Catamaran QUIXOTIC is now taking bookings for the upcoming 2017 and 2018 charter seasons. Come experience the sailing holiday of a lifetime in Fiji! Please contact us today to lock in your discounted rates. Be part of the adventure! To learn more and check out our new site please visit: www.quixoticcharters.com by clicking the link below. We look forward to hosting you aboard! Please spread the word and be sure to tell your friends about this unique charter opportunity!
We just witnessed one of the most amazing natural scenes. Tonight we turned on the blue underwater lights that usually draw fish to the boat. We knew this bay was extremely healthy and full of fish but we had no idea of the scale that would be drawn under the boat. We went outside around 10pm and hundreds of fish were schooling under the boat, There were smaller schools around the boat that were just outside the blue underwater lights but were illuminated by natural bioluminescence. We watched in awe as the schools danced a ballet and the smaller schools would blow apart and come back together as they were hunted by predator fish. We extinguished our lights and continued watching in awe as the captivating bioluminescence fanned out into ever smaller schools as the fish very slowly dispersed. One of the most magnificent natural events I have ever been fortunate enough to witness. And the icing was the glassy conditions, kiwis calling from the hills, the clear sky and thousands of stars, as Great Barrier Island is a dark sky sanctuary.
I think we will stay here a while longer. We summited Hirakimata (Mt. Hobson) yesterday with new friends Ben and Ashley (s/v Nahoa) and there are a few more trails to conquer. Oh, and those natural hot springs are calling our name..
22 March 2018
Port Fitzroy Harbour, Great Barrier Island, Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand
After months of hard work, late nights, stress, tens of thousands of dollars and heaps of sweat-equity, Quixotic is back in the water and ready to sail north back to the islands. She just spent the past four months in a specialized catamaran boatyard undergoing some repair and upgrades. We had our fair share of challenges, triumphs, setbacks and achievements but in the end more things went right than wrong and last Saturday we lowered her keels back into the Whangarei river in New Zealand and order was restored.
We are now enjoying our first night at anchor since lifting out in November; it feels amazing to be swinging on the hook again! Our view has been transformed from boatyard to lush green rolling hills set above glistening turquoise water framed by white sand beach. Tomorrow we sail for Great Barrier Island for some much-needed and well-deserved rest and exploration. We still have some items on the never-ending “to-do” list, but we can now chip away at a more relaxed pace than the unsustainable pace we set in the boatyard.
Quixotic is in the best condition she has ever been in. We completed an extensive refit and made some structural and safety upgrades to her hull and rudders. We also completely upgraded her charging and electrical system with help from Scott at Empower Electrical and his apprentice, non other than Laura Dekker – the world record holder for being the youngest person to sail solo around the world! It was really cool to have her aboard and get to know her. While the list of upgrades is extensive and would fill multiple blog entries, here are just a few I can recall off the top of my head:
Drop rudders, cut open and fully-inspect shaft and internal stainless, re-install and re-grease
Inspect and weld stainless skeg heel fittings, grease and re-install
Reinforce skegs with multiple layers of new epoxy and fiberglass
Clean, and rebuild props and change zincs
Install new stainless swim ladder
Upgrade block for boom crane
Replace all bearings in main traveller
Install new scoop intake thru-hull for watermaker
Seal access ports on swim step
Remove stainless water tank, weld new floor, re-install
New LPG regulator, pigtails and tanks
Epoxy seal and paint port engine bilge
Epoxy seal and paint around both rudder quadrants
Epoxy paint starboard engine room
Sand and apply five new coats ablative antifouling to bottom
Re-seal entire rub rail with 3M UV4000 sealant
Replace hose into starboard water heater
New port water heater
Re-bed liferaft hatch
Re-bed portlight in port forward head
Remove sails, take to loft, inspect and minor repairs, new bolt rope and new battens
New fresh water pump
Install new 300AH Lithium battery bank with BMS (Battery Management System) (Sinopoly Cells with Orion Jr. BMS)
Kia Ora! Coming to you live from New Zealand, 15 feet above sea level, aboard the good ship Quixotic: Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and family!
We have so much to be thankful for this year. Thank you to all our amazing family and friends for all their love and support. Thank you to all our amazing guests who have helped make Quixotic Charters an amazing success in only the first year. We are thankful for our health and well-being. And lastly, we are thankful for the amazing vessel Quixotic, for taking care of us and seeing us safely through rough seas and across oceans and for being our luxurious private floating island.
After arriving in New Zealand almost a month ago, we spent some time exploring the North Island; hiking, glamping, exploring. Then we set sail down the coast and linked up with friends along the way exploring hidden bays and hiking some amazing terrain. Then we spent about five days docked downtown in the Whangarei town basin getting our fill of city life. Now we find ourselves hauled out at Norsand Boatyard, where Quixotic will be for the next few months as we travel back to the states for an overdue visit with family.
The haul out went well and we are now scrutinizing every inch of Quixotic for any sign of stress or fatigue after beating her up over the past year and a half since launching in Fiji. But all is going well and Quixotic will leave here in phenomenal condition once again and ready for the 2018 charter season!
Happy Thanksgiving to our family and amigos back in the states. See you guys soon.
We’re back in New Zealand for the summer! QUIXOTIC made a fast, successful passage from Savusavu, Fiji to Opua, New Zealand in 6 days, 21 hours and 30 minutes. The first day out was a fast sail with stiff trades on the beam; the second day out was a calm motor-sail south into rain and convection; the third day brought rough seas with 25-30 kt winds as we battled a stronger than forecast frontal system that we ended up having to run from for 6 hours before resuming our southbound progress; the fourth day we fought our way into the high pressure system and tried our best to put distance between us and the front as we bashed south; the fifth and sixth days brought sunshine and was spirited sailing with consistent wind on the beam and just enough seas to keep us on edge; and the final 21 hour stretch was some of the most exciting sailing we have ever had, with long high-speed surfs, topping out at a new record speed of 15.6 knots!
QUIXOTIC did an amazing job and completed the passage without any major breakage, the only casualty being a ripped window shade covering on the front of the salon. There was also a half dozen squid stuck all over her decks; oh, and Alyssa got nailed right in the chest by a flying fish while sitting at the helm!
By the way, as you will note below, we ran the engines almost the entire time. This allowed us to make the most speed, keep the batteries charged up, and also allowed us to sail with much reduced canvas allowing for care-free nighttime transiting of squalls and wind shifts. It was the lazy sailors approach but worked well for us as it put much less stress on the rig and on the crew. Diesel is cheap but rigs are expensive!
But what a difference a year makes as the last time we sailed her down she was just being tested and now she completes one of the most notorious passages in the world without breaking a sweat!
It’s great to be back in New Zealand. It’s cold, it’s beautiful, the grocery selection is amazing, and we can’t wait to go hiking this afternoon. We plan to cruise the Bay of Islands for a few weeks before sailing down to Whangarei to haul QUIXOTIC out of the water for some much-deserved rest and minor refitting and upgrades.
Here are some pictures and stats from the passage. Hope everyone is having a great day!
Lewis & Alyssa
31 October, 2017
-Pomare Bay, Bay of Islands, Northland, New Zealand
Fiji to New Zealand 2017 Passage Summary:
Waitui Kelekele Marina, Savusavu, Fiji
16 46.618 S, 179 19.755 E
Bay of Islands Marina, Opua, New Zealand
Total miles sailed: 1,290 NM
Rhumbline distance: 1,147 NM
Total elapsed time: 6 days, 21 hours, 30 minutes
Average speed: 7.8 Knots
Top Speed: 15.6 Knots
Average miles sailed per day: 187 NM
Average rhumbline distance per day: 166 NM
Total engine run time: 155 hours (94% of total passage time)
Average RPM: 1800
Fuel consumed: 145 gallons
GPH per engine: 0.54
Fuel remaining aboard at arrival: 55 gallons
Propellers used: Bruntons Autoprops
Water tankage at departure: 120 gallons
Water consumed on passage: 110 gallons
Water desalinated on passage: None
Water remaining at arrival: 10 gallons
Average wind speed: 18 knots
Lowest wind speed: 6 knots
Highest wind speed: 30 knots
Average swell wave height: 1.8m
Highest estimated swell height: 3.5m
Average wind wave height: 1.6m
Highest estimated wind wave height: 3.3m
Total (estimated) accumulated duration of squalls/rain: 36 hours
Small Issues: Torn window shade/cover from breaking/boarding seas
Air temp on departure: 88 F
Air temp on arrival: 62 F
Sea temp on departure: 83 F
Sea temp on arrival: 54 F
Total mutiny/arguments amongst crew: 0
Estimated number of times the bridgedeck slammed/bombed: a lot
Fish caught: Didn’t fish
Number of Squid we had to pry off the deck: 8
Number of Fish that flew into Alyssa while on watch: 1 suicide bomber flying fish
Hey everyone! It’s been a long time since our last update. All is great in the beautiful Fijian Islands! We are hiding out in a secret bay just off a black sand beach in the lee of beautiful Taveuni Island. It’s a gorgeous spot and only rarely visited by a few locals on horseback, who bring their steeds to the beach to cool them off. We are always improving the comfort aboard so today the Mermaid is tackling cockpit cushions. They are already amazingly comfortable! We thought we should share the scene. My particular favorite is the irony of her t-shirt slogan….. The second picture is the final product and the background is beautiful Paradise Taveuni Resort. Cheers! – L&A
It’s blowing the dogs off their chains out here in the Northern Yasawa Islands! The trades howling through the Bligh Passage between the two main islands had made for a tough bash north but excellent kiting and windsurfing conditions! We are patiently waiting for the wind to lay down so we can sail the 50NM upwind back to Vanua Levu and Savusavu; looks like we may get our chance tomorrow. In the meantime we can explore the incredible limestone geography at Sawa-I-Lau, where we are currently anchored.
Our friends, Ryan and Kristina, are visiting for a couple weeks. We have been having a blast – reeling in tuna and barracuda, kayaking, paddleboarding, windsurfing, doing some boat projects and kicking back.
Alyssa has spoiled us all with her amazing cooking and the sunset appetizer spread is a highlight of the day. The sunsets have been beautiful and the southern wind has kept the temps and humidity down, heralding the arrival of the southern hemisphere winter.
Thanks again to the Van Maanen family for gifting us an awesome inflatable windsurfing board! I was able to MacGyver a fix for the rudder with some zip ties so we’re back in action! Alyssa was able to sail upwind all the way back to the boat on her first day!
We sailed from New Zealand to Fiji in only 6 days! Tonight we are motoring the extra 125 miles to Savusavu and will clear in mid-morning tomorrow (Saturday local). The seas are MUCH calmer now that we are in between the islands. We are blasting across the Koro Sea, motoring into the wind at 7.5 knots; the waves are about 4-5 feet but, after the big messy seas we’ve had this past week, tonight feels like we are on a lake!
We just had an exciting event aboard. It was just before midnight. The Mermaid woke me and said the port engine temp was slowly rising and was 10 degrees (F) higher than starboard. – We have a digital temperature gauge at the nav station that tells us the exact temp of the thermostat housing on each engine, this is how we were able to recognize there was an issue and then go about fixing it. – So, I got up and went into the engine compartment to do my manly duties and have a poke around. The water flow was very low in the sea strainer and the exhaust elbow temp was higher than normal and hot to the touch near the injection point. The raw water pump was running cool so that means we had flow. Hmm…. Alyssa thought it could be a barnacle stuck in the intake. Our friend, the Pirate Bruce, had a similar issue in the past so we thought it could be obstructed at the sea cock on the saildrive. So, I suggested we remove the hose from the strainer and try and blow the obstruction out through the saildrive. We elected the Mermaid to perform the operation (hey – it was still her shift!). She was awesome. She got in the hot engine room and removed the intake hose. There was very little sea water flow coming in. She then blew hard into the hose and after a couple attempts she managed to blow out the mystery obstruction (small squid? barnacle? small fish? who knows…) and was able to blow air out of the bottom of the saildrive. Once the hose was clear, salt water came rushing in. She then re-connected the hose to the strainer and we ran the engine – FIXED! Ample flow and a cooler exhaust elbow. Now the engines are both purring nicely and temp is constant. Good thing too because we have current against us in this channel and wind on the nose all the way into Savusavu, which we expect to reach by 0900.
Yesterday, while bashing our way into 25 knot squalls and generally nasty seas on approach to Suva, we heard a mayday call on the VHF. In four years of cruising I have never heard a mayday call. I had just got out of the shower after rinsing salt crystals off me when I heard the call. I immediately turned up the radio and grabbed a pen and pad. I got the boat name (Sea Breeze) but not the coordinates. I was so worried for them and knew we must be the only vessel within range because Suva was still about 80 miles away. I listened for another minute and then tried them on 16. After a couple attempts I was able to raise the ship “Sea Princess”. The copy was very faint and we struggled to communicate (they were 22 NM away). After clearly stating our name, position, call sign and confirming that they understand we are NOT in distress but we received a mayday call from the vessel “Sea Breeze” they thanked us for the information and asked us to stand by 16. I was out in the salt spray looking intently for any sign of another vessel. We also had the radar on trying to find any signature that wasn’t a squall. I was all worked up about going and finding this poor mariner in distress when we heard another call on the VHF. It was the “Sea Princess” calling us. We responded and then the radio operator began explaining that the mayday call was originated from his ship but was sent in error! I guess they were running a drill and some rookie sent out an actual mayday call on a handheld VHF or something. So, there was no distress and I got all salty again for a prank mayday call!
We have been at the Copra Shed dock for two hours. We are all cleared in to Fiji and the boat has had a much-needed bath! It’s sunny, warm and beautiful here! Lunch time!!
This was one hell of a passage. It was tough going. Hard on the boat and hard on her crew. We are probably not sailing back to New Zealand any time soon. We are trying to remember another passage (catamaran or monohull) that was been this uncomfortable and we are coming up blank. It was the seas that made it so uncomfortable – they were the perfect height and period to throw the cat around, and they were coming from so many directions. It wasn’t really the wind as we have had much more wind in the past with a much more manageable and orderly sea state. We left with GRIBS calling for light air with wind 13-17 on the beam most of the way and relatively calm seas; in the end we were dealt a different hand of cards. But hey, we made it, in one piece, and in record time. And we are very glad this passage is over.
Stay tuned for a video in the next week that you will definitely not want to miss! Here are some stats from our passage:
New Zealand to Fiji Passage Summary: Departed: Marsden Cove Marina, Whangarei, New Zealand 35 50.211S, 174 28.114E 15/04/2017 11:30 local
Arrived: Copra Shed Marina, Savusavu, Fiji 22/04/2017 09:30 local
Total miles sailed: 1,347 NM Rhumbline distance: 1,173 NM
Total elapsed time: 6 days, 22 hours
Average speed: 8.1 Knots Top Speed: 13.2 Knots
Average miles sailed per day: 195 NM Average rhumbline distance per day: 170 NM
Total engine run time: 98 hours (60% of total passage time) Average RPM: 1950 Fuel consumed: 132 gallons GPH: 1.35 GPH per engine: 0.67 Fuel remaining aboard at arrival: 56 gallons
Water tankage at departure: 120 gallons Water consumed on passage: 60 gallons Water desalinated on passage: None Water remaining at arrival: 60 gallons
It’s 0100 on Day 5 of the New Zealand to Fiji passage. We have 23 knots on the beam and are sailing at 7.5 knots under triple-reefed main and deeply-reefed jib. With the seas on the beam, we are taking waves and some making it into the cockpit. We are less than 90 miles from Fijian waters. Tonight reminded me of the sailors “black box” theory…
The “black box” theory states that every offshore sailing vessel has a imaginary black box. In port, every time you repair, replace, clean or inspect something aboard you put a token in the black box. For us it was new engines, replacing the chainplates, inspecting the rig, installing new bilge pumps, cleaning the port and hatch gaskets, and a long list of other things. For each of these tasks we put an imaginary token in our black box. Once your black box is full of tokens you put to sea and test you preparedness. Once at sea and the conditions turn ugly, the sea starts taking tokens from your black box. Big seas slam into the boat and water finds its way into the bilge, your new pumps come on. Big seas shake the rig and slam the sails testing your rig and testing the new chainplates – the rig stays stays up. The wind lightens but the seas remain and you turn on the new engines to keep way and lessen the stresses on the boat. Waves board the boat and splash on the engine panels – but we sealed them extremely well so no saltwater will get to the electronics or wiring. The batteries run low but we turn on the generator that we rebuilt and it runs well. The steering system works flawlessly because we greased the chain and pulleys and carefully inspected the entire length of cable. But the sea removes tokens as well; the worse the conditions, the more tokens it will cost. We have a list of items that need addressed while back in port, and once we address these items we can add back the tokens to our black box. The hatches and ports we cleaned have worked well and not leaked but are now salty and need cleaned again in order to get our token back. The bilge pump check valves need replaced. The rig will need a very thorough inspection. The engines will need an oil change, ditto the generator. So far, on this passage, we have managed to keep enough tokens in the black box to keep the boat afloat and moving well, with the rig up, and all her systems running. It’s very satisfying to reach port with a box still mostly full of tokens.
Made 178 NM in past 24 HRS. 1,037 NM from Whangarei, NZ. 133 NM from Savusavu. 64 NM from Suva. 29 NM from the Great Astrolabe Reef.
It’s been squally and raining for almost 24 hours now. We just went through an extensive squall that packed white-out conditions with salt spray in the air, 30 knots and breaking seas. We think we are poking out of the north side because we are finally seeing wind from the NE. That means we will be hard on the wind from here to Savusavu, but if the forecast is correct, it will lighten.
A very frustrating part of this passage has been the disconnect between the GRIBS and reality. On the GRIBS the weather looks pleasant – 16-18 knots just aft the beam, with no convection, moderate wind-driven seas, and sunshine. In reality we have had either not enough wind or too much wind, relentless squalls, long periods of overcast and rain, short-period confused breaking seas from multiple directions, wind shifts and generally unpleasant conditions.
But, we have made record time. We are in Fijian waters after only 6 days at sea and the boat is still running well with the blue side down and the stick in the air. We could clear in to Suva today if we wanted to. We have another night of sailing to reach Savusavu, but we expect to be in much better sea conditions as we will be sailing in between reefs and islands – our familiar waters! It’s funny – I was joking with Lyss that I see a billboard in Suva that says “If you lived here, you would already be home.” We will be home tomorrow.
We will send a final update and passage summary tomorrow morning on our approach into Savusavu Bay. We’re so close!
21/04/2017 0100 UTC 19 03.86 S, 179 03.67 E 350 T 8.0 KTS Wind: 23 kts NE Seas: 7-9 ft breaking (still) Water Temp: 82 F Clothes: Wouldn’t even consider it – too hot and humid for that nonsense