We returned to Rireana in February 2011 (after a stint in far north Queensland looking after the vanilla farm of Fiona and Matt George-Allen). We then did a lot of maintenance work on Rireana, before heading south through the Sandy Straits to Mooloolaba and Brisbane. We eventually ended up at Scarborough Marina just north of Brisbane to ready ourselves for the sail back to Vanuatu.
We were a bit anxious about the trip east across the Coral Sea, it being against the prevailing south-easterly trade winds. However, in the end, the weather window we picked (with the help of Bob McDavitt) was even more placid than we expected. So placid in fact we motored almost two thirds of the way to Noumea. By the time we docked in Port Moselle we had 25 litres of fuel remaining. Luckily we had Ted Jordan on board for this trip who was great at calculating optimum engine revs and fuel usage.
We had a quick turnaround in Noumea, Ted flew back to New Zealand, and we sailed up to Vila, a trip of about 3 days.
After a month spent in Vila doing the bureaucratic side of Trust work, we again headed for the Maskelynes on an overnight trip. It is about a 17 hour sail and has to be timed so that we can enter the reef at Sangalai Harbour in daylight.
We lived at anchor in Sangalai Harbour for the next 3 months, although had to move anchorage on occasion to escape strong south-westerly winds which put us onto a dangerous lee shore in the harbour.
We returned to Vila, spent some more time on a mooring there, and then sailed again for New Caledonia. This was a relatively fast trip. After two seasons of sailing we had used up a lot of our long term supplies and reduced the weight on the boat. With relatively light winds forward of the beam and a slight sea, we averaged just under 6 knots on the trip to Noumea. That is quite respectable for a boat of Rireana’s size.
Once in Noumea, we decided to leave Rireana there while we returned to New Zealand for work. The reason for this being that ocean voyages, including the time spent waiting for suitable weather windows, take up a lot of time. We believed this time was better spent fundraising and working this year, given the effects of the global recession. So we left Rireana tucked up in Port du Sud marina in Noumea in early November and flew back to Auckland. Our friend Thierry Boujon is keeping close watch on Rireana while we are away. We hope to be back on board in mid-April and sailing back up to Vanuatu soon afterwards.