Radio NZ interviewed us about the creation and upcoming launch of the Cookbook- Appetizers Afloat
Me and Betsy at a local cooking class- Radio NZ used this image of us for their on-line feature
A Cookbook Fundraiser for Local Maritime Scholarships…planted as a seed turned into a full time job for many months: Appetizers Afloat
Finally after months of hard work the cookbooks have arrived. Susan, Betsy & Naylene in the marina office celebrating
The Official Book Launch with Food, Music and Book Signings with the Honorable Mayor of Whangarei- Sheryl Mai

How the cookbook happened and how we all got roped into this project is a funny story as my friend Naylene from the Marina Office said to me one morning “Y’all ought to write a cruisers cookbook!” She had mentioned it to me before so as I left the office I bumped into Betsy and asked her what she thought. Betsy is a keen organizer of all things that need to get done so we set a date at the local cafe to discuss. Immediately we decided the cookbook would be a fundraiser to give back to the Whangarei community that has given us so much during the Covid Pandemic of 2020. Next we organized the yachtie’s to contribute their local expertise as well as recipes. We acquired backing from the Town Basin Marina Trust and hustled up some advertising dollars. We sourced a professional editor/ printing company and finally after months of reviews, edits and collaboration we produced, launched and sold most of the books. All the proceeds have been donated to the Black Ball Yacht Club to provide scholarships to students in the maritime industry.

Haul-Out for a “quick” bottom job at Dockland 5…and 7 weeks later!

What started out as a quick haul-out / bottom job turned into 7 weeks on the hard at Dockland 5. Osmosis/ blisters was a daily job to tackle. We pulled the rudder off and re-bedded the shaft. Martin went McYver on the rudder and poured epoxy down the shaft while sucking the epoxy to the bottom of the rudder with a vacuum cleaner and it worked! Everyone was so supportive; we had daily visits from fellow yachtsman which means so much as nobody likes to visit a dirty boatyard. The expert advise from our mates Eric, Phil, Garth, Bill, Jason and Travis was priceless. Along with our “neighboring boats” that were hard at work as well…we all became close in a short period of time.

Happy Dance- Shenemere getting ready to Splash!
Dockland 5 Boatyard has a secret “Castle Corner” …shhhh

In the corner of the boatyard is a “secret shed” that is hiding a fridge filled with cold drinks…some of these boat owners have been here too long! Great Sunday BBQ’s with all the regulars in the yard. We met some awesome folks during our time at Dockland 5 making the days hard work kind of but not really fade away.

FRINGE FESTIVAL – Largest Open Access Art Festival in NZ
Kate Shanghaied me to Sing Sea Shanties and more…
Took our sea shanty “choir” public
Funky parade around the loop was lol
I had a bit in the band with a tambourine
Marsden Cove Craft Market
Monica s/v Monny Penny, Cini s/v Zensation and me at the Marsden Cove Craft Market selling our wares. Great day with the ladies as we are getting more experienced with our displays and product presentation
Sailing Creations on display
Splashed and away we went to Urquharts Bay
Orcas hunting in the bay
Good fishing off the boat
Parua Bay
Kayaking with Lisa s/v Harlaquin
Caught 3 sharks in one morning, no swimming here
Gavin came for a visit and got lucky
Off to Great Barrier Island for December- January “Summer” Holidays
(here in NZ they are taking their Summer break for most of December and part of January)
Happy times getting together with Jenny & Dennis at Kawau Island

Fantastic hike / adventure with our old friends (22 years) on Kawau Island …looks so much like Canada in the Summer

We were interviewed for “another” special Interest piece in the Newspaper….

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/northern-advocate/news/needy-northland-families-receive-hope-in-a-box/Z5WCULORHAR7LB6FBBY3PLVF6U/

Road Trip to Beachlands and then to Cambridge

Martin getting to visit with the mates he grew up with in South Africa; Brian & Felicity Fuller, Richard & Marlene Koekemoer and Gavin Nel. From Beachlands to Cambridge and back to Whangarei over the weekend…total blast!

Mt. Manaia Hike

Great afternoon hike with Bill and Irene. Standing at 420 metres, the summit has outstanding views of the Marsden Point Oil Refinery, Bream Bay and the Hauraki Gulf to the south, Whangarei Harbour to the west and the Poor Knights Islands and Northland coast to the north.

Once-in-500 year- Storm
Downtown streets flooded
BP Gas Station underwater

Fri. July 17th 8:58 PM

A unexpected storm system hit us on July 17th with an estimated 8+ inches of rain in 24 hours. It was a wild evening as the river crest at high tide creating a raging 5 knot flow of water and debris. The river with rapids and large logs, lawn furniture/ debris not excluding livestock bumped and scraped the hull of Shenemere throughout the night

The following morning we were able to assess the damage. Many roads were washed away or cut off by flooding and the town’s city center had been flooded

A lot of the local hikes have been closed for repairs however, we still enjoyed exploring particularly as we are going into Spring and things are starting to warm up

Enjoyed a Saturday hike to Whanagrei Falls with Cindi and Ian Smith on s/v Ocean Reach

Martin and Bill took the day off to go fishing and Martin landed the biggest snapper ever caught on Bill’s boat

Spring has Sprung

So grateful to have some quality time with the ladies at Naylene’s farm. Seeing all the cute new lambs was neat but holding a 12 day old baby lamb was pricesless.

Naylene, Betsy, me, Lauri and Tiny

Cooking Classes

If nothing else Covid has forced a lot of us to expand our horizons and try and do things that we would have never have done prior to the pandemic. Volunteering, dance, aqua-fit, singing groups and Cooking!

It all started when Julie on S/V Stray Cat wanted to learn how to make Chinese dumplings…the venue was secured, the invites sent and the Chefs organized. A super fun kind of laugh out loud, hands on afternoon of cooking!

Tuesday night “themed” happy hours have been the mainstay of the stranded sailors in Whanagarei

Hawaiian Luau, Taco Tuesday & Octoberfest are just a few of the themes…
no one really needs an excuse to get dressed up, eat & drink
Local cruisers at the Tuesday HH at the Barge Inn on the water

Great way to meet new people in our community
Monday nights helping the Red Cross feed the local homeless and hungry

Phil & Naylene’s Goat Roast

It finally has started to warm up so Phil and Naylene had a few of us up to the farm to enjoy a goat roast. Super chill day spent hiking and enjoying the wonderful folks we have met here and the beautiful landscapes

The cruising gang: Annie & Leum, Sylvia & Tom, John & Lorola, Elizabeth & Matt, Betsy & Kenny, Kathy & Dave, Rikka & Toumoa, Lauri & Chuck, Martin and Ellen, Vandy, David, Naylene and Phil

Riverside Drive Marina Music & Food Festival

An afternoon packed with back to back performances by the yachties and Elizabeth, Cindi, Lauri and I sold our handmade jewelry and cozies for charity. We are going into Summer here; a lot of the boats will be setting sail in the upcoming weeks. Still borders are closed but the summer here in NZ is stunning and there are fantastic bays to explore; it is ripe to sail away…around New Zealand

This party was the Grand Finale of celebrations for all the sailors from the “Class of 2020” stuck in Whangarei for a year. Muddling our way through these uncertain times, creating bonds that will be valued for a lifetime. Great time had by all!

Shenemere was hauled out of the water on Sept 25th with an expected 2 week ETA to splash.
Spoiler alert…hopefully we splash in October; more to follow!
June 9, 2020 New Zealand moved to alert level 1- and will return to “mostly” normal lives

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First stop after Lockdown; up to Bill and Irene’s house.  Richard and Marlene came to town and Derrick was still stranded in New Zealand. Hazardous rain/stormy night driving on a hilly road when we got stuck in the mud on a steep incline and Bill had to tow our van out of the mud. We arrived at Irene’s doorstep drenched and Richard was sprayed from head to toe with mud. She gave us clean clothes while she washed our clothes and we proceeded to have a magical night with a great group of friends

Next stop…Naylene and Phil’s place for a cozy sleep over (Binky and Tiny too)

Finally made it out to Helene Bay Café and Art Gallery. Gorgeous bay view, delicious food and a stunning art gallery and nature stroll just 35 minutes from Whangarei

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These are the folks on the “catarman dock” celebrating New Zealand moving to Level 1. These boats managed to stay confined within their dock’s “Bubble Buddies” for the lockdown period. Lifetime bonds and a very unique experience for them all

These are pictures of Owha the Leopard Seal. These pictures were from 2017 however Owha has been spotted around the Marina again recently. Martin got the fright of his life walking on the dock at night, he shone his flashlight right at her while she was busy eating a eel. I heard Martin scream and rushed out but she was already gone.

Owha is an Apex Predator…while she was in the vicinity she managed to attack one dingy and it was reported that she sunk an inflatable in Auckland

Thursday Ladies Luncheons resumed when we moved back to level 1. A great way to meet interesting ladies from the surrounding marinas and explore different foods…Thai, Israeli and Middle Eastern restaurants  IMG_7981 (2)

Girls weekend at Naylene’s with a great group of ladies hiking, knitting, food, hot tub and lots of wine…

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Ellen made this sweet video of our girls weekend at “Naylene’s Nuthouse”

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Justin was on a job in the swamps of Louisiana for the entire “stay at home” order. Heavy lifting and a dirty job but grateful to be busy when the oil industry was tanking

 

 

 

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Finally got to have a girls day with Adrien at the fresh and tasty Fat Camel Israeli Restaurant. Adrien spent the 60 day lockdown at her rented house with James and Brawnie so, we didnt see her the whole time even though she was only 10 minutes away!

 

jenny and Dennis

What a Great Day! Jenny and Dennis drove up from Auckland to spend the day with us and Bill and Irene swung by for a visit.

We had all met 20 years ago when we crossed the South Pacific on our much smaller boats. “not a beat was missed” the beauty of catching up with old friends… Priceless!

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Trip to Auckland to pick-up the Anchor Windlass would not be complete without a stop at the South African Biltong shop

We have now decided we are going to make our own homemade South African Beef Jerky onboard…standby 🙂

WINTER “SAILSTICE” COMING OUT CELEBRATIONScreenshot (332)

Winter Solstice celebration was organized by the yachties. The always entertaining Mayor of Whangarei joined in for dancing with the Riverside Drive Marina Band, blessing of the fleet that included live cannon fire and a heaping of gratitude from the visiting yachts stranded in New Zealand for the year.

Yachties making the news for all the right reasons and in…

Sailing World Magazine- Yachties Make Headline for the “Sailstice Event” we hosted!

Belly Dancing Classes! Yep a growing troop of women are joining in on the fun

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A group of sailors have formed the Riverside Drive Marina Band: RDM Band… a favorite at the events and an interesting assembly of unique talent and characters IMG_8019  Be Kind

 

 

 

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March 24, 2020 New Zealand prepares to go into a month long lockdown to reduce the spread of Covid-19

Alert Level 4:

  • People instructed to stay at home
  • Travel is severely limited
  • All gatherings cancelled and all public venues closed
  • Businesses closed except for essential services
  • Educational facilities closed
  • Rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities possible
  • Reprioritisation of healthcare services

I dusted off my day planner and took notes on our daily progress as we prepared to hunker down on a 51ft / 15m boat. A small space to self-isolate with 2 people so I thought I would try to chronicle the time spent so we can share our bit of history.
Day 1: “In shock, trying to get my head around staying on board for 4 weeks as we are only allowed limited trips to the grocery store and walks…everything else is closed”
Living on a boat we always have a list of things to do so I got busy then soon found out that I really wasn’t that motivated to do much of anything so some days just got lost; reading or on social media. I immediately lowered my expectations of being super productive but, managed to try some new things too.

 Variety of ideas to kill time some more successful than others

Organized all the spices, experimented with jams and pickling. Apple pear jam (yes) Pickling in salt (no) 

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Made fruit Beer that fermented too long and turned into wine

Martin and I took long hikes daily and ended up logging 68.2 miles/ 109 kilometers

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I love yoga but since we have been on the dock just below a very popular café (always packed with people on the patio) I am too self conscious to practice on the deck.

During lock down I was able to get some sweet outdoor yoga in… much needed stretching and healthy breathing to reduce stress

Got crafty with this bowl I found in the marina’s treasure box; epoxied the rim with paua shell inlay

More crafting 🙂 decorated wineglass base and more unique jewlery creations

As I was making yet another piece of jewelry with nowhere to sell it; I decided to finally set-up an on-line store. Easier said than done. A tedious week creating the website only to struggle with how to take a professional photo of the products. A great learning experience. Still under construction but, making daily progress. Actually could have used another week of lockdown.

Martin spent hours sewing: a sail bag, winch covers and repaired the dingy cover

I spent a lot of time researching places we want to go when the islands open back up. I was able to create a document that shows details of hundreds of anchorages from Vanautu, Papa New Guinea and Indonesia. It was fun at first to research the exotic ports of call, but it became somewhat depressing as the realization sunk in that things weren’t going to be opening up for cruisers any time soon. I will be ready when they do.

Some other random things that I did that wouldn’t have happened otherwise:

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Blinkist: Get insights from top nonfiction in 15 minutes. I really like the idea of listening to a condensed audio on a complex subject. I can listen to crucial insights from leading thinkers from an app on my phone.
Meteorology: I have a keen interest in the weather and there were a lot of free meteorology classes being offered on-line so, I took advantage and enrolled in a few classes.
Boat Manual: I started to make a manual for all the important boat systems to include the engine, batteries, water maker etc. everything in one document and easy to follow.

From Alert Level 4 to Level 2 we ended up spending 50 days onboard Shenemere

I learned that self-isolation is kind of in a sailor’s DNA. We are probably more comfortable with long “passages” of time without interacting with people.
We are a social group within the sailing community so, even though there was not the regular Wed. and Fri. Happy Hours there was the virtual Zoom Happy Hour. We had our morning roll call on the Net that provided us daily updates and there was the highly active FB Group “Whangarei Lockdown Liveaboard”. We were able to visit our neighbors from the deck to dock chats, but it did not replace the cozy cockpit conversations we are used to.

I heard repeatedly from sailors in our community that we are Grateful to be riding out the pandemic in a progressive, safe, and politically sensible country. New Zealand was able to swiftly shut the country down and there are no new cases of Covid.
Meanwhile, in the South Pacific there are an estimated 500 boats that are in the Pacific with the intention to explore all the exotic destinations we were privileged to do last year and now they are in limbo and struggling with ever shifting immigration laws. Soon these boats will have to worry about what countries will give them refuge in the forthcoming cyclone season.
We are going along with our plans to haul the boat out and do the bottom, replace the windlass etc. just in case Fiji and the Marshall Islands open for us. However, we are getting our head around the fact that the Pacific islands will not be opening their borders to cruisers and we will be spending a Winter in New Zealand. We have a new heater and have started to put on layers of clothes. There are worse places to be and again we are extremely grateful to be here.

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The sun always shines after a storm

We celebrated our 2 year anniversary of cruising while in lockdown. This gave me time to review footage from the Drone, Go Pro and Nikon and put all the highlights together in a short clip…Enjoy!

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Had fun traveling down memory lane to make this Birthday video for Martin’s 59th!

Malcom and Pauleen invited us to stay on their boat docked in Auckland at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Club Marina 

Team New Zealand will defend the America’s Cup in 2021 in Auckland, with crews sailing foiling 75-foot monohulls. In 2018 the New Zealand government committed $100 million to help fund the event and the America’s Cup Village was an epicenter of all things nautical

Grateful to Malcom for inviting us on a tour of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron where the America’s Cup Trophy is on display…Members Only

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The America’s Cup is the trophy awarded to the winner of the America’s Cup match races between two sailing yachts. One yacht, known as the defender, represents the yacht club that currently holds the America’s Cup and the second yacht, known as the challenger, represents the yacht club that is challenging for the cup

Malcom and Martin at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Martin found the Royal Natal Yacht Club- Durban Flag and a Portrait of Peter Blake

Sharon from The Town Basin Marina Office was going to Panama to present at the 2020 Puddle Jump so I helped her with this promotional Whangarei Video

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Million Dollar view from Phil and Naylene’s front porch

Phil and Naylene invited us to their annual BBQ cook off. It’s a big deal, high stakes cooking competition with a trophy, crowning, prizes and an all day party of friends and neighbors at their farm

We couldn’t believe it when Martin won the competition with his BBQ ribs!

Martin and Al had a brief surf session at the beautiful Pataua Bay

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My Hobie Kayak paddle drive succumbed to rust in Tonga and it took me all this time to  order the needed replacement parts. Grateful to have my “mode of operation” back for some safe adventuring

 

Bought this Toyota in Auckland so we will have transportation for the next 6 months

Ready to do some inland exploring and trekking in New Zealand

Thanksgiving catching up with Suzie and Lori in Pahia and enjoying a Thanksgiving feast in Opua at the yacht club

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Spending the day with Mark Souter’s family. We spent a lot of the holidays catching up with Martin’s relatives and friends in New Zealand…a lot of South African’s have immigrated here in the last few years

IMG_7093Reunited with Bill and Irene after 21 years; enjoyed spending the evening at Cyril and Jackie’s beautiful home

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Spending time in Auckland for Christmas visiting with Richard, Marlene, Gavin & Sharon and exploring the sites

 

 

Being a tourist in Auckland enjoying the panoramic views from the Waitakeie Ranges in Piha and the wild Piha surf beach

Auckland dressed in Christmas cheer!

Adrien jumped from NZ’s highest building with nothing but a wire between her and the ground 192 meters down!

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The day after Christmas we had a delightful visit with Byron Pick’s lovely family and his Mom Jenny visiting from South Africa; it had been 15 years since we had seen them! 

Yes…more South African Braais:)

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The Town Basin Marina had a Boat Decorating contest and I got really into it; adding decorations  bit by bit for a few weeks. The Mayor of Whangarei was the judge and when she visited Shenemere I explained that we are so close to the cafés and walking path that we always have someone asking us questions or just having a “chin wag”. I told her that I feel like an Ambassador for the marina having the responsibility of answering the inquiries. The Mayor awarded Shenemere the winner of the contest not necessarily because our decorations were the best but because she liked the way we interact with the community.

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It is summer in New Zealand and it is warm so it is hard to get into the spirit of the season. I do like how the Kiwis close down the last three weeks of December. Retail stores are open but, most of all the local business close up and enjoy time with their families. 

Next Diary entry…Road trip and camping in Northland

Camping Adventures by Campervan551b073c6b503[1]

New Zealand is all about natural attractions. It has a reputation for untouched landscapes, welcoming wilderness and spectacular scenery. Along with all the Kiwi’s on Christmas Holidays we found the best way to experience all of that picture-postcard perfection is undoubtedly by camping: it’s cheap, fun and hopefully will put as little civilization between us and beautiful New Zealand as possible.
Campervans are very popular in New Zealand, particularly when everyone is off for the Christmas holidays. Camping is a number one past time and just seems fit in well with the laid-back culture of the Kiwi’s. So off we went in our van with a bed and basic camping supplies: chairs, table and stove.

Map Of North Island New Zealand_15.jpgFrom Whangarei to Dargaville, Kauri Forest, Opononi, Ahipara, Cape Reinga, Toupo Bay, Matauri Bay and Opua

Rick Taylor recovered ancient kauri from swamplands near his home in Dargaville on the Kauri Coast, in Northland during 2000 to 2003. He had samples carbon dated – the results show that the ancient kauri had been buried for around 3860 years!!!

His gallery/studio has been operating in Dargaville for over 22 years and he welcomes wood turners and those interested in the art of wood turning from all around the world to visit. We had a pleasant visit with his wife and enjoyed browsing their studio before we grabbed some delicious fish-n-chips for lunch and headed off for more explorations.

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We tried to get into the campsites at Kai Iwi Lakes but, everyone had the same attraction to the blue water fringed with white sand beaches…campsite was full so off we went to the forest

The Trounson Kauri Park had a spectacular campsite and considering the fact that most of the campsites were full we went ahead and committed to two nights.

The two days allowed us to do day trips exploring all the aspects of this wilderness area. The forest is also home to North Island brown kiwi population; try as we might to spot one… these guys were quite elusive.

Waipoua Forest is famous for the biggest and oldest kauri in the whole of New Zealand! Tane Mahuta (The Lord of the Forest) and Tane Matua Ngahere (The Father of the Forest) are the two largest kauri in New Zealand

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Opononi: Waimamaku Coastal Track

Stumbled into some funky one horse towns in our explorations…Waimamaku was a treat

Rawene is a town on the south side of the Hokianga harbour. This cute town is full of historic charm. We walked around the heritage buildings and looked in on some charming art galleries while we waited for the next ferry

Catching the ferry to Kohukohu

Ahipara is at the southern end of 90 Mile Beach. Martin just had to go to check out the surf; it known to have one of the best left hand surf breaks in New Zealand. Beautiful unspoiled sandy beach was packed with “land yachts” on New Years eve. The lady at the campsite warned us there might be a big party…lol Kiwi’s were as sedated on New Years Eve as anything else we have seen since November. We were asleep before 10PM.

camping 50 Couldn’t have planned it better…celebrating the first day of the year at the tip top of New Zealand Cape Reinga

Breathtaking Vistas of Cape Reinga

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Spiritual moment for a Native Maori in the backgound

Cape Reinga Cape Reinga is also known as Te Rerenga Wairua in Maori. Te Rerenga Wairua means “the leaping-off place of the spirits” – for the Maori people, this is where a person’s spirit comes after death and leaps to their eternal home.

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Dramatic hiking along the entire penusula.

We took the drone for a flight and captured our pinprick selves on the top of the cliffs!

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It was New Years Day in New Zealand and the whole country was out camping. We tried several campsites around the Bay of Islands and they were all at capacity. We considered heading all the way back to Whangarei in the late afternoon; we were tired. I made one last call to Matauri Bay Holiday Park and got lucky; someone was just leaving and they would hold the spot for us.

Matauri Bay Holiday Park is one of the most well-known holiday parks in New Zealand. I am so glad we got to stay there. We me some fisherman towing a fishing line out with a kayak and had a good time with them until they had to pull the line in.

NZ named ‘Greatest Country on Earth’ for seventh year in a row

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“I’m not the only traveller who has been to a small part of New Zealand but wants to see it all… New Zealand is not really a place you can ever “do” with certainty. I fear you will always want more. It’s hardly surprising that Telegraph Travel readers have just voted it their favourite destination in the world for the seventh time in a row.” Per digital travel editor Oliver Smith

Next Stop…Royal New Zealand Yacht Club and Americas Cup Village in Auckland

 

 

 

 

 

WHANGAREI, NEW ZEALAND

Here is a short video of our home port for the next 6 months November-April while we safely wait out the cyclone season

The City by the Sea – subtropical Whangarei. Head for the summit of Mount Parihaka, the highest point in the city. It was once the site of the largest Maori Pa (fortified village) in New Zealand.
Quayside at the town basin Marina is situated in the middle of cafes, shops and art galleries and museums.

Shenemere got front row dockage at the Town Basin right below the famous Quayside Cafe.

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Fiji to New Zealand 1,100 miles- 7 days

fiji to New Zealand

Fiji to New Zealand passage can be a dangerous passage because the low pressure systems coming up from the Southern Ocean. The logistics of the passage include taking unsavory conditions out of Fiji to ensure stable and safe conditions coming into New Zealand.

We waited 9 days for just the right weather window and took our beating the first 4 days to be rewarded by calm conditions as we approached New Zealand.

opua Marina

Opua- New Zealand’s main port of entry. We tied up to the “Island” Immigration and Customs dock early evening. There were 16 other boats tied up that had come in from Fiji, Minerva Reef and Tonga that day.

What a Party!!! 16 boats on an isolated customs dock Celebrating the passage to New Zealand and the end of a fabulous South Pacific cruising season.

I will never forget in all my life the energy of 30+ adults dancing / jumping up and down with their hands in the air, singing loudly to ABBA at 9:00 PM 🙂

It was that kind of passage

World Famous (in Opua) Princess of the South Pacific Party. Yes, grown men had an excuse to dress as a princess…most turned out in drag and loved it

Bay of Islands Cruisers Festival

A week of activities followed. Seminars on navigational electronics, sail repair underway, diesel engine maintenance and electrolysis. A talent show served up with hot pizza, a BBQ and a Bay of Islands scenic boat ride was all part of the week long cruisers social

TUIA 250 Encounters

250- year commemoration of the first meeting of Maori and Europeans in New Zealand

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We reunited with John our California cruising mate and Martin reunited with Gavin Nel his childhood friend from South Africa

IMG_6282 We are now off to Whangarei, New Zealand

 

 

 

Video: Cruising Fiji searching for the idyllic surf wave, remote village or chilling at a yacht club or resort. Fiji has remained remarkably unmolested by mass tourism since our last cruising experience here 22 years ago

Vinaka Vakalevu!

English Colonialism + Native Fijians + Indian Immigrants

Officially the Republic of Fiji

Fiji gained independence from the British Empire in 1970 after 96 years as a British colony
Fiji is unique with a strong British influence and Native Fijian culture tossed with a large Indian minority; it all comes together to create a unique multicultural travel experience.

 The Fijians we met throughout the islands, anchorages and marinas were  genuine, approachable and just really nice people. BULA!!!suva YC

First Stop Suva Harbor right along the international fishing boats, freighters, yachts, cruise liners and a pirate shippirate ship.jpg

Suva Harbor, Fiji 

The Royal Suva Yacht Club
The club was founded around 1930 and has a rich history that is on display with flags, trophies, photos and mementos throughout the club

Tradition too..the wearing of hats by men in the bar area is strictly forbidden and the penalty for doing so is to buy a round of drinks for Everyone at the bar!

IMG_5975We spent most of our time in downtown Suva getting much needed parts, supplies and provisions. It was nice to come back to the yacht club in the afternoon and have a cold drink out on the lawn socializing with fellow sailors at this historic yacht club

                                                                The Market
The colorful municipal market is famous for being the largest retail produce market in the Pacific.  It was a welcomed treat to indulge in all the fruits and vegetables we could carry back to the boat

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The Market has everything! I commissioned a seamstress to sew a fitted bed sheet for our “triangle shaped front berth”

Unfortunately, either our template or instructions didn’t translate and the “fitted sheet” did not fit. No harm in trying; it was only a $11 investment and I was able to use the sheet on another berth
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Martin had better luck with the shoe repairs.

Martin’s 6 month old Keen Sandals had started to fall apart and it was a logistical nightmare to send them back to Keen Co. in the US for the warranty.

So, he had the local shoe repair guy fix them and reinforce all the stitching for only $14

 

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                                                                  Buyer Beware!!!
In downtown Suva we were approached by local conmen; they start off friendly enough saying “Bula” asking us where we were from, trying to get us talking to them so they could get our names. However, as soon as they know your name they whip out a wooden piece and proceed to etch your name in these wooden daggers. Once your name is engraved they Insist on getting paid for the Mask that goes with the wooden daggers!
Martin was a victim of the scam and ended up paying the “con artist” $50 Fijian dollars for a crappy wooden mask and daggers with our names engraved. Needless to say he was furious.
On hindsight Martin did remember his brother Gerald getting scammed the same way 22 years ago when he was here visiting us in Fiji; it made it all the more humiliating.
Humiliation then turned to hysterics as we met other sailors that were scammed the same way!

  Indian Infusion
Indians were initially brought to Fiji as indentured labors to work the sugar cane plantations. Between 1879 and 1916. 60,000 Indians arrived in Fiji.
Today Fiji is 38% Indian

We got our Curry on…eating and cooking our way through a variety of curries
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 Beqa Island- trials and tribulations

Pronounced Beng-a is outlier island to the main island of Vita Levu. There are no roads, no towns and only a few isolated villages. Beqa’s claim to fame is that it’s home to the traditional Fire Walkers, Sawau tribe that walk barefoot across blazing hot rocks.

We were packing Martin’s Sulu (Fijian Man-skirt) and a bushel of Kava root to present to the Chief and ask for permission to anchor in their lagoon. Also, we were hopeful to have an opportunity to witness a fire walking ceremony.
Unfortunately, we didn’t experience anything traditional on the island. Elizabeth and Garth reported back to us that they were told to pay to snorkel; which is simply unconscionable.
The Chief was away so there wouldn’t be any formal “Sevusevu” Ceremony for our seeking acceptance from the chief into their village
I did see a large Bull Shark on my morning snorkel that scared me to death and made me reconsider swimming alone for now.
As we (Shenemere & Irwinish) were pulling up our anchors with our sights set for Yanuca Island Irwinish’s anchor windless decided it had had enough after 20 years. Thank goodness they were able to manually pull their anchor up and sail to Yanuca Island strategizing along the way how best to get their windless repaired or replaced and where?

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                                                               Yanuca Island
Intrepid Surf Hounds Martin and Garth… destination Yanuca Island desperate to surf  “Frigates”. Unfortunately conditions were not favorable for Frigates surf break when we were there.

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Sweet Yanuca island is a hilly speck inside Beqa Lagoon only a few miles west of Beqa. We enjoyed exploring an abandoned surf camp, a quaint village and excellent beach for collecting interesting pieces of shells.

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Along with Elizabeth and Garth we hiked over to the village with our gift of Kava root for the Chief and Elizabeth with her lollipops for the children. We had to ask a few villagers where we could find the Chief only to find out that the Chief had left the island to get medical treatment. We did meet with the Chief’s “spokesman”, offered our Kava, received his blessing to walk around the village and to anchor in their lagoon.

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Fun putting  together this “postcard moment” of us on Yanuca Islandsusan sailing.jpg

 

The Fijian Triangle:  This is the time (we lost) when we started to sail every other day between Musket Cove, Namotu Surf Break and Denarau Marina

 

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Musket Cove Yacht Club: 22 years ago we partied at the same place but, it was called the “$2 Bar”… it isn’t $2 anymore $$$

Bless the sailor and the founder of Musket Cove Yacht Club Dick Smith; for creating and preserving an unpretentious yacht club in the South Pacific!

Again so many memories around the BBQ…Priceless!

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There are over 10,000 Musket Cove Yacht Club members worldwide. Back in the day your yacht’s name was etched into the beams of the club when you became a member. Martin spent some time trying to locate the “S/V Topaz” plaque from when we sailed and stayed at Musket Cove in ’98

So Grateful that Musket Cove remains welcoming to us sailors. It is still a social watering hole for all of us to get together and BBQ communally at picnic tables and share stories. LOVE IT!

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Cloud 9

Floating bar and restaurant in crystal warm Fijian waters. Very touristy yet very cool. Great music and atmosphere with folks having fun jumping off the second level platform. Not your typical “soggy dollar” kind of place…they only take credit cards.

The Wood-fired pizza at Cloud 9 and cold beers were to die for after Martin and Garth surfed the extreme tides and waves at Namotu’s all morning

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Port Denarau

The three R’s: Rest, Re-provision and Recreation.
It was a bit overwhelming coming into this swanky marina and retail complex. The Hard Rock Café with live music and half dozen restaurants to choose from. Everything looking new, well maintained and Touristy…something that we are not used to. That being said we didn’t have any issue watching the Rugby World Cup Games on wide screen TVs
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We took the open air “Bula Bus” that offers a continuous loop around the island stopping at each resort

The “Bula Bus” was indiscriminate with who got off at any one of the many resorts on  Denarau Island including the Westin, Wyndham, Radisson, Sheraton, Sofitel and Hilton so we did! We took our time looking at the restaurants, pools and spas of many resorts to see where we would celebrate our 22nd Wedding Anniversary.

Martin did his research on the many spas and treated me to a “Dream Spa Retreat” at the Westin…Best Anniversary present Ever!

 

Vinaka Fiji!

We are setting sail for New Zealand to sit out the cyclone season

Fair winds, safe passage and Love to all the amazing friends we met during our Pacific passage

PEACE

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