It has been quite a long time since our last letter to you. We have some concerns about our system of email that we want to clear up first. Most of you know that we use our ham radio aboard the boat to send and receive mail. It is a slow process as everything must come and go over the airwaves. Recently, winlink was besieged by spam. Since it is impossible to use a spam blocker, they had to take more drastic steps. Now the only mail that is allowed to come out to us (from you folks at home or cruising around the world) must be from a registered address. The registration happens when we write to you. Since this letter comes to you from our hotmail server, it will not “count” in registering. I know that this seems terribly complicated, and we apologize for that. If you have tried to write to us on our ham radio system and the mail has been returned to you, PLEASE, try again using our hotmail address. We will be sure to write back to you using winlink and then all will be fine.
We continue to enjoy our time in New Zealand. Jane had a great trip back to the States for six weeks. Baby, Paris Jane, was born on Dec 9th to keep brother, Cody, company. Tracy had two months off from work at Baxter so Jane was able to get to know PJ and had a great time with the girls and grandkids. Jane returned to NZ on Jan 21st to find her Christmas gift from Sander. We now have a new sink surround in the galley. Sander removed the two original sinks (stainless steel) and found a local guy to weld a SS wall around the whole thing. When he replaced the sinks, Sander lifted them up another 2” so that the drains are well clear of the water from outside. This helps tremendously to get rid of the smell that used to come from the drains. It is probably a little difficult to comprehend the wonder of it all unless you have lived aboard a boat for any length of time.
Our British friends, Julie and Steve, have left to cruise around the island and have sold us their car. It was not quite as cheap as Jane had thought when she last wrote to you. We paid about $1,000 for a compact ’97 Mazda. It works just fine and gets about 30 miles to the gallon. Since gasoline costs approximately $3/gallon here the extra mileage helps. We have taken our first overnight trip to see the ancient Kauri trees on the west side of North Island. We have discovered that the most economical way to tour the islands will be using the numerous campgrounds, both the Dept of Conservation and the private. The cost for a standard cabin at the campgrounds is currently $19-34 per night. The cabin will include two beds with mattresses (some with bedding and some without), two chairs with table, dishes, cutlery and some pots and pans. Sometimes there will be a sink with running water and a stove/oven included in the cabin. There will always be a communal kitchen and communal toilets/showers included. Sometimes there is also a laundry and barbecue. We will carry all our food with us so we will be able to cook our own meals. That will help tremendously, because eating out at restaurants in NZ is not at all cheap! Any of you who are contemplating a trip to New Zealand will find that renting a car is relatively cheap here, but buying your own car should also be an option that you consider. There are car dealers who will sell you a car on the basis of buying it back from you at the end of the trip. All maintenance on the car during your time here can also be included. If you have any other questions send them on to us and we will make an effort to tell you more.
Work aboard Satori continues at a mad pace. This always happens when we are in a port for any extended period of time. The windows in the pilot house are the biggest project at this moment. There are 11 of them that have to be removed. The frames (inside and out) must be cleaned up so that they can be sent off to Auckland for re-anodizing. We are searching for a replacement seal to use now, as the old seals are no longer available. The company in Holland who makes the windows seems to be no help at all in the search for a new seal. This creates quite a challenge for the two of us. We will let you know how that is proceeding in the next message.
Our future plans for cruising remain the same. We will leave in June or July and head north. We have included some photos. The landscape shot is taken on the east coast of North Island. The Kauri tree being hugged by Sander is dead. At that spot in Trounson Park there is a recorded audio message that tells how the tree died and what will happen over the next millennium or so. The last photo is of Te Matua Ngahere, the Father of the Forest in the Mauri language. It is the oldest Kauri in New Zealand at approximately 4,000 years. The trunk is 50’ in diameter and 157’ in girth. In order to see the tree, we had to walk about 25 minutes from the road. The walk is well maintained. Whenever the path comes close to a Kauri, a wooden walkway has been built to protect the sensitive roots of the tree. After 25 minutes in the dark and cool forest, one suddenly comes to a big clearing. There, bathed in sunlight, is this magnificent tree. It nearly seems a religious experience and it seems as though you should only whisper in reverence.
On the return trip we stopped at a house that advertised Kauri Wood Bowls. Greg Brownie, the artist, spent a lot of time with us telling about his work. You can see some samples on the web (the address is kauribowlgallery, I believe). Much of the wood that he uses is found under old swamp areas near his home in Dargaville. Some of the wood that he uses has been carbon dated to 40,000-55,000 years ago. You can imagine that it takes years to dry out. Greg lets it air dry rather than forcing it in a kiln. He was in the process of having a dining room table crated up for shipment to Portland,Oregon. It was fascinating and breath-taking stuff!
I guess that’s all for this message. We hope some of you will feel like writing back. Remember to use the address *** if you have trouble writing to us on winlink.
Jane and Sander aboard Satori