Ships Log:(updated as time permits)

9-10-01 - Hello to all from the good ship Astor,

We have just returned to Musket Cove, Fiji from a trip to the Yasawa Islands in north western Fiji. All the sailing is behind Fiji's barrier reef so there is no ocean swell, just flat water and trade winds. There are obstacles to avoid like many islands, coral reefs, sand bars, rocks and native boats. You can be sailing along at 10 kts. in 150 feet of water parallel to a reef that has a depth or 2 feet. The charts have vast areas marked "unsurveyed" and even the areas that are surveyed seldom show water depth. The water is usually 70 to 200 feet deep or 2 feet with little in between. The water is very clear and as long as the sun is behind you can see hazards a good distance off so sailing is "safe" as long as you watch.

Navigation - rock hopping - is easy because you are never out of sight of land. There are usually 5 islands in sight at any time and each island has at least 2 good anchorages so you never have to sail in unfavorable conditions. The wind is usually 10 to 15 kts. in a favorable direction.

When you anchor in a bay that has a native village you must go ashore and present sevusevu to the chief. In sevusevu you present the chief with a half kilo of kava root as an offering of good will. If he accepts (they always do) you are invited into their village as a guest. This allows you to anchor, swim, fish, use the beach, and visit with the natives. Life is simple but good in the villages and the people seem very happy and healthy. Many of the islands are uninhabited so you can anchor by yourself in a palm studded bay with beautiful white coral sand beaches. The bigger bays may have one or two other boats visiting but there is never a crowd.

The snorkeling in every anchorage is spectacular and different. Each area has its own unique coral and fish. Just about the time you think you have seen it all you are searching the books to find the names of new fish never seen before. The highlight of our underwater experiences on this trip has to be swimming with the manta rays in the Tokatokaunu pass between the islands of Naviti and Drawaqa. Every day at high tide the giant manta rays (about 8 feet across) enter the pass to feed on plankton. The day we were there, we found about 8 of these gentle creatures. You could swim right next to them, touch if you wanted to, as they were unconcerned about us. We swam until we were exhausted and then watched from the dingy.

Daniel's Dad, Rudolf, has been guest crew for the last two weeks - it's been a year and a half since they have seen each other - and I think he has had a great time, He keeps talking of cashing in his return ticket and staying.

One last note, Mariah has just had her 20th. birthday swimming with manta rays in Fiji, could it be better.

Cheers, Richard, Lani, Mariah, Daniel, Rhys

9-7-01 - Yes, many days have passed since our last update. Our days have fallen into basic routines. I will try to be better about sending out posts. The days just go by and though it is all fun, there is not really anything new to write about. Then, as always, again there is another sunset.
Daniel's Dad, Rudolf is visiting with us now - he came about a week ago and plans to stay until mid September. With Daniel's dad on board we have been moving around Fiji quite a bit. We actually left musket cove after being there for a month!

We were in Blue lagoon the last 2 days. It was supposed to be one of Fiji's best spots. There were not many boats in the anchorage with us - only 2 others. The Blue Lagoon is part of the Yasawa group of islands - a little north and 50 miles west of Lautoka. We snorkeled today & had a great time.We found that it was not as great as its made out to be. The snorkeling was pretty good and there were lots of fish but the coral was all dead from the extreme warm water.

Today we are in Somosomo, a little cove thats about 10 miles away from the blue lagoon. There is supposed to be a plane wreck one can snorkel on, which should be good. In a few days Daniel, Rudolf and Mariah are planning to take a trip to Suva to see some museums and do some shopping.

Late this evening (after dark) Richard caught an Emperor fish which is listed as **** on the taste chart!! We will have it tomorrow night as Mariah alreaady had meat pies (an Australian favorite) in the oven. She really likes cooking for Daniel. Yesterday, we had barred mackerel. Not the usual mackerel, as it also scores **** on the fish taste chart. Albacore only gets ***. It sure is great to have fresh fish - as we have not had as much as we thought we would.

I have been doing some sewing for Mariah - YES !!! She decided that I could make some pants in the local style that she likes. I am happy not to be spending $30/pair even if it is Fijian. I can make them for about F$5.00.
Mariah's birthday is coming up. She will be 20.
Here in Fiji the elections have just finished - hope all is quiet!!

7-28-01 - Yes, it has been quiet here in Fiji. All is well. The weather is not as warm as we thought it would be - but still very nice. We have been at Musket Cove for 2 weeks now.
A week ago I came into contact with something while I was snorkeling - I think it is "fire coral"(a one in a million chance). It really set me back. I am only now recovering. At the same time the weather went cool - so everyone just relaxed and read while I recovered. The late risers were able to escape to the resorts at night and it was warmer on shore so they swam and played smash ball etc. Today the weather is perfect. I am doing much better - with the help of some cortisone from a cruiser/doctor. I still can not snorkel and I live to snorkel. Cruiser friends on "Siri" are due in on Tuesday and our friends from Australia - Ross & Lynnette MacDonald are coming in for a stay on Friday. I'm ready to socialize. There are not too many floating coconuts - 2 -I think and yes, we are enjoying the Fiji rum!!!
Bula to all ---Lani

7-14-01 - Mbula is the hello in Fijian and every one here uses it. Every native walking by says it to you happily and proudly.
We have just anchored at Musket Cove, Fiji. It is in a small island 10 miles off the west coast of the main island of Viti Levu. The anchorage is surrounded by coral so the water is perfectly flat despite the trade winds of 20-25 kts. The air and water temp. is about 80 degrees.
Ashore is the Musket Cove Yacht Club which is really a low key resort. There are 2 restaurants, 2 bars, 2 swimming pools, beach barbecues, general store, beach cottages for rent, etc. etc. It costs $1.00 for a life time membership for me and $5.00 for each crew member. The only requirement is that you have to sail here from a foreign port. A beer costs $2.50 at the bar on the beach and there is no cost to use any of the facilities. Keep in mind that these prices are in Fiji dollars which are worth about 45 cents US.
Sounds like a terrible place doesn't it.
Cheers, Richard

7-7-01 - Mbula from Fiji!
After a great sail from New Cal, we are anchor down in Lautoka, north western Fiji. Lautoka is the second largest town in Fiji and is the stepping off point for resorts like Musket Cove, Beachcomber Is & Treasure Is, and the Yasawa Is where Blue Lagoon was filmed [apparently].
Wind from the west quarter all the way from New Cal, perfect for the trip, though it faded a bit on Friday, and we had a largish swell most of the way. Astor once again enjoying the conditions and romping along.

We came in through the reef at about 11am this morning [Sat], blue skies, blue seas and the sea is up to 80+ F with dolphins jumping - everybody in great spirits, we seem to have found the tropics!. The lagoon here is large, it fades into the distance in all directions, but we're here in Lautoka for a few days now that we've checked in - another fun island experience by all accounts!.
The locals are friendly as ever. Mbula [pronounced bula] is the local greeting as they pass in their boats.
Having so much fun it should be illegal- Cheers - Rhys and some Americans I met -

7-5-01 - We are getting nearer to Fiji and the wind still is holding [knock on wood - there's plenty of that]. The seas have been confused so I have not been in a writing mood. Things are much better today. We have hooked up with a low and hope it holds. We have had a wonderful sail - much more in ASTOR's style with most of today doing over 9 knots even though we have been trying to slow her down as it looks like we will be in Lautoka early, early Saturday a.m.

We had a great time in New Caledonia although once again the weather was not great. We got alot done on ASTOR. We did some cosmetic repairs below: plugging holes that have been changed over the years and the men finished the mast valance that was not finished after doing the decks 3 years ago. ASTOR looks better that she has ever looked. We also made some repairs to our Caribe inflatable dingy. She got alittle worn on some oysters that required a patch on her bow and Daniel and Rhys made a new forward floor board for her. I did some sewing and cooking and Mariah helped with all and read some books. We are all ready for some sunshine. The water temp reads 78.2F and is getting warmer.

We missed our 4th of July party but we had hot dogs and sang Yankee Doodle Dandy. We will celebrate more in Fiji.

Hope you all had fun. Sue- remember Dr. T always said - "Have a 5th on the 4th!!" It's a dry day on ASTOR.
Miss you ---Lani
Course: 095 mag Wind: SW 8 kt Speed: 5.5 kt Position: 18.13 S 174.26 E Seas: 4' confused

7-4-01 - So far we've had a great sail! We are sailing on the edge of a low which gives us a following wind from the north west. Normally the wind is from the east south east which have us going hard to weather for 700 miles.
We are 315 miles from Lautoka and going 9.5 kts on a course of 045 mag. Our position is: 20.05 S 172.31 E. Cheers, Richard & crew

7-3-01 - Ahoy Landlubbers,

ASTOR has finally escaped from the clutches of New Caledonia and is on her way to Fiji ( we hope ). After waiting for about 10 days we have had a shift in the wind direction which was out of the East and is now out of the North. If this holds it should be great sailing to Fiji.
As I write we are exiting the Havannah pass on the East side of the New Caledonia barrier reef, from here it is about 650 miles to Lautoka, Fiji which should be our port of entry. Time: 04:30Z Position: 022.19 S 167.06 E Course: 070 Mag. Cheers, Richard & crew

6-10-01 -We are hook down in Noumea, New Caledonia after a long passage. We sailed from here to Australia in 4.3 days but it took 11 days to return. The weather Gods have had their fun. Cruising life is hard,
Lani made the crew hot apple pie with whipped cream for our arrival at the pass and we had a champagne lunch once the hook was down. We plan to spend 10 days to 2 weeks here and then push on to Vanuatu or Fiji depending on the weather Gods again. Cheers, Richard & crew

6-8-01 - We are still at it. Yesterday was really quite rough. We just checked the weather fax and it said there was no wind were we are and they are wrong! We had pretty big wind: 18-30 true from the NORTH. Where are the trades?? Not to mention the really confused sea - so the ride is rough. We just reefed the main so we don't get to New Caledonia too early on Sunday 6/10. Timing... first you are too slow - then too fast.

We had fresh baked scones yesterday for a treat and today we had fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. For lunch we had toasted chicken and cheese sandwiches and dinner was one pot risotto.

June 8, Friday 2000 hr: 24.48 S 165.07 E. Speed: 5.8 on a double reefed main and fore staysail, course: 014, wind: 18t N, seas 2 meters confused.

June 9, Saturday 0800 hr: 24.00 S 165.31 NNE Speed 4 kts on a double reefed main and fore staysail course: 18 mag wind: 23 t NNE seas 2 meters confused ( trying to go slow to time arrival ) Lani

6-7-01 - Today we find ourselves 217 miles out from New Caledonia and sailing a direct course. Our position is 25.43 south by 164.43 east. We are currently sailing with a double reefed main, fore and main staysail and making 8 kts on a 50 degree reach.
Last night had big lumpy seas but today things are settling down. All is well on board and we are all in hopes off warm island weather. Each day is a little warmer but not tropical yet.
Cheers, Richard & crew

6-6-01 - Today brought some weather, not good - not really bad, but the seas are rough with a 3 second chop from all directions. It is odd because looking at our weather fax charts, there is no weather in any direction. Never the less we are looking into making a course change, to reach off a bit and maybe go to New Caledonia. We figure we can always go on to Vanuatu then Figi.

On the original line, we still have over 1200 miles to Figi if we continue on and it looks like a slow trip. The southerlies or the easteries have not filled in as predicted and we are stuck with endless days of north easterlies. New Caledonia is 450 miles away. So time will tell.
Lunch was a pilot house picnic: peanut butter, cheese, crackers, apples. Dinner was pan seared albacore. The rest of the albacore is in the freezer waiting for the BBQ.

June 6 Wed. 2000 hr: 29.22 S 162.30 E, speed 7.5, wind 12 T NNE, course: 015, seas: 1 meter confused, clouds: 30% June 7 Thurs. 0600 hr.: 28.38S 163.02 E, speed; 7.2, wind: 12t NE, course 030, seas: confusted, clouds: 60% The ride is much better so far, and we all slept better last night. Everybody is much more rested.

6-5-01 - Yesterdays run was 110 miles. I think that is about our average but no one seems to mind. Still having beautiful weather and light winds. Richard got desperate and decided to put out the fishing pole. He hoped it would bring the wind. Instead it brought a couple of wonderful fish. It was exciting!! First was a small blue fin tuna- only 25 inches. Then, when he was just ready to bring the pole in for the night, a real nice albacore tuna hit. We think it had to be around 30 lbs. Delicious. Plans for sausage where abandoned and we had seared fresh fish with rice and cucumber salad. I also, still have available pickled ginger and washbi. We had Australian meat pies for lunch. Everyone in Australia eats meat pies. They are meatier than our pot pies, no vegetables, and you can hold on to them like a sandwich. They are really quiet good. It was something that I had packed away and thought would be great if I did not feel like cooking. I was ready to have them out of my freezer. Good thing too - now I need the room for tuna.

We have all decided that we were in port for so long that a few extra days at sea are really pretty nice. Mariah and Daniel are in a Monopoly frenzy on the computer. I am not sure who is liking it more. Tomorrow, I think we will have to find another book for Rhys as he has read everything he brought.

Today we sailed by Lord Howe Island. It is beautiful. It looks like it should be in French Polynesia. The travel guides do not give it credit. Next on the trail is Norfolk Island - we will probably pass it by too. It is 449 miles away.

June 4, Monday 2000 hrs: 31.15 S, 159.42 E Speed: 5.4k, wind: 10t, from the north, seas calm, 50% clouds with stars and big moon June 5, Tuesday 0600 hrs: 31.28 S 160.24 E -Speed 4.5 motorsailing, wind 3 NNE, course 115, sky 10 cloud cover. seas: calm Listened for the seafarer's net today - nothing heard. We can't pick up Russel radio out of New Zealand either. But e-mail is coming in and going out great!

6-4-01 - We just are not use to going slow. After all this is the speed most cruisers do it - not ASTOR. But we are having fun and spirits are high. I write this messages on my 2000 hr. watch and we send them the next morning after I fill in the morning information so sometimes it may read a little: Which day is it anyway?

Again, today the weather is beautiful. The sea is calm but there is a lack of wind. We thought we would be 1/2 to Fiji by now but we are making only about 120 miles a day. I am trying to talk Richard in to stopping at Lord Howe Island - he's not interested but now we are motoring and seems silly to motor by Lord Howe Is. Tomorrow will tell.

6/3 Sun: 2000 hours:
31.38S 157.27E Speed 4.6 (motorsailing) wind 5 T, course 61, seas:calm 20% clouds

6/4 Mon: 0600 hours:
31.29 S 158.21 E Speed 5.1 (sailing) wind 12 T, course 52, seas: calm, 60% clouds with a few cells around.

We had pasta salad for lunch with cornbread (I am cherishing my lettuce) and chicken fajitas for dinner. I made a plum/apple/ginger cake for afternoon snack. It was well deserved as the pre-pump on the watermaker went out again. The boys replaced it with the saltwater galley pump just like last year on the way to the Marquesas. We we all are up to date on hot showers.

0600 note: Better wind this a.m. - I think.

6-3-01 - Hi to all: Well it is a slow trip but a lovely trip. The ocean is calm and we are sailing along to weather at 4-5k. Seems slow but the apparent wind is 6-12k so we are doing good. Nothing much to report. I will include the course and speed from now on:

June 2, Sat. 2000 hrs.:
32.95 S 155.34 E heading 77, wind NNE @ 14T Speed:6.4 sea calm
June 3, Sun. 0600 hrs.:
32.02 S 156.21 E heading 60, wind N @ 10T Speed:5.1 seas: calm 20% clouds with a beautiful sunrise and dolphins.
Looks like we might be taking in the sights at Lord Howe Island. GPS says 24 hours out. From the weather fax it looks like we are in a huge high that is just about to converge with another high. It was 17 days to the Marquesas but it may be 20 days to Fiji - or where ever.
Everyone is still doing great. Last night we had stew for dinner. That was the first time I have made it on the whole journey. For lunch we had fried rice eggs.
Yes, thank you we got the message from Alex MacCormick. We have not had a chance to reply. Truly sorry that we missed him in Sydney. We did get some photos and log from the grand son of Mr. Danger. He sailed from Britain to Australia in 1027/28. We scanned them but have not printed yet. I will try to get Richard to reply tomorrow. We have been busy taking in weather faxes and plotting courses.
Daniel's dad says it is hot in Calif. I'm ready for hot again(remember it's fall/winter down here). Thanks for everything ---Lani

5-31-01 - We are finally out of Australia. The weather window opened and we escaped. We got under way about noon after clearing customs. The wind was very light so we motored out of the heads. Finally the wind freshened but still light so we dragged out the reaching golly wobbler hanked it on and the wind came up. So up went the weather fisherman and the #3 jib. We had a lovely sail for most of the day doing 9 & 10+ knots.

The first night at sea is always rough. Last night we had wind at 24k apparent, so we took down the fisherman and double reefed the main and just then the wind died - just died. It was a rough night with first hallowing wind then so light that everything rattled and no one could sleep. I have the 8-10 p.m. & the 6-8 a.m. This morning brought a better breeze and although we are not setting the world's record we are having a delightful sail.

The sun has just now come up and it looks like we have a few cells around but nothing currently affecting us. This boat continues to amaze me. We have just 8.8kts apparent and we are doing 5.2kts with a double reefed main, staysails, and #3 jib. When everyone gets up we will put up some real sails and see what we can do. I have just come on watch again and Rhys has just sent a flying fish back to the sea.

It is great to be at sea again.We all are feeling very well. Last night we had a delicious pasta dinner with garlic bread (trying to use up my fresh basil as I know I will have to get rid of it in Fiji). Richard,who does not normally sleep well in the daylight, has been managing to sneak off and get some rest in the afternoons. He has been spending most of last few nights up helping with the watches.

We had the best time in Sydney as we were near Ross MacDonald and his friends at the CYCA. We are spoiled. I had the most wonderful birthday along with Daniel (5/22)and Ross same as mine 5/21 and our friends Bob and Karen Hall were married on ASTOR 11 years ago on 5/20. There were 35 at the party. We were hosted by a friend of Ross's who opened $100+ bottles of wine and champagne. They sang Happy Birthday - it was great. Hard to leave these great people - but we will be back.

Our plans are to landfall at Lautoka, Fiji. We should arrive in 10-14 days - 1800 miles(unless we get bad headwinds). We will keep you posted.
Here is our Lat & Long: 5/31 Thurs. 2:00 p.m.: 33.51S 151.28E 6/1 Fri. 12:00 noon 32.57S 153.31E 6/2 Sat. 06:00 dawn 31.59S 154.47E It was a year ago that we sailed away. Even though I miss all our friends and Daisy...