In Port Denarau, we were checking the forecasts a few times a day and talking with other cruisers about what they thought. Around October 16th, we saw a good looking window, though it would be “sporty”. Our router also gave us a thumbs up with some provisos. The winds would be fairly strong on the beam, and swell would be up to 3m with 7-8 sec period, also on the beam, for the first 3 to 4 days. We booked to check out with Fiji Customs and Immigration on Friday, October 18th, a week before our Visitor’s Visas expired.

As we left port, Monty removed what remained of the Fiji courtesy flag.

It was time!

Our speedo was plugged after sitting in Port Denarau, so Monty jumped in to clean it so our instruments would give us an accurate reading.

This handsome monohull, German flagged, sailed passed us. I carefully stepped to the edge of the cockpit, steadied my camera with a zoom lens and captured a few shots of her.

S/Y Meara

How about that! 44,444 miles logged!

Logging 44,444 miles

We are moving along nicely! Hardly any sail up and SOG (Speed Over Ground) of 10.4Kts! The boat handled the 30+ knots of wind comfortably.

701 NM to go!
Taking a wave on the beam. Thank goodness for great cockpit design and the enclosure!

Here is a video showing clips from our video. It is in 1080p so please only open it if you aren’t worried about internet data usage. To see it in full screen, open it in the free Vimeo App.

Passage Fiji-NZ 2019 from S/V Whistler on Vimeo.

There is always some unexpected maintenance that crops up on passage. This time we lost our ability to pump fresh water not long after leaving Fiji. It was so rough for the first 4 days, Monty could not tackle replacing the pump. Fortunately, we had lots of bottled water, a 5-gallon fresh water container, salt water for rinsing dishes and baby wipes for personal hygiene. Monty siphoned more water out of the tank when the large container needed to be replaced.

Monty replacing the fresh water pump.
Another sunset with a wee “green flash”!
Drama at sunset
Up goes the Q-Flag and NZ Courtesy Flag
Approaching Ninepin at the entrance to the Bay of Islands
Dolphins coming by to greet us in the Bay of Islands
Boats moored in Russell, on the way into Opua

We had our fastest trip to Opua, averaging 7.4NM/hr over 146 hours, which included 1 1/2 days of slower motor-sailing when the winds died. We logged 1076NM on our speedo and 1081 miles on the in-Reach (satellite device). Fortunately, we didn’t encounter long stretches with current against like we had had in prior passages.

We arrived at Q-Dock around 2pm and were soon boarded by 5 Customs agents. Two focused outside, one looking at and photographing our hull condition and the other looking in every outside locker. One inside guy looked in every locker and drawer. We cringed every time he shut the drawers as he didn’t know how the latches operated.

Another asked medical and bio-security questions, completed forms and then went through the galley, fridge and freezer with Monty looking for food that had to be properly discarded. No fresh meats, fruits, veggies or seeds allowed into NZ. Our passage had been faster than expected and we had not eaten some foods as the conditions were too rough to prepare them (note to self!). So we ended up throwing out more food than normal. 🙁

The last Customs fellow, who we had met several times over the years, dealt with our passports and temporary import form for the boat. They were gone in an hour so we were able to move the boat to the Bay of Islands dock before nightfall.

Hot showers and dinner at the Opua Cruising Club? Well, the club, the only dining out option in Opua, was closed for the night. Back on board for dinner! No rest for the weary sailors!

After a few days in Opua, we secured dock space for Whistler at Gulf Harbour for several months. First we had to get down there, about 100NM south. We planned an overnight passage from Bay of Islands to Gulf Harbour. It was a fairly easy trip but can be nasty if you don’t have calm conditions or northeast winds.

As we left the Bay of Islands, more dolphins came by.

Mom and calf
Cape Brett Lighthouse
A squall hits as we pass Hole in the Rock, off Cape Brett
Stormy sky in the rear view mirror
Auckland in the distance as we approach Gulf Harbour
Whistler docked at Gulf Harbour

The first day on the dock, the winds were blowing 45 knot SW pushing our boat hard against the dock. Our 9″ fenders were clearly inadequate for these conditions. So we headed to Auckland on the ferry and bought some big 12″ fenders (bigger than the ones in this photo) to ensure Whistler would be well cushioned off the dock in big winds. The plumbing issues got solved (thanks to Mike on Moonfish) and we engaged a wonderful fellow cruiser (Bill on Liberation) who lived nearby to check on Whistler every so often.

With Whistler put to bed, we were off to our home in Whistler, Canada, for long-overdue visits with family and friends and a few months of skiing.