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2009 Logs

November 2009

Tonga to New Zealand Passage notes.

While we are at sea, we are able to update our family through an email service from our satellite phone.  Attached are those emails describing the passage.  The 1100 plus mile passage can sometimes be treacherous and it is one that I have dreaded since we reached the Pacific.  But I am happy to report that it was fairly smooth and uneventful. 



November 2, 2009 -


Hello Everyone, It's hard to believe but we are on our way to New Zealand.  We finally left Tonga on Halloween day (Oct 30 for all of you).  We had a great last week in Tonga.  We spent it in the remote island group of Ha'apai.  We anchored all by ourselves for a couple of days off of an outstanding beach (one of our favorite beaches so far) which we heard was the King's private island.  After that we visited an island with a little remote village.  We met a young American Peace Corp couple that lives on the island and the woman teaches English at the local school.  This provided a great opportunity for the kids to attend the local school.  They had a blast and the local kids enjoyed having the Palangis (foreigners) at school with them.  Since the island is off the beaten path for everyone including cruisers they see very few visitors.  We had a wonderful time there and we will provide pics and more details on the website. 


After celebrating a fun Halloween trick or treating the other boats in the anchorage and hosting a dessert party with ghost cake and pumpkin shaped jello, we decided to set sail on Saturday.  We had originally planned to go to another reef called Minerva reef which was a 2 day sail from Tonga and right on our route to New Zealand.  But the weather looks good and is mild and we are cruising along well so we made the decision today to skip the reef and head straight to NZ.  So hopefully in about 6 or 7 days we will be in the land of the Kiwis.  We are checking into our usual SSB radio nets and are traveling with some of our boat friends.  Just this morning, there were about 20 boats that checked into the net heading in our same direction. 


We have adjusted into our usual passage routine with lots of baking, reading, silly games, and we will be doing school tomorrow.  We are excited to get to New Zealand to feel some cooler temps, do some hiking, and prepare for Christmas with Lisa, Ernie, and Carter.  We hope that you are all doing well and we will update you every couple of days along the way.


Love to all,

Jane, Marc, and the crew

S23 degrees 53 minutes

W179 degrees 15 minutes




November 4, 2009, 


Hi Everyone, We just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know that all is going well on the passage to New Zealand.  Sorry that there have been some delays in the emails.  We've had some technical difficulties.  Its Thursday morning here and we are starting our 6th day of the passage.  The good news is that we have had very calm seas so far but, of course, that generally means that we've had little wind so we've had to use the engine quite a bit.  We have been able to sail at least a few hours everyday but the Volvo is getting a workout.  We expected this from the weather forecasts but made the decision to do the trip now to take advantage of the calm seas.  Since this passage can be known for some strong winds, rough seas, and storms we wanted to come now while it was calm. 


We have been enjoying ourselves in the calm weather and have even accomplished some school along the way.  We caught two beautiful 4+ ft Mahi Mahi's and have enjoyed fresh fish a couple of times.  We have done lots of reading (all of us have finished books this week), watching movies (started one of my favorites - Gone with the Wind today), playing games, and just enjoying our time together (great conversations out here at sea). 


There are so many boats out here making the same passage that we actually have to be careful on watch that we don't hit anyone.  We have been within 20 miles of our friends on Gillaroo since we left together on Saturday and have a few boats that are within a few miles of us that we have been speaking with on the VHF.  It's comforting to know that there are others out here with us. 


We hope that you are all having a great week.  We have 493 miles to go which would normally equate to 3 more days but it could be a bit longer with these light winds.  We'll keep you posted on the progress.


Love to all,

Jane, Marc, and the kids

S27 degrees 42

E178 degrees 02



November 7, 2009 –


Hi all, just sending you all a note to let you know that all is going well on the passage to New Zealand for Imagine.  With 181 miles to go to Opua, New Zealand we hope to make landfall tomorrow afternoon/evening (Sunday for us).  The passage has often been calm and windless but that's OK for all of us considering friends of ours who made the trip a month ago had 60 knot winds.  The wind did start to pick up last night at about midnight to 15 - 20 knots so have been sailing ever since.  It's nice not to hear the drone of the engine today.


The kids are doing well and we have accomplished some school especially Science and History which tend to be our passage subjects since Mom can do a lot of the reading and the kids don't have to worry about getting sea sick.  Another thing that we do a lot on passages is reading especially mom reading books to the kids.  We just finished our 3rd family book together on this passage.  We finished "Indian in the Cupboard" earlier this week and that has been our favorite so far for the year.


We are still within 10 miles of our friends on Gillaroo, an Irish boat that we have often sailed with since Bonaire.  We talk to them at least 3 times a day and keep track of each other's positions and discuss weather.  We are also within VHF range of a couple of other boats and check in periodically. 


Well we hope that all is going well with you and you are preparing for a nice weekend.  The next update will hopefully be coming from New Zealand.


Love to all,

Jane, Marc, Caroline, Grant, and Noah

S 32 degrees 35 minutes

E 176 degrees 05






November 8, 2009 –


We just arrived in New Zealand.  It is midnight on Sunday here in NZ and after 9 days, and 8 nights we are safely at the Quarantine dock in Opua, NZ. (coordinates: 35 18 S, 174 07 E)  It is COLD here too, but we won't complain too much - it's about 68 right now. 


Overall, we had a great trip down here.  This is a notoriously rough passage, and we had no qualms with the dead calm seas we had for a couple of days even though we were more of a motor boat than a sailboat.  It was a tough decision for us as we were on day 3 with the option to duck into a reef just south of Tonga to wait for more wind.  We knew it was going to be light, but we decided to keep going and would rather use the engine than suffer what could be a punishing ride down here.  We had been traveling with our friends - Gillaroo, Arielle, and Long White Cloud.  Gillaroo decided to keep sailing with us, and the others were waiting in Minerva reef for more wind.  Well, as we were approaching Opua today, we talked to everyone via SSB and heard the seas were very rough for those that waited.  Once we heard that report, we were somewhat relieved that our decision to push on was well worth it!  But it wasn't without our own drama of course.... the last days were not rough, but painful.  The wind was 'on the nose' and had picked up, which made making any headway in the right direction near impossible - it took us 2 days to finish off the last 130 miles (normally we do 150 a day) and we also had some issues with the engine, but were able to resolve those while underway as well. 


But we are here now and delighted.  It is exactly 1 year from the time we pushed off from Norfolk VA, leaving the states for the Caribbean.  Wow, how time flies - We'll update later on some of our highlights for the year in the webpage, but for now, the boat is not moving, and it's time for sleep.  We wish you all well & miss you.


The crew.




November 25, 2009 – Nelson, New Zealand


After another uneventful sail (thank goodness) we arrived in Nelson yesterday just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving with Gillaroo.  It is a beautiful spot here in Nelson and we are very happy that we made the decision to sail to the South Island.  Very few cruisers actually sail to the South Island.  Most leave their boats in the Bay of Islands or Auckland but after much deliberation we decided why not.  After you’ve sailed almost 15,000 miles, what’s another four day sail to get where you really want to be.  The weather patterns in the Tasman Sea can be very tricky and it is often plagued with high winds and big seas or no wind but we watched the weather closely and picked a good window.  We had calm seas and actually had a nice westerly wind most of the way and were able to sail on a nice beam reach.  The only real scary part of the voyage was the thick fog that we encountered for the last 18 hours.  It was pea soup which is pretty frightening when you are approaching a main fishing port but with our radar and Gillaroo’s AIS, which is another ship identification system, we were able to sail on fairly confidently. 


So far we have not been disappointed by our decision to sail south.  We made the decision to come to the South Island because we wanted to spend much of our time in New Zealand hiking, camping, and enjoying the gorgeous mountains that gives NZ its reputation for beauty.   We are excited to get out and start exploring the beautiful peaks right around Nelson as soon as possible.  After a year of living on the boat and enjoying the “softness” of the cruising lifestyle it’s time for us to get out there and start getting in shape again.  If not, we won’t be able to keep up with Lisa, Ernie, and Carter (Marc’s sister and family) when they arrive in December.


Well we wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We will be celebrating a somewhat traditional Thanksgiving, although we will probably have chicken instead of turkey (much too expensive here), Lemon Meringue Pie instead of pumpkin (can’t find it anywhere), and lamb (everyone eats lamb here).  During the passage, we studied Thanksgiving in school so the kids have written a play to teach our European friends on Gillaroo about the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving.   Most importantly we will be thankful for the last year and enjoying our time with good friends.