HIT PLAY TO WATCH THE VIDEO OF OUR CROSSING BELOW!!
Sailing from Fiji to New Zealand was a monumental undertaking for us. HUGE.
The goal was to sail offshore for the first time, on what can be a tricky passage, on a brand-new to us boat, on a strict timeline. There were so many things that needed to go right for us to achieve our goal; safely, on schedule, and ideally, with our dream to embark on a big sailing trip still intact.
We spent months preparing. Emmanuel scanned, categorized, and read every manual for every single system on the boat. We read in-depth about the passage and weather planning, coordinated logistics for our crew to join us and made lists on lists on lists. We had, I think, a healthy nervousness about our undertaking.
A big piece of our conversation and planning was around our crew. We still had no clue if one, or BOTH of us were going to be debilitatingly seasick for a part, or all, of the trip, and even though we’ve sailed a ton, it’s always been coastal cruising where we can duck in and set anchor pretty well anytime. So we knew we wanted reinforcements, and it’s the best decision we made. Our first call was to Jimmy, a good friend we met in 2015 in Desolation Sound. In the years since, Jimmy has been getting his nautical on. Jimmy and his dad bought a wicked boat, SeaMogs, in Europe and he sailed it across the Atlantic and through the Caribbean. He’s an experienced sailor, captain, a hyper-competent human, and he brings the fun, all while keeping it professional. Jimmy was keen to help and lucky for us, his girlfriend Annie was in as well. Annie is a dream. She rips on a surfboard, has an incredibly contagious positive energy and spirit, and has a solid number of nautical miles under her belt as well. The final addition to round out our crew was Guy, we met him with Jimmy back in 2015 in Desolation Sound and he’s has been travelling since. Guy is the best. He crossed the Atlantic and sailed the Caribbean with Jimmy on SeaMogs, has worked on superyachts, is a master provisioner and cooks a tasty curry.
It was invaluable to have their experience, in everything from creating the watch schedule and maintenance checks, their all-around hilarity, cooking skills, weather discussions, and great vibes.
When I say we were on a strict schedule, it was no joke. Emmanuel and I landed first thing in the morning on October 4, 2019, and we had five days until our crew arrived. We had to get the boat ready to splash, make sure all systems were ready to go and learn as much as we could about sailing ALULA as possible.
We arrived at Vuda Point Marina early in the morning after our flight landed and got straight to it. ALULA was in a hurricane pit, it was hot, humid, and there were thousands of ants in the boat (NOT an exaggeration). We went through every inch of the boat doing inventory so we could learn where things were in case of emergency and wipe off the mildew with vinegar. We fell into bed on Friday and woke up at dawn Saturday to do the same thing since we were splashing the next day. It was a whirlwind, and we knew the most crucial moment was getting ALULA in the water so we could start the engine and see what systems needed attention before we headed offshore. Soaked from a torrential rainstorm, we jumped on ALULA as she was lowered into the water and started the engine and puttered to a mooring buoy to check systems and rinse some of the grime off the topsides.
It’s a really sweet moment when a boat goes back in the water, it’s like the boat breathes a sigh of relief, as if she’s saying “finalllly”, and settles into a gentle rhythm with the ocean again.
After a few hours of cleaning and a quick shop at the marina store, we headed out into open water on ALULA, alone, for the very first time! It was such a huge testament to Pat and John and how well they cared for The Rose/ALULA that all systems were running beautifully. The only exception was our batteries, but we knew that ahead of time.
We made our way to Musket Cove and grabbed a mooring ball and jumped in the water. We had been dying for a fresh breeze and water to swim in after sweating buckets in the boatyard and it was sweet as. We spent three nights in Musket Cove, chasing ants around, fixing the hatch, doing all sorts of boat projects, and falling asleep exhausted each night.
We woke up early on Thursday to head to Denarau Marina to meet Guy who had arrived early in the morning. Annie and Jimmy would arrive the next day. Friday was a HUGE day. Guy, Annie and I did massive provisioning, and Emmanuel spent hours bent over the battery bank. Jimmy arrived, a bit dusty and immediately got to work helping Emmanuel troubleshooting the battery situation. We were keeping our eyes close on the weather reports and knew we had a few days before a potential weather window, so we pushed off and sailed over to check out the infamous Cloud 9 before anchoring off a nearby island for the night. The next morning we snorkelled off the boat in crystal clear waters, and some of the crew paddled out to a sweet surf break only 300 yards from the boat.
We saw our chance for a weather window opening and pushed back to Denarau Marina for a final provision, fuel, prepped ALULA to go offshore, oh, and installed a completely new set of batteries. Emmanuel and Jimmy raced into town in a taxi, bought new batteries, connected them to the engine and were putting away tools as we motored off the dock. Phewww.. A beautiful breeze saw us through Malolo Passage at sunset, and in a whirlwind, we were off to New Zealand!
Fiji to New Zealand Part II – The Crossing coming up soon!