SVs Saraoni and Sundari

18 February 2018 | Bicheno, Tasmania
10 February 2018 | Richmond, Tasmania
01 February 2018 | Snug Bay, Tasmania
25 January 2018 | Port Ouenghi, New Caledonia
19 January 2018 | Port Ouenghi, New Caledonia
04 January 2018 | Ouenghi marina, New Caledonia
01 January 2018 | Port Ouenghi, Bouloupari, New Caledonia
25 December 2017 | Port Ouenghi marina, New Caledonia
21 December 2017 | Ouenghi Marina, New Caledonia
19 December 2017 | Isle Ducos, Baie de St Vincent, New Caledonia
10 December 2017 | Baie de Kuto, Isle des Pins, New Caledonia
02 December 2017 | Baie d'Orphelinat, Noumea, New Caledonia
27 November 2017 | Noumea, New Caledonia
14 November 2017 | Baie d'Orphelinat, Noumea, New Caledonia
07 November 2017 | Taioae Bay, Ouen Island, New Caledonia
28 October 2017 | Noumea, New Caledonia
23 October 2017 | Noumea, Nouvelle-Calédonie,
22 October 2017 | Havannah Passage, Grande Terre, Nouvelle-Calédonie
15 October 2017 | Anelcowhat Bay, Aneityum Island, Southern Vanuatu
11 October 2017 | South West Pacific Ocean

Lockdown in the Bay

28 March 2020 | Paihia, Bay of Islands, NZ
Alison and Geoff Williams | Warm and sunny
Photo shows the inner Bay of Islands from Te Tii Beach. In the far distance can be seen Tikitiki Rock (the Ninepin), the natural marker every yacht rounds entering or leaving the Bay of Islands

Stay at Home! Break the Chain! Be Kind! So goes the mantra while NZ tries to eliminate SARS-Cov-2. Whether it does or not depends on everyone adhering to strict lockdown rules, anathema to some. The idea is that as it takes 2 weeks for the virus to go through a cycle in the respiratory system of those affected, the 4 week lockdown should eliminate the virus from within the NZ population. There is no certainty that's going to work, as the virus may still lurk within the population and reinfections could occur once the international border opens up again, whenever that happens.

Across the ditch, the situation is more complicated, not least because each state and territory is making up its own rules, the country is further down (or up) the infection rate curve and the strategy is more of a 'stepped up', rather than a 'lockdown' one.

Whatever happens, it's unlikely that the world, including this small part of it, will ever return to what it was before.

What's making it even more surreal is being in the Bay of Islands without a boat. We have spent more time than we care to think about around here, more often than not in one of the outer bays, but rarely, if ever, marooned on land. It was from here that we anchored before departing across the Tasman 3 times in a row. The first was directly from Paihia, only a stone's throw from where our motel is, in 1987, outbound for Noumea.

The rules about boaties in the lockdown period are confused. It hasn't occurred to the Govt. that people actully live on boats (and caravans, garages, park benches etc.) and therefore may have no other homes. There's even a write up in one ofthe papers about a guy who lives in a bus stop. He says it is remarkably peaceful without buses! Locals come by and offer him free hot meals and stop for a chat, 2 metres away of course! The 'Stay at Home' rule doesn't really apply to anyone who is not a nice, middle class family with a home that resembles a house.

There are also supposedly around 100,000 tourists trapped in NZ too, many of them on 1 or 2 year holiday work visas. 20,000 Germans are due to be flown out courtesy of their government, but the 20,000 Brits are stuck here. Some we spoke to are secretly glad they are staying here, and not returning to Blighty any time soon!

Tutukaka marina is closed and boaties have been told not to go out in boats. We've seen a few yachts skulking around in the distance here in the Bay of Islands, but whether they are breaking the current lockdown law or not is hard to know.

There are similar issues in Queensland. The Queensland border is closed to anyone driving or sailing across the border from NSW (unless you want to go through a 14 day quarantine). After that is anyone's guess. Whatever is the rule today could change tomorrow at any rate.

We go on a 'local' walk every day along the waterfront, doing the 2 metre dance around others and making jokes without getting too close. The weather has been glorious, with clear blue skies and calm seas. The Bay's dolphins and other wildlife are no doubt relishing their new found serenity with human traffic reduced to zero.

Everyone around here seems to be obeying the rules. There are 2 supermarkets within easy walking distance, which is the only time we get close to anyone. If we are here any longer we might just contemplate buying a third boat and sticking it in our empty marina berth at the Penguin pad!

Looking out to Motumaire Island and the Russell Peninsula. Anchor to the north of Motumaire - good anchorage in southerlies. Anchor to the south - good anchorage in northwesterlies. Not a boat to be seen today. Weird!

Te Tii Beach looking towards Waitangi. Favoured anchorage in westerlies to get to the supermarket just inland from here. One ketch has been anchored here since the lockdown.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

24 March 2020 | Paihia, Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Alison and Geoff Williams | Cool nights and warm days
Photo shows the Hokianga Harbour from Opononi, half way through our cycle trip.

We are in a cheap motel in Paihia in the Bay of Islands after a sometimes gruelling cycle trip around Te Tai Tokerau / Northland. While puffing our way up and down Northland's ups and downs, the nasty virus was hatching its plot to conquer the world and teach humanity a sharp lesson. We are now a day away from New Zealand's lockdown, with numbers of infections here beginning to follow the same exponential growth curve as elsewhere in the world, albeit somewhat later.

Discarded bikes on the entrance way back on the cycle trail at Kaikohe.

Wairere Boulders at the end of the cycle way.

Pakaraka (extinct) volcano above Lake Omapere.

The Harrison Reserve on the cycle way on the way to Horeke.

The Warawara Range in the distance as we wind our way out of the Hokianga. Ex Ranch Saraoni was not far north of here in the Takahue Valley.

Whether the NZ Government's move will stop the spread of the disease or just keep it at bay until a vaccine is developed, or antivirals prove both safe and effective, is in the lap of the gods. Mind you, talking about gods, the religious have become strangely quiet all of a sudden!

Thanks to all our NZ friends for offering assistance and accommodation when the barriers to travel were first announced. They will be just as affected as everyone else in the world as the crisis escalates, so stay safe everyone and see you all at the other side!

Long finned eels in the Kaihu River, near Dargaville, oblivious to the human madness elsewhere.

Tane Mahuta, Northland's largest kauri, in Waipoua Forest, will probably be glad to see the back of people for a few months.

Grafton was the small NSW town where the Christchurch mosque killer was brought up. Residents stuck up this sign after the slaughter and subsequent aftermath. The billboard has gone up again after Aussies look across the ditch once again for leadership.

Hopefully, if there is one thing that comes out of the current global madness is an awareness of the link between some of the nastiest viruses that have emerged so far and humanity's impact on nature. Ebola, SARS, MERS, Swine fever and now SARS-Cov-2 are all thought to have made the jump from wild animals to humans. SARS-Cov-2, the so called novel coronavirus, is thought to have originated in the Huanan wet market in Wuhan, just one of many markets where wild animals, both alive and dead, are available for sale and consumption on the spot.

SARS-Cov-2 has horseshoe bat and pangolin genetic markers within its RNA strand. Whether it really did jump from pangolins to people is neither here nor there. People have intruded so far into the habitats and existence of wildlife that it is inevitable that this sort of transmission is more likely as George Monbiot points out in the Guardian.

We have just had our first day under lockdown. Hardly anyone around, although we did drive aimlessly to the supermarket.

The Bay is looking beautiful in the autumn sunshine and we saw at least 6 yachts sailing out, presumably to hide away in one of the outer bays. We have heard that the Queensland Police are clamping down on boaties trying to move around there but whether it is just in marinas we are not sure. Tutukaka marina is closed except to liveaboards and they are not allowed to leave in their boats. Welcome to the new reality!

Number 8 Wire at Waitangi

06 March 2020 | Waitangi, Bay of Islands, NZ
Alison and Geoff Williams | Damp and warm
The 2 Giant bikes bought in Whangarei in 2005, pulled out of storage. They needed a bit of no. 8 wire work on them to get them roadworthy.

We are camped near the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in the Bay of Islands after recovering our two old Giant bikes from the storage shed we loaded up with useless goodies nearly 3 years ago in Opua. It feels a bit weird being back in the Bay without a boat, but it's partly a business trip for us here, as well as a chance to get some exercise puffing up and down Northland's hills. We have rather reluctantly had to sort our pensions out before getting too decrepit and will go and measure the marina berth in Tutukaka to see if Sundari can fit in anywhere, before abandoning the Penguin Pad altogether.

The westerly anchorage at Paihia in the Bay of Islands -strange to be here without a boat!

Auckland Airport was heaving with everyone from everywhere and to judge by the number of tourists in this campground and little tacky, nearby Paihia, wories about COVID-19 haven't dented the tourism industry in NZ, except possibly the numbers of Chinese tourists are way down.

Northland has supposedly been in deep drought, the worst ever. Whangarei has been the driest since WW2 and the normally lush green cow paddocks of the Waikato are (or were, brown). Of course, it has been raining every day since we arrived. Perhaps we could sell our services as drought breakers!

Northlanders of course are happy about the drizzle. We heard kiwi calling just behind our tent last night, first the shrill male, then the harsh female. Apparently, Northland brown kiwi have been stumbling out of the bush during the drought looking for water.The dry ground has made it difficult to probe for worms with their long beaks.

Our 2 bikes were in a bit of a mess when we eventually extricated them from the treasure trove they had been squashed in. They had aready survived nearly 10 years chained to a non existent shed while stored up at the Saraoni ranch while we were circumnavigating, even being danced upon by happy cows. We have had to use a bit of No. 8 wire tactics on getting them in suitable shape to ride on with all our gear, with help from the friendly bike hire guy in Paihia.

We will cycle over Northland's new bike path that goes from Opua to the Hokianga, ride through the kauri forest to Dargaville, over to Whangarei and down to Auckland before checking out the marina at Tutukaka. We should be back in Scarborough on Sundari by the end of March, ready for whatever adventures we get up to this year.

Pou Herenga Tai - the 85 km cycle path that links Opua to Horeke on the Hokianga across the Northland peninsula from east to west coast.

No Cat Astrophe in Christchurch

16 January 2020 | Christchurch
Alison and Geoff Williams | sunny, dry and warm
Photo above of Elle, looking a bit sinister, but in reality just blinking in the camera flash.

We are back in West Island, the land of fire, drought and flooding rain. Before getting into the story of our homes coming (to our 2 boats that is) we had better fill in the picture of our stay in NZ's second largest city, Christchurch.

We aren't great city enthusiasts and try and avoid them like the plague most of the time (O.K. we have spent many months in the Gold Coast, but that was almost obligatory), but rather than brave the holiday crowds around the South Island, swelled by thousands of visiting everyones from everywhere, looking after 2 nicely behaved pussies in a comfortable Christchurch pad seemed tempting.

Of course, given Christchurch's recent history, there was aways the prospect of some catastrophe happening, even if there was no cat-astrophe. As it turned out, everything went smoothly and we got to explore much more of the Banks Peninsula, the wetlands around Christchurch and the nearby Alps and their foothills.

Christchurch has become the NZ epicentre (Wellingtonians may disagree!) of everything revolving on healthy, outdoors activity. Cycle lanes are mushrooming everywhere and there are literally dozens of good walking tracks within close reach of the city.

It seems that Cantabrians like their leisure facilities, as they are seen cycling, jogging, surfing, swimming, walking and skiing (in season) everywhere. A lot of the eastern suburbs are near sea level, so the shit could the fan in years to come with projected sea level rises, but the same goes for a lot of other cities, too.

Tom, trying to get out. Sorry, not allowed after dark! Miiaaoow!

Pegasus Bay, near New Brighton, looking towards the Banks Peninsula

Akaroa harbour - one of two extinct craters on the Banks Peninsula. Akaroa village is on the eastern shore.

Gendarmerie? Akaroa was settled by the French and of course, locals now exploit this little piece of history for the tourists, including it seems, the local cops!

Totara tree, about 2,000 years old, near Akaroa - one the settlers didn't chop down

Alison on a path in the foothills of the Alps on New Year's Day - smoke in the air from the bushfires in Oz.

SH 73 on the way towards Arthur's Pass from Christchurch

Lake Pearson on Highway 73 out of Christchurch

Looking up the Waimakariri River towards the Alps near Arthurs Pass

Season's Greetings

22 December 2019 | Christchurch, New Zealand
Alison and Geoff Williams | calm and sunny
Photo above of pohutukawa tree flowers - NZ's very own Christmas tree.

O.K., so that's another year gone down the gurgler, then. It wasn't exactly a stellar year, was it? The whiff of fascism just got that much stronger. The tendency for people, and particularly governments, to ignore the science that seems too inconvenient to them continues to be baffling, depressing and increasingly frightening. Those at the top of the world's heap of 9 billion have again used everything in their arsenal to stay at the top (no surprises there). Too many towards the bottom of the heap have given up understanding what's going on, or blame those even less fortunate than themselves for their woes.

It would be easy to ignore all this, but unfortunately you can't. The ramifications of the reign of Trump, the election of reactionary governments in Australia, Brazil, Britain and elsewhere, the failure of international bodies and governments to tackle the looming calamity of climate change affects all of us. We are unlikely to be the only ones to wonder whether humanity has created such a monster that it is incapable of controlling it.

As we all roll into 2020, a new decade, we hope that we are not being too pessimistic. This is no time for complacency and retreat into individual self-gratification. It's time to become aware of the alarming situation humanity and this beautiful planet and all that live in it and act. Vote, march, shout, argue, defy and denounce fake media stories and lies, live within the planet's means and think of others as much as you can, especially those who still have a lifetime left to live. Us old farts have had a bloody good innings. Those born today should be able to look forward to the same.

Australia's Prime Minister explains his government's climate change policy clearly after he was discovered hiding in Hawai'i during his country's worst ever bushfire crisis.

Tiki Tour - South of the South

16 December 2019 | Christchurch, Canterbury, NZ
Alison and Geoff Williams | wet and cold!
Photo shows the Cook massif and the Hooker Valley, South Canterbury high country. Mt Cook is on the right of the photo. All other photos can be seen here in the gallery

We are back in Christchurch after a tiki tour* around the bottom half of the South Island. Our attempt to complete another multi day walk was thwarted by the weather. Basically, as soon as we had left Christchurch a few weeks ago, the forecast was for a huge storm that would barrel its way across the Southern Ocean below Stewart Island and expected to dump large amounts of rain on the west coast and the high country - more or less where we wanted to choose a walk.

The forecast proved correct as we ascended onto the Mackenzie Plateau and passed the three large green Alpine lakes of Tekapo, Pukaki and Ohau. The sky looked tortured and black to the west. Because of the rain shadow effect of the Southern Alps, we have learned before to keep East when the wind is from the West (and more rarely vice versa). We explored the Otago coast and the tussock country of Central Otago as the rains poured elsewhere, swelling the rivers, and causing floods that broke the two main western and eastern highways - NZ's one lane 'motorways.'

The Otago coast has plenty of marine wildlife to goggle at. Sealions on the sandy beaches, fur seals on the rocks and Hector's dolphins in the surf. Little blue and rarer yellow eyed penguins were nesting, as well as shags of three species, gulls, terns, waders, ducks and black swans.

Central Otago is getting invaded by the dreaded pivot irrigators and dairy herds, a matter of some strong controversy here in NZ, but there are still plenty of raw, red gorges, tussock covered hills and rocky countryside to admire.

We timed an arrival at Wanaka, the first of Otago's High Country lakes, just as the lake levels had peaked and the weather cleared to clear blue skies. We skirted around both Lakes Wanaka and Wakatipu (Queenstown) and then made a quick dash down through Southland to Fiordland and Milford Sound. It's the only one of the 14 sounds (correctly called fiords) that tourists can access and can get quite crowded, especially now Chinese tourists have arrived in their thousands.

Although we should have been used to being in the South Island, it's always a surprise to discover just how varied the landscape is. Just when you would think Mother Nature would have become exhausted creating such a surfeit of beauty and put her feet up wih a cup of tea, you turn a corner and the scenery just seems to get better and better. It's certainly like that along the Milford Road. A single kea (NZ's alpine parrot) arrived and attempted to destroy just what could be removed from vehicle rubber. Because of the recent heavy rain, there were waterfalls falling off the sheer walls of the valleys and the sound itself everywhere.

We were lucky to have lovely weather while passing back via Mt Cook and we walked up the Hooker valley to where the Hooker Glacier descends off the Mt Cook massif. There are around 3,000 glaciers in the Southern Alps, the most spectacular around Mt Cook and Mt Aspiring further south, but they are all in retreat, like glaciers elsewhere in the world. It's hard to imagine even the huge Tasman glacier surviving another 20 years.

The other event that has dominated the news here and overseas of course is the explosion on Whakaari / White Island, a small volcanic island about 20 nm off the Eastern Bay of Plenty coast. In a moment of incredibly bad timing, a group of tourists were blasted as they explored the crater rim, killing 16 of them and injuring many more.

We spent a few weeks with Saraoni in 2006 attempting to get to Whakaari. It's not an easy island to stop at, as the only half decent anchorage is on the south side. To anchor there, you need northerly winds, or no wind at all. That puts the boat at a risk as the volcano then sends ash and smoke in your direction.

No doubt when the recriminations and accusations die down, it won't stop people trying to tempt fate with nature's fury. The episode reminded us of of the volcanos we have visited before - Ili Api near Lembata in Indonesia, Vulcan in the Med. near Stromboli, Rincon de la Vieja in Costa Rica, Isabela's active craters in the Galapagos and more recently Yasur on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu (although we only anchored at Lenakel and saved the volcano for 2020!). Any one of them could have blown up in our faces and we would have no-one to blame but ourselves.

* a 'tiki tour' for non NZ ers means a leisurely jaunt by car or bus seeing the sights without too much exertion!

A kea on the Milford Road - the world's only alpine parrot, endangered of course!

In the Moa’s Shadow?

28 November 2019 | Christchurch, SI, New Zealand
Alison and Geoff Williams | Hot and sunny
Photo of a robin coming to say 'Kia Ora' at Cannibal Gorge hut on the St James Walkway.

We are back in Christchurch to check out the house (and cats) we are looking after over Christmas. It was 35 degrees today, 10 degrees hotter than Moreton Bay where Sundari is sitting in Scarborough marina. Beaches at Sumner and Taylor's Mistake were full of sunworshippers and surfers. It's a whiff of the usual weather in the Gold Coast, but it'll probably be raining and freezing here, tomorrow!

We have time for 1 more long hike, or perhaps more, depending on the weather. We've just come down from the Lewis Pass and the west coast where we walked some, but not all, of the St. James walkway, one of NZ's oldest tracks.

Much of this area,which straddles the northernmost of the South Island's 3 passes that cross the Southern Alps, is public conservation land, clothed in southern beech forest.

As we trudged up the sometimes steep track that follows the lovely, raging Maruia River, high above Cannibal Gorge, we heard, then saw, the 3 K's - kea , alpine parrot, kākā, forest parrot and kakariki, yellow fronted parakeet, but not in large numbers. The other 'K', the flightless kakapo, the world's fattest and only nocturnal parrot used to live around here in the thousands, but is almost extinct, but holding its ground in Fiordland.

Our old friends, the little robins, hopped out of nowhere for a close up inspection. Like the tomtits, fantails and weka, we have always wondered whether these birds live in the shadow of the long extinct moa. The behaviour of these wild birds is far too consistently 'friendly' to make sense, unless there is a genetic component to it. Maybe in years gone by when giant birds stalked these same forests, the smaller birds foraged for food stirred up by big feet. We'll never know of course!

We're looking at the weather as usual before choosing the next walk. It looks crappy for the next week as lows roll in over the Tasman.

Lewis Pass tarn and lower Maruia Valley

Suspension Bridge over the Maruia River
at Cannibal Gorge

Cannibal Gorge DOC hut.There was only us, the birds and the sandflies here.

Maruia River on the track to Ada Pass

Maruia Valley

Ada Pass DOC hut, St James Walkway

Ada Pass loo with a view

Blown Away on the Crest of Totaranui

19 November 2019 | Picton, Marlborough, NZ
Alison and Geoff Williams | Mix of cloud and sun
Fern trees and Queen Charlotte Sound at every bend

We are back in busy little Picton at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound, after a 5 day jaunt along the Queen Charlotte Track. Like the Abel Tasman, it's a popular track and one we have avoided before because of its popularity and the expense of getting to the start of it. Queen Charlotte Sound is the main entry point to the South Island from Wellington by ferry and like so many others we have traversed this route and across the Cook Strait many times before, but never bothered to walk its length.

The track follows the northern coastline of the sound from Ship's Cove through to Anakiwa, about 75km in length. In the middle part, it traverses the ridge between Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sound to the North. Boats take walkers to different access points along the track, so you can more or less do as little or as much as you want, staying in anything from simple DOC campsites to 5 star resorts. As usual, we chose the cheapest option, loading our packs with camping gear and 5 days worth of food and got a ride through to the far end of the track, Ship's Cove*, where Captain Cook dropped in several times on his various exploratory jaunts to and around Aotearoa.

The track is also the first section of the South Island half of the Te Araroa trail, the 'long pathway' that runs from Cape Reinga in the North to Bluff in the South. The TA has become more popular since we walked a part of it back in 2016 and we met quite a few TA walkers on the track, a nice soft starter before the rigours of the Richmond Range.

The weather wasn't so generous this time, with strong to gale force north westerlies for the full 5 to 6 days of walking. The first night we spent in a picture perfect grassy clearing at Schoolhouse Bay with a feast of mussels on the shoreline, but the wind raged all night, threatening to topple the tent and break its slender aluminium poles. Despite the weather, the scenery throughout was surprisingly unspoiled and we met far few hikers than the Abel Tasman.

Schoolhouse Bay before the gale

Camp Sundaoni above the Bay of Many Coves

Above Roitama Bay looking South

Punga Cove

Coffee time!

Endeavour Inlet

The Sounds are a patchwork of DOC managed conservation land and private property. The first colonists, eager to turn NZ into their version of Merrie England, chopped most of the original forest down, including the huge tōtara trees that Maori had sought out for their canoes and had given rise to the Māori name for the sound - Tōtaranui (big tōtara). They then tried raising sheep, which became uneconomical once the world's appetite for wool and sheep meat waned. Now, much of the land is slowly regenerating, or has been put into pine plantation. It's a hard slog trying to revert this convoluted and steep land back to what it might have been, but there are signs of progress everywhere and the walk itself was rewarding despite the weather attempting to blow us off the track or the campsites at times. As in Abel Tasman, there seemed to be weka around everywhere. Even in places where we just stopped for a breather, one would pop out of the bush looking to see what mischief they could make.

Large rimu tree that escaped the settlers' axe


Hoi - Come Back With That!

We are back to tapping away to make some money for a short while before we venture out again in to the wilds, probably a 5 to 6 day walk in the high country East of the Lewis Pass. We are keeping an eye on the ongoing fire drama in NSW and SE Queensland. We can't understand just what more Aussie politicians need to get in to their thick heads before they junk King Coal and Uncle Rupert (Murdoch) and get serious about climate change. The fires have been catastrophic for the people and habitats concerned, but haven't threatened our two boats, except perhaps showering them with black ash!

* Just missed the arrival of 2 Polynesian ocean going sailing waka and the replica of Cook's bark, the "Endeavour" and the Spirit of NZ in Ship's Cove. It's all part of the 'commemorations' surrounding Cook's 1770s visits down under, and have been a very controversial and thought provoking series of events, with the Endeavour banned by local Māori in several North Island ports.

Glorious Weather Along the Wrecker Weka Trail

04 November 2019 | Collingwood, Tasman, South Island, NZ
Alison and Geoff Williams | Warm and windy, rain soon
Photo shows two flightless male weka facing off against each other at the Anchorage DOC campsite in Abel Tasman NP.

We are in the small village of Collingwood, almost as far north west as you can get along the top of the South Island. Past here is Farewell Spit and the Puponga Reserve, which we will explore tomorrow.

We spent four days walking on the Abel Tasman coastal track in glorious sunny weather. It's one of NZ's 10 (soon to be 11) Great Walks, hiking trails we have always avoided because of their popularity and cost (their campsites and DOC huts are much more expensive than those along ordinary wilderness tracks in the public conservation estate. Camping is normally free and 800 odd non Great Walk DOC huts can be accessed by a 90 dollar hut pass on non Great Walk huts). We assumed because it was only November it wouldn't be too busy. In fact, perhaps because of the weather, it was quite busy with people from all over the world using the trail.

The Abel Tasman coast is atypical of the South Island's other, more rugged, parts. It's more boutique and easier walking than, for example, the North West Circuit of Stewart Island which we have walked twice before, taking 12 days each time.

It's a very lovely walk, easily the best coastal scenery since we walked the Yedi Burun on Turkey's Lycian Coast. The track winds up and down from one golden bay to another, sometimes challengingly steep for our old legs, but plenty of views to keep the camera clicking.

We last walked part of the track in 1986 after packing kiwifruit in nearby Motueka (the island/ motu of the weka!). Since then, apart from the track becoming almost uncomfortably popular, there has been a huge restoration effort to restore the park area to something of its former faunal and floral glory. The weka that so teased us back in 1986 completely disappeared under pressure from stoats in the 1990s, but have since been reintroduced and are now seen everywhere, alternately delighting and enraging campers. Kākā parrots have joined the park to add to depleted wild ones and are merrily making mischief around Bark Bay. Predator control has also meant the return of the orchestra like dawn chorus, as bellbirds chime along in unison early in the morning.

South Island birds like the weka and SI robins seem to be more oblivious to danger than their North island cousins, something which has not helped them after the introduction of mammals. Weka can't stop themselves, poking and prying and stealing or destroying whatever they can find. Even if you chuck something at them, all that does is encourage them to come closer. The DOC warden at Bark Bay said that the kākā there have learned how to turn on water taps when they want to, but don't bother turning them off again.

We are off to Farewell Spit tomorrow while our muscles and joints get some rest, then will plan the next long walk.

It's one lovely bay after another along the Abel Tasman track

and another

and another

and another

and another

Kākā parrot at Bark Bay.This is one that has been recently reintroduced.
Note the bands on each leg.

This lovely Californian quail is an introduced species, but is no threat to other native birds.

Sounding Out the North of the South

04 November 2019 | Collingwood, Tasman, South Island, NZ
Alison and Geoff Williams | Warm and windy
Photo shows "Sounds Fine" steaming down the Kenepuru Sound.

We've been keeping away from ice and snow by moving North in the South Island. Nelson and Marlborough are two of NZ's sunniest regions and the sun has been shining since we left Kaikoura. No doubt that will soon be about to change, but for now we are enjoying the warmth and blue skies.

First stop was the town of Blenheim, where old yachtie friends, Alastair and Vivienne, have comfortably settled in a relatively new house on a hillside out of town, conveniently right next to a vineyard and a golf course. Since selling their 40 foot Island Packet, "Largo Star," they have bought a new, smaller motor cruiser, perfect for cruising the extensive network of waterways in the Marlborough Sounds. They wanted to rename the cruiser "Piwakawaka" after the movements of the fantail, but gave up after learning that according to Māori legend, it was the harbinger of death!

We went for a short cruise up the Kenepuru Sound with them from their marina in Havelock, enough to give us an idea of this potential new cruising ground. Unfortunately, it's not an easy task sailing down to the SI from Northland. A Belgian yachtie we first met in Tenerife was on a mooring in Picton, on holiday from Wellington, 30 nm across the Cook Strait. He crossed both the Atlantic and the Pacific at the same time as us and got work in Auckland, then sailed down the East Coast of the North Island in "Boxing Kangaroo" to take up a new job in Wellington. Bregt single-handedly stopped Saraoni from dragging on to rocks while we were off walking in Isla Isabela in the Galapagos. The boat dragged as the wind got up, then luckily passed a mooring, just as Bregt got to it to tie it up securely.

Next stop is the Abel Tasman National Park. We might come back later to walk the Queen Charlotte Track that lies along the Sound of the same name.

"Sounds Fine" in Havelock marina. The Sounds are more suited to chugging along in a motor boat than in a yacht.

Alastair and Geoff in "Sounds Fine," Vivienne steering.

Kenepuru Sound, looking East

Freddy, the dog, Geoff, Alastair and Vivienne. Geoff's just looking chuffed after not collapsing after a 3.5 km walk near Havelock

Queen Charlotte Sound from the windy road between Picton and Havelock

Kaikoura – A South island Taonga

29 October 2019 | Nelson, South Island, NZ
Alison and Geoff Williams | warmish and sunny
Photo shows the Seaward Kaikoura Range from Kaikoura's wharf. Mount Fyffe is the lower, broad peak, middle left at 1,600m. Manakau is the highest of the Seawards at 2,600m, middle centre.

We are up at the top end of the South Island, preparing for our first real walk - an easy stroll along the Abel Tasman coastline. It's normally one of NZ's most popular walking tracks, particularly in summer, so hopefully quiet at the moment.

We have spent a few days in Kaikoura on the South Island East coast. We've passed through a few times over the years, but haven't actually taken time to explore the peninsula itself since 1978 (!) Then, the little town was just a fishing village and seals and whales were there to be hunted or shot.

Most of the residents here now make a living from taking tourists out on the sea to see the sperm and humpback whales and several species of dolphins that come close to the coast here. There are also a lot of seabirds, especially shearwaters, petrels and albatrosses. Fur seals have expanded in large numbers all along this coast since a ban on hunting. There must be thousands of seals between Ohau Point, where the larger colony is to the North, and the peninsula itself.

Fur seals on the Kaikoura Coast

The 2016 earthquake resulted in 2 to 4 metres of seabed being raised along the entire coast. The town and the environment is generally only now recovering.

The two high snow covered mountain ranges, the Seaward and Inland Kaikouras, march along parallel to, and very close to, the coast, making for spectacular scenery when the sun is shining. The country between the ranges is one of NZ's latest conservation areas, Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia, easy to access, but rugged once you get there, in the valley of the Clarence River.

We both climbed Mount Fyffe, almost by accident, back in December 1978. It was the first walk we did together and almost the last!

We had camped at the base of the mountain in a hinau forest, then left everything behind to climb to the top. By the time we got near the peak, it was almost dark and there was ice on the track. We found a hut and made a fire and helped ourselves to food and coffee that had been left inside. We didn't know at the time,but this was one of the country's 900 strong back country huts built and maintained for the public to use (then by the NZ Forest Service, now by DOC). In the past, we haven't always used DOC huts and have preferred to camp, but they can be a life saver!

Cabbage trees along the peninsula walk

Looking South along the head of the peninsula, raised seabed clearly visible.

The Seaward Kaikouras across the Northern bay.

From the Mountains to the Sea

22 October 2019 | Christchurch, Te Waka o Māui, New Zealand
Alison and Geoff Williams | Cold and rainy!
Photo shows the Southern Alps rearing up in the background across the city and the Canterbury Plain. The Heathcote Estuary is in the foreground.

We are in the South Island of New Zealand, Te Waka o Māui / Māui's canoe. Māui claimed he caught the biggest fish in the world, the North island, Te Ika o Māui, from his waka while anchored at Kaikoura. Mind you, Māui had about the same reputation for bullshit as Boris Johnson, so there you go.

We have another couple of days in Christchurch before heading up the coast to Kaikoura and then starting a series of walks. The weather has varied from abominable to mildly sunny and pleasant since our arrival, but we have never been down here this early, so we will start in the North and work our way South, alternating between tapping for our kai and heading for the hills.

We haven't been to Christchurch since 2006, before the two bad earthquakes which radically reshaped the city. Christchurch was settled as an uber English colony back in 1856, planned in England even before anyone had a clue about where to place the city. The nearby deep water port of Lyttelton, nestled in one of the two extinct craters that make up the Banks Peninsula, had too little flat land for a city.

The decision was made to build the settlement on reclaimed swampland on each side of the Avon River / Ōtākaro. 165 years later, that decision came back to bite the founding fathers when the soft ground under the city centre and the eastern suburbs liquefied during the two earthquakes, resulting in the death of 185 people and necessitating many of the CBD's buildings, and 10,000 private houses in what is now the Red Zone to the East, to be demolished.

It wasn't the only strange decision made back in the nineteenth century. The settlers cut down what was left of the native trees that survived the depradations of Māori moa hunters, and planted just about every species of English tree that could grow, plus quite a few others,including gums. Just to make them feel more at home, English birds were brought in, like sparrows, blackbirds, thrushes, yellowhammers, chaffinches and skylarks, as well as Aussie magpies.

Christchurch seems to have survived emotionally after the earthquakes and the recent slaughter of 51 Muslims in the two city mosques. The best parts are still lovely and there are huge areas of parks and green spaces scattered around. The Red Zone, all 6,600 hectares of it, between the city and the beach, is finally to be regenerated with wetlands and recreational facilities. There are cycleways popping up everywhere and the number of residents who walk, jog and cycle matches the number of jetskiiers and motor boat users in the Gold Coast - it's a huge contrast.

We've been to see a couple of old friends who live here. Pete and Cathy arrived back in NZ just before us in 2015 on their steel ketch "Waverunner." It's now in the new Lyttelton marina, parked next to Largo Star, Alastair and Vivienne's old boat. Pete and Cathy live 20 km out of the city and are trying to make up their minds whether to put Waverunner on the market. Good luck with that! We also saw Rowan Taylor, last seen up the Ruatiti River at Riamaki, a 1,000 hectare block in the Whanganui back country to the west of the central North island volcanoes, bought by us and several others back in 1978.

Rowan and I (Geoff) shared a tumbledown timber house for a while back in 1975, coincidentally just behind what is now the Al Noor mosque in Riccarton, scene of the March massacre.

Rowan Taylor and Geoff. Rowan was last seen 40 years ago in the Whanganui back country. He now lives a stone's throw from his parents' old place near Lake Ellesmere, where his dad had an eeling business.

Library with a view. The New Brighton library has a great view of the Pacific.

From Red Zone to Green Stripe. The Te Ara Ōtākaro cycle trail is the first step to regenerating the eerie green void that used to once house 10,000 houses along the Avon. The grey shading on the poster is the part of the city most damaged because of liquefaction. It is too risky allowing any rebuilding on this once swampy land, so it will become Christchurch's newest park and wetlands.

A poignant lingering display outside the Al Noor mosque. The Silver Fern flag seems a bit incongruous though.

Can't get away from boats. Largo Star, last seen in Turkey, lies alongside Wave Runner in Lyttelton marina.

Lyttelton Harbour - one of two breached extinct craters (with Akaroa) on the Banks Peninsula

Brrrr! The Haast Pass was closed last night after a wintry blast and the Alps were covered in fresh snow down to 800 m. this morning. That settles whether we go North or South first! Pic from the RNZ website

Sunny Days on the Sunshine Coast

15 October 2019 | Scarborough, Queensland
Alison and Geoff Williams | Sunny and windy from the NE
Photo shows Mounts Beerwah and Coonowrin on the Sunshine Coast from Mt Ngungun

We've always enjoyed gazing at the oddly shaped Glasshouse Mountains that rear out of the flat coastal plain on the Sunshine Coast. Maybe it's because of their evocative names. They had a lot of spiritual significance to the mostly long gone indigenous people who lived in this area and it's not hard to see why.

The Glasshouse Mountains are all eroded plugs from a series of volcanic eruptions about 25 million years ago. A few are easy to climb, like Beerburrum and Ngungun, but the others are rock climbs or tricky scrambles. With a few days of car hire, mostly to sort Saraoni's new berth out back on the Gold Coast, we had a couple of days to spare for exploring further North.

We climbed Ngungun with what it seemed like half of Brisbane (tip: avoid weekend bush trips anywhere within 100 km of Brisbane!) and had all the other 12 or so mountains in sight from the top. Think we scrambled up Beerwah many years ago on a trip into Brisbane from PNG, but it didn't look so easy when we looked up this time and with healthy twenty somethings rushing up the bare rocky slopes we decided to give it a miss!

Should be in NZ in a couple of days, where the mountains are a lot higher and no doubt covered in white stuff.

Panorama of the Glasshouse Mountains. Tibrogargan is the highest, centre left.

Rocky Beerwah, too steep for us today. In Aboriginal mythology, Beerwah was the mother, Tibrogargan the father, Ngungun the (dingo) dog, the other mountains the children.

Culture clash. Uluru (Ayers Rock) is from this weekend officially not climbable, but it might be hard getting Brisbanites to stop climbing these lumps of rock.

Coonowrin, the tallest son of Beerwah and Tibrogargan. Definitely one for the birds!

Forget snakes, spiders, scorpions, crocs, dingos, blue ringed octopi and angry rednecks, around here at this time of the year the main danger is swooping magpies! Cyclists are a prime target so those in the know wear helmets with spikes on!

Sundari and Saraoni Tied Up in Harbour for Now

05 October 2019 | Scarborough marina, near Brisbane, Australia
Alison and Geoff Williams | SE, windy afternoons, calm cool mornings
Photo shows Sundari in Scarborough marina. Saraoni is tied up back in Park Cove in the Gold Coast enduring a steady stream of fender kickers and uncommitted wannabe yacht owners.

We are in Scarborough marina with Sundari on the Redcliffe Peninsula in Moreton Bay. Sundari will be here for the next 6 months while we spend our time over the cyclone season / Southern hemisphere summer getting fit and healthy clambering over the South Island (NZ) mountains and doing a cycle ride from Wellingon to Whangarei. At least that's the plan for now.

Our Tekin GC stalled after dealing with the steady trickle of wannabe yacht owners coming for a sticky beak on Saraoni and counting their pennies (not enough of them!), while a steady trickle of nasty lows emanating from the unusual 2019 polar vortex cut across our route between the Gold Coast and New Caledonia. It didn't look much point so late in the cruising season bashing our way eastwards then hanging off a buoy near Noumea just doing more weather watching before the trip down south to NZ. The last straw and decider was when we did a close check on Sundari's 17 year old genoa. It revealed a rip behind the UV strip on the leech, and the feel of the sail indicated it was on its last legs. That means a new sail has to be ordered, costing anywhere between $2,500 and $4,500. Ouch.

We've hired a cheap car in Christchurch for 3 months and will do as much tramping as our 60 year old legs and backs will stand, then fly back to Brisbane to check out the 2 boats (assuming Saraoni hasn't been sold by that stage) in January. We then fly back to Wellington and cycle up to at least Auckland. We will check out the penguin pad in Tutukaka for measurements. We don't think that it will fit Sundari, but you never know. The marina manager said that he might do a swap with another berth in the middle of the marina to fit Sundari's draft.

We'll be back here on the boat early April, ready for the first weather window to New Cal. and / or Vanuatu. Depending on the Brexit result, that gives us 6 months in the islands before we need to sail down to the Bay of Islands in NZ.

Scarborough is no stranger to us. We left Corsair, our first boat, a 1933 kauri sloop, in Newport marina, just around the corner for a couple of months back in 1988 while we tried to make some money picking fruit in Victoria. It's a bit old-fashioned around here. Redcliffe seems to have hardly changed in 30 years and reminds us of a rather seedy, down at heel, English seaside own.

Not everything in Redcliffe is so English. There are always the raucous cockatoos and parrots to remind you are down under. Here in a quiet part of town is a darter, a little pied shag, seagulls and three penguins (eh?), or maybe they are supposed to be dolphins?

However, Moreton Bay is shimmering in the sun not far away and the sand hills of Moreton Island are only just over 10 miles away across the bay. There are as many dugongs, dolphins and turtles around as we remembered and humpbacks are now using the Bay to give birth and generally have a holiday away from their Antarctic feeding grounds.

We took Alison's sister, Susan, and husband, Nick, across the bay in 1988, a trip they still fondly remember. What they don't remember is the all night vigil we had over at Moreton Island when the wind suddenly turned and blew from the west most of the night, putting us on a lee shore. After bouncing around most of the night, the wind typically died and became a lovely sea breeze coming off the sand hills.

Before leaving the Gold Coast we made the second trip this year into the Brisbane CBD to take part in the international climate strike. Compared to March, the crowd was much larger and more diverse with an indigenous group leading the way down George Street. Coming just after the ravages of Hurricane Dorian you would think governments would be getting the hint by now. Unfortunately, ScoMo, Australia's Prime Minister is caught between a rock and a hard place, beholdened to both Rupert Murdoch's hold on the Australian media and the power of the coal lobby.

Climate strike posters in Brisbane CBD: ranging from the plain to the funny, witty, angry and frustrated.

Some of the 30,000 climate strike march in Brisbane

We caught up with old Sail Indonesia friends along the way to here. Rosie and Mike now live on Lamb Island in Southern Moreton Bay, but haven't entirely swallowed the anchor as they still have a yacht they bought in Trinidad. Catherine and Peter on "The Southern Cross" had just sailed back from Noumea and are on their way down to Sydney, contemplating their next move. Ralph, who we met up with last year as he was single handing "El Misti" down from Indonesia, has tied up to a mooring just out of the marina in Deception Bay

Much of Southern Moreton Bay is relatively free of the encroaching sand banks of the Gold Coast and we have at last had an opportunity to put Sundari through its paces.It is certainly a delight to sail.

The Waiting Game to Tekin G.C!

16 August 2019 | Southport Spit, Gold Coast, Australia
Alison and Geoff Williams | cold nights, clear skies, mild northerlies
Photo of "Sundownie" anchored just behind the Spit in Southport.

Saraoni's original name was "Tekin JB" which apparently meant "Escape from Jervis Bay" in the local indigenous Dharawal-Dhurga language. We changed it to "Saraoni" assuming that this Jervis Bay place must be a helluva nasty place. It isn't. In fact, it is a lovely large bay on the Southern New South Wales coast. Guess it was just that the previous owners of Tekin JB had just got bored with seeing the same old place, however lovely it was!

We are now in the Tekin GC stage with Sundari. The boat is ready, we are ready, and we are just waiting for the "right" weather for the crossing of the Coral Sea. It's the old frustrating waiting game that is the most annoying aspect of moving a yacht around the larger stretches of ocean as any reader of this blog would have noticed.

The only thing we haven't really had a chance of doing is putting Sundari through its paces in the open sea. The Broadwater and the inland waterways between the Nerang River and the Southern Moreton bay are blessedly well protected, but not a useful place to go sailing, as all the stretches of open water are hemmed in by sandbanks, mudbanks, mangrove islands and, at least down this way, expanses of numbing suburbia. We'll exit through the Seaway a couple of times this coming week and see what the boat is capable of. At the same time, we may get close to some of the humpbacks that have been cruising up this way on their annual winter holiday. We saw a couple from the dunes at the Spit today and more a couple of weeks ago from Burleigh Heads.

It's only just over 5 or 6 days to one of the passages through the Southern lagoon reef. The trick is to leave here on the back of a high as a low passes to the south so you can use the westerly winds to advantage before hitting the trade winds closer to New Cal.

As we are playing the waiting game, we are keeping an eye on 16 year old climate activist, Greta Thunberg's trip across the North Atlantic in the racing yacht Malizia II. She and her Dad have never been on a sailing yacht before, but she is determined not to fly across the North Atlantic. Currently, the 60 footer, none too plush by the sound of it, is beating into 20 knot westerlies at over 13 knots. Makes us feel like wimps, but maybe it's better not to know what ocean sailing can be like?

Greta Thunberg, her Dad, 2 beefy racers and a blue bucket for a loo thrashing their way across the North Atlantic from Plymouth to New York. No doubt Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a cast of thousands will give her a rousing welcome on arrival. Doubt if President TChrump will be there, though!

3 Weeks From Smash to Splash!

06 August 2019 | South Stradbroke Island, Gold Coast, Queensland
Alison and Geoff Williams | Lovely, sunny days, cool to cold at night
Sundari is launched back into the Coomera River at Boatworks - just around the corner from where it received a nasty smash just over three weeks ago.

It is just over three weeks since we were hit by a hit and run motor boat owner in the Coomera River just after midnight, holing the boat and causing extensive damage to the stern and rear stainless steel, worth $29,000 in insurance costs.

We are now back in the water again after 3 weeks up on the hard in Boatworks. Sundari had its shattered stern backed into a shed, while we alternated between doing extra jobs on the boat that could be done because of the location and escaping the inevitable cloud of fibreglass dust and smell of curing resin.

All credit is due to Craig Humphries' crew at Signature / Shed 16, who won the contract to do the repairs, as well as the prompt treatment by Club Marine's (Insurance) assessor and HQ who approved the $29,000 bill without too much of a murmur. Funnily enough, it's only the second time we have been comprehensively insured. The only other time was a couple of years in Darwin (again with Club Marine) just after Cyclone Thelma's almost near wipe out of the city in 1998.

Sundari is now looking better than it ever was. The repairs have almost miraculously rebuilt the stern to look like new. The stainless steel pulpit and davit have been replaced or repaired. Signature's crew have also thrown in a polish of Sundari's topsides, repaired a couple of noticeable chips in the bow and replenished the obvious blemishes on the topsides that a previous repair had bungled before we bought the boat.

Sundari's new stern with rebuilt starboard quarter, new davit repair and pulpit.

Sundari backed into the shed at Boatworks, ready for relaunching

We've made good use of the time. Apart from several days in an apartment paid for by insurance, we have done important upgrades on Sundari that probably wouldn't have happened if we hadn't been hauled out. For a start, we have cleaned the hull and painted it with antifouling. We have replaced the so-called "clears" in the bimini, installed a ground plate for the HF radio, replaced 2 dodgy seacocks, replaced an equally dodgy port nav light, marked the anchor chain with 10 metre markers, fitted two huge removable wheels on to our new dinghy, and swapped the VHF radio with Saraoni's better AIS radio unit.

As they say in Hindi "Hamaaree naav phir se sundar dikh rahee hai!"
"हमारी नाव फिर से सुन्दर दिख रही है" (Our boat is looking beautiful again - Sundari is Hindi for beautiful!)

We have been very lucky with the weather,with superb, sunny, dry days, day after day. The last job was fitting a new rubber strip which had to be imported from Beneteau in France, but otherwise there was no delays due to rain or other potentially nasty winter weather,

Of course, it hasn't been pleasant living on the boat while it has been parked in a dusty shed, but hey ho, it's another of life's experiences. We are now looking at the next available weather window to head ENE to Noumea.

Saraoni is safely tied up in Palm Cove marina awaiting a cashed up new owner. Bye Saraoni!

French Crunch

15 July 2019 | Boatworks, Coomera River, Gold Coast
Alison and Geoff Williams | cool to cold westerlies, sunny
Photo shows the damage done to Sundari's starboard aft section after the boat was hit by an unidentified motor boat early Saturday morning.

Our plan to leave the Gold Coast and sail to New Caledonia soon came to a crunching halt early last Saturday morning at about 1.30 in the morning.

We were anchored overnight in the Coomera River, not far from the Boatworks boatyard where we had gone for last minute boat bits. In the dead of night, we were woken by an almighty crunch. Rushing out on deck we saw a boat speeding off into the distance. Sundari had been hit badly and part of its lovely stern smashed to pulp, one of the new davits snapped in two and the starboard pulpit buckled.

We limped into Boatworks' marina later that day, after contacting the police and Maritime Safety Queensland, in charge of marine incidents, as well as our insurer, Club Marine.

To give the insurer credit, by this afternoon we had had visits from one of the main boat repair firms, been given a quote for nearly $30,000 in repairs, had a visit from the assessor and had the repair work approved by Club Marine. Sundari will now spend the next two weeks or so getting its bum done and stainless steel repaired. Fortunately, we don't have to worry about Saraoni as it is now tucked up in a private marina off the Coomera River under the wing of a broker.

We will be looking for the next weather window north east to the tropics in three weeks time. Meanwhile, we will try and get away from boats while the work is being carried out.

The snapped davit

Side crunch

Sundari anchored off Stradbroke island a few days ago, captured by our drone's camera - nearly ready to hit the high seas!

Messing Around in (Too Many) Boats

25 May 2019 | Biggera Waters, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Alison and Geoff Williams | Cool at night, warm in the middle of the day, southerlies
Photo shows the Nerang River from a leisurely canoeist's low down view point.

We are anchored with rather too many boats off Biggera Waters in the Broadwater. We have to keep re-anchoring every now and again because of the Gold Coast anchoring rules which are supposed to stop people hogging the best anchoring spots. There aren't too many boats around now apart from our little menagerie as plenty of yachties have buggered off to warmer parts of the world - the Go East Rally finally left for Noumea just over a week ago and many boats have left to go up the Queensland Coast.

Heather and John, our old Bundy friends, came to visit and got the big fore cabin to themselves while they stayed - rather a step up from Saraoni's aft cabin which they have used several times before over the years!

We are getting itchy feet ourselves, but haven't sold Saraoni yet, although there has been quite a lot of interest. and one offer, a bit on the low side. Just to make life more interesting, we have bought two second hand inflatable kayaks and a windsurfer and are about to buy another dinghy so the present smaller one can remain with Saraoni. That makes 7 boats in total here with us. There are two more in Tutukaka, probably with a lot of cobwebs and leaves on them!

Too many boats! The kayaks, dinghy and Saraoni behind Sundari.

The inflatable kayaks are of good quality and allow us to pack them up and take them in a car or on a bus to somewhere interesting. We've kayaked up and down nearby Tallebudgera Creek and then took them up to Nerang by bus and kayaked down the Nerang River which flows from the hills to the west around Canungra and Tambourine Mountain down to the Broadwater at Surfers Paradise and on to Southport.

The two kayaks in bags waiting for the bus to Nerang in Southport.

Once upon a time, this area would have been spectacularly rich in wildlife. From Fraser Island south along the East Aussie coast, the sand dunes which are built up by the constant onshore swell block the progress of the numerous waterways which cascade down from the Great Divide, the escarpment which runs parallel to the coast from Victoria to the Cape York peninsula. The water can't get out easily, so backs up and forms the series of waterways which makes this part of South East Queensland so distinctive. Unfortunately, here on the Gold Coast, much of the waterways that are formed by the lower Nerang and Coomera Rivers are built up and fronted by lifestyle properties that are stunningly boring. Amazingly, wildlife still survives and manages to co-exist. Here where we are anchored, bottlenose dolphins turn up every few days and there is a resident dugong.

It's getting pretty cool for us, now, especially during the long nights. The first good weather window back up to Noumea this year is turning up next week, but we won't be able to take it. Perhaps the next one? The trick from the Australian coast is to leave with a southerly or westerly, get as far east as possible before the wind inevitably turns back to the south east.

Kayak kaleidoscope down the Nerang River. Note the Surfers Paradise skyline in the bottom picture.

Alien Invasion of Saraoni!

12 April 2019 | Coomera River, Gold Coast, Australia
Alison and Geoff Williams | Lovely, sunny day, but cool - down to 19C last night!
A couple of spaceships from a more enlightened planet decided to have a look at Saraoni from above, presumably deciding whether to make an offer! The total cost of the balloon rides would have probably been more than we are asking for Saraoni, though!

We are now anchored again just down the Coomera River where we stayed during the anticipated arrival of Cyclone Oma, about a mile and a half from Boatworks, the Gold Coast's best known (to yachties) boatyard, where Saraoni spent a couple of days getting its bum scraped off and repainted.

We could have spent longer, but technically we only have 24 hours at a time at anchor in the Coomera River and with Sundari anchored in the river just off the boatyard, we had to get in and out quickly. Hopefully, at least for Saraoni, it will be the last time for us!

It was a particularly lovely, still morning when the hot air balloons drifted across. Not sure why they chose this rather industrial area of the Gold Coast to transit, though. Maybe that's the way the wind was blowing!

Boat Works is frequented by many overseas yachties ( as well as many Australian based yachties, too) hauling their boats out, to the benefit of the many boat services here. It's like Whangarei on steroids, although quite a bit more expensive. Here we saw Australian catamaran Toucan, last seen with its mast toppled limping up to the Town basin in Whangarei after hitting a channel beacon. They are off to PNG and Irian Jaya. Catamaran Impi, the South African cat that made the YouTube doco on 'Moose' the Isle Casy (New Cal.) dog that died recently. Also, American / Australian mono, Fair Winds, bound for a circumnavigation. but delayed because of 'boat problems - expensive ones!

We will be looking to put Saraoni somewhere secure for a month or so while we concentrate on getting Sundari ready for the Coral Sea crossing.

Saraoni ready for the splash at Boatworks, Coomera yesterday.


02 April 2019 | Southport, The Gold Coast, Australia
Alison and Geoff Williams | showery south easterlies
The view of Saraoni from the top of Saraoni's main mast yesterday, just outside of Bum's Bay in Southport.

Saraoni is now for sale - after 21 years of ownership and hundreds of memorable adventures together.

Everything is working and Saraoni is looking better than it has ever been and about 20 cm higher in the water than it was before.

Meanwhile, Sundari has sunk about 20 cm!

We are selling Saraoni for around Aus$60,000 ono (£32,000, NZ$62,000, US$42,000).

Interested? Ring 0477285361 in Australia, or +61477285361 from anywhere else or email us at The main ad with all recent inventory, specs and photos will be on Yachthub until the boat is listed with a broker. The link will be added to this blog post as soon as the entry is finalised.

Link to interior photos

Link to exterior photos

Link to specifications

Link to main ad on Yachthub

Saraoni's mast makes a great place to look around. This spectacular view is of the Southport Spit and Bums' bay with the anchored boats. Sundari is in the foreground on the right of the picture.
Vessel Name: Saraoni
Vessel Make/Model: South Coast 36
Hailing Port: Tutukaka, New Zealand
Crew: Alison and Geoff Williams
Saraoni is named after an island in Milne Bay which guards and protects one of our favourite anchorages - Kana Kopi Bay - frequently occupied by us while we were teaching in Alotau, PNG. We have lived, cruised and worked for the last 30 years on three very different boats. [...]
Extra: CONTACT DETAILS Telephone / SMS number +64 28 432 5941 NZ mobile no.) +61 477 285 361 (Australian mobile no.) Email (main email address)
Saraoni's Photos - Main
A collection of photos taken during the Tiki Tour of the Southern half of the South Island, November / December 2019
40 Photos
Created 15 December 2019
9 Photos
Created 2 April 2019
Photos taken of Saraoni. All interior photos were taken in the last week.
10 Photos
Created 2 April 2019
The ABCs - Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao are mostly low lying dry, scrubby islands in the Western Caribbean near the Venezuelan coastline
15 Photos
Created 21 May 2014
12 Photos
Created 20 March 2014
4 Photos
Created 9 March 2014
Images taken in and around Suriname's capital
40 Photos
Created 9 February 2014
River Images
8 Photos
Created 28 January 2014
Images of the 2 islands in the Cape Verde island group we visited on our way across the Atlantic in 2013 - Sao Vicente and Santo Antaao.
37 Photos
Created 26 December 2013
3 Photos
Created 16 December 2013
1 Photo
Created 16 December 2013
21 Photos
Created 23 August 2013
What we saw in the USA
14 Photos
Created 21 August 2013
9 Photos
Created 19 August 2013
Unexpected meeting with old friends "in the woods".
6 Photos
Created 24 June 2013
A brother found amongst the gorges of the Cevennes
5 Photos
Created 10 June 2013
Photographic images of our long walk along the Appalachian mountains in the USA
26 Photos
Created 10 June 2013
17 Photos
Created 19 December 2012
15 Photos
Created 25 November 2012
9 Photos
Created 16 November 2012
25 Photos
Created 15 November 2012
16 Photos
Created 20 October 2012
2 Photos
Created 4 June 2012
Greece is in the throes of a recession, but they still have the last laugh - never far from the sun, the sea, colour, culture and bags of history. The photos document our Aegean odyssey from May to September 2011
31 Photos
Created 17 December 2011
O.K. We're mad, but we somehow prefer a home on the sea to one on dry land.
12 Photos
Created 17 December 2011
Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur - the three ancient city states of the Kathmandu valley have mediaeval architectural wonders in their Durbars and old town areas - a meshing and merging of Hinduism, Buddhism and materialism
9 Photos
Created 17 December 2011
Some of the shots taken of us while on one of our 30 odd days on the three main mountain trails we walked in the Anapurnas and Helambu region of Nepal's side of the Himalayas
10 Photos
Created 15 December 2011
People make the Himalayas a unique place to walk through. From Hindu rice and buffalo farmers in the foothills to the Buddhist villages in the highlands so influenced by Tibetan ancestry and trade over the passes
16 Photos
Created 15 December 2011
Nepal has ten of the world's highest mountains within its boundaries or shared with India and Tibet - these are truly giant peaks!
22 Photos
Created 15 December 2011
These were all photographed in the wilds of Chitwan and Bardia National Parks - which are two of the last havens of biodiversity in Nepal's low lying Terai district.
18 Photos
Created 14 December 2011
Saraoni hauled out on Finike's hardstand for biennial maintenance and painting
3 Photos
Created 26 April 2011
8 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 6 March 2011
4 Photos
Created 6 March 2011
Ruined city
4 Photos
Created 10 January 2011
3 Photos
Created 10 January 2011
12 Photos
Created 10 January 2011
7 Photos
Created 30 December 2010
5 Photos
Created 28 December 2010
6 Photos
Created 11 December 2010
The small rocky island of Kastellorizou is Greece's most remote island
7 Photos
Created 11 December 2010
Cruising and walking Turkey's Lycian coast September and October 2010
19 Photos
Created 11 December 2010
8 Photos
Created 6 December 2010
Images taken while walking sections of the 500 km Lycian Way or Lykia Yolu on the South West Mediterranean Coast of Turkey
11 Photos
Created 9 November 2010

Post Circumnavigation

Who: Alison and Geoff Williams
Port: Tutukaka, New Zealand