Friday, December 11, 2015

Heading back to the States for a year

All checked in at the airport - 8 suitcases, 8 carry ons, 8 people, and lots of "personal items." They had Vitality and Valiant sitting together, but no adult for 3 rows, thankfully they were able to change seats, so they wont be sitting alone. Just waiting to board! Kids are doing great considering its 10:15 pm here.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Swinging

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There are any number of great ideas for catamaran play!

Cave Photos from Family Circus










Went with Lil' Explorers and their 5 kids under 10 to go for some glow worm cave exploring, hiking and picnicing... It's nice to be in New Zealand... It's nice not to be the largest family on the dock... Hee Hee

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Abbey Caves

Fun day in the Abbey Caves with our new friends on Family Circus!! They are Americans with 4 kids onboard. Ironically, we met the boat in Panama when it was named On Delay and had been struck by lightening. It sailed up to San Francisco, then got turned over and came out across the Pacific to meet with us again!! We had a great time with spelunking through a river, glow worms, a picnic in a gorgeous field, a nice hike, and in the final cave Cassidy and Courage claim to have been up to their chest in water with an eel (but they only could see by headlamps, so the eel could have been any creature, right??) Got some pictures, will try to share.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ready to haul Out!

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So we came out smooth, but at the end of the day. They got the bottom pressure washed and we are parked on the trailer at the top of the boat ramp for the night. In the morning, we'll be placed into our "permanent" position. But for tonight, we are heeled at about a 15% angle to the starboard. Feels strange.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Whangarei Sunset

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Our beautiful sunset from our cockpit.

This is a pretty great place to enjoy the wonderful island of New Zealand.  We are loving our last 10 days here.

Courage


Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving

We had an awesome Thanksgiving here yesterday. Courage helped friends haul their boat while we cleaned, prepared dinner, and met with friends. Caught up with lots of great friends who even went out of their way to drive down from Opua to visit! Awesome potluck dinner at the boatyard which was a wonderful venue, tons of kids to play with, and easy clean up. Then we moved on to Lil' Explorers where we had 8 overnight guests, caught up with our wonderful friends talking over wine in the cockpit until midnight. Then today we got lots of errands done, while playing and catching up. Then this evening all those dear old friends had to leave and 3 new kid boat gaggles came over for movie night!! Watching an old classic as English is the second language for many of these amazing children and they prefer a movie that is already familiar to help them understand. Love cruising families!!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cruiser's Rally

Great day today at a cruiser's rally. Saw old friends Fluenta (with 3 kids) last seen over a year ago in Niue. Got to meet up with Armagh last seen almost 2 years ago in Panama - they got towed in last night after engine failed 2 days ago, but they sailed nicely to the harbor entrance. Met Honey (we've met their 2 kids onshore in Vanuatu, but not officially met the parents) and Tangaroa (with 3 kids) who are new to us. Yeah for meeting old friends and family boats!! The kids were in the jumpy tent or at the petting zoo all day long other than a brief pony ride. Everyone fell fast asleep in the car immediately on our way home.

Meeting the Loveridge Family

Our Excellent Adventure meeting the Loveridge's and seeing their catamaran being built! What a lovely New Zealand family! We had 10 cruising kids together - scootered until we got bloody knees, picnicked at the bridge, saw the museum, the art gallery, played, and played, and played with the dogs, trampolines, tried a 3D puzzle, legos, colored, and everything a kid could imagine!













Hobbit, NZ

Our visit to Hobbiton!! Great day, fun touring, perfect size homes for us!!

















Thursday, November 19, 2015

Weekend Roadtrip

Had a great weekend!! Caught up with Field Trip for Michael's 8th birthday, then met a new cruising family with 4 kids who were brave/awesome hosts at their house where they are building a gorgeous 50 foot cat!!! 14 people, 1 bathroom, excellent hospitality and wonderful family!! So excited to see them on the water and hit the islands with them!! Then on to geothermal exploration in Rotarua and finally Hobbiton where we toured the Hobbit holes. Photos to come. . .

Valiant was warned many times not to touch the fence at Hobbiton, it was electrified. He kept touching along it, finally hitting the wire and crying from the shock. Later on the tour, he was told not to touch the fake cheese on a little table stand (Hobbiton, everything was just his size). He touched it anyway declaring, “It not hurt me!”

Thursday, November 12, 2015

NZ Road Trip


Celebrating Michael's birthday party in NZ with a cruising family we have not seen in a very long time.

All packed up for our road trip!! Going to meet up with a cruising family we haven't seen in about a year and a half and celebrate Michael's 8th birthday, then on to meet a new cruising family with 4 kids that are building their own catamaran out in the Taranaki region. Very excited to catch up with old friends, see new places and meet new people!!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Whangarei


Our New Home for the Week -

We've arrived in Whangarei yesterday and tied up to the courtesy dock. Today we have a spot between two pilings that we tie front to back. It's pretty cozy, short trip to the dock, big park with lots of great toys just off the dock and huge grocery store with everything we could need and more!! Warm showers for everyone this morning at the marina, refilled water and washed a load of laundry, we are feeling good!!

Shannon


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Great Park!

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Everyone loves the park!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Good Times

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Having beautiful days in the Bay of Islands!

Yesterday the wind was gusting into the low 30's. We even drug the anchor twice, once into the channel and once into the shallows. So we will be upgrading to the Rochna anchor which "never drags"

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean



This is where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet.  Had a great hike to the light house and enjoyed rolling around some huge sand dunes!


Monday, November 2, 2015

Beach Time

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Enjoying some beach time.  We even practiced pushing it out of the ocean!

More photos to follow.

Courage

Sunday, November 1, 2015

90-Mile Beach -

Great day exploring 90 mike beach (which is only 55 miles long) on the north peninsula. We played on the beach, hiked to a lighthouse, picnicked in a park, climbed up and slid and ran down the dunes, and drove on the beach. Now camping in a cute little cabin in a campground where blankets cost extra, who knew? But it's perfect! Gives us a great sleep and launch place for tomorrow's exploration!! Free warm showers, so we should be in great shape!! Beautiful country!

Shannon


So the time finally came. We headed up the coast in our little van to explore the "90 mile beach". Rumors are that you can only do it with a four wheel drive. But we were not easily dissuaded.

The beach is incredible! Hard packed sand with no speed limit. Basically vacant, and truly gorgeous! Unfortunately though not all the ramps to the beach were hard packed, so after driving an hour or so, we found that the exit that we hoped to take was deeply rutted and not passable without a 4x4 with high clearance. There was another option that a motorcycle stunt driver told us about. All we had to do was straddle some largish beach rocks. With some pushing, and building of a sand ramp we were all set.

Then there was the hotel. My expectation of a hotel room is that it has everything needed to get a good nights sleep. Well here you need to rent blankets, and sheets if you want them. It reminded me of the time we were in Italy and Vision ordered a pizza, but did not specifically request tomato sauce and cheese thinking that was standard. Can't take anything for granted!

We are loving this wonderful island, and looking forward to every day's adventure!

Courage

Socks

Valiant learned a new word today. Socks. He's never seen or worn them until today. We dug them out since it was cold and we were going to town in shoes. Real shoes, not flip flops or crocs. His got wet in the dinghy and he was telling me that his "this" got wet and kept pointing, so I gave him a name for those funny things on his feet. 3 years, almost 3.5 years without ever coming across socks. Atta boy!!

The pool at Bahia De Oro!




Halloween -



The thrift stores down here have great dresses! We are getting ready for trick-or-treat.

Loving it,
Courage

Vintage Railroad -


We took a ride on the vintage railroad today. It was a nice 20 minute ride, a picnic, and a ride back. The station was built in 1911 to replace the building that burned down. They have a steam engine that dates to 1927 and is the last one of it's class in the world. His name is Clyde. It made for a fun time to ride a train, see the countryside, and learn some NZ history! I hope the kids are enjoying home school as much as I am!
Shannon

Quarantine -


For those entering NZ, the quarantine has lightened up! You can keep (commercially packaged) rice, oats, flour, dairy products (butter, milk, yogurt, cheese) , mayonnaise, quinoa, peanuts, and other things explicitly stated as NOT allowed. I discarded many, many things that you can keep!! You cannot have - honey, eggs, fresh fruits/veggies, meats, seeds (including popcorn), beans. Please share or pass on to people coming to NZ this year. It's so hard to plan when each place is different and rules keep "updating" after lists are published. On the upside, I made the day of a young couple on a boat in New Caledonia with over a year's supply of rice and beans and honey for only 2 people!!


After a few home improvements looking for live termites, we are given a partial clearance. There was no evidence of current or recent termite activity. They can board our boat at any time and look for termites. We have to tell them of any signs of termite infestations. Other than that, we are free to travel in New Zealand!! 

Today was a full day! 2 parks, a ride on a vintage railroad, a picnic lunch, and some warm clothes and Halloween costume shopping. Found the girls each a princess dress for $2 at a thrift store. Everyone's happy and exhausted!!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Opua, NZ

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We are safe and sound in Opua.
All is super great, and we are loving it!

Arrived NZ -

I think we flew a hull there for a few minutes.  The wind was blowing just over 30 on some of the high speed jumps. I think having no fuel, no water, no food, and a clean bottom certainly helped. It was also nice to be in the lee of New Zealand, so the waves were not crazy big!

We are all super excited here!

Courage

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Land Ho! - NZ

We can see land, the land of the Kiwi!  We are hoping to be in port Opua sometime tomorrow.  We had glassy conditions yesterday, and the children played with the different jellyfish that they could catch.  Fortunately they left the Man-o-war jellyfish alone, they only play with those on the beach.

The weather has turned decidedly cooler, and you know it is bad when Vitality and Valiant are willing to wear anything. The concept of clothes seems to have eluded Valiant for his entire life, so he is now enjoying being dressed by his "big" sisters.  And the sisters can now wear their "Pretty Dresses" without overheating.

So far the trip has been great, with maximum winds at 35knots as we were leaving New Caledonia.  The highlight being visiting Norfolk Island and having a wonderful tour all around the island by a wonderful new friend Barry Christian who traces his family right back to Pitcairn Island, and Fletcher Christian.

Courage

Friday, October 16, 2015

Visiting Norfolk Island -

There are very few landing spots on Norfolk Island; it is a steep cliffy volcanic island. We stopped as the wind and waves were anticipated to pick up, so we were anchored in wind and waves. The first day we looked longingly at shore, but the landing looked wild! We watched one small boat go in and they appeared to be struggling. There is a little breakwater with a jetty and a crane. Waves were breaking entirely across the opening between the breakwater and the cliff. So as much as we wanted to go ashore, it was windy, rainy, and looked like a treacherous landing.

The boat was about as smooth as being at sea. We were rolling around on the waves. One particularly rogue wave caught Cassidy and my attention as it approached. It hit us at a 45-degree angle to the bow and we couldn't see the horizon otherwise. It lifted us up by the starboard hull, pounded it's entire length of the cabin, then slammed into the port hull relocating our shelves, books, and full container of gasoline from the cockpit into the main salon. Fortunately most of our things were already stowed as if we were at sea, so we were ready for some rough seas, but this wave did more than anything underway.

The next morning, it was still grey and raining, but slightly more calm. We had marching orders from our weather router that we needed to get out of Norfolk by late that morning. I was quite interested in going to shore before our departure. The entry looked possible, so we launched the dinghy, geared up in rain clothes and jackets, grabbed a snack, and headed in. A local man met us on the jetty, helped us unload onto the ramp, and then helped us pull the dinghy up the stairs. He offered to drive us around town, show us the local sites, and take us shopping or whatever we needed. We told him we only had $60 US with us, but whatever he was happy to do would be great with us.

He insisted that he had a day off, he was supposed to offload the cargo ship, but due to weather it can't come for another day or two, so he'd love to just be our host. His name was Barry Christian and he is 5th generation descendent of Fletcher Christian, who was involved in the Mutiny on the Bounty at Pitcairn Island. A large group of those involved in the Mutiny came to Norfolk Island from Pitcairn. They have an annual celebration on the island of the arrival of the group from Pitcairn, where they dress in traditional dress and re-enact the arrival. There is also a large stage with a Bounty ship and even a pool that they row over to "Tahiti" in. This play is for tourists every Tuesday and he played Fletcher Christian for 10 years in it.

There is a small medical clinic with 3 doctors, but any specialty care has to go to mainland Australia. At the airport was a twin-engine airplane. Apparently someone flew in with a license for only a single engine craft, no flight plan and it was filled with drugs going from New Zealand to Fiji. Maybe he thought a small town would work with him on this?? There was also a "ghost ship" that he showed us. They saw it offshore drifting, no motor and no sails, so went to see if everything was all right onboard. It was covered in barnacles and no one was onboard. Apparently someone in New Zealand owned it. He had reportedly scuttled the boat and possibly collected the insurance money on it over a year ago. They contacted him a few months prior and he said he'd come for it, but he hasn't. It was nice of them to try to contact him, but by salvage rights, it's their boat. If he's not interested, the locals should fix it up and have their own boat!

He explained to us that their local legislature had lined their own pockets and the government was broke. They had failed to do the "remediation" requested by Australia, so Australia was going to take over governing them.

They have 52 cruise ships per year that pass the island, but only 3 were able to stop this year due to the landing. The Australian government is going to help invest in building a breakwater and better landing for cruise ships to help the local economy sustain itself. At the market we saw the layout of the 3-year re-investment plan. With a population of 1800, when a cruise ship lands another 1800 people per day on that island, it'll be bustling for sure! But they have about 30,000 tourists, which come by air annually, so tourism is their main industry. They also export seeds of the indigenous Norfolk pine (a beautiful, tall pine tree that takes up to 200 years to grow). He said the main export is to Belgium. I thought that strange, but whatever works for everyone. They were beautiful trees, but it seems like Belgium would have a closer source for pines.

He also said that they are the biggest seller of Legos in the southern hemisphere. A ship brings them, and then a woman there who started the industry sorts them and mails them out through mail order. Because it goes through Norfolk, it's duty free apparently. Strange how we've set up the world that by shipping things to some remote place, then back out of that remote place, it becomes cheaper. . . But good for that woman I suppose. She's found her niche!

We had a wonderful day! What a great way to get some fresh air, solid ground, and learn so much about a local town!! Barry used to give tours for one of the companies in town, so was quite knowledgeable in all areas, their history as a penal colony, the immigration of the Bounty survivors, current and local economics and government, sea and air rescue (which he takes part in and told us some stories), etc. They celebrate Thanksgiving on this island because about half of the crew on the Bounty were American whalers I think he said. So still to this day, they celebrate American Thanksgiving.

We are fortunate to have made a friend in Norfolk! Could not imagine better hospitality and a better way to spend just one day getting to know a place and stretch our legs and revitalize for our second stretch of the passage. Thank you Barry for an excellent day!! If we can make our way back, we'd very much like to. And if you're crossing from New Caledonia to New Zealand, it's a recommended stop if weather allows!

Shannon

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Stopover, Norfolk Island -

Perfectly placed half way from New Caledonia and New Zealand is Norfolk Island. It's a gorgeous, cliff island about 35 square kilometers with a population about 1,800 (it's in my encyclopedia). It is home of the Norfolk pine, mostly a tourism industry.

We've had a good passage thus far. We left when it was windy and wavy in order for a more smooth approach to New Zealand. We sailed nicely for almost 2 days (bumpy for the first 36 hours). We had to aim farther west than our goal due to the winds, we kept it at 30 degrees to our port side, and we can't aim any higher into the wind. We did great, as we entered into the high and light winds, we turned and motored to Norfolk. We are now nicely sheltered when the winds blow up to 35 knots in the next day or two, then we are lined up for a nice approach to New Zealand when the winds come around. In the meanwhile, we can explore this beautiful mountainous island, which is described as a culture of neighborliness, self-help and bartering. I find that to be a GREAT description, one that I would be proud of. We can also claim to have sailed to Australia, as it is an Australian territory.

There are grey clouds looming on the horizon, so we may get some rain and squalls over the next few days as we sit between weather systems. That would be great to wash the salt off our rigging, solar panels, and hatches. We definitely took on a few (or more) big waves along the way. Had a great pizza dinner, everyone is filled up and ready for a great night sleep before going to shore to check in and check it out!!! Happy for the stop, glad someone thought to put an island just midway on our journey!

Shannon

Norfolk Island -

We are safely nestled in cozy Sydney Bay. The water is a luscious green that is super clear. I can make out pebbles on the bottom in the 25 feet of water we are anchored in.  We had a good sail with a triple reefed main, and have found this to work very well for us.  
No need for late night reefing!

The first day and a half was quite rough with three different wave directions keeping the boat in constant motion. I am not really sure how the mono-hull sailors do it. We even had some books fall off the shelf!

The plan is to enjoy this beautiful island until a perfect window opens to jump for New Zealand.

Everybody is doing great and we even spotted a sandy beach! What else could you want?

Courage

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Off to the Land of the Kiwi



Waited for the wind to come off our nose, now we're headed out for hopefully a relatively short and uneventful passage to New Zealand!!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Ready to Set Sail for NZ -

It has been a full day of fueling the boat, loading the motorcycle, tidying the cabin, strapping down the decks, reefing the sails, cleaning the bottom, last minute kitesurfing, and (for me, personally) baking. Alas, the final tray of the oatmeal cookies are out and the carrot cake has been frosted, as for everything else, I assume it has been handled accordingly. Here is to a pleasant passage to New Zealand! See some of you  in a couple of weeks!

Cassidy

Friday, October 9, 2015

New Zealand Here We Come!

Hello Everyone!

The weather is perfect for a run to New Zealand, so we are going to jump on Sunday as long as nothing big changes.

Noumea has been a fantastic adventure for us, we were even kiteboarding yesterday! But all great things must come to an end!

We will try to keep an eye on our tracker, and make sure it keeps updating.

Now comes the time for bets, it is 845 miles to Opua where we land, how many days will it take us. I would predict that we will actually go about 1000 miles. Typical crossing times are between 7 to 10 days. So I am guessing it is going to take 7 days 13 hours and 12 minutes. Cassidy is at 10 days. And Shannon is at 9 days. 
Any other bets?

Courage

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Kite Surfing -

Cassidy and courage got to try kite surfing yesterday. Had a blast!! We are going to run back to mainland for fuel, immigration check out, and final preparation for passage to New Zealand. Weather window may be as early as Sunday. Of course they are hoping to return to this island for another afternoon of kite surfing before we go. . .