Twendel.com – Blog for Cruising on Bright Angel  update added 4/14/2018

Please forgive errors herein, I am challenged to begin with, and writing this on the boat.

PRE-CRUISING PICTURES AND NOTES

 

The journey began with Deborah with a stop in Fiji for six days, followed by six days in New Zealand, before Deb returned home.  Then I moved to join Bob and Linda on Bright Angel in Whangarei, North of Auckland.  At this writing, we are a few days away from setting sail to from Marsden Point, NZ to French Polynesia (Tahiti and other islands).

FIJI

I think of the visit to Fiji as a gypsy experience.  We stayed in only one place for more than one consecutive night.  We began at Sonaisali Island near Nadi and the airport, allowing a respite after our 17+ hour journey from Olympia/Tacoma.  Happily, we were upgraded to a beach front cabin where we got some rest and a swim, and then enjoyed first rate food, drink, and service, as well as a performance (somewhat touristy and brief) of tribal dancing. 

        

                                    Welcome to Sonasaili Island, Fiji!                              Warm and Green at the foot of the sleeping giant

The next day we moved on without a specific destination, seeking somewhere we could enjoy more local flavor than the isolated island resort had offered.  We summoned the cab driver we’d ridden with the day before, a pleasant Indian gentleman named Irvy (sp?).  Irvy gave us a bit of a tour, stopping by his temple, sharing a beer, and taking us to the gardens at the feet of the mountain they call the sleeping giant.

Eventually, Irvy found us what we were looking for -- a modest but comfortable room in a busy beach town.  There we enjoyed meeting people from other countries at an earthy beach bar, did some bar and restaurant hopping, and had dinner at a casual beach restaurant.  Happily, there were some people there enjoying and sharing a local cultural experience – the sharing of Kava (look it up!).  We enjoyed the atmosphere so much there that we came back to it for our last night in Fiji.     But, alas, no pictures.

Next, we arranged on short notice to go to a more distant island resort, in the Yasawa Island group.  We had already made reservations in a resort further out the islands, and thought it would be fun to visit another island. 

 

                                                                                    Nice day for a ride.

So, bright and early day 3 we boarded a ferry for approximately a four hour ferry ride to Naviti Island and the Botaira resort.  What a treat!  We debarked the ferry on the water, boarding a fiber (small outboard boat) which took us to the beach where the staff assembled to welcome us with song and leis.  Very rustic and private.  We had a private beach bure (one room cabin), and the only other guests at the resort were four members of a French family from Australia.  Meals were an event, including great local fare and served in the lodge.  In between we were left to our own devices, save for anything we needed which was cheerfully provided.  My favorite pastime was swimming the incredible protected reef right in front of us, which had a huge variety of fish and giant clams whose flesh was a colorful wonder.  Before we left the next day, we were treated to a coconut experience by Solo, one of our hosts.  He climbed the trees, knocked out coconuts, and showed us how to open them, extract the meat and drink the milk. 

Typical shuttle to shore from the Yasawa ferry

Fresh Coconut at Botaira

The lodge, for meals and hanging out

With a deck even our hosts enjoyed, with a reef out front

Nice view from our bure on  the beach

Our kind friend Solo showing us the (absence of) ropes with coconuts

And Making Sure We See Its Face

It doesn’t get any fresher.

A warm sendoff from Botaira as we were delivered again to the ferry, off to the next island.  Debarking the ferry at Nacula Island again via small boat, together with a cadre of other guests, we arrived at the considerably more upscale Blue Lagoon resort.  This was a bustling resort with a full time bar and restaurant, a scuba diving program, and even a movie night.  Again, a very comfortable beach front bure, and another wonderful reef to dive on (I got so engaged snorkeling that I sunburned my back).  Here, we spent two nights.  One night, I again enjoyed the ritual of Kava and also met the first other American we came across – he was introduced to me because his name was Tom, and the Kava group thought it was funny to call us “Tom Tom” together, as their boats were named.  We enjoyed a spectacular sunset one night. 

 

View from our porch on the beachfront bure.

The view of the bure from the water (up to my knees).

An Outdoor Shower.

Found: the illusive Yellow Bird cocktail.  Heaven!

Sunsets, of course!

 

We were also treated by a boat trip to the local native village for Sunday church service.  The natives were very welcoming without being commercial in any way.  We were given a tour, seeing their smoke house, churches, medical facilities, and the relatively natural beach.  This was a big highlight for both Deborah and me from our Fijian tour.

Visiting the village with our resident host and our Swiss/Brazilian friends

And, donning the appropriate attire

Native Village

An intermediate stop to board the Seabus back to the main Island

 

The last night in Fiji, we opted to return to the beach bars outside Nadi where we had stayed our second night.  Again, it was fun and comfortable.  Then, it was off to the airport for the flight to Auckland.

NEW ZEALAND

Deborah had found us a place to stay upon our arrival across the bay from downtown Auckland.  After a long drive on the wrong side of the road from the airport in our rental SUV, we arrived at the classic Esplanade Hotel overlooking the bay, and the pleasant village of Davenport.  Serendipity was with us.  We encountered a problem of some kind with our booking, which resulted in an upgrade to the penthouse, a three plus room suite with a sweeping view of the bay and downtown Auckland.  Then, thanks to a late start for dinner, one of the few restaurants still serving proved to be nothing short of spectacular and welcoming.  Nice welcome to New Zealand!

The Esplanade

With two nights in the penthouse, we were able to take our time the next day.  We took a short ferry ride to the Auckland waterfront, toured the Volvo Ocean Race boats and displays, walked the waterfront, and had a nice lunch in a cozy shoreline restaurant.  From there, it was a short and interesting walk to the Art Museum, where we found it to be a small world.  In the gift shop, Deborah was spotted by Bob and Linda Hargreaves, my hosts for the Bright Angel cruise.  The next day, we met Bob and Linda for brunch in Davenport, and set out driving south without any specific plans or reservations.

The Volvo Ocean racers were in Auckland

 

Nice open and green restaurant on the Auckland waterfront.

Auckland’s Albert Park

Next, on the road, our noses led us to Matamata, outside of which there are hot springs and the highest waterfall on the North Island of NZ  - Wairere falls.  We had not known there were hot springs, but were out to see the waterfall.  Thanks to an absence of vacancies in town, we learned of and stayed at the hot springs resort.  Not a five star place, but scenic, clean, comfortable, and the springs were relaxing.  Plus, we found ourselves only a few kilometers from the trail to the falls.  There was a lot of climbing the next day to the falls, but the forest was enchanting and the falls were beautiful. 

 

Sometimes interesting things along the scenic road….

Wairere Falls – getting there in the mossy forest

The falls - 153 meters (502 ft.)

Another view of Wairere falls

No pictures worth sharing for the rest of our visit to New Zealand.  After the falls, it was on the move again.  Seeking a wine tour, we received a suggestion to try a winery outside Hamilton, which was beautiful and had some wine we had to get more of.  At the winery, our hosts suggested we try going to Ragan, a beach town on the east coast of NZ.  We did so, and found a great B&B to stay at.  The food was good in Raglan, and the village was a pleasant experience.   Then it was back to Auckland to explore further, after which Deborah started the long trip home, and I set off to join Bright Angel and the Hargreaves.

 

Joining Bright Angel

Whangarei NZ, in the Riverside Marina, living aboard Bright Angel was my home for about two weeks after I joined the boat.  Trying to help with the preparations for the sail, and getting to know the systems on the boat were the main focus.  Getting Bob and Linda accustomed to my presence was also a formidable obstacle😊  So far so good…  They are the most gracious hosts I could imagine.

But it wasn’t all work.  The marina was a cruising boaters’ gathering place, where we met many other boaters, and enjoyed barbeques in the marinas facilities.  We also stole off to Smugglers Bay for a very pretty day of tourism, relaxation, and shell gathering.  I feel for Bob and Linda saying goodbye to this wonderful country after their years here.

Bright Angel

Sunset from the marina

Good company at the barbecues

Sendoff for new Swedish friends as they set sail for other shores

Low tide on the river

Sweethearts at Smugglers’ Bay

 

Then, we moved forward, out the debarkation port at Marsden Point.  Another week there, and we are now anticipating departure for French Polynesia in the next few days.  Hoping for fair winds and calm seas.  Signing off for now.

Approaching the drawbridge en route to Marsden