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Anthem Adrift
Hello Baaahbra
02/26/2012, Coralie Bay, Great Mercury Island

26 February 2012

The beautiful 15 inch big screen TV (quit laughing!) that inhabited a saloon bulkhead and the accompanying DVD player were deplorably underused outside of North America due to format and regional restrictions. This lamentable circumstance has now been remedied, at great expense, by replacement with a humongous (it's all relative) 19 inch Teac 12/120/240v LED DTV/DVD. This rascal plays everything from every region in any format. (This is, of course, horribly naive, but some among us wish not to be disabused of the notion for awhile.. It does lots). Last night's entertainment was "Quigley Down Under". "The Wind and the Lion" taken directly from a USB external drive is on que for tonight.

Seems that cattle are more prevalent in Northland because sheep's hooves rot in the warm moist climate up here (this despite our having seen maybe 5 days of summer this summer). Still, there are lots of bovines and ovines all over and also on this private island. Cows smell worse, but are somewhat insular. It's a little unnerving to have an entire hillside of motionless sheep glaring unblinking at you for minutes at a time. You'd think they'd never seen a Canadian. Posted rules limit where one may go (shore and pasture areas only) and certain activities such as building fires. No mention is made of annoying, eating or dating the sheep, but some things are probably assumed.


Convertible Contentment
02/25/2012, Coralie Bay, Great Mercury Island

Mercury Islands

25 February 2012

The 45 NM sail around Coromandel from Waiheke to Great Mercury would have proved more exciting in the 30 plus winds had there been more fetch. Southwesterlies abaft the beam nevertheless gave us a boisterous sleigh ride with some impressive speeds aided by following current. Despite theirs being The City of Sails Aucklanders showed some reluctance to savor the moment with us.

Nestled now deep in Coralie Bay with 20 knots through the rigging, we enjoy a beautiful bucolic scene of rolling hills, steep cliffs and wandering sheep and cattle as the sun sets behind a pristine crescent beach. Mellow equanimity is enhanced by the letters G & T, soon to be followed by converted grape juice.


02/24/2012, Man O' War Bay, Waiheke

22 February 2012

A month since last you were afflicted with news from In Zed. So, you might ask, "que pasa", "ce qui se passe" or possibly "what up, dog"? We remain in Auckland. "Ah!" you say knowingly, "Didn't get four month's work done in two and a half over the holidays"? In a word, no.

However, now pleased to announce that cap rail rot has been replaced with iroko wood that looks remarkably like Costa Rican teak, new water heater is heating water and new Victron inverter/charger, contrary to expectation, is also performing appropriate functions. Much of the brightwork is, ummm, bright, although sporting less varnish than preferred. Deck is clearish and last bits will be stowed or jettisoned.

24 February 2012

After waiting a day for the weather fairy to slap us around, mucking about a bit and, in process, saying bye to many great friends, we left slip A9 for a wonderful sail to the east side of Waiheke Island where we share a bay with, among others, the beautiful 146 foot barquentine (English spelling), Spirit of New Zealand.

Auckland is a terrific city and we'll miss it and some wonderful people, especially Phil and Maggie, but life was getting too easy. Thinking they would never see us again everyone was terribly nice. We hated to disabuse them of this comforting thought by revealing that we may be back for a short time in April.

Current plan, to the degree "plan" means anything, is to hop through the Bay of Plenty (assiduously avoiding semi-submerged containers from wreckage of the Rena near Tauranga), around East Cape and down to Picton on the South Island, there to reconnect with more friends. It's hard to avoid the silly rascals.

Cruising life resumes.


PS Not a real word.

Rotten Luck
01/26/2012, Pier 21, Auckland

22 January 2012

Slacking has become a way of life. By being, at the time, constantly on my alleged mind this blog was actually easier done every day. Given an endemic three-year-old attention span, extended gaps have been insinuating themselves into the effluvium production. Mental calcification is both cause and result while cheering discriminating literati.

An impossible number of critical projects have been whittled down to an impossible number of re-designated non-critical projects plus a newly discovered critically urgent repair. Removing portside cap rail track to install running rig hardware revealed leakage causing a linear meter of decomposition beneath. This was probably the source of intractable interior dampness and consequent mold. It's like losing your new Aston Martin when an obstreperous mother-in-law drives off a cliff - bad news, but good. Now looking for a chippie to rout out the corruption and scarf in some matching kauri wood (or, it has been alleged, available Costa Rican teak) at which point, some time in the not too distant future, hopefully, life will again be perfectish. Have now, unsurprisingly, run through four boat builders who, due to Bay of Islands Race Week, Auckland Day, subsequent Waitangi Day or prior commitments are unobtainable this decade.

Although not wishing to sully moderate optimism expressed in the previous paragraph (Huh? you query) a newly purchased water heater to replace operative, but 26 year old current unit, to which a dual 120/12 volt heating element (for wind vane diversion load) is being re-engineered to fit has become a can of worms (clearly less fun than a barrel of monkeys). Am certain, however, that the actual installation will be simple, straight-forward and quick. Endeavor to congratulate me for optimism and stop snickering this instant.

Jan finishes work next Friday, her brother arrives two days later and we plan to sail with the tide (cool sounding, but, with an auxiliary engine, usually meaningless expression) shortly thereafter. As completion of all projects should take until this time next year, some compromises will ensue.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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