Thursday, May 31, 2012

Back in Fiji

Good morning! We slid into the calm, clear waters of Ovalau yesterday morning and dropped anchor in front of Levuka around 12:30PM. It was sunny and blue, with clear water all around, which is quite unusual when there are a few factories along the waterfront. We put Worm in the water and picked up the officials in the afternoon; check in was very easy! We took them back into town, explored a bit, searched for internet accesories, ate a great dinner(and cheap!), and headed back to Sidewinder, for a wonderful calm night of sleep. It is so great to be back in Fiji. The Bula spirit was immediately upon us and life is good. This morning it is raining, and when the squall passes, we will make our way back into town to catch the Thursday morning local market, pay the last of our Health fees, pick up our cruising permit, and take in the sights of this tiny historical setting. Internet is still not happening for us, so sailmail it is for now. Love to all! S&D

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Crossing: Pt. II (Minerva Reef to Fiji)

Minerva Reef (for coordinates, see previous email) is an amazing place to say the least. Think of a land mass that is maybe slightly higher that mid-tide and is a constant state of water flowing over it. At low tide if you are in the lagoon you can dingy right up to the inside edge of the reef (one to three meter depth) and the water is cascading over the reef and down into the lagoon like a small waterfall. Except it isn't all that small considering it does this all the way around the lagoon, in this case about 6 miles! So if you can visualize this mini waterfall that goes all around the lagoon, well it's amazing as I said. The reef section itself is about 100 meters wide and is flat enough to walk easily on, but you do have to watch where you're going or you could end up in a deep channel that flows back out to sea. The weather hasn't been all that nice with the wind still howling (20 - 30 knts) and every so often a squall blows over dumping a little rain. But it's still nice sitting at anchor and sleeping through the night as well as visiting other boats for dinner and making some music. Lots of fun with some great people!! The plan is to leave here tomorrow if the weather settles down a bit as it's suppose to do. That should put us in Savu Savu on Wed. or Thurs. at the latest. The word is that there aren't any mooring balls available there right now and anchoring there is really deep so lets hope a few boats take advantage of the coming settled weather window and leave there opening up a few balls for us folks. We'll keep you posted along the way. See ya- David

(Later in the same day) 
After reading the sailmails that Capt David has sent to you, I think you must have a good sense of what we are experiencing. The reef walk yesterday with Alene and Bruce was definitely surreal and I was able to snorkle back to Sdiewinder in the beautiful, clear, aqua-blue water. Alene and I swam along the reef for awhile, and the colorful coral and abundant beautiful fish made me fully realize just how much I love this tropical area; the water is not quite as warm as Fiji, but it was a great swim and very invigorating exercise! Today the winds are supposed to be even stronger than yesterday, but let's hope not; last night there were gusts up to 45kts reported here, but we were happily playing music and didn't feel it. We are indebted to our friends who have been driving us around in their dinghies and we owe them bigtime! It was very fun to see Graham from s/v Adamite yesterday, and we look forward to visits to all when we are safe and sound in Savusavu.  As David said earlier, our intention is to leave tomorrow, but we need to assess the weather in the morning. Meanwhile, it looks like we may hang out here on Sidewinder today; I may swim back over to the reef this afternoon, but it all depends on the conditions.  Suzi
We're busily preparing to go out in the winds once again, but hopefully they will be laying down in the next few days and we will have a wonderful sail to Savusavu. It is sunny and very promising today after so much intense wind. Love to all. Suzi and David
Hi there! We are well on our way after leaving the pass yesterday around 10AM. Although the seas are a bit confused, coming from every which way, the wind has been mostly favorable, fluctuating between 18 and 25kts on our aft starboard beam, and we have managed to do a pretty comfortable reach with a few waves turning us sideways now and then. Last night we had one major squall which brought gusts of 35kts, but it passed us quickly, thank goodness. We are still with lots of boats, some we can see far away, and we can still communicate on VHF,which is comforting. We will have another full day of sailing, as the winds begin to lighten up (hopefully not too much), and we should arrive in Savusavu sometime on Wednesday. Hope all is well with everyone. Love you,  Suzi and David
Still sailing but the wind is dying and we are toying with the idea of heading into a different port of entry in the old capital of Levuka, Ovalau Island, which is about 30 miles closer. We shall see. Hope all is well.   Love you,  S&D
So great to be in the islands of Fiji again! We had a wonderful sail yesterday and all through the night, with flat seas, consistent 11-13 kt winds aft, warm wind, warm sunshine and stars. My goodness!! We are now motoring through the pass to Levuka and should arrive there in about 4 hrs, perfect timing to check into the country of Fiji. I contacted Kendra at Waitui Marina in Savusavu and she said she would pass on our paperwork to the Customs here so we hope all will be fine. She actually encouraged us to do this because there are so many boats in Savusavu at the moment, there are no available moorings and the check-in there will be crazy, especially with all the boats coming in today. It will be great to check out this historic town which was once the capital and enjoy a new adventure. The anchorage is very exposed to the Easterlies and we just hope they continue to drop, or our stay will be short and sweet. Supposedly there is a fresh veggie/fruit market on Thursdays.....YAHOO! Love to all,  S&D

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Crossing

Hi, Everyone. It's Kris again. I have gotten a few sailmails from S & D that I will post below. I expect to get more during the 10-or-so day crossing, and I will add them here.

PHEW!!! While you are frolicking on the land with all our beloved friends, here we are, once again, getting used to the motion of the ocean and the last 24 hours have been pretty much like a washing machine out here, although the wind and most of the waves are actually pushing us toward our destination of Fiji. Luckily most of the winds have been generally from 15-21 kts, with occasional squawls and gusts from 20 to 30. We did freak out last night when David woke me up with 30kt winds and the wind monitor just couldn't handle it. Thank goodness I was able to take us off the monitor and the helm actually was not too difficult to steer. We rolled in the partial headsail and it settled down, but it is those times which we certainly haven't missed for 6mos and they do wake you up! We are getting ready for the next afternoon and evening and have decided to just sail with the main again, with the wind pretty much behind us and still going around 6kts. All the boats we left with have scattered out and are no longer visible but we are still in VHF range today and are doing a SSB net each evening at 5PM. It is comforting to know they are with us on this journey. We have to take at least 10 days to get to Savusavu cause they charge way extra for weekends so that is why we were contemplating Minerva Reef for a day, but we shall see; it all depends upon where we are after 4 more days. I just got off watch, am a bit chilly, and am ready to sleep for a couple of hours before the next session. You are dancing and partying, getting ready for the real festivities tomorrow. Happy Wedding to Daniel and Lauren! We love you all.  Suzi and David
Kris - Our new GPS coordinates are =  30 36.97 S  175 53.79 E  The wind has dropped off and we are cruising along at 4.5-5 knts. But it's starting to warm up a bit and none to soon for our liking. The sun was out for most the day and the only major squall we saw zipped past without hitting us. Always a blessing!!!! Will be in touch-   David
When it rains it pours and when it doesn't it is dry as a bone !! We are in the middle of one of the worst oceans in the world when it comes to weather and we are motoring ~!! I'm not complaining, better this than getting our butt's kicked with 35 knt + but what's wrong with 15-20 40 degrees off our course ? Yeah, someday but not today. Our position is 20 42S  177 02E and the sun is out (most the time). Suzi is asleep in the cockpit and I'm running the watermaker for the first time in 8 months. Everything is A OK (keeping my fingers crossed) and we are almost halfway to Mirnerva Reef with a favorable weather forecast for a few days to come. Sure wish we were able to attend Dan's wedding, that cowboy shit is right up our alley.  See ya,  David
The seas are beautifully blue and relatively calm, as we motor across this area of light wind, a concept hard to believe way out here with ocean all around, and the time without wind issues also gives us a chance to settle into being secure on Sidewinder, once again.  Both David and I are so delighted to be able to read books and take off each layer of clothing that we have been wearing for weeks. Capt Dave just put on shorts for the first time in so long ....WAHOO! We put the spinnaker pole up with the headsail and tried to sail last night, but there just wasn't enough to keep the sail from flopping. Hopefully today, as predicted, the SE winds will begin to appear. We are headed to Minerva Reef right now, since we can motor in any direction, and will join ACappella there for a day or two, before heading into Savusavu. The reef offers a place to swim in the warm water and slows us down so we don't arrive until after the weekend. We are about two days away from Minerva. Once we get to Savusavu, it will be days before we can dive in the warm clear water, so I think it is a great idea, as long as the weather holds up. Right now the winds are high in the Lau Group area, the Koro Sea, and we hope they will lay down in the next week. Sunrise was spectacular this morning and it is another warm sunshine day with puffy clouds in the distance. -Suzi
We are at 26° 12'S  179° 09'E  The wind has picked up a bit (15 kts. +-) and it's been a pleasant sail but at this rate we will be getting to Minerva Reef after dark which isn't advisable. Soooooo, we have to make a decision as to speeding up (motoring, bummer), hanging outside until light, or going in at night. We have great info. for the place with lots of GPS waypoints and have friends who are there right now to help guide us in, but night entrances are always sketchy at best. We'll let you know our how it goes. Will talk more later-  David & The Admiral

Well we are here in Minerva Reef but only by the whiskers on our chinny chin chin. Sidewinder was going through the pass as the sun was setting behind us and by the time we got to the other side of the lagoon where everyone (18 other boats) was anchored it was dark. It's always fun trying to figure out where to anchor, where the reef starts, how deep is it, which way is the wind going to swing you, and all of this while not seeing much of anything. But we got it done and after a closer inspection this morning we did a bang up job. Not sure how much exploring around we will be doing as the wind is blowing about 25 out there and I'm feeling rather comfy just sitting here, drinking a cup of coffee and not having to brace myself every time I want to walk somewhere. All is good and you will probably hear again from Suzi later on. She is still in bed digging on the peace and quiet. I think you know where Minerva is but if not= 23 38.5 S  178 54.5 W   We might be here for a few days as there is lots of wind coming our way and may be better to sit it out right here instead of getting beat up out at sea. We'll see ?????    See ya.   David

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Getting Ready to Leave After the Birthday Bash

It was wonderful to gather together on ACappella for my birthday bash on Saturday.  It was a great gift to get to know Jackie and Gary from Inspiration Lady and Jacquie and David from Jackster, whom we had met long ago but never had much time to spend with them,  and it is a pleasure to be back with Cornelia and Ed on ACappella,   We are all getting excited to leave and find the warm weather one more time. Cheers!

Saying Good-bye to Opua Finally

 Such a beautiful place to have to wait for that next weather window!
 We leave for Fiji with Gary and Jackie on Inspiration Lady and David & Jacquie on Jackster
 Doug and Gina, leave for Hawaii today ; we have had great fun playing music with Doug!
 Ed and Cornelia also leave with us tomorrow morning. David delights in his last burger for a while.

The new plan is to leave tomorrow with a good weather window which will gently take us to the warm waters of Fiji. We have enjoyed New Zealand and they have taken great care of us! Farewell and cheers to all. We will update our journey through sailmail for all of our friends who are following us. We love you!  Happy Celebration to Daniel and Lauren as they share their love with everyone at the wedding this weekend.
Life is good and we are  happy to be alive!   Suzi and David

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Still in Opua Waiting for the Next Weather Window

 Sailing into Opua was a great rush of relief for us.
Our dear Gecko who managed to hang with us all last season, finally died due to the cold. We were so sad.
After our crazy day in Auckland, we enoyed being with Beth and Ken to celebrate the B-day! YAHOO!

With the leg infection gone, re-finance documents notarized one more time in Auckland, a birthday celebration lasting for two days, and a Happy Mother's Day to all, we are now waiting again for the next weather window to Fiji. Of course, we are in the middle of tightening the rigging and the pouring rain is forcing us to enjoy the coziness of Sidewinder today, as I catch up on the blog.  We are both thankful that David's leg pain was caused by an infection inside the leg which responded to the anti-biotics given by the doctor in Pahia, and he is now fully aware that his partially blocked veins make him more vulnerable to bacteria in that area of his body. After seeing the doctor one more time last week and supplying ourselves with more anti-biotics, we readied ourselves to leave for Fiji, provisioning one more time, and hoped to leave last Thursday. But on Wednesday we were notified that our re-finance documents needed to be notarized one more time, so we made the decision to rent a car on Friday, drive to Auckland one more time, and successfully signed with the US Consulate notary, leaving them with another $300 USD. My birthday present will be when the re-finance is complete and I am sure that will happen this week. On our return, we were able to touch base with Kiwi friends, Mike and Tony, as well as have yummy pizza on board Eagles Wings, with Ken and Beth. Unfortunately, we got an illegal parking citation but by running to the county office at 4:15,  during rush hour traffic, I was able to pay the $113, squeezing into the closing door at 4:27PM on a Friday afternoon. That, again, was a birthday present to the city of Whangarei and after crying, I was smiling because I had made it!. Crazy 65th Birthday, don't ya think?!? Lucky for me, our friends on ACappella invited us over to have a birthday dinner with some other cruising friends on Saturday, and I did get to toast friends and enjoy the celebration of reaching the young age of 65 with lots of spunky spirit and good health.  I am so fortunate to be able to live life to the fullest each and every day and I cherish it all. This morning, even in the rain, I treated myself to another wonderful yoga class at the community center, and now we are once again getting ready to make the trip to Fiji.  ACappella, Jackster, and Inspiration Lady are all planning on making this trip so we will be in good company.  We wish a Happy Mother's Day to all the awesome moms we know and hope that their kids are appreciating them as much as we do. Love to all!   Suzi and David

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Good News So Far and Waiting Patiently

After making a VHF call to Russell radio notifying them we were heading back to NZ, David and I bashed our way back to Opua early Tuesday morning; we were both overwhelmed by the possible worst case scenarios. The 20-25 kt gusts seemed even more intense as the waves pushed Sidewinder's starboard rail under again and again. We reefed again and tried to bring in the head-sail  as much as we could, and she slogged her way toward the Bay of Islands. By mid-morning, the warm shining sun and the blue skies brought wonderful color to the horizon and the wind and waves calmed a bit, giving us some relief from the intensity of the situation. By early afternoon we were sailing flat seas inside the bay with tons of rally boats passing us by on their way to Fiji and Tonga. We radioed customs in Opua and made contact with Gary, who had sold us his car in November, and he had already made arrangements for us to go directly into the marina, slip C19. Doug, on Windcastle, heard our call to the marina, and called back letting us know he would be there waiting for us at the dock to help with the lines, along with Larry from s/v Magenta. How comforting it was to have friends waiting for us at the dock! Again David did not sleep much with so much pain, and with the generosity of Larry as driver, we began the search for help and answers on Wed.. We saw a wonderful doctor in Paihia who immediately put David on anti-biotics, ordered a blood-test, and sent us to Whangarei for an ultra-sound, 45min away.  With negative results from the Doppler/Ultra-sound, a wonderful sense of relief came over us both. On our way back, both David and I reflected on the wake-up call and the possible risks of just living this adventurous life. We are so lucky we were close enough to turn back and to have the high tech care offered here in NZ, as we wait now for more information.
   It is now Friday and David's leg seems to be much better; he slept until 3AM without pain, and when it did wake him up, it was barley noticeable. Along with the doctor, we are now just waiting for the anti-biotics to run their course and for the infection to go away. The weather has been beautiful all week and I was fortunate enough to go on a good hike along the bay yesterday, stopping along the way to bask in the warm sunshine and meditate  in a tiny little protected cove. I am so grateful that we have just been delayed a bit and that David will be fine soon. The compassionate government of NZ gave us both 3 more months on our visas and luckily we will not have to stay longer than maybe a week or so more. We have discovered quite a few boats here with cruiser friends we have not seen since Tonga or Fiji, and, if all goes well, we will make the crossing to Fiji with them next week, when a new good weather window appears.......possibly Wed.   We shall patiently wait and see what comes our way. We are just so thankful to be here with all the positive support and hopefully the best case scenario solutions.
        Meanwhile, we hope everyone is doing fine and that you, too, are appreciating the precious life we are given.  We send out special love and sympathy to our friend, Tracy, who is having a memorial service this weekend,  "celebrating" Kenny Phebus' life. We are so privileged to have had him in our lives and to know Tracy, his true love.  Many hugs to you, Tracy.       Love to all,   Suzi and David

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


To those who are following The Adventures of Suzi and David: They began their crossing from New Zealand to Fiji but hit a glitch the first day out. I will be posting their sailmails throughout the crossing. Regards to all, Kris
We left yesterday afternoon and headed northeast at a nice clip which became faster and faster, as the wind increased continually up. David slept for a couple of hours and woke up suddenly with excruciating pain in his lower right calf where his vericose veins have always been, and was very ready to have someone cut his leg off. This has happened several times these last few weeks, but not nearly as severe. We decided to stop, gibe, and slog our way up to Opua, where our NZ adventure began, and we hope to find a doctor somewhere close by. I keep nodding off while I am writing this, so I must go to bed right now. I will give you more details tomorrow after we find a doctor. PHEW !  He hated making this decision, but I would hate to have something weird happen to him during the passage. Love, Suzi