13 April 2017 | (Library pic. It really was tipping with rain)
08 April 2017 | Bulk tonic being delivered to anonymous cruisers in Fiji
02 April 2017 | Port Whangarei
25 March 2017 | Another Bloody Atoll
21 February 2017 | Christchurch City Centre
26 May 2017
The last week has dragged by, while we killed yet more time waiting on the elusive weather window. The bold who left a week ago had a pretty wild passage by some accounts.......but at least they had wind. We've finally left this morning sailing, or rather, motoring into 4 or 5 days of hee haw.
While killing time I was reading a copy of Boat International magazine which was lying in the marina rec room, if you can call sitting around endlessly and pointlessly gazing at weather files, recreation. This magazine is to billionaire superyacht owners what Cruising World or Yachting Monthly is to yotties.
Apparently the Benetti yard in Italy is building a 63 metre super dooper megayacht on spec, or maybe that's long enough to be a Giga Yacht, as CEO's around the world haven't the patience to wait for a custom build and you couldn't do with buying Used. All that cash burning a hole in their Gucci chinos I guess. The article goes on to say, "the saloon will flow seamlessly into the dining area promoting a sense of harmony".
Well, what's new about that? MY old dad's Hurley 22 did that 50 years ago, as indeed does ours. The seamless flow bit anyway. As regards harmony......if this sodding wind doesn't pick up soon.........
New Zealand in 4' 34"
19 May 2017
Somewhere, Tahiti I think, we started preparing for our tour of New Zealand. Our normal modus operandi when we land somewhere is to firstly get settled in, find where the wifi spots and hairdressers are, do some chores on the boat, a couple of nights out etc.... and before we know it, days and more likely, weeks have gone past.
We didn't want the same to happen in New Zealand, so, months ahead, we started planning.
Plan A - rent a campervan. $15,000!!!! Yikes
Plan B - buy a campervan. A clunker for $6,000 or fancy one for $60,000. Yikes
Plan C - buy a car...... see above.
Many people helped in making Plan D a reality. Many people along the way made it a blast. Thanks to all.
18 May 2017
After some months of wearing down I was finally persuaded to part with the $40 a head to enter the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
Waitangi is where the British and Maori leaders signed the treaty that pretty much handed over New Zealand to the Queen.
The treaty was drafted, written and translated by the Brits and presented for signature to their new best friends. Unfortunately, there was quite a lot lost in translation, whether by accident or "politics" is unclear but it's taken some time, like a century and a half, for the Maori to get the "official" translation recognised and some compensation heading back their way.
One reason the Maori chiefs signed up with the Brits was because earlier visitations by the Dutch and French had gone badly wrong. Misunderstanding and mayhem ensued with a couple of punch ups and fatalities on both sides. The end result was that when the Brits showed up the Maori thought that compared to the other "visitors", they were a jolly nice bunch and things went on from there.
A shame really. If only they'd got off to a better start with the French they could have saved themselves 150 years of English cooking and instead of the ubiquitous New Zealand pie we could have been eating croissants and foie gras for the last six months.
17 May 2017
During the day, here in autumnal New Zealand it's been a pleasant mix of fresh, slightly chilly mornings warming to 16-22c days. It's a kind of jeans/shorts/jeans scenario.
However, a couple of weeks ago my last remaining pair of Levi's developed a small hole in the left knee. The warning signs were there with little threadbare patches signalling the impending demise of my trusty strides. The game was to see if I could make them last till we get to 24/7 warmth for the next 5 months.
Having seen worn threads of impending doom I considered briefly the usual repair; duct tape strategically placed over the worn area. However, the last time I tried this it backfired. The tear was in the seat area. Turn the jeans inside out, a couple of strips of duct tape over the weak area and bingo, good as new.
Until a couple of outings later...... when slowly the warmth of, and young children or those of a sensitive disposition should turn away now, the warmth of my bum softened the adhesive which, as it's job description dictates, quickly reattached to the nearest surface.
The big question of the day. Rip 'em off lightening quick or the slow draw? No more detail required but let's just say there were tears and I really can't imagine why you'd ever go for a waxing.
Consequently, too scared to try the duct tape fix again, I'm now sporting a rather trendy pair of slashed knee jeans. Pretty cool eh!
Meanwhile, its "will we, won't we?" Again. There's another Low shaping up to deal pesky yotties a blow. The thirty odd rally boats that have been postponing for weeks now, have pushed back another day. The independents are in the rec room pouring over Grib files looking for the elusive window.
We're thinking we might just buy a car, a wee house, a pile of logs and settle in front of the fire for the winter.
Trevor Four Buckets
15 May 2017
We first met Trevor and Jan, his long time missus, skipper, crew, minder and partner in life, both in business and sailing, way back in the Galapagos. Since then I guess we've led each other astray more than a few times.
Trevor is a man of the sea. As a young man, he and Jan made a living long lining out of Russell fishing for Snapper and the like.
He's probably got more hours under his boots than half of the Yachting New Zealand Cat 1 assessors put together.
It's therefore been a bit stressful for him to be put through the government mangle, hoop jumping and purchases of new, pointless genoa, lifelines, a medical kit that wouldn't be out of place in ER and of course, his four buckets, all to get the magic exit certificate.
It therefore seemed appropriate that we should head to Russell, then known by its Maori name, Kororarika and also, as "the Hell Hole of the Pacific" owing to its then, (1830's), worldwide reputation for boisterous, drunken revelry, to help Trevor de-stress before heading up to the islands.
Back in the 1830's, to sort out the mess that was Russell, or just spoil the fun, the British Crown shipped out James Busby of Edinburgh who became, I guess, both the first British "Resident" and first town bouncer. Personally I think they needed a Glaswegian.
So, as the cyclones dissipate we headed ashore again with yachting family Tika (TikaTravels.com) and Trevor and Jan to the Russell Boating Club, eagerly, or warily, anticipating another night astray.
Shortly after we arrived we were sat in the small sailing club, a bit out of the way in North Island New Zealand so it was therefore something of a surprise when a face I recognised walked into the clubhouse.
I was sure I knew this guy but he was obviously a local and I couldn't quite place him but I was sure I'd last seen him one night I was flying solo, leading myself astray, back in January. A quick look through my photos suggested that, yes, it probably was him.... the moothie player we'd last seen in Taupo.
So, like a teenie bopper fan chasing David Cassidy I took my phone and it's pic, showed it to this stranger and said, "Hi, is this you?"
And it was. Tony the harp player from the yacht club in Taupo.
Sadly he didn't have his harmonicas with him so couldn't join in the Jam session but a good night was had by all and we weren't led that far astray.
12 May 2017
Almost six weeks ago we flung the boat in the water. Gotta go. Gotta get moving. Gotta catch one of them weather windows. Ten days to get our "clears" done then first window to crack even slightly open and we'd be off.
Ten days turned into four weeks and windows came and went. Morning walks around the Whangarei Haetae Loop, got dragged out to try and shorten the days. Patience was required for both the "clears" and ironically, the windows.
Some folks squeezed through some slightly open windows. Some made it. Some got trashed and some turned back.
Right now we're glad we've got the Popemobile as Donna is flouncing past right now. All bluster and torrential tears. Probably in a bit of a huff as she's now an ex cyclone, but still swirling her skirts enough to be putting 40 knots through the anchorage.
She's also got a pal; Ella
I think Ella has been on the bevvie as she's wandering around up north, staggering from island to island, all a-dither and not sure if she'll go west or follow Donna down here and see what she's up to.
The end results is 70 or 80 cruisers all twiddling their thumbs, all becoming weather experts and many watching their tourist visas expire. I suspect a few have already cleared out and are hiding out in the islands.
Big Brother, Yachting NZ the RYA equivalent down here manage and support a law that says every New Zealand registered boat leaving New Zealand waters has to have a category 1 offshore certificate.
Cheque books out, new bright orange storm sails hoisted and lanyards tied to the mandatory 4 buckets (what the heck do you do with four buckets? One for each foot I guess) is order of the day. The certification is only valid for a month (??) So there's a scramble to get extensions as everyone has been waiting so long.
Makes you proud to be British where you can still go to sea in an old tin bath without some faceless government Johnny poking his or her nose into your affairs.
Which reminds me; I must send my annual donation to the RNLI. Somebody's got to rescue these muppets!!
Over The Hill
06 May 2017
No, not another depressing reference to ageing, it's just where we went today.
Most folk have given up kicking their heels in Opua waiting for cyclone Donna to make up her mind where to hit and have headed out for mini cruises in the Bay of Islands.
We've done likewise and spent an afternoon watching a school of dolphins playing at making babies. Pics and stunning video clips on Facebook. (Well, maybe not stunning but if your peer at the screen closely you can just make out some dolphin hanky panky).
Today, we motored back to Russell and walked over the hill in autumn sunshine to Long Beach.
Not bad for the equivalent of early November back home.
03 May 2017
Many years ago, early '70's I think, during the 6 o'clock news the BBC's weather forecaster turned to his chart of the Atlantic, looked at the isobars forming a bit of an onion ring out west and said something like, "There's a bit of a depression out there, mid Atlantic, but it won't come to anything".
24 hours later, chimneys were lying in the streets of Britains cities, woodlands were combed flat, trees lying in neat downwind lines like Elton John's newly sown hair and our garage was blown 12 inches off its base.
Here in Opua there's a rally of 35 boats and at least the same again of "independents" all poised, ready, or not quite but trying hard, waiting on a weather window to leave New Zealand and make it up to the islands. And the warmth.
However, there's a bit of a depression out there. It may even have a name by this morning so everyone's a-dither. "Do we go or do we stay?"
The Michael Fish(es) are saying it will come to nothing. The prudent are saying it's as near a cyclone as you'll get so stay put until its whizzed past. The bold are leaving!!
REAL TIME NEWS FLASH!!!!!Typing this lying here in bed until the Webasto has made it safe to get up, the rally Net has just announced the wee depression has developed overnight and was christened Donna in the early hours. She, or it currently has or is forecast to soon have winds of 110 knots, waves of 6 metres and a also wee friend developing over Tonga. Poor old Vanuatu is getting it in the teeth again. The rally fleet of 35 boats has just cancelled their planned departure tomorrow.
Half the fleet are in the marina. The other half at anchor with us in the 360 degree sheltered estuary, flat calm with early morning smoke on the water (name that group).
If Donna swirls her way down here to blow the smoke away, let's hope the popemobile but can take it.