We started of good and we were basic flying the first 48 hours after we left Fiji. With 25 knots of wind hitting the sails we were doing between 7 and 9 knots of speed on a perfect heading. It was on our third day on the sea we received a troubling weather forecast that told us we would encounter very tough weather close to New Zealand.
To push trough 35 to 40 knots of upwind with swells up to 7 meters wasn’t an option with a rookie-crew and a 7 months old baby so we had to come up with an alternative plan.
Stay on the sea above the forming weather system and drift around on the sea with a sea-anchor for 48 hours. This is a bumpy option and there is also a small risk that the weather forecast is wrong and the weather hits us even if we stay 200 miles north of it.
Turn around the boat and set a course to New Caledonia. This option wasn’t a bad one but it would feel like a “set-back” to sail in a completely wrong direction. It would basically be like re-start the whole trip again.
Sail to Norfolk, a small island that belongs to Australia out in the middle of nowhere! We didn’t know anything about this small place besides its location. It was far from around the corner, we had to sail around 500 miles in a south-westerly direction before we should reach protected waters.
Norfolk – one happy surprise!
We went for option 3, at least we were getting a bit closer to New Zealand and we also had a small chance to set foot on land. To sail into Australian territory without pree-announcing your arrival, without a valid VISA and on top of that having a bloody dog onboard isn’t the best of ideas.
I was a bit worried that we would be granted to stay on anchor (they cant refuse us that) but NOT be able to come a shore, this would be extremely bad for the moral onboard. To see land after spending 7 days on sea without being allowed of the boat can transform any happy person into a very non-happy person within a couple of hours.
Luckily I was wrong and we were all welcome on land after we did our paperworks. Norfolk was one of these happy surprises you get sometimes. The place was stunning beautiful and everyone including the authorities was extremely welcoming.
The only downside to Norfolk is that it is extremely hard to land the dinghy. The small island has nothing to protect you from the sea, no breakwater, no walls- nothing to help you out. We ended up using our paddle board instead of the dinghy to make the operation as safe as possible.
During the leg to Norfolk I got a pretty impressive celebration for my 40´s birthday. I didn’t expect anything special for my birthday but I got balloons, party-hats and a fine bottle of whiskey- THANK YOU FOR THIS NICE SUPRISE!!
Our last leg to New Zealand
The leg from Norfolk to Opua in New Zealand went fine- no dramas. It was a fairly slow leg and we had to motor a bit when we got close to the coastline. We entered the Bay of Islands late afternoon on the 24th of November. I was expecting this clearance to be a full on pain-in-the-ass.
I have heard so many stories from other sailors about clearing into New Zealand and Australia, how complicated and slow the process is. Non of these stories were true (at least not in our case) and our clearance was done within 2 hours after the authorities came onboard early morning the 25th.
The whole journey from Fiji to New Zealand took us 16 days (1400 nm) ??? Even if we did stop at Norfolk for 4 days the trip became way longer than I expected. Well- you cant win the lottery every time!! I am happy though that we did do our stop-over in Norfolk Island, I met a couple of sailors that did sail trough the bad weather and besides breaking their boats it was also an extremely unpleasant experience.
It was a tricky sail when it came to weather routing, to find a path trough the weather to our final destination was not the easiest of tasks.
Vera in quarantine
Vera that has been more or less confined to the boat for the last 6 months is now in her final stage of her quarantine. The customs picked her up and drove her all the way down to Auckland were she has to spend 14 whole days before we can pick her up. To have dog onboard the boat has been fairly easy until we reached French Polynesia 1.5 year ago. I hope this “dog-madness” will end after New Zealand.
Bay Dreamer has been serving us well
Our beloved boat has been doing good this season, nothing worth mentioning needs to be repaired. Both me and Anna are extremely thankful for this. One of the main reasons for this is all the work we did in Tahiti earlier this year. Many thanks again to Adrian on the sailing boat Attila that helped us all the way- we could not have done this season without you- you are only not a true professional- you are also AWESOME !!!
The crew has left Bay Dreamer
Before our “Fiji to New Zealand” crew left us a couple of days ago we did do a short cruise here in the Bay of Islands. This place is truly beautiful and you have small islands with protected bays all over the place.
The water is way to cold for my taste (16-20 degrees) BUT you can enjoy the company of both Dolphins, rays and Orcas if you are lucky! Me and Olivia saw a pod of Orcas this very morning when we were out for our morning walk.
We would like to thank our “Fantastic 5” Crew for everything. Especially for all the help in the kitchen and with little Olivia!! I want you all to know that you all were fantastic, it is way harder than people think to spend 8 whole weeks together with 8 people on a small sailing boat. Thank you sharing this with us!!
Safe travels and see you soon
//Daniel, Anna & baby Olivia