April 15

Today I had a brief moment where I sighed to myself and though "wow, we're ready". Of course, we still need a forestay and roller furler! This is a minor sticking point though since we can't leave without it. It kinda holds up the jib sail and oh yeah, the mast too. Should be here on Wednesday.

But really, everything else is really looking good. I managed to fix the anemometer by simply taking it apart and lubricating it. We also got the bow lights finally and I installed them last Friday. All the jerry jugs are lashed down and the port cockpit locker is packed. We still have to get rid of the car we bought. We have at least one potential buyer who looked at the car Friday night and says she is going to get an inspector to come have a look at it with her again. Otherwise we will take it to the auction place (there are many around here - auctions are a very popular way to buy and sell used cars here) where we bought it.

Kate's still polishing stainless and putting more cetol (pseudo-varnish like paint) on the exterior woodwork and we also have to retrieve the gear (including the port anchor and chain) from the stbd cockpit locker which is still in storage. Hopefully the next time we stop somewhere for a long time we won't have to move ashore and unload the entire boat to perform repairs!

Well, enough about the stupid boat. I can't believe we are only 10 days from leaving. We are all so excited its wild. Even Jonah is stoked. He has been talking about snorkeling again and warm water for swimming and remembering beaches and stuff. I've really had a great time here in New Zealand, much more so then I expected. Though there are a few things which bug me about the place they are few and easily overwhelmed by all the great aspects to the people and culture. It's really a lot like home, to me, and I even find myself sometimes forgetting I'm driving on the wrong side of the road! Occasionally.

But we really miss the tropics and are focused hard on that goal. We are very psyched about Minerva Reef. This place is legendary in the Pacific as a ship killer as recently as 5 or 10 years ago. Before the advent of satellite navigation many ships ran into this reef unintentionally, usually at night. The few boats which did manage to voluntarily arrive there reported back that it was a special place of great beauty. Its hard to imagine a tranquil splotch of deep blue fishpond smack in the middle of the raging ocean, but Minerva is exactly that. The lagoon is protected by an encircling coral reef which only pokes through the water's surface at low tide. The interior of the reef is protected from the (normal) ocean swells and wind driven waves (you can always move your anchorage to the side of the reef where the wind is blowing from to reduce the amount of distance the wind has o build up chop in the lagoon). However, Minerva is not a refuge in a storm and is not a safe anchorage in any kind of real storm. You must be ready to put to sea again immediately if the weather turns and of course you can only enter the reef during fine weather so if it is not optimal when you arrive there is little choice but to push on ahead (in our case to Fiji).

Our current plans for Fiji are not yet decided, but our best (preferred) plan so for is to clear in at Suva, the capital, and proceed to Kandavu and the Great Astrolabe Reef perhaps with a stop at Bengga along the way (a place we visited last year on our way to NZ). From there head up to Savusavu (on Vanua Levu) and Taveuni (just to the East of Vanua Levu). Then North to some atolls to the NE of Vanua Levu and then West along the North coast of Vanua Levu then along the North coast of Viti Levu which will lead to the Yasawas. Then we spend some time in the Yasawas before moving South through the Mamanuthas.

Our second alternative is to head straight for Savusavu (a legal port of entry) and then visit Taveuni and the atolls/reefs to the NE. Then head SW to Kandavu after which we go NW to the West coast of Viti Levu where we pass through the Mamanuthas to reach the Yasawas, the - as in the first plan above - work our way South through the Yasawas and Mamanuthas. In either case we will end up at Vunda Point Marina just North of Latoka (the Nadi area) where we will leave the boat for 3 weeks while we travel to the USA (though we are considering leaving it on a mooring ball at the Musket Cove Yacht Club on Malolo Lailai).

We got our plane tickets last week for Boston. We're flying out of Fiji on August 8th (Nadi->LA->Boston) and spending some time in Boston and Cape Cod with Kate's family, then New York for a few days, then upstate to spend a week with my father before our final stop at my mom's house in the Berkshires. Then back to Boston and another grueling 17+ hours flying time and we are back at Nadi on August 31st (local time). Gotta go now, I'm sooo tired and the bed looks soooo comfortable.