The end of the South Pacific cyclone season and the time to sail back to the tropics are approaching. As you may remember, I had originally planned/hoped to reach South Africa by December of last year. It certainly would have been possible to do so (Laura Decker, the Dutch teenager who recently completed her circumnavigation, and I were in Bora Bora at the same time; she reached South Africa around that time), but a more leisurely pace turned out to be more to my liking. Now my goal is to reach South Africa by December of this year. When departing NZ for the tropics at the beginning of the cruising season (ie the winter when cyclones/hurricanes usually don’t happen), the idea is to depart NZ before the winter gales but after the tropical cyclones are over. I guess there are various ideas as to when the cyclone season ends. I plan to on my way to Fiji by mid-April unless the forecast dictates otherwise.
So, a rough itinerary:
April 15: Depart NZ
April 26: Arrive Fiji
May 26: Depart Fiji
May 31: Arrive Vanuatu
June 15: Depart Vanuatu
June 27: Arrive Papua New Guinea (PNG)
July 15: Depart PNG
July 27: Arrive Darwin, Australia
August 25: Depart Darwin
September 10: Arrive Christmas Island
September 17: Depart Christmas Island
September 22: Arrive Cocos Keeling Islands
September 27: Depart Cocos Keeling
October 20: Arrive Mauritius
October 27: Depart Mauritius
October 29: Arrive Reunion Island
November 15: Depart Reunion Island
November 22: Arrive Madagascar
November 30: Depart Madagascar
December 7: Arrive Durban, South Africa
December 24: Arrive Cape Town, South Africa.
So there will be a fair amount of sailing but also some time for R&R.
In the meantime Twister remains moored off Paihia in The Bay Of Islands (BOI). Sunday and Monday I had a lovely sail around the BOI with 5 friends of mine. I was a bit apprehensive about having so many people aboard, but it went well and everyone had a good time. We spent Sunday night anchored off Urupukapuka Island (two rowed ashore and camped on the beach while the rest of us slept on the boat). Monday we sailed to Deep Water Cove and enjoyed some snorkeling on a rocky reef. Deep Water Cove is a Marine Conservation Area, so there is a lot of underwater wildlife. We sailed up to the mooring off Paihia just as the sun was setting Monday evening.