OUR EXCITING LIFE!!!!!!
1 January - 25 June 2010
Written July 2010 – Tonga
Those of you who have been reading Migrations for several years know that we’ve been lucky enough to have some great adventures: Exploring Easter Island, diving with sharks, climbing volcanoes…
But all that seems long ago. This sailing path we've chosen has, in the last six months, presented us with exploits so stimulating, electrifying, and thrilling, that if you read on, you will long for the life we lead with such passion you'll find yourself rushing to the closest yacht broker.
The excitement awaits.
You have been warned.
A few days after returning from our trip to the US, we were on the hard. Kevin, the foreman in charge of hauling and launching at Norsand Boatyard, took great care with Migration. We spent four and a half weeks living on Migration in the yard. Working every day. An occasional potluck with the other cruisers in the yard (mostly French) provided some entertainment. But usually it was work all day followed by a very thorough scrubbing in the shower.
As haulouts go, this one wasn't that bad. We were only out about five days longer than we anticipated and, most importantly, there were no big surprises.
LIFE WITH KIWIS
When we arrived in New Zealand, we both felt a little disappointed as it didn't seem very much like a foreign country. As time went on, we talked to friends who'd immigrated there, became friends with many Kiwis, and learned a bit more about the country. Though it seems that New Zealand wants to follow the USA's economic example (who knows why?), it is a different culture. We still haven't identified exactly what makes a Kiwi a Kiwi -- except that most of them are very nice -- but we did find some interesting cultural nuances.
THE EXCITEMENT OF GETTING NAKED!!!
The next big project was to pull the masts. They hadn't been out of the boat since 1995, and it was time to replace the rigging as well.
We had planned on adding some hardware, replacing the rigging and making a few repairs. But once the masts were in the yard, it just made sense to repaint. So we stripped off the hardware and got to work. We have very few pictures of the process because we were very busy. And you would probably find it boring anyway (like all those photos of us working in the boatyard are so riveting...). It was weeks and weeks of hard... er, exciting, work!
THE REAL FUN: TRAVELS WITH MY MOM
Lucky for us, my Mom has always wanted to visit New Zealand. What better excuse for her than that we were there? And what better excuse for us to put away the tools for a while.
You’d never know Mom was retired given how busy her schedule is; she only had two weeks in April. How could we see everything in two weeks? We couldn’t. But we gave it a pretty good shot.
Unfortunately, Mom broke her foot a few weeks before her trip. She arrived wearing a big lumbering walking boot. But she's a trooper. We met her at the Auckland airport and immediately boarded a plane to Christchurch on the South Island. Then, after renting a car, driving to our hotel (getting lost just a little), and settling in, we visited the botanical gardens and went out to dinner! All this after her 12 hour flight from LA. Like I said, she's a trooper.
After our whirlwind tour of the South Island, we flew across Cook Strait to Wellington at the south end of the North Island. What a great city!
We drove north from Wellington stopping in Palmerston North to visit Alene's friend, Kay. Then onward to see the sites of Rotorua. One of the joys of the trip was spending so much time with Mom. We had a lot of driving to do, but the scenery was grand, we read aloud from our travel guides, sang songs, and reminisced. It was a very nice time.
MORE POISONOUS FUMES! THE EXCITEMENT CONTINUES!!!!
Howver, these fumes weren't from bubbling volcanic pools.
Back onboard Migration, we were astonished to see how many items were still on our task list. We rented a little room at a boatyard so we could complete several substantial varnishing, painting, and epoxy jobs. It was all a bit toxic but we wore our masks and gloves. Alene was in charge, as always, of the fine brush work.
While the paint and varnish dried, we had scores of other projects to complete. Stainless fabrication (thanks, Trev!), and a half dozen carpentry projects. We hired Kurt, a local sailor and carpenter to help us out. He's very skilled and a really nice guy. We got a lot done.
IT WASN'T ALL WORK...
Besides the trip with Mom, we occasionally left the boatwork behind. We had to take our liferaft to Auckland for servicing so we made a bit of a weekend adventure of it. We stayed with Mike and Sarah of s/v Yehudi whom I first met in Mexico in 2000.
Another another month of solid work, we finally finished most of our projects -- or transferred them to next year's list. It was getting cold and rainy and we were now sleeping under a down comforter. Time to head to the tropics. But the boat was a disaster with tools, parts, dust, and clutter everywhere. We learned long ago that the best way to get the boat clean is to have a party. That always gets us in cleaning mode.
BIRTHDAYS ARE EXCITING!
Though we wanted to leave, the weather wasn't cooperating. It was clear we weren't going to be in the tropics by Alene's birthday on the 10th of June. In fact, we weren't even going to be at sea; we'd still be in chilly NZ. So I made some hurried plans for a day of surprises. You'll have to read the following ADR Says to see what happened.
TO THE WARM
Finally a weather window opened and we headed down river to the sea. At Marsden Cove we checked out with Immigration and Customs, then pointed Migration's bow to the northeast.
For three days and nights we bundled up in our long underwear, fleece, and foulies. The south wind was strong and cold. It was wet and we were thankful for the new pilothouse seat that was one of our completed projects; we could both sit comfortably out of the weather. Unfortunately, all those months moored in a flat-calm river had had their effect: we'd both lost our sea legs. It was a rough couple of days.
Not even halfway to Tonga, the forecast predicted a northeast gale. Luckily, we were close to the Kermadecs -- a small island group that belongs to New Zealand. We were able to arrive before the contrary winds hit.
We anchored behind tiny Raoul Island. The wind gusted over the hilltops at 35 knots and more. But we were secure, and grateful to be sheltered from the seas. Raoul Island is a nature reserve and you are not allowed to land without a permit which must be applied for in New Zealand. Only 8 people live on the island, spending their time eliminating invasive species and sending up weather balloons. We spoke with them on the radio but could not visit.
After four days, the winds died down and we continued on our way. We motored for 40 hours before the wind returned and then had fine sailing the last two days into Tonga.
Of course, all those exclamation points in the above section headings are facetious. But the truth is, most of those months working on Migration in New Zealand weren't all that bad. There were days, of course. But there are always days no matter what you do or where you are. Life is life. Caring for our home, which we rely on to protect our lives at sea, is really a joy -- after we are finished scrubbing the fiberglass, sawdust and paint splatter out of our skin.
And, like our other adventures, that one is now behind us. New islands are ahead. We have five months before the onset of the cyclone season drives us back to New Zealand. For now, we are in the warm tropics with crystal clear water beneath the hull and insanely-colored fish swimming on the reef a few boat-lengths away. The task list exists but it is hidden under a pile of magazines. Life slows down out here. Some might even say it's not as exciting as life in New Zealand.
And that's just fine with us.
This site was last updated 01/31/12