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Posts from the ‘Boat Stuff’ Category

Buffalo Nickel on the Market

Buffalo Nickel is an FPB 64, the seventh of an innovative range of power boats designed to make both long distance passages and leisurely intervals at anchor in safety and comfort. There are only eleven of them on the water.

Since her initial splash in 2013, she has taken us from New Zealand to Thailand, via Fiji, Vanuatu, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. She is extremely comfortable at sea, averaging 235 miles per day on passage.

Her most recent passage brought her from Phuket, Thailand back to her birthplace at Circa Marine in Whangarei, North Island, New Zealand. The voyage took a total of 47 days, with 623 hours underway. We put 6,289 miles under her keel during the trip, making our average speed 9.5 knots.



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Our Big News

It’s not new-news, because it’s a choice we made last spring, while we were aboard our boat in Thailand. But the decision did cause us to jettison our plan of making our way to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, via Japan’s inland sea followed by a passage to the Aleutians. Instead, we turned about, scooted down the west coast of Malaysia, past Singapore, eastward through Indonesia, down the Queensland coast against the Trades, and across the Tasman Sea back to Whangarei, New Zealand, the very waters that birthed her in 2013.

And from there, in January of 2018, we sailed her onto the flooded deck of a Dockwise Yacht Transport vessel for passage to Ensenada, MX. We met her there and sailed her to the Point Loma Marina in San Diego, CA. Where we put our beloved Buffalo Nickel on the market for sale.

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Power Management

We’ve had quite a few requests over these several years, both public and private, to talk about power management aboard Buffalo Nickel.

Every boat has its own inherent logic in this area. Between the goals of its systems designers and the capacities and limitations of the component hardware, there emerges a pathway where, if we don’t stray too far from it, we can live hassle-free lives that require little forethought about use of appliances, whether at anchor or underway. As cruisers, we learn the pathways over time that work for our particular boats, and then they become second nature. Until we get a new boat, at which point we are overwhelmed all over again. We struggle to make sense of the new-to-us system for a while, wondering if we’ll be able to get hot showers in sequence and dinner prepared, without blowing up an inverter.

My aim in this post is a minimum of discussion about the logic of our electrical generation and distribution, focusing instead to how we live our typical day-to-day in various situations. But you’ll still need a basic picture of the set-up.

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Fulaga, and the Little Dive Compressor that Couldn’t

Down to just the two of us, having left Jeff and Julie in Vanua Balavu in the northern Lau to make their gradual way back to the States.

The passage to Fulaga (foo-LONG-ah) in the southern Lau was a short overnight. When entering and exiting via reef passes, as this trip entailed at both ends, it’s best if you’ve got some daylight so that someone on the bow can spot the dangerous bits under the water before smacking your boat up against them. Our friends John and Kathy aboard Mystic Moon were making the same passage. They left a bit earlier than we did in the late afternoon, then we leapfrogged by them during the night and arrived a couple hours ahead of them at the reef entrance.

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Vanua Balavu, and Thoughts on Cruising Under Power in Various Boats

From Viani Bay, we made our way southeast to the island of Vanua Balavu (VAH-noo-ah bah-LAH-voo) in the northern Lau group. The Lau group is the easternmost group of islands in Fiji, reportedly the least visited islands in the South Pacific. This is in large part because (as related to us by one of the Lau’s village chiefs) several decades ago, recreational drugs were brought ashore by some cruisers. This caused quite a stir among the very conservative Fijian villagers, resulting in the chief of the entire Lau group ordering the whole group closed to all tourism thenceforth. For the past several years they have tried to relax this strict isolationist policy, first by issuing only a handful of permits annually to a very few lucky cruisers, then as of last year, opening it up on request to all cruisers holding Fijian cruising permits. Since one still has to clear into Fiji in the middle or western islands, then travel a couple hundred miles against the prevailing trade winds to get here, the Lau group is still a relatively remote destination.

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Savusavu and Viani Bay

While underway on the calm inter island passage between Suva and Savusavu, Jeff encouraged Stan to fiddle with our speed and interrogate its effect on fuel consumption, engine load, etc. We have lots of data at our fingertips from our Maretron monitoring system, which can be displayed any which way we want, so it was a fun exercise for them.

Our ‘normal’ cruising speed is 9.5-9.75 knots over ground at 1700-1750 RPM.

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2014 Season. It’s ON.

Our cruising season is well underway by now, but we’ve been remote for so much of that time, without internet access, that we haven’t had a chance to publish any blog posts. Now that we’re back for a quick stop in Suva, capital and largest city in Fiji, for some provisioning and picking up of boat parts, we are locked and loaded in terms of photos and text. I plan to publish one post each day for the next several days, at which point we’ll be all caught up.

When last we ‘spoke,’ Stan and I were wintering in Seattle, while Buffalo Nickel braved the cyclone season tucked up on the hard in Vuda Point, Fiji. There was warranty work we already knew needed to be done, but Circa had thought they could send some of their crew over to us in Fiji to accomplish that in the spring, leaving us free to begin our cruising season in early May from right within western Fiji.

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Loveless in Seattle

Now don’t jump to any conclusions, there be no divorcing going on here. It’s just that we are, in fact, in Seattle. And the Loveless is a scrumptious Seattle cocktail named for the Loveless building down the street from us. While mostly we just want to share our thoughts with you regarding our boat and our travels in this blog post, that title was simply too compelling to pass up. So let’s save the cocktail recipe for later, shall we?

Back to where we left off, so many moons ago now, wrapping up our short first cruising season aboard Buffalo Nickel in the Fiji Islands. Since we had commitments in the States at the beginning of October (namely the joyous occasion of Stan’s sister Kathryn’s wedding to her beloved Glenn) we decided to leave the boat on the hard in Fiji, in a cyclone pit, until our return for next cruising season in April.

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Geek Stuff: The Helm

I know many of our followers are boat geeks like we are. If you are not one of those, you might want to skip this read, it’s all about the electronics we use for piloting and navigation.

What, you ask? No more pics of Fiji?? Well, now I feel bad. Okay, here:


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A Tender Moment: Introducing Penny

As we alluded to in an earlier post, we hold the opinion that no single tender can serve every purpose well. You’ve met Plug Nickel, our big bad tinny. Here’s little Penny, our 125 lb aluminum bottomed RIB.


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