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Anthem Adrift
Interesting Times
12/24/2011, Auckland, NZ

25 December 2011

OK, Anthem's nearly 26 year old, but this boat work thing is taking on the aura of a fetish. Might have been easier to just build a new one although Gary & Jackie, who spent 23 years building theirs, might take issue. Anyway it's just wrong. Anybody want to front the cash for a new Cabo Rico 54? I will gladly have Wimpy pay you on Tuesday.

Don't use Kiwi bucks, however, as they are plastic and stick together. Bloody nuisance. ANZ (that's Ay In Zed for us parochial Yanks) have a scale to weigh bills for accuracy before counting out. Probably saves the bank from insolvency... could also be the outrageous ATM withdrawal fees.

Had lamb roast with mint jelly on Christmas eve with various accoutrement. Egg nog was unavailable so limped along with eclectic alternate tippleage. Traditions here vary a bit from US/Canada and we're going with the flow, but draw the line at Vegemite. It's nasty and can't possibly be food.

Now spending the day catching up on emails and otherwise brushing up on carefully chosen deadly sins.

Merry Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year/other-favored-celebratory-occasion to everyone. Hope you've had as interesting a year as Jan & I and have an even more engaging 2012.

"May you live in interesting times" - Chinese Curse

This is often followed by two other imprecations of escalating severity: "May you come to the attention of those in authority" and (my personal favorite) "May your wishes be granted." Sometimes it all works out. Wishing it for you.


Fitfully Facing Four
12/14/2011, Auckland, NZ

15 December 2011

Hit the ground running after arrival at Pier 21, slip A9. Have now whittled three month's boat work down to only four... um, anyway, keeping at it and finally (probably) solved the 'water over the sole in a deep port tack' problem. Life would be beautiful if only the miserable weather would improve, all the projects were done, the boat were just 5 feet longer and the captain were younger, richer and better looking. Being delightfully adorable, however, does help.

"Charm is the quality in others that makes us more satisfied with ourselves." - Henri-Frédéric Amiel

Speaking of toil, am writing this drivel at nearby Headquarters Cafe while finishing pain de perdue with double-shot cafe latte instead of replacing windlass solenoid and rebuilding KISS wind generator. Prefer to pay someone for such tedious pursuits, so am contemplating adding greed to current list of three favored deadly sins, but have unearthed no way to achieve this while maintaining acceptable levels of sloth. For the edification of those less subject to moral turpitude, there are seven corresponding virtues. These, however, lack allure and will not be discussed.

"The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues." - Elizabeth Taylor


Persistent Perambulation
12/02/2011, Tiritiri Matangi Island Bird Sanctuary

3 December 2011

In a secluded section of Smokehouse Bay the Webster family have set up facilities for boaters: Laundry tubs with manual wringers, bath tub with wood heated water, book exchange, composting toilet and rope swings. Paths lead up steep hills for occasional views cross bay to the Pyramids (not the real ones, fake ones made out of small mountains). Coming down Jan wanted me close below to grab when her gimpy knee let go. Being faster I remained well away to dodge then give her a high five as she disappeared over the edge. Promised to recover all the larger bits for return to her family.

At last, after touring trails around the mansion house (ergo... see previous) and imbibing cappuccino with rasberry cream scone among the brown teals and peacocks, had most best perfect beam reach in 12 to 14 knots and 1/2 meter sea for 12 mile, 2 hour sail. It's for the birds. Better than going to the Dogs although snorkeling is just as good in the BVI (non-sailors may just ignore that last bit).

Trail walked (anybody notice a theme last few days?) Tiritiri Matangi Island sanctuary up to an 1864 lighthouse at the south end for theoretically beautiful views of Rangitoto Island, 10 miles away, and Auckland, 15. It was hazy. The place is eat up with birds including humongous seagulls and Tui birds, namesake for a good local beer, which have a unique song and fly through dense foliage at warp 8. Also saw red-headed parakeets and greenish pigeons the size of Mack trucks. Wouldn't want to be a statue in New Zealand.


Going to the House
12/02/2011, Mansion House Bay

3 December 2011

After two days of mediocre service Vodafone dongle (not a naughty reference, Cal) became even more lackadaisical. Call to company produced no usable insights absent a store visit which was, due imminent departure from Opua and want of transportation, not possible. Despite dearth of 3G outside cities and resorts, Fiji had great service for less than half NZ cost, but it would still be a great deal here, cheaper than wifi networks and available nearly everywhere, if it worked. As a self-sufficient cruiser the reliance on technology is a sad and unseemly addiction.

Did not realize a "perfect downwind sail" included flopping back and forth under drifter only at 4 knots, something slightly less than envisioned. Today however, will be the more, better perfect downwind sail as wind will not be directly aft... unless it backs... if it blows.

Heading now into Mansion House, ergo the bay name, to find what is purported to be a coffee shop for purpose of ingesting mind altering drugs. Decaf is for wimps.


Veering Back Toward Auckland
12/01/2011, Rarohara Bay, Great Barrier Island

1 December 2011

An unkempt houseboat anchored nearby has painted on its side "Flip Off" (or perhaps there was a more expressive alternate spelling). Assumed an invitation by owner to be left alone, but learned it was a vandal request to remove the eyesore. F. Off Bay has now joined Corpse Cove in our nascent effort to rationalize chart designations in New Zealand.

Had planned move to Smokehouse Bay, but got waylaid by folks from catamaran Te Harinui for a hike up and around Glenfern Sanctuary - gorgeous views and a swing bridge into the canopy of a Kauri tree. Cool stuff. After return to boat, just before dinnertime, were then ambushed by gluttony and sloth, two of three favored deadly sins, so here we remain in Rarohara Bay. Tomorrow will find us on a perfect, perfect I say, off-wind sail to Kawau Island and thence to Tiritiri Matangi Island bird sanctuary before another graceful, elegant and again exemplary sail into Auckland on Sunday.

Note to weather aficionados: Previous explanation that south of zero latitude "veer" and "back" were opposite to northern hemisphere because of reverse swing as fronts pass is complete bullfeathers promulgated by a weatherman on the US east coast. Resident NZ authority Bob McDavitt revealed the terms as universal so go back to that friend you misled and admit the truth.


Bump and Scrape
11/30/2011, Port Fitzroy, Great Barrier Island

30 November 2011

Notwithstanding recent discourteous comments regarding GRIBs, we have just had its reliability shoved where the sun never shines. Thirty knot winds off the bow and sharp, steep two meter waves made the night long and continuation to Great Barrier iffy. A thwarted attempted to visit last April increased resolve as well as stupidity for the eventual arrival into Port Fitzroy at 1100 this morning where we anchored at high tide then swung onto the hard bottom at low. No waves, but gusty wind caused keel to make rude grinding noises. Re-anchored deeper next door with fewer mooring balls, less gusty wind and grumpier inhabitants.

Beautiful, nearly landlocked bay. Afternoon nap, early night, explore tomorrow.


Fickle Forecasting Foibles
11/29/2011, Overnight to Great Barrier

29 November 2011

As the sun descends over green, sheep strewn hills and the Bay of Islands recedes behind our transom, we bid a fond farewell to Port Opua, our many friends there and the meanest sand flies in the solar system. An overnight sail (this expression may be a tad optimistic as wind is currently on the bow and forecast to shift with us as we turn from NE to SE passing Cape Brett) may allow arrival Port Fitzroy mid-morning (that optimism thing again) for a couple of days before continuing Auckland to work - Jan at Brightside hospital to keep me in the manner and me on the boat to approach the same objective from a different angle (it's all about me).

- Later

Strangely enough, weather weasels got this one right as wind direction takes its cues from our pointy end. Suppose it would be too much to ask for rest of forecast, sending wind on around to SW during the night thus allowing sailing toward destination, to transpire... right.

- Later still

Latest GRIB (Glib Reprehensibly Indefensible Balderdash) now shows wind remaining south and east and increasing above 20!!! What's that all about? Where did approaching high go? Why weren't we consulted? Had been benignly beating upwind in no particular hurry, but decided (given off chance silly report is within hailing distance of reality) on squandering some petroleum to minimize potential abuse. Tonight, no nappy for Cappy.


Huff and Puff
11/25/2011, Opua Marina, Bay of Islands

26 November 2011

Wind continued yesterday to fluctuate between 0 and 25, but moved south, from just where we wished to proceed. Went anyway in hopes of finding cold Guinness and fush 'n' chups (roughly translated to real English from the indigenous New Zealandish as 'fish and chips'). In an outpouring of benevolence, gusts moved back to west shoving us in fits to our destination. Russell, original capitol of New Zealand and pretty cool, fun place, is near Opua where we were required to be by this evening so that early Monday Maggie can attend work (a drudgery forced upon many so that a few prodigals such as myself may squander the resultant confiscated assets). As target anchorage was chock-a-block with moored boats and, due to wind, somewhat lumpy, decided to venture across to Paihia's minimum fetch and take ferry back.

Short motor to Opua Marina early afternoon was uneventful in forecast 0 to 30 knots although observation revealed only 28. Despite creeping lethargy, all hands turned to various chores and maintenance until newly purchased Beefeaters, conspiring with tonic and lime, demanded attention. Dinner at the OCC (Opua Cruising Club) will absolve galley wench and guest from preparing sustenance and Captain from returning said galley to immaculinity (not a real word).


The Far Side of Nowhere
11/24/2011, Corpse Cove, Bay of Islands

25 November 2011

So I lied. We ate barbecued chicken thighs Wednesday. The Scotch filets were Tuesday and lamb shoulder chops Monday as well as last night except with mushroom pasta instead of rice and broccoli. It's not pretty, but someone has to live this way and being humanitarians all, we wouldn't want to force the exertion upon anyone less fortitudinous (real word?).

Stiff sail in 20 to 25 knots to Kerikeri Cruising Club where there were no moorings, no anchoring locations, no slips and they don't monitor a radio. Deucedly unfriendly. Harumph! Motored to opposite side of peninsula where there was, in addition, no internet and, after assiduous effort with best lures, no fish, ergo the lamb (actually these were leg chops).

This unnamed bay, henceforth Corpse Cove, is not shown as a viable anchorage, perhaps because of the dead guy. Well, initially we saw him walking around as we anchored then he was splayed out on his back, unmoving. Every suggestion to our two resident angels of mercy to minister to the poor soul was met with derision and callous nurse humor. Florence Nightingale's example has obviously been frittered away. Thank goodness the gentleman recovered sufficiently to stumble away, hopefully to find more compassionate help.


Endeavor to Persevere
11/23/2011, Sunset Bay, Bay of Islands

24 November 2011

Snorkeling was quite pleasant in a nipple popping sort of way as new, 3 mil, full length wetsuit ameliorated more dire hypothermic complications for about 45 minutes, although another 15 was necessary to locate appendage for a certain kidney related physiological function. Associated highlights were navigating, through a swell induced surge, underwater canyons leading toward several caves and a non-shy octopus crawling around among the waving kelp.

Sailed then motored to Sunset Bay for a very comfortable night as boats in the more popular bay cross channel rocked around the clock. A beautiful, large house above us on private Motukiekie Island was inhabited (we saw the lights and occasional movement), but residents seemed unfriendly as they kept curtains closed and did not invite us ashore for drinks and dinner. We were forced to subsist on salad, buttered kumara, incredibly succulent Scotch filets and a wonderful Taylor (Clare Valley, Australia not New York) Cabernet while watching the required (ergo the name) gorgeous sunset. We soldier on in the face of grueling hardship.


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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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See profile for information on why this mess is being foisted upon an innocent world and, despite what is probably your better judgement, how to make contact.
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