QUIXOTIC – New Zealand to Fiji – Passage Summary

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!

Noon update:

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!!

Passage Summary:

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:
Marsden Cove Marina, Whangarei, New Zealand
35 50.211S, 174 28.114E
11:30 local

Copra Shed Marina, Savusavu, Fiji
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

Average wind speed: 18 knots
Lowest wind speed: 3 knots
Highest wind speed: 29 knots

Average swell wave height: 13 feet
Highest estimated swell height: 22 feet
Average wind wave height: 9 feet
Highest estimated wind wave height: 15 feet

Total (estimated) accumulated duration of squalls/rain: 32 hours

Breakages: None
Issues: Raw water intake blockage – port engine; bilge pump check valve failure – port engine room

Air temp on departure: 68 F
Air temp on arrival: 86 F

Sea temp on departure: 56 F
Sea temp on arrival: 83 F

Total mutiny/arguments amongst crew: 1

Estimated number of times the bridgedeck slammed/bombed: 500+

Fish caught: 2 skipjack tuna



  1. Pirate Bruce's Gravatar Pirate Bruce
    April 22, 2017    

    Love it”…….. and love you both too……
    Welcome home to Bula, Vinaka, Fiji !! I enjoyed our welcome seromony involving Christmas presents and ice cold Fiji Gold Long necks along with stories of your passage !!!!
    Cheers to Quixotic and crew !!!!!!!!!

    Pirate Bruce

    • April 22, 2017    

      Thanks buddy! It’s so great to be back!! Ahhrrrrrr!

  2. Bob & Joyce (S/V Chara)'s Gravatar Bob & Joyce (S/V Chara)
    April 22, 2017    

    Glad to hear you made it back safely. Hope we can catch up sometime this season. I’m still at Vuda and Joyce arrived on the 4th.


    • April 22, 2017    

      Thanks guys!! We will be bouncing around all of Fiji this season so we will definitely cross paths. See you soon!

  3. Pamela Fives's Gravatar Pamela Fives
    April 22, 2017    

    Hi Kids… Great job, as usual… I love reading your adventures… Enjoy your home… Love & Hugs, GrandmaMama

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