Living Aboard in Whangarei

We sailed from Fiji to New Zealand in early November. After checking in at Marsden Cove and completing the formalities, we moved up the river to the Whangarei Town Basin marina. Here’s what it was like spending almost two months living aboard in Whangarei.

About Whangarei

Whangarei is not pronounced how it looks. Unless you speak Maori. In that case you know that the WH is pronounced as F, so it’s pronounced Fang-Ah-Ray.

We enjoyed living aboard in Whangarei. It’s the biggest town in the Northland region of New Zealand, with all the amenities we’ve missed since Tahiti. Whangarei’s population is almost 57,000 and it is 155km north of Auckland, which is said to have almost 1.7mm people.

marina, town basin Whangarei
The marina and town basin in Whangarei

The Town Basin Marina is located on the Hatea river and is walkable to groceries, shops, restaurants and more.

The supermarket across the street is huge and overwhelmingly good. After being in Tonga, where you couldn’t get basic rice, and Fiji, with no cat food or kitty litter, we consider New Zealand the land of plenty. On our first visit to the supermarket, we were overjoyed upon seeing the varieties of lettuce, berries, and yogurt, and the glow hasn’t faded. It doesn’t hurt that we arrived in springtime.

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Five Years Living On a Sailboat

Five years flies by faster than you realize. Since moving aboard in December 2018, we’ve logged a lot of miles and anchored in many bays. We’ve also spoken – or tried to speak – several languages, and met countless people in the last five years living on a sailboat. As many of you know, we’ve also made changes and mistakes. This year we visited countries we hadn’t visited or even heard of before moving onto a boat. We’re happy to spend the rest of 2024 in New Zealand, over 8000 miles from where we started in 2018. Here’s a small recap of what we learned this year, after five years living on a sailboat.

sailing in Fiji
One of our last sails on board Sava in Fiji

Wind and Weather

We finished our year in French Polynesia this May, and looked forward to heading west to other South Pacific islands. After French Polynesia, we skipped the Cook Islands because of limited anchorages and strong winds. In fact, the weather this winter all throughout the South Pacific was bad. We got battered by storms en route to Niue, shivered through record-breaking cold in Tonga, and were poured on in Fiji. Our friends in French Polynesia dealt with the same conditions. Fortunately, we left Fiji before a cyclone, and are supposedly safe in New Zealand as long as last summer’s storms don’t repeat.

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Top Things to Do in Savusavu Fiji

Savusavu is a convenient entry port for sailors coming west to Fiji, and it’s where we made landfall after Tonga. While our check-in experience wasn’t the best, we had a great time in this part of Fiji. If you ever get to Fiji by air or boat, don’t miss my top things to do in Savusavu.

About Savusavu, Fiji

Located on the southeast coast of Vabua Levu, Fiji’s second biggest island, Savusavu is best known for its volcanic hot springs and coastal waters. The population is small, only a few thousand people, but the town is bustling! With good restaurants and shops for provisioning, it’s a great stop for sailors, especially after the lack of choice in Tonga.

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Inside Our New Boat

It’s been busy here in Fiji as we packed up Sava and moved everything onto Go. Finally I have enough photos to provide a look inside our new boat.

About Go

Go is a Leopard 43 catamaran. She is 43 feet long, 22 feet wide, and has a 5 foot draft.

catamaran trampoline, leopard 43
Out front on Go

We jumped on Go because it’s equipped with everything we need to keep sailing around the world.

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We Bought A Catamaran

After nearly five years on board Sava, Brian and I are making a change. We bought a catamaran and will sell Sava.

Our New Sailboat

We only recently started looking for a different boat. When we saw this sailboat, it was a go! We bought a catamaran; it’s a Leopard 43.

After almost five years and thousands of miles on board Sava, we’re ready for more space. A head for each of us plus one for guests. Lots of lounge space indoors and out. This boat provides all of it.

It’s also been lovingly maintained by its previous owners, is registered to Canada, and has lots of power. The decision to buy a catamaran was even quicker than when we bought Sava, which we never regretted.

Once we’ve moved aboard and made ourselves comfortable, I will post photos and more details.

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