_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas in NZ

Our daughter, Lisa, arrived at the boat after 36 hours of travel. The next morning we hauled anchor and hopped down the coast to Whangarei. We've been working on the boat, getting our bearings around town and doing errands. We bought a car, which involved an all day trip to Auckland, and are planning the next week of exploring the countryside with Lisa before she heads home. Several of the items Lisa brought with her are already installed on the boat and as the weather improves the boat jobs
will kick into high gear.
Christmas in the middle of summer is a strange feeling but the Kiwis are definitely in the holiday spirit. There were people crowding the downtown streets for last minute gifts and the grocery store was reported to be impassable yesterday. Luckily we avoided the crush at the grocery store!
We're thinking of family and friends and hoping everyone has a great holiday. As today is Christmas here we'll be opening our gifts from home and having a "traditional" veggie quiche and lamb shank holiday feast.
Have a great holiday season!


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

night watch self portrait

Our passage to Kiwi land was eight bouncy and wet days, with a few bruises, but overall “no drama” as they say here. We were closing in but still 300 miles out at sea when Marcy was buzzed by a NZ Orion search aircraft. They called us on VHF radio, by name, and asked a series of questions – ETA (estimated time of arrival in NZ), POB (number of persons on board), and port of departure. They had on hand the information we had emailed to NZ Customs before departing Fiji – very professional. The radio crewman had a distinct Kiwi accent and it was a bit difficult for us to understand, but we apparently satisfied the aircraft’s needs and they flew off to find another yacht.

Orion fly-by

It was the first indication we had of how serious New Zealand is about the safety and happiness of the annual migration of yachts to the country. We were amazed at how courteous, professional, and thorough the check in procedure was. Even the tires on the bikes and the tent stakes were checked for bio-hazards. Many of the officials are sailors themselves, and we were presented with a gift packet prepared by local retail shops at the customs dock.

Our motor needed a broken exhaust stud replaced, so while waiting for a mechanic – 3 weeks as it turned out – we busied ourselves with exploring and boat projects.

We had fun walking the docks to see yachts we know and hear how the passage went for others. Many had epic stories of heavy weather 14 and even 21 (!) day passages. We saw a broken headstay, broken bowsprit, and many shredded sails.

broken bowsprit

still sailin' Fiji

Since we were on a breakwater in the form of a detached floating dock, we had a convenient place to work. First Peter had to learn how to walk on the dock at high tide without hitting his head….

High tide, Opua

Low tide Opua

cleaning engine parts

As we worked, we learned that this part of NZ is a windy place. Weather sweeps in quickly from the ocean and we have had several gales at the dock.

windy Opua

Everyday the tide brings beautiful brown jellyfish into the marina, and then takes them away again.

Opua jellyfish

Way back in Samoa, six months ago, we had received half of a wind and water generator that we had ordered. The other half of the shipment finally arrived here in Opua, after stops in two other countries on the way…..

wind generator installed

Opua has a very nice and friendly yacht club, a general store, a small ferry, and ambience similar to a small New England coastal town.

Opua CC, NZ

Opua store

Opua ferry

After the Marcy’s motor worked again, we headed out to explore the cruising ground. High on our list of priorities was looking for seafood. Ginger jumped into the freezing water with snorkel gear to look for scallops. They were delicious!

scallops! BOI

warming up on the outboard

scallop, BOI

We hiked up the hill near the anchorage with friends.

coast view Urupukapuka isl

Urupukapuka bay with Ahti, Karin and Patty

As another gale moved into the area, we refined our stormy weather at anchor techniques.

Ginger cooks.


Peter checks for chafe on the anchor snubber.

wet on the deck Russell


Since our new generator produces lots of electricity during a windy day at anchor, now we can watch Hornblower videos down below!

horatio & ginger, storm day

At anchor in Russell, NZ, Marcy looks like she could be in Puget Sound.

at anchor Russell

Here is a picture of Marcy in Fiji – just a reminder for ourselves of the colors of the tropics.


New Zealand’s colors are more subdued, but also beautiful…

pohutukawa NZ x-mas tree

Russell flower


Monday, December 10, 2007

Bay of Islands or Hotel California?

We can't leave! We've been sitting here for 5 days waiting for an unusual summer storm to pass and it feels like we're stuck in the middle of winter. The wind picked up last Thursday and should be dying by this Thursday. Yesterday the forecast was for easing wind and seas by Thursday with 20 knots of wind for this morning. When we woke up this morning, with the dinghy stowed, sail cover off and ready to go, the actual wind out front was still 30 knots ENE and still "extremely rough" seas. We
have respect for how tough the kiwis are and don't want to mess around with something they think is extreme! This is, after all, the country where you can bungy jump from their Space Needle. As boats were coming in from Fiji last Thursday we heard reports that in these seas and high wind gusts it was a battle to stay off the lee shore and clear the entrance to the bay. Much as we like sailing and penny pinchers though we are, we thought it prudent to wait for better weather. Someone asked a local
weather guru, Des, this morning if this weather was unusual. His reply was that it's expected this time of year... he remembers a similar storm in 1954. The forecast for Friday is for a very workable 10-15 knots and 1 meter seas.
With our departure again delayed we've run out of time to take the boat down the coast so we'll drive to Auckland Thursday to pick Lisa up and we'll all come back here and bring the boat down together. Lisa will get to see the Bay of Islands (if we're ever allowed to leave) as we head south and there might even be sun by then.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Holed up in Russell

Day 4 of sitting stormbound in the Bay of Islands. The wind generator is pumping out amps so we've watched 6 Horatio Hornblower episodes and spent plenty of time cleaning, tidying and reading. We are anchored off the Russell Boating Club in a bay full of local moored boats. It's been blowing like crazy and we have quite a pattern showing on our GPS as we tack around with our 75 feet of chain out in 15 feet of water. The wind has come from many directions while we've been here making a large crescent
pattern on our anchor alarm track. The bay is well protected and it's been reasonably comfortable with just a small chop. We have gotten off the boat every day for a walk and are enjoying seeing Russell when there are so few people about. We have been assured that this torrential rain is not common for a New Zealand summer. We even heard that last summer there was a record 10 days of rain in a month. That record will certainly be broken this month, probably after tomorrow as it's the 10th.
The gale is forecast to start to subside tomorrow (Monday) and the wind should be blowing a workable 15-20 knots on Tuesday for our hop down the coast 50 miles to Whangarei. We'll go up the river on the tide Wednesday morning, tie up to the dock, rent a car or get on a bus and dash to Auckland to pick up Lisa on Thursday. The kiwis are looking forward to relief from this storm as all the "land-slips" from the winter are still being worked on by road crews and this rain is certainly making their
work more difficult.
Today as we went for our daily walk we were rescued by Rick, a friend we met in Pago Pago aboard Mufasa. We are actually anchored next to his boat, Phantom, here in the bay. He saw us walking into town and picked us up and took us to his house for the afternoon. Peter learned the finer points of an x-box car game while Ginger worked on a puzzle with Robin, Rick's wife, at the kitchen table. After a couple of hours out of the wind and rain it was time to get back to the boat to make sure all was


Monday, December 03, 2007

The Bay of Islands, NZ

We escaped Opua on Saturday and headed out to explore the Bay of Islands. We had a Thanksgiving reunion party with our friends from Ahti, Ruby Slippers and Julie and Dave on their catamaran Razzzle. Also along for the day on their sport fisher boat were the friends who supplied the snapper for our Thanksgiving feast so there were 15 people and 4 boats in our little group. When Marcy arrived at the first anchorage a party had already headed out to dive for crayfish (what the Kiwi's call lobsters
without claws), the kids were climbing the hill to see the gun abutments and there were a couple of people bottom fishing from the cat. We anchored with the group in the beautiful bay and enjoyed the afternoon relaxing while we waited for everyone to return to the anchorage. The dive party only got 1 crayfish but had a good dive, the kids finally returned and we were off to the next spot. Meanwhile, Patty from Ahti went with Karen and family on their small sport fisher to try for some snapper.
An hour later, by the time we caught up with the sport fisher to pick Patty up, they had hauled in 11 snapper and were trying to keep all the fish from tangling the lines as they hauled them in. We anchored off Urupukapuka Island where we collected green lip mussels off tidal rocks and feasted on snapper and mussels for dinner.
At 9AM Sunday were were under way in the dinghy and suited up for blue eyed scallop hunting. The limit is 20 scallops per person in the water and 20 for up to 2 safety people in the boat so with 5 swimmers and 4 safety people in dinghys we were ready for a scallop feast. The water is a bit chillier here than in Fiji so Ginger's time endurance here in her shorty wet suit was only about 40 minutes but she was able to find about a dozen legal sized scallops. It was worth the cold swim for the fun
of finding the scallops. We were looking in about 14 feet of water and though there were many scallops it had been picked over for big legal sized ones which made it a real search. What a great feeling to find dinner on the bottom! Those with scuba gear headed off to deeper water where they found the mother lode but the snorkelers got to return to the boats. Ginger was fortunate to get a hot shower aboard Ahti as Marcy has no hot water heater....
We went ashore with Ahti for a walk on the island and had great views from the ridge. Too soon it was time for us to haul anchor and head back to Opua. On the way we met our friends from Mufasa and got a personal tour of the Russell Boating Club.
We anchored back in front of Opua with a greater appreciation for why people rave about the Bay of Islands. It was a fantastic weekend and the scenery is spectacular. Elaine Carter, a friend and former Casey co-worker, is here in NZ and she's traveling around the North Island right now. We hope she'll have time to come visit us in the BOI before we head south as seeing the islands from a boat is a great experience.
Monday morning we signed up for a bus day trip to Whangarei. The business association sponsored the bus to bring people to Whangarei where we got an opportunity to see the boat yards and marinas. As we had decided to find space for Marcy there one of the marina managers suggested that we should take the bus down to see it in person and reserve our spot. It's a working city with a reputation as a handy place to work on boats. We're excited a marina there has space for us and will be heading that
way on Thursday. It should be a good place to work on the long list of boat jobs and it will be nice to have a home base to leave the boat tied up while Lisa visits.