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Monday, July 26, 2010

How to get from 'The Great White North' to 'Down Under' OR Planning the South Pacific Route

 We are back in Calgary and the weather is sunny and warm - just great for sailing... hmmmmmm... oh well, instead of 'doing' we are busily 'dreaming' (all you Bluewater Cruising Association members will know all about those terms!).  Doers, Dreamers, Doners!

When we first started thinking about this trip the timeline of six months seemed like an eternity to be sailing... and definitely enough time to visit and enjoy the few little islands along our way to New Zeland.  Not so much!  Since getting down to the nitty gritty of planning the details of our trip it now seems somehow reminiscent of what planning "How to see Europe in 6 days" must be like!

We've been pouring over books that provide details of the islands, anchorages, harbours, points of interest and helpful hints that we might want to experience.  Here's a couple of tomes that we have found that have some helpful info.

 Landfalls of Paradise, Fifth Edition by Earl R. Hinz and Jim Howard - covers all the areas we are interested in, and more!  Gives a good overview.

South Pacific Anchorages, Second Edition,  South Pacific Anchorages by Warwick Clay - provides another perspective of the islands and includes the Chart references for each island described.  Sketches of the anchorages with details of specific positions for anchoring and navigational hazards will be really helpful.

Yikes!!  After spending hours researching and reading what there is to explore how can we possibly fit in all we want to see and do in that miniscule amount of time???  Well - we'll try our best!

We've now come up with our latest "5 minute plan" - (a favourite saying of Bill's to provide an easy escape from the plan that can totally change within 5 minutes from it's initial inception :-)

Planning Itinerary for the Voyage of Catherine and William 2011
May 1, 2011  Leave Quadra Island :-(  and travel down the East coast of Vancouver Island,

stopping at:

Comox - what a great little marina they have!  The last time we were there we had invitations to a concert at the Yacht Club the evening we arrived;  neighbours volunteered to drive us to the local gas station when we put our empty propane tank on the dock in readiness for lugging it up the hill in a marina cart; interest in and admiration of our beautiful cruising boat (Bill loved that!!) etc. ;

Silva Bay, Gabriola Island-
This is another wonderful, hidden away little marina that we have stayed at when we were first delivering our 'baby' to her home on Quadra... it's hard to believe that was only one and a half years ago... it seems like we've had her forever!

Then we will scoot on down to Canoe Cove (near Sydney, Vancouver Island)... and...
Canoe Cove Marina, Sydney B.C.

during the month of May Co-Cap'n Catherine will be living on Terrwyn there provisioning the boat while Bill will be toiling away back in Calgary trying to top up the coffers... both of us will be madly working so that we have what we need to live on during our time away.  Gulp!!

The details and practicalities of filling a boat with the necessities of life for two people for six months both canned and other foodstuffs and all other provisions (how much tp will two people need for six months, anyway???)...

...may seem a daunting task but, as with anything, once one breaks it down step by step... or in this case can by can...  but that is grist for the mill for another posting.

OK now back to "the plan"...

Finally... TA DAAAAAAAA...  Begins our trip to the South Pacific

Leave Canoe Cove and Vancouver Island June 1, 2011(or the closest date to a good weather window!!)

Sails of Terrwyn

July 7 – ish  (Add -ish to all dates included in this itinerary as the worst thing a cruiser can do is adhere to a schedule.  Problems, often fatal, can occur when one takes unnecessary risks just to meet a deadline.  Time, weather, sea conditions etc. are all dependent on each other and cruisers need to attend to the most important issue - SAFETY!)  Enough lecturing...on with the fun of dreaming!

After 5-6 weeks at sea we hope to spy landfall and what a landfall it will be!:

Arrive in the Marquesas Islands which is the eastern most group of islands of French Polynesia.   Boats can check in with the officials at the port of entry in one of the Marquesas Islands, Nuku Hiva, to get permission to spend time in French Polynesia which includes quite a large area...avoiding the busier and, some say, ruder officials of Papeete, Tahiti - (OK if you are reading this and you happen to be a port of entry official in Papeete, Tahiti - I don't mean you!!) and then spend the next 4-6 weeks exploring the islands and atolls of the Marquesas:      

Nuku Hiva

Ua Pou
  Hiva Oa

Fatu Hiva
                                          OK - I think you get the idea... Tropical Paradise!!

August 15-ish (alright, I know, you get it!  It's not written in stone...)    Leave the Marquesas for Society Islands ... the largest island of this group being Tahiti (we are still in French Polynesia)!


Check in at Papeete - not for long as it is very commercialized and expensive.  There is even an International Airport here...mmmmm... maybe just long enough to possibly pick up another crew member ;-D 
Papeete, Tahiti

Other islands in this group that are on our wish list are: Moorea then possibly Bora Bora; Huahine Island (closest of the leeward isands to Tahiti - 90 miles to NW); Raiatea; Tahaa; Toapui Island...

Are you beginning to see our dilemma??
Leave French Polynesia September 7          Arrive September 15 (remember... ISH!) 

A typical Rarotongan beach

    Check in with officials at the entry port for Cook Islands which is Rarotonga.  The name Rarotonga means "in the direction of the prevailing wind, south," the place where the chief of Atiu promised early explorers they would find an island. It's fairly small, just 31 km around.
Scuba diving on Rarotonga features coral drop-offs, canyons, caves, walls, sharks, wrecks, and swim-throughs. All beaches on the island are public.

(By the way, this is the favourite holiday spot of our friend, Linda Steen, who is there, as we speak!  She goes there for 3-4 weeks every second year.   I know she will have many nuggets of info for us of things to see and do when in the Cook Islands!  Hey Linda - bring us back a beautiful sea shell to carry on Terrwyn and we'll take it back to it's home.)

   Leave    Cook Islands September 23           Arrive beginning of October - Tonga
Vavau –(group of islands)

The Vava'u (pronounced "vav-ah-oo") Group of islands lies 240km (150 miles) north of Tongatapu and is the northernmost of Tonga's three island groups. It is fairly isolated and many of the local people live a traditional subsistence lifestyle, owning small farms and serving most of their needs from what they produce. This group of 50 or so thickly wooded islands has excellent diving, with visibility often as much as 30m (100ft). Vava'u is also popular for the fabulous beaches, swimming, snorkelling, and reef viewing and is a Mecca for sport fishing and big game fishing.
Local attractions include the Fangatongo Royal Residence, the view from Mount Talau and Sailoame Market in Neiafu, the main town.

We have found some incredible information about the area at the Tonga Cruising Guide
My question is:  what did people do before the internet???

Leave Tonga  October 15  Arrive early November – Whangerei, North Island, New Zealand
Final Destination!

 Both Bill and I have lived in New Zealand - I have dual citizenship (NZ/Canadian) -but, even though I lived in Dunedin on South Island for six years I had never explored north of Auckland - I know, shame, shame Cathy!  Bill, on the other hand lived in New Zealand for only one year and seemed to have found time to even live and work for a bit in Dargaville, Northland  (if you look on the map you will see it on the east coast of Northland).     
We hope to buy a little car for our time there and tour around the tropical part of New Zealand!  Of course we will cruise Terrwyn to Bay of Islands and discover some of the beautiful little bays that abound that north eastern coast of New Zealand.  
Once we are in the Bay of Islands I will have our crew take a photo of Bill and I swimming around Terrwyn...just like this!
Whangarei is where we plan to leave our sweet Terrwyn, on the hard, in one of the boatyards where she will await our return!

November 29 - no ISH this time :-(    Leave for Calgary


  1. Hi Cathy and Bill or should we say, Catherine and William..

    How exciting! When can we meet you in French Polynesia? We are so proud of your plans and dreams. Rhonda says she would kill me after 2 days of close quarters if we were to pursue such a grand voyage across the Pacific. 4-6 weeks with no land? Have you accounted for the Oban or Talisker supply needs? :-)

    Speaking of the Tropics, we just got back from Mexico. All of our travels were on land though. Heading off camping in BC in the next few days.

    How will we say in touch with you when you are enroute between Vancouver Island and the Marquesas Islands?


    G and R
    PS - got your voice mail. Thanks! We will touch base soon.

  2. Hi Gord and Rhonda!
    Thanks for the great note...I'm glad you guys are having a great travelling summer - you both deserve it!
    Regarding keeping in touch in the middle of the ocean for months at a time... we are working on that right now. Since Bill has his ham radio license there is an email service that we can use through that. We will only be able to send and receive fairly short text only emails but that will be wonderful out in the middle of nowhere!
    Take care and call us when you get back into town - we need to get together and share stories :-)
    C & W (aka Catherine and William)

  3. Oh, by the way, the bilge will be brimming with our wine and Scotch supplies! When you come to visit while we are in French Polynesia there will be no shortage for our "happy hours"... :-)

  4. I just attended your presentation at the Bluewater Cruising meeting this week and it was inspiring. You two seem so happy together and together on the sea. I think the whole room was impressed with your energy and enthusiasm and I would like to congratulate you on your journey and wish you fair winds for those to come. Perhaps I'll see you out there one day!