34 From The Door
23 November 2013 | Manchester, NH
Well, we've made it through the first of 4 legs on our journey home by plane- we are now on the long haul from Sydney to LA. I have to keep reminding myself that it's actually a luxury to be able to do this. We're also reminded again that Virgin Australia is one CLASSY AIRLINE! They treat you like royalty even if you're flying economy. I recognize one of the flight attendants from last year since we sought out this same flight again- flight #1 to be exact. He's from Sydney and was interested in our lifestyle and I told him we're planning to head there next season & can't wait to discover his country. More & more, we're excited about Australia & then Indonesia & Thailand since we're finally close enough to think about it. Somewhere in there, we'll be halfway around.
We took off just as a large weather system was hitting both New Zealand & Australia today. The winds have piped up & the seas looked rough with black clouds piling in- so glad to not be having to sail through this one. But I suppose we'll feel like we haven't earned it when we get to LA!
Since we arrived in NZ, every day has been beautiful. It's light till 8:30p or so, it's warm, sunny and the air everywhere smells like flowers. We got a lot done as far as the boat prep goes while in Opua and we also had a couple of interesting meet-ups with other cruisers. The first one happened one evening as we were sitting at the yacht club looking out at the harbor. We spotted a beautiful slate blue hull that looked like a boat we sailed to Bermuda with back in 2003, but we couldn't read the name. The following morning on the radio net, we heard Ron & Nancy on Always Saturday and confirmed that they were indeed here! We haven't seen them since the Eastern Caribbean and had lost touch, but as commonly happens with cruising, your paths do often cross in some faraway place. It was so nice to catch up with them and reminisce. And we also struck up a conversation with a couple who'd just crossed the Pacific this year and in talking, they said they had a Shannon 43. So I asked them if per chance it was previously named Verve and they said that indeed it was. We cruised with a couple on that same boat in 2003 as well, and knew that they were trying to sell it in Spain. It's just funny that it's now in New Zealand also.
We left Opua with Mark & Anne and anchored for 2 nights at Whangamumu which is a picturesque cove just below Cape Brett. The whole area is park & the trails start right at the beach. The water is pretty clear, a lovely green color. The following day we all hiked for most of the day toward Cape Brett. The problem is, it's too much distance to cover in one day but we had a nice time on the trail and it felt so good to be hiking.
We got to Whangarei the following day and pulled into Town Basin and it felt like coming home. We love this place; it just has this great vibe to it. We know the ropes after having spent last season here and it was fun to say hi to familiar faces. It's spring here and there are ducklings zipping around from boat to boat looking for bread, all while we work on waxing, varnishing and writing endless lists for things we need. Then yesterday, it was time to close up the companionway and say goodbye to the boat for a bit and it was just as hard as ever. It's more than a home; it's a magic carpet. This dream continues to unfold.
Mark &Anne drove us to Auckland and we spent the afternoon climbing up One Tree Hill which is an expansive park built on a green, volcanic cone. It had 360 degree views, sheep in the field and lots of beautiful landscaping. Then we headed to the waterfront to gawk at all the yachts there that our boat can literally fit inside. We spotted 2 cruising boats that we know but everyone was out touring, no one was home to invite us over for a cityside cocktail hour. So we ate dinner at a pub and wondered how Aucklanders can afford to eat anywhere since everything is so expensive! But that was just the appetizer for our hotel room which was the absolute smallest room we've ever stayed in! The power for lights is only on once you insert your card key into a special slot. You get one towel apiece, for everything. There is no place to set your bag, except the floor. If you're thirsty, better have brought your own cup or else slurp from the faucet. You need not worry about moving extra pillows off the bed because you only have one. It's just a different mindset- practical and nothing more. Mark & Anne had to get the family room since the hotel was full so there were 2 bunk beds crammed into that small space too! It cracked us up.
This morning, Mark & Anne drove us to the airport in style (they have the same kind of van we had last year) and we felt lucky to be treated like such VIP's rather than having to take the bus.
So far, our plans are to be back in the US for 2 months, then return to NZ for some touring of the north island and a couple of months of boat projects. We think we're headed back to Vanuatu in May, followed by New Caledonia and then Australia for cyclone season. Arriving there early would give us time to cruise the East coast along the Great Barrier Reef which would be another milestone in our minds as far as diving goes. I hope it all works out. This has been such a great year. Thanks for following along with us & for staying in touch!
PS We did make it to New Hampshire; 34 hours after we walked into Auckland airport, our heads hit the pillow at the hotel in Manchester, NH. Boy did that feel good!