Georgia J

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Sharon’s log 04/20/12 On the “Road” again

A little over 12 months, 7000+ nautical miles, 22 different islands, 2,000 miles by car and here we are ready to cast off again. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time here in New Zealand and really feel that we have a good understanding of the Kiwis and their culture.

Last weekend we had an open boat party to celebrate our one year cruising anniversary and to bid a fond farewell to many of our new friends. The majority of the fleet here is headed to Fiji. However, last week we received the fantastic news that our very close friends, Sue and Michael on Infini, had changed their plans and are now going with us to Northern Australia. We are thrilled!

Our friend, Harold, arrived yesterday from the States to make the passage with us. We expect our trip to Bundaberg to take 10-12 days. The boat is re-stocked with enough provisions for months; Plato got the official clearance to travel to Australia; the jerry cans are expertly lashed down by Harold; the laundry is all done and we are all ready to go (almost). Tomorrow, we check out with customs, pay our final marina bill buy diesel and we are on our way.

Stay tuned……the adventure continues.

One last entry from Opua, Northland NZ

Maori Canoe Launched at boat yard with great ceremony

Delivery Side Trip - 4/6/12

Despite our reluctance to leave the land after our last disaster, we made a quick delivery trip from Kawau Island to Opua last weekend (110 nautical miles).   We had a single-hander friend who was ill and needed a help bringing his boat back to Opua.  Although the wind was moderate (25 knots), the seas were very rough due to the high winds which were blowing over the prior week.   It was a very uncomfortable 20 hour ride!  Our friend's wife arrived the next day and they flying to the states tomorrow for treatment. 

One of today's vistors

Kim's blog 3/22/12 - update on storm damage

We had good news that our jib sail is repairable.  It appears that only the UV cover was shredded (a savings of $4000+).  Unfortunately, an inspection of the anchor roller today found a big crack in the stainless steel support for the head stay which holds up the mast.  It appears that this crack had been there for a while, but may have widened substantially in the big storm.  We will go back to the boat yard on Monday to have this repaired and reinforced.

We are experiencing our moment of fame.   Boaters from all over Opua have come to meet us and hear our harrowing story.  Apparently, there were lots of people listening to us on the radio at 4:00 am when the emergency was in progress.  We will be taking the crew from Katie MII and Nirama to dinner tomorrow night to thank them for saving us.

We were all beat after surviving the storm

Kim’s blog 3/19/12-  Trials and tribulations

We left the boat yard four days ago in beautiful weather to cruise for a few days in the Bay of Islands.  We anchored in Opunga Cove, a very well protected anchorage with good holding.  Unfortunately, the weather turned ugly last night.  The forecast warned us to expect winds of 40-50 knots.  At 1:00 am, Sharon heard a bang which was the anchor snubber breaking.   I had prepared another snubber line in advance and was able secure a new line working on the bow in 35-45 knot winds and driving rain.  At 3:00 am, a huge noise and vibration started in the rigging.  When I went outside, I found that about one third of the jib sail had unrolled putting massive loads on both the rigging and anchor chain as we sailed back and forward around the anchor.  We tried unsuccessfully for over an hour to roll the jib up, drop the sail or wrap it with a halyard.  While I was working, Sharon realized that the anchor had broken loose and we dragging dangerously close to other boats.  The noise of our jib had awakened our friends on Katie M II who called to offer assistance.  We told them it was too dangerous to come in the dingy.  Sharon drove the boat expertly under power while it careened wildly around the anchor.  However, we were unable to stop our drag towards the rocks behind us.

In the driving rain and an extremely dark night, at 4:00 am, Martin (from Katie M II) and Stephen (from Nirama) showed up on their dingy to help.  Martin dropped Stephen off and returned to make sure their own boats were secure.  After many tries, we were able to roll up the jib which was now shredded.  Once the jib was rolled up, the anchor dug in and seems to be secure.

It is now 6:40 am local time and I am on anchor watch.  Steven is asleep in our salon since we felt it was too dangerous to return to his boat until daylight.  The wind is supposed to drop to 35 knots by late morning and down to 20 knots within a couple of days.

Sharon and I want to thank Steven and Martin for their truly brave help last night.  Without them, I think Georgia J might have lost the mast or been on the rocks.

s/v Georgia J (hopefully secure) at S 35 15.482,  E 174 12.009.  Wind 25-40 knots with highest recorded gusts tonight of 48 knots.

Kim's blog 3/5/12:
Six weeks to go before we leave for Australia! Georgia J has been out of the water for a week getting fresh bottom paint and repairs while we have stayed in a motel. To see a list of work done in New Zealand, click here.

Kim and Sharon's blog 2/23/12:
We are back from our land cruise to the South Island of New Zealand. We have had a policy of driving around every island we visit rather than just seeing it from the sea. We knew that our total route would be about 4,500 kilometers, almost as far as the distance from San Francisco to New York. However, I did not expect the route to be almost entirely two lane road with hundreds of roundabouts and one lane bridges. In just over two weeks, we saw green pastures, rolling hills, majestic mountains, fiordlands, glaciers, beaches and deserts. This is a vast and beautiful country.

Highlights of our trip to the South Island:

Overlooking Wellington Harbor

Sharon was a human sundial at the Wellington Observatory.  (The time is correctly shown as 2:50 pm.)

Human Sun Dial

First view of the South Island from ferry

Christchurch’s central business district is still devastated by the earthquakes and closed to visitors.

Christchurch's Central Business District

However, many downtown businesses have reopened using temporary shipping containers as shops and restaurants, an amazing testament to the human spirit.  While there we experienced a 4.0 earthquake which gave the bed a good shake.

"Restart" area of Christchurch

Christchurch's airport is the used to supply both the New Zealand and USA scientific camps in Antarctica. We spent a half day touring an excellent exhibit on Antarctica and even experienced a simulated Antarctic storm with wind chill at minus 25°F in their big refrigerator.

Simulated Storms are Really Cold

USA Facility at Christchurch Airport

Sharon’s favorite was the Blue Penguins colony in Omaru.  (  The peguins return from the sea every night, but we were not allowed to take flash pictures.   The parents bring back food to the chicks at night.  Flash photos can make them regurgitate before reaching the nest.  Here are a couple of day shots:

Molting Penguin in its nest

No caption necessary

We were on a budget, but our accommodations were clean and comfortable.


Kim’s favorite was the overnight cruise on Milford Sound in the Fiordland.   We surrounded by massive cliffs and waterfalls as we cruised out to the Tasman Sea and anchored overnight in the fiord.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound Waterfall

Three events happened on our trip which convinced us that New Zealand is truly a mystical place.  First, in the tiny town of Te Anau, 1225 miles from where we left our boat, we heard someone on the street call our names.   It was cruiser friends we met while we were in the South Pacific.   Several days later, we were farther away in Fox Glacier.   At the end of the hiking trail, we again heard our names called.  It was a Canadian couple we had also met while cruising. 

At Fox Glacier

The most bizarre was an event which occurred at Lake Rotorua after we returned to the North Island. This deep lake was formed by glaciers and is surrounded by volcanic activity and geysers. Maori legends speak of a giant serpent which lives at the bottom of the lake, similar to the story of the Loch Ness monster. As we walked along the deserted shore late one evening, we were startled by a huge black figure appearing just beside us. I snapped a quick picture, but the creature disappeared before I could properly focus the camera.

Lake Rotorua Monster

On our last night in Devonport, outside of Auckland, we had a guest in our little hotel.   Ollie, the resident miniature Schnauzer, insisted on staying in our room until midnight and was scratching at the door before we left in the morning.   He apparently understood that we were missing Plato.


s/v Georgia J
Moored at Ashby's Boat Yard, Opua, Northland, NZ
Awaiting haul out next Monday

Sharon’s Blog 1/28/12
We have been quite busy showing off our temporary home to friends. We were delighted to have Bob and Pam join us for a few days. We had saved the local sights to share with them. We got a much better understanding of New Zealand’s history by visiting the Treaty grounds where the historic treaty with the Maori tribes was signed and the Stone Store on the historic mission grounds. On a more indulgent side, we toured a local vineyard and winery and sampled many excellent NZ wines. We worked off some of this indulgence with a vigorous hike to a pretty impressive waterfall. We also took Georgia out for the first time since we arrived in October. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we uncovered a couple of problems which will have to be fixed before we head for Australia. A couple of days after Bob and Pam left some friends from Florida were here for the day on a cruise ship. We had not seen Mary Anne and Ross for many years and were delighted to spend some time together. Some very close cruising friends arrived back from the States, so we have had quite a social time.This week was the Bay of Islands Sail Week with racing each day. Kim observed that all of the racers seem quite young, unlike some places in the States. Our sport of sailing is certainly thriving here. We could almost feel like we were back at the Corinthian enjoying the Mid-Winters.
We are busily trying to get some boat chores (what else?) accomplished before we begin our two week land excursion on February 6th. We will move Georgia to the boat yard adjacent to the marina and head South in our little car.

Sharon’s Blog 1/14/12:
Happy New Year, everyone! Kim and I have been back in New Zealand for one week. Plato was once again happy to be reunited with us. (He actually was a bit ticked this time) We are very happy to find some more of our good cruising friends have arrived here in Opua. We are looking forward to re-connecting with all of them. We had a wonderful trip back to the States and thoroughly enjoyed seeing family and friends, especially those two grandsons.

Georgia J is fine although we had some drama while we were gone. We had arranged for some work to be done while we were gone. A workman left on a heat gun which started a fire on board. As bad as it was, it could have been so much worse. We were very close to losing Georgia. A marina neighbor (after listening to the smoke alarm for two hours!) finally mentioned it to our friend, Don, who was watching the boat. Don ran to the boat and found that a flame had just ignited. The fire was quickly extinguished. The company responsible has accepted full responsibility and has been working diligently to repair the damage. As bad as it was, we feel so very lucky. We have vowed to never again have work done on the boat while we are away. We still have a few projects underway, but we can see the end in sight.

We will be here in NZ until mid-April. We are looking forward to exploring the Bay of Islands. We are also planning a land trip to the South Island. We feel very comfortable here and are acclimating to the culture. I noticed Kim referring to a flashlight as a torch, but I have to say that I will never refer to aluminum foil as “al u min e um” foil.
While in the States, we bought cruising charts for northern Australia. We plan to set sail again in late April (after the cyclone season). Our tentative plan is to join the Sail Indonesia rally in late July. So, the adventure continues.

We are very excited to welcome our dear friends, Bob and Pam here next week. We have saved all of the local tourist stuff for their visit. We just hope the sun will shine a bit more.

Sharon’s Log 11/08/11:  Free at last!  Plato was finally released from quarantine after a lengthy and expensive delay, waiting for a blood test to prove he does not have some rare disease that we of course knew he did not have.   Kim and I made the 3.5 hour drive to Auckland to pick him up.  The staff said that about an hour before we arrived he became very agitated and was howling.  He had not done this in the 20 days that he had been there.  They were convinced he knew we were coming.  He joyfully leapt into the car and has been skipping ever since.  He is one very happy schnauzer.  The drive to Auckland was beautiful.  The landscape is striking with lush green hills dotted with sheep and cattle.  Along the way we saw evidence of being in another country-  Sheep World Amusement Park, Snow Planet (an indoor ski run), and a toll road that you pay for on line within 5 days of traveling.  If that did not do it, the wild boar sausage on the menu at lunch would convince us we were not in Tiburon.  Auckland is a beautiful city surrounded by water and many boats.  It reminded us of Seattle without the mountains.  It even has its own version of the Space Needle.  We look forward to going back when we have time to actually explore.The past two weeks have been very busy, shepherding workmen on and off Georgia J.   We want to get the work started so it can be completed while we are in the states.  The troublesome generator is no more.  We bit the bullet and ordered a new one.  We are putting in a fuel polishing system, inspecting all of the sails and rigging, replacing the reefing system  and many other bits and pieces (as they, and our friend Karen in England, says).   Now, why are we doing all of this, you might ask.  This week we have made the decision that Georgia J’s adventure continues.   We plan to set sail for Australia next April.  Our tentative plan after that is to join the Sail Indonesia rally in July.  We actually broke the news to Erica by telling our 3 year old grandson, Connor first!    We are not sure she believed him when he shouted out “They’re going to Asia, Momma”!We leave for the states this Saturday.  Our first stop is a quick visit to San Francisco, followed by a more lengthy stay in North Carolina through Thanksgiving.  We will spend the month of December with Erica and her family in Cincinnati.  We are already dreading the cold.   The first quarter of the New Year we plan to be tourists here in New Zealand.  We are looking forward to having some friends join us.  This will be our last blog entry for 2011.  We will start again when we return in January.  We are very pleased that so many have joined us by following this blog.  It really feels like we are not alone out here.  Kim, Plato and I wish everyone a joyous holiday season and a wonderful New Year.
S/V Georgia J Moored at Opua Marina
35 18.938 S, 174 07.224 E

Sharon’s Log 10/28/11
We have been here just over a week, and we can already tell that we are really going to like it here.  The landscape is beautiful and unique.  I have never seen green rolling farmlands surrounded by water.  Everyone we have met has been very friendly and helpful. It will not surprise anyone who knows us that Kim is blasting away on the to-do list, lining up people to work on the boat.    Some changes had to be made to our electrical system to accommodate New Zealand power.  The forever pesky generator (the bane of Kim’s existence) is off the boat for an eventual re-build or replacement.   Plato is doing okay in quarantine, but is not eating very well.  He often will not eat when we are not home.  We were very annoyed to learn that all of his blood tests will be repeated and that one of the tests will take 2 week to get results.  Of course they delayed doing the test for 5 days.  We have no idea when he will be released.  We bought a small car last week.  Buying the car was easy; getting it paid for was another story.  We have now decided that we will have to open a NZ bank account.  I insisted that we take last weekend off and play.  We took the ferry to Russell, a charming little historic town, somewhat between a Sausalito and Cape Cod.  We decided to take the scenic 45 minute drive around the peninsula home.  Well, we missed the turn and ended up taking the 2 ½ hour drive home.  Kim says it was our first navigational error since leaving San Francisco.   On Sunday, we found the Farmers’ Market in nearby Keri Keri.  I was in heaven buying spring vegetables including some new ones I was not familiar with.  And of course, I have to mention the All Blacks World Cup Rugby championship.  We watched the game with an enthusiastic crowd at the Cruising Club. Monday was NZ Labor Day, so everyone could recover from the celebrating.Our plan is to keep the blog going with less frequent updates.   Several people have asked us what’s next?  Well, that is still under discussion.  Stay tuned, we will keep you posted.
s/v Georgia J  Docked at Opua Marina, Northland, NZ

Sharon’s Log 10/19/11:

Good Day (or Ga day as it sounds), All ,  WE MADE IT!   There must be some hidden meaning in the fact that our roughest day at sea ever was our last day on this passage.  We were pounded relentlessly all night long.  Harold and Kim encouraged me to stay in the bed as they were both planning to be up all night.   Even with the lee cloth up, I nearly rolled out.   Needless to say, sleep was practically impossible.  However, Georgia and her crew battled their way through.  No one was hurt and we did not break anything significant, in other words, a success.   We arrived at Opua Marina at 8:30 am, and the customs officials were on the boat before we finished tying up.  The two officials were very pleasant and professional.  I had been practically force feeding Kim and Harold to avoid having food thrown away.    They let me keep a few things I expected to be confiscated like milk (of course from New Zealand) and cheese.   Our biggest issue was bringing Plato into the country.  I had spent untold hours and many dollars to get a permit to bring him.    The minimum quarantine period was recently reduced to 10 days (from 30).  We sadly sent him off with his pillow, blanket and Teddy.   It already seems so strange without him.  Although, there is the possibility that he will be grateful to be off this boat!Harold, too, left us today, rushing back to the States for a family gathering.  He was a super star crew and a tremendous help during this passage. Opua is a charming little spot centered around the marina.  Nearby towns of Paihia and Russell add to our choices of restaurants, shopping and attractions.   The people here are amazingly nice and helpful.  Today we joined the Opua Cruising Club.  Tonight, they have beer can races, so we feel very much at home.We are very happy to have a marina home for the next few months, as we will be spending the hurricane season here.  Kim and I both feel a bit overwhelmed by bringing Georgia all the way to New Zealand.   This may take a while to truly sink in.   
S/V Georgia JMoored at Opua Marina35 18.938 S, 174 07.224 E

Entering Bay of Islands after tough night at sea
Happy to reach New Zealand
Opua Wharf
Opua Welcoming Committee

Kim's log 10/19/11:

It is just after midnight here and we are getting pounded by high winds and waves. The barometer dropped like a rock while the wind climbed from 20 knots to a high (so far) of 46 knots in the last 4 hours. We knew this low pressure was coming and had the main sail double reefed and everything tied down. We have the engine running at low rpm's to help keep to boat on course as the swells are pushing our stern from side to side. Although Georgia J is a very uncomfortable ride right now, she is staying on course. The entrance to the Bay of Islands is only 35 miles away. We hope to be at the customs dock by sun rise. What a dramatic end to our first seven months of cruising.

s/v Georgia J
Position at 11:36 UTC on 10/17/11: 34 38.34 s, 174 27.45 E
Course 188 m, Speed 8.0 knts

Kim's log 10/17/11

Only 194 miles to go to New Zealand! We have had two easy days. The sea has been very calm. The temperature is 62 degrees, so we clearly have left the tropics. Unfortunately, we have had to motor continuously due to the lack of wind. We are monitoring our fuel very closely and believe we have enough fuel to complete the passage even without sailing. New Zealand has very strict customs rules. Any meat, fish, fruit or dairy we arrive with will be confiscated and destroyed. As a result, Sharon has been feeding us steak for breakfast and dinner. Harold has trolled a fishing line for over two hundred miles without a bite. Other than the occasional flying fish in the cockpit, we have only seen jelly fish. Thousands of jelly fish no bigger than a golf ball fill the sea.

The New Zealand weather forecast for the next 24 hours calls for winds of 30 knots and rough seas, so we could take one more licking before arriving at the barn.

After arrival, there will be much to do. Plato will be confiscated and transported to dog jail for 10 days of solitary confinement to insure that he has no rabies. We will need to buy a cell phone, a car, transport Harold to Auckland airport and replace the groceries which are confiscated. However, we are very much looking forward to marina life with unlimited hot showers.

s/v Georgia J
Position at 14:30 UTC on 10/16/11: 32 21.6 s, 175 35.7 E
Speed 6.0 knots on course of 181 M

Sharon's Log 10/15/11

Long time passage makers say it takes 3 days to adjust to being at sea. We are now in our 3rd day since leaving Minerva Reef, and the old adage seems to be holding true. Georgia J and her crew are in the groove. Kim is over his seasickness (a mild case this time), Plato skipped it this time, watches are working out fine, and all is well on board. That said, the last couple of days have been demanding and tiring. After we passed through the front, the wind has been "fluky and the seas have been lumpy" (that is highly technical nautical language). Much of the time the wind has been right on our nose making the ride uncomfortable. Reminiscent of the Puddle Jump, I had to tether myself to the stove to prepare dinner last night. Kim has suggested installing a bar and a permanent tether in our kitchen at home, but I have declined.
However, today is a gorgeous day. The seas are much calmer. Harold was even able to put the fishing poles out. We all (including Plato) enjoyed bacon and eggs for breakfast. If weather permits me to cook, our diet for the next 3 days will be a bit heavy on the protein as New Zealand will confiscate any meat or dairy products.

We have 440 miles to go. We are targeting arrival in Opua on Tuesday, the 18th. High winds and waves are predicted to hit Northern NZ on the 20th, so we are motivated to be safely tied up to our new home away from home well before then.

S/V Georgia J Position at 23:40 UTC on 10/14: Latitude 28 34.2 S Longitude 177 16.3 E
Speed 5.0 knts, course 184 M

Kim's blog 10/13/11:

The first day of our passage to New Zealand has been rough. We knew there we would be passing through a cold front, but expected it to be mild. After a few hours at sea, we started seeing lightening on the horizon. We turned off all the navigational instruments and put the GPS, sat phone and radios in the oven to protect them if we were struck by lightening. Sharon then fed us chicken stew and homemade key lime pie to prepare for the storm. Within a few hours, we had wind of 35-41 knots, driving rain, 14 foot waves and a spectacular electrical storm about four miles away. The boat was doing 8-9 knots with a reefed main and no jib. As we passed the front, the wind instantly shifted by 180 degrees and started taking us back to Minerva. Harold did a wonderful job controlling the sails and determining our strategy. After hours in the cockpit he was soaked to the bone. We never lost control of the boat during the storm. It is now 1:00 am local time. Harold, Sharon and Plato are asleep while I have the watch. I still have of a bit of rain and occasional lightening so I am motoring southwest to get out of this area as quickly as possible.

s/v Georgia J
Position 24 01.4 s 179 42.7 w at 11:56 UTC on 10/12/11
Course 209 m, Speed 6.3 knots. Wind speed 17 knots

Kim's blog 10/11/11

We had a good passage from Nukalofa to North Minerva Reef. Our total travel time was 52 hours. We expected to motor the entire way due to light winds, but were able to sail about 1/3 of the way. This was great since we need to conserve fuel for the next leg- 800 miles to New Zealand. I was a bit anxious approaching Minerva since I had read that the charts are inaccurate and that the reef is barely above water at low tide. About two miles away, we began seeing weak radar images and breaking surf. It is a leap of faith to drive the boat straight toward the point where there is supposed to be a reef pass. Over the last quarter mile, the depth drops from 1000 feet to 80 feet with surf breaking on both sides of the boat. Once inside, we found a beautiful turquoise circular lagoon about 3 miles wide. We were initially the only boat inside, but a Norwegian boat showed up later in the day and ask for GPS coordinates to enter. We are anchored in a sandy spot in only 20 feet of water, next to the reef. This is undoubtedly the best anchorage we have had for the entire trip given the holding, beauty and lack of neighbors. After the traditional arrival bloody mary's, we all slept for 12-14 hours.

Today has been a maintenance day to prepare for the next leg. The wind has been blowing 20 knots and we are reluctant to snorkel or swim until it calms. We are waiting for the go ahead from our weather router, so we don't know how long we will be here.

s/v Georgia J
Anchored at 23 37.128 s, 178 54.250 w

Harold was always lashing something down
Minerva Reef is like a giant lake in the middle of the ocean

Sharon's Log 10/9/11

We began our voyage to New Zealand with the rain peppering down. We were sure wishing we had stowed the dingy on the deck the night before, despite the late hour and the few sendoff beers we enjoyed with friends he night before. Nevertheless we left on time at 8:00 am.

The day before had been quite busy with check out (a 3 step process) , re-fueling, and last minute stops at the market and grocery store. I am never quite convinced we have enough provisions on board. The reality is we could probably be stranded for quite some time without getting hungry. We also helped some friends who were coming into Nukalofa with a very sick captain. His wife, Sue, was single handing their 47 foot boat and diverted their route to get help. With the help of the man at the fuel dock, we were able to have a doctor waiting for them as soon as Kim helped Sue dock. I am not sure where else in the world you could get a doctor to make a "boat call" on a Friday night at 6:00 pm! The doctor began administering intravenous antibiotics as the patient was running a fever of 105. I am happy to report that we heard this morning he is much better. One of the truly unique things about this adventure is being part of the cruising community. You never know when you might be the one needing that help.

We are a little more than half way to North Minerva Reef. We are all a bit disappointed that our weather router has recommended we hold up in Minerva for some time, waiting for a better weather window into New Zealand. Minerva Reef is 280 miles from Nukalofa. It could prove to be a rather interesting stop. Tonga and Fiji both claim ownership of this atoll. Occasionally, the Fiji navy orders all the boats to leave. The dispute has heated as mineral rights have become the issue. We are hoping we can lay low there for a few days without becoming embroiled in an international incident. We'll keep you posted.

It is a joy to have our friend, Harold, on board. Those extra hours of sleep are a tremendous benefit. Harold is constantly looking for things to "fix." You can all well imagine that Captain Kim is ready with a list.

S/V Georgia J
Position at 00:57 UTC on 10/9/11: Latitude 22 28.422 S , Longitude 177 02.981 W
Speed 6. Knts, Course 228 M, 123 miles to North Minerva

Kim's blog 10/7/11:

We are ready to go to leave for New Zealand tomorrow morning. Our friend, Harold, arrived last night and has been busy making the boat ship shape for the trip. We waited for two days at the fuel dock before the fuel truck finally arrived. I went up the mast to inspect the rigging and was pleased to find no problems. We have plenty of beer and food for the 1080 mile journey. Our plan is to head for Minerva Reef, which is about two days away. From Minerva, we should be able to get a more accurate weather prediction for the following six days and attempt to miss the constant progression of fronts which pass from between Minerva and New Zealand. The weather prediction for the next three days calls for little wind and seas of only 6 feet, so we will probably be motoring most of the way to Minerva.

10/6/11:  We are preparing to depart Tonga for Opua, New Zealand.  If weather permits, we may make a stop a Minerva Reef along the way  (23 38.5 s, 178 54.8 w).  The total passage is 1080 miles and should take 8-10 days.