Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Life Among the Kiwis

This is where you will find us if you decide to visit!
After leaving Opua in the Bay of Islands, we have made our NZ "home" here in Gulf Harbour Marina. It is a 40 minute drive north of Auckland on the Whangaporoa Peninsula. During the week, there is a ferry that runs back and forth to Auckland several times a day mostly full of commuters going to work. It is a pleasant 30 minute ride.

Many beautiful boats here with direct access to the ocean.
It is beautiful and very quiet. In fact, a little too quiet! It seems most of the 1000 boats sit here with no one coming to take them out! Maybe 10% of the boats go out on a weekend - and this is their summer! Millions of dollars tied to the docks. What a shame!

The ocean, sun and wind are very hard on the boat and many systems we have to keep functioning at optimal level. Our mission here is to have a lot of maintenance done as the Kiwis are known for their marine skills and technology. Although, the labor is much more here than in Fiji, but then you get what you pay for! (I know- that is a dangling participle!) The workers are very knowledgeable and very neat! That is a plus for the beige carpeting.

The warmer waters and sitting for long periods cause a
 hairy growth along the waterline and on the bottom
 so it is time for a shampoo and shave for Trillium.
Since we are not even half way through our adventure, it is time to check everything and make sure we won't have any major failures in the near future. Of course, we will have everything checked again in Australia next year before we head across the Indian Ocean to Cape Town, South Africa.

The engine is being given a thorough check
up so it is time to clean everything in there.
We have found the Kiwis to be very friendly and most helpful. And a lot of fun.
We have enjoyed the Gulf Harbour Yacht Club for a few dinners and cocktails. The members have been helpful with suggestions as to where to find things and places to visit while we are here. Everyone raves about the South Island and tells us we need to have a lot of time there. So we have planned a 3-4 week driving trip. My sister and brother-in-law will be here for the first two weeks of the trip. Guess it will be a variation of Thelma and Louise with husbands along! Not really, but our mother's name was Thelma.

Once again, I am scraping barnacles off the prop. This time
we learned about a special mesh sanding product which makes
it much easier. And we had it coated with a prop protector!

At some point, I will be blogging from the land cruiser with very limited Internet. But I expect to post photos of some spectacular scenery for you to enjoy with us. We understand it will be hot in some areas and then we will be freezing in the glaciers! How do you pack in one duffle for this!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Day of Maori History and Culture

The signed Treaty explained.
New Zealand's most historic site is located here in the Bay of Islands at the northern end of the North Island. From Opua Marina, we can see across the water to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the Maori Chiefs signed their first accord with the British Crown. It is known as the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Triiti o Waitangi).
Many of the places in New Zealand have
names like this. It is going to be challenging!
This is known as New Zealand's founding document which was signed on February 6, 1840. Unfortunately, like many treaties in the world involving the indigenous peoples, they are still disputing the meaning of some terms of it. It seems there are two signed version so: one Maori and one British. And guess what! They differ in the interpretation of what the governance means.
This thing is huge!
The Maori wanted the British to govern the non-native people who raising hell in the town now known as Russell across the bay. The British version claims to govern all people in the country. So you can imagine the many challenges to the treaty over the years.  And it is still on going.

Beautiful and intricate carvings on the bow and stern.
We saw the worlds largest ceremonial war canoe. It takes a minimum of 76 men to paddle it. Women are not allowed in the canoe except for an occasional dignitary, such as Queen Elizabeth. The canoe (waka) is named NGATOKIMATAWHAORUA. And I thought German was difficult to pronounce!

This special waka is sheltered in the waka house near the shore so they can roll it out into the water for a special ceremony ever February 6th for Waitangi Day celebrations.

She greeted us and explained the ceremonial
procedures and how we should behave!
This waka measures 35-meters long and can hold up to 140 people. The carvings on the bow and stern are very intricate and depict the stars used for navigation. They also trail off the stern several stands of plant vine with feathers to collect mussels and fresh water. The many ways to survive that the native people have developed on each island we have visited are fascinating. They definitely live in harmony with nature. There is much to learn from their ways.  They are so respectful of the universe and our planet.

Our Chief awaiting the arrival of the haka delegation. He was
warned to be serious and not confrontational back to them!
I wonder what would have happened if he had!
We also visited the Treaty House and the carved traditional meeting house (TE WHARE RUNANGA) where there was a demonstration of traditional dance and music. Dennis was invited to be the "chief of the tribe of visitors" and had to perform chiefly duties on our behalf. This included accepting a peace offering and giving a speech which he did with eloquence.

This is a haka. The first meeting is somewhat threatening as
they show their strength before laying a peace offering on
the ground. You accept it by picking it up. Now friends.
The Maori tongue is an interesting topic. It is often depicted in tattoos and graphics. We learned that it is an act of defiance and only men are allowed to stick out their tongues. When they confront an unknown situation they thrust the tongue and make a loud sound to show their strength and determination. It is a challenge for strangers.

No they are not kissing. Just touching nose to nose and
forehead to forehead as a sign of peace.
They also use their eyes to express. It seems like they have smaller irises so there is more of the white eyeball showing. As they open their eyes very wide you see a unique expression. We learned that the women use their eyes and jut their chin to show disrespect or to challenge. I must say this is a look you cannot ignore as their eyes say it all! Most interesting!

The cultural performance included singing (waiati) stick games, poi, Maori weaponry as well as the famous haka.

Only the men are allowed to stick out their
tongues as a show of defiance and strength.
Our Chief's words were appreciated by the Maori. WHEW!
I love their beautiful woven patterns found everywhere.

The traditional meeting house is being renovated.
I wouldn't want to meet these four in a dark alley!
A smaller waka
This is a very old waka

Friday, February 13, 2015

Land Ho! New Zealand At Last!

Here we are at the dock in Opua Marina.
It feels much better to be at the dock once again. Life is calmer now that I am back on land. The sail from New Caledonia was very much like a trip down the Atlantic across the Gulf Stream to the Virgin Islands. I have really enjoyed the sailing in the Pacific Ocean because most of the time the wind is favorable to my comfort level and stomach!

It should have been a nice reach, but ...
It wasn't so much the height of the sea, but rather the beating into the wind and confused waves. And with that storm to our east, we had to had to take it on the nose to get to New Zealand rather than Australia! Normally, the winds would have been from the southwest and would have given us a nice reach. But the winter weather coming up from the Antarctica has been bringing high winds all season.

One of the boats in our fleet had to turn back with engine trouble which delayed them for about 10 days before another weather window opened. However, the weather was good but no wind so they had to motor the whole way. Their ride was smoother, but a lot slower.

Enjoying one of the social events with World ARC NZ.
The last night in Noumea was celebrated with a WARC New Zealand dinner. It is always fun to have these rendezvous and share time as a group. Once we reach our check-in destinations, we all head out in different directions until the next rendezvous. Our group of eight boats has become a tight knit group now. We are the only Americans, as there are three German boats and three British boats with us. One of the other British boats had to leave their boat in Fiji to go home for a family medical situation. We miss them and are looking forward to their return when we get back up to the islands in the spring.

Land Ho! New Zealand - a welcome sight!
Welcome to New Zealand. Opua is our first landing.

Dennis taking down the Q flag after we
finally cleared into New Zealand.
Every country gives us a new experience when clearing in to their Customs and Immigration process. Most of the time the experience has been pleasant and the officials helpful and welcoming. The real challenge comes from the Bio Security officials. While we understand the need to protect their countries from foreign pests, etc., some of them are more difficult than others. We had heard that New Caledonia would be tough and take away a lot of things. Fortunately, we did not find it true - but then, it depends on which officer you get.

The Opua General Store is the only grocery store here.
More stores in the next town of Paihai.

Australia is supposed to be the toughest and New Zealand not as bad. For us, that was not the case! We drew the short straw and got officers who normally worked at the airport and not at the docks. They didn't seem to know what could stay and what had to go, so they took everything fresh - including the salad we were planning to eat for lunch! They came earlier than expected so we didn't get to eat first. The guy just dumped it into the black garbage bag even though I tried to explain we were just about to eat it! He didn't care! Then they brought the sniffer dog on to go all over the boat. Fortunately, he did not find anything of concern.

The Ferry Dock in Opua
Unfortunately, by the time we were cleared in, the only restaurant at the marina was closed and we had nothing to eat for dinner. I guess I could have opened a bunch of canned veggies but that is not very hearty after a long passage and frustrating day.

We heard that the Opua General store makes pizzas, so we headed over there. It was 15 minutes from closing and they don't make pizza on Mondays and Tuesdays! The owners were very helpful in offering to cook a couple of frozen pizzas for us and they stayed open later so we could get a few things, too. That was a more pleasant welcome to New Zealand than the one from the officials!
Hoisting the flags: New Zealand on the right and Old Point
Comfort Yacht Club, Ocean Cruising Club and Seven
Seas Cruising Association burgees on the left.

We next had a friendly welcome from John and Lynn Martin who run the Island Cruising Association and the All Points Rally. They host the Opua Cruisers Week so we were introduced into the group and met many new people. Of course, we also saw a number of sailors whose wakes we had crossed up in the islands. It is beginning to feel like old home week when we arrive in new places now. Familiar faces are always a welcome sight to see.

Here in New Zealand they have the famous Kiwi Burger. I was working on the Internet in an office and smelled something delicious coming from the next office. They told me it was a Kiwi Burger (made with beef and not bird!) and the Café next door would deliver one if I ordered it. So I did - sight unseen. I was shocked when it arrived. It was HUGE and had a large beef pattie, a fried egg, and more! It was good, but too big for one person. Bigger than a Whopper or Big Mac, but much tastier. I haven't ordered one since.

Always nice to see a friendly logo from home!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

World ARC New Zealand Celebrates!

Annette from Germany with Joyce and Pat from England
It is good to celebrate! Especially when we think of what we have accomplished in the past 14 months: visiting 24 countries or island groups, sailing 13,000 miles and more than 1/3 of them by ourselves without crew. (That's one giant leap for this woman!) We are now traveling with couples - all of whom have sailed from Europe before joining the World ARC with us last January. These couples rarely have extra crew so there was a little pressure for me to step up to the helm!

Time to warm up from the inside out as it is chilly in NZ!
Actually, I like it with just the two of us on board, expect for long passages of more than seven days. I get too tired with the watch schedule. Even having one more person makes it easier to get enough sleep. We have adopted the watch schedule of one of the other boats and it seems to be working better for us.

We celebrated our safe passage and arrival in New Zealand with another rendezvous dinner in Paihia just down the road from Opua. Some of us had had an afternoon outing and joined the rest of the group for cocktails on the outdoor patio bar. As you can see, it was cold! They had the heaters running and gave us all lap throws to stay warm until the drinks warmed us!

Hugh, Lynn and John

Hugh, our WARC staffer, and Lynn and John Martin from the Island Cruising Association joined us and shared some information about New Zealand and Opua Cruisers' Week, which they help host. It was a fun week with seminars and social events. We had a number of New Zealand grilled sausages! And a pizza party with a comedy night.

World ARC New Zealand inaugural fleet minus S/Y Tulasi

Unfortunately, we did not stay for the full Opua Cruisers' Week of activities as we had a date with the airlines to take us around the world over the next two months to spend time with our children and grandchildren. It has been a long time since we have had family time. And we still need to meet the newest arrival, Henry in San Francisco!

However, we did enjoy the event while we were there. The seminars were held in the afternoon followed by an evening activity or meal. There was a contest for the best theme dressed male and female. The theme was "Tropical with Woolies" and I won the best dressed female category! A nice gift certificate to the chandlery. There are always things to purchase for the boat.

Definitely not the best dressed for anything but this
little contest! Layers of clothes wrapped in a sula!
Overall, it was a fun week in Opua and a chance to relax with global friends. Some are heading home for the holidays while others are planning to land cruise New Zealand.

Is Dennis advising Karl on grilling techiniques?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Challenging Passage to New Zealand

The trip started out as a pleasant sail. Later in the day it
all began to change. And not for the good!
This was a passage that has had many stories to tell. Everyone has had their own special experience when it comes to "sailing to New Zealand." As a result, one has a number of images in ones mind. I must admit that I was not looking forward to this passage. We knew it would be to windward - the only questions were how much wind and from what direction. And of course, the goal is to have only one gale and not two so departure timing is critical.
We were in foulies before we knew it! John at the helm.
Working on deck was challenging.
The weather has been quite irrational coming up from the Tasman Sea lately as it has brought high winds and very cold air with it. And it has been changing every few days. We actually departed a day earlier than originally projected so we could get the best of what was to be. Of course, the best laid plans changed with the wind.

There was a fair amount of work to do on deck in the
rough seas. The dinghy decided to hop onto the lifeline.
A huge storm developed to the east of us which is why our track suddenly went due west! The seas were high and uncomfortable most of the way. It was cold and rainy as well, so we were happy to have our cockpit enclosure in place. And of course, mal de mare got me and held me in its grip for four days! Needless to say, this was not a favorite passage for me!

John was well prepared with his racing gear!
In one 24 hour period, we sailed in the Coral Sea, the Tasman Sea and the Southern Pacific Ocean! John Walton from Grosse Pointe flew in to sail this leg with us. It was a good indoctrination to ocean passages for his first one! Actually, I think he enjoyed being in his foulies and out on deck challenging the elements!
We tried to use the storm sail, but decided
it wasn't very helpful so took it down.

Our track recorded by the YB tracker on board.
Seeing land ahead was a welcome site for me in particular. Adjusting to the colder New Zealand spring weather will all be a challenge after nearly a year in tropical climates. I have been bare footed or in sandals all of that time so shoes are not feeling real friendly. And now we need to think about how we will stay warm in Germany and Michigan when we travel around the world to see the kids and grandchildren for a couple of months. When we return to New Zealand at the end of January, it will be summer here!
Moving around was a challenge - especially trying to
stand up from a sitting position. Gravity wasn't on my side!

And working in the galley was a balancing act.

But you just have to stop and take in the beauty of nature
all around you and forget the rough times!