05/02/2012, New Zealand
We've had a great sunny start to our passage flying our Code Zero sail, we nickname 'Bluebird'. The sail has a giant bird on it, and no fewer than 4 also giant albatrosses circled Paikea Mist to check out Bluebird in our daylight exit from Opua! The day flew by, with the sun setting at 5:40 pm. We ate a early dinner of gourmet meat pies(from the Opua Cafe) and fresh spinach and mandarin salad and watched the sun sink over the horizon. Feels wonderful to be at sea! Conditions have been fabulous, with wind from 12-18 knots - we are also eating up the miles, almost 90 in the first 12 hours. This is a great ride, considering we are finding a current against us of almost a knot. We've slowed down a bit in the wee hours, but that allows us a nice sleep anyways! We've been more or less following the rhumbline, having to make some adjustments for winds that are not always from the same direction. The wind is slowing coming more from the east, and is presently 11 knots from 119 deg. I expect day break may see us changing our sail plan - but we will try to ride Bluebird for as long as we can. Indoor cabin temperature is about 16 deg Celcius, I'm wearing two layers of lightweight merino, a fleece and my fowlie jacket outside where there is a definite nip in the air. Stay tuned for the next 793 miles!
05/01/2012, New Zealand
The time has come for us to depart New Zealand. We have loved it here, and have many great memories of the two season we sailed, hiked, camped and kayaked to some amazing places.
This morning we are leaving for our next adventure in Vanuatu. We will be sailing to a small island in the southeast corner where we will be checking in - Aneityum on Anatom Island (S20 14.291, E169 46.603). The distance is about 930 nm, and the winds and seas look favourable (20 - 25 knots of wind for aft of the beam, with 2.5 to 3.5 meter seas).
It is a beautiful sunny morning here, but quite cool - we are looking forward to getting back into the warmer climates!
Love to you all, Michael and Gloria
Check out our new photos in the photo gallery taken from hikes as we circumnavigated New Zealand's North Island this past season.
05/01/2012, last day in Opua
New Zealand- what a country! Over the past year and a half, Michael and I have been lucky enough to have spent almost 8 months of our time on the road here, sort of speak! Last year exploring by car we focused on all the major tourist spots that New Zealand is famous for and had a blast. This year we circumnavigated North Island and spent almost 2 months exploring the North end of South Island. In case any of you are wondering, the sailing version won hands down.
Thank you New Zealand! We have experienced nothing but kindness and genuine interest during our stay here. A very special thanks to the people we have encountered along our travels for sharing a little part of their country with us.
We admire you Kiwis, living your lives out in this country; you sure have heaps to be proud of as a country and a people. You might think I'm talking World Cup here, but that is surface material only. Pin your hat on the things that matter- a country where people take the time to meet and greet strangers, a country that is (almost insanely at times) environmentally focused, and where a young child can name the bird she hears in the bush because she still spends time outdoors. May you always harbour such a warm human spirit. Look after these islands, they are a gem worth cherishing. But of course you know that better than anyone.
Here are some random things I love about New Zealand, I guess my own person list of why I find New Zealand "good as gold"!
- Kiwi speak: Kiwis have their own brand use of the English language which makes for a bit of confusion when you first arrive. Their vocabulary is loaded with expression that I don't think you'll hear in too many other places, unless they slip from the mouth of a displaced New Zealander. There are too many to account for on this page, but here's two that are heard often. Good as Gold- a way of saying things are completed and looking really great. Sweet As- just perfectly good, can't get better! Kiwi word substitutions are great: togs-swimsuit, tracks- trails, tramping- hiking, bush-forest, slips- land slides, jandals- sandals judderbugs- speed bumps!
-apples, crispy juicy fresh off the tree New Zealand apples YUM!
-Shirley's plum sauce
-bird song- there is nothing like a dawn chorus here in New Zealand, especially if at anchor.
-Fantails flitting through the forest, especially if backlit by sun shining through their translucent tail
-tramping and DOC. New Zealand has the best hiking and walking paths anywhere! I'm not just talking about the famed 'Great Walks", the whole country is a host of trails, all with good signage where ever you go. Thanks to their Department of Conservation (DOC) for maintaining them.
-the light at dawn and dusk- simply some of the deepest colours anywhere- exquisite.
-barefeet- often 'worn' by adults as well as kids even on city streets, not dependent on weather. As in no sandals (known as jandals here).
- Air that is warm when the sun shines and cool when the wind blows
-icecream- oh soooo good
-wine- fantastic selection bought a grocery stores at sale prices- there is always a good bottle of wonderful NZ wine on sale at any given time!
-beautiful green pastures in the countryside, grazed by multitudes of sheep and cattle.
-and the very best part: the people!
Thanks New Zealand!
They say cruiser's plans are all written in the sand at low tide. Apparently our previous plans slipped away a few tide changes ago!
After completing our recent sailing adventures around New Zealand, we started to think more about our future plans, particularly sorting out our eventual route home! We realized that we were much more excited about heading further west and through Indonesia than beating upwind home. The beat home means revisiting some of the island groups and anchorages we have already seen, whereas as we travel WEST everything is all brand new!
So....Our latest plans are to sail north to Vanuatu where we will explore one of the most traditional islands in all of the South Pacific, visit a live volcano and dive on the famous WW 2 wreck. Next we will cross west to the Louisiades, an island group in the South East corner of Papau New Guinea. There is even a possibility that we will do some exploring of the Solomons enroute- all weather dependent, as usual. From the Louisiades we will cross to Australia (clearing customs at Thursday Island- which is on the top north east corner), then onto Darwin by July. This route from New Zealand to Darwin Australia is approximately 3000 miles! There we will join the Indonesian Rally, which will take us up through Indonesia to Singapore by December. The Indonesian Rally will be an adventurous passage with a wide cultural exposure, a chance to see orangutans in the wild, komodo dragons, and Bali! We also look forward to some great diving along the way.
Once in Singapore we will either ship the boat into the Med, or even possibly home from there. Time and tide changes will tell.
We will keep you posted, but it looks like our weather window is shaping up for a mid-week departure to Vanuatu (May 2 2012). If the weather holds, this will be the third anniversary in a row we have spent at sea! Maybe one of these years we will actually be able to go out to celebrate at a nice restaurant with a bottle of champagne, but it appears our 28th anniversary (May 5th) will be another one in our safety harnesses and a toast with fizzy water, or maybe a can of beer if the conditions are settled!
04/19/2012, Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Back in the Bay of Islands!
We left Great Barrier Island with the wind still blowing persistently at 25-30 knots from the ESE. We planned to meet our cruising friends Bill and Kathy from SV Jarana on the small island of Ponui, very close to Auckland, but unfortunately almost due south of Great Barrier. The bash up wind was spectacularly wet; we were still in the left over winds and waves from the tropical depression.
Once we turned the corner around the bottom of Waiheke Island to make our way to Ponui we were greeted by a plethora of sailboats. Easter long weekend is the last hoorah for sailors in this part of the world. The sun was shining, the wind was up, and it seems every Aucklander who owned a boat was heading for one anchorage or another. We anchored well out of the crowd, but despite the initial distance we were surrounded before dusk.
The next day we had a lazy genoa sail to Waiheke Island, weaving our way in and out of boats anchored or drifting while fishing, which I fully declare is THE national past-time here in New Zealand. You can't be on the water without seeing somebody fishing. After fishing, comes sailing, but only if you are racing. We passed a total of 3 races which were underway just along that one side of Waiheke!
Forget racing on PM for the moment- it's always so relaxing to sail on the genoa alone, leaving the main tucked away, playing only with the trim of the one sail. This kind of sailing allows my mind to drift back to our early days of light wind sailing on Michael's catamaran, where we would youthfully sprawl on the tramp and steer with our feet. AND I remember why I love to sail!
Despite arriving in the middle of the Waiheke Jazz Festival, we left early the next day to make the 62 nm trip north up to Bream Head. The sailing got even better- this leg was possibly the best sailing we have enjoyed in months. With the sun out and winds behind us we put out our huge Code Zero sail and screamed our way north averaging about 8-9 knots. As the winds filled in we traded the Code Zero for the genoa and continued to blast ever so softly along. Approaching Bream Head the winds picked up to 25-30 knots, resulting in a spectacular display of sea spray against the deep green water spilling out of Whangerie River. We came to rest in McLeod Bay, where friends on Rutea invited us for Easter Dinner. Perfect!
We made one last stop in gorgeous Whangamumu (love these Kiwi names) where we had the whole bay to ourselves. We 'bush-wacked' up the steep pastures south of the anchorage and connected with a barely visible trail that led out to the end of the peninsula. This hike was striking, with great vistas, birds and geography. At one point we walked across a natural bridge between two pieces of land - a mere four feet wide, the trail overhanging the cliffs at one point, about 80' vertical drop with water on either side. I love New Zealand.
As we sailed around Cape Brett we interrupted a conference attended by thousands of gulls. They sprang themselves out of the water in a mad flap as Paikea Mist sailed by, and regrouped again behind us.
Once around the Cape, we hung our hook in Oke Bay and climbed our way to the lookout on the Cape Brett Trail which gives you a bird's eye view of the Bay of Islands.
So here we are, full circle, our circumnavigation of the North Island completed. We will take a few days in our now familiar stomping grounds of the Bay of Islands before heading back into Opua to do some final maintenance and provisioning before looking for our weather window to head back to the tropics.