New Zealand and home

After a rocky few days as we passed the eastern Tasman Sea and bashed our way through the outskirts of tropical cyclone Evan, we were blessed with lighter winds for our last two days at sea. Inevitably too light of course, as these things go, so we motor-sailed our entrance into New Zealand waters. But the flatter seas were a relief to everyone, especially Charlotte and James who made a rapid recovery, the former breaking her Tonga Moon diet for the first time in five days. Amazing how quickly seasickness passes once the motion settles down. For myself and Rebecca, the potential threat of bad weather associated with cyclone Evan had undoubtedly given us several days of stress, and the final resolution of these forecasts in our favour was probably the turning point in our enjoyment of the trip.

We rounded North Cape on our last night at sea and awoke in the morning with the rocky shoreline and green rolling hills of Northland on our starboard bow. I think we all approached New Zealand with mixed feelings – all, that is, except our faithful cousins who couldn’t get there fast enough! – but there’s no denying the elation of an imminent landfall after a long ocean passage, laced with the prospect of warm showers, a cold beer, and an uninterrupted watch-free sleep. We sailed into the Bay of Islands with the sun above us as a flock of gannets spotted a baitfish shoal and starting dive-bombing the water all around us. A beautiful display.

Clearance was quick, efficient and friendly, and before we knew it we were anchored off Paihia enjoying fish and chips and a beer on the beach with James’ family. Everyone was shattered but happy to have arrived and, looking forward to a long sleep and extended lie-in, and we turned in early. We awoke at around 1am to the sound of heavy feet tramping on the deck and loud hollering. Rebecca and I started up, hearts pounding, to find a young reveller standing on the foredeck shouting to his mates ashore, having presumably swum out to the boat as a dare. I think he was as shocked as we were, presuming that the yacht was unoccupied, when I appeared on the deck with just a T-shirt on and Rebecca popped up out of the deck hatch wearing nothing at all. The boys learnt a new range of expletives as we politely asked him to vacate the premises, and he took off as fast as he could back to the beach. Ridiculous really, to think that in 18 months of sailing around some of the remotest and arguably lawless countries in the Southern Hemisphere, the only place we get boarded is back home!

From Opua we travelled South down the coast, stopping off at Matapouri for a day before treating ourselves to a stop-over at the Mokohinau Islands Fred’s last ditch attempt to spear a kingfish.

We plan to arrive back at Pine Harbour Marina on Wed 2nd January. It will have been nearly 18 months since we left, and we can feel the drawing to a close of a phase in our family’s life that won’t be repeated. Arrival at Opua was the start, but probably the more significant moment will be stepping off Tonga Moon once back in Beachlands, and leaving behind the family cocoon we’ve created on our 40 foot floating condo. How this translates back to the wider expanse of dry land we’ll discover, and whether we can retain some of the positives we sorely hope. But for now, we’re still some distance away from Beachlands, intent of a quick recovery from the passage, celebrating Christmas for the boys, and making our slow way back further South to home.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gretairedale
    Dec 31, 2012 @ 02:40:25

    Thank God. G & D PS The messages we sent over Christmas did not get through. How do we address our e mails now please? A very happy and healthy 2013. Much love G & D


  2. MJ & PM Cummins
    Dec 31, 2012 @ 07:46:24

    Dear Fred, We have enjoyed every minute of our “pretend” voyage. When does the book come out! Love, Peg & Michael Cummins.


  3. Debbie Hicks
    Dec 31, 2012 @ 13:50:24

    Congratulations guys! Lovely to see you Rebecca and finally meet all your men. Hope you have a safe trip back to Beachlands. good luck with settling back in, and have a great new year – whatever you do! Debbie x


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