Schooner Seawanhaka

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New Zealand to Fiji Postings

Date and Time:

April - May 2005


New Zealand to Fiji

View Photos from New Zealand to Fiji:



April 22 - Day 1 - 170 miles - SEAWANHAKA sailed out of the Bay of Islands, New Zealand on a SE wind gusting to 35, a great first day, like being slung out to sea by a slingshot! We have timed the departure perfectly with the moon, full in 4 days, it will be bright every night of the passage. It was shimmering on the South Pacific, laying a path across the ocean as we left the Cape Brett lighthouse astern and set out to sea on our new adventure.

SEAWANHAKA has a great crew for the passage. Oisin and Laura are an Irish couple who have sailed with me in the Bay of Islands several times. They hail from Dublin and Galway respectively, lived in Scotland for a time before setting off on world travels. They have been in New Zealand a year, worked the snow season in Wanaka, South Island. They are active snowboarders, surfers, climbers, and very keen to take to sailing. Laura is a post-grad geophysicist, our on-board geologist, while Oisin has the duties of meteorologist. So far he has done a great job of finding great winds and fair weather. We are already almost 200 miles offshore.

Marjolein is from Marken Island, Holland and is keen to carry on the pursuits of her countryman Able Tasman and explore the South Pacific by sail! She grew up sailing on her family's traditional Dutch sailing Lemsteraak , and has been a sailing instructor. She came to New Zealand specifically to sail, and has already crewed on HOPE, MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, PRISM, ODYSSEUS, CATMAN TOO, and COMMINIQUE.

SEAWANHAKA had a wonderful summer sailing in New Zealand, but is very happy to be once again at sea. The cruising life is a world of great contrasts. SEAWANHAKA spent 4 months in the sailing community of the Bay of Islands, anchored in wonderful coves every night, small villages, remote islands, sailing "neighborhoods" of locals and world cruisers. 51 great day sails, all with good sailing wind. Swimming, snorkeling, hiking, cycling, running, and at least my share of Speights "Darks" and Monteith "Blacks". Now she leaves that all behind and enters the world of thousands of miles of ocean, with not another ship to be seen for days.

I often say that SEAWANHAKA, provisioned and fueled, ready to stow the anchor and set sail, is the essence of "potential energy", ready to be unleashed by hoisting the sails and turning her bows to sea. We're there, and every one on board is very happy to be here.

Our itinerary includes stops at Raoul Island in the Kermadec Islands, and N. Minerva Reef.

Stay tuned for updates. Our website designer and manager Elizabeth Clark will once again be doing those for us. Thanks E! We will be filing position reports with 2 services, at and We will try to register by SEAWANHAKA, but you may have to identify by my ham call sign, kc7lpl. Kia Ora! Capt'n Bill

Kia Ora! Capt'n Bill

April 23 - Day 2 - 141 Miles

Position 0546 UTC:
31 44.7 S
178 56.5 E

Hi to you all who are following SEAWANHAKA and her trip to Fiji, here Marjolein with a daily update.

Goede morgen Nederland!

At 0100 we had sailed 251 miles total since we left Opua, Bay of Islands. And what a miles! The wind was just blowing us away and we were surfing the waves. Last night was calmer than our first night. We had a beautiful big bright shining moon and many stars.

Because of a light wind we were banging around between the waves and had almost no speed. We decided to hoist the main staysail again which gave us more speed and we were better balanced. Although it didn't really stopped the boom from banging around but the preventer did. Bill was hoisted up the mast by Oisin and Laura to rerun the jib halyard. Everything looks good now and Bill had a safe landing.

Wind stays light and at 1130 we put up the big beautiful blue spinnaker, which improved our speed with 2 knots. We are doing a steady 6 knots. SEAWANHAKA feels way better and looks fantastic. What a great day of sailing again! At 1300 we sailed 301 miles total. Half way now for Raoul Islands.

For lunch we get Oisin's Classic Toasted Sandwiches (for half the crew a NEW classic one) while Laura steers us nice and smooth more and more towards Raoul Islands.

Everybody looks happy and even Bill gets a little rest and a refreshing bucket-bath from the clear blue Pacific Ocean. At sunset-beer-time the winds drops down, and a big moon welcomes us.

April 24

Position at 0523 UTC:
29 14.6 S
177 54.5 W

Land Ho! was called on Raoul Island at 0610 (1810 UTC) this morning. This evening we sit at our spectacular anchorage under Raoul's steep volcanic cliffs. Today we sped along at up to 11kts ahead of some passing squalls. The squalls last night deprived those of us on watch of one of our main pursuits; star gazing. The moon has been growing more full each night, and with moon set , Jupiter, Scorpio and the Southern Cross have been lighting our way.

We are currently anchored in nearly 20m of clear, blue, Pacific water and can see all the way to the bottom. We spotted some whales and dolphins today along with a couple of flying fish. Oisin maintains he saw a shark just as Marjolein and I were going for a dip. Maybe we will swim tomorrow instead!

Tomorrow we are planning on visiting the eight staff on Raoul Island. They run meteorology, geological and botanical studies and are conducting a weed eradication programme. We are hoping to visit some of the volcanic lakes and maybe do some hiking while we are here and should have more information on the recent history of the island. The Penguin History of New Zealand tells me that it was once a staging post for the Polynesian colonization of New Zealand and evidence has been found of sailors stopping here since 1350.

Laura Hogan

Raoul Island -

We are anchored at a spectacular site on the north shore of this very remote island outpost. Raoul Island has a varied and interesting history dating from the days of the Polynesian seafarers. Artifacts found on Raoul have established that the Polynesians used the island as a stopover and staging for forays into the South Pacific farther to the west and south. Obsidian from Mayor Island, Bay of Plenty, North Island, New Zealand dating from the 1300's show that the Polynesians actually visited here on a return journey from New Zealand.

Raoul has also been the site of a whaling station, family farm, and is presently a marine reserve administered by the New Zealand Department of Conservation. There are 7 DOC employees on the island. They serve as a team for a one year assignment, with only one re-supply in the middle of their term, and I thought it was a challenge to provision for a 30 day passage! The primary missions are to launch a daily weather balloon, which we all saw today, monitor volcanic activity, and an extensive weed eradication program. There have only been 2 cruising boats stop in here in the past 6 months. The island is about 5 miles across in either direction, with the highest point being Moumoukai volcano that last erupted in 1964.

This is a wonderful stop for SEAWANHAKA. The crew went ashore today for a tour of the island. I stayed on board to watch the anchorage, and do an engine project. The crew had a wonderful tour of the "hostel", and a great walk through the canopy to the craters. They report that the birds on the island, including parrots, have such limited human contact that they show no inherent fear, and will barely move out of the trail. We hosted 3 of the DOC staff to the boat for cocktails on the deck for sunset. Tomorrow I am going ashore for a hike, and then we are taking the DOC staff for an afternoon sail around their island. - Capt'n Bill

April 27

The crew of SEAWANHAKA had another fantastic day anchored at Raoul Island. This stop on the passage to Fiji has confirmed my belief in the motto: "Never sail by an island to get to an island". Oisin commented that is similar to the Irishman's motto: "Never pass by a pub to get to a pub" or really, "Never pass by a pub…period". We are thoroughly enjoying our visit to this very remote island.

Oisin and Laura pulled anchor watch duty while Marjolein and I went ashore in the morning. DOC staff member Steve gave us a great tour of the island, including the weather balloon launch, and a hike to the summit of the island, volcano Moumoukai, at nearly 1700 feet.

The Department of Conservation over the past 20 years has done a very commendable project of eradication of all of the rats, cats and goats that had been introduced by European contact dating back 200 years. They have now been completely successful in eliminating these intruders on the island. DOC is now undertaking the eradication of all non-indigenous weeds on the island, a very impressive undertaking considering the size, topography, and dense vegetation. Much of the present "weeding" is being done on very steep slopes requiring work by climbing rope! They expect to have the project completed within the next 20 years.

The Kermadec Islands, of which Raoul is the largest and most significant, is today a very special nature reserve. Thanks to the eradication efforts, they are once again home to tens of thousands of migratory birds, and much of the native vegetation is making a comeback. They are one of the few sub-tropical archipelagoes in the world to be fully protected. SEAWANHAKA is the only boat on the island, and only the second cruising boat they have seen in the past 6 months.

SEAWANHAKA had the pleasure of hosting 4 of the DOC staff for an afternoon sail out to some of the off-laying islands north and east of Raoul, islands hosting large populations of seabirds. We sailed back into Fishing Rock Cove in time to run our guests to shore for a landing just before sunset.

Weather permitting tomorrow is the day for Oisin to surf Raoul Island, and we're hoping for some snorkeling and diving. We'll keep you posted. Capt'n Bill

Raoul Island - Swimming, Surfing and Scuba and Sailing

The crew of SEAWANHAKA had a wonderful day of multi-sport activity on Raoul Island starting with a swim off of the boat in crystal clear water at the anchorage this morning.

There are some pretty keen divers amongst the DOC crew on the island, but they have no dive gear, or any way to get out to some tremendous dive sites. Fortunately SEAWANHAKA carries a couple of sets of gear and tanks, and has a good inflatable. Rebecca, the DOC crew leader, and Liz, the horticulturalist, went with me across the channel to Meyer Island for a morning dive. The sun was shining, the swell manageable, and the water a pleasant 74 degrees Fahrenheit, with nearly a hundred feet of visibility. What an incredible dive! A great opportunity to log a Raoul Island dive. Great underwater topography, loads of fish, including a very rare 5 foot long, husky, black spotted grouper in a cave with a very nice cathedral. We had an underwater camera, so be looking for some great dive photos on the photo page once we get to Fiji.

After the dive, I dropped Oisin, Laura and Marjolein off just outside the surf break for an afternoon of body boarding and surfing off of a very nice black sand beach.

As the sun set, we weighed anchor, hoisted the sails, said goodbye to our friends on Raoul Island, and set sail for Minerva Reef, 325 miles to the north.

April 29 - Position at 0500 UTC: 26 58 S, 178 28 W

Hi Everyone, Twenty four hours out of Raoul and we're enjoying yet another beautiful South Pacific sunset. We've had a nice smooth day sailing with light southerly winds. It's been a very quiet day aboard SEAWANHAKA, everyone has been catching up on sleep after all the activity on Raoul and settling back into our watch routine.

We have come 148 miles since weighing anchor this time yesterday and have just reached the South East Trade wind belt. We've got a steady fifteen knots wind and hopefully it will just keep on blowing the same till Fiji.

We trolled all day today but as yet haven't had a single nibble, we stocked up on fruit in Raoul but some fresh fish would really be welcomed by all the crew. The water temperature is steadily rising as we move north and Bill is hoping to do his midnight to 2am watch in shorts for the first time tonight. Sundowners and snacks for now, SEAWANHAKA signing off,

Oisin McManus

May 1 - Position at 0817 UTC: 23 36 S, 179 35 W

I wish I could tell you about Minerva Reef, an almost perfect circular reef hundreds of miles from anyhwere else in the middle of the South Pacific. Unfortunately the wind shifted to a stiff 25 out of the NE, and we passed the reef 30 miles to the west. These days when someone asks my sailing destination, my response is "Whatever which way the wind blows". Minerva Reef will have to wait for another trip across the Pacific.

We had a very nice couple of days sailing out of Raoul. Now it is a very wet and wild ride doing an average of 8+ knots. We hove-to last night to see if the wind would change to let us get to the reef, but it stayed strong out of the NE and has continued to blow all day. We are having some awesome sailing, headed right for Suva, Fiji Islands, about 300 miles north. Each mile to the north the temperature of the air and water are going up, the water just hit 80F! Unfortunately the fishing hasn't been as good as the sailing, and we are still looking for that first fresh fish dinner.

May 2 - Position at 0319 UTC: 21 48 S, 179 55 E

SEAWANHAKA is back in the tropics, having sailed over the Tropic of Capricorn, 23 Degrees, 24.6 minutes south, in the middle of the night. It was a very fast night of sailing, but very dark, with constant showers. Today dawned crystal clear, a great welcome back to the tropics. We even had good luck in landing a small tuna, sashimi all around, and the captain is looking forward to cooking the first fresh fish dinner of the passage.

We are on a pretty fair course towards Suva, on a light easterly, 236 miles to go. We're hoping for another night of good mileage. Stay tuned, we may be sending a BULA along in the next few days!

Capt'n Bill

May 3 - Position at 1232 UTC: 18 49 S, 179 17 E

BULA! From Fiji -

Great sailing in a fair SE trade wind brought us to Fijian waters today. Marjolein called out "Land Ho" at noon as the beautiful tropical island of Matuku in the southern Lau group of the Fiji Islands appeared on the horizon. We had a wonderful sail all day with Matuku as our destination, but unfortunately dark descended upon us before we could get positioned for the pass into the lagoon, and we just sailed by the island, taking in the beauty of the surf breaking on the fringing reef, the hills carpeted in green, and set sail for the evening across the southern Koro Sea for Suva, 95 miles to the NW. We should be anchored up in the harbor tomorrow afternoon. It is a beautiful evening, a bit of warm tropical mist, but mostly a sky full of all of the stars of the southern sky. We are all rejoicing in the warmth and humidity of the tropical South Pacific.

Capt'n Bill

May 4 - Position at 0612 UTC: 18 07 S, 178 25 E

Anchored in Suva Harbor, Fiji Islands, with the crew all safe and accounted for, and very happy to be anchored down in this tropical paradise.

1405 nautical miles, 10 nights at sea, 4 wonderful days at Raoul Island, and one great bottle of champagne as the anchor set! We had a great sail from New Zealand, and all very excited to have all the tropical islands of Fiji to explore.

Capt'n Bill

View Previous Postings:

December, 2004 - April, 2005 -New Zealand
November - December, 2004 - Voyage from Fiji to New Zealand
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
April-May, 2004 - Pacific Ocean Crossing
May 17 - 21, 2004 - Fanning Island, Kiribati
April, 2004 - San Diego Bay, California

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