We are now in Auckland tied up at Westhaven Marina. We have been busy since arriving in Opua on the 8th of November, a good excuse not to write this blog, the journeys end blog, the start of the rest of our life blog, I can't put it off any longer.
On the 7th of November at 4am we crossed our outward track, 32deg 58S 174deg 19E, 27 hours from Opua. Cold, rough and windy, similar to our outward passage. We had asked Jim Pasco back to crew from Tonga to NZ it seemed fitting that we have the same crew for the two passages, leaving and arriving New Zealand albeit 41/2 years apart.
Tuatara had taken us safely to 45 countries across 12 seas and 3 oceans, and some 35000 miles. We have also visited 19 countries by land. In this journey around the world I have to mention Talitha the lovely little boat that took us to Asia in 2007 and helped us decide that we liked the offshore life and a circumnavigation was possible. So our journey really started over 6 years ago and I can add another 3 countries visited by land. Tuatara has now completed her third circumnavigation which is very impressive, a well designed and built NZ yacht.
Our passage down from Tonga via North Minerva reef took 10 days 16 hours that included a 2 day stop at North Minerva. The wind was on the beam for most of the trip and except for a few hours of motoring we enjoyed the sailing the only distraction was the 24 hours of 30 knots. After months of tropical weather crossing the Pacific the cold weather saw us seeking out jerseys, coats and leggings. I did manage to keep bare feet until 2 days out of Opua.
At around 3am Friday morning I spotted the Cape Brett light, the wind died so we completed the last miles under motor. As the sun rose we motored past the Ninepins across a mirror calm sea, fog clung to the hills, hiding Russell and channel markers.
Tuatara motored down the channel dressed in the flags of all the countries we had been to. As we pulled up the front halyard of flags one of the ties gave way half way up so there was a small string of flags streaming from the mast and the rest sat on the deck, a dejected wet bunch of material. Alan shimmied up the mast to pull down the halyard to rejoin the flags and there was just enough wind to turn the wet bunch of material into colourful flags. After Paihia the fog descended and we couldn't see a metre in front of us, luckily we knew where we were going. Alan took us close along the moored yachts, past our old mooring and once the Opua wharf appeared out of the fog we could see our way easily into the Quarantine wharf. 7am 8th November 2013 Circumnavigation complete.
Flags flying in Opua Marina.
Bacon and eggs, a tot or two of rum for breakfast, Bailey flavoured coffee, photos and then it was time to see the officials, fill in the forms, give our rubbish and excess food to the quarantine officer, the meet and greet lady gave us our welcome to Opua pack then onto a marina berth. Some of our first visitors were the Yindee Plus Crew, Chris, Sue, Wilf and Sid, from England, we had sailed on and off with them for nearly two thirds of the world. More Bailey flavoured coffee to celebrate. Amanda and Patrick from Egret called in and the Baileys bottle emptied a little more.
A present from the Yindees to celebrate our circumnavigation. Embroidered by SId
Eventually we got tidied up ready for the family to visit for the weekend.
Florence spent her first night sleeping onboard, the first of many we hope. A little small for such a big bunk.
Over the next week we watched the yachts stream into Opua, some mornings there were 10 boats waiting to clear customs and once they cleared more arrived to take their place on Q dock. Across the Pacific we had been part of the Southern Cross Net on the SSB but in the marina we could not hear it so each morning it was interesting to see who had arrived.
A lovely card hand made from Isabelle and Jim of Sonsie of Victoria
It seemed that most had had good passages, there had been a variety of conditions but as far as we know not many had been "slammed". Across the Pacific we had constantly heard, "everyone gets slammed on the way to NZ" We had always said," no not necessarily, just watch the weather." Pleased we weren't proved wrong.
2 weeks later we turned into the berth at Westhaven and realised this really was journeys end.
We have shared our journey with lots of people, made many friends, visited amazing places, taken hundreds of photos and so we have memories to last a life time. We hope some of our friends will visit us in NZ and we hope to travel a bit more and visit around the world. So although journeys end is a little sad we have plans!!
We are now a two boat family, Alan is going to sail a Young 11, Road Runner, in the Trans Tasman Solo race next year. Something he has wanted to do for many years. So he will be busy with that and I will help where I can. So life goes on just in a slightly different direction. I think I will keep up the blog to keep account of the next few months getting Alan and Road Runner ready for the race.
Happy to be home.