Monday, November 28, 2005

Tuesday and all is well

We planned another car trip up to the very north of the north island. On Sunday night I joked that maybe I'd just send everyone off without me and have a nice quiet and productive time to myself. After sleeping on it, I realized that I hadn't been alone for more than a couple of hours in about 2 years. My time alone on the boat is very few and far between, and just the thought of some solitude, not to mention getting some chores done in peace was too good to pass up. So on Monday morning I sent everyone off and returned to the boat all by myself. In preparation for packing up to come home in December, I needed to go through the whole boat and purge. My idea of garbage and everyone else's is a bit different, so before they got home I had a heaping dinghy full of trash and give aways. The kid's room looks so tidy, I emptied out cupboards, inventoried supplies and thoroughly enjoyed my productive time alone. I'm not totally confident with the dinghy and outboard, and all this week it's been blowing gale force in the anchorage, so I called on Mike from Wyndeavor to help me load all the bags in the dinghy and he even started it for me. My other concern was that my knot wouldn't hold and the dinghy would float away over night and be long gone by morning. I guess I'm getting a bit salty, because I can tie a bowline with the best of them now. Everyone is home now, and the peace is shattered. Pete made the mistake of asking if I missed them. I think they needed to be gone one more day at least for that to happen.

Apparently they had a really nice time and had two productive days of sight seeing. Giant sand dunes, kiwi birds, beaches, and ancient Kauri trees kept everyone entertained. I suppose I'll get the whole thing play by play from the kids.

We've arranged with a cruising friend to deliver our van down to our next destination. We'll spend the next four days exploring the 80 miles of coast south of here with Wyndeavor. That will be the last of our cruising together. We plan to be in Whangarei by Saturday and have a week there. Then we're planning on heading to Auckland to list Imagine with a broker and empty her of our stuff. It's only 3 weeks 'til we're home for the holidays.

Order up some snow for us and we look forward to seeing you all, Kellie

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Square pie & dinner for 16

We're settled back on the boat now and had a lovely dinner party last night to celebrate Thanksgiving with "Ocean Breezes", "Wyndeavor", "Calliope" and all six of us. Willi and Lou's friends, Sepp and Geri have gone off in the rental car to explore on their own, so now we're all six staying aboard Imagine for the next week. Thanksgiving turned out great, with the help of Lou, who brought canned pumpkin and cranberry sauce in her luggage. I sometimes forget how sparse my galley is compared to my kitchen at home, and this time I was short one pie plate. I even asked around to borrow one and none were to be found, so we had one round pie and one square one. No one complained and they disappeared quickly. The Ocean Breezes family had never had pumpkin pie before. Two years ago, we had Thanksgiving with Lou (Canadian), Willi (Austrian), Mike & Taryn Foster (Canadian) and our Australian friends the Muncktons. Last year we had Canadians over for American Thanksgiving in Turtle Bay Mexico. This year we had a British family, Willi and Lou, the Fosters from Canada and Skip and Wendy who are from Seattle. Maybe next year we'll have some Americans over, in America.

I found the only turkey in town, which was small and cost $38. My frugal nature almost got the better of me at the store, but what is Thanksgiving without turkey? Skip made squash and a yummy Caesar salad, we had sweet potatoes, stuffing, mashed potatoes, bread pudding, pasta, and fruit salad. I had to use Rubbermaid containers for serving containers, after I ran out of bowls. At home I have more crystal bowls than I could hope to use, but since I didn't bring any, we had a fairly casual presentation. The kids cut out fall leaves though, and I put out the place mats, so we did have a bit of festive atmosphere. The weather turned ugly in the afternoon, with 30 knot gusts and driving rain. Everyone came in-between showers around 4 and stayed until 9 or so. It's cold in the evenings, so we put all six kids in our bed with a DVD, and the grown ups had coffee and more wine around the table. I'm always glad of such a big cockpit and table when we have company. We don't have heat, so we've been lighting the lantern and candles in the evening and it takes the chill out of the air.

The kids fall asleep on our bed and get moved to the settees (couches) when we have company. Willi and Lou are using the aft cabin and bathroom. It works out well and the kids think it's a bit like an adventure. They sleep in the salon during passage anyways, so they are comfortable there.

We're off in the car today for a bit of local sight seeing. The weather is still windy, but not cloudy, so we hope to have a nice day out and about.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

It's Thursday here, but doesn't feel like Thanksgiving at all. We're back in Auckland for one day and heading back to the boat soon. The trip to Rotorua had something for everyone and we all enjoyed being tourists. Ellie and Carter like different things than each other, so each one took turns complaining, but all in all we feel that we've seen a bit of NZ culture and nature. The geothermal park was a bit small, but contained a nice variety of hot pools, colored rocks, bubbling mud and an impressive geyser. Ellie wanted to know why we had to look at mud all day, but Carter enjoyed collecting the yellow sulfur stained rocks.

We all feel a bit tired now, so a quiet night on the boat will be appreciated. Willi and Lou want to see one more area before they join us, so we'll meet up with them again tomorrow for a Thanksgiving dinner. Lou brought canned pumpkin and cranberry sauce with her, so it should be fairly authentic.

Yesterday on the drive back north, we stopped at a beautiful botanical garden. After paying exorbitant fees at most of the tourist attractions, the free admission was a welcome sight. Acres of flowers and trails gave us both a desire to get our hands in the dirt again. We really enjoy gardening, Pete with his vegies and me with my flowers, so we took pictures and dreamed of having a yard again.

The rolling farmland and green hills here, make Pete want to be a farmer even more. We're looking forward to checking out the job and real estate options in Whatcom County in January and seeing what we will do when we grow up. The future is still a bit uncertain, but we've agreed to sell the boat sometime between now and the end of next summer, probably in Australia and then continue with life at home. Being home for a bit will give us some perspective on what we really want to do.

Have a lovely turkey day, and we'll see you soon, Kellie

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


We've moved south a bit to a town called Rotorua. It's in an old caldera from a volcano that blew over 100 years ago. The air smells vaguely of sulfur and ammonia from steaming vents all around. Lakes trail across the valley, some clear and cool, some acidic and steaming. Here at the camp ground, we've rented small log cabins and are enjoying the geothermally heated pools and hot tubs. On Monday, we visited the local museum, which is housed in the old alternative medicine hospital. Hot water and mud baths were offered to patients, a lot of whom were WWI soldiers, as the waters were believed to have great healing powers. The history of the area came across well in a 20 minute film about the eruption, shown in a theater with moving seats to give an authentic earthquake experience. The gardens, including a rose display, are beautiful and now being used for croquet matches. Today we plan to go to see the actual bubbling mud, geysers and hot springs just south of here.

Monday afternoon, after lunch, we visited a working ranch to see a demonstration about sheep dogs, sheep shearing, dairy and beef cows. Being a rainy Monday, very few people were there, so we got more than our share of opportunities to participate with the animals. They staged an auction to buy sheep, which Ellie won. She got called up front (accompanied by Grandma for morale support) and was asked for $900. She played a good sport and handed the guy pretend money. He played up the fact that she had no money and nothing of value to trade, so they gave her a tiny toy sheep instead of the real ones. Later, I got called up to meet an enormous Herford bull. He stood about " as high as my shoulders and several feet wide. Another tourist was asked to hold his lead rope and "no matter what happened in the next five minutes, don't let go." She led me to the mid section of the animal and the next thing I knew, I was listening to instructions on how to sit on that bull. I figured after facing the ocean waves, how bad could a bull be. So there I was, sitting on top of an animal whose feet were as big as cantaloupes. Willi said, "It's been nice knowing you," as the presenter suggested that the guy holding the lead rope take me out through the gate and give the bull a smack on the backside. I was supposed to jump the fence, do a lap around the paddock and return. We all had a good laugh and she helped me down, none the worse for wear. I have the pictures to prove it!! As the finale, the kids got to bottle feed lambs. Of course, that made it a highlight for Ellie.

Our little log cabin is cute and cozy. We have our own bathroom and a kitchenette with fridge, hotpot and toaster. The kitchen complex is a few steps away with a dining area, laundry and fully equipped kitchens. We're doing some cooking and a bit of eating out, so we're keeping expenses reasonable. Tomorrow we plan to return to Auckland for one day and then back up north towards the boat. Willi really wants to go for a nice sail, since the last time he sailed the boat was up the coast of Baja in less than ideal conditions, before all the repairs were made. It seems strange that Thanksgiving is this week. We've decided to make a turkey dinner sometime over the weekend on the boat. If we do it on Friday, we'll be sharing the day with you all on the other side of the dateline.

Wishing you a nice fall week, Kellie

Touring Coromandel

We're poking around the Coromandel Peninsula for the next couple days. All the countryside is amazingly beautiful. The roads are wind-y-er than one could ever imagine. Paradise for a sportscar driver or sportbike rider! My arms are actually tired after a few hours of driving! Yesterday we went to the Waiau Waterworks, and had fun interacting with all sorts of water-powered contraptions. In the evening we went to a beach where geothermally heated water percolates up thru the sand at low tide. There were hundreds of other people frantically making dams and digging small pools to sit in - quite an entertaining sight! Today we're at Mt. Maunganui, where Grandma Lou remembered finding lots of nice shells on the beach 12 years ago. Sure enough, there are literally piles of some sort of large winkle shells... we've got a whole grocery bag full of them!

The van seems to be working fine now, no more leaking diesel, which is a very good thing. We tried letting the other car (the grandparents and two Austrian friends) lead on the way here, but it seems that every third car is a white, nondescript Toyota Corolla sedan. We got separated for about an hour, but found each other on the beach. We may have to invest some $$ in the van's sound system. There are no radio stations in range, we've only got a tape deck (and no tapes), and the kids endlessly repeating 4 second sound bites from their favorite song or movie is driving us batty... funny how we'd thought all being together in a 44ft boat was a small space!

I think we'll have to go for icecream after lunch - it's hot today (for the first time since we arrived in NZ).


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

traveling with friends

On Monday, we traveled to Auckland to meet up with Pete's parents at the home of some of their friends. The family met Willi and Lou in South Africa during their circumnavigations. Now they are living in a house just north of Auckland and have kindly opened their home to us. We've shared lively cruising story telling, lovely meals and lots of sight seeing. On Tuesday we visited a cultural center telling all about the natural area. The kids liked the geckos and we enjoyed viewing the palm ferns close up. On Wednesday we took John's boat out to a small island to view birds. The animals here are very unique, especially the birds. No mammals except bats are native, so flightless birds have no predators. Large Takahe birds, with their peacock coloring and long red legs strut around the island hoping for handouts. The sea was calm, so the trip across doing 32 knots went really fast. The kids couldn't believe that a boat could go so fast.

Somewhere along the way, the van developed a diesel leak in the injection pump. Quoted repairs were $1600 for a pump rebuild. Pete worked his magic with a new seal and and some new o-rings and now we're back in business. We did have a few hours of stress, wondering if our new purchase was better suited to the wrecking yard. Today, I braved the right hand driving and the mall parking lot. Now we're all stocked up with warm clothes and groceries to head off to the campgrounds. Pete and Willi went mountain biking and the kids did a bit of school.

We plan to do some hiking, some tourist attractions and some beach playing. The north island has a lot of geothermal activity, so we're on the way to see a hot spring beach tomorrow and on the drive back north we'll see geisers and bubbling mud pots.

The weather is typical spring, with a bit of everything. We're dressing in layers, fairly cold at night, and warm enough for AC during mid day. We're remembering how real life back was at home after being spoiled in the tropics for so long.

And we're off- Kellie

Friday, November 11, 2005

mini van

We did it, we own a Toyota mini van. THey're inexpensive and we feel better about selling to get some of our money back than blowing $1000 on a rental. WE'll be traveling around starting on Monday, so not sure how often we'll be able to post. The sun has come out today, so it's a bit more cheerful. It rained last night and yesterday was quite dreary. ALl the cruisers are coming down with colds, now that we're in civilization, so we're hoping not to get it too badly. Ellie and I are a bit stuffy and headachy.

We're looking forward to a nice weekend and some great sight seeing next week. -Kellie

Thursday, November 10, 2005

dinghy ride

The boat feels awfully small this week. The weather seems to be imitating the northwest, with partially cloudy, chance of showers, breezy cool conditions. I could see my breath inside when I woke up this morning. We don't have heat, which seemed fine in the tropics, but not so fine now that we're here and used to the tropical heat. Yesterday we really needed to get away from the boat and marina so we loaded up, grabbed the kids from Ocean Breezes and dinghied to a playground about a mile or two away. It only took about 15 minutes, but with the wind, it was a bit rough and wet. Not to worry though, the boat kids handled it like pros and had a nice time climbing, running and swinging at the beach front park. It seems that parties are the order of Opua, so we had another dock party last night to celebrate two more arrivals (Wyndeavor and Sea Fever) and say goodbye to some others who are heading to Auckland. The kids ran up and down the dock, thundered down the ramp and drove scooters around like maniacs. A couple of scooters are definitely on the list for our kids now that we're more land oriented. It's much more of a challenge to run off their energy without the snorkeling and beach games.

Pete thinks he has a ride lined up today to go buy a car. That will be a relief to be mobile, especially as we hope to do some camping and traveling in the next couple weeks.

Last summer before we left I was perusing a cruising magazine at Pete's parents house and found a letter to the editor asking how a middle class family could possibly save the money to go cruising. I've been pondering whether or not to write back with our financial details all this time. I finally did it about a month ago, and Lou e-mailed recently to say that my letter is in this month's issue of Latitudes and Attitudes. I'm quite interested in doing some professional articles, so this has boosted my confidence a bit.

We're debating a lot at the moment about how to sell Imagine. In New Zealand the seller must first import the boat. An 18% tax, or something hideous like that, must be paid on the value, up front. That's not an option for us, so we're thinking that Australia is the only way to go. Apparently, Australia has a much better market for heavy blue water boats anyways. We might list it with an OZ broker before we come home and see what happens, but we really think that Pete will have to sail her over in the spring. The kids and I might fly to meet him, but I'm all done doing passages. If anyone has some time off in March, how about a nice trip to NZ and Oz? Doing a bit of sightseeing in southern Australia over next summer might be a nice way to finish up our Pacific tour, even if it will be winter there. It's a hard decision because airfare is expensive and the logistics of getting our stuff packed up, not knowing if it will sell in NZ, is causing a bit of stress. We're by no means the only boat in this situation, so we'll have good company sailing over next year if we go.

See you all in 5 short weeks, Kellie

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tonga page posted

The Tonga page is up and running now. Have a look: ../..//web/Log_2005/tonga.htm

also, a few more pictures added to the Photo Gallery: ../..//web/photo_gallery.htm


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Settling in in New Zealand

I wish I could say that we've been having nice relaxing days sight seeing this weekend. But actually we're just in the mode of day to day living and chores. The weather is a bit hit and miss, with rain showers and clouds, and transportation is difficult. We did go on a nice walk yesterday afternoon with two other families. The scenery here looks so much like home. Vinca, dandelions, clover, and evergreen trees growing along the rocky shores remind me more of home than anywhere else we've been. The air is perfumed with spring flowers and early fruits are coming out on trees. Lisa and I picked out our dream houses along the waterfront and the kids ran off their energy collecting pine cones.

Buying a car is proving more difficult than originally anticipated, so we're still without wheels. Hopefully we'll find something in tomorrows paper, or Pete might get a ride the an auction this evening. School is taking up most of our days, since we'd like to take some time off when Willi and Lou come. I've been reading the guidebook and making plans for next week's sightseeing.

Wyndeavor hopes to be in by Friday and is currently having not a lot of wind and/or wind on the nose. Kelly and the kids are staying with friends in Auckland, so we look forward to being all together over the weekend and celebrating our accomplishment. About half of our friends are moving to Auckland after the weekend, so a time of saying goodbye is coming up. It's part of cruising, but it's really difficult to make friends and then be separated so quickly. I really do miss the continuity of home and the comradary of close friends.

Every country we go to has different facilities, so each time we arrive, changes are made to our day to day living. Garbage, water, groceries, laundry, and transportation all have to be figured out anew. In Mexico garbage was generally easy to dispose of. In remote Pacific islands, we threw food waste overboard and burned the rest. In Tonga, a local guy picked up plastic and cans each morning for a small fee, everything else went in the water. At sea everything except plastic went overboard. Here, we can't throw anything overboard, so we're using the marina cans. Every time I make a cup of tea or peel a potatoe I have to think twice about what to do with the garbage. Water is not always easy to get, so sometimes we're on rations and sometimes we're not. In Tonga, we relied on rain, and kept up fine. Here, we have to use the holding tank so every so often we'll go to the marina dock and pump out and get water. Usually I use salt water to do the really dirty dish work in the kitchen and then wash and rinse in fresh. The saltwater here is a bit green, so we're using all fresh. Habits are hard to change, so I keep reaching for the wrong faucet. Even the butter lives in different locations. Starting in about Puerto Vallarta, we had to refrigerate the butter or it would melt just sitting on the counter. Now I have to remember to put it in the cupboard and it's still too hard to spread on toast in the morning. We also have to get used to shoes, socks, coats and pants. I haven't worn shoes with laces in a year. My feet weren't too happy yesterday being crammed into running shoes. I guess we'll all be a lot more adaptable after this year of changes. The constant need to adapt no longer makes me crazy and the luxuries of living in a house seem too good to be true. The things that are taken for granted at home are really luxuries on a boat. All the cruising moms are expressing the need for a break, so New Zealand is really a land of refuge to us all.

Enjoy the constants in your life and if you are wishing for a change, take a deep breath and go for it. -Kellie

Monday, November 07, 2005

Scary Sailing stories

This post isn't necessarily about us, but about the idea that cruising is dangerous. I've purposely not posted any scary stories about other boats getting into trouble, because some people at home didn't need anything fueling their worries. However, after 14 months and 10,000 miles, I'm happy to say that there have been no people lost in the boats that we are aware of. Before we left, we were told all kinds of scary stories about boats lost, and it does happen, but fortunately, not often. I figure in the course of 14 months at home, it wouldn't be unusual to hear about 2 major car accidents involving friends of friends or just people in your area. We've heard personally of two major boating accidents since we've left, both in the South Pacific. The first involved a family of five, sailing on a catamaran out of Bora Bora. A number of small atolls lie between BOra BOra and the Cooks, and careful navigation is essential. This boat got off course somehow and because the family was watching DVD's instead of being on watch, the boat hit a reef at 7 pm (in the dark). BOth hulls+ were holed and the boat filled with water immediately. The mast came down, pinning the father by the leg underneath, partially severing his calf. They successfully set of their E-perb (emergency transmitter) and tried to deal with the medical needs of the father. They tied a tourniquet, but after hours of being pinned and losing blood, they began to think that they would have to amputate the limb. The rescue plane was unaware of the medical needs of the crew and decided to wait until morning to attempt a rescue. Apparently had they fashioned a cross of some sort on deck, that would have communicated to the plane that they needed immediate medical assistance. At the last minute, a wave shifed the mast and they pulled the father free. They were rescued and the father had his leg amputated in Tahiti from the knee down. The mother was hospitalized for shock and the kids stayed with another cruising family until arrangements could be made to fly home to California. As coincidence would have it, tehy flew on the same plane as my friend Carrie, who was visiting us at the time. The family had been cruising for a number of years and were on their way to Australia. The boat was a total loss. I will put a disclaimer on this story, that the info is second hand and we have heard that an equipment failure happened near the time of the crash, which is why the dad was on deck near the mast. Maybe that contributed to being off course.

The second story, more recently, happened when we were crossing to New Zealand last week. A couple left Tonga heading south, nad 30 miles out of Nukalofa, in 35 knots of wind, they lost their mast. A shroud (mast supporting cable) failed. The keel stepped mast buckled, taking part of the interior, the cabin top, and the exterior railings with it. The rigging (ropes and cables) tangled in the propeller, effectively rendering them without propulsion. The weather continued to worsen and they found themselves in 50n knot winds with 30 foot seas and no steering. Our friends of Sanuk, who were in Nukalofa at the time, went out to attempt a rescue. A New Zealand Airforce plane had located them, but because of the seas were unable to get the people off the boat. Sanuk reached them at midnight with towing gear and towed them back in. Sanuk is a 35 foot, lightweight sloop, and such a rescue was an incredibly brave thing to do. The couple was uninjured and the boat insured, so that story had a much happier ending.

In both stories, human error was to blame. Being on watch is a basic sailors' responsibility and the reason becomes quite clear when a boat is lost because of lack of paying attention. The other boat might have avoided catastrophe had they inspected their rigging prior to one of the most difficult passages in the Pacific. I will say that we always have someone on watch and Pete inspects our equipment regularly. Accidents do happen, but I think cruising is no more dangerous than driving a car across the country. A lot of diligence is needed and experience is helpful. We've seen a lot of mechanical breakdowns on boats that have not actually caused accidents, but did cause undo stress. The most common failures are autopilot, watermakers, engines and sails. We've met a lot of really inexperienced cruisers who rely on their high tech equipment to keep them safe. If and when their technology fails, they do not have the skills to save themselves, which we find scary. I also know that God has protected us along this journey.

All you future cruisers can learn a lesson from the experiences of others and be safer on your trip. -Kellie

Saturday, November 05, 2005

chores and decisions

The Bay of Islands is about 2.5 hours north of Auckland by car, but light years away from the city in atmosphere. It's lush and green and charming. SMall bays and islands await us around every corner, ready to be explored. HIking trails, waterfalls, and national parks surround the pristine waters. We've not had much of a chance to explore yet, but the chores are about done and we've made some plans. We've rented a mooring ball here for the next month. When Pete's parents come and we get a car, we'll feel that the boat is secure while we're off traveling by land. A number of other kid boats are sticking around too, so the kids will be happy. Our next major chore is finding a car. It seems like the local auction is the way to go. Most cars here come used from Japan. The emmisions standards are higher there and they drive on the other side, so the cars are brought to NZ when they get a few years old and are sold off cheaply. We can get a mid 90's station wagon for less than $1500. We've got some friends who will buy it from us when we go home. A rental car would be almost as much. Insurance is $4 every 2 weeks and $10 to do the licensing. It seems to be a no brainer, and lots of the cruisers have already bought cars that way.

The kids are really enjoying 3 days at the dock. The jelly fish population will be relieved when we all leave though.

The weather has been pretty good. IT's in the 70's during mid day and drops into the high 50's at night. We froze on the first night, but now I have washed the sleeping bags (they went powdery under the beds) and we're all warm again. I've put away the tank tops and gotten out the long sleeves. Pete is taking advantage of the hose here at the dock and has scrubbed the boat in fresh water for the first time since Mexico. What a difference!!

All is well and I look forward to reporting that we've gotten out and about to see the sights and not just the laundry mat. CHeers, as they say here Kellie

Friday, November 04, 2005

New Zealand joy

THe sense of relief, accomplishment and amazement brings a lump to my throat and laughter to my lips. For years, we've talked about New Zealand as an ultimate destination. Now for the whole of our trip, New Zealand has been the ultimate challenge for me personally. When we sailed in yesterday, all our friends who had arrived the day before waved to us from the docks, blew horns, whistled and made us feel the amazing comradery that only sailing together across an ocean can impart. Twenty five boats arrived yesterday, and we all hugged and celebrated and teared up at the customs check in dock. The green rolling hills and lush forests look just like you'd picture New Zealand, so in her own way, New Zealand welcomed us with her beauty. The parties haven't stopped all week, as two more boat kids celebrated birthdays and tonight we're over running the yacht club to have post passage festivities. Stats will be given on each boats performance on the passage, which Rob on Dolphins compiled. Chris from Ocean Breezes will award the largest fish and smallest fish caught en route.

Everyone is also madly trying to integrate into civilization. The rental car place is out of cars, the boat insurance guy is "frazzled" as he put it. THe Chandlery is selling lots of New Zealand flags and the grocery store is hopping. The marina is graciously providing slips, showers, laundry and internet for a reasonable fee. Old friends and new are all together now, sharing the feelings and the washing machines.

WE're pretty wiped out mentally and haven't got a real plan worked out, but that will come, it always does. Our next thing to look forward to is the arrival of PEte's parents in 10 days. We're looking into buying a car with another boat, because renting one for the 6 weeks were here would be $700. We'll need one to do all the sightseeing we'd like to accomplish in our time here.

We had exagerated the gtrocery shopping possiblities in our minds unfortunately. We did find a nice shop and got bagels, cottage cheese, fresh milk, peanuts and strawberries. I think the South Pacific has really improved since Pete's parents sailed, because with a few exceptions we haven't been without too many basics. Luxury items seem to be an American requirement, and I still didn't find the variety or the cheap prices of home. The produce section was outstanding though and now the fridge is full of fresh grapes, oranges, lettuce, avacado, and asparagus, the strawberries didn't make it past the table.

There are a few other boats here from the Northwest. Calliope, Gembrit, Tamarac II and Velocity are from Seatte and vicinity. Valhalla is from Tacoma and us and Wyndeavor from Bellingham. There are a few Vancouver boats as well. The majority of sailors today descend from the sailors of antiquity. Most hail from English or Scandinavian countries. England, Canada, the US and Scandinavia make up I'd say, 90% of the hailing ports. I think it's an interesting phenomenon.

-Thanks for the prayers and thoughts, Kellie

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

We're here (there)

We made it in to Opua at 2pm safe and sound. Got thru cutoms and quarantine just in time to make it to Conner's (Ocean Breezes) birthday party. is well with us - looking forward to a good nights sleep!


33 mile to go!

We're nearly there! We've been motoring into a 10 kn headwind for whet seems like forever. Just before dwn I could ee teh lighthouse off Cape Brett on the south side of the Bay of Islands. We eem to have haken the counter current, and are now making 5kn. We should be tied up to the customs dock by 2pm. Hard to believe we've sailed all the way across the Pacific Ocean, NE to sW!


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

on the nose

"On the nose," is a sailing expression for wind that's coming from just where you're trying to go. "Bashing" refers to the unfortunate situation of sailing into big waves, which is common with wind on the nose. A countercurrent is a current pushing you back where you came from. All of those at the same time, is called going nowhere fast. We're still 100 miles out of NZ, tacking, bashing, grumbling and commiserating with other boats around us. Picture switchbacks up a steep hill. That is how a sailboat goes up wind. Back and forth making slow forward progress. We're sailing in 15 knots from the SW, at about 5.5, but only about 2-3 knots made good. To add insult to injury, a 1-2 knot countercurrent is pushing us off our angle even more and pushing us back to Tonga. We're only tacking 120 instead of our usual 105. We're steering 135 degrees, but needing to go 195. Needless to say, morale is flagging and we're beginning to wonder if land is just a fantasy. Skip on Calliope and I have been joking on the radio about the crazy backwards conditions. The GPS hour countdown is actually going up and the usual wind and predicted currents are backwards. I think it's some strange anomaly to do with northern hemisphere boats crossing into the southern hemisphere. Joking is saving my sanity.

The fast catamarans that left a day ahead of us are in now. The slower boats that left with them should be in this afternoon. We've about given up guessing what time we'll make it in, but it had better be on Thursday. The wind is forecasted to stay from the SW and maybe pick up for another week or so. Wyndeavor has just left and the really slow boats are lagging behind by 1-200 miles. The current should go away when we're about 50 miles closer, so that should help a lot. Pete is a sailor at heart and tries every possible sail angle, sail combination and heading to eke out progress. We've used a lot less fuel than some, but when the wind goes light we sheet in and head into it just to keep us making at least 3 knots.

I've almost cleaned out the boat of all "banned" food items. No meat, eggs, honey, veggies or powdered milk are allowed. I hate to waste it, so we've been eating meat like mad. No one really feels like eating when it's rough, but at least I'm trying. The boat is a total disaster, with clothes, toys and bedding all over. It's been rough and cold, so we're all cooped up in the main cabin, hence all our stuff is here too. The foul weather gear has come out of the closet along with the extra blankets and socks. Ellie has made a fort out of cushions, which is keeping her busy and is less messy than cutting up paper Halloween decorations. I'm trying not to hyperventilate in the mess, and keep up with it as I can. Stuff flies around in the waves, and it doesn't take much to make such a small area cluttered.

"Jasp" is sailing nearby and we've been in radio contact regularly. This morning their engine died and he called to find out if we knew anyone that was technically minded we could call on the radio. Pete fessed up his diesel mechanic skills and they spent a good part of the day trouble shooting and eventually fixing the engine over the radio. It turned out to be an algae bloom in his fuel. The filter got clogged as the tank got emptier and the gook on the bottom got stirred up in the seas. Luckily, an easy problem to fix and maintain. It's a bit panicky to think of the next 100 miles with no engine. The wife has expressed her love for Pete and Paul though he might kiss Pete if we were a bit closer. Nerves are stretched, but a friend out here really helps.

Hopefully I can write tomorrow to say the long ordeal is over. We're much in need of some stillness, some running around and a meal out. I think we'll splurge on a marina for a bit with all our friends. It's forecasted to be rainy and cold in NZ for the next week, so a marina is the best bet for sanity. Ellie can hardly wait for bagels and nachos and it's occurred to the kids that there might be a McD's there. A bit of civilization won't be a bad thing.

-Miss you all and wishing to be there, Kellie