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Anthem Adrift
Projecting Bits
01/07/2012, Pier 21, Auckland

8 January 2012

Remember when it was suggested that New Zealand reopened 3 January? Turns out, for starters, that the day after New Years Day is a statutory holiday just like Boxing Day for Xmas and so Tuesday was off this year as well. But wait! How many out there think work restarted Wednesday? Show of hands. OK, you three haven't been paying attention. We're hoping for the 9th.

In preparation for the Rugby World Cup and while we were in Fiji, Pier 21's shower, head and laundry were renovated. Two little showers were made into one larger (no waiting in line so far) and new tile was laid. It was horrifying to find in the loo, however, that the toilet roll was dispensing paper from the bottom rather than the top. Disaster was narrowly averted when, serendipitously, it was discovered that reversing the roll made it all better. By the way, the toilet key at a recently patronized restaurant was attached to a spoon. One wonders.

Since no big projects are proceeding, all the little crap is getting done. Well, 'all' is excessively hyperbolic, but some (defined as more than one) are. Most fun was emptying and cleaning the lazerettes - port, starboard and aft - of greasy soot from the previously broken exhaust manifold and sorting three additional incongruities subsequently revealed. The single shower barely proved sufficient.

Still waiting for summer as unseasonable wind, rain and chilly temperatures meander up from Antarctica through the Tasman Sea. Although just as much a pest here as in North America, possums (Kiwis generally leave off the preceding 'O') are at least cute and, because their fur is hollow, provide particularly good insulation when blended with merino wool. Thus has been saved many a protruding and dangly bit from freezing off.

Jack

Early Over the Line
01/01/2012, Pier 21, Auckland

1 January 2012

Having sucked dry numerous vineyards in Waiheke and ravaged their bread bits and olive oil (acquiring 3 bottles of over-priced, but mighty tasty wine in the process), Jan & I reached in blustery 12 to 25 knot winds the 20 some odd miles back to Pier 21 yesterday morning in record time. Tidying up and resting before heading out to party would have provided the bulk of entertainment had our battery charger not expressed its general dissatisfaction by shutting down, issuing peremptory error messages and refusing to reset. This was handled with typical aplomb by utterance of amusing expletives, turning the (expletive deleted) thing off and departing.

A chance meeting with friends studying the Urban Turban's happy hour (misnamed as it extended from 4 until 7) menu resulted in the six of us stuffing ourselves with wine and tapas for a relative pittance. Dinner of traditional (somewhere?) lamb and fush 'n' chups at O'Hagan's then kept us out and awake until 2000. Setting the alarm clock for 2330 then allowed observation of the death of a year and one born anew eighteen hours before Cal (good natured, non-sailing regular foil for this blog). Happy New Year buddy and to all our friends wherever they may be. Hope this year is just as interesting without the turmoil of 2011.

Fireworks exploding from the Auckland Skytower were fantastic, probably. Low scud mostly hid the show, but rain held off until we returned to the boat. Sleeping in was no chore, but think tonight will end a touch earlier than last. This happy event is unlikely to diminish in any significant way a reprise of this morning.

By the way, due to chowderheads who inflict daylight saving time on us plus our unwillingness to wait an hour and thus miss the celebration, we rang in 2012 an hour too soon. Harrumph!

Jack

Closed Up Tight
12/28/2011, Waiheke Island, Hauraki Gulf

28 December 2011

New Zealand recognizes Boxing Day as a holiday and, because Christmas falls on Sunday, Tuesday is also officially off. This would mean something if anybody worked anytime during the last week of December. The country reopens on the 3rd of January so we gave up getting parts or work done and beat over to Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf yesterday to tour vineyards, which are open, and muck about, which is best done with vast quantities of wine.

Spectacular weather for several days has given way to wind warnings and forecast rain so mucking about could involve muck. This turn of events may kindle desire for return to Pier 21 where rain is less inconvenient and costs are more reasonable... less unreasonable than on this boutique island.

And while we're on the subject, Amazon swapped out a dead reader (sat upon during passage in September to Fiji) with shipping both ways. They had previously upgraded a dead gen one Kindle for $39. Cool beans. Guess they want me to buy some books online. An entire world of trash literature is again at hand without inundating the cabin with moldering paperbacks.

Jan just bought new sunnies with polarization because she couldn't see well "with or without the old ones". Regrettably, she can see no better without the new ones. They do, however, look rather nice and work better when she wears them.

Jack

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.

Jack

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

Jack

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.

Jack

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.

Jack

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.

Jack

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.

Jack

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.

Jack

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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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