Day 421, Year 1: Final Log from the Voyage of Windbird, Year One

Day 421, Year 1: Final Log from the Voyage of Windbird, Year One
Date: Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Weather: Very Windy and Much Cooler (evening temp 57 degrees F)
Location: Whangarei, New Zealand

We are almost ready to leave Windbird and return home to visit for the next two months. The stainless is all polished, the last coat of varnish in on the cockpit cap rail, all of the souvenirs and memorabilia from the past year are packed and ready to go, our new bicycle wheels arrived from Dahon and we picked up our bikes in town this afternoon and rode them home, and the parts arrived today for our Monitor Wind Vane. At 9:45 tomorrow morning, we will leave here with Roger from the sailing vessel Wings and Strings. He is flying out of Auckland for Florida tomorrow, so he offered us a ride. So off we will go.

It is almost impossible for us to believe that we have sailed from Boston to New Zealand during that past 420 days, but we have an odometer that tells us that we have come over 13,000 miles since October 18, 2005. We have used these logs to keep in touch with friends and family, and along the way we have met new people who have emailed us through the website. People we have never met have become friends. We were contacted a few times by people who were trying to get in touch with other cruisers and we were able to make those connections. Then there was . . .

Bill Schnurr, physician and former physical therapist. Bill was from Michigan but is now off on his own sailing adventure with his wife Julie in S/V Compania. When I broke my leg, Bill sent suggestions and was so very helpful.

Kathleen Molinaro from Florida. Kathleen’s boyfriend, John Huber, was crewing on S/V Endangered Species. Kathleen found our website and kept tract of John’s progress by reading our logs.

People like Judi Stuart from New Hampshire and Tillerman from New Jersey I believe. Judi wrote to us often and we are planning to have lunch with her in mid-January and to finally meet face to face.

New Hampshire Public Radio friends-Doreen Kilby, Scott McPhearson, and Beth Szelog were the “regulars”.

Concord School District friends-Sue Robichaud, Tom and Detta Porat, Barb Thomas and Lucille Watt from CHS, and the ever faithful Linda Stuart.

Various public radio station managers-Wayne Roth, Dan Campbell, Dave Spizale, Richard Eisworth, and Tim Eby who succeeded Mark as Chair of the NPR Board.

And the list goes on and on. My sister Patsy, my daughter Heather, and my sister-in-law, Sue Cook, were my almost daily email contacts. And none of this communication would have been possible without my son Justin’s constant vigilance over the website he created for us.

There’s no way to mention all of the people here who contacted us through the website, but if you did, please know that we truly appreciated each and every email. It was great fun to share our fantastic journey with you.

Over the Christmas holidays, my son Justin and I will add a new home page to this website organizing the past year’s logs by location. I will continue to post logs from time to time sharing our adventures back home and our land travels here in New Zealand. Mark also hopes to post a few Captain’s Ramblings while we are home that will summarize some of the “technical” highlights from the past year. We have learned SO much and we want to find a way to share that with future cruisers. In late March we will return to Whangarei and begin preparations for Year Two. At that point, I will begin writing daily logs once again. Until then, happy holidays to all and thank you so much for being a part of Windbird’s Voyage.

061213 Day 421 New Zealand–Whangarei to Auckland

Day 420, Year 1: Getter Closer

Day 420, Year 1: Getter Closer
Date: Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Weather: Warm and Sunny
Location: Whangarei, New Zealand

We are getting closer to being ready to leave here. I have over half of the stainless polished and have the cockpit cap rail sanded and ready for it’s last coat of varnish. Mark still has a couple of sewing tasks to do and the rigger will be here in the morning to work on the staysail furler. The replacement of the lower stays will happen while we are gone. Our bags are mostly packed, but then there are a number of small tasks that must be done tomorrow. Our Dahon bicycles wheels came in today and the bike shop will have them ready for pick up tomorrow afternoon. That will require a trip into town in the late afternoon. We are hoping that our Monitor wind vane parts will arrive tomorrow evening as expected and that we will have those on Thursday morning before we leave here. We have to clean out the refrigerator and freezer and shut those down for the period that we will be gone, and we need to do laundry. By this time tomorrow night, we should be ready to go and I will be writing my last log from the first year of the voyage of Windbird.

This evening we walked into town for the cruiser happy hour at Reva’s on the Town Dock. We saw Roger of Hanoah on the way and stopped to talk with him for a bit. He has found a job here and Judy is hoping that her nursing credentials will be arriving soon and that she will get a job as well. We got to Reva’s and immediately saw Pam of Starship. She invited us to sit with her and Scott and we did. Tom and Lillie who own International Yacht Services and Rigging are working on Pam and Scott’s boat and they came to join us. Tom and Lillie had a charter service in the South Pacific before coming to New Zealand and Tom was a wealth of information on places we should visit next year. Peter and Katie of Fire Moose from England also joined our table. They came into Riverside Drive Marina yesterday, but we had not met them until this evening. The cruising faces here are changing. New people are coming in while old friends have gone home. It will be exciting to return in February and see everyone again.

We are still working on transportation for our land explorations in late February and March, but we should have that taken care of by the end of the day tomorrow. So as busy as it is, it looks like we will be all ready to leave here on Thursday morning. Roger of Wings and Strings is driving to Auckland and has offered us a ride. He is flying home to Florida and his flight leaves a couple of hours before ours. He wants to leave at 9 am, however, so we can have lunch with a friend of his in Auckland who will then drive us all to the airport. Roger will leave his car at his friend’s marina as you wouldn’t want to pay airport parking fees for a couple of months.

So this is it. Two more days in New Zealand and then it is back to New England. We sure look forward to seeing friends and family, but we are not at all sure how we will adapt to the cold weather. But adapt we will, as we have no choice!

061212 Day 420 New Zealand–Riverside Drive Marina Memories

Day 419, Year 1: All Work and No Play

Day 419, Year 1: All Work and No Play
Date: Monday, December 11, 2006
Weather: Sunny and Still a Little Breezy
Location: Whangarei, New Zealand

We put in a full twelve hour day today and we still have miles to go. I spent my entire day polishing stainless (an endless job on a boat) and sanding and varnishing (another endless job). Mark spent his early morning with the sail maker putting our sails back up. Next he went up the mast to install the new lazy jacks, and then he got out the sewing machine and started on the many projects on his list. He made a cover for the new grill Mary Ellen and Lee brought to us in Tahiti (seems like just yesterday) and made a sun cover for the dinghy which will stay on deck while we are gone.

Mid-day we talked to Alan and Helaine Kanesgberg from Concord via Skype. We are trying to make reservations for whatever vehicle we will use for exploring New Zealand with them. It looks like we are going to rent a van and stay in cabins and motels instead of renting the campervan, so right now Mark is online on another computer trying to make those reservations. We are excited to get together with Alan and Helaine and start our trip planning while we are home.

During the morning, Pam and Scott , the legally blind couple I wrote about in last night’s log, moved their boat Starship to the slip just one down from us. All available hands on the dock gathered to ensure they had a safe landing in the new slip. I took pictures as it was a real demonstration of how cruisers just pitch in to help one another. Tonight Starship is twinkling with little blue Christmas lights. There is not much else here to remind us that Christmas is only two weeks away, but Pam and Scott have brought the Christmas spirit to Riverside Drive Marina.

061211 Day 419 New Zealand–Docking Starship

Day 418, Year 1: Four More Days in New Zealand

Day 418, Year 1: Four More Days in New Zealand
Date: Sunday, December 10, 2006
Weather: Sunny, Windy, and Cool
Location: Whangarei, New Zealand

We have only four more days here before we head home to the US, so there was no rest on this Sunday. This morning we met with Fiona, the woman who will be making covers for our v-berth cushions. She is also going to make new fitted sheets for our strangely shaped aft-cabin bed. We went to her boat, what we would call a trawler but is called a launch here in New Zealand, and made a final decision on v-berth cushion material. We then went shopping for the sheets she will cut and shape to fit our bed. I guess I have never really paid attention to thread count before, but we found a good deal on 600 thread count Egyptian Cotton sheets that feel like satin. Mark delivered those to Fiona, so she is now all set to do the sewing while we are gone. We didn’t have to return the rental car until 2:30, so we took advantage by doing a little grocery shopping as well.

Once we got back to Windbird, I made an Artichoke Rice salad to take to the Sunday barbeque and then it was time for me to get serious about sanding and varnishing the cap rail around the cockpit. It gets a lot of abuse as we use it as a stepping platform for getting into the cockpit, so the varnish wears quickly. I got it sanded and applied one coat of varnish. I’ll go another tomorrow and another on Tuesday. That should protect it until we return in February. Mark worked on the aft head replacing some parts so things will work more smoothly. And before we knew it, it was time to go to the Sunday evening marina barbeque.

What fun we had this evening. First, the Artichoke Rice Salad I made was quite a hit. Linda Stuart sent this recipe to me a couple of weeks ago, but this was first chance to try. Thanks, Linda. We talked with Jenifer and Campbell of Camdeboo and Yvonne and Bill of Windsong. We have really enjoyed getting to know both couples. And then we met Scott and Pam. They are from the US and both are legally blind. Pam has slightly more sight than Scott, but the fact that they are attempting to circumnavigate is just incredible. They do use lots of technology and their story of crossing to the Marquesas from Mexico with no engine is quite exciting. They started out from California in 2004 and lost their internal engine water pump somewhere in Mexico. There was no way to repair it, so they crossed to the Marquesas with no engine. They spent five or six days becalmed on the Equator, but finally got enough wind to continue. Once they reached the Marquesas, they got an external water pump installed, but this only allowed them to run the engine for five minutes at a time. So they made it all the way to New Zealand with virtually no engine. They are truly an amazing couple. Pam is from Southwest Harbor in Maine but I am not sure where Scott is from. They are spending their second season here at Riverside Drive Marina, but this year they are on a different boat. They had to sell their Valiant since repairing the engine seemed insurmountable and they now have a boat they bought here. It was just put in the water yesterday and their slip is just one away from ours. They tell their incredible story on their I have not had a chance to check it out, but I’m very anxious to do so. In addition they were interviewed by NPR while they were home recently and the story about them should be airing sometime this week.

Tomorrow we will continue to work away on the items on our two page TO DO list. We’re getting there, but there is always more to do. That’s the way with sailboats.

Day 417, Year 1: Day Trip to Auckland

Day 417, Year 1: Day Trip to Auckland
Date: Saturday, December 9, 2006
Weather: Sunny, Rainy, Sunny, Rainy, Cool
Location: Whangarei, New Zealand

We got up early this morning and headed for Auckland. We had rented a car yesterday and decided to take advantage of it to go to Auckland to inquire about campervan rentals for our NZ tour in March. And we are SO glad we did. We have been researching on the internet, but this is one case where seeing the product and talking to someone who knows all of the ins and outs of island travel was really helpful.

It takes about two hours and fifteen minutes to drive from Whangarei to Auckland. About half way there I said to Mark that I felt like I was in Scotland. The rolling hills go on forever and are so very, very green. There are vineyards and sheep and cows everywhere and from time to time you get glimpses of the ocean. Although I have never been to Scotland, the drive fit my image of that country. When we returned, I decided to do some laundry. While in the laundry room waiting for the clothes to dry, a woman named Liz came in. She is from Scotland and her husband, Hans, is from Switzerland. She was telling me about their recent tours of the North Island and she mentioned that she is as much at home here as in Scotland. She confirmed my image.

When we reached Auckland today it was pouring rain. That might have tainted our image of the city, but somehow we were not as impressed with Auckland as others. It is a clean city, but it didn’t seem to have “character”. I’ll have to visit on a sunny day and see if I have a different impression. We drove south to the airport to check out the campervans. The airport is about forty-five minutes south of the city and by the time we got there, the rain had slacked off. We were very lucky to get a most helpful young man and he gave us the short course in Campervan 101. He was unbelievably helpful and really knew his stuff. And for that, we are very grateful.

When we had come in to the campervan lot we saw a sign for Villa Maria Vineyards. This is one of our favorite wines, even though we aren’t big wine fans, so we decided to check it out. The vineyards are in a volcanic crater on the edge of an industrial park. It doesn’t sound like the perfect setting, but it really is beautiful. We were given a tour of the processing plant and I was most impressed that there are 180,000 bottles worth of wine in just one the tanks . . . and there are hundreds of tanks. So much wine!

Having accomplished our campervan mission and having the added attraction of visiting the Villa Maria Vineyards, we decided it was time to find our way back to Whangarei. It was a great day with beautifully scenery and we were able to get the information we needed and still had time to visit a vineyard. Perfect day.

061209 Day 417 New Zealand–Tour of Villa Maria Vineyard


Days 415 and 416, Year 1: Doug and Sylvie of Windcastle Visit

Days 415 and 416, Year 1: Doug and Sylvie of Windcastle Visit
Date: Thursday and Friday, December 7 and 8, 2006
Weather: Warm, Sunny Spring Days; Cool, Rainy Weather On The Way
Location: Whangarei, New Zealand

Yesterday we completed the cleaning and drying of sails that are stored under the v-berth, polished more stainless on the boat, and got ready for Doug and Sylvie of Windcastle to arrive. They got here around 1:30 pm and we spent the remainder of the day exploring Whangarei together. We had dinner in town and got back to Windbird in the evening. We stopped at the New World supermarket on the way home and bought vanilla bean ice cream, fresh strawberries, and Belgian chocolate dessert sauce. We fixed these incredibly delicious ice cream sundaes when we got home and then decided to watch a DVD. As a bon voyage gift, our daughter Heather had given us a new copy of Fiddler on the Roof, one of our very favorite movies of all time, so we watched that one last night. Or at least we attempted to watch it. We got half way through and it was 11:30. That’s later than any of had stayed up in ages, so we decided to stop there and go to bed. I didn’t get a chance to write my daily log, so I am combining yesterday and today’s log in one.

We started this morning with a big breakfast and then Doug and Sylvie took us over to Town Basin to see George and Barbara of Gdansk. They arrived in Whangarei last night, so Doug and Sylvie wanted to see them before heading to Auckland. We found them on the town dock and we all said our farewells. We have become close friends with Doug and Sylvie and we will miss them. Doug will return to New Zealand in February, but Sylvie is not sure when she will be returning. George and Barbara have decided to stay here through most of January and then they will return home to British Columbia and then on to Poland to visit with family. At this point, they don’t think they will return until next September or October. We will see them here before we leave, but after that we are not sure when we will see them again. After the farewells, Mark and I walked into town to the Plastic Box Store. We have been measuring spaces where we need plastic box storage and we bought those today. On the way home, Mark stopped by a boat in Town Basin to get a quote on making new cushions for our v-berth. A woman named Fiona on the boat Waimarie was recommended to us and after this initial contact, she came to Windbird this afternoon to measure and give us an estimate. Fiona didn’t have an exact match for the Ultrasuede covering that we have in the main cabin, but she and I are both going to look around town this weekend and see what we can find. While Fiona and I were discussing upholstery, Mark decided to rent a car for this afternoon and tomorrow to do some necessary shopping for our trip home and for running around to check on prices of rental vans and camper vans for our tour of the South Island in March. He got the car, and we did the shopping this afternoon. In the process, we think we found a match for the v-berth cushions. We’ll run that by Fiona tomorrow morning and then go on to do the rental pricing.

Cool and rainy weather has been forecast for the weekend and it began today. The weather change started with howling winds and this evening it has started raining. If it rains tomorrow, that won’t keep us from doing our running around in the rental car, and if it continues to rain on Sunday, we will use the time to do some sewing projects that have been on hold waiting for a rainy day.

Just before we left the boat this afternoon, Mark was up in the cockpit checking email. While he was online, he got a Skype phone call from our daughter Heather. She and Jed are having a holiday party this weekend and she needed our family recipe for Spinach Balls. Sometime before we left Boston, she had called wanting that recipe so I had typed it up and sent it to her via email. This evening when she looked for the recipe, it was nowhere to be found and she was bummed because she was sure she wouldn’t be able to reach me half a world away. But she turned on the computer, just in case we might be online, and there we were. I was able to send the recipe to her via email and she received it while we were still talking. Certain recipes are a holiday tradition in our family, and Spinach Balls is one of those. “Tradition . . . Tradition . . . without tradition our lives would be as shaky as a Fiddler on the Roof.”