Thursday, December 29, 2005


Boy it's dark here. The cold doesn't seem to be bothering us as much as the short days and dreary skies. I keep being told how much everyone has enjoyed hearing about our trip and we appreciate your involvement so much. As I look back on all the answered prayers, I know that you all were an integral part of our experience, even if we don't know you personally. I'm not sure if or what I will keep writing here, but for those of you future cruisers, I thought a few words about the transition back to normal life might be worth while.

We're staying with family at the moment, while we sort out a job and house. The most obvious transition is how expensive it is here. While cruising, we lived on less than $1000 per month, as we had no house payment, no cars, no tuition, and basically no where to shop. Now we're looking at $500 per month just for private school, and the price of houses in Bellingham has skyrocketted since we left. Our dream house is up around half a million!! The other big difference I notice is that everyone is so busy. While cruising, all our friends were basically available every afternoon for socializing. Now I need a calendar to pencil people in and everyone is booked up a week in advance. Not so long ago, it didn't even matter what day it was. We're going to have to learn to move and think faster than we have become accustomed to. I've been on the phone continuously for the last couple of days, with the bank, our realtor, friends, credit card companies and schools. We need checks. Our renewed credit cards didn't arrive. We have bills to pay in New Zealand for the crates we are sending home. Yikes. No more simple chats on the radio about whether we are going shelling or snorkeling after lunch.

However, I am adjusting quite nicely to the fact that hot water comes right out of the faucet and there are machines to do my washing up for me. The day after Christmas my dad went to the grocery store twice and then my sister in law ran down there for a couple more things. My mind isn't all that far away from the Tuamotus where we hadn't been to a store for 12 weeks. The other amazing thing is the internet access. Mom and Dad have DSL with wireless, so we're checking email, looking at real estate, researching jobs and communicating with friends, all without a ham radio and all from the comfort of the living room.

I'm motivated to keep life simple and will carefully consider what activities to rejoin and which to let slide for a bit. The kids are having such a nice time with new Playmobil sets from Christmas. They can even get away from each other if they want, because the house is so much bigger than the boat. My patience with them has improved considerably as we all have more space and we're taking a break from school.

Pete has spent most of his time trying to back up all our pictures and video to DVD, which is harder than it sounds. Mostly I've seen the back of his head this past week.

The sun is peaking out today, so that's encouraging. I'll spend the day organizing our belongings and settling in a bit. THe kids are playing fairly well, and Pete is in search of a job.

We hope to have a slide show presentation done up in a month or so and will post here about the time and location.


Friday, December 23, 2005

We're home!

We're back in Bellingham! Imagine is up for sale (in Auckland, NZ), and our sailing trip is finished. (Unless we still own a boat come March, then we'll have to come up with another plan)

We're staying with Kellie's folks until we can get settled.

Merry Christmas, -Pete, Kellie, Ellie and Carter

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

On our way home

Just a quick note to say we're on our way to Bellingham (currently in Hawaii, awaiting the next and final flight).

Whew, we sure had a lot of stuff on Imagine! Lots of packing over the last few days. We've got the airline luggage allowance absolutly maxed out, and are freighting a container (plus a bunch of boxes that didn't fit in the container). Who knows where we'll put it all when it arrives, but at least we won't have to deal with the container for over a month. That should give us a chance to get settled somewhere first. There was much stress in the final days because the (empty crate) was a day and a half late, arriving after 2pm on our last day (4am shuttle pickup). It was a bit of a panic to stuff it all in, and dismay that it didn't all fit. We'd have sold some of it if we'd had time, but in the end decided that the cost of freight is less than the cost of replacing items.

Flight is boarding now...

Cheers, -Pete

Friday, December 16, 2005


We've moored ourselves smack dab in the middle of party central here in Auckland. The brokers' dock is next to the charter boat docks. So now with the holidays in full swing, we've been warned that the partying will go on until 1 a.m. each morning. Being Friday night here, it's already getting loud and "festive," if you call drunk people wearing Santa hats festive. I guess we'll be pretty happy to be leaving here soon.

The packing and boat projects are coming along nicely. We have a crate coming on Monday to put our stuff in to ship it home. That's a relief, as it was a bit stressful arranging the details. We've been encouraged that a number of people are waiting to view the boat. Graciously, the broker is giving us a few days to get our stuff in order before we have to be all cleaned up for buyers to view. Pete has redone the wood in the cockpit, fixed the dings in the steering pedestal and done some painting around the outside. It's all looking great and we keep wondering why we didn't do that a year ago. Isn't that always the case when you sell something?

We had more wind than we needed on the trip down, (25 knots on the beam and gusts to 35), resulting in pretty fast but lumpy sailing. We revisited a small island to see some penguins that we missed the first time around and then spent one last day with friends. The family on "Dolphins" has gotten to be one our favorite boats to hang out with. They'd rented a house near Auckland and we had a nice day visiting and playing. They are considering living permanently here, so we went and viewed a house just for fun: 5400 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and an indoor pool on an acre. Not bad. I felt a bit giddy thinking of living in a house again. There were all these amazing machines that do the washing for you!! I'm glad our decision process is over, especially when I listen to the other families debate where to live and when to finish sailing.

On our way into Auckland Harbor, we saw something very tall in front of us, which I thought might be a building, or a crane. It turned out to be the mast and sail of a New Zealand America's Cup boat. Escorted by 2 chase boats, they literally sailed a circle around us and we were doing 7.5 knots. Pete thought we should put up the spinnaker and give them a run for their money, but I figured we'd have to challenge them to a 500 mile blue water passage to avoid humiliation. After a day on the race boat, everyone would be wet, hungry, bashed and begging for a ride on the nice steady cruising boat. A very impressive sight none the less, with their shiny paint, matching foul weather gear and "Toyota" sponsor logos on the carbon fiber sails.

The weather has gone back to cool and wet, after the summery days last week. It's not cold anymore like when we first arrived though, as summer is only a few days away. The kids are enjoying dock life in between rain showers. They spent most of the day on their stomachs peering over the side. The baby fish and squid in the water are fair game for small children with nets and buckets. Several local kids joined them and we had to go out and check out the catch every so often. They are really excited for Christmas and to see everyone. It's surprising how little Carter remembers about home. It'll be interesting to see what they remember from this trip.

Thanks for reading, K

Sunday, December 11, 2005

down the river

On the rising tide today, we'll head back out the river and start making our way to Auckland. It poured rain all last night, but today is sunny and warm so we're hoping for a nice trip down. We'll spend one or two nights along the way, and hopefully enjoy our last bit of cruising.

We sold the van and are now just left with the task of packing up our stuff to ship home. It will be harder without a car, but it's also a relief to have that taken care of. Some other cruisers have already shipped a crate of their personal things, and have figured out the best deal, so that helps us out. We have been appalled at the prices for international movers.

We enjoyed a nice birthday party with friends yesterday and had to say goodbye to most everyone we've been with all season. We'll see Dolphins and Wyndeavor again, but that's about it. With mixed feelings we find ourselves at the end of another phase of the trip, but I'm not nearly as emotional as when we left our good friends in Mexico. The excitement of coming home and seeing you all is so fun to think about, I can't wait.

We've had a busy week varnishing, cleaning out food we won't eat and learning times tables. My Christmas shopping is almost done, which is a relief, so all the details will hopefully fall into place this week.

See you all soon, K

Friday, December 09, 2005

what does a cruiser look like?

I read an article once that stated that the author knew he looked like a cruiser when the timeshare salesmen in Puerto Vallarta stopped talking to him. Spotting a cruiser on the street is simple if you know the clues to look for. We wear faded t-shirts, shorts, tevas, backpacks and sun hats. We wear this uniform because it's practical, not because it's fashionable. A cruiser must be prepared for all weather. A cruiser's footwear must be suitable for stepping out of the dinghy into salt water, traversing a beach, hiking on dirt, pavement, flora or sand. His clothes must stand up to salt spray (or splashes), sun damage, hand washing and repeated wear. THere is no point for a cruiser to change into a new outfit unless the current outfit is so dirty it will stand up by itself. To abandon a set of clothes to the laundry bag, means that that item is now in need of attention. Why bother washing something until it's really necessary. Backpacks are essential to carry not only cameras, waterbottles, paperwork, sunscreen, bug repellant, first aid gear and snacks, but to hold items purchased for the boat on the way back. If you see a women leaving a boat with a purse, you know for sure she is not a cruiser. Cruising women as a general rule either have very short hair or hair in a suitable length for a ponytail. There are no blow dryeres, curling irons or other hair tools on cruising boats, we simply don't have the power. Make up is as bad as dirty clothes because it must be washed at the end of the day, and requires hot water, another luxury on cruising boats.

The first day we arrived in Whangarei, I spotted a family going by in their dinghy. I scoped them out and determined that they were not cruisers, based on the fact that he was wearing a button down shirt, nice khaki shorts and looked very clean. Then the next day I saw him again looking spiffy. Then on the third day, I began to second guess my assumption because he was wearing the same shirt again. On day five, he was still wearing the same outfit. Now, after meeting them, I know that he is a cruiser, who owns one nice set of togs for town. Today he wore a different shirt, probably because the first one was standing up by itself. Try as we might, we do stand out to the observer who knows what to look for.

If I show up at home wearing my cruising uniform, you'll know that old habits die hard. We are officially entrenched in the lifestyle of a "yachty" as they call us down here, and I'll have to relearn the habits of home. I think I'll adjust to hot showers, in home laundry and unlimited power, just give me time, -Kellie

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

all is quiet

We're having a quiet time here in Whangarei. Willi and Lou are safely home, and we're doing mostly school and boat chores this week. Not many kids are around, so we've spent the afternoons at the local playground and scootering along the waterfront. Pete is touching up all the paint and varnish. Why is it that people always fix up their houses and vehicles for the next person? It's all looking spiffy and ready to sell. It seems that every person we talk to has a different opinion about selling boats in New Zealand. For now, we're giving it a try and I figure it only takes one person to buy, no matter where the boat is. We've got several people interested in the van, so things are falling into place.

When I look back on this trip, I think I'll remember it as three different phases. Bellingham to the Marquesas was a time of new experiences, frustrations, challenges and faith building. We learned how to home school, live on a boat, travel, make new friends, and slow down our pace & expectations. We made close friends and became a self sufficient family unit. By leaving behind all that was familiar, we learned what challenges we could stretch ourselves to meet and where we fell short. Starting in the Marquesas, but really in the Tuamotus, we began to see the beautiful islands that we had set out to find. We began to meet lots of other families and made more friends. I'll always thing of Kauehi as the start of the best part of the trip. The South Pacific was our dream come true and the tropical beaches, warm water, snorkeling and friendships made it an amazing time. The sailing still proved difficult and I never felt that I had the energy to be a good mother and a good sailor at the same time. With challenges still to face and a turning point approaching, we agonized all through the Societies about whether to head for New Zealand or Hawaii. I felt that even though we were still facing some great challenges as a family, we'd come all this way to see the South Pacific and now that it was finally getting good, I just couldn't quit. So we made the decision to go on, one island at a time, and when it stopped being fun, we'd head for home. At some point, it became clear that we were much closet to New Zealand than home, and to do the least amount of sailing, we should head south and sell the boat down here. Now we are in phase three of the trip. Most of our friends have bought cars and rented houses, or are off traveling. We did our bit of sight seeing with Willi and Lou and now it's time to put this trip to bed. We're no longer spending leisurely afternoons snorkeling and beach combing, we're back to living in civilization. We had a discussion last night about our disappointment in how hard parenting on a boat turned out to be. We had imagined the whole trip would be like the months we spent in the Pacific and after all our hard work and effort to make this happen, it seems a shame to have not enjoyed it more. However, the future is open to us and we both agree that boating in some form or another is in our future. For now coming home for a bit or forever seems to be the right choice. We do feel a sense of accomplishment on having come this far and the memories will be cherished forever.

Your prayers for a speedy sale of the boat would be so much appreciated. As always, we're ready to follow God's leading, and do what He has for us in the future. Whether the boat sells and we stay home, or it doesn't and we're faced with more choices, we feel confident in the future.

Happy winter to you, from summery New Zealand, Kellie

Sunday, December 04, 2005

up the river

"Well that wasn't the easiest docking we've ever done," exclaimed Pete after getting settled in Whangarei this morning. Located 12 miles up a wide river, the town basin marina consists of a long dock on one side and pilings spaces along the other. Boats raft 3 deep along the dock or pull into slots between pilings. We're on a piling for the week. We pulled into the dock first thing and waited for the marina manager to come down to give us a more permanent space assignment. The fishermen on either side of us were quite helpful in offering keys to the marina phone office and securing dock lines. The tide effects the current and the depth of the river, so we had to time our arrival for high tide. Up this far, the river current prevails and turning Imagine around in a narrow alley in the wind and current tested Pete's piloting skills. We did fine, but by the time we got settled, the sea wall was lined with spectators and boat owners were standing on their decks, ready to fend off if necessary. Even a mother duck and her fluffy babies gave us a close look. The pilings are set about 50 feet apart by 20 feet apart, so you pull in between two rows and put out four lines fore and aft, to all four pilings. It's not easy getting the ropes looped over and the boat all centered between. We launched the dinghy to do the second set of two, after a hairy moment of me leaning way out over the bow with a line that was just slightly too short.

Willi and Lou have caught up with some more sailing friends today and have now gone off with the kids to see a cave. Pete's hard at work scraping old varnish as the countdown begins to get Imagine ship shape before our flight. We're invited to a birthday party next weekend, which will be our last chance to see our S. Pacific cruising friends, so we're feeling a bit emotional about the two weeks left to us.

They say that whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. I feel that we've pushed ourselves pretty hard at some points this last year, and I feel stronger for it for sure. It's a bit strange that after 10 years of preparing for this trip, it's now over. I have to wonder what kind of life we'll create for ourselves now that we have the chance to start over. We've had some pretty interesting thoughts and conversations lately. I suppose we'll always have a bit of interest in living life to it's fullest, if not with completely normalcy.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Christmas cheer and humpback whales

The colors of the New Zealand coastline range from forest green trees to jade green waters. We half sailed, half motored south today to Whangaruru, another leg closer to Auckland. "Whanga" means bay in Maori, so all the places here start with it. Today we had to chose between Whangaruru and Whangamumu. Tomorrow we're off to Whangarei. I guess learning the local names here is a bit like home, trying to differentiate between Skykomish, Snohomish, & Swinomish. We're tucked in a tiny protected bay, without another boat in sight. The peace is welcome and I'm using the quiet to get in the Christmas spirit. It's a bit of a challenge with the sun shining until after 8:30 at night and the weather getting warmer and warmer everyday. The humpback whales gave us a nice show on the way down today and we had a successful spinnaker run. All in all a nice trip, lasting 5 hours, which is my kind of passage.

I can't believe there is snow in Bellingham this week. I just can't really fathom winter weather again. We still think 60 is cold, and the idea of ice is just crazy. It does seem like the holidays though, as sunny weather never will for me.

We're on the verge of signing with a yacht broker and ready to move on to another phase of our lives. It's bittersweet to say the least, but we feel that we did what we set out to do and life has other things to offer in the near future.

I'm listening to Christmas music and baking this afternoon. We put up a tiny tree and some stockings, so we're trying to get in the spirit. Better cook dinner, K