About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi


"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Passage to NZ Day 6-1/2 - ARRIVAL!!!

Hey.....what's going on???.....we're not slamming into waves?......we're not walking around the boat with one leg 6 inches too short????......there's no water running down the wall?......Oh, I know, we must be tied to a dock!!!!!

Yesterday was a gorgeous day, of light to no wind, full sunshine, and calm, almost glassy seas, as we motored our way the last 12 hours of the passage along the east coast of the north island of New Zealand.  We finally arrived at Marsden Cove at 5 pm, and found that the customs and bio security folks, notified by radio of our arrival, had decided to stay late to process us in.  Sweet as!!! 

All went smoothly.  Quarantine inspector took her usual black garbage sack full of food, but all as expected.  Save that....the only thing that really surprised us was when she nabbed our apples.  Sure, they were bought in Fiji, but each had a "Product of NZ" label proudly applied.  It seems that since they had gone out of the country, they could now have foreign bugs, so into the black "starvation sack" they went!!!  Ah well, a really small price for being back in NZ.  As we arrived we felt curiously nostalgic, as this place has become very special to us, and it felt wonderful to return.  Even more so as we found good friends John and Kathy from MYSTIC MOON waiting for us on the dock, with a fantastic dinner and "Opening Ceremonies" planned after we settled in!  Clearing customs doesn't get much better!!!

Wonderful, really, to be anywhere but 200-300 miles north, from where we've just traveled.  The tropical disturbance that we sucessfully outran in fact developed the classic circular satellite image of a cyclone, with over 60 knot winds and 7 meter seas.  WHEW, so glad to have dodged that bullet.  Another front is now moving towards NZ from the Tasman Sea, and should arrive here tomorrow.  Winds may reach 40-50 kn on the open water.  No worries, we'll be snug as a bug here in Whangarei.  But WOW, the weather in this part of the world is so difficult to predict, as we saw on our passage.  Even for longtime meteorologist Bob McDavit, who helped us with weather routing throughout the passage, these systems can pose quite a challenge.

BRAVO did so well on this 6 day upwind slog.  Nothing broke, and she performed fantastically as we pounded day after day into the lumpy seas.  All in all, threading the needle between storm systems, she once again let us know that she's the perfect platform for the cruising life we lead.

The passage was 1096 miles, in 156 hours port to port, for an average of 7.03 knots, our best overall speed yet.

Passage to NZ is now a wrap!!!  Great to be here, and ready for more kiwi adventures to come over the next 6 months here in NZ.  CHEERS!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Passage to NZ Day 5 - Making for the Barn!

Much the same as yesterday's report. This SE wind is proving to be BRAVO's (wet and bumpy) magic carpet ride to NZ, aka "The Land of the Long White Cloud". We continue to romp close hauled, making around 7.5 knots, occasional green water covering the boat. Wow there'll be a lot of salt to scrape off when we arrive. Yesterday Cindi was on the foredeck making a sail change when she got absolutely buried by 2 EPIC waves...yikes it was wet up there. But she was well harnessed and tethered, and after coming below for a warm rinse, seems none the worse for wear.

Really looking forward to putting this one in the memory books. Should arrive tomorrow, hopefully in time to clear customs.

Passage stats:
current position: 32d 18'S 174d 53'E
course: 192d T@ 7.5kn
870 miles made good
215 miles to go
fishing report: nada (you've got to be kidding!!!)
ship sightings: 1 cargo ship in the night. AIS and radar showed us passing 500 mtrs apart. Too close for comfort. We hailed him on VHF to ask if he sees us. He immediately replied that he did, and was altering course! Great guy, he eventually passed 2.5 miles behind us.

All's well on board!!! (Save for lots of deck leaks and drips, which continue big time! Yuck!)
GO BRAVO GO !!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Passage to NZ Day 4

WOW, Bravo knows when the chips are down!!! We've been FLYING south, beating into 2m seas with moderate SE-SSE winds, 15-18kn, making 7-8kn of wet, wild miles toward NZ. All indications are that we have the developing tropical depression behind us, with predicted gale conditions and 6mtr seas for Sunday. By then we will be safely south, making our approach to NZ for a predicted Monday arrival. We've kept more sail up than our normal for this wind and seas, feels like being back on a race in the Pacific NW. Even the temperatures feel like we're back in Seattle, now wearing foulies and fleece!!! Yeah, baby, NZ here we come! Just in time to beat the next major system which will hit NZ on Tuesday!


Passage stats:
current position: 29d 41'S 175d 40'E
course: 200d T@ 7.3kn
710 miles made good
375 miles to go
fishing report: nada (you've got to be kidding!!!)
ship sightings: 1 cargo ship, 4 miles away heading to Auckland

All's well on board!!! (Save for lots of deck leaks and drips! Yuck!)
GO BRAVO GO !!!

Passage to NZ Day 4

WOW, Bravo knows when the chips are down!!! We've been FLYING south, beating into 2m seas with moderate SE-SSE winds, 15-18kn, making 7-8kn of wet, wild miles toward NZ. All indications are that we have the developing tropical depression behind us, with predicted gale conditions and 6mtr seas for Sunday. By then we will be safely south, making our approach to NZ for a predicted Monday arrival. We've kept more sail up than our normal for this wind and seas, feels like being back on a race in the Pacific NW. Even the temperatures feel like we're back in Seattle, now wearing foulies and fleece!!! Yeah, baby, NZ here we come! Just in time to beat the next major system which will hit NZ on Tuesday!


Passage stats:
current position: 29d 41'S 175d 40'E
course: 200d T@ 7.3kn
710 miles made good
375 miles to go
fishing report: nada (you've got to be kidding!!!)
ship sightings: 1 cargo ship, 4 miles away heading to Auckland

All's well on board!!! (Save for lots of deck leaks and drips! Yuck!)
GO BRAVO GO !!!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Passage to NZ - Day 3 - Into the breeze

Well, the breeze finally filled in last night before midnight, after about 30 hours of motoring. We've been pushing south, trying to stay ahead of this tropical depression forming over the next couple of days. Now sounds like we will not be caught up in it(!!!) but will likely have strong winds in a "squash zone" between the deepening low and a high below it. Could see gusts in the 30's, not too bad!!! (It's all relative)

The breeze is now just about 18-20, with lumpy seas. Unfortunately we're hard on the wind, making for a very wet, uncomfortable ride. (What's that b.s. about "gentlemen don't sail to weather"??? Well, they do if they want to sail to NZ!!!)

But we're making excellent speed, with a partly furled genoa and a single reef. Should arrive in NZ in 3 days if we can keep our speed up when the wind builds a bit tomorrow.



Passage stats:
current position: 26d 43'S 176d 26'E
course: 195d T@ 7.8kn
529 miles made good
556 miles to go
fishing report: nada
ship sightings: none

All's well on board!!!
GO BRAVO GO !!!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Passage to NZ Day 2 - Heading South (AS FAST AS POSSIBLE!!!)

Our 2nd 24 hours have been a mixed bag of nice light air reaching, and, for the past 15 hours, motor sailing in 6 kn. easterly winds and a slight 1 mtr. swell. Beautiful to be out here, but the sub tropical depression south of us is continuing to develop. Our morning report yesterday from meteorologist Bob McDavit caused quite a bit of concern, forecasting possible gale force winds on our passage route in about 3 days, of up to 54 kn. with 6 mtr very rough seas. Sheee-it! We considered either turning back for Fiji, or heaving to here for the next 3 days or so, to wait for the depression to pass. In the evening, after discussion with Bob, he felt that if we keep sailing fast ("Sail your heart out, BRAVO" were his words!!) we should be able to work far enough south before the depression really ramps up and be fine.

So this is what we're doing. Motorsailing now, with light winds, to make as much progress as possible, as quickly as possible.

All well on board, albeit with a bit more stress than we prefer on our passages!!!

Passage stats:
current position: 24d 03'S 176d 52'E
course: 189d T@ 7.0kn
366 miles made good
721 miles to go
fishing report: nada
ship sightings: had a fun encounter at sunset with BAIES du MONDE, a 50' French catamaran. We saw her, with huge rig and black carbon sails, gaining on us for a few hours before they passed us about 50 mtrs to starboard! We both took photos, and promised to find each other and exchange pix when we arrive in NZ.

All's well on board, nice sailing under sunny skies!!!
GO BRAVO GO !!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Passage to NZ Day 1 - Pedal to the Metal!!

Our 1st 24 hours of the passage have been some of the fastest we've ever done, averaging nearly 8 knots. Winds have been easterly, at about 15-23 kn, seas have been around 2 m. So it's been a bit bumpy, but we're not complaining!!! Bravo seems to know that she needs to boogey, as we're now getting forecast data that shows a sub tropical disturbance to the south of us forming on Sun/Mon. If we can maintain 6 kn, we should be past it, so hopefully the wind, will not die completely !!! Winds have eased to around 10 kn still out of the east, but we shook out the reefs and are still making 6.5 kn.

Passage stats:
current position: 21d 25'S 177d 24'E
course: 191d T@ 6.5kn
202 miles made good
848 miles to go
fishing report: uh, no, haven't even tried in these swells!
ship sightings: zero

All's well on board, nice sailing under sunny skies!!!
GO BRAVO GO !!!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Exploring the Great Astrolabe Reef.....something for everyone!

We've recently returned to Suva, after a couple of weeks in the southernmost island group of Fiji, known as the Kadavu group, named for the biggest island there.  All are surrounded by the Great Astrolabe Reef, an incredible, pristine barrier reef, one of the largest in the world, cut by several passes of varying sizes and complexities.  We chose to enter (and eventually depart) the 40 mile long lagoon through one of the largest, Herald Pass.  Since we had heard cruise ships could fit, we figured Bravo would have no problem.....the logic paid off!!!

Our first stop was Dravuni Island, a fairly small, very pretty island, just about 1.25 miles in length.  We dropped anchor in a logical spot off the village, and went in to present our sevusevu to the chief.  After accepting our yagona (kava) offering, we were given permission to hike, snorkel, dive, fish, and explore the village and island.  "Cool, thanks, chief".   "Oh, just one last thing.....you'll have to move your boat.....it's in the way of the cruise ship that's arriving early the next morning!!!!!"

Nonstop stream of tenders shuttle the masses to and from all day.
Cruise ship????  You've gotta be kidding us.  Here we are on an island with 80 inhabitants, and they told us that by 9 a.m. they would be hosting nearly 2,000 new friends!!!  Needless to say, we were hugely disappointed.  Since Mexico, Bravo has done a terrific job of keeping many a mile between us and these behemoths.  The impact of such a huge crowd of folk descending on a small remote native outpost completely spoils the cultural interaction for us.  (Bora Bora was a typical example.....yuchh)  Granted they do bring badly needed money to the village, but strictly from our selfish point of view, they are to be avoided at all cost.

We were then told that Dravuni would have still another cruiseship the following day, that's two in two days!!!  They have already had 30 call on the little island this year!!!

Quite a welcoming party awaited  us as we got out of our dinghy!!!

 Well, we decided to stay for a couple of days to see if our biases were warranted.  Uh, yep, they were!!!  We found the island people to pretty much ignored our presence, focusing instead on the interaction with the big fish (MUCH bigger) that was about to come in.  We had read that the folks on Dravuni were "unfriendly".  While we wouldn't say it quite so harshly, they clearly had a much different agenda than all of our other village experiences so far in Fiji.  The village is very pretty, though, and clearly fairly well off when compared to other villages we've visited in Fiji.




Bravo at anchor down below.  Cruise ship was just to the left.


We hiked up to the high point of the island, with a spectacular view of the whole Kadavu group, then headed back to the boat and decided to "vote with our keel", and head south in the lagoon....

We dropped the pick off a little uninhabited island, Namara Island, attracted by the beautiful white sandy beach.  The beach didn't disappoint, but the real surprise was the quality of the coral reef around the anchorage.  Together with friends on s/y Legacy, we went for a snorkel, and were amazed by the terrific hard corals, some of the healthiest we've seen anywhere.









The weather wasn't great, and though our anchorage provided decent protection from the SE trades which were blowing, we decided to head further south to the large island of Ono, and anchored in a deep bay on the NE corner.  Though we anchored in about 70' of water, it was on a nice flat bottom, with no coral bommies to grind the chain throughout the night.  Sweet!

After our visit to the chief for sevusevu, the kids of the village at the head of the bay, Nagara, were thrilled to show us kaipalangi's around their home turf, starting with their school.

















 


When they learned the name of our boat, they couldn't wait to show us the book!






One day a friendly guy from the village, Johnny, came out to BRAVO in his fiber (the common Fijian open boats, like the panga of Mexico and central America).  He offered to take us on a hike through his plantation to the other side of the island.  But first we needed to stop in the village to help make coconut oil.  We'd never seen how the natives make the oil so we really wanted to see the process.  It turned into another lovely hour or two spent in the village relaxing with oil makers and kids under a tree.  Ahhh, Fiji time, gotta love it! 








Kids LOVE digital cameras!!!
















OK, back to the coconut oil.....Here's the deal:  First they grate the meat of the nuts, and let it dry for 2 days in the sun.  Then it's mixed with some leaves to give it a nice lemony smell. 

They make long rolls of the mixture in old flour sacks, which are then hung from a tree and squeezed with a steel bar, like an old fashioned "Spanish windlass".  The oil just flows out into a bowl.  Pretty cool!











We finally did hit the trail with Johnny, first tramping through his plantation, where he grows bananas, plantains, coconuts, casava, sweet potatoes, and kava.  (Fiji's best kava is grown in the Kandavu group).





Fresh coconuts whenever we got thirsty.....sweet as!!!
While hiking we mentioned that one of the main reasons we came down to the Astrolabe area was that we'd heard  about the fantastic diving in the passes around the reef.  Johnny told us about a man in the village, Sewa, who used to work for Mai Dive, a dive company on the other side of the island.  He thought Sewa might be able to take us out to show us around, and take Johnny's fiber to get there.  Bingo, things were looking good!!! 

Back in the village, Sewa was keen to go, but he had no gear of his own.  We finally figured that he could guide from the surface, with mask and snorkel, and we could follow down below.  Different, but what the hell, we said sure!!!

Sewa with his kids
Sewa had a pretty interesting dive story to tell as we motored out to Alacrity Rocks, together with friends Jim and Jeanette from s/y Dancer.  Seems that a few years ago, he was spearfishing down 60 meters, (nearly 200 feet!!!) when he shot a 2 meter tuna.  Now apparently this tuna wasn't at all happy to have a spear hanging out of him, so he rocketed to the surface, pulling Sewa up with him!!!  Sewa didn't let go (!!!!!) and he was unconscious when he hit the surface.  He was flown to the decompression chamber in Suva, where he actually recovered!!!!  That's one very lucky guy.  They even kept the tuna!!!

The diving was truly world class, some of the best we've ever done.  Fantastic swim thru's, tunnels, and canyons, with very healthy hard and soft corals and lots of fish.  We did two dives at Alacrity, and they were both incredible.  Sewa snorkeled on the surface, pointing directions for us with a stick, and we followed down at about 70 feet!  Here are a few shots fom Alacrity Rocks.

























Finally, after a couple of weeks on the Great Astrolabe Reef, it was regrettably time to return to Suva to prepare for the passage back to New Zealand.  It was a wonderful visit, made even more special by the people of Nagara village.  Johnny and his family and friends had us over for kava and a terrific farewell dinner on our last night.  Vinaka, Johnny, for a terrific visit.