Bula, Vinaka and Kia ora
My final blog from New Zealand marks the end of this adventure.
Our last weeks in Fiji have made us realise that our decision to come back to this magical part of the world is the right one. 6 weeks was just not long enough! More snorkelling, diving with bull sharks, beach BBQ’s and enjoying the company of friends has ended off a fabulous 12 months.
I am writing this from our cabin, while the boat is rocking along, lee clothes set up for the passage and James and I are ready to step back into the real world. It will certainly be different to life over the past year – TV constantly updating us on the antics of our world leaders (good and bad), getting to the supermarket will be a matter of jumping in the car in aiconditioning or heating, going out doesn’t mean having to have a wet butt for the first and last part of the evening and traffic becoming a major consideration.
On this passage we have been joined by Alan Blunt, a well known retired Aussie yachtsman from west coast USA now resident in the Bay of Islands in NZ, his 18 year old stepson, Frankie Dair, a whizz and up and coming yacht racer and Rob Boss a power boat skipper Brit currently living in NZ. They have been a great crew to help us on our last leg to NZ and we have enjoyed their company and expertise on a fast ride to Opua.
Unusually, therehas been a number of unfortunate incidents on this passage among the fleet – a genoa halyard (the rope that holds the sail up) actually broke and the sail ended up in the water in the dark; a staysail also failed and ditched itself in the ocean; a starboard port hole blew out letting water in and had to be repaired at sea; toilet blockages have had to be dealt with (while the yachts have been hiking along in rough seas..I will leave the rest to your imagination), our VHF radio transmitter came loose on the first spreader and Rob bravely climbed the mast to secure it, and a number of other situations and breakages have had to be rectified along the way. Luckily no-one was injured! The rough seas and the wind ahead of us made this passage one of the roughest and most challenging we have done, including reported cases of sea sickness. What is startlingly obvious is the fantastic support given by the fleet to anyone in need of assistance, or just an ear and voice on the SSB radio for encouragement and to act as a sounding board.
A few tears were shed as the Land of the Long White cloud appeared upon the horizon…we are back in Australasia…our territory. The day was sunny albeit it cold, the bird life abundant and we were once again escorted by small dolphins jumping for joy. The northern tip of NZ is stunningly beautiful and the Bay of Islands engulfed us late in the afternoon promising good coffee, an array of restaurants and even a small vineyard high up on a hill. Arriving too late to clear in, in typical OWR style, the 3 boats pooled food resources, gathered French champagne and many beers and celebrated our arrival in NZ, while tied up on Q dock…needless to say after a week of alcohol free sailing we woke the next morning feeling somewhat shabby but happy to be there.
There are many moments of reflection as the end of our journey comes closer. The friends we have made, the amazing places, experiences that have been had, and along the way the incredible number of things we have learned….not just about the boat but about the world we live in and about ourselves! Our resilience, what we can achieve (or can’t) and what we are prepared to do or not. It has certainly been a year of incredible activity, education and socialising!!
After a year long summer when clothing choice came down to togs or shorts and a tee shirt, there was a great deal of discussion about shoes and warmer clothes…it suddenly dawned on me that my suitable attire for the cooler climes were packed away in Sal’s apartment in Melbourne. Ah – some retail therapy of a different sort awaits!
As the suntan fades and my toe nails are coloured – now sporting a lovely coral shellac (first for 12 months), our final Oyster party awaits this evening…..who knows what will come next!