Migrations 14
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1 January - 25 June 2010
New Zealand - Raoul Island, Kermadecs - Kingdom of Tonga

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.

Not too much growth for 3-year old bottom paint.

One of the most important jobs was repairing the
keel which was damaged when I drove Migration
into the reef in Bora Bora (
see Migrations #12).
This is the underwater patch I applied the day
of the accident.

Examining the damage. Not as bad as I thought.
You can see one of the keel bolts exposed in the
deepest part of the gash.

Grind it down, dry it out, and apply lots of epoxy.

After many layers of fiberglass, and lots of fairing... she's stronger than she was before.

The Queen of Painting, Alene touched up
scores of chips and worn spots on the topsides.

Lots of time in small spaces creating a new shaft tube and re-engineering the engine mounts.

Being in the yard is the perfect time to
send in the chain to be galvanized.

Life on the hard is a challenge. Lots of climbing up and down. There are always tools
and parts -- and dust -- everywhere.

Not a bad boatyard, though. Here's our view.

When the bottom paint goes on it means we're getting close to launch date.

A little message in the bottom paint to our friends.

Pulled by the tractor, Migration vacates her
spot after 33 days.

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.



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.

Marketing: Appealing name...

Fashion: Most men wear short shorts
with socks and work boots.

Business Names: perhaps less attention is paid when choosing one?

Kiwis like to hunt. Not only are there at least THREE magazines dedicated to hunting pigs, but
they have titles like, "Bacon Busters" and "More Pork". And a centerfold!



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.

Preparing the mainmast (crane in background).  Up she goes.  And resting safely on the quay.

Migration back on the pilings -- looking naked,
and a bit forlorn.

But with no masts, booms, or rigging, she makes
a great platform for cartwheels.

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 coins and safety pin (for good luck and safety)
that I placed under the mainmast in 1995.


Says ADR: Life in Whangarei


Alene did an awesome job painting the sticks. Afterwards, the hardware goes back on.

New paint, new rigging. Ready to go.

Here comes the mainmast. Lots of silicone goo on the base.

Now she's happy!



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.

The Christchurch Botanical Gardens -- only four
hours after Mom finished her trans-Pacific flight.

Within a day we were on the West Coast
ready to tour the glaciers by helicopter.


    VIDEO: Helicopter Flight Over Glaciers (0:50 - 1.9 MB)


Yes, as you've heard, New Zealand is beautiful.

Of course we had to take this picture.

We were very surprised to find fields and
fields full of sheep!

In Queenstown we had a room with a remarkable view.
That mountain range across the lake is called The Remarkables.

We rode the gondola and the silly-looking -- but really fun -- luge.

Then up in the air again... this time by small plane.

Over the alps and ice flows to Milford Sound.


We toured Milford Sound in the bright sunshine! A rarity.

The flight over the sound and the alps was one of the most spectacular we've ever had.


    VIDEO: Flying Over the Alps - Milford Sound to Queenstown (0:32 - 2.1 MB)


We couldn't let Mom rest so that afternoon
we went jet boating.

This was one of the craziest things we've done. Zooming at 100 kmh (60 mph) within inches
of narrow canyon walls and rock-strewn beaches. Absolutely crazy. But fantastic!


    VIDEO: Jet Boating Through Shotover Canyon (0:42 - 1.7 MB)


We left Queenstown and had a spectacular
drive to Aoraki (Mt. Cook)

We toured a lake with icebergs calved from the Tasman glacier.

New Zealand has some of the
most beautiful museums.

On the way back to the East Coast, we found early Maori rock art... and modern Kiwi fence art.

We visited Victorian Oamaru and spotted yellow-eyed penguins
and blue penguins.
(We saw them on this beach but we don't have photos).

Notice the Penguin Crossing sign on the right.

We stayed in a B&B above a Victorian pub: The Criterion.

Alene didn't get very far on the penny farthing.

Near Christchurch, Atuona made us long to
anchor in the beautiful bay. The town boasts
of its French heritage but we couldn't
find a decent croissant.

We stayed in the Bruce Apartments so I was
forced to take another goofy picture.

Despite the lackluster croissants, it is a
beautiful bay and we were happy travelers.

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!

Wellington's Old Cathedral was a nice surprise;
beautifully built of wood and full of warmth.
We couldn't believe those in charge abandoned this
church to build a modern, ugly structure.

The hills and the bay reminded us of San Francisco.
(Perfect postcard shot, don't you think?)

We had a brief but fun (and delicious) visit
with our friends, the Hewestsons.

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. 

We visited waterfalls, hot springs, boiling mud pools, and breathed noxious gases.
Even Mom clomped along the trail with her broken foot. But she obeyed the signs and didn't
walk into the deadly pools.


    VIDEO: Rotorua Bubbling Mud (0:28 - 0.7 MB)

At night we attended a Maori cultural show.


Says ADR: Rotorua


Then to Auckland, a ride on the ferry and,
before we knew it, Mom was on her plane
back home. Wow... that was a fast, fun trip.

And we didn't forget...



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.

We also emptied the lockers, dried out the boat as
best we could, and got rid of a lot of old stuff.



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.

On the way, we saw... PINK SHEEP!

We went out on the Hauraki Gulf and watched
one of the races of the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Our Viking liferaft needed servicing which allowed us to see
what it was like to be in it. That was interesting. Paying
for the service, wasn't. The service centers really stick it
to you which is a shame. Anyway, this is the ONLY time you
will see us in our liferaft!

In April we had an Easter egg coloring party,
sans masts.

Many Saturdays we went to the farmer's market.
New Zealand has fantastic produce and we were
in heaven. It's exciting to eat broccoli weekly when
you haven't seen it for months and months. Really!

We had the occasional nice sunset... when it wasn't too rainy.
Actually there was a drought this year so it didn't rain all that much.
At least not for New Zealand.

We visited Clapham's Clock Museum which was literally across the road from where
we lived aboard
Migration. This was something we had to do as Alene's father
collects antique clocks and she would never be forgiven if she hadn't sent
a full report.

Five minutes from the boat there was a beautiful
forested trail, past waterfalls and through ravines, to
the hill above town. It only took us five months to
get around to hiking it.

We found some interesting looking mushrooms... and learned not to eat them.

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.

On 30th May we had our Sailing Away Party.
Notice all the fleece -- slightly different attire
than most parties aboard Migration... brrrr.



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.

The birthday girl before the adventure begins.

The day did end with a big surprise.


Says ADR: Birthday!



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.

So long, New Zealand. (Notice the clothing).

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.

Roaul Island of the Kermadecs reminded us of Pitcairn. We were happy
for the shelter it provided.

Baking bread is a good way to pass the time
when waiting for bad weather to pass.

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.

Mid-ocean refueling.

The tropics! You can tell by the change in
Alene's clothing.


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.

Be good.


Another underwater message.

  Where we've been since November 2009
  1,200 nautical miles traveled this period.
  21,449  nautical miles since leaving Long Beach in June 2005.

Approaching tiny Malinoa in Tonga
It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do.
Jerome K. Jerome

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

When work is a pleasure, life is a joy! When work is a duty, life is slavery.
Maksim Gorky



This site was last updated 11/22/17