As soon as one chapter closes, another one opens.... Truly the end of an era, but my beloved s/v MONGO has been sold in Opua, New Zealand and I have flown back to California and purchased the Cal 2-29 "Sleepy II", which is to be renamed. Total transition time? 2 weeks from final sale of MONGO in Opua to signing of papers on Sleepy II in Alameda. Had a killer four months in New Zealand, but ultra-stoked to be back in the Bay and pursuing all that life has to offer on the left coast. Stay tuned, a lot more to come as I prepare this Cal for it's first journey to Mexico this fall and update the blog with more from my time in New Zealand, the Moth Worlds in Australia in January and upcoming adventures including this summer's "TransAtlantic Race", another Hawaii return delivery, September's Big Boat Series and probably the Baja Ha-Ha in October. Much more soon.

The new whip - Another fine Bill Lapworth-design built by Cal Yachts. 1975 Cal 2-29 "Sleepy II", lying Alameda, CA. Lovingly owned by the same couple since she was nearly new, Sleepy II has spent most of her life under a full cover, only seeing the light of day on weekend sails. As a result, she looks almost like new inside and out and runs like new with her low-hour Universal 3-cylinder diesel. Once again, California provides and i've scooped up another clean small cruising boat well capable of going places. This little boat has absolutely no idea what is about to happen to it...


The original plan was to sail MONGO to Australia and sell up before returning home to California. Australia ended up being New Zealand, and for the time being, it has become home as well. It took me a long time to get here and now that i'm here i'm in no rush to leave, especailly as we're coming into summer down under. California still lays on the horizon for me, but I have everything that I need in Opua, New Zealand and plan to explore that for a while; with Rebekah, through part-time work, sailing on MONGO and with new Kiwi friends. Home is the sailor.

I have settled right into feeling at home here in Opua, New Zealand. I've found part-time work, am loving cruising New Zealand, have company on MONGO and am happy to explore a daily life in Opua for a while. Picture is of MONGO anchored at Urupukapuka Island, Bay of Islands.


This is how much of the passage to New Zealand looked. Deeply-reefed sailing upwind on port tack in 20-25 knots. There are truly no free sailboat rides to New Zealand, but the little boat straight rocked it out. Long live Bill Lapworth, the famed Cal Yachts designer.

I've written in these pages about many "changes in plans" before and i'm sure I will do so again... As you can tell from my last blog entry to this blog entry, there has been a big change in my crusing and voyaging plans. Namely sailing MONGO to New Zealand instead of Australia. And for that, I will say 'mission accomplished'!!! This was by far the most challenging and daunting passage and test that MONGO has ever under taken and without a doubt the sweetest feeling upon completion.

It all started the moment I got to Fiji. Pretty much everyone that I met was headed to New Zealand and when I told them that I was headed to Australia, I would oftentimes get the question "why?". I would expain my motives; good market to sell the boat, great place to cruise, surfing, doing the Sydney to Hobart, etc. The more I talked to other cruisers (many of whom have 'been there, done that'), the more that I learned and began to change opinions and beliefs on the matter. It turns out that New Zealand is arguably as good a place to sell the boat, it is 100 times better of a cruising destination (at least compared to the east coast of Australia where I would have taken MONGO...) and the surf is as good or better and imminently less crowded. With no good Sydney to Hobart ride sorted out (I turned down a couple of potential offers on slow shitters), the motivation to head to Sydney was waning. As I continud hearing and reading horror stories about the Aussie bureaucracy and making friends in Fiji that were all headed to New Zealand, I became a bit upset that I was headed to Australia, even though I had a great time there last year and I love the country.

Cruising friends upon arrival in Opua. They had all made the crossing to NZ at the same time as I did. L to R: Tony and Steve (Knot Tide Down), me (MONGO), Joe and Heidi (s/v Huck) and Debbie (Buena Vista). Great to arrive to friendly familiar faces after a challenging crossing and swp stories!

The final nail in the coffin came on the day before I cleared out of Fiji. After sending my pre-notice of arrival to Australia, I received two very dickish (at least in my interpretation) emails with a lot of bold-print, underlined words such as you' MUST NOT' do this and you 'MUST' do that, followed by a table of fees, potential fees and other expenses that could have, at the whim of a single customs agent, literally bankrupted me.



Fiji to New Zealand crossing on MONGO


3 NOV 2014 - Departed Musket Cove at 0930 on 1 NOV in a light NW’ly breeze. Said good bye to several friends on the way out and sailed out the reef channel into Musket Cove and towards Namotu Island. Pumping SSW swell was due to arrive that day, yet I decided to embark for New Zealand and forego surfing. Boards were stowed and final preparations were made before leaving Musket Cove. Raced the South African-flagged Leopard 45 catamaran Amphitreete towards Namotu. They were slightly faster but could not point as high; it was a draw. They gave in, dropped the jib and motored towards Tavarua Island to go surfing at ‘Restaurants’. Tony and Steve on Knot Tide Down motored past me with no sails set and motored towards the pass between Namotu and Tavarua. That is the deepest and widest pass, yet as I became more and more headed in SW’ly breeze, I was able to tack to port and effectively lay Wilkes Pass. Wilkes is more shallow at just 12-15 meters minimum depth and not as wide but it looked do-able. A quick tack back to starboard near Namotu and then back to port and I was lined up for the pass, able to put the bow down and really power the boat up under full main and working jib. Sailed 20 meters to leeward of a moored surf-transport boat at Namotu Lefts. Sailed up and over several big set waves, none of which were breaking in the pass, and sailed out between Namotu Lefts surf break and Wilkes Pass surf break. Received a nice salute from the six surfers in the water at Namotu Lefts. No one ever claimed that sailing an engineless boat wasn’t dodgy at times. Another solid adrenaline rush on MONGO.


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