Our latest entry always comes up first...

Click this link if you want to start at the beginning of our trip from
South Carolina (where we bought the boat) to Lake Ontario Click this link:

If you want to see the story of our 2 1/2 year project getting
Blowin' Bubbles ready for our life on board click here:

If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP - July 2014
2015, 2016, 2017

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Opua New Zealand

Welcome to our Blog. Our latest entry always comes up first... 
Click this link if you want to start at the beginning:
If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
If you want to see the story of our trip from South Carolina
(where we bought the boat)
 to Lake Ontario Click this link:
After just a little more than 12,500 nautical miles, we have arrived in the magic land of New Zealand....

As we were approaching land, Shelley could not help but compare the scene to one viewed many times in her childhood of her arrival in her family home, Newfoundland.  Ironically, the "Bay of Islands" is the same both in Newfoundland and here in New Zealand...

Just before we left Tonga, our good friends, Tom and Pascal joined us for a few days.  They sail an amazing catamaran called Water Music.  Made of carbon fiber this boat can make over 250 nautical miles a day! (for comparison, a really good day for us is 150).  They are both skilled sailors and love to live and sail fast...  they left at the same time we did and arrived here in New Zealand in 4 days... (we took 15 with a stop in Minerva reef).
S/V Water Music

Street food at the Saturday Market...


Tom & Pascal
While they were in Tonga we had dinner together and they lent us their dinghy so we could get diesel. We didn't want to bring Blowin' Bubbles into the harbor as we learned that rats sometimes climb the docklines and end up in the boat... One unfortunate cruiser has not been allowed into New Zealand until the rat that got on his boat has been exterminated.  He has been forced to anchor away from shore until he can now prove his boat is "rat free"....

We had one last get together at Big Mama's and we were ready to go!

Our time at Minerva Reef was spectacular.  Imagine being many miles from the closest land, yet safe from almost all the elements of the open ocean...  In our week there we saw but three other cruising boats, and no boats from the reef's possessing country of Tonga.

That meant the fish were abundant.  Which also meant that getting diner was as close as rolling off the boat...  We feasted on Lobster, Snapper and Parrotfish.

I went one day with Andreas from s/v Honeybee (in German)

On our last day, I dove alone in the pass where we entered into the reef.  The place was teaming with reef fish and so I speared two Parrotfish for lunch.  Unfortunately, there were a few sharks attracted by the blood who began to get really aggressive.  As I was alone, it presented a bit of a difficult ascent.  I kept my game bag close and fended the 9 Black Tips and Greys away with the point of my spear.  Without time for a safety stop, I returned to the dinghy with lunch and a new found respect for my friends with big teeth....

The journey from Minerva to New Zealand plotted out at 775 nautical miles along the rhumb line.  By the time we arrived, we had traveled 940 miles!  Wind forced us off our rhumb line and caused us to have to tack for almost 36 hours in 30 knot wind and 3 meter seas.  When the wind was blowing like hell, it was non existent.  We had to motor for almost 40 hours over the seven days.  It is weird being in the middle of the ocean and not seeing a ripple in the water all the way to the horizon.

The last day was amazing.  The wind clocked around to the north (we were going south) at 20-25 knots.  We had a full genoa, full main, full mizzen and our staysail set up as a jib on the mizzen...

Blowin' Bubbles just FLEW!  we averaged 7.7 knots over 6 hours and surfed down a few waves at over 10 knots....  

I think the only real downside to our whole journey here has been that with each passing mile the air got colder...  Here in New Zealand spring is upon us, so days are pleasant around 20c, but nights fall to 12-14c....  We actually have BOTH our quilts on our bed at the moment...

We think (hope?) that over the next month temperatures will improve greatly....

We arrived at 2100 on Tuesday and docked overnight on the Quarantine dock here in Opua.  After our arrival, we help three other cruisers dock through the night and at 0800 the next morning we were cleared into the country...

With strict rules around what can enter New Zealand, the only item taken away from us that mattered was the little bit of leftover Canadian honey we had left...  Everything else we knew they were going to take, we gave away to Tongans.  I have to say that the officials here in New Zealand were wonderful.  They were professional, courteous and very good at their jobs...  They were also the first officials who didn't ask for some kind of bribe in a very long time...

I promised Shelley a few days on a dock to get the boat cleaned up and ready for a few months of settled living.  We have taken a slip at the Opua Marina for a few days until we go a little farther south to Whangarei where we will stay for cyclone season (5 months).  

We joined back up with our good friends, Bruce & Kerry from s/v Haven...  What great people...

Here are just a few pictures of our first few days here in New Zealand...  We were loaned a car from a local man who runs the Marina.  We met Chris when we were working with the Pacific Puddlejump people in Tahiti.  The generosity and kindness of New Zealander's so far has been overwhelming.

Today we got hooked up with some REAL internet and so will be connected for as long as we stay here in New Zealand.  More soon, Cheers!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing your adventure. Amazing! How do your expectations from when you left Ontario measure up to the reality of all you have experienced so far? Mind-blowing? :) Wishing you sunny days and fair seas as you continue on your journey. God bless. Deb & John from Guelph

  2. I love New Zealand! If I had to chose any country other than Canada in which to live, it would be NZ. I was a bit worried about you two as you were crossing the Pacific. So happy to see you made it to NZ. You may not want to leave! :-)