|HAWAII TO FIJI 2004
January 25, 2004
The SV Jubilant left Honolulu for points south. Probable destination Australia by October 2004. Probably stops Line Islands, Cooks, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, New Caledonia. The following are recent emails from the Jubilant's crew, Denny the owner and crewmate Evan. Another crewmate is Mark.
Bula Capt Koo,
We wrapped up the parts chasing and shopping that took us to
Suva. I left a starter motor to be rebuilt for a couple of weeks and we left a
week ago to escape the rain. It was a two day trip along the south end of Viti
Levu with a nice overnight stop half way to reach to Manutha Group where we have
been since. The weather on this side is hot and clear. We have visited the posh
Musket Cove Resort where we got in 4 very nice dives up to 80 feet around the
reefs that seem to be everywhere. Water clarity is not as good as the 100 feet
plus that we experienced in the Somo Somo Straits area of NE Fiji, but still
great. Mark tore me away for a night to anchor off Beachcomber Island, a young
singles spot. It was fun, and we did get in a pretty good dive at 'Jackie's
Reef' where the fish were thick. It may be that college girls are a bit to
junior for meself.
Mark is flying out to Hawaii Sunday night so we are in Port Denerou, close to
the Nadi airport. He has been great crew and I hate to see him go, but it is
time for him to go build a business. I am getting some sail repair done here
then heading back to the same group of islands for 1-2 weeks.
On the way down to Suva from Koro Island we got into a string of Mahi Mahi while
sailing fast. I thought you &/or the site might enjoy this shot of Mark dancing
with one of them while seriously heeled.
Fiji West Side:
The visit to the big city of Suva was a shopping treat. We got our most needed
parts. The anchor windlass now works like a champ, ending our sore back
symptoms. A couple of spare electric motors were dropped off for repair to be
picked up in a couple of weeks. We went out for a few good meals and I caught up
on latte ingestion. The boat is loaded up on fuel at good prices. The bad news
was rain with only a few sun breaks.
We set out on a two day trip west past Viti Levu and the Mbenga Reef to Malolo
Laili in the Manutha Group. What a change. We have been here 4 days and I am
starting to miss rain and jungle. The weather is clear and the hills a bit
brown. We are off to Scuba dive this morning, our fourth dive day in a row.
There are a bunch of cruising boats here, mostly from New Zealand and Aussie
with a few Europeans for flavor. The cruising fleet from the US and Panama have
not started to arrive as yet. This anchorage, Musket Cove, has about 20 boats.
On the east side of Fiji we were often the only yacht. Even in the big city of
Suva we were one of about ten. My crew, Mark Hubbard, is leaving this weekend,
so it will be nice to have the company of other boats for a while.
Plans are to hang around this group of islands a couple of weeks then move to
the Yasawa Group and then back to the Somo Somo Straits area of Eastern Fiji,
but I am cruising, things change.
All is well here in Fiji. Mark and I arrived
Suva Sunday after cruising down from the Somo Somo Straits area of NE Fiji in
pretty boisterous weather with stops at Koro and Ngau Islands. I was rain much
of the way in squalls as a convergence zone has been laying over Fiji the last
week and a half. Even here we awake to find a few inches of rainwater in the
dingy. We are working on fixing the anchor windlass again. This is getting to be
very old news but Suva is the best place for parts and I hope to get the job
done. Hauling up anchor and chain by hand is not a lot of grins and having
Mark's young back available has been a good deal.
Mark will be leaving the end of June for a month of racking up earnings in
Honolulu before heading to Michigan. I am probably single handing around Fiji
until Bob Railton arrives from Washington to join me for the two months to
Brisbane. Wanna travel some more? Fiji is available from now to late August. I
don't expect that you are ready to cut out again yet, but there is an offer.
I had an interesting Medical experience a week ago. Without buildup, I ran a
fever to 104f. It would go down to 101f+ then spike again. We were anchored in
remote Viani Bay on the Somo Somo Straits where we had done a 100 foot reef dive
the day before. No nearby med help. I tried contacting a Doc via email who was
listed as available to hams. After a day of false start, it worked! This Doc in
NY State was a great help. I am fine now. The Doc wants me to try for lab tests
here but I hate hanging around for results. We will see.
We have just left the Vavau Group of Tonga headed for Nanuku Passage at the NE
end of the Fiji Islands. The pass is 312 miles away,two day most likely. The
winds have been light lately making for sissy sailing. We are motor sailing now
and probably would be doing 4 knots or so without the chug chug noise. We are
filling the water tanks with the water maker so all is not lost. We will be
crossing a convergence area so will get squalls and excitement later.
Vavau was starting to receive two or three cruising boats a day, mostly from New
Zealand or Fiji. The main bunch from the east (USA, Europeans and Panama) had
not started to arrive. We felt it a good time to leave and stay ahead of the
pack. The high points in Vavau included a few great dives, secure anchorages,
nice people in spite of growing bureaucracy and natural beauty.
The anchor windlass electric motor packed it up after we arrived. My crew Mark
Hubbard mad a valiant try to fix it without success. I was able to order a new
and more powerful motor from the manufacturer in Hobart, Tasmania. Almost two
weeks , and many manual anchor lifts later, the motor arrived but short on parts
and unusable. About the same time Mark arrived at a fix for the old motor at it
is reinstalled. Whew!!
We had a visit from Blair Grinols, single handing from Majuro in the Marshal
Islands to Samoa. He had unfavorable winds and dropped south to hang out with
us. I met Blair in Mexico 2 years ago and went to sea with him on Capricorn Cat
1 1/4 years ago from San Francisco to Hawaii expecting a very fast passage.
Unfortunately I came down with a nasty infection at sea and had to be taken back
to San Diego for treatment. It was great to be surprised by an old shipmate.
Tourism in Vavau Tonga is going through agony now after a couple of hopeful
seasons. The Royal Tongan Airline has gone broke Due to an attempt to develop
international routes with a leased 747 the Kings toy was made insolvent and took
the domestic service down with it. The Moorings Yacht Charter company was
leaving with four yachts as we did to deliver 28 customers to Nukualofa, 150
miles away, so they can get on Air New Zealand out of the country. Apparently
Fiji Air has offered service, which would be great for air fares and tourism but
the government seems embarrassed and won't agree.
So now it is close to three months in Fiji for me after being away for close to
24 years. I am definitely looking forward to the great people and spectacular
cruising while trying not to be destroyed if things have changed. I already know
that my best Fijian pal Edward Fisher died 4 years ago. I was looking forward to
seeing him again, but so it goes. We met two boats in Tonga who have spent 5 or
more years in Fiji. They both report the changes have left a still wonderful
We expect to check in at Savu Savu and cruise NE Fiji first.
Love to you all, Denny
Capt Koo, Vavau Tonga has been pretty nifty. Mark and I have been doing a lot of
wandering around the various anchorages. The snorkeling has been good, the
diving so far less so but we have just started. We were the first cruising yacht
to arrive this year and had the harbor to ourselves with the charter fleet. The
people working the fleet and the two waterfront restaurant/bars have been fun to
get to know. Now other cruisers are starting to arrive. Four boats in the last
week from Fiji and New Zealand. Last year Tonga had 500 cruising check ins. I
hope we leave before the crowd hits. The motor on the anchor windlass died a
couple of days ago and seems to not ( after two days effort by Mark and others)
be fixable. The Muir Company in Tasmania has a new motor at a reasonable price
that I am ordering. The sad news is that delivery may take two weeks. I expect
we will get back to diving while we wait and hauling up the anchor by hand.
Take care. Love, Denny
PS: I am attaching two pics of yours truly rocketing down a waterfall called
sliding rocks in the mountains above Apia, Samoa. It was scary but satisfying.
4'8" might be a lot of fun!
Mark and I left Apia yesterday morning and have had a pretty nice sail on the
way to the Niuatoputapu Group, about 160 miles north of Vavau, Tonga. We did
motor sail about 4 hours to make water and bring up the batteries. The forecasts
seemed to show we would have wind from the north and northwest. We got west
after the first few miles. Better than s'ly. Now it is raining pretty hard and
we are doing 7 knots. I expect we will arrive off the pass about 10 and troll
for tuna until about 13oo so we can enter on a rising tide as the pass has a
couple shallow spots charted at 3 meters, a little tight for us.
I asked Evan to leave the boat in Apia. He did without significant complaint. We
couldn't seem to communicate. Mark is a willing hand. It would be nice to have one of
those little, soft, people around. Maybe in Vavau, Tonga or Fiji.
This looks to be a nice place. It is a 3 by 1 1/2 mile island with a nice
lagoon. There are three Tongan villages with 1300 people, no power and trading
ships every few months. There is occasional bi weekly air service from Vavau or
Tongatapu. The Moon Travel Guide says there is one guest house, great beaches
and excellent snorkeling or diving.
Next email I will try a photo attachment and see how well Winlink handles it. It
is now 6:30 and morning twilight. We should be about 30 miles off. Guess I'll go
on deck and look for an island.
Captain Koo, We arrived off Niuataputopu in lousy conditions this am. Heavy
rain cut visibility to zero and we had winds to 30+ blowing right into the pass
having a least depth of just 3 meters. This looks like a great place, but not to
end it all on a reef. I decided to head downwind to the Vavau Group of Tonga,
165 miles away. As soon as the decision was made we got buckshot rain and the
wind kicked up to 35 knots. We are running with double reefed main and 50%
rolled Genoa on the pole. It has been a pretty exciting morning. I am actually
shivering cold. Mark performed well.
So it is Vavau manana. So far it looks like a fast trip. Love,Denny
Aloha Capt Koo,
We came over from American to Independent Samoa a week ago ( a 95 mile trip) and
have been pretty impressed. This would be a great place for a budget vacation.
Check this. We were doing an around Upolu Island bus tour last Sunday and
stopped to pick up a British guy at a Fale B & B overlooking a very beautiful
bay with Albatross Island in it. He had a private room with bath in an
immaculate house in a Samoan village. All meals were included. Dinner was steak
and lobster. The swimming looked great. The tab is $88 Samoan all included. That
is about $31.42 US. Some beach fale places were less than half that, but no
steak and lobster-- better bikini looking though.
Samoa had about 5 times the population and 10 times the area of American welfare
Samoa. Apia is a great town where most needs are satisfied after searching. The
people are welcoming and surprisingly polite. The weather has been a tad muggy
as we are at the end of the rainy season, but it is not quite over. The two main
islands are pretty large. Savaii, the more rural one is the largest Polynesian
island, second only to Hawaii.
I am waiting for mail to arrive in Apia. It only arrives on Fridays, so we are
off cruising Upolu. Tonight we are near multiple water falls in Fagaloa Bay. It
is a 2 1/2 mile deep bay with mountains up to 2800 feet close to shore on two
sides. Around the shore are four small villages. It is a remote setting. We came
in after fishing and haven't been ashore as the rain has been pretty steady.
Dinner tonight was sashimi and then cooked tuna. Come to think about it that was
We anchored Pago Pago harbor at about 1 am Sunday. The harbor is attractive
except for the huge tuna canneries on one side of the inner part. The mountains
around the harbor are very grand and naturally, it is one of the prettiest
harbors I have seen. It rains here a lot. At least 4-5 times a day and this is
not the rainy season. About half of the rain is because of the rain. Apia is
less than 100 miles away and has less than half the precipitation. I had heard
that it was a stinking mess. The bottom is pretty filled with junk and a lot of
plastic stuff comes down the streams but it is a little better than the Ali Wai.
Attempting to check in today we found the bureaucracy as reported (incredible,
with 5 officials to check Americans into a US port) but they were all very nice
folks just going through the motions of being officials. We came in for the
purpose of loading up on fuel and staples and will tackle that project Monday
and Tuesday. Sunday we did laundry, met officials walked to the tiny Pago Yacht
Club where I watched most folks get loaded. It was an interesting experience but
not one that needs often repeating.
American Samoa had almost no tourism and the few hotels are located to service
the bureaucracy, not for view, beaches or golf as in Hawaii. At the local level
there seems no interest in development of that, or any other type, rather the
focus seems to be on getting more budget out of the US Department of the
Interior. I in 4 adults "work" for the government and both Samoan's and Palangis
report that graft is rampant.
So, the report summarizes to, beautiful place and a terrible case of government
largesse run amuck.
Love to all, Denny
Hi Alvin, We got under way from Suvarov this morning headed for US Samoa 444
miles downwind. Suvarov was beautiful and the isolation nice but the underwater
stuff only medium wonderful. We speared nothing great for the pot. We have been
doing about 6 the first 50 miles under main and spinnaker. Small seas so the
ride is nice. I expect we will fuel and load up the freezer in Pago Pago , eat
lots of ice cream, and head out in a day or two for Apia where we get mail, a
couple of parts and the girls are reported to be better looking. Temp here is a
toasty 91f but there are a few squalls around and one should cool us down soon.
Love, Denny et al
Alvin, We left Manahiki early this am and plan to enter the lagoon at Suvarrov
mid day tomorrow. Thanks for the historic stuff. It did fill in some material I
didn't know from other sources. By the way, we spent the afternoon a couple of
days ago with Arthur Neale, the son of John Neal who is known for living alone
on Suvarrov and wrote the book "An Island to Myself". Today has been some great
downwind sailing including 4-5 hours romping along under the spinnaker. We then
passed through a band of rain squalls and have been motor sailing the 3 hours
since. I expect we will hang out here for a week or so, then to Apia with a
short stop on the way. As to systems, all is well except the speed log quit and
we have a slow seal leak on the shaft that runs the injector pump. Neither
problem is at all a big deal. Aloha, Denny
Manahiki, Northern Cook Islands. This is a great place. We spent a bunch of time ashore today meeting people and walking around. The island is still recovering from the 1997 hurricane that killed 20+ people and left most everyone homeless. A lot just gave it up and
relocated, with New Zealand sponsorship, to NZ or Rarotonga. There are lots of damaged and deserted house pads. That part is pretty sad. On the other hand the remaining folks are very friendly and warm. Welcome back to polynesia. The place has no lagoon entry so we are anchored off the reef with the anchor in 45 feet, the boat in 130 feet and it drops to 100 or so close behind us. The water is so clear we can easily see bottom detail in 60++ feet. I expect we will be here another day then off downwind to Savarov.
It is hotter this side (90 F) because it is the end of summer here.
Aloha Capt Koo,
It is 1 am and we are reaching along at 7.5 knots or so at 3.47 South 160.47
West headed for Suvarov atoll 580 miles away. We are about half way from Fanning
Island. There is still a chance we may stop at Manahiki Atoll about 130 miles
closer. It is supposed to be one of the prettier atolls but it lacks a pass and
only has anchorage off the reef. We will see. The passage so far has been a fast
one. We did 175 miles the first day and 184 the second. We had rain and squalls
the first few hours out of Fanning but easterly trades at 15 to 25 knots since.
Pretty nice going.
The only sighting so far was a Tuna Clipper out of Pango Pango with a Portuguese
skipper, Danny Reeves, from San Diego. It was nice two chat with another
American boat, unusual out here. He was catching a few fish. We have not, though
the meat hooks have been out all the time. After Suvarov we should have down
wind sailing the next two passages. It will be nice to be able to stay in the
bunk without the use of cramp ons.
The crew has been doing pretty well. We have been maintaining the 3 on 6 off
watch system you are used to. Pretty leisurely. Mark Hubbard was initiated into
the fraternity of Shellbacks when he crossed the equator for the first time by
yacht. It was at 2110 last night and we had a bit of ceremony. I presented him
with the certificate authorized by King Neptune. We tossed a few coins to
satisfy his Royal Highness. Mark and Evan had a shot of rum and gave two to
Neptune. Davy Jones observed and felt we did well.
We are a little early in the S Hemisphere cruising season and keeping a close
watch for any potential hurricane formations. Nothing has shown for over a month
and then in the west. If a late one is indicated we will run back up toward the
equator. The weather reporting on fax and Winlink has been terrific down here.
Amazing as compared with 22 years ago.
Keep Hawaii happy, Denny
The wind here has gone light to under 7 knots for the first time, really
nice as we are on the leeward side of the lagoon. We are going ashore today to
finish removing the tattered Sunbrella from the (now spare Genoa) so it can be
stowed aft for sea. There have been a few on deck projects like a new pole lift,
chafe guards on the main spreaders, and a mast head check.
While ashore we will pick up filled dive tanks from the NCL folks, bread, rice, and some fresh fruit and breadfruit from locals we have gotten to know. The passage planning is done. It looks like a beam to close reach to Penryn Island for 775 miles, then beam to
broad reach to Suvarov Island for 380 miles, then a run to Samoa for 540 miles.
The Pilot reports average winds a bit lighter than I would like and zero chance
of gales. We will see. I expect we will be at sea Thursday night.
The new computer seems to now be a happy camper. I have finished all the 79-82
trip stuff including the Power point Pack & Go disks and the backups. I am still
to finish organizing the old photo files but have made a pretty fair start. It
is a bit too nice here to spend long spells at the computer.
Underway we will be sending reports at least daily to Winlink and checking in
with the Seafarer's Net on 14.313 at 05:15 gmt.
Capt Koo. Projects today in the rain. Stowed the staysail stay in hopes of
downwind sailing in a week or so. Changed to spare Genoa, that looked pretty
unused and will stow the tan bark one after removing the tattered sunbrella edge
cover that took a beating between Hono and Palmyra. I went up the forestay to
cut some excess loose so the Genoa would unwind. Later we will cut the rest of
the Sunbrella off and sea how the sail looks after flogging in 45+ gusts but I
suspect it is ok and will get a new cover in Aussie. It then started another
rain squall while I was installing new chafe guards on the top spreaders. Yep, I
finished. The balance of the day feels like resting. We cooked a ham last night,
so the sandwiches should be great.
We are going wreck diving in the morning. First use of tanks since I left
Hawaii. It should be fun. Love to all, Denny
We arrived Fanning Island this morning at 3.51N and 159.22W after a 212 mile
beat into strong SE trade winds. We were pooped, and it feels great to be at
anchor. The island is part in Kiribati peopled by Gilbertese who look a bit
like Tongans and speak English as a 2nd language. They seem nice so far. In the
morning we plan to hike a lot of the atoll and should know a lot more. Also,
Thursday is cruise ship from Hawaii Day, and we get free food and the chance to
look at fat white people for a few hours. Today was a resting, swimming, salt
clean up one. We will know a lot of the folks after being here the 3 weeks or so
that we plan before heading for the Southern Hemisphere and the Northern Cook
Islands. For now ---tired. Oh yea, everything worked. Denny
Most everything worked. Most notable was the new auto pilot that got a heck
of a test with the high winds and stern quartering seas. The software we set up
on the old computer is working. I haven't gotten ready to fix the Powerpoint
stuff as I got burned out on computerdom trying to get the new one working. A
few day of break seems in order.
Yesterday, last night and the night before it NEVER stopped raining.
I had 8" of rain in the dingy just one of the times I
emptied it. Today is glorious and the other guys just left to check out a
surfing spot. The wind just shifted to the SSE right when we are starting to
think of heading down 190 miles to Fanning (to the SSE). Ain't that just life?
Probably it will go back to the NE someday. Until then, this is a lovely spot,
limited in great diving spots but in has some exceptional ones.
Aloha from Evan:
We arrived here on Friday about 6 pm. It was a pretty vigorous sail due South
from Honolulu-lots of 20-30 knot wind, which was fine and safe on Jubilant. We
only went straight downwind for about 1 of the 5 days sailing, so we were heeled
over most of the time, which, as you know makes it more difficult for walking,
sleeping and cooking. I was slightly seasick for the first couple of days (Mark
longer), but we made great time, averaging about 7 3/4 knots for the 960 Nmi
passage. We all seem to be sharing cooking & clean-up chores, so that's a big
plus. Mark (33) hasn't much experience, cooking or sailing, but is a very
willing learner. Denny (64) is the kind of owner one likes to sail with: very
experienced (but not a know-it-all), allows for mistakes and learning, flexible
in planning, companionable and talkative, and knows the need to go with the flow
rather than trying to control things that you usually can't control, such as the
weather, once you're at sea.
We'll probably be a week or so in Palmyra (officially they give you a maximum 7
days). It's newly purchased/run by the Nature Conservancy and has only a
caretaker couple here that live on their yacht and make sure all is prepared for
the scientific and donor groups that are flown down here for research or to see
where their money is being spent (it appears that most of the donors are made up
of bonefish fisherman, who, like most fishermen, seem to be fanatical enough to
make large donations just to be able to fish here. Palmyra was used by the Navy
during WW2 so it's got a fair amount of junk on it, but it is still very
tropical and idyllic. It rains up to 180 inches a year here because it is in the
ITCZ (see if you can figure out what that stands for!), so the rapid growth of
coconut and lush undergrowth (lots of Kukui trees, Anna!) has taken over,
covering much of the discarded machinery and buildings much like snow softens
the unnatural angularity of human endeavors. Other than having been an
unsuccessful copra plantation and long-liner fishing station, it is rumored to
have a buried treasure somewhere, and was the site of a grisly murder of a
cruising couple made famous by the book, "And the Sea Shall Tell." For us,
however, it is a wonderful respite from the rambunctious trade winds and seas
before continuing another 200 miles onto Fanning Island, where it will be
slightly drier since it is ever closer to the less rainy equatorial zone.
We will probably be on Fanning for about 4 or 5 weeks before "crossing the line"
(the Equator) and venturing into the true South Pacific; it is a matter of
waiting for the cyclone season to dissipate. A large storm hit Samoa just last
month. We'll probably be there around May/June. But we plan on inching slowly
into the South, stopping in the Cook Islands at places like Penrhyn and Suvarov
Atolls. In fact, if you want to learn better of the places I'll be stopping a
good (albeit old) book that I feel confident is in most larger libraries is
"Pacific Wanderer" by Earl Hinz. I'll let you know more of my thoughts and
discoveries in my Log, like I did on my last long voyage.
This is a much better place than I expected. I thought it would have a lot of
WW2 military junk laying around. Not so. The atoll is heavily treed and very
pretty. Last night and today it has rained a lot, common for this time of year
in the convergence zone. Mat and Elizabeth, the couple that operates the place
for The Nature Conservancy, have been here for a couple of years, on an earning
break from cruising, and they are great. They live on their boat here although
there are kitchen, cabin, and shop facilities ashore. It feels like a kids summer
camp for adults that are used to pretty first class living. Tonight Mark, Evan
and I were invited in for dinner. Had a great time and a great meal. This place
has huge freeze plant supported by a couple of generators and 5000 gallons of
fuel. The kitchen tent is a gourmet kitchen and serving area. These naturalists
have a pretty good handle on how to live. In the a.m. I get to use the washers and
driers. Nice as we got a lot of clothing, sheets and towels wet on the way down.
After that we scout diving and surfing spots. We are the only cruising boat and
have the lagoon to ourselves. Pretty nice.
We arrived Palmyra Island last night after a 170 mile/day passage. Beautiful
place. We haven't been ashore yet but appear to be welcome based on radio
contact. We share the anchorage with no one. Surf and diving both should be
great. All three of us are in great shape and broke records for deep sleep last
night. It was a 950 nm trip with 1/2 day of calm, 1 1/2 day of reaching fast in
thunderstorm activity, 1 1/2 days of reaching in trades, 2 days running. Good
Denny Morgan, S/V Jubilant
We got away as per plan on Sunday and powered south until evening when the wind
arrived as did unforecast thunderstorms lasting about 24 hours. The crew guys
performed very well although both were a bit queasy. Winds topped at about 50,
frequently 40. During one of the blasts we needed to roll up the Genoa. It
flapped so violently that the sunbrella protective strip shredded but not the
sail. Sailing since we cleared the thunderstorm belt, that Alvin said made for
excitement in Honolulu, late Monday has been fast in strong trades 20-35
reaching close or beam. the wind went NE this morning to let us broad reach. It
is steadier and more fun. We should be stopping at Palmyra atoll for some
diving, then on to Fanning in a week or so. Life is bueno. Love, Denny
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