Chronologically Challenged Couple Cruises the South Pacific

Welcome to our blog.  Here you’ll find stories, pictures and hopefully a little helpful information about traveling around on a small sailboat.

New…

Our All-Posts-Map is finished! Look on this interactive Google map to find everything we’ve posted about a place (over 1,000 posts mapped!).

Our Cruising Information Pages have been updated. Click here.
Our Thoughts Page… maybe less useful than the above, but hopefully fun. Click here.
And we’ve added videos and links pages.

Two at Sea, in General…

To some, our blog may seem chronologically challenged, but it’s really not.  You see, our resident Capricorn, Cyndi, posts everything in the exact order in which it occurred.  Rich, with his short attention span, posts stuff the moment it occurs to him.  While we’re now in New Caledonia, Cyndi is still finishing posts about the Sounds.  Rich has already lost interest in last Monday. To sum it up:

Cyndi is writing about our time in the ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK 2016.                     Rich is writing about the here and now, in NEW CALEDONIA.

Rich and Cyndi

chronologically-challenged-pics

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Range Rings on openCPN

September 28, 2016

We’ve been using a new feature on openCPN 4.2 that most people don’t seem to know about. You can set range rings on waypoints and use those rings to measure the room in an anchorage and select the perfect spot to drop your anchor. Here, we’ll show you…

The video is done running openCPN 4.2.0 on a PC. It also works very well on the (paid) Android version of openCPN. -Rich

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Adorable Fur Seal Pups (Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand)

April 20, 2016

Earlier in the day, after we first anchored in Mutton Cove, we heard noises outside. Rich asked, “Are those birds or kids?” We went to look and discovered that amid the rocks next to us were fur seal pups. Once we really started looking, we could see them all over the place! We sat and watched for awhile, amused at all the grunting and squealing noises they made. We didn’t see many adults, and the ones we did spot were fast asleep, probably wishing the noisy kids would be quiet. We did see one pup nursing, and another that looked newborn. It was thrilling having this front row seat to nature’s show.

Later, while having pre-sundowners (before our actual sundowners), we were watching the pups again. It seems when the sun dips behind the hill, it’s the pups’ signal to head to the water to play. As soon as they were in, the frolicking began.

We watched while the pups played, sometimes jumping completely out of the water, sometimes doing a headstand with just their tails in the air, and always jumping around. Often, they seemed to go in sync with the music we had on, enough so we were inspired to film it.

During this time, we didn’t see any parents around–they were probably sill sleeping or maybe out looking for dinner. Oddly, there was one shag hanging around, looking as if it were a lifeguard overseeing the pups. Can different species of animals babysit for each other? It sure looked that way.

This surprise cocktail show was one of the highlights of our time in the Abel Tasman. It was such a beautiful warm evening, and the angle of sunlight made for bright silvery rings of water around the cavorting pups. –Cyndi  (Below, a gallery of photos you can click to enlarge.)

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Anapai Beach Sea Stacks (Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand)

April 20, 2016

As we rounded the headland, Anapai Beach came into view along with an array of strange rock formations at its north end. They seemed to form an open-sided room, the high walls looked like stone pillars that had been pushed together. Maybe it was once a cave, but now it had no ceiling.

Most striking was pillar of stacked boulders that marked the entrance. It looked like it could topple over at the slightest disturbance, but it may well still be there in a thousand years. Seeing how impressive this was, I wondered why I never came across it in my research. It seems this “Stonehenge” needs a publicist! Below, a few photos of the area. (Click to enlarge/scroll through galleries below.)

These rocks were taller than they look in photos, as you can see in this photo of Rich standing near the base of the stacked rocks.

sea-stacks-size

Next, we headed down Anapai Beach. It had light gold sand and pretty blue water, I think the prettiest of the three big beaches in the Mutton Cove area. Now that we’d explored the area, we made the long dinghy ride back to the boat. We’d only just seen a bit of Abel Tasman National Park, but we were already very impressed. –Cyndi

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The Headland Between Anatakapau Beach and Anapai Bay (Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand)

April 20, 2016

To get to Anapai Beach, we’d need to round the sizeable headland that lies between Anatakapau Beach and Anapai Bay. With dinghy gas in the can and calm weather, we decided to give it a go.

As we made our way around, we found ourselves in a world of green and blue pools, impressive white sandstone formations and outlying rocks. This headland was destination-worthy in itself! If I had any doubts about the best way to see this area, I didn’t anymore: kayaking is the way to go! (Better yet, kayaking and walking!) Below, some photos from rounding the headland (click to enlarge/scroll through both galleries below).

Soon, we came across an sizable indent in the headland. Here, a beach with candy shades of blue-green water had formed at the foot of steep forested hills. It may have been small, but it was the prettiest beach of the day. –Cyndi

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Real-time Update

September 25, 2016

We left Noumea about five weeks ago and have been bouncing around New Caledonia since then. Here’s where we’ve been…



Right now, we’re sitting out some westerlies that make shelter a little harder to find. They should be gone by Thursday or so, and we’ll head back to Noumea to resupply.

We’re still loving New Caledonia! -Rich

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Anatakapau Beach (Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand)

April 20, 2016

Our next stop was Anatakapau Beach. It’s basically a continuation of Mutton Cove Beach, divided from it only by the small headland, but it kind of lacks its “wow” factor.

Up an embankment lies a large grassy area with a good-size campground mostly hidden among the trees. The lawn area with its large fragrant pines was a very pleasant place to linger.

Below, a few photos of the Anatakapau Beach area. Click to enlarge and scroll. –Cyndi

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Does Anybody Really Know What Time (or Tide) It Is?

September 17, 2016 (at 7:58 AM, or maybe 8:07 AM, or maybe 7:32 AM…)

I’m naive. I thinking that tide heights and times should be an exact science, known, quantized, calculated to the atomic-clock picosecond, published for all to see, and included in thousands of free apps and programs for all to use.

It turns out: not so much!

Here are the next high and low tide times for Noumea, New Caledonia, taken from different sources…

tide-times

OK, at least Navionics is mostly self-consistent across it’s different platforms, but no one else agrees with them, at least down to the minute level. The big looser here is WxTide32 on my PC, at least comparing it with the average of the others. And then there’s meteo.nc, the official weather service in New Caledonia. I’d think they would have a handle on tide times, at least in their capitol city, but judging by the current we see entering and leaving Noumea, they don’t.

So what’s a few minutes either way?

First, it’s not just a few minutes but up to a half an hour. This can be the difference between entering the Havannah pass in smooth, calm water, or reenacting Perfect Storm!

We’ve had this problem all the way across the Pacific, over the last 4+ years. We have been unable to get accurate tide information. It’s a little like religion out here. Many cruisers have tools that they have faith in. Many others don’t believe on those tools, while holding out hope that other ones are accurate.

I guess the bottom line for us – the lesson we’ve learned (or maybe still need to learn) is to use whatever tools you have (or who’s church you attend), then use your eyes as you near a pass and be prepared to sit and wait for a while until the standing waves lay down.

(Written by someone who’s a little bitter after just having reenacted Perfect Storm. -Rich

By the way… If you can contact or watch a local scuba diving operation, they know the tides. They have to when diving the passes, but they don’t always want to share.

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Mutton Cove Beach (Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand)

April 20, 2016

Our first stop on our exploration of the Mutton Cove area was Mutton Cove Beach.

Heading into the beach at Mutton Cove.

Heading into the beach at Mutton Cove.

Emerald water, golden sand, and lush forest beckoned as we approached Mutton Cove beach.

Emerald water, golden sand, and lush forest beckoned as we approached Mutton Cove beach.

As we pulled our dingy onto the beach, our feet sunk into the sand necessitating that we carry, rather than roll, the dinghy up to the high tide mark. The sand was coarser than we’re used to, the kind that gives you an involuntary foot exfoliation as you walk on it. We opted to keep our sandals on.

While it wasn’t the softest sand to walk on, it was a beautiful beach. This was our first introduction to the look of many of the beaches here: the sand distinctly golden and beautifully offset by emerald water near the shore. Behind us the forest was thick and lush. I had no doubt there would be beautiful scenery along the trail, but for now we were focused on the beaches.

Looking down towards our boat at Mutton Cove.

Looking down towards our boat at Mutton Cove.

After taking in the beautiful scenery, we planned to walk over the headland to the next beach south. From afar it looked easy, but up close we found we’d have to climb over a big rocky area. No thanks; we’ll take the dinghy.

A sweeping view of Mutton Cove beach from the headland.

A sweeping view of Mutton Cove beach from the headland.

The reason we decided to take our dinghy rather than walk to the next beach at Anatakapau Bay.

The reason we decided to take our dinghy rather than walk to the next beach at Anatakapau Bay.

As we motored around the headland to the next beach, we had our first experience with the reason some choose to kayak rather than hike the area: these headlands have beautiful sandstone formations and colorful pools not visible from the shore. From now on we’d take the dinghy around every headland. (Below, photos from our dinghy ride around the headland–click to enlarge/scroll.) –Cyndi

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Abel Tasman National Park and Mutton Cove (Tasman Bay, New Zealand)

April 20, 2016

able-tasman-pacture

This iconic aerial photo, borrowed from the internet, shows only a small portion of the park but manages to sum up its general look.

Our arrival in Tasman Bay marked our unofficial entry into Abel Tasman National Park.

Mutton Cove marks the north end of this famous coastline filled with miles of golden beaches, weather-carved sandstone headlands, quiet coves, and jungle-like river inlets. All this is backed by hills covered with native forest. Because the area is protected by various land masses, the beaches have no waves, giving it a peaceful, lake-like effect.


The interactive map below shows the Abel Tasman National Park’s coastline from it’s northernmost to southernmost points.

Separation Point
Marahau
Kaiteriteri

That’s not to say that weather isn’t a factor. It’s fairly mild, but morning northwesterlies generally switch to late-afternoon southeasterlies, which can make the anchorages choppy and uncomfortable if the breeze is strong. When an actual weather front comes along, boats need to be in a well-protected anchorage because the associated winds can get pretty strong.

Our strategy was to enjoy the several-day period of very light winds (enough so the evening breezes wouldn’t be an issue), and work our way south to a protected anchorage in time for a coming front.

We made our way into Mutton Cove, tucking in behind a small peninsula called Separation Point. This anchorage would give us dinghy access to three beautiful beaches: Mutton Cove, Anatakapau, and Anapai, and after several days on the boat we were anxious get out and do some walking!

Mutton Cove
Anatakapau Beach
Anapai Bay

Below, a few photos of our Mutton Cove anchorage. (Click to enlarge/scroll).

Incidentally, this area has a famous hiking trail: the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Like the Queen Charlotte Track (in the Marlborough Sounds), hikers can opt to do the entire 37-mile-long track over several days, or just do pieces of the track via water taxis and day hikes.

The other option is to do the coastline by kayak, stopping at whatever beach strikes your fancy. Kayakers see less of the forested trails, but some of the headlands and coves not accessible by trail are pretty spectacular. –Cyndi

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Ouvéa Island, New Caledonia

September 11, 2016

We’re sitting at Ouvéa Island. It’s windy but beautiful with crystal clear water and endless white sand beaches. This is the sandspit just off our port bow with threatening skies overhead.

Ouvéa Island, New Caledonia

Ouvéa Island, New Caledonia

Tonight the wind is supposed to come down a bit and we’ll head back to Grande Terre. There, the trades will still be strong but at least the wind seems to drop each night and morning (until about 9:00 AM) giving us some time to move around in OK winds. -Rich

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