Getting to know New Zealand

November 30, 2003

Several of our friends have sent messages of concern about the day of agony on the reef in Fiji and we thank you for your concern. Satori did not suffer any above the waterline. She does have a sizeable dent on the port side below the waterline. Thank God that aluminum bends rather than breaks. In that spot she is down to the bare aluminum. There are various scrapes down to the aluminum in other places under the waterline. All of these places will be repaired and repainted when we haul out here in NZ. Our heart rates are back to normal and we look back on the whole experience as a lesson learned with a fortunate outcome. We have spent one month here in the marina at Whangarei (pronounced Fong-a-ray’). New Zealand has every service known for boats since one out of every three citizens of the country owns a boat. Our marina is located right downtown on the river where the city has revamped and built some nice shops and restaurants. There is a boardwalk along the river and some nice picnic areas and playgrounds. There are flowers everywhere here in NZ. Because it is spring, the countryside and parks are all a riot of color.

Today we took a ride with our friends, Julie and Steve, from the boat Dos Tintos of the Isle of Jersey. The three pictures were all taken on this ride north along the east coast between Whangarei and Opua.

Within a few days of our arrival we had purchased our new bank of house batteries, emptied half our bank account and were on our way to having plenty of electrical storage once again. A local fellow was more than happy to buy our Fijian batteries from us second hand.

This time we were able to get answers from the battery suppliers about the charging and proper maintenance of our batteries. In fact we have received several detailed faxes and e mails from the manager of the company. Having sent him our profuse thanks for his good service, he replied that he would be happy to stay in touch with us whenever we had questions or concerns about the batteries. He wrote, “I am an ex yachty so I am interested in assisting wherever I can, even on a non-commercial basis.” Fantastic!

Sander has been knee deep in engine oil for the past two weeks. He knew that we probably had an oil leak somewhere. Black oil all over the face of the engine is a pretty good clue. Of course when you start to dig to find a problem, you find multiple problems. After all, we had not done any extensive engine maintenance since the Chesapeake in 1998. Many dollars later and many days of agonizing work, we are still not finished but making headway.

Trust us…It is not all work and no play. Across the street from the marina is a German run micro brewery where we commiserate about costs and engine problems with Julie and Steve. We have also enjoyed the World Cup Rugby championships. They are held every four years and are organized somewhat like the Olympics. Each participating country can hire on whomever they want to play for them. Usually the players are from that country, but don’t have to be. The New Zealand “All Blacks” have always done well along with Australia, South Africa, England and France. This year NZ went to the semi-finals and beat France for third place. The final game between England and Australia was totally awesome. The game itself is non-stop rough and tumble. No time-outs and restrictions for these fellows! The final game went into over-time and nearly went into a sudden death situation. Julie and Steve are totally devoted to the English team and were nervous wrecks before the end of the game about 1 in the morning. All’s well that ends well. England scored the first victory for a northern hemisphere country since the games began and we all went home happy.

Jane is just about ready for her visit to the states. Christmas presents purchased and/or made, and lists made out. Since we can get nearly everything here, the list is short. I do have to buy some more Murphy’s Oil Soap. They simply have to start doing a better job of international marketing, because we have not been able to find that product many places other than Panama and the states.

Sander will stay here in NZ and continue his maintenance work. Steve and Julie will make sure that he doesn’t starve for attention or beer. In fact, Steve’s mom will be visiting while Jane is gone and Sander will make a good fourth wheel for the group. Jane will be happy to see the family again and to greet her new grand daughter, Paris Jane, who is due to make her entrance into the world any day now. Upon her return in January, we will buy Steve and Julie’s car and see some of the countryside ourselves. They paid $1100 NZ for the car. That’s about $650 US and the car is just fine for what we need…a compact Mazda with very little rust and runs great. It should be into the warm part of the summer here by that time. We are having delightful weather. During the days the temps are in the 70’s and lower 80’s. At night it is cool enough to need a blanket. Very seldom do we need to open the boat except for a few of the hatches for ventilation. We wear long pants and T’s with a jacket on the cooler days. Many of the cruisers think that the weather here is just too cold. We think it is a wonderful change from the heat of the tropics that we usually have.

We are also doing some long-term planning about the route for the rest of our trip around the world. At his moment we are unsure about a visit to Australia, but in general… We will travel north to New Caledonia and Vanuatu. Then we will go on through the Solomon Islands and the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua/New Guinea. For the next cyclone season we will head Northeast to the eastern side of the Carolinas in Micronesia. We will work our way from east to west ending up in Palau. From there we will go southwest through Indonesia to visit Bali and then up to Borneo (now Kalimantan) to visit the orangutans.

Then it will be on to Singapore and Thailand. Somewhere in this part of the trip we will leave Satori and travel inland in Cambodia, Vietnam and China.

From Thailand we will work our way southwest across the Indian Ocean to South Africa where we will eventually round the Cape of Good Hope. Then across the Atlantic to Brazil and on towards the States. All of this is God Willing, good health and the bank balance stays in the black.

We will write more later when we have started our travels around NZ. We hope that your holiday season will be a happy one and that you will keep a smile for us and know that we are thinking of you all.

Jane and Sander