Tag Archives: boat

New Zealand: July 2019-January 2020

The second half of 2019 went on and seemed to do so quite quickly. We still went on our adventures, but it started to become just 3 of us, Christian, Taj and myself. Nina found her friends and she was at the age that she wanted to stay home. And Ellamae was back in the USA with her Papa. The term “Windy Welly” started to make its name very apparent in our area. Most days had at least 18kt blows, and if it was calm it was so only until mid morning. We continued to venture about, but the cold wind was already started to wear on us, especially living on the water in the winter and spring. With the camper “Sharkie” however, we still found warmer ways to get out and see New Zealand.

Most of our cold and dreary days between school hours were spent either at the library or at the huge indoor pool/aquatic center. The days when the weather was nice, we went out in nature. Taj loves his animals and his birdwatching from the hides. We also spent many hours at the skatepark.

Our other entertainment: the new dinghy, named “Bunghole” after one of Russel’s (the founder of OCTenders) original videos describing the amazing light weight hard tender. In his video he describes the importance of having a bunghole and having the bung in the bunghole. The kids always referred to the OCtender dinghy as “bunghole” ever since watching that video in 2015. So when we finally got one we named her “Bunghole”.

Our new tender was so much faster and more efficient than our 10ft Montgomery sailing dinghy. With Mana Island about 10km away, we were able to snip out there on a calm day without a hitch. What a beautiful place!

Nina getting all dressed up and pretty. She had her first “Formal” (known in America as “Prom”).

5 more months of Playcentre for Taj before he started into TeRa Waldorf school.

Taj’s “powhiti” (last day) at Playcentre.

A little morning outing just out of Mana Marina and a bit north.

Both “homes” in one picture. (I circled the boat with red.)

For the October school break we took a shorter jaunt to the Wairarapa coast. Nina stayed back with friends as we searched for waves with friends .

From the south coast of the Wairarapa, we wandered up to Castle Point. A long trek in ol’ Sharkie with strong winds and windy roads, but worth it!

Just a few boat life pictures: Taj sewed his own tooth fairy pillow. He also learned to make is own eggs. And as always, just being goofy with dad.

Halloween in New Zealand is trying to become a thing. There were only a few houses that participated. Was fun nonetheless.

Another Makara ride to do “star fish”!

In September and November of 2019, I had to fly to the United States for work related things like keeping up my nursing license and continuing education hours. I was very fortunate to see my parents, my “sister from another mister” Rachael, and few other friends.

There were a few weekends in November that I had off, but Christian had to work. So I took Taj on some adventures! This one was just up the coast from Wellington to hit up some mountain bike trails and some hiking trails. This trip we just took the car and car camped. We kept in minimal and had a blast. We stumbled upon the Atene Skyline Track in the Whanganui National Park. What a gem! At the top, we discover the Kiwi Guardian program, which encourages kids to get out in nature by planting these posts along the trail with a password on them. Once you have the password you go online, input the password and a cool wooden medallion is sent to you! Taj was hooked! We also met this group of women along the path that were in a hiking group out of Wellington. They just loved how into the hike Taj was, so they asked to take a photo with them. On the way back we stopped by a sushi place. Done a little differently in New Zealand, they pre-make the sushi and have them displayed to pick and choose. We also stopped by the historic windmill in Foxton.

On our next little November Mom and son adventure, we went to Putangirua Pinnacles (above) and (below) the southern most tip of the North Island called Matakitakiakupe (aka Cape Palliser).

And the same adventure continued to a MTB park, a hike up to an awesome viewpoint and quiet camping near Mt. Holdsworth . This was the Tararua Forest Park of the Wairarapa side. Loving this #camperlife !

Taj at Riven Rock MTB park.
4 way video call for Ellamae’s 12th birthday. We were all in different places; Nina at her friend’s, Christian and Taj at the boat, I was actually in California for work and Ellamae was in Florida with her Papa.

Nina’s 17th birthday! We kept it pretty simple with a mermaid birthday cupcake breakfast and dinner at Mama Brown’s with her friend Zoe.

Christmas time in New Zealand, means warmer weather and summer holidays off of school. Although school doesn’t end until closer to Christmas Day itself, we enjoyed plenty of warm weather activities. That being said, we found it hard to get into the Christmas Spirit with it being summer, because we had been accustomed to cold weather Christmas… winter, white, fireplaces, hot cocoa, etc.

Santa comes around on a Kayak here apparently.

Nina signed up for the Coast to Coast endurance race with her school! She was the biker of the girls team. The other two members kayaked or ran. She trained a bit with some longer rides, but nothing that would be like the actual ride. The race is a yearly event that starts with a bike course on the West Coast of the South Island, transitions to a running section up the steep and rugged terrain over Arthur’s Pass, and finishes with a down river race kayak section. Both girl and boy teams did great! The girl’s won first in their devision.

We volunteered driving our 7 seater wagon with Nina’s bike on top. The drive consisted of our first ferry ride over to the South Island, a drive down near the base of Arthur’s Pass, a drive over the Pass and back for the event and lastly down to Christchurch.

While we were in Christchurch we made a special stop to see fellow kid boat cruising friends that we met sailing in Mexico. SV Sangvind had sailed to New Zealand as well and were living on their boat in Christchurch. It had been about 3 years since we had last seen them in Mexico. (Sadly I did not get a photo of Sylvia and myself.)

The bathroom was through a “secret bookshelf door”… Nina was thrilled!
Can I “get fixed” please? Taj waiting for his morning cuppa at Get Fixed Bicycle Cafe.
Glimpse into Christmas morning 2019.
The Pōhutukawa (Christmas Tree) in full bloom.

That’s a wrap for 2019 in New Zealand for “A Family Afloat”. I’m sure I’m missing so much, but this gives a good insight to what we were up to. The next post we’ll be covering the first half of 2020. You’ll get to see more on the South Island when Mom Katie and Brother Phill come to visit, bringing Ellamae back with them. Also expect more adventures in Sharkie, and what it was like during the start of COVID in New Zealand.

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S/V Shawnigan is for Sale with a broker in Whangarei, New Zealand (Sold!!!!)

Christian made it safely up to Marsden Cove Marina, where Shawnigan has been tidied up hauled out and placed in the hand of a broker to sell (link to come soon) to some lucky person/family.

The sail up the east coast was pretty much as to be expected around these parts of New Zealand, with gusts into the 50’s off of Castle point. 2-50 in 30 seconds kind of situation. The East Cape was slightly better, but not much. He thankfully had crew, Nick from Mana to Napier, and Jamie, from Napier to Whitianga (Coromandel). Of course… he did manage to surf both in Napier and in Whitanga. A very much deserved farewell gift for him. From Whitianga, he just had an over nighter to arrive with the right tide and current into the Whangarei heads.

After catching up on some much needed sleep, Christian spent almost the whole week straight cleaning up the boat, going for a sail to take drone photos, and sorting out a bit of last minute departure details for himself. He also managed to fit in a few social events with friends we know from up there.

Hi Deb!
Hi Deb and Phil from SV Costal Drifter

A special shout out to the crew (Nick and Jamie) for pulling through, swapping their lives around and helping Christian and Shawnigan get up the east coast of New Zealand safely.

As for myself and the kids, we’ve been doing a little local sightseeing during the school holidays and then they have one more week of school and I have 6 more shifts of work before we fly out to California to reunite with Christian.

Suwarrow – Cook Islands

From Maupiti we set sail for Suwarrow, not certain that we would actually stop there. 5 days and 700 miles later, we made landfall  August 22nd, 2018.

Suwarrow is one of the most northern of the 15 Cook Islands, which are self governing, but in free association with New Zealand. Its a bit out of the way, but on the way to Tonga. We had the option of going the rhumb (straight) line from Maupiti to Tonga, take the more southern route to Palmerston, or take the more northern route to Suwarrow. Most of our cruising friends that left before us went to Suwarrow and raved about it. A few went to Palmerston, but history has it as a fair weather only stop, and the weather was not predicted to be so fair.  And rather than doing a straight shot 1,200 miles to Tonga, we opted to aim toward Suwarrow, keep and eye on the weather and as long as it was looking good to stop, we would.

Sail by the wind Jellies that we caught
and released. Their real name is Velella Velella . Also known as sea raft, by-the-wind sailor, purple sail, little sail, or simply Velella .

Our departure from Maupiti was seamless. We made it out the pass and turned west. The wind was great, perfect for the asymmetrical. We had her flying for a while, it was smooth sailing.  Then the wind started to pick up and as I was saying to Christian that we should probably take down the A-sail, we heard a tearing sound. The sail completely tore down the center and across the top. We quickly got it down and unfurled the jib.  The unfortunate part of this, besides loosing our A-sail, was that we had already took down our 150 genoa sail and exchanged it for the 120. The shape of our 120 is great and it made for a more comfortable sail, but our speed wasn’t what it could be if we had the 150 out. No matter though, the next day the wind picked up more and the 120 was more than enough. We made it to Suwarrow. The wind was strong as we came in. Bajka was already there, as well as La Cigale.

Good night sun and good bye asymmetrical 😦

The Island was beautiful! We had heard that it was watched over by two Rangers (caretakers), Harry and John. We got a very warm welcome from these two men, when they motored their skiff out to our boat to check us in to the country. After talking with them we learned that they get brought in on a supply ship with supplies from one of the southern islands called Rarotonga, the largest Cook Island, and stay for 6-7 months at a time without re-supply.  These two rangers were so awesome. They had the best attitudes, and were so kind to share “their space” with us cruisers. Many nights they allowed us to have potlucks and bonfires on the beach and would join us for the fun. Most nights included musical jam sessions as well, so we heard…

We ended up staying for only one night. We arrived in the morning, checked in, stayed the night and then left the next afternoon. The weather window looked good to leave and we didn’t want to risk getting stuck there for 3 weeks with the limited provisions we had left, plus another 700 mile sail. As soon as we arrived, Bajka and LA Cigale came to pick up the kids to do the Geocaching activity that was started a month or so earlier by another sailing family on S/Y Moya.

So after a evening potluck with music, and a morning of checking out the island, learning a bit from the rangers about the local medicinal plants, checking out the local feeding frenzy of sharks, then checking out of the country, we set sail for Tonga.

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