Thursday, April 30, 2009

We are in Sydney, Cape Breton Island, Canada at the moment. We are visiting our daughter Jennifer, her partner Mark and our grandson, William. William is a treasure, full of personality and mischief, just as a two year old should be. We have really enjoyed getting to know him. Jennifer is a whirlwind of action as usual, she cooked a turkey with all the trimmings when we first arrived. Yesterday we went out and picked willow so she could make some baskets in her spare time!!!!!

Jen had to work a couple of days we were here so we took the opportunity to drive around the Cabot Trail. Mark very generously lent us his new truck and we tootled around in great comfort. The leaves are not out on the trees yet so the true beauty of the trail was not in full bloom. The advantage to going now was that we had the place to ourselves, yeah. We did not have to fight the traffic or the crowds.
Jennifer has given us an old camera she is no longer using so we are once again able to visually record our lives.

William got a new wagon and after his Dad had assembled it, he had great fun pushing it around the deck. We went to the playground yesterday and had great fun on the slide, William did not like the swings so much, too confining according to Mom. William also really enjoys riding around on the lawn tractor. Jen and Mark have a huge lot, almost an acre of lawn, lots of mowing!
Today we head to the west coast to see Barry's family. We will be there for 5 days before going on a 5 day cruise with them. The cruise ship should be fun, a different sort of experience on the water.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

WEll I must be in cruiser heaven. I have found the cheapest internet I have experienced for quite a while. It was $5.99 USD for 24 hours, WOW, what a deal. We paid $10.00/hour in our hotel in Auckland.
WE are on US soil at LAX. We have about 9 hours wait here so I figured I would try and see if there was any hotspots here. Not only is there a hotspot, there is a 110 volt plug in, something we haven't had for a year and a half, so life is good.
We fly to Toronto on the Red Eye tonight and then eventually get to Sydney NS about 2:00 tomorrow afternoon. I am a bit punch drunk, sleeping very little on the plane but I did get to see a bunch of good movies. There is way too much noise here to drop off to sleep.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Here is a link to a picture of me taken by the trailer trash and posted on their blog. This family is from Juneau, so we have a lot in common.
We are not in Auckland, exploring. We are about to go to the Maritime Museum, which is supposed to be really special. The character of downtown Auckland is really interesting, with, fancy new age sky scrapers intermixed with wonderful old architectually interesting buildings. More later.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

We have been having fun with our neighbours. They are getting a new motor put in their boat and were staying at a hotel. Over the Easter weekend the hotel was fully booked so they found this trailer to stay in. Well they are now known as "Trailer Trash". Last night after a rowdy game of dice, we hung up some old rags and ratty underwear on the boat stand that is in front of the trailer. We threw beer cans, wine bottles and a couple of empty rum bottles in front of their door. What a hoot, all the guys in the yard got a good laugh when they got to work this morning at 0730. You can see Cat's-Paw in the background. She is almost ready to be put to bed for a year or more. We are leaving on the 1100 bus to Auckland tomorrow, so we just have to wipe the boat down with vinegar to keep the mould down, put the outboard and the life raft below, finish packing and do some last minute laundry in the morning and then we are off. We are having dinner with a set of Canadian friends on their boat on Wed, then lunch with our doctor buddy, the one that has set up Barry with the specialist when we get home in June, on Thur. Then the flight out is about 9 at night. It will be a long day. I think we actually take about 24 hours to get to Nova Scotia, so we will be totally screwed up time wise when we get there.
Living on the hard is a unique experience. For one thing you have no toilet facilities on board, so everytime you have to go to the bathroom you have to cimb down and up a 20 foot ladder. Usually you would feel the urge, get up, walk down the hall and do your thing. No, not when you live on a boat that is 20 feet up in the air. If you have the need to use the head you walk up the 5 stairs in the companionway to get to the cockpit, then you clambor over the side and down the 20 feet of ladder. If you have forgotten the key at the bottom of the ladder, you go back up to the cockpit and fumble around inside the boat to locate said key and then if your bladder is still co-operating you climb back down the ladder and head for the toilet. This is presuming that your mate does not have the key in his pocket and decided that he can chat with the neighbours, go to the store, or fill the car with gas as you sit with crossed knees awaiting the key to the all important toilet facilities. I have not got it across to Barry that when I have the urge to go, I have to go NOW, it is not good that he thinks that after using the facilities, he can do the laundry, pay bills, make phone calls and then come wandering back to the boat with the key. Today I knocked on the door to the laundry thinking that was where Barry said he would be, he was not there, but fortunately a friendly cruiser was there and I could borrow her key so my kidneys did not have to suffer any more. At times you feel as if you are still in grade school, hand up, May I go to the Bathroom Mrs. So and So, it really is degrading and I am sure my kidneys and bladder are taking a beating this week. Oh well, only 2 more day and then I can go pee any time I want. I have yet to perfect the male skill of peeing over the side, I guess I just need to practise, Ah Me, the life of a cruiser.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Well we sold our little car, YIPPEE. I was worried that we would not be able to sell it before we left, but a fellow that works in the boat yard wants it. We bought it for $1000 NZ, four and a half months ago, drove it over 5,000 km and sold it for $600 NZ. Not a bad deal for him and for us. I doubt we could have rented a car for less than $100 a month. It has been a good little car but it needs some work, the CV joints are shot. We thought about keeping it until we came back but it would cost as much as we paid for the car to fix it up and they have a system here that makes it mandatory to have your car in good working order to be on the road. The car has to be recertified in June so we would have to do the work so SELL, SELL, SELL. We put the sign up on Wed. and it sold on Thur, how sweet is that!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We are on the hard in Whangarei now. The haul out went fine and then after that things started going to #@%&!! We put the sails up to wash them after we had been hauled out, did not get a chance before and promptly got yelled at by the boat yard owner because a gust of wind could potentially pull the boat over. He was right, we were dumb but there was no need to yell quite SO MUCH! Then the next day I was trying to wash all the lines in the cockpit like I did last year, it was fun and I enjoyed squishing them around. This year I put the hose on and went below, waiting for the cockpit to fill up. About an hour before that Barry had commented that we really didn't need the bilge pump on any more, so off it went. Barry was at the sink in the galley and stepped back and water started coming up the floorboards. ^*&^&#^*&*@#$% There are 2 small holes in the cockpit that the wind vane lines used to run through, well the cockpit was full up to that point and all the water was just running into the boat. YIKES!! Fortunately, Barry's dire predictions of thousands of dollars spent on electricians did not come true and everything appears to be working, thank goodness it was only fresh water, not salty stuff.
I haven't managed to have a major screw up today so things are looking up.
Hope everyone enjoyed there Easter, ours was kinda crummy. We were out of bread, milk and eggs and then the propane gave out. That really kind of limits my breakfast choices. I had made some scones though, they had currents and candied fruit in them so we chowed down on a cruiser's version of hot cross buns.
My arms are sore from cleaning sails and scrubbing decks and the cockpit cushions so I am going to stop blabbing now. We fly home a week today!
April 9, 2009

One year ago today we were on our crossing from the Galapagos to the Marquesas. It was the day Bob saw the flare and we turned around into the wind and the waves and ploughed into them for four hours in case someone was in trouble. I wonder why someone shot off the flare; I guess we will never know. It seems like a lot longer ago than a year. A lot has happened since then.
We are at Great Barrier Island again, waiting out some bad weather. We are anchored in a bay that has 360 degree protection. There is a narrow entrance into the bay to the north east of us and all around are wooded hills that are at least 200 meters high. The largest stretch of water around us is about 150 meters to the south of us, so there is very little room for the waves to build up to anything significant. The weather report last night was calling for winds of 30 knots gusting to 40, so it is a good day to stay hunkered down in a safe anchorage.
The weather was fascinating to watch today. The winds were from the southwest and every two hours there was a huge build up of dark glowering clouds over the hill in that direction. We would be sitting on deck in the bright sunshine and look up and there would be this scary bunch of thick heavy cumulus clouds. The sun would disappear, the temperature would drop. At one point we saw the wind approaching, the boats on the other side of the bay were blown around, one tipped over about 25 degrees at one point, then the water would be covered in with short sharp waves. Then the wind would hit us and the boat would strain at the anchor, swinging back and forth. The rain would start, slowly at first and then the pace and the force of the drops would increase. Soon the visibility would decrease, the rain would be coming down in sheets and you could barely see across the anchorage. The deluge would last for about 10 minutes, the wind would die, the rain cease, the clouds would disperse and 20 minutes later the sun would come out. This happened at least 3 times, amazing to watch; so glad we aren’t out sailing, having to reef in and let the sails out to adjust to the winds.
It is supposed to clear up tomorrow so we may sail across the 40 nm to the entrance to the Whangarei River and hang about there until Tuesday when we will be hauled out. We are eating up what ever provisions we have left on the boat. Yesterday we had potato salad and cauliflower with cheese sauce for supper. I think it is going to be tuna casserole tonight and then whatever we can come up with that involves canned tomatoes and beans (of all sorts, green, kidney, garbonzo, black and pork n) with pineapple for dessert, YUMMM!!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

We have been just cruising around for the last two weeks. When we left Gulf Harbour we headed out to Great Mercury Island. It was a lovely and idyllic spot. The weather was terrific. The island was quite small, there were sheep and cattle grazing all over. We were allowed to wander around so I went for big long walks through pasture land up and down hills. Barry came ashore with me and wandered the beaches finding agate and obsidian at one point. One day he even ventured up a hill and had an encounter with the Angus beef cattle that live there. I went swimming a couple of times, we had a super time.

We headed back to the mainland and visited some anchorages on the Cormandel Peninsula. We went and got groceries at that spot where we had lunch Mom, it was the furthest north we went on the west side of the peninsula. We met another Canadian boat is one anchorage and were invited for a birthday supper. In another spot we met a couple of retired NZ pharmacists that are addicted to boating and they had us over to their boat for a lovely meal. It was nice to finally meet and get to know some local boaters. At the moment we are circumnavigating Waheke Island. It is just north of Auckland, in the Hauraki Gulf and has become a fancy place to live, lots of people commute to Auckland daily to work. We are hoping there will be a internet spot on the other side of the island so I can post this and let you know that all is well.

We only have about a week left before we put the boat on the hard and get her ready for a year or more on her own. We have a friend that is going to look in on her once a week. We are planning on giving him our dinghy, which is on its last legs, as compensation. I hope he thinks that is a good deal. I am having nightmares about going back to the real world. The other night I dreamt we were moving into my grandfathers home, and we had all the furniture that we bought when we first moved to Saskatoon in 1980. It is truly amazing what your subconscious does. I am looking forward to seeing our family again, I can hardly wait.