S/V Vida Nova


Honiara, Guadalcanal - Solomon Islands

Posted 5 August 2012

By good fortune my arrival at Honiara coincide with the 11th Pacific Arts Festival, where Island nations around the Pacific were represented with dance groups, carving and of course the Vakas, a modern version of Polynesian sailing canoes. This was a great show put on by the Solomon's government. What I liked most was a war raid using 12 war canoes with 12 men on board each canoe, simulating an attack on a village. The fight between defenders and attackers was very real, with the out come in favor of the attackers, leaving the beach full of  'dead bodies' and without nobody expecting the raiders started grabbing women and children (tourists) into the canoes and paddle away with great speed. On the return I asked a young lady how the experience was and her answer was 'scary but exciting'.

After the festival, I went to a yacht festival in Roderick Bay in the Florida group at the invitation of Alan, from SV Love Song. I must confess that in almost 3 years of traveling, this village was the most rewarding experience in the entire South Pacific, mainly because the cultural interaction and participation on the every day village life and most important based on my observation of Morgan and Yap (the children from Love Song) Roderick Bay is a children's paradise with no parallel.

Last week I spend diving to explore ship wrecks from WWII. The first one was a Japanese cargo transport called Hirokawa Maru, that was sunk at Bonegi beach, together with Kinugawa Maru, also a transport ship. Both wrecks are only metres from the beach and are done as shore dives. I had 4 dives, Maru 1, a fabulous night dive, a submarine and the B-17 bomber. The depth, was 30 m, for # 1, 25 m for # 2, 24 m for the submarine and 18 m for the airplane. The visibility was very good in all of them and the water temperature on the 30's, in another words, t-shirt dives. The best dive was on Maru 1, full of coral and fish, really pristine.

My passage to Solomon Islands

Posted Saturday 7 July 2012
After leaving Noumea, on the June 16, I made my way to the Loyalty Islands where I spend 5 days, relaxing and enjoy the quite atmosphere of the tribal life in Ouvea.
I got my weather window from Veronica and weighed anchor on Sunday June 24 at 2130 UTC, after motoring briefly I raised my sails and heading north to the pass of Taureau, basically on the same course to the Solomon's with the wind on my starboard quarter 12/15 knots SE and the seas also SE 2 meters. Monday the 25th greeted me with a 24 hours run of 163nm, and the idea of a fast passage, became very appealing. The winds picked up a bit more to 18/22 knots but the seas stayed about the same height. The boat was surfing for periods 3/4 seconds, and it was in these conditions that on Tuesday 26 June, at 2130 UTC, the log showed Vida Nova had sailed 180nm in 24 hours, a best ever.

For the following days, the 24 hour runs reads in order 173, 171, 157, and the last 85 nm to Honiara, was under motor, where I arrived at night and dropped the anchor in Point Cruz 1310 UTC, 920 nm in 6 days and 16 hours, with a average speed of 5.8 knots.

I am now in Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands, situated on the NE coast of Guadalcanal. This is indeed the path least traveled.

New Caledonia

Posted Thursday 14 June, 2012

I am now fully recovered from my injuries and am waiting for a weather window to carry on to the Loyalties Islands east of New Caledonia. I would prefer a westerly wind, but most probably it will be from the east, which mean a beat again. From there I will proceed to the Solomon Islands, where I intend to do some wreck diving in Gizo.

I very much enjoyed my staying in Noumea, with a culture very similar to mine, very friendly and helpful people and very good facilities, the biggest lagoon in the world with lots of fish and no ciguatera.

Opua to New Caledonia

Posted 30 May 2012

First of all, I apologize for the delay on the blog. I left Opua on May 10, bound to Vanuatu with 15 knots of wind from astern. The wind eventually picked up to F7 during the night and it carried on well into the afternoon on the following day, making for a boisterous but fast sailing.

On the 2nd night out the wind calmed down to 10/12 knots and so did the seas, giving me a more comfortable ride, but on the 3rd day out from Opua I had a very unfortunate accident in the galley. I had a pot of boiled water on the stove, when the boat lurch dropping the contents on my lower back and within seconds the skin disappeared. Although I was not in a life treating situation, still was a very serious injury.

I have been very careful in preparing the boat for offshore sailing, it shows on the little equipment failure that I had and the good condition that Vida Nova is in, but I must confess that I overlooked this detail. It is one of the major dangers that a single hand sailor faces, the others being run over by a ship while asleep, run into a container or a reef, a fire aboard, falling over board and off course a burning accident in the galley. I should have known better.

Before we left on our trip, one of the many dock experts of Shelter Island harbor came to my boat while I was working on it and said that one cannot be prepared for all contingencies, I didn't say anything but I disagree, one should be prepared as best as possible for all contingencies and the best time to do so is when you are at harbor. The truth is, I was not prepared for this and I can't blame nobody except myself.

I altered the course westwards to New Caledonia instead of Vanuatu, as the medical facilities are just much better. I didn't want more complications in a already bad situation. It was very uncomfortable, and to add insult to the injury, the wind shifted and increased, and for next 2 days and 2 nights I bashed to windward in 28/30 knots towards my destination, I couldn't sit properly and sleep was only possible belly down.

I made the passage just under 8 days and after clearing out I went into the hospital where I was treated promptly and off course first class service; every 2 days a nurse came aboard to change the dressing.

I am enjoying New Caledonia very much, the French are super nice, full of life and very polite, but I am itching to get going to the Solomon's, where I would like to do some diving on the WW2 wrecks and also visiting the abandon ruins of the Japanese occupation.
I am doing some minor boat chores while waiting for a go from the doctors, so I am not sitting on my ass HA HA HA.

Warm regards to all

Lord Howe to New Zealand

Posted 15 March 2012
We departed Lord Howe, Monday February 27 with light winds from the SE, 10 to 15 knots in strength and calm seas. In these conditions beating to windward is a pure pleasure as the apparent wind moves forward giving the boat a good speed. I steered a direct course to Cape North my next way point after leaving Pyramid's Balls on my port side.Sailing wing on wing, with winds from the NW 10 to 15 knots which lasted until February,29.
On Thursday March 1st the wind veer to the E about the same strength so I decided to heave to as I din't want to go to much South or North. The next day the wind start to veer more to South, so we made sail again going in the right direction, but with rising seas and winds, which reached gale force by Saturday March 3rd, 6 days into the passage; the seas reached 3 to 4 meters high and the wind blew a constant 35, I saw 38 on the gauge.
By Sunday March 4, we were sailing fast on close reach on a full Force 7, 28 to 30 knots and the seas about the same. At this point we were only 150nm from Cape North and I was expecting a fast passage, but to my dismay I could' not point any higher so I end up going all the way to Cape Reinga, leaving Three Kings Islands,16nm on my Starboard and tacking 6nm on the lee of the Cape, heading back to sea for another 35 to 40 nm, tacked again leaving Cape North on my Starboard heading to Cape KariKari, where I tacked again heading to open water once again for another 30 nm. On the return leg I decided to shoten the course by going via the Cavali passage and motor sail around Rocky Point through Harakeke Islands and the final run to Opua where I arrived on Tuesday March 6 at 2100 hours local time.
If the winds were favorable, the distance would have being 820 nm, but  unfortunately the total log was 1044 nm, but the adverse winds made it a slow and uncomfortable passage, but never the less a rewarding one. Approaching New Zealand, I saw for the first time on the ocean a shark fin and judging by the size of it a big one and also an albatross sitting on the water and flying off, in both cases a magnificent sight.
I was very happy with  my pre-departure preparations, as I didn't have any motion sickness during the 9 days that took me to complete this trip.


Posted 26 February 2012, Lord Howe Island

Tomorrow, Monday, 27 Feb. Vida Nova will be sailing to New Zealand and I would like to share with you the way I go about preparing her and myself for the passage. From my perspective, the most important is the weather window and the forecast for the next 5 to 7 days,which at this stage predicts strong winds towards the end of the week, but as I progress on the voyage, the conditions certainly will change; its now a question of monitoring the weather with all available tools.

The next is food, because cooking at sea, with the boat bouncing around and a sailor with a weak stomach, the results will be mal de mer, which potentially can lead to disaster; consequently I have cook 5 meals in advance, salads prepared but not dressed, a dozen boiled eggs cooked, water and milk containers top up, in a little basket near the companionway there are motion sickness pills, different snacks, nuts and fruit to nibble on.

Down bellow, the boat is clean with everything on its place, tied and secure; the sea berths are made, galley clean with dishes in the racks and the sinks empty, fuel and water tanks are full, batteries are fully charged, engine oil, water and belts checked, fuel filters are cleaned and so are the bilges, with the pumps operational. The dinghy and outboard motor, clean, stored and secured
on the windlass, where the chain goes into the locker, I sealed it using moulding clay so water does not go into the chain locker, the sails are ready to hoist and reef when necessary, storm jib in place and the droge ready to deploy, the bottom is scrapped clean, propeller and shaft clean and polished, and zincs installed.

On the chart table, the course is plotted on the Ipad (poor sailor chart plotter) and so is a alternative course, all instruments are working and the barometer reads 1023.2 hpa and steady; she is ready and I stoped coffee, booze, fat and spice foods, drink lots of water and took 2 pills today and 1 tomorrow before departure, and after that only on need base.

Vida Nova is everything, she is the center of my life and she commands all aspects of it,in this new way of life, its imperative that I take care of her in harbour or at anchor, so she can take care of me in the ocean, consequently all my daily activities revolves around her needs, as a blue water vessel and my home as well.

She is a very demanding enterprise, but I am also a very willing participant.

Lord Howe Island

Posted Wednesday 22 February 2012
  31 31.43S by 159 03.06E

After an uneventful passage, which means a good one, I arrived in lord Howe, Tuesday 21 Feb. at about 0300 am local time and heave to 12 nm off the island waiting for day light to go through the pass.

When I woke up, I was greeted with strong NE winds, clocking 26 kn, so I had no choice but to beat to windward on a short but steep seas all the way to the pass, where a park ranger's boat was waiting to guide me to the mooring buoy as no anchoring is allowed; after securing Vida Nova with double warps, on a very shallow depth and I completed the arrival formalities, I sat down in the cockpit and admired the most beautiful island in the South Pacific. A World Heritage area and I could not help but to think, that like Chersterfield reefs in New Caledonia, Lord Howe is another wellcome oasis in a watery desert and with a low ceiling overcast sky and rising winds, I was certainly happy to be snugged in, instead of being bounce around outside.

Well, next morning I woke up being bounced around on the inside, as the wind backed to South west creating a very annoying vicious rolling, where everything has to be hold down or falls down, as it did my fresh brewed pot of coffee, making a big mess on the stove and floor. I am not exaggerating when I said, that I cleaned the stove more in two months, than Veronica in two years, not because she was dirtier but the opposite, confirming that a clean person is the one that doesn't mess.

I try my best to keep the boat acceptable, but it looks like that when I wake up, I have nothing to do, but I go to bed with half of the things done. Enough of domestics, now what I really need is for the weather to calm down, so I can launch the dinghy and go ashore to explore a bit.

On passage to Lord Howe island

Posted 19 Sunday 2012
  30 57 S by 155 31 E

I am at the present moment motor sailing towards Lord Howe, where I should arrive some time on Tuesday. I would rather be sailing, but at the same time I do not mind the motor as it gives me a chance to do emails, weather, position reports and basically getting use sailing alone. So far it has been good, but off course I did not payed my school fees to King Neptune as yet which will happen sooner or later.

Cirrus clouds aloft, coming from the South West moving to North East, which I believe will bring winds; the grib files confirm this. The seas are calm with a large ocean swell, less than half meter high, barely a ripple on the surface and the color, a deep blue, that one only encounters in high seas.

In this doldrums type of conditions, life is easy a bit boring, but I guess beats the alternative. I am steaming on the height of cyclone season, but so far this year staying away from the Tasman sea. The situation can change very quickly, consequently time and speed are essential.

Vida Nova is pressing on.

Coffs Harbour

Posted 17 January 2012

I'm very happy now that I decided to do a over nigth passage from Tweed River to Coffs Harbor because the weather in the space of a day changed for the worst. It was a good trip with NEasterlys 10 to 15 knots and small seas, but very tiresome for me because I only could sleep 10 minutes at the time. The next day, January,15th was spend resting and on the following day, I wake up in 25 knots of wind from the SE, with a incoming swell of about a meter into the bay. I did not leave the boat in this conditions as it became a lee shore situation. I remained on anchor watch through the day and nigth, using a kichten clock to wake me up every 30 minutes.

It is very tempted to go to the marina which entrance is only 200 meters from my port bow, be comfortable and protected from the elements, with a short walking distance from city life, but instead I choose to remain at anchor for 2 reasons; the 1st is offcourse economics, as you cruising the money goes out and nothing comes in, the 2nd and most important to me to condition my body and mind to the reality off sea travel. In the ocean there are no pit stops and one has to be prepared to deal with the situation at hand.

I suffer from motion sickness even at anchor but that is no excuse to neglect the work that needs to be done to keep Vida Nova in good running order.

My coordinates are 30 18,288 S by 153 8,644 E, check out 'Our Current Position' on google earth.

Due South

Posted 11 January 2012

Shorncliffe is a beautiful seaside village at the mouth of Cabbage Tree creek just north of Brisbane. It his a well located marina, close by shops and trains and safe to leave the boat to go exploring.

The 1st time we met Steve was in Niue aboard Heat Wave and again in Musket Cove, Fiji with his partner Nicky. We sail together from Cabbage Tree to Tangalooma on Morton Island to spend Christmas and returned on 26 December. Nicky and Steve have done a great job and we had a great Aus/Nz Christmas aboard theirs Leopard 42 catamaran.

After Morgan left on the 28 December and Veronica on the 29 December, I went to Buderim, Sunshine Coast to celebrate the new coming year with them.

Other great friends we met in Musket Cove where Doug and Diane aboard Benneteau 47 Seafarer, we had such great time, partying, racing and meeting new friends that came to Doug's Birthday in Fiji. Once again I felt very comfortable leaving the boat and gone visit them in Figal Head, Goald Coast where I stayed for few days, done all medical tests with Diane, meeting their friends, walk and swim in the beach a short walk from home and off course the great meals they prepared.

I left Shorncliffe to Coochiemmudlo Island in the end of the Moreton Bay run, stayed overnight and left next morning to Southport in the Gold Coast.After a good night rest. I motor sailed to Tweeds Heads River were I am at anchor overlooking their home.

My position is Lat 28,12S by 153,33E.

We love Australia

Posted 23 December 2011

Australia is such a beautiful country and the people so friendly. We sailed from Bundaberg to a small town called Shorncliffe about 5 nm north of Brisbane. We enjoy our time with Morgan although we had some bad weather.

We love it here, but we also had to make some of our hardest decisions here. Since the year 2000 I enjoyed the liveaboard lifestyle and coastal cruising, but blue water sailing is pure and simply not for me, so the options available are: sell the boat in Australia, ship the boat to Vancouver or Dinis sail the boat back to Vancouver. As every body knows Dinis suffers from sea sickness but he is prepare to give it a try and singlehanded back home.

A job opportunity became available for me and Dinis encouraged me to take it. We decided that Dinis will fly home 3 or 4 times and I will meet him where ever he is on my holidays to minimize our time apart.

We wish all our friends a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Bundaberg, Australia

Posted 18 November 2011

Our arrival in Bundaberg was a very positive experience. The Port2Port Yacht rally co-ordinates with the Australian authorities so that they know exactly when you will arrive in port. This service speeds up the clearing into the country. We had no problems and everything went smoothly. We were also welcomed by a Port2Port Yacht Rally representative with all kinds of literature and goodies. Port2Port Yacht rally done a fantastic job promoting Bundaberg as the port of entry. They published the magazine 'Gateway, Port Bundaberg' that was distributed across the South Pacific. The magazine is great and had confirm our plans for clearing into the country in Bundaberg.

The winds are predominately from the south east, east or north east in October/November which makes Bundaberg a perfect sailing destination from Vanuatu or New Caledonia. A lot of sailors goes to New Zealand and have to deal with stronger winds and a lot of time with winds on the nose. The distance is also greater. We are very glad that we came to Bundaberg.

Bundaberg Port Marina facilities are excellent and the staff doing a fantastic job. We have everything close at hand, from the sail maker, boatyard, electrical service, grocery store fish shop, restaurants, chandelier and much more. The marina also runs a courtesy bus into Bundaberg town.

Dinis's friend Steve that worked with him in Vancouver and his wife Pam visited us as well. It was great catching up again and spend some time together. We visited the Air Museum and had fun trying all the interactive tools. The following day we went for a motor up the river to Bundaberg town.

Bundaberg has been quite exciting for all, this last week. 2 of our fellow Port2Port sailors have been arrested in one of Australia's biggest cocaine busts, 300 kg. It took us all by surprise as the Spanish couple gave no indication of anything out of the ordinary. A few days before we all attended a pirates pot luck dinner organized by Port2Port for us and they were among the prize winners for the best dressed pirates. Quite ironic. They have been to court and if convicted they face life imprisonment.

We are still waiting to hear from Morgan as to when he will arrive in Australia. He is currently in Vietnam and hopefully will let us know soon. We are really looking forward to his visit.

We are in Bundaberg Australia !!

Posted 26 October 2011

We are in Australia !!!

We arrived in Bundaberg this morning after sailing for 4 days from Chesterfield reef. The trip was quite rolly for the first 2 days and then we had light winds.

The boat needs to be lifted out of the water for bottom paint and lots of other little maintenance jobs. We will look into that for next week. For now we will do some exploring and get our bearings.

Stay tuned for news from OZ.

Our passage to Chesterfield reefs

Posted 18 October 2011

We all had a wonderful time at Huon, exploring the island. Huon is just a strip of sand with some grass and reefs, the bird life is great, we saw lots of birds and turtles. Steve, Wayne and Dean from s/v Mamalu had a great time spear fishing and gave us some lovely coral trout fillets. Jeff, Sue and Amanda from s/v Xyra invited us all for supper and we enjoyed the evening together.

Bad weather is predicted for Tuesday 18 October and we all decided that it is best to only stay 1 night in Huon and leave first thing on Saturday morning 15 October. That will give enough time to reach Chesterfield reefs 280 nm to the west.

Around 8:00 am we left Huon. S/v Xyra was the first to catch fish and then the rest of us following behind them caught enough fish to feed an army. We had good winds and a strong current in our favour. We decided to reduce sails as we want to arrive at Chesterfield reefs during daytime Monday morning 17 October. Saturday was a lovely day for sailing, but the wind dropped on Sunday and we motored all the way to Chesterfield. S/v Mamalu arrived first on Monday morning and had gone spear fishing by the time Xyra and us arrived around midday.

Chesterfield reefs are beautiful, a welcome oasis in a watery desert, with small islands and beaches. We are currently 6 boats in this anchorage waiting for the weather to improve. Monday afternoon all the cruisers met on the beach for sun downers. It was great meeting all the people.

During the night the wind picked up, I saw some gusts of 26 knots with intervals of rain. I am glad that we are here, the anchorage is good, we have a some swell, but nothing too uncomfortable. They predict another day of strong winds and then it should start to taper down. If all goes well we are planning to leave on Saturday 22 October for our final leg to reach Bundaberg, Australia.

Dinis volunteer to make a fish stew tonight with all the different types of fish that we caught between the 3 boats. Should be good.

Our passage to Atoll de Huon

Posted 14 October 2011

We left midnight Tuesday 11 October for Atoll de Huon which is 286 nm from Espiritu Santo Island. This is the most northern island of New Caledonia. We figured that is would take us 2 and a half days to arrive Friday morning during day time. We had great sailing conditions the swell was small and the wind range from 12 to 18 knots on the beam and later on a broad run. This was great we did our best ever on a 24 hour run of 165 nm, we average 6.25 knots for the trip.

Unfortunately this great sailing conditions made our arrival time at 9 pm on Thursday night, so we decided to hive-to for the night and enter the anchorage in the morning. The wind conditions changed during the night to stronger winds about 20 to 23 knots, which made it a bit more uncomfortable hive-to. Sailing vessels Mamalu and Xyra only left Wednesday morning as they are faster boats. Both of them had to slow down during Thursday night as well to time their arrival time for Friday morning. We all entered the anchorage around 7:00 am local time.

The Atoll exists of one long island which have lots of different types of birds breeding and also lots of turtles. After we anchored and got the boars settled, we all went for a walk on the island. Very beautiful, we took lots of photos of the birds and some of the turtles. Dinis and myself were a bit tired and opted to catch-up on lost sleep after the initial island exploration, the rest went for spear fishing and snorkeling.