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Day 1,302 - Opua, NZ (35° 18S 174° 07E)
14:30hrs - December 23rd 2010
A Wild Ride

My passion is sailing, I love it, and one of the best parts of a cruising lifestyle are the people you meet along the way. Strangers that quickly become friends. People who are willing to share their passion,
their experiences and, at least for a brief time, their lives with you.

In the week we've been back in Opua, waiting for fridge components to arrive and the rain clouds to wither, we've spent time with Mitch, a local culinary artist whose passion is life, food and her adorable part dingo puppy Poppy. We've met Russell, an old salt who has more stories to tell than Joshua Slocum, and whose passion is adventure. He built the R. Tucker Thompson, a tall ship that he sailed around the world and in 1986-1988 was part of the Australian bi-centennial First Fleet re-enactment. And we've met Chloe Phillips-Harris, her passion is wild horses.

Since finishing her studies, Chloe has dedicated herself to working with horses, particularly the feral horses of the wild ranges of Kaimanawa - a remote and untamed region in the middle of New Zealand's north island. Chloe is a full time horse rider, she rescues and trains horses from the wild, she competes, and in her spare time, she teaches others.

For years I've wanted to ride a horse - not a gentle stroll around a petting zoo, but rather an exhilarating, loose your hat, 30 mph gallop. A Far and Away moment. So yesterday afternoon, with the rain clouds blown to our east leaving the skies blue and the grass dry for the first time in a week, Catherine and I drove up the Chloe's 70-acre farm, complete with pine forests, rolling hills, a bubbling brook and lots of happy horses.

For an hour Chloe had me ride with Ali, a 15-year old western or 'cowboy' horse, and like my surfing lessons in Tahiti, I quickly realized that it's not quite as easy as the professionals make it appear. The challenges of keeping ones heels down, staying upright, tight, yet with 'spaghetti legs', looking forward, relaxing your arms, moving with the horse and staying low in the saddle was all rather overwhelming. But near the end of our lesson there were a couple of brief moments when I was doing everything (almost) right, I was in rhythm and one with my horse. And even though I never did manage to ride like the wind, which was perhaps too much to expect after just an hour, I was cantering around like a breeze. So thank you Chloe (and Ali) for your help, patience and expert instruction, and we'll see you in a few months for another lesson.

To learn more about Chloe and her Wild Horse Project, visit her web site at: www.wildhorseproject.blogspot.com or click here to send her an email.

 

 




 


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Day 1,298 - Opua, NZ (35° 18S 174° 07E)
18:47hrs - December 19th 2010
It's A Wonderful Life

Our last posting rattled on about warm sunny days with leaping dolphins and amusing little blue penguins which I know are very tiresome to read about if you are under feet of snow and freezing in a northern hemisphere winter, as most of our family and friends are right now, so you’ll be pleased to hear it’s raining, and there is a chance we will actually have a white Christmas here after all!  But not a snowy white Christmas, more of a foggy white one. 

It has actually been raining here for longer than I would like to say and the Dickensian fog part has been interesting, but on top of that it appears that it may all stay like this for the holidays.  Bleagh and yuck!  Oh yes, and the fridge packed up, so we are feeling a bit damp and fridgeless at the moment,  but Neville of course has turned our collective frown upside down and has been busy working away on useful projects including installing the new fridge bits, that now we have extra time in a marina, we can get to.

So despite being damp, fridgeless and busy with projects it is still without doubt a very wonderful life. (Although a little more sun would be nice!)

 

Dream Time: Installed rocker switch in cockpit for anchor windlass control. Removed old Adler Barbour fridge compressor / evaporator box, installed new BD50 Isotherm compressor and box. Relocated MOB alarm to central position in cabin. Changed engine oil and all filters (total engine hours 2,398).





 
 


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Day 1,288 - Whangaroa, NZ (35° 02S 173° 44E)
15:22hrs - December 9th 2010
Summer Holidays

Hard to believe England is under feet of snow right now and New York is freezing but here in the north of New Zealand it feels oddly like summer, because oddly it is! I still can’t quite get my mind around it being summer in December, but I’m happy that it is and that we’re able to enjoying a lovely warm summer holiday sailing, in the middle of December!

When we arrived in New Zealand last year we had spent the previous 3 years working our way through the western Caribbean, Central America and lots of tiny islands across the Pacific, so New Zealand was this wonderland of all things decadent and western, and we spent no time in getting ourselves ashore to enjoy it all, but this time back in NZ after just 5 months in Fiji, we’ve decided to stay firmly on the water and on the boat, and are finally exploring the warm, relaxed and ridiculously pretty northland, by sea.

I’m happy to report that the Bay of Islands, the Cavalli Islands and Whangaroa are all gorgeous.  Today we are in Rere Bay which is tucked way up inside Whangaroa Harbor where we spent our day hiking up to the perilous ‘Duke's Nose’ and exploring the inlet by dinghy.  But when we got back to the boat we were just musing about how quiet and remote it felt and how isolated from the world you could be in here with no cell phone or radio signal, when a large grey police patrol boat motored up to us to say hello, and to make sure we had done all the requisite entry paperwork in Opua!

Not so remote after all I guess, but still lovely.

 

Dream Time: Lengthened galley propane hose. Installed camcleet for cutter sheet. Installed clear fire-inspection access port to engine compartment.






   
 


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Day 1,280 - Opua, New Zealand (35° 18S 174° 07E)
18:33hrs - December 1st 2010
G'Day From New Zealand

And here we are again, back in the land of kiwi’s, and it’s lovely.  But I have to say we’re still feeling pretty worn out after one of the roughest passages we've had to date.

I usually manage pretty well with most of the day to day bits and pieces required to make a normal offshore passage comfortable, but this time, the particular combination of strong head winds and the tall waves they produced rendered all but the most essential activities challenging, complicated and unlikely. Sleep was elusive and uncomfortable as it was rather like trying to sleep on a horse at full gallop jumping fences, and food preparation and cooking, well that very quickly lost any appeal.  Fortunately I had pre-cooked several meals before we left so mostly all that was required was heating and eating, which of course like everything else on this passage, had to be a one handed affair to ensure the other hand was free to hang on to something.

To give you an idea of what it was like, imagine tilting your home over about 45 degrees, throw a lot of salt water over it and then bounce it up and down vigorously for 4 days and nights while trying to do what you would normally do, it was pretty much like that. Has to be said, not altogether my favorite passage. But we did make it into New Zealand incident free and in one piece, and as far as I'm concerned, that makes it a resounding success.