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A family travels from Florida to New Zealand aboard their St Francis 50 catamaran
Great Barrier Island
12/03/2008, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand

We traveled to Great Barrier Island and anchored in Port Fitzroy harbor. On the way (about 50 miles) we ran though a huge pod of whales. One was right between our bows and we had to put the motor in neutral so as not to overtake him. They were fairly small thankfully, about twice the size of a bottle nosed porpoise. Great Barrier is a very quiet place. One of the highlights was the hike (tramp in Kiwi) to the top of Mt Hobson (Hirakimata). 621 meters high with 1000 steps, 814 continuous steps at the end to reach the summit. The Kiwis have incredible hiking trails; the effort put into building some of the trails is impressive. Alec and I went over the side to clean the waterline before leaving as this might be the last clear water we see for a while.

12/02/2008, Tutukaka

We arrived in Tutukaka the day before yesterday. Today we went diving at Poor Knights islands one of the top dive sites in the world located 12 miles off the coast. The water temperature was 17 degrees Celsius. This was the first cold water dive we have ever done. We were wearing 7mm dive suits complete with hats, shoes and gloves. We saw lots of neat stuff. Pictures will follow. Alec got to drive the dive boat back to the coast. Tomorrow we will depart Tutukaka for Great Barrier Island which is about 52 miles.

12/08/2008 | severine
Hello....j'espère que tout va bien pour vous?Je continue à suivre assez régulièrement votre voyage :-) Ah! quelle aventure....
Hey Nathalie!!!tu étais de passage par ici à Lyon... j'aurai bien aimé te revoir, c'est dommage peut être une occasion se retrouvera ;-)
Quoi qu'il en soit bonne continuation. Prenez soin de vous
Des biz
Out of the marina cruising again
11/29/2008, Mimiwhangata Bay, New Zealand

After 20 days in Opua marina we left this morning heading south towards Auckland. We anchored this afternoon in Mimiwhangata Bay along side Malachi who had left 2 days before us. Then we went for a great walk though pasture land. We are in the middle of nowhere. On the way back to the boat we noticed a glider on another beach and went over to investigate. It turns out the updraft's had not cooperated and he had to put it down 10 kilometers from his landing strip and had been waiting 3 hours for the crew to make it to him. They had a 4 wheel drive towing a trailer and made it out on to the beach with great effort to begin dismantling it before the tide came in. It's good to be away from the dock again but needed to be there for a while to get set up. We bought a car, cell phone etc.. and got Nathalie on a plane to France. She had a 1 hour flight to Auckland, then a 4 hour to Melbourne, then a 14 hour to Dubai, then a 7.5 hour to Paris. Add the lay over times and you have a tired girl. She will re-join us December 15th in Auckland. We miss her a lot but know we have to share her with her family. Lot's of her's in that sentence.

Warm welcome from Opua Yacht club
11/15/2008, Opua (New Zealand)

This week has been a busy one to say the least....Everyday was filled with an entertainment organized by the Opua Yacht Club. It Felt so good to reunite with all the cruisers that made the crossing and to meet the people from Opua, John and his wife from Windflower live on a boat right here in Opua and they (and of course a lot of other people from here, I can't remember all the names) organized a really fun week for the "All point rally to Opua", it is just so nice of them, we got to eat very good (barbecue, pizzas, seafood from the bay....) and went to an amazing show retracing the New Zealand history with traditional Maori songs and dances...We saw that the Maori facial expressions are surprising and very different than in the other part of the pacific, they were used to impress the newcomers and gauge their courage . The women dance also with some "pompons" at the end of a string that they swing around with expertise....the tip of their fingers vibrate when they dance (comparing to the fluid slow movement of the hands of the other islands traditional dancing.)
The New Zealanders are proud of their dual heritage (Maori and Europeen) and although their history did not go without confrontations, they did work out their differences to create one unique nation...they seem to be really genuine people very concern of their environment, close to nature, loving the outdoor (how can you not when you roam through such beautiful landscape!!!!).
We already visited quiet a lot around Opua, Paihia (a small touristic town on the bay), Kerikeri ( where we go food shopping, has a great market and plenty of wonderful vegetarian gourmet caf for lunch, a delight!), Russell (a historic village with stunning surrounding)... We also took a long ride to the north tip of the island (Cap Regina) where the Tasman sea encounters the Pacific Ocean, the 90 miles beach (where you can drive on 4X4), and the sand dunes (the kid's favorite spot, they could actually surf on them!)...
Nous n'avons pas artes de la semaine.....Chaque jour, une activite organisee par le yacht club d'Opua a permis de reunir tous les bateaux de la traverse 2008 ainsi de faire connaissance avec les cruisers locaux. John et sa femme de Windflower (et beaucoup d'autres dont je ne me souviens pas le nom, desole) ont organizes une semaine fantastique pleine de repas au club (barbecue, pizzas, fruits de mer) et une soiree inoubliable de chant et de danses Maori relatant l'histoire de la Nouvelle Zelande. Les expressions facials Maori sont tsurprenantes et tres differentes des habitants des autres iles du Pacifique que nous avons visites, ells etaient utilisees pour impressioner les nouveaux arrivants et jauger leur courage. Les femmes dancent avec des pompons au bout de ficelle qu'elles bougent de facon expert dans l'espace, leurs mains sont agitees de vibration (ou tremblements) qui sont aussi tres different du movement lent et fluide des mains des tahitiennes.
Les New-Zelandais sont tres fiers de leur dual heritage Maori-Europeens et bien que leur histoire ne soit pas sans confrontation, ils sont arrives a regler leur differences et creer une nation tres originale. Ils semblent tres vrais, pres de la nature, aiment les sports, randonnees, camping, voile et sont tres concernes par la protection de leur environement (comment ne pas vouloir proteger ces splendides paysages!).
Nous avons dj explores pas mal les alentours d'Opua: Paihia (une petit village touristique du bord de mer), KeriKeri( ou nous allons nous approvisionner, un tres joli marche et de tres bons petits restos vegetariens), Russel (un village historique ou nous avons decouvert une balade geniale).... Nous sommes alles jusqu'au cap Regina au nord de l'ile ou la mer de Tasmanie et L'ocean pacifique se rencontrent, de tres beaux paysages, une plage de 90 miles ou les 4x4 peuvent rouler, et les dunes de sable (les enfants ont pu surfer sur les dunes, super!)....

Arrived in New Zealand
11/08/2008, Opua, New Zealand

We are here!! Gone to party, more later.

We have been busy since arriving in New Zealand with such things as renting a car, obtaining a cell phone, exploring and the numerous party's. To recap the trip down. We left Tonga November 2, 2008 and arrived Opua November 9, 2008. We spent 2 nights anchored at Minerva Reef. That put our total travel time at 5 days and 12.5 hours. Total miles were 1058 although we traveled more because of strategic zigs and zags to avoid low pressure systems and other weather events.
The days leading up to departure day were full of weather analysis. Trying to get from Tonga to NZ at this time of year is like crossing a six lane hi-way on your knees. Weather systems develop fast and so trying to plan a smooth trip is not easy. In the end I think some luck is key to a good trip. However if we could influence the outcome we did. For example when we left Minerva Reef we choose to motor south at a good clip to avoid a low. Of the three boats that left that day, the two of us that motored missed the low and the third boat had 40 knot winds and did not arrive here until yesterday, a full 3 days after us.
Many boats will make the passage down to 35 degrees south this season and most will arrive here in Opua. It is a special thing to share the excitement of the crews as they arrive, some having been below praying with no sails up while the wind raged outside over 50 knots and others, like ourselves who never saw more than 35 knots and had a pleasant passage.

11/09/2008 | Vincent DYE
Enfin ! la fameurse NZ de vos reves ! quelle aventure ! les kangourous aprs les Kiwis ?

bises tous . Vincent DYE
11/09/2008 | Vincent DYE
Enfin ! la fameurse NZ de vos reves ! quelle aventure ! les kangourous aprs les Kiwis ?

bises tous . Vincent DYE
11/10/2008 | Vincent DYE
Happy Birthday Captain David !
This time i do not forget and i can express you our wishes ; Happy Bithday and Enjoy your great Time !
Vincent + Ivana
11/11/2008 | Nancy & Joe
Happy Birthday Wishes to Dave & Alec too (now you are13 & 1 month old!). Enjoy your newest vacation adventure in Kiwi country! We miss you, Love, N,J & W
11/15/2008 | Philippe
It's good to know that you have well arrived in NZ.
Congratulations to you all and big kisses from ALFONSI's family !!
11/22/2008 | Pat Reischmann
Got your message Dave, the CD was great, confirms my thoughts about the St. Francis as a good cruising design
12/03/2008 | Sara & Pam
Congratulations! What a wonderful journey!xoxo

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Who: David, Alec, Emilie, Nathalie
Port: Tavernier, Florida USA
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