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Alan and Jean sharing our cruising news with friends, family.
Tuatara our new boat
12/08/2008, Bay of Islands NZ

7th December 2008
Bay Of Islands, New Zealand
Wow what beautiful weather we are having in the Bay of Islands. We are anchored in Omakiwi bay, our first foray away from our mooring in Opua with our new yacht, Tuatara. The sun is already hot for 9am in early December, there is a light breeze ruffling the bay, the forecast for the next few days is perfect. Perfect for sitting in the sun to top up our fading Langkawi tans but we want to go sailing, get the sails up and see what Tuatara can do, our pre-purchase test sail gave us a taste, we want a little more now but the wind is not co-operating.

We purchased Tuatara not quite a month ago (photo, Tuatara anchored off Urupukapuka Island Bay of Islands). Tuatara is bigger and older than we intended when we first started looking for another yacht. She is 26yrs old, (GRP but no plastic fantastic!) a Wright 51 built in Whangarei by a professional boat yard originally for a Dr , the project took several years. By the time it was finished I think the keenness to go offshore had diminished. He kept it for 8 years until a gentleman called Rune Holmberg bought her and sailed single handed around the world (1994) trying to beat or at least match Chichesters time. Rune left from Tauranga and was essentially sponsored by Tauranga people and the city. He was not able to match Chichesters time but it was still a good effort. He wrote a book about his circumnavigation, Sailing The Full Circle, Solo, which we have on board. Mike, who we bought Tuatara from, bought her from Holmberg in 2000. The boat was run down and needed a lot of equipment renewed. Mike has spent a lot of time, money and effort on Tuatara, so we have inherited a boat that is ready to go anywhere. Mike has sailed her across the Pacific, around NZ and to Australia and back.

Tuatara has older looks, not classic, but still nice. We have a very comfy albeit small pilot house, a lovely roomy aft cabin and we could have quite a good party in the saloon.
We have the use of a mooring here in Opua until May. A large number of the cruising fleet have passed our mooring on the way in to clear customs. We will be joining the departees in April/May next year.

Opua and the Bay of Islands is a nice place to spend the next few months, we plan to take Tuatara sailing around these northern waters over the summer to reacquaint ourselves with the area. It has been a while since we have spent much time in these waters. Hopefully we will have family and friends visiting from time to time. We don't have a lot to do on Tuatara, mainly fit a new (sail mail capable) SSB and antifouling although there are bound to be other things that occur over the summer.

Since I started this blog entry we have had a good sail from Deep Cove across to the Nine Pin then back across the bay to anchor off Urupukapuka Is for the night. This is a lovely time to be in the Bay of Islands, the flashes of early red pohutakawa flowers hang over seemingly empty sandy beaches. Looking closer amongst the shells and pebbles we can see tiny nesting dotterels the same colour as the stones. DOC has fenced off some of the nesting areas so human visitors and the odd sheep don't crush their eggs.

The black oyster catchers are also beginning to nest, we saw a pair today which didn't realize they should be nesting in that fenced off area, a ranger may have to come and shift the temporary fence to accommodate their sea view. The male oyster catcher took exception to our presence and stalked up the beach, hoping to scare us away with his bright orange beak pointed at our ankles. We left them in peace, a nervous dad is not a good dad.

It is now Sunday evening the sun is starting to sink behind Waitangi, the working boaties sailed off towards Monday morning thoughts a few hours ago. Here in Paradise bay, on Urupukapuka Is, we have the company of 3 yachts full of teenagers on what I guess is an end of year school trip. The late afternoon was full of happy sounds of swimming teens in 21 degree water. Not to be beaten Alan decided he had to have a swim too. His was a very quick dip quickly followed by a warm shower. The kids were still swimming long after he was dressed, obviously the exuberance of youth (maybe lost but not forgotten by Alan!) helped them overcome the cold water temperature.

Back to our Opua mooring tomorrow to organize some canvas work and a few boat jobs that cant be done while wandering the Bay , although while in Omakiwi bay Alan finished and fitted the new outboard bracket for our stern. We will also be thinking about our next sail, maybe up to the Cavalli Islands next time, we will have bought some fishing lines by then, so fish will, hopefully, be on the menu.

NZ Happenings
11/05/2008, Hamilton

1st November 2008

We have just spent a week in Taupo, the snow covered mountains sent chilly southerlies in our direction, but most days were fine. The kowhai trees were in full bloom, bees and glossy Tui enjoying their nectar. Some people say that the Tui get a little drunk on the kowhai nectar they certainly were singing well.

On Monday the sky cleared, the snow on the mountains, Ruapehu, Ngarahoe and Tongariro glistened and I imagine many office bound skiers were looking longingly out their windows.

Since our week in Taupo we have given a talk to our Yacht club, Waikato Yacht Squadron, about our trip from NZ to Thailand. Choosing a few photos from the hundreds I have took quite a time.

We are still boatless although that may change soon as we have just had a survey done and a sea trial on a yacht in the Bay of Islands. Its looking promising hopefully this time next week we will be boat owners again.

We are now yacht owners again, more detail next time.

Borneo an Back Home
10/15/2008, Hamilton NZ

16th October 2008
I'm back, it has been a long absence, blame it on writers block, traveling, tiredness or just pure unmotivated laziness.
What have we been doing since we packed up and moved off Talitha at the end of July? We had a few days in KL took a train to Singapore looked at a yacht and caught up with Jim Pasco again We chose Singapore Independence day to cross the border back into Malaysia so we could fly to Kota Kinabalu in Borneo with a budget fare on Air Asia. Being Independence day one would think Singaporeans would be at home celebrating but no, thousands were going to Malaysia for the weekend and it took us more than 2 claustrophobic hours in the queue at Malaysian immigration before we were free to get an over priced taxi to the airport. We were too frustrated, hot and hungry to bargain.

At Kota Kinabalu we stayed with Raina and Tom on Matariki at the Kota Kinabalu marina. We enjoyed catching up with Tom and Raina, Tom had cable TV installed for the Olympics so we were able to catch up on all the sporting news including watching some of NZs medal winning moments. Kota Kinabalu Marina is a great place to stay, the luxury yacht club and the two luxury hotels that are either side are all owned by the same man. As residents of the marina Tom and Raina had use of three pools, Ten Pin bowling, a bus to town, wifi and much more and as their guests we enjoyed the same facilities. We hired a car and the four of us went to see Mount Kinabalu, not to climb just for a look although we did go a few metres up a track to say we had walked on the mountain. On the way back to Kota Kinabalu our petrol got extremely low. Alan was driving, he was reading the wrong digital readout on the dash, we coasted down a few hills and got to the first Gas station with only a drip left. The last time the four of us had a car trip together we got lost on the way to Malacca, Alan was driving then too! Not sure if we can risk a 3rd car trip or at least not let Alan drive again.

We dragged ourselves away from the good company and easy living to take a 6 hour bus journey to Sandakan on the east coast of Borneo. We took a 2 day trip, staying in a jungle lodge on the banks of the Kinabatangan River. We hoped to see wildlife including Probiscus monkeys but the two boat trips on the river were a little disappointing. Our trip in Kumai 10 months previously had been such a highlight our expectations for Kinabatangan were high but we were disappointed. We saw some wildlife but the encroaching palm oil forests are obviously having a huge affect on the wildlife and their habitats. Another 6 hour bus trip back to KK to the comfort of Matariki. A few more days of easy living before we took the ferry to Labuan an Island off Brunei. A day trip over to Brunei in company with cruising friends we met on the street in Labuan.

Our tripping was coming to an end, time to return to Talitha at Rebak, say a final farewell to friends, pick up our luggage, step off Talitha for the last time and head back to NZ via Queensland. Eight days, Surfers Paradise to Bundeburg and back again looking at boats, catching up with friends and family. Within a couple of hours of getting off the plane at Coolangatta, having just hired a car and eaten breakfast we had spent more money than it cost to live in Malaysia in a month. I must say sitting in a nice café having thick raisin toast and a hot long black was pretty good.

We have now been back in Hamilton about 6 weeks, staying with friends and family while we look for our new home. Fortunately we have a large family and friends who don't mind us staying so we haven't worn out our welcome anywhere yet ....or at least they are too polite to say!! We saw two lovely yachts in Australia but both too expensive for us. I have been buying lotto tickets since we got home, no luck. Lotto has jackpotted to $30 mill, so maybe this week will be a lucky one!!! Since we have been home we have bought a new pair of shoes, a new printer, a thing for cleaning gutters
( something else we have been doing) and a car but no yacht yet.
There have been more nice boats to look at here at home, but not many in our preferred size of 45ft so our size criteria has increased. At this point we are still looking although we have our eye on a couple we like.
Since being home we have made good use of the jeans and jerseys in our overweight luggage. Typical NZ spring weather, cold one day hot the next. Clear blue skies, fresh green grass, spring blossoms, paddocks full of lambs and calves and fabulous worlds best cafes... NZ a great place to come home to.... well if you discount the pre-election huff and puff in the media, the economy going down the drain, sad stories of big financial losses in Finance companies and building developments, seemingly daily violent robberies of Service Stations and dairies. The only consolation is that NZ is not alone in its economical problems.

Today I was reading through all my blog entries having printed them off for an elderly relative to read, it has made me homesick for the cruising life and motivated me to get the blog up to date. So if I still have any readers left check back again soon as I will keep this updated regularly from now on.

Kia ora

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Sailing in the Pacific
Who: Alan and Jean Ward
Port: Opua NZ
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