While Eric and I enjoyed our life in Whangarei, we kept a weather eye on Yachtworld.com, watching for our Leopard 48 catamaran to show up. We wanted one "somewhere upwind" (that would be upwind of New Zealand), preferably in the Mediterranean, but we'd also consider boats in the Atlantic and Caribbean.
Ten Leopard 48s were for sale "somewhere upwind" when we listed SCOOTS for sale in March of 2021, so we expected to have our choice of L48s when the time came to buy one. But when SCOOTS sold in June, there were only three L48s left, all in the British Virgin Islands, all having sustained some non insignificant degree of hurricane damage. Over the next few months, the few European Leopard 48s that trickled onto Yachtworld were already "sale pending." Clearly, the boat market was still extremely hot. We kept looking, trusting that we would eventually find our boat.
In October 2021, knowing that we'd be purchasing an ex-charter boat, we contacted a broker with the Moorings/Sunsail charter company, and got him looking for L48s along with us.
In early November, our broker emailed us about an ex-charter L48 in the BVIs whose deal was falling through that was about to come up for sale. Since I get up earlier than Eric, I saw the broker's email first. I went onto Yachtworld and saw the boat.
But sometimes things happen in funny ways...
When Eric woke up, I told him about the boat. He looked on Yachtworld, and said, "Yeah, that boat is OK, but what about the boat in Italy?"
"What boat in Italy?"
In the hour between the time that I'd looked, and when Eric looked, a 2015 Leopard 48 in Italy had come onto Yachtworld. It was an ex-charter boat, in our price range, in the place we wanted, and NOT sale pending. The boat's name was Musa, Italian for "muse." We called our broker and told him to make an offer on Musa. Right now.
You want to know how hot the boat market is? By the time we made our offer, the boat had been on Yachtworld for maybe two hours, and we were already competing with other potential buyers.
After a couple rounds of negotiations, our offer was accepted. We had found our cat!
The contract specified that we had to remove all contingencies by December 11. This meant that within the next three weeks, we'd have to arrange to have a marine survey (inspection) of the boat, review the survey report, wrap up our life in New Zealand, arrange to have our household belongings (which were already boxed up in a small storage unit) shipped to Italy, and fly to Italy to look at the boat. OK, ready, set, go!
We called our Italian cruising friends in Whangarei, Max and Alex on the boat Y2K, and asked if they knew any surveyors in Italy who would be willing to survey Musa. They knew two; one was available to do the job. He visited Musa, and spent a couple days looking her over very carefully, and testing her equipment. At the end, he pronounced her in fine shape. In other words, everything was still good to go.
So, after six quiet months, things began to ramp up. We began the process of disengaging ourselves from the happy, content, and comfortable life we'd made in New Zealand: we said goodbye to our many friends, to the birds and the people at the Bird Centre,
Rosie the rosella
With the newly-hatched kiwi chick
Maggie the magpie chick
A blue penguin chick
and to the birds I fed every morning;
Mum and bubs
With my friend Annie, who feeds the birds with me
we sold our car in one day; we began packing, selling or giving away the items we had with us at Jeannie and Merv's; we arranged to have our household belongings collected from our storage container and readied for shipment to Italy;
All our stuff
Ready for shipping
I went for one last ramble in the New Zealand woods that had been my special place for the past few years, whenever I needed a touch of forest.
Our friends threw us several going-away parties;
some of our musical friends even wrote us a song, which they sang to us. We'd made some really special friends during our time in New Zealand; it was very hard to say goodbye.
At the same time, we also made plans for moving ahead: we booked flights to Naples, Italy, and lodging on the island of Procida, and in Naples; we booked our pre-flight Covid tests; we bought lots of disposable masks; I started learning Italian on Duolingo; we made appointments for medical checkups in the States; and we warned our kids - who are living in the Seattle area - that we'd be coming to see them for Christmas and oh, by the way we were hoping to stay with them until the end of February.
Eventually, it was time for us to go. On December 9, 2021, we headed for Auckland Airport, armed with our negative pre-flight Covid tests, our proof of vaccination, our airline tickets, our luggage (one big duffel and one carry-on apiece to carry us for the next few months), and lots of masks and sanitizing wipes for the trip. Jeannie had offered to drive us to the airport; she also had to have proof of a negative Covid test, in order to be allowed through the roadblocks that at that time isolated Auckland from the rest of New Zealand.
Our flights from Auckland to Singapore, to Munich, and eventually to Naples, lasted 33 hours. From New Zealand, every place except for Australia and the South Pacific islands are a long, long way away. We arrived in Naples, and after collecting our luggage, took a bus to the ferry terminal, where, after realizing that we were at the wrong ferry terminal and taking a short bus ride to the correct ferry terminal, we caught a ferry to the island of Procida, about 45 minutes away, where Musa was berthed at Marina di Procida.
We took a cab to the top of the stone stairs that led down to the quaint and colorful little village of Corricella. After paying the driver, we shouldered our luggage, walked down the steps to Corricella, and then up three flights to our room, where we collapsed into bed, absolutely exhausted.
The next morning, we walked over the hill to the marina to see Musa in person for the first time. We were both very excited to see the boat that might be our next partner in our cruising adventures.
Eric, Van, and Musa