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Allan and Rina's Sailing Adventure
The travels of S/V Follow You Follow Me Continue....
Whirwind on the South Island
02/28/2010, Queenstown and Christchurch

The last 5 days have been a blast, meeting up with Drew and Margie from Dosia in Queenstown where we all partook in some serious adrenalin-junkie sports.... jet boats, multiple bungy jumps and absolutely picture perfect weather to go along with our two bedroom suite with private hot tub. See the picture gallery for all the highlights.

After 3 days we headed to Christchurch and enjoyed another great weather window playing tourist in the central district, botanical gardens and the river Avon...

Follow You is around the equator now on the Dockwise freighter and email reports from the crew on board some of the superyachts report bad weather and headway of 4-6 knots around the Cook Islands.

We head back to Auckland to see Carinthia and Wayward wind one more time before heading to LAX on the 3rd, visiting relatives for a couple of days before meeting the boat in Ensenada around the 12th.

Getting the boat itch again.... need to be back aboard soon!

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Stunning South Island
02/24/2010, Milford Sound, New Zealand

So this is what the South Island is really about... and it delivered in spades. Stunning mountains, waterfalls, verdant rainforests that look like they belong on Bora Bora. We arrived in the tourist town of Te Anau, dodging campervans and busloads of German and Asian tourists, but finding a wide selection of great restaurants for satisfying our foodie urge. We quickly headed out of town about 70 miles towards Milford Sound looking for an aggressive hike. We found a 3-4 hour hike to Lake Marion that fit the bill perfectly, with a 500 meter incline over several miles. We arrived at the summit and found the lake shrouded in low clouds. We could see the near coastline and about 30 meters up and down the shoreline... that is until the clouds suddenly parted and both Rina and I were startled to find a huge glacier right in front of us. Our minds had played tricks on us, thinking that the lake was large, until the clearing clouds revealed a sheer wall at least half a mile straight up. It was an eerie feeling.

The day after our hike we drove all the way out to Milford Sound through some of the most stunning scenery we have ever seen. Sheer rock walls, glaciers, lush rainforests and interesting wildlife made it all interesting. We toured the sound on MV Sinbad, a 4 month old tour boat built for 60 but with only 30 passengers. Captain Denny, an former crawdad fisherman from the sound had the pleasure of skippering the boat and was very friendly, talking about the boats state of the art systems and how she was constructed.

Yesterday we drove the 180km to Queenstown, THE tourist hotspot on South Island, to find a downtown buzzing with tourists. This place has ski resorts all around it, so during the summer they go for extreme sports... bungy, jet boats, huge swings, sky diving, wheeled luges and zip lines abound. We booked a 2 bedroom apartment with hot tub for the 3 days, rendezvousing with Drew and Margie from SV Dosia, who are back over after delivering Dosia to her new owner in Brisbane. Today we're getting our yaya's off by canyon jetboating and doing the huge swing, with a 100 meter drop. Rina's panicking already!

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Milford Sound Pics
02/24/2010, South Island, New Zealand

New album in the gallery of our hike to Lake Marion and tour of Milford Sound on the west coast of South Island.

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What Was The Name Of That Town?
02/20/2010, Invercargill, New Zealand

What a blur... 3 days of go, go go, seeing a wide variety of cool places. Waterfalls, penguins, beaches, old architecture, museums, churches... We finally got to the very southern end of New Zealand, and found Invercargill to be...ahem, less than scintillating. The sidewalks rolled up early and that gave Rina and I a chance for a down day... Now we're headed for more excitement, to fiordland, glaciers and meeting up with Drew and Margie from Dosia, who are headed back to NZ from Oz after touring there for the last 14 days. And just to make sure we didnt miss boat maintenance and break downs too much, our Subaru legacy started giving us problems. In line with our sailing ethos, we will not let the slipping fanbelt fester into something worse, and will get it fixed here in Invercargill before heading out into the stix. Amazingly, AA here runs shops on Sunday's just for the tourists... Good on ya!

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Road Trip!
02/17/2010, Portobello, near Dunedin, New Zealand

While Follow You is slowly making its way across the Pacific, Rina and I are starting a 14 day road trip of the South Island of New Zealand. After a short flight from Auckland to Christchurch, Rina and I rented a 4wd Subaru and headed south, stopping our first night in Timaru, enjoying the view of the ocean from our room at the funky Sea Breeze hotel and enjoying a nice dinner. The next day we headed to Omaru, home of the endangered blue penguins. We got a back stage pass to view 150 mating penguin pairs, who unfortunately for us, are nocturnal. The conservation society here has set up marine-world style bleachers for 300 to view the nightly pilgrimage of penguins that waddle up the beach back into their little huts to feed their young. Fortunately, there were viewing boxes with infrared light that allowed us to see great examples of young chicks molting before they make their first foray to the sea.

In the afternoon we travelled the last 120 km to Dunedin where we will spend several days before heading west to the highland lakes and glaciers. We entered Dunedin to the sight of many "no vacancy" signs on the many motorlodges lining hiway 1. We started our search, and after 90 minutes had found exactly one B&B with only one night available. Apparently we arrived 2 days before college classes start, so families are descending on the town to deposit their young at school. Having done this drill with both Megan and Alyssa, we know how overwhelmed the local infrastructure can become. We changed strategies and headed out the long Otago peninsula, with many historic sights, summer cottages and tiny towns tucked into the many protected bays. We travelled 16 km along a twisty shoreline road, watching 25 knot winds churn up the whitecaps on the bay, until we came to the first cottages and B&B's. After several strike-outs we pulled into the Portobello Hotel and Pub, whose young proprietor Tiny gave us the bad news... fortunately he knew a couple of places that might have rooms, so after making 5 calls, located a one room B&B just up the hill, with a view of the town of Portobello and the bay beyond. We relaxed in our studio apartment with a glass of wine, then walked back down the hill to Portobello's for a bowl of nibbles, before turning in for the night.

Today it's off to Museums and other inside activities as rain drenches the coast until the late afternoon. Then it's off to the settlers museum on the Otago peninsula and the historic Fort Taiaroa, home of the only working Armstrong disappearing gun.... Ooooooooohhh! Oh yea, Rina says it is also home of the royal albatross.... Isn't that a cousin of a certain rat with wings? Yawn! These kiwis certainly work the tourism thing hard, don't they.

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02/17/2010 | Kenneth Newell
Keep the detaills coming as Lori and I plan to do the same road trip.

We are now getting mentally prepared for our 23 day crossing...nervous!
Slojo bears down on Follow You
02/14/2010, Port of Auckland

Check out this sequence that Rina took of Slojo heading into Super Servant 3 in the picture gallery on your right....

Another folder holds a bunch of pictures of our Dockwise loading experience. It's pretty illustrative of what to expect loading and securing your boat.

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Follow You Heads to Ensenada Without Us
02/14/2010, Port of Auckland

You can barely see us, but that's Follow You's mast and hull right behind the Dockwise bulkhead of "Super Servant 3". It has been quite the experience doing this whole boat transport thing. From struggling last August with the options on how and when to get us and the boat home, to preparing the boat for transport, to finally loading her on the freighter; finally getting her secured on deck has been exhausting. The pictures in the gallery say it all.

Over the past week Rina and I have been battening down things down below, purging fridges and water tanks, polishing hull and stainless in the vain hope that she'll still look decent upon arrival, and adapting our shadetree covers to cover the decks on the 5000 mile journey from Auckland to Ensenada Mexico. Doing research and hyping with many cruisers who have used Dockwise in the past uncovered that the boats can show up at their destination with a lot of cosmetic damage if not prepared well. Many boats shrinkwrap their entire topsides, at the cost of several thousands of dollars, hermetically sealing the boat and virtually guaranteeing no damage from salt water, metal shavings from all the welding taking place on the deck, exhaust soot, and the ravages of many sea miles in conditions that the boats would not normally find themselves in otherwise. Some have reported that when Dockwise shoots fresh water on the decks of boats to knock the exhaust soot off that residue from rusty tanks has pockmarked the decks, requiring a tedious cleaning session to get it off, if it comes off at all. We opted to save the bucks and adapt our Shadetree canvas covers for covering the deck, using shrinkwrap non-residue-leaving tape to secure the perimeter. As a safeguard against strong winds, Rina added large grommets to the perimeter of the covers and we strung 3/8's inch line between the cover and the lifelines. We had planned to put our plastic panels around the entire cockpit perimeter but straps required to lash us to the starboard bulkhead of SS3 prevented us from putting the rear panels on.

We woke early Sunday morning to host Richard and Suzanne from Kaumoana for tea and coffee before cutting our Auckland dock lines for good and heading to the SS3 to standby for loading at 7am. 3 hours later, Follow You was the next to last boat of 9 boats loaded on, slowly motoring into the center of the sunken freighter, then letting the 15 knot wind from the port beam drift us over to the starboard builkhead where the waiting Russian crewmen grabbed our docklines just as a downpour drenched us for about 30 minutes. 8 fenders and 4 huge straps held us in place as divers set temporary jackstands under the boat. We shut down all systems, covered the remaining parts of the boat and departed as the ballast water began pumping out of the freighter and she slowly lifted, allowing the divers to methodically set the stands on each of the new boats. It was actually quite tricky, as there was everything from "Limits", a racer with a 4 meter keel to Zen, a catamaran with less than a 4 foot draft. Boats all ended up at different levels, depending on their keel heights. The water level on deck of the SS3 was adjusted as they settled each boat on to their cradle and jack stands.

The last boat in was Slojo, a 156 foot motoryacht that we met in Tahiti. Rina took a great sequence of pictures that I'll post next. Their huge friggen bow thruster would blast us against the bulkhead now and then to counter the port winds, as the SS3 boat handlers confidently held us in place. The helpful idiot crewman on the boat ahead of us urgently warned us to not try to fend off the huge motoryacht if she came to close to us. Duh.

Monday morning we came back to inspect the more permanent cradles, welded in place by the friendly (but gawking) Russian welders. We met with Patrick, the loading master, explaining that I was kind of uncomfortable with the placement of the cradle. He said no problem and had the crew weld in two additional cradle arms that did a better job of holding up Follow You's bloated butt. (We had her weighed in Opua and she is just short of 30,000 pounds)

We're pretty comfortable that she'll come through the journey ok, and we have the crew of Slojo looking out for her, giving us a report every couple of days. Rina and I are now off to the South Island of New Zealand where we are renting a car and touring for the two weeks that Follow You is in transit. We'll fly to LAX in early March, visiting former crew Stephanie and John in Newport Beach and Megan in San Diego before heading to Ensenada to meet the boat. Off to the airport!

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A Big Day of High Tea
02/14/2010, One Tree Hill, New Zealand

Having cruiser girlfriends has been one of the best parts of visiting so many countries of the world. Here in Auckland we decided to go to a really nice lunch called High Tea on One Tree Hill. Check out the gallery to see some great views from one tree hill and also my friends and the great food. The above picture is Suzanne on S/V Carinthia...its funny, her pink tea leaves, when steeped, matched her pink shirt. Lovely food, tea, great company, and the weather was fantastic all day. I'm going to miss these new friends and hope to meet up with them in the future, either in the states, or out where their boats may be on their continuing adventures around the world. I've had such great times over the last 18 months with all of them... too many to name here, but you know who you are!

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Dusting off the Gallery
02/14/2010, Auckland, New Zealand

New pics are on the way!

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Life in Viaduct Harbour
02/13/2010, Auckland, New Zealand

Rina and I have just wrapped up 2 weeks at Viaduct Marina in Auckland, enjoying the many restaurants and activities nearby. We arrived to the thumping of music from a seafood festival, with over 100 booths serving all kinds of food from many local eateries and the huge fish market complex. In classic kiwi form, it was raining and blowing 20 knots and nobody cared at all! If kiwis acted like Californians and went indoors whenever it rained, they would never go out, as weather systems regularly come through and dump a little rain most days. Over the next two weeks we enjoyed downtown activities, movies and the nearby island of Waihiki, with great wineries, beaches and nature preserves. The gallery has great shots of the local area, which was refurbished last for the 2000 America's Cup races. Two of Team New Zealands training mules are even used to ferry tourists out for quasi-match races each day.

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03/25/2010 | SJ
I thought I recognized the branding on that yacht! America's Cup x 2 - good to see they're still in use

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Who: Allan & Rina Alexopulos
Port: Sutter Creek, CA
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