After three months of living out of a suitcase since we attempted to create a new entry into the lagoon at the Arutua Atoll, I have a “home” for the next three to five months. My appreciation goes out to friends and family who put me up as I “couch surfed” my way around the Bay Area. It was a lot of fun to see everyone back at my home port.
When cruising, the only thing you can be sure of is that nothing goes according to plan, particularly when you are in third world countries. After leaving San Francisco, I spent a week of frustration in Papeete, Tahiti, trying to work out the arrangements to ship “Moonshadow” to Auckland, New Zealand on a container ship, where she will be repaired and refitted. Schedules and prices had all changed from just a few weeks before so it was back to ground zero.
I served a ten-day sentence in Papeete-definitely not my favorite place. The good news is that I was able to catch up with some cruisers that I had met in Mexico who crossed the Pacific a bit later in the season. It was great to catch up with Corrine and Thane on “Shakti” and to get some great advice from Jeff and Judy on “Blue Jay” on how to haggle with the insurance company. “Blue Jay” was dismasted when she was crossing between the Marquesas and the Tuamotus and sailed to Tahiti under a jury rig made from a tree trunk. Ninty days and $90,000 US later she had a new mast, boom furler, rigging and sails as well as a crew happy to be under way and out of the boatyard. Yes fans, this cruising thing is not all fun and cocktail parties! After witnessing a cute puppy get run over by a motorist who didn’t even stop, and a man on a scooter run over and dragged at least 200 feet by a bus, I had had enough so I booked a few days in Moorea at the “antidote for civilization,” Club Med while I waited for my flight to New Zealand.
I arrived in Auckland a week ago and have since rented an apartment, purchased a car (right hand drive), and joined a health club so that I can shed a bit of the good life I’ve been enjoying and get in shape for the next leg of my journey. “Moonshadow” is scheduled to arrive on the 28th of August, and then go into the Salthouse yard about 30 kilometers north of Auckland for repair and refit, so I’ll have a bit of time to get settled in and do a bit of sightseeing before the real work begins. I hope to be in the water and cruising again before Christmas.
Auckland is called “the City of Sails” because of its huge boating community. In fact I was told that there are more boats per capita in New Zealand than in any other country. It’s an excellent place to build, repair or refit a boat. They have a saying here: “Swiss watches, German cars and New Zealand boats.” They really get behind yacht racing as well. A former America’s Cup boat stands as a monument along the waterfront in the Central Business District. Over 100,000 people showed up at the waterfront at 2 am to greet the arrival of the last Whitbread Round the World fleet. This is certainly going to be a great venue for the America’s Cup in the year 2000!
Auckland is a beautiful, hilly city, mostly surrounded by water. Kind of like San Francisco with a British accent. The weather has been quite mild. Even the winter here (yes, it’s winter here) is nicer than summer in San Francisco. It is clean and relatively uncongested, and the Kiwis (as the New Zealanders call themselves) are very friendly and helpful. Prices are about the same as in San Francisco. Cappuccino $2.50, sandwich $5.00, dinner $20, decent hotel $100 a night, etc. The good news is that we get two Kiwi dollars for one US dollar! New Zealand is a no tipping zone, so it’s kind of like getting a 50% discount on life down here. It works out to be about a 75% discount from Tahiti. This, combined with great cruising ground and availability of almost everything for a boat, make it an excellent cruising destination.
The US and New Zealand are definitly two countries seperated by a common language. The official language is English, but between the accent and different word usage, I find my usual response is “pardon me?” Here are a few examples of what I mean: mozzy=mosquito, brolly=umbrella, shout=round of drinks and ozzy=Australian person. I’m still in search of a US-New Zealand dictionary.
Thanks to Barbie and Janice who are temporary foster parents to MaiTai till I can get her back on board for the “world tour.”