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2010 Logs

March 2010

March 6, 2010 – Auckland, New Zealand

The last two days of our passage to Auckland went fairly well.  Although not the best sail we’ve ever had, nothing too bad.  However, it was not uneventful as we encountered another tsunami alert.  The large, devastating earthquake in Chili had caused a tsunami warning clear over in NZ.  We began hearing warnings over our VHF radio at about 1:30 AM on the morning of our arrival.  If you remember from our previous blogs, the best place for a boat to be in a tsunami is in deep water on the ocean, so at least we were in the right place.  However, the warning was actually projecting for it to hit Auckland at 10:30 AM which was close to when we were due to arrive.  Although, we began to believe that the warning in Auckland was more of a formality since they were not evacuating the population to higher ground, only evacuating the large ships out of the harbor, we decided to stay out of the harbor area and sail around in the gulf for a couple more hours.  There was no significant effects of the tsunami in New Zealand but it was better to be safe than sorry.


While we were sailing around we heard over the VHF radio, “Imagine, Imagine, Arielle, Arielle.”  We were thrilled that our friend Mike from Arielle was in the gulf as well staying safe from any possible tsunami, and sailed over to us to welcome us to Auckland.  If you’ve been reading the blog long, you already know we spent Christmas of 2008 in St. Martin with Mike & his crew, and we have been cruising with off and on with him since then.  Mike is back home in Auckland, living on Arielle, and working….back to the real world.  We had a great time catching up with Mike, going to a concert at the zoo, having dinner on Imagine, and eating one more Caroline birthday cake as Mike’s birthday is in March.  We were so glad to have this time to spend with Mike before saying good-bye as we head off to Fiji.  We will all miss Mike greatly but know that our paths will cross again somewhere.

NZ_Last_update/IMG_1572.jpgWe really enjoyed getting back into the city life of Auckland which is, by far, the largest city in NZ.  At one million people, it boasts one quarter of the total population of New Zealand and is a very clean and has all the offerings of a metropolitan city.  We especially liked the Sky Tower, which looks much like the Space Needle in Seattle, and at 328 meters in taller than the Eiffel Tower.  But the coolest thing about the Sky Tower is that people actually pay to jump off of it.  It’s somewhat like a controlled bungee jump.  We watched, of course, but did not participate – sailing the open oceans is thrilling enough for this crew.  Caroline wanted to do it but we all (especially Mom) decided that it could wait until she was a little, actually a lot, older.

We decided to really get crazy and take in the IMAX theatre here which was showing Avatar in 3D.  We all loved it, especially Grant and Noah, who have been making Lego Avatars back on Imagine.  Since Auckland is known as “The City of Sails”, there were many marinas and literally thousands of sailboats, including some cruisers.  We were able to catch up with some other cruiser friends while we were here and we are starting to feel like we are getting back into groove.

After leaving the bustle of the city, we sailed over to quiet Waiheke Island to meet up with some other Kiwi friends, Steve and Paula from Long White Cloud and Tahne and Thomas from Kenna.  We had a great time exploring the island and having a potluck dinner on Imagine.  It was fun to catch up with all of them and hear about their plans as they also assimilate back into the real world.  Steve and Paula have actually come home after an 8 year circumnavigation.  Wow!   And we have to point out that Marc and I agree that Long White Cloud, their boat, is the most beautiful boat that we have seen since we’ve been out cruising, other than Imagine, of course  (we can’t upset our baby).

We really enjoyed Auckland and the surrounding islands.  In fact, we wished that we had more time to explore the islands but we are to the point in our stay in NZ where we need to get to Whangarei, haul Imagine out of the water, paint the bottom, and finish some last minute repairs before heading off to Fiji.  So on to Whangarei….

March 28, 2010 - Town Basin Marina, Whangarei, New Zealand

We have spent the last three weeks in the boating community of Whangarei.  Although we have been told that Whangarei has much natural beauty to offer, the crew of Imagine was on a mission and it wasn’t sightseeing.  We were here to give Imagine a quick makeover (clean and paint the bottom), perform some other final boat repairs and projects, provision for the passage and our time in the islands, and most importantly catch up with many cruiser friends including our buddies on Monkey Feet and Cat Mousses.

Well this was definitely the place to catch up with our cruiser friends and especially cruiser kids.  The town basin marina, adjacent to a large city park and sport field, is a hub of cruising life in NZ and there were kids everywhere who live on boats.  At one point, we counted 28 kids living on their boats in the marina.  So the kids were in absolute kid heaven.  As soon as school was finished they were NZ_Last_update/IMG_1646.jpgout playing at the park, playing soccer or Frisbee, riding bikes, or hanging out playing Wii and legosNZ_Last_update/IMG_1646.jpg on friends’ boats.  Caroline became a pro at Ultimate Frisbee, Grant had a blast playing soccer, and Noah just had fun playing with friends at the playground.  It was great incentive to finish school quickly each day and was a fun way to get back into the cruising lifestyle.  Marc and Jane also had fun socializing again and there were many nights of catching up on gossip with friends and cocktails on Imagine.

Since Whangarei is primarily known for its boating facilities and it is the last large port we will be in for a few months, it was definitely the time to finalize any boat projects and purchases that we will need.  While Jane and the kids did school everyday, Marc was off to the boat shops.  He accomplished much during our short stay…..the Volvo was serviced, the bimini was repaired, the haulout was set up, the paint supplies were purchased, many, many parts were purchased, but maybe most exciting for the family was that the dinghy was FINALLY repaired.  Now our dinghy, or “the deflatable” as we affectionately have nicknamed it, had been giving us fits since we bought Imagine.  In fact, we first had it repaired in Seattle before we even brought Imagine to Chicago. Ask any of our cruising friends and they know that Marc has spent many hours, patching, gluing, and cleaning it.  It actually looked so bad that we often joked that it was suppose to look like this as a deterrent against dinghy left, which was common in the Caribbean.  With a missing rubrail, glue exposed everywhere, and at least one deflated hull, we were starting to worry that we may need to buy a new one which is not cheap (4-5K).  As soon as we arrived in Whangarei we heard about a man, who guaranteed that he could fix any dinghy.  Now he hadn’t seen ours yet but we were going to give it a try.  Although, even he had a difficult time (which made Marc feel better), at the end of our three weeks here we have our dink back and it looks better than the day we got her.  Now we’ll see if it lasts – keep your fingers crossed!

Next step was to give Imagine her makeover.  The last time that we painted the bottom of Imagine was in Chicago.  Although, we had routinely scrubbed her bottom in the Pacific, she was pretty desperate for a good scrape and a new coat of anti-foul.  We had decided to wait until we were ready to leave NZ, so she would be fast and fresh for the trip up to Fiji and last until Thailand for her next haulout.  Since we could not find the paint that we used previously on her, Marc spent much time researching a replacement and decided on International Ultra. The kids and Jane got the all important job of picking the color and we decided that Imagine would look nice this year with a blue bottom instead of black. NZ_Last_update/IMG_1595.jpg

Since Whangarei is such a large boating area there were four haulout yards to choose from and for a variety of reasons we chose Dockland 5.  We were glad that we did, very good equipment and facilities, and nice people – standard for NZ.  Now we are somewhat known in our cruising network for doing things quickly, in fact, earlier in our cruise we were nicknamed the “fast Americans”.  So when we told everyone, including our friends, marina and yard, that we planned to be done and back in the water in four days….they all said, “Yeah, right we’ll see you in a week or so.”  They obviously didn’t know my husband well.  He already had everything planned out and purchased, in fact, the rollers and paint supplies were laid out by our bed for the week before we were hauled out.  They also didn’t know that we had a crew of five working on the boat, because the Adams’ kids are not observers, they are workers and they helped a lot.  So on Tuesday, they pulled Imagine out of the water.  We paid extra to have her water blasted to remove the nice “shag carpet” of barnacles that had grown on her bottom.  By Tuesday night, we had all worked hard to have her sanded clean, wiped down, and taped for painting.  Wednesday we started early (of course) and got the primer coat on and were able to get 2 coats of paint on throughout the day.  We also changed the zincs and the thru hull fitting for the engine.  We wrapped up the day at sundown and after 50 cent showers had no trouble getting to sleep that night! 

Thursday we were able to apply our final coats of paint, and gave our prop a spa treatment with a good cleaning and application of a coating called “Prop Speed”.  We hadn’t heard of it before NZ, but it’s all the rage here, so we splurged.  Now Imagine is go fast and ready and we re-launched first thing on Friday morning!  (yes, on schedule and looking good!)  We surprised many back on the docks when we showed up before noon!

We spent the last few days in Whangarei, provisioning for the trip and time in the islands since this will be our last big, convenient grocery store for awhile, hanging out with friends, and making sure Imagine was ready to go.  We even got to do a little sightseeing in the area thanks to our friends, Robin and Rande, who are Americans living in NZ.  We met Robin’s son, Jeremy when we did the Carib 1500, and she and Rande have been so helpful to us during our stay in NZ.  So we are finally ready to leave Whangarei, at least we think that we are.  From here, we will go up to the Bay of Islands which is the beautiful group of islands on the north shore where we checked in.  We plan to cruise around the islands for a couple of weeks, wait for good weather, and then off to Fiji -Back to the warmth of the tropics. 

Although we are excited to get back to the tropics, as we leave Whangarei we had to say good bye to our great buddies, Giselle, Kasey, Blake, Radik, and Talon on Monkey Feet.  We first met, the Feets, about a year ago in the Galapagos when the three boys saw the kids’ lifejackets hanging on the deck and dinghied over to say “Hi”.  It was a match made in boat heaven as the kids spent hours playing together and the adults enjoyed great conversation and cocktails. They made the decision to stay an extra year in New Zealand and we will miss them greatly as we sail on to Fiji and beyond…..beach BBQ’s and potlucks will never be the same.