Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bay of Islands to Whangarei

 Our last night in the Bay of Islands was spent in the lea of a small island huddled down out of the wind. What a peacefulWe, mellow night it turned out to be. A great way to start the trip down to Whangarei.
 This rock formation can be found at the very tip of Cape Brett which we had to go around before heading  south towards Whangarei. We set sail and began our beautiful journey down the east coast.
 While we were beating up wind this classic boat was smoothly reaching down wind with its two man crew who yelled "Merry Christmas" to us as they passed by. These Kiwis are a friendly bunch for sure.
 A gorgeolus bay welcomed us to the entrance of Whangarie Harbour and here we dropped anchor.
 The warm sunshine, blue skies, and velvet green hills beckoned to us; we just had to do a hike and embrace this beautiful day on the land, before heading to the town full of people and cars.

 Sidewinder patiently waited as we strolled this incredible ranch land for a few hours. What a treat!
 Smugglers Cove reminded us of our beloved 9th Street Beach on a clear sunny morning. It was stunning.
The crimson flowers of the majestic pohutukawa trees "herald the arrival of Christmas" on the north island and they are everywhere in this area. They remind us of the beautiful old oak trees on the ranch and it was great to walk among so many of them on this hike. We returned to Sidewinder refreshed and ready for the cruise up the estuary to our new location, Whangarei .  Christmas will be wonderful here. Enjoy !!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Made it to Whangarei

We had a great sail down the coast from the Bay of Islands to the
entrance to Whangarei Harbor with blue skies and sunshine all the way
down. What a treat that was!!!! After having sailed the s/v Vera,
Sidewinder was a dream to sail; she is so smooth and balanced. YAY!
We arrived around 7PM and as we turned the corner to head into the
well marked channel, huge majestic rock formations nestled among
brilliant green hills and magical red-blossom Paroukawa trees
beckoned us to anchor in a beautiful bay to our starboard side, along
with quite a few other boats. We had no idea it would be so awesome.
The early evening light was spectacular as the sun went down and, once
again, we enjoyed a quiet, peaceful night. 

This morning we took Worm into shore and did a great hike around the point; it was so much like
the ranch during springtime and then like looking down on 9th Street
Beach on a wonderful glassy morning with clear blue-green water
washing over rocks and kelpbeds. What a special time we had and it
even inspired us to dive into the water when we got back to
Sidewinder. Finally we have had a glimpse of the specialness of summer
in New Zealand, but by noon, the wind was up and the clouds were
moving in on us. We headed up the river to Whangarei and are now tied
up to the guest dock for the night; tomorrow we move to a pile
mooring, a very inexpensive way to stay here. We spent the late
afternoon and evening with Steve and Darusha (Scream) and look forward
to spending a few more days with them before they leave for Christmas
with family in Auckland. Brandy and Mark are bringing our car down to
Whangarei on Saturday and I will be busy getting my stuff ready to
come home. Seems like the time is flying and I certainly hope to slow
it down a bit, so I can relish each moment with a focused relaxed
state of being.
May the warm love and spirit of Christmas open your hearts, minds,
and souls to the sweet joy life can bring to all and may we all
strive, with compassion, to bring peace and kindness to all living
creatures on this precious planet.  Love to all and thank you for
being part of our lives!  Merry Christmas!       Suzi and David

Monday, December 19, 2011

An I-Phone Glimpse of Our Nelson Trip

 Intense concentration on the helm helped us beat the huge storm. Bronwyn's first blue-water trip on a monohaul made her appreciate her cat even more!
 We had amazing fun even during the worst of the weather; warm friendships were established and before we knew it........we were gliding across Cook Straight and sliding into the Tasman Bay with sunshine warming our souls.

 Although it was a challenge, David tried his best to enjoy his precious time on the helm, but he was quite ready to finish this trip. Luckily watches were short!
 Skipper Nick is a delightful, good-spirited person and he spent lots of time and energy trying to be sure we were all okay. He made the delivery a success - of course, we certainly did our part to help!

 As we left the Bay of Islands we enjoyed the sunshine and nice weather, along with a few dolphins who ushered us out.  After a few intense, windy days with lots of clouds, we again were blessed with a warm, glassy last day with lots of albatross gracefully gliding across the blue water, along with pods of dolphins who welcomed us and stayed with us, propelling themselves effortlessly in our bow wake.  We saw penguins, seals, and even a huge humpback whale close by. What a great reward for all our time and effort, as we approached the South Island of New Zealand. We arrived in Nelson harbor at dusk with smiles on our tired faces and a definite sense of relief and well-being. It was a good trip!

 Three exotic Bengal cats entertained us continually at Bronwyn and Nick's home. Even David thought these cats were awesome! Wish our pictures had survived. Thanks to Bronwyn, who just sent these, at least we have these images to share with all the fond memories we will cherish forever.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rainy NZ

Our trip back to Opua was fine on the bus, but it was pouring rain the entire time, and it looks like we were lucky to get out of Nelson when we could; theairport was closed down shortly after we left on Thursday. I spent yesterday with Brandy in Kerkeri shopping a little for Christmas and for our trip down to Whangarei, and today we are doing the last chores before leaving tomorrow. We plan to move Sidewinder tomorrow, out to an anchorage near the entrance to the Bay of Islands, and then head around Pt Brett and Whangarei, about 70 miles down the east coast on Tuesday. The weather has been very unstable and we just hope we can make it down there before stronger winds and rains come again. We tried to download (or is it upload?) the precious pictures we took of our trip on Vera and our time in Nelson and somehow found no pictures. BUMMER !!! David put the camera in his check-in bag for the first time ever, but they have no machines or security procedures on the domestic flights, so we are completely miffed. When we spoke to Billy this morning, he suggested that we save the memory card and try to have a photo shop see what they might be able to do. Looks like the blog entry will have to stand by itself and that, too, is a bummer. Again.......oh well!   I am ordering a new fold-up kayak for my Christmas present and am having it sent to your address. I hope that is okay with you. I will have to pay for the extra baggage, but that is the least expensive way I could get it here. It folds up into a 35 lb bag so I am hoping it will be fairly convenient to take with me on the plane. It will be very fun to have it in Fiji and it can be a one or two person kayak. Sounds pretty cool, eh?!!!!  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hanging out in Nelson

What a fabulous vacation we are having here in Nelson in spite of the
pouring rain today. Our other crew-member coming down the west coast with us was Bronwyn Hamilton, a beautiful, spunky, up-beat, high energy woman.  We managed to laugh and have a great time during our interesting journey, no matter how much we rolled back and fourth, trying to keep Vera on a straight compass course while being pushed by wind and unsettled seas. With friendly persuasion, along with an exhausted state of being on Sunday night when we arrived, we were met at the dock by Nick, Bronwyn's husband, whisked into the car, and driven up Dodson Valley over-looking the bay we had just come through. Their lovely house is nestled on a hillside, with views from each room and a hot-tub on the deck. We were also met by three incredible exotic cats, Bengal cats, inside, and a room with a view awaited us.  WOW!   Needless to say, we are still here!  Bronwyn and Nick have been so gracious and we feel so very fortunate. Skipper Nick also offered to let us stay on Vera, but, as you can imagine, given the choice, we are still at the heavenly Hamilton House.
     Our first full day was jam-packed with activity. We met Nick in the morning, with his little 5 yr old son,Will, drove around town with them, did a few errands, had lunch, and drove up to his little house on another hill over-looking the bay. Jennifer, his wife, met us with a smile and we had a great visit with her, while planning our next few days. We picked up Nick's van and he drove us over to a beautiful park where we took a short hike up to the Center of New Zealand; it was a wonderful way to get a sense of the city and surrounding land, as well as finally stretching our legs. We drove Nick back to his house and have had the van for transportation since then. That evening, David and I had a fabulous dinner with Adrian and Helen (with s/v Mandala), who also have a beautiful old house up on the hill, over-looking the bay, near where Nick lives. With a colorful garden filled with amazing Buddhas and Bodhisatvas from their travels to India and Indonesia, and exotic gems inside as well, I was filled with a sense of wonderful warmth and peace.  We shared lots of cruising stories and thoroughly enjoyed re-connecting with these two lovely people. Hopefully we can connect one more time this afternoon before we leave tomorrow morning.
     In spite of the dreary weather, we have continued to pack our days full of fun. Yesterday, Bronwyn and Nick invited us to go out on Easy Rider, their 35 ft cat which they charter; we had a great time, embracing the flat ride and easy exhilaration!! Last night, Nick, Jenn, and Will came over with yummy Indian food for our Crew Feast, after David, Bronwyn and I soaked in the hot-tub with the gentle misty rain all around. This morning I have been watching Bronwyn work with great precision on her amazing Gammill long-arm quilting machine, and at noon, we are meeting Darrell Boyle, cousin Lauren's hubby, at a restaurant downtown and will hear all about his fly-fishing adventures on the South Island. We are taking Bronwyn and Nick as well, since he is also an avid fly-fisherman. Darrell is flying out today to do a few more days of fishing on the North Island before he returns back home. How cool that we just happened to be in Nelson at the same time!   
     As you can see, this certainly has been a special time and a great reward for our volunteer delivery trip!  We will cherish the friendships we have made and again reflect on how grateful we are as we fly out for Auckland tomorrow morning early and bus our way back to Sidewinder. We have  a few more days left to be in Opua and then we will begin our trip down the East coast to Whangarei for Christmas.
Love to all and hope all is well.   Suzi and David               
PS.Pictures will follow but we will have to wait to get back to our own

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Made it to Nelson

Well we made it to Nelson, arriving around 10:00 last night. It was a long 3 1/2 days but really could've been much worse. Most wind we saw was just under 30 knts and the seas never got over 2 meters. The worse part was having to hand steer the whole damn way!! Nick, our friend from Vuda Point in Fiji whom we were helping out by crewing for him, failed to mention that the auto pilot was on the blink!! Maybe he knew that if he had told us it would've been a deal breaker!!! Six hours each day each of us was at the helm steering to a compass heading which is not that easy with a sailboat that wants to pull out into the wind or gets slapped by waves, sending it off course the other way. It keeps you on your toes and quite tiring to say the least.  But we made it and Suzi will tell you more about it later. See ya, David

Monday, December 5, 2011

Delivery Duty

Yesterday I hiked with Katie into town (Paihia), and it was a great walk, once again, even with a bit of mud to make it interesting. It takes about 2 hours and it is great exercise. We had Brandy and Marc over for hamburgers last night so we could spend some quality time with them before we leave on our delivery trip, cause they may be gone when we return on Dec 15. Hopefully we will rendevous with them again in Whangarei on Christmas, before I come home.  We leave on Thursday morning on s/v Vera, once Buster, helping friend Nick take the boat around the north tip of the North Island, down the west coast to the
South Island, delivering her to Nelson, Nick's homeport. This should only take us 4 days, depending on the weather of course, and sailing into the Marborough Sound should be wonderful (again, good weather
providing a warm experience!) It will be nice to be on a different boat and we look forward to the adventure. Hopefully, with the sun still shining, we will be able to borrow Nick's van and drive over to
Golden Bay, which is supposed to be spectacular, and we missed going there last year. We also hope to visit Helen and Adrian, from s/v Mandala, who also live in Nelson. Nick is flying us back to Auckland
early morning on Dec 15, so we will be spending most of that day busing our way back up here. Sooooo, we will not be in touch with you from Thursday through Sunday. I will email you as soon as we get to
Rick's home in Nelson, letting you know we are safe and sound. I did send a birthday greeting to Paula before she left and she was very excited about going to NY. I will look forward to going out with
the girls when she is home during my stay and celebrating with you; hopefully someone will find something for me to wear!  I am returning with very little clothing and will definitely need to go to my storage shed before settling into Laguna life! Of course, I have no ideas about style any more, but did I ever?! Love, Suzi 

What a beautiful area this is!

 Over-looking the bay where we found a wonderful place to stay the night.
 With our cups of coffee, we walked out onto the wharf and gazed across to the sand-dunes. What a beautiful morning for exploring the coast!
 We took a wonderful walk through the preserved bushland, soaking up the warm sunshine and brilliant scenery.
 What a fantastic place to give thanks for all that we are fortunate to experience
 Down to the beautiful beach and peaceful cove, enjoying the chance to wander in wonder and to capture some of this beauty in photos.

 A classic park maintenance vehicle, ready to do anything needed to be done
 The lovely Waipouri Forest welcomed our visit with open arms; the ancient Kauri trees are magnificent.  What a treat to be surrounded by them!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Roadtrip to the west coast

Land Trip

I tried putting my pictures on the blog yesterday with an update but after an hour of internet time I gave up because only one pictures loaded. I don't know why, but it may be weather oriented or just a weak signal out here. So I am back to telling you about our great little excursion to the west coast and the Waipua Forest.  We left around noon in Paihia and drove to a little Maori town of Kaikohe (meaning that it is a workers' town with nothing touristy about it and the Northland area is mostly where the Maori people have settled) We stopped for lunch and then hit the road for the little historical harbor of Rawene. 
There is a ferry that leaves there to go across to the sand dunes and the northwestern side of the north island; lots of people ride sandboards down the sand-dunes to the water which looks like fun, but we just stopped at the old hotel for a cool drink, talked to a few locals who were playing pool, and continued on our way down the coast, enjoying hokianga nui a kupe, the returning place of Kupe, "the Polynesian navigator, founding father of Maori lore and leaver of legends and landscapes bearing names"  We stopped in Opononi, a tiny seaside resort  known for its famous dolphin who came into the bay, befriended the children and remained in the harbor for a season, playing with the tourists who came from afar to see him, and there we booked a room for the night and found out about the Kauri forest we were about to visit. By that time the sun was out, the sea was sparkling, the green on green hills were magical and the clarity of the coastline was stunning. 
We drove onto the Waipoua Forest and visited the giant old Kauri trees which hold a very strong spirit, much like the giant old Redwoods of N. Calif. We did a few short hikes through the thick,lush forest filled with ferns, fern-trees, and flowers,  as well as those exotic big thousand year old trees. We stayed out there most of the afternoon and were so very happy that we had a place to spend the night. We woke up to the warm sunshine once again, explored a beautiful park out on the bluff of the harbor, stopped at a wonderful little cafe over-looking the fantastic view and didn't leave the area until afternoon. As we traveled back to Paihia for a bit of grocery shopping, we returned to the clouds and the wind, with smiles on our faces and warm memories of the intense natural beauty of this island. It was a great road-trip and we love our $1400 toyota!!!
Today we have lots of rain and are about to go into shore ( the hardest part of being out here on a mooring), take warm showers, and head off with some cruisers we have been playing music with on Friday nights; we are taking the ferry over to Russell to go to a free ukaleli(sp?) orchestra concert in an old hotel. Should be a great way to spend a dreary, rainy Sunday afternoon.