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Zen - family cruising catamaran
Family of 4 sailing from New England to Auckland, New Zealand '08-'10
Bangkok and New Delhi
12/10/2009, New Delhi, India

Our catamaran, Zen, has been left in the fine and capable hands of New Zealand maritime specialists at Friendship Yachts in Whangarei. Her mini-makeover is almost complete. For the holidays, we detached ourselves from our home down under, and began moving towards our US homeland. Never able to do anything the easy way, we set off on an adventure of heritage. Instead of flying back over the Pacific, we opted to travel westward, by way of India, to allow Cammi and Cole the special opportunity of meeting their first cousins, aunts and uncles in New Delhi. Plus, my cousin was getting married...big fat Indian wedding! Oh yes, we'll go west for sure. But, it wasn't in our predetermined fate to be there for the ceremony. In Bangkok, we were halted at the gate upon check-in for lack of valid Indian tourist Visas. Of course, it was Friday afternoon and everything was already closed for the weekend. Burgess family settled in for a few days in Bangkok to await the opening of the Indian Embassy. It started as a disappointing delay, but quickly evolved into a welcomed adventure, including traditional dance, foods, river tours, market photo opps, and did I mention food? On Monday morning, we went from Indian Embassy to American Embassy back to Indian Embassy and finally to the airport without a minute to spare.

New Delhi, Agra (Taj Mahal) and my family welcomed us with open arms and wide smiles. This is my 4th visit to India, but Tom, Cammi and Cole's premier. So far, it has proved to be everything they dreamed it would be and much more. I know my dad is looking down at us and bursting with joy, seeing heritage, family ties, and rituals transferred to the next generation. What a life-long gift this journey has been.

Adrenaline Junkies
12/02/2009, South Island, NZ

We always tagged Costa Rica as the "adventure hotspot" of our family journey. CR just got toppled. New Zealand, specifically South Island, proved to be quite the rush, even for Tom, the adrenaline addict of the bunch. Our dear dear friends, the Barkman Family, pulled their kids out of school and hopped a short flight from Philly to Auckland to tour NZ with the Zen crew. Jet lag? What's that? From the moment they landed, it was go go go! Hit the Auckland Museum for some Maori culture and history, shoot up to the top of the Sky Tower for dizzying heights, and then hike to Viaduct Marina to meet our cruising friends on s/v Dosia for dinner. Next stop, Christchurch and the 2 camper vans we rented for the week. By lunchtime, we were driving and the fun just kept on going, along with the beauty that flaunted itself at every curve in the road. As always, the photos really make the story come alive. They cover all the craziness of bungy jumping (only 3 nutcases in our group - Tom, Pete and Me - Darlene showed some restraint and acted like an intelligent parent figure), jet boating, gondolas, glaciers, mountain luge carts, swimming with dolphins and visiting Antarctica. That last item is a stretch, you'll see what I mean. I don't think we could have added anything else to our perfect vacation...well, maybe skydiving at 15,000 feet. Next time. Enjoy the photos and please share any stories you may have from South Island. What an amazing place.

Halfway Done
11/13/2009, Whangarei, New Zealand

Zen's spa treatment is halfway done. She's sanded down and ready for her new paint job. That's the biggest project. Other items that were voluntarily upgraded were fuel tanks, water tanks, fridge/freezer closures, new non-skid, sails, and wheels. But saving the best for last...electric toilet!! You may wonder how that could be considered a voluntary upgrade. What the heck did we have before? No, it wasn't a bucket. Our heads (aka toilets in boat speak) were hand pump units. Our arm and chest muscles are in really good form.

Whangarei has definitely become our home away from home. We know the streets, the short cuts and the cashiers at the stores. Kids are enrolled in ballet and karate. One more month here and it would be very hard to pry us away. In one week from today, we pack up and move out of our lovely rental home in nearby Onerahi. There's a big carrot....the Barkman Family!! They arrive to celebrate LollyFest Down Under and to reunite with us. The 8 of us are flying into Christchurch on the South Island, where we pick up our 2 rental camper vans. That will be some funny home videos for sure. Touring South Island with our best buddies will be comical, adventurous, beautiful and emotional.

Until then, life is all about organizing, packing and project managing our catamaran's mini-refit. Now, it's time to eat some local fish and chips up on a mountain overlooking Whangarei. Tomorrow we host m/v Karma at the Burgess B & B for a night! Friends are wonderful on the water and on terra firma.

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