TIGER LILLY - KIWI REPORT
25 January 2015 | Whangarei, New Zealand
TOM & LILLY
TIGER LILLY KIWI UPDATE
Hello from the beautiful emerald islands of New Zealand, where touring the countryside is like driving through a picture-perfect post card. We are on the North Island, 15 miles up the Hatea River at the quaint town of Whangarei - which is a Maori name for a place where canoes meet. New Zealand is the largest island of Polynesia - a unique country, and not the country cousins of Australia! The Kiwi people are made up principally by the Maori Polynesians, and the descendants of white British settlers, and they are probably the nicest, most gentle, most unassuming, gracious people we have met anywhere during our travels. Whangarei is clean, neat, and safe - a place where many international sailors swallow the anchor and retire from cruising. The simple, straight-forward, energetic family-orientated culture of New Zealand reminds us of the USA in the 1950's. (LILLY sez: Hey Hot Rod, SOME of us are too YOUNG to remember the 50's...) The coast of the New Zealand's North Island looks like the rugged coast of Scotland (where many of the first white settlers came from), and the rolling hills of the emerald interior has some of the world's best dairy country.
WHY NEW ZEALAND?
We are in New Zealand for two principal reasons: to avoid the dangerous tropical latitudes during the South Pacific Cyclone Season, and to make repairs to TIGER LILLY. In the year preceding our arrival in New Zealand we sailed some 11,000 miles; it is nearly a half-a-world between the jungles of the Amazon Delta across to the far reaches of the southwest corner of Oceana in the South Pacific. After all those miles both the boat and the crew needed some TLC. (Lilly sez: We loved French Polynesia and the Kingdom of Tonga, but after the better part of twelve months at sea we were ready to settle down and take a break!) The first month we were in New Zealand was the Christmas / New Years Holiday Season, and we did not get much off-boat work done. The entire country shuts down for about 4 to 6 weeks - it is a big part of the healthy New Zealand culture to throw the kids into the family camper, or load the sailboat, and head for the bush or the sea shore. Over the past three weeks of January we have started taking TIGER LILLY apart: Big Bruce our best bower and the anchor chain to the galvanizer, Furuno Navigator and SSB to the radio repair shop, all the sails into the local sail loft for repairs, life raft shipped off to Auckland for refurbishment and recertification, SCUBA and LPG tanks off for hydro testing, sewing machine to the repair shop, butterfly hatch guards and a new bow roller fabricated at the stainless steel shop, and many more smaller projects to come. We have had several vendors aboard quoting projects which are ongoing: dodger hard-top fabrication, cockpit canvas replacement, and main cabin cushion recovering. We will certainly leave a lot of Yankee Dollars in New Zealand - but Kiwi craftsmanship and the favorable exchange rate make good value for our money. Back aboard TIGER LILLY we are repairing and refinishing the main cabin sole, removing the transmission for an in-shop overhaul, and many other smaller mechanical-electrical-rigging projects. As we were taking the boat apart here in New Zealand, we sold Lilly and Ryan's home back in the Jacksonville suburb of Mandarin. We were blessed to have our friends Moni (property manager) and Jose (realtor) team up to get the job done effectively and quickly. The sale of this house was a great relief to us both. As you can see, the past few months have been a very busy time aboard TIGER LILLY!
WHANGAREI - "LOVE IT HERE"
The native Maori Polynesian people pronounce Whang as "Fung" hence "Whangarei" is pronounced Fung-ar-i. We like the safe, small town feel of Whangarei, and we have enjoyed becoming part of the community: We attend AA several nights a week (along with a whole set of new friends), we enjoy Calvary Church services (Pastor Mike and his wife Kristen were sent out from Lilly's Calvary Church in Albuquerque, NM), the Friday evening Salvation Army Recovery Service is a source of outreach and encouragement, and the many community and cruiser social events around the busy Town Basin are just plain fun. Lilly is busy studying for her HAM Radio license tests which will be administered here in Whangarei at the end of January by fellow American Ham Radio Operators. She is going to try and take both the Technician and General Class license exams on the same day. This is a challenging and time-consuming undertaking, and she is just about ready: think of LITTLE TOOT, the tug that could! (Tom sez: I am so PROUD of her!) The Kiwis do a great job with their tax dollars to create effective public infrastructure, we have taken advantage of the scenic parks and hiking trails that radiate from the town of Whangarei into the surrounding bush, and we have joined the local Aquatic Centre - a first class water sports and public recreation facility. (Swim Champ is trying to improve the Old Navy Diver's in-water technique, and give him a bit of healthy exercise - with only limited results. Lilly sez: WHAT IS this dog paddle/breast stroke/wrench-in-hand combo thingy he does? It just drives me NUTS to see someone go so excruciatingly slow through the water!) A few weeks ago we took a road trip with our Kiwi friend Scotty up through the rolling hills of the North Island's farm country to the picturesque Bay of Islands to view a Tall Ships Sailing Regatta and tour the old whaling town of Russell - what a great day! We are currently moored to a floating dock in the Town Basin, right on the edge of Whangarei's CBD (where they roll up the sidewalks at 1800), and TIGER LILLY has become a mini club house for the local AA community - we LOVE having so many of our Kiwi friends visit. Lilly keeps the coffee pot brewing, and she is always encouraging visitors to stop by - just as Tom has a fresh (and quickly hardening) pot of epoxy mixed up for the day's repair project. The push-pull dance of the Tiger and Tom-Tom has become pretty well known around the Town Basin. We have been the recipients of invitations to some lovely holiday dinner parties - our Dance Card seems to stay full - there just doesn't seem to be time enough to do it all.
We will be here in New Zealand until the end of the Cyclone Season - and we will probably stay right here in Whangarei. In the coming months we are anticipating visits from Tom's brother Quintin and his daughter Kim, our St. Petersburg friend Morgan, and our Jacksonville friend Robert (and maybe his cousin Vladi from Germany). The 2015 summer season is a fun time for us to take a breather from the bluewater sailing lifestyle; we are enjoying the boat being still and quiet in the bucolic environs of the peaceful Haeta River. Come May-June we will be trading the scenic greens of the hills and bush of New Zealand for the azure reefs and lagoons of the tropics again; in the second half of 2015 we plan on cruising Fiji, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia
A KIWI HOME COMPANION
Many of you will remember a popular Stateside Saturday evening NPR radio program called "A Prairie Home Companion" which described an idillic life during a time gone-by in a small Minnesota farming town. Well, that is exactly how we view the slice of New Zealand we have been experiencing for the past two months. (Lilly sez: OH MY GOSH! I was in my EARLY TWENTIES in the late 70's when Tom-Tom was snuggled-up with a blanket and a doxie on his lap, listening to the radio on a Saturday night. For me, Saturday night was flippin WATER POLO PRACTICE!) Here is an example of the type of people God has put in our path here in New Zealand: The first two weeks we were in Whangarei there were no piling-sets available out in the river, so we had to take a slip at one of the floating docks in the Town Basin - there is no room for anchoring in the Town Basin. We had not been at a dock overnight in three years, and it was very convenient, but the slip fee was twice as expensive as the piling-sets - which are reached by dinghy. In mid December a piling-set came available, and we were getting ready to move TIGER LILLY when our dock neighbor Ian (with baggage in-hand) asked us where we were going. After we told him we were on the way out to a piling-set, he said, "HOLD EVERYTHING" and handed us a key to his boat. He explained that he was about to get on an airplane to visit his girlfriend in Germany for the next month and a half, that WE should move HIS boat off the dock and into OUR piling-set out on the river, then move TIGER LILLY into HIS slip, and enjoy the next 6 weeks at the dock - at the reduced cost of a piling set! We had only known this good man for about a week when he handed us the key to his boat. Ian returns to New Zealand next week, and Lilly has a great Welcome Home Dinner planned for him. The friends we make, the places we see, and the life we lead aboard a bluewater cruising sailboat - we are truly blessed!
Lilly & Tom
S/V Tiger Lilly
Whangarei, New Zealand