if we'd ever make it there. Okay, a little bit dramatic, I know, but if you have ever done the passage down to New Zealand before you may just understand how I was feeling. It also didn't help that prior to making this passage us cruisers talked up the challenges of this passage so much that we found ourselves dreading it before we even began. While uncomfortable and yes, a bit wet, we really did have a pretty good passage overall.
Opua New Zealand
Since arriving five days ago we have been busy figuring out where to leave Moana for the season and prepping her to be on her own. We decided to keep her here in Opua where we have quite a few friends staying with their boats. It's comforting to know we'll have others keeping an eye on Moana for us. We took Wednesday off to explore a bit of the North Island with some fellow cruisers we originally met in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. We went to Waitangi National Reserve where the first treaty was signed between the Brits and Maoris as well as doing some exploring of Kerikeri. Yesterday we took a tall ship over to Russel for the day. We had a fun ride talking with the captain. He even had both Sally and I take the wheel and steer the R.Tucker Thompson for a while.
We have secured our flights home and will be leaving at 11 PM on November 21st <Happy Birthday Nona>. We will be arriving in LA before we left, i.e. in the afternoon of November 21st. We are hoping to arrive in Auckland a couple days prior to our flight to explore the city a bit. This is the first time we've been in a first world country in over a year and I imagine the city will be quite overwhelming to us. We look forward to meeting up with everyone once we return and get back into the swing of land-life.
Sam and Sally
Currently located in Opua, New Zealand
New Zealand Refit
Sam & Sally returned to their home aboard Moana on April 26, 2006
Greetings once again from Opua, New Zealand!
We thought we would take this time to update you on our latest adventures in returning to Moana. We flew out of LAX on Monday, April 24th at 9:30 pm. After a 12 hour flight we landed in New Zealand on April 26th at 5 am. It's amazing that what took us one year by boat took us 12 hours by plane! We must admit however that traveling aboard Moana is our preferred mode of transportation!
We were very fortunate that we didn't have any problems getting all of our goods from the U.S. to New Zealand. We were definitely pushing the limit in regards to weight and the maximum number of bags allowed. Checking in with Air New Zealand took some time because we didn't have a return ticket. They are very strict about ensuring that outsiders don't stay indefinitely in their country! We had been warned about this and each had a letter from the marina in Opua explaining that our boat was there and that we did indeed have an alternative way of leaving their country! We also had our boat documentation and temporary import permit. Despite all of this, the information had to be verified with immigration and took some time. Going through customs in New Zealand was uneventful though our bags had to be inspected because of the food we brought back with us. We were very thankful that our new generator, stored in one of our suitcases, didn't cause any problems.
Once getting things sorted out with customs we went in search of the Air Bus to take us to downtown Auckland. We were dropped off at a bus station for intercity transport. Around 8:30 am we began our four-hour bus ride north to Opua. We were dropped off around 12:30 pm with seven pieces of luggage. With no cell phone and no pay phones nearby, Sam and I began our trek down the hill with all of our stuff. We quickly discovered that we had to walk some items forward, drop them off and then return to gather other bags. We just couldn't manage all of the bags between the two of us. In this process, the wonderful New Zealand rain decided to greet us. Exhausted at this point, I figured I had one of two options: scream or laugh. I opted for the latter, figuring it would make a good story in the future, AFTER we had some food, warm clothing and sleep.
Half-way down the hill to Opua a kind Kiwi, called Malcolm, stopped to offer us a lift. We threw all of our luggage in the back of his open trailer and jumped in the back seat of his car. We were especially grateful for this kind deed when we realized how much further we had to go to reach our destination! Although shy of one mile, once down the hill, we had to go through the tiny town and then wind our way UP to the boatyard.
As we unloaded our luggage our thoughts were interrupted by someone calling up to us, "Hey Moana!" (In the cruising community you are referred to as often as not by the name of your boat rather than your own name.) We looked down into the boatyard to see a boat we had met for the first time in the Marquesas. It was a wonderful greeting as Sam and I were both a bit saddened by the fact that many of our closest cruising friends were not returning for another season of cruising for a variety of reasons.
As we walked down to the boatyard we saw Moana sitting on the hard. She had been towed to the yard the day before and had already been sprayed down. We quickly found a ladder in which to board Moana and began to work on bringing our wet luggage in and inspecting the inside of Moana. Despite being closed up for five months we were very fortunate by the small amount of mold that had made home inside of her. We'd heard and read horror stories of people returning to boats that were overtaken by mold and were a bit concerned about this possibility. Though it's taken us a week to go through all of the cabinets, we have wiped her down well and she has returned to the Moana we remember and love.
In addition to needing to attack issues inside the boat we also had to quickly address the outside of the boat. The boatyard owner, Doug, who is originally from Newport Beach, CA and grew up with Dave Ullman, a well-known sail maker in the Southern California area, was flying out on Saturday, headed for Tahiti. From there he was delivering a boat to Hawaii. Thus, we had to be out of the boatyard by Saturday morning. Daylight hours were spent on the outside of Moana, scraping, sanding and painting her hull. In the evenings we attacked the inside of Moana. Despite periods of heavy rain, we managed to complete our paint job and Moana was launched back into the water on Saturday morning. We even had time on Friday night to go over to hear Bob McDavitt speak at the Russell Boating Club. Bob is well known in New Zealand for his weather reports and personalized weather routing.
It is now Thursday (well, it was when I wrote this), just over one week since our return to Moana. Since arriving we have run into three boats who made the crossing with us from Zihuatanejo, Mexico to the Marquesas. This is significant considering there were only 14 boats who made the passage to French Polynesia from Zihuatanejo. Two of the boats are headed north to Fiji while the other boat is headed for Australia. In addition to these boats we have run into many other boats we had briefly met or just seen in anchorages throughout our travels through the South Pacific. Opua is a great place to be because it is the primary jump-off spot for all cruisers leaving New Zealand.
We still have a list of projects that need to be completed before heading for Fiji. We were also originally thinking of traveling to the South Island before leaving New Zealand. This plan has changed as it is cold and wet here and we are anxious to return to the tropics. If things continue to move along, we hope to be heading out to Fiji in the next couple of weeks, pending the completion of projects and a good weather window. The passage is 1100 miles and should take around two weeks. Just imagine driving 1100 miles at 5 MPH!!!
We hope you are all doing well and will update you as are departure date becomes more clear.
Sam & Sally
Currently in Opua, New Zealand