Schooner Seawanhaka

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Posting - Fiji Islands to New Zealand

Date and Time:

November - December 2004


Voyage from Fiji to Opua, New Zealand

View Photos from Fiji to New Zealand:


NEW ZEALAND BOUND - November 15, 2004
After considering several options for the South Pacific Cyclone season (December-March), SEAWANHAKA is on her way to New Zealand for the season. We are anchored just off from Lautoka, Fiji, where we will clear out of Customs and Immigration tomorrow. We will sail out to the lagoon at Malolo Lailai for a last few days of Fijian tropical sailing, snorkeling, swimming, and diving, then depart southbound. It is an 1100-mile trip to New Zealand.

SEAWANHAKA has a great crew for this passage:

Miles King, from Boulder, Colorado. Miles has several trips on SEAWANHAKA: Honolulu to Victoria,Victoria to Portland, Oregon, and last summer in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Miles has a Fireball 16 that he sails on the lake outside of Boulder.

Chris James, a Canadian living in Port Angeles, Washington. Chris has sailed extensively on SEAWANHAKA in the northwest, as well as his own Hans Christian 43. He has collected a number of "tropics points" by working on SEAWANHAKA in the yard during major haul-outs in Port Angeles. It is about time he is cashing some of those in.

Susanna Camp, a San Francisco Bay sailor who lives on her Santana 30 in Sausalito. She sailed on SEAWANHAKA last winter in the Bay.

We intend to send daily updates to the website,, which is being kept current by website manager Elizabeth Clark. Thanks E. Position reports should be able to be accessed at the website by looking for the call sign KC7LPL. We'll let you all know how the sailing is! - Captain Bill

MALOLO LAILAI - November 16, 2004
SEAWANHAKA checked out of Fiji Islands yesterday, provisioned at the Lautoka market, and had a great Indian curry dinner. Today we set sail out of Lautoka on a fair NW breeze, and had a great sail south in Nadi waters. We are anchored in a beautiful lagoon between the islands of Mololo and Mololo Lailai, the home of Musket Cove Yacht Club. The anchorage is at the far southern end of the Fiji archipelago; we are looking out at the South Pacific stretching south all the way to New Zealand. The stars are popping out and the moon is on the wax to provide us some moonlight on the passage.

Tomorrow we plan to top off the diesel and water tanks. Miles and I are hoping to do a dive at one of the great dive sites on the reef. We'll enjoy a last day in the lagoon and plan to depart Thursday a.m. for points south across the ocean.

Also, if you haven't done so already, check out the newly updated Suva Haul Out webpage!

November 20- More Fun in Fiji
Oh sure, there has been superb swimming in the 85 degree water on perfectly delightful calm mornings and evenings, yes, the diving at the "Super Market" and "Pleasure Point" have been most rewarding with strikingly colorful soft and hard coral, a moray eel, a few sharks, etc. A giant sea turtle swam by to say hello. The evening BBQ's and clear sunsets have been marvelous, and Captain Guillermo's (Bill's) lobster & swordfish steak omelets have been outstanding, Susanna's salads are as varied as they are delicious, and Chris's Fish delights and French toast breakfasts are all excellent, BUT, it's the Captain, Crew and Seawanhaka that make the most of the beautiful Fijian Island fun and scenery in Musket Cove located on Malolo Lailai Island in the Mamanuca Island Group just West of Viti Levu. Good humor, laughter, and crew camaraderie abound, as do "stubbies" (Fijian Bitter beers) and Seawanhaka's drink of choice: rum, juice, and papaya evening cocktails.

The graceful, friendly, soft- spoken Fijians are very handsome and helpful, quick to smile and offer a pleasant "Bula" whenever one passes by. Their nature seems as agreeable as the light trade wind breezes.

Tomorrow- Sunday Nov. 21 we set sail for the Bay Islands of New Zealand -1,100 n. miles to the South. Moce, Miles (Marinero Contento)

SEAWANHAKA and crew are doing well on our first day at sea, southbound for New Zealand.

A beautiful trade wind day saw us out of the lagoon and into the vast blue Pacific Ocean. We exited through Malolo Passage with surf breaking to the east and west. A brisk 25 knot wind left Viti Levu distant over the northern horizon in a matter of a few hours. Presently on my 2200 to midnight watch the wind has gone to the East and moderated a bit, perfect for stargazing. There is half a moon whose shadow leads us on our passage south. All is well on the good schooner. She is stout and the crew is strong. - Capt'n Bill

November 22 - Day 1
SEAWANHAKA had a spectacular day of sailing, a near record 186 mile run in the first 24 hoursout of Fiji. A fresh SE trade blew us along at a great speed all day. Today the wind moderated to a wonderful 15 knots, with smooth seas, sunny skies, but unfortunately poor fishing! Tonight the moon has lit up the ocean brilliantly and the wind is steady. GREAT CRUISING. - Capt'n Bill

November 23 - Day 2, 142 miles
Spinnaker sailing across the deep, dark, indigo blue south pacific in light winds. Very smooth sea conditions. Pretty easy sailing.

For those have been looking for and not finding our entry on the Yotreps/Pangolin system, due to a software glitch, and mostly operator limitations (mine), we won't be able to post position reports there. I will include a latitude and longitude on the website postings, and you'll have to plot our position using your home atlas (or click here then click on the brown globe next to November 23).

Still looking for that first fish. Fisherman Chris has been trying all of his Alaskan fishing tricks, but they don't seem to be attracting the south pacific varieties. We're hoping to stock the cooler tomorrow for Thanksgiving dinner. Best to you all, Capt'n Bill

Position: 22 18 S, 173 49 E

November 24 - Day 3 - 111 miles
Logging the 12:00-14:00 watch as the BEST watch "marinero contento" has ever experienced! The wind had previously backed from NE to N to NW after crossing 23 degrees 30 minutes South. Captain set the spinnaker, main stays'l and main with new course of 190 degrees magnetic. Incredible wind, 10-18 knots, and sea conditions made for a flying, smooth as silk, broad reach sail up to 10 knots. - Miles, aka "marinero contento".

Sailing Out of the Tropics
At 10:15 SEAWANHAKA crossed the Tropic of Capricorn, 23 degrees, 26.4 minutes S, for the first time in her nearly 80 year career. Also a first for the captain. The tropic is the southernmost declination of the sun, where it will be on December 21, 2004, the southern hemisphere summer solstice.

This is the first time SEAWANHAKA has sailed out of the tropics since May 2, 2004 on her outbound leg from San Diego to Samoa. It has been a great cruising season.

As we sail south we are heading into a large expanse of open ocean. Except for the relatively small islands of New Zealand, 3500 miles south to Antarctica. To the west 1500 miles to Australia, and to the east, except for a few remote island outposts, 7000 miles to the coast of Chile. There has been no traffic on the water. We are experiencing a feeling of being a lone vessel on a very large sea.

The weather is still fine, wind now blowing westerly. Here on SEAWANHAKA we are experiencing another wonderful day of sailing. - Capt'n Bill

Thanksgiving Day - Log of SEAWANHAKA

0515 - Having just witnessed what he describes as a "brilliant moonset" Miles also has the sunrise on his watch
0600 - Watch change, Capt'n
0715 - Pod of Pacific White-sided dolphin sighted
0800 - Watch change, S. Camp
0815 - Fish on! Douse mainsail, sheet in main, wheel hard over to starboard, back the jib, hove-to
0819 - Bluefin tuna on board
0821 - Tuna filleted
0822 - Fresh(est) sashimi served in cockpit
0830 - Jibe, underway
0915 - Fish steak and eggs served for breakfast
1000 - Watch change, C. James
1100 - Becalmed. Swim and bath. Water depth, 12,000 feet. Crystal clear. Temp 77 F (84F at departure from Fiji)
1120 - Underway, light wind
1200 - Watch change, M. King
1230 - Heading 134 degrees, 5.3 knots
1400 - Watch change, Capt'n
1527 - Pod (6) of pilot whales sighted off port bow
1600 - Watch change, S. Camp
1625 - Pod of dolphin frolicking off bow
1800 - Watch change, C. James
1815 - Squall, all hands
1830 - Wind 30 knots, furl mainsail, raise storm tri-sail
1910 - Furl jib, raise storm jib
1927 - Drop storm jib, raise jib
2145 - Hove-to, stiff southerly. Port tack w/ storm tri-sail and jib backed, helm locked hard over to port


November 27 - Day 6
We are sailing again after being hove-to for 40 hours. Winds were 15-25, not too strong, but steadily from the South, right where we want to be sailing. It actually turned out to be a fairly pleasant rest stop. The boat was pretty stable, almost like being in an anchorage, until you came on deck and looked around and there was at least 500 miles of ocean in every direction.

We all had a work out and swim yesterday, I cooked a tuna pot pie, we had the bottle of Australian Shiraz we'd missed on Thanksgiving, and a pleasant night's rest.

This morning just as we were all on deck preparing to sail we were visited by a pod of 6-8 pilot whales. They approached the boat rather tentatively, but were soon surfing by the hull on the waves, and swooping in to within 30 feet to take a closer look, frolicking for a ½ hour until we hoisted the main and jib and sailed off to the southwest. It is a beautiful day of sailing. Clear skies, deep blue ocean, 15-20 knots of wind. The only frustration is that it is still pretty southerly, keeping us quite a ways off of our intended course. I think we really decided to go sailing to see if we could catch another fish.!

The weatherman thinks it will go west in the next few days, as what they call an "anti-cyclone" of high pressure moves east off the coast of Australia across the Tasman Sea. Speaking of Tasman, I am reading a great journal of Abel Tasman's journey's through the South Pacific in 1642-3. He explored a number of the same anchorages where SEAWANHAKA dropped in this season, including one of our favorite lagoons, Niuatoputapu, and the volcano of Tafahi across the channel. - Capt'n Bill

November 29 - Southbound Stargazing
There's an old sailor's saying that you don't need any sophisticated navigational equipment to find your destination, you only have to look at the wind indicator at the top of the mast. That sure has been true this trip. For the past 6 days the wind has been blowing at us straight from our destination of New Zealand. To sailors that means twice as many sailing miles to get there. After being hove-to for 2 days waiting for a wind shift that didn't materialize, we are headed southwest looking for some westerlies.

We have been having beautiful weather and some great sailing.

The stargazing has been phenomenal. May through September sailing the southern sky was dominated by Scorpio, the Southern Cross, Centaur, and it's bright stars Alpha and Beta Centauri. When we sailed out of Fiji in late November it was a very strange sky, I didn't recognize anything! The sky is now dominated by Orion, led across the night sky by Pleides and the Great Square, and the two brightest stars in the sky Sirius and Canopus, bright beacons to steer by. The Southern Cross does make a brief appearance on the eastern horizon just before sunrise. The two great constellations of Orion and Scorpio never meet in the night sky thanks to Hades, who feared he might lose his business to the Asklepios, the physician of Greek mythology who never lost a patient. - Capt'n Bill

Position: 25 13 S, 170 44 E

November 30, 2004 - Motoring to New Zealand
First we hove-to waiting for a wind shift, then we sailed east looking for a wind shift, then we sailed west looking for a wind shift. After 4 days we had only made 10 miles to the good on our journey to New Zealand! That part of the trip has been frustrating. Today the wind died completely and we have been motoring southbound.

We just did our daily radio check-in with Russell Radio in Bay of Islands, NZ. There are a lot of other boats out here experiencing the same conditions. Our reported position put us right smack in the middle of the high pressure system coming out of the Tasman Sea from Australia. So we are heading south to try to find the westerlies.

In the meantime we are continuing to have clear, sunny, beautiful warm days on the ocean. Also a bit of traffic. Yesterday we were overtaken by a large Navy ship, with a helicopter aloft that did a couple of circles around SEAWANHAKA as she sailed along in a light breeze. Shortly after we were met by a cargo ship headed west. This morning the sunrise showed us a sloop off to starboard a few miles. Their skipper hailed us on the VHF. Turned out to be Alexandra III, a Kiwi boat we had been anchored next to at Musket Cove in Fiji.

Unfortunately the fishing hasn't been very productive. The only thing we managed to hook in the past few days was the prop shaft today, which availed me the opportunity for a mid-ocean dive. No harm done. A crew swim in the sunshine, replacement of a V-Belt, and we were off again.

Crew Miles spent much of the afternoon in the galley. Although he professes to being a rookie in the galley, he was able to produce a couple of loaves of delicious cinnamon bread rolls enjoyed by the crew. - Capt'n Bill

Position: 26 13 S, 171 49 E

December 1 - Day 10
FINALLY! The perfect sailing conditions! After fighting too much wind and swell, winds from the wrong direction, and no wind at all, we are gliding along at a smooth 7 knots. Powered with the full main, main staysail, and the beautifully shaped big blue asymmetrical spinnaker, SEAWANHAKA carries a happy crew toward our elusive destination. And last, but certainly not least, we are sailing our desired course. New Zealand's Bay of Islands, now less than 500 miles away, sure seems a whole lot closer. The captain and crew are delighted with these ideal sailing conditions under blue skies, calm seas and light winds.

According to Captain Bill and Chris, the first mate in charge of fishing tactics, the ideal trolling speed is 5 to 7 knots. And what do you know; WHAM, a big powerful fish just hit and the Chinese fire drill that quickly followed should be on video. The cry "Fish On!" involved quickly turning downwind, dousing the spinnaker and main staysail; meanwhile, Chris picked up the rod with the screaming reel. It was a good fight. However, the fish eventually won by breaking the line. Is that fair? Some of us could already taste it! The new score is SEAWANHAKA "1" and Fish "2".

A giant super-tanker crossed our bow a little over a mile away; other than the bit of traffic a couple of days ago, we've had the ocean pretty much to ourselves the past 10 days, along with a full moon, star filled nights, and gorgeous sunsets. -- Crew Miles, "Marinero Contento"

December 2 - Great Day of Sailing
SEAWANHAKA is really in her groove out here in these conditions: 15-20 knots of wind off the starboard beam. With just a reefed main and small jib cruising at 6-8 knots all day, with a moderate roll on the beam sea. We are making great mileage in exactly the right direction. 330 miles to our destination of the Bay of Island, North Island of New Zealand. All the weather reports we've heard are positive for the next few days. We are even starting to talk about a landfall on Sunday afternoon. (it is Thursday afternoon on this side of the International Dateline). Stay tuned into the website and we will keep you posted. -- Capt'n Bill

Position: 29 44 S, 172 52 E

Dec. 3 - Living On The Ocean: An Alternative Path To Enlightenment

We awake frustrated. Gone are the boisterous winds of yesterday. The sheets and blocks bang noisily on the deck as the sails flap uselessly.. Projecting our current speed of 1.5 knots forward means our ETA in Opua, NZ could be another week or longer instead of just 3 more days. Problems with the diesel mean we can no longer motor to our destination. Even hot rich morning coffee doesn't change the mood.. We search in vain for more wind. But like the Zen teacher instructing the child who is frantically chasing the butterfly, to sit quietly, be patient, and the butterfly will come to him; we soon are flying all 4 sails and heading directly to our waypoint. And then Susanna's cry of "Fish On" rings out and moments later Chris reels in, and Bill gaffs a fresh tuna. Sure enough, the fish market has come to Seawanhaka and we are eating an unexpectedly delicious freshly sautéed tuna steak lunch. Just after pre-sunset rum drinks we are surrounded by a hundred or more Pacific white-sided dolphins. Some young ones are doing tail stands while others jump for distance. The rest are gracefully surfacing for a breath and many are cruising under the bow and on all sides of the boat! Later it's Captitan Guillermo Hanlon's incredibly cooked tuna steaks and sashimi, with fresh baked bread, Susanna's great salad and pudding for desert. En Seawanhaka los marineros se comen muy, muy bien! And as I watch the diamond sparkles of bioluminescence on the leading edge of each bow wave disappear back into the sea I really don't mind that my flight from Auckland left today without me for I am a marinero contento. -- Miles

December 4 - Day 13

All is well aboard SEAWANHAKA this evening, close-hauled 12 knots SE, making good 5 knots to 152 degrees S at position [31.12 S, 172.55 E].

We enjoy several rituals aboard SEAWANHAKA every night., Our "Sundowner," typically a Fiji Bitter is followed by another ritual with the captain and crew gathered in the doghouse listening to the position, weather reports from other cruising vessels (mostly sailing vessels) en route to or from New Zealand. This time of year most folks are anxiously sailing away from the areas of possible tropical disturbances (CYCLONES) and those boats migrating to NZ enjoy the security of checking in daily with Russell Radio brocasting from the north end of NZ, our destination. It's reassuring to communicate at sea, and we enjoy plotting the position of other boats and keeping up with weather conditions in 24000 square miles of southern ocean. Afterwards we take our dinner either in the main salon or in the cockpit. This particular evening, dinner was prepared by Captain Hanlon himself, with appetizers - fresh bread - from Miles, followed by Bill's famous cabbage salad, fresh sashimi with wasabi & a glass of Pinot Noir. Add in an exquisite sunset and it was an evening enjoyed by us all.

On this voyage the weather and winds in this stretch of ocean have been perplexing . The prevailing, typical westerlies that one expects, failed to materialize and we've been toughing out contrary winds and light air since leaving Fiji. One tends to develop expectations regarding the time of a passage, and this has proved to be folly time and again during Seawanhaka's southern passage.

I was in my stateroom today when I heard "Fish On!" from the cockpit. In seconds I greedily had the rod & reel in my hands and was reeling away. SEAWANHAKA rounded up into the wind, hove to, and we reeled in a nice tuna. A great effort by all. The rod had to be handed off six different times between Bill and me, as the fish rounded our stern. The staysail is doused, the cockpit cushions get thrown into the doghouse, the fish is landed directly into the cockpit. Everyone grinning with the knowledge those beans in the fridge will live another day.

Most of those other sailing vessels are also bound for the port of Opua in the Bay of Islands, our landfall in two or three days' time. As you tune into the voices aboard the other sailing vessels, a sense of community among sailors develops as you listen to the Americans, Canadians, New Zealanders, Australians, and a few French sailors reporting in weather, position, course, and boat speed. I personally find this fascinating as you become familiar with the voices, conditions aboard each boat.

Another highlight of tonight's Sundowner was the visit of at least 100 dolphins that were clearly enjoying life. Jumping, leaping out of the water in all directions, they accompanied SEAWANHAKA as she rode over the moderate southerly swell. From the bowsprit, we could look down and see 20 at a time. Joyful and playful, obviously a higher species...

It seems so long ago that we were anchored off Lautoka, riding the $2 fijian taxis into the central market for provisioning. All the great Fijian vendors, with papayas, pineapples, veggies, fresh eggs, fish, kava with many interesting people milling about the exotic spices and foods. Our stop in the Internet/CD/DVD shop where Indian music was playing and seduced Miles into a purchase, where the CD was burned as he waited.

Then the anchor was weighed and we enjoyed a easy, shakedown sail thru the inland sea of Nadi waters, to the outer islands where we prepared for voyaging south. We all found the local Fijians at the Musket Cove Yacht Club genuinely warm with friendly personalities. After Seawanhaka was ready for Sea, the tradewinds lured us out to sea.

Constant motion fills our world, SEAWANHAKA moving at times in all directions at once. I found myself impatient as the light air carries us gently through, and exuberant as the wind fills, Seawanhaka with a bone in her teeth. I feel a bit intimidated at times as I realize the potential of the Southern Ocean. Bill treats SEAWANHAKA really well, like an old friend with understanding, he prods her along, teases her a bit, listens to her and always treats her with care and the respect one would deserve at almost 80 years old.

We are several hundred miles to go to reach Russell, Opua, and the Bay of Islands. Bill intends to radio customs regarding our anticipated arrival.

This voyage has been something I've thought of and hoped to do, for a long time. During my watch at 4 a.m., with the Southern Cross as my guide, I marvel at the extent of the Pacific Ocean and the staggering number of stars in the infinite universe above. When Miles comes up to relieve me I always feel humbled by my experience.

So with that, many thanks to everyone who encouraged me to fulfill this goal, G of M, who accepted this part of me, and all you who put projects on hold, and all the rest of it.

-- C.J.

December 5 - Thunder, Lightning and BIG Winds

On the 4th, SEAWANHAKA endured what must have been one of the most challenging sailing episodes of her nearly 80-year career.

It all started on my mid-afternoon watch. Sailing along on a nice 15 knot SE breeze, fishing lines out, hoping to catch something fresh for dinner. The first I noticed was the sound of something, I thought rolling around in a locker. Soon realized it was the sound of thunder from the dark cloud off the starboard quarter. Since it was downwind and a good distance away, I wasn't too concerned initially. But the volume of the thunder continued to increase, and the wall of steel-gray darkness was clearly approaching very rapidly. I called all-hands and the fishing lines came in. By the time we had the poles stowed we were engulfed in the wall of cloud and wind. The wind slammed into us with a fury of 50-60 knots from astern. SEAWANHAKA started to round up and buried her port rail deep in the ocean. Miles, Chris and I struggled to gain control in the cockpit as Susanna tried to keep order below. We were just able to partially douse the mainsail and steer off the wind to run with it. The thunder engulfed us and the lightning sounded like it was bolting just off the top of the mast. We were pelted with hail, followed by a hard rain and steady 50-60 knots of wind. We were running with the storm, with the knot meter up to 13.5, a good knot faster than I had ever seen. We had no option but to let the wind blow us where it would. A series of 3 or 4 thunder and lightning squalls rolled through, and a couple of hours later, as the wind subsided, we found ourselves blown 30 miles to the NE. Not fun, but SEAWANHAKA and crew handled it well. No damage or injury. -- Capt'n Bill

December 6 - Day 15

We are now sailing southeast on a S wind, sunshine, inching our way once again to New Zealand. Miles commented to me this morning as we changed watch that it has indeed been a rare instance this trip to be able to sail our intended course. We are 150 miles from Opua. We'll keep you posted. -- Capt'n Bill

Position: 32 38 S, 173 44 E

December 8 - LAND HO!

After a frustrating evening of variable winds and no winds, bobbing 30 miles off of North Cape, New Zealand, the wind filled in at daybreak, and the Captain called Land Ho! at 0753 on December 8. The hills of the east coast of the north island off the starboard bow.

We have had a wonderful day of spinnaker sailing along the beautiful coast of the island. Sunshine, warm, and following winds. For those of you who have followed our diligent but largely unsuccessful search for the elusive westerlies, we finally found them today, the last day of the trip.

We are 15 miles off of the entrance to the Bay of Islands and our Port of Entry, Opua. We plan to hove-to and sail in at first light to make our 0800 appointment with New Zealand customs, immigration and health at the quarantine dock.

View Previous Postings:

September 15 - November 14, 2004 - Fiji Islands
July 26 - September 14, 2004 - Kingdom of Tonga
July 5 - 24, 2004 - Apia, Samoa
May 31 - July 3, 2004 - Pago Pago, American Samoa
May 22 - 30, 2004 - Pacific Ocean Crossing
May 17 - 21, 2004 - Fanning Island, Kiribati
April 24 - May 16, 2004 - Pacific Ocean Crossing
April 19, 2004 - San Diego Bay, California
April 4, 2004 - San Diego Bay, California

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