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Day 1,455 - Opua, NZ (35° 12S 174° 12E)
14:37hrs - May 25th 2011
Yes, We're Still Here

Absolutely, definitely, positively, for sure, without the shadowiest shadow of a doubt we will be sailing out of New Zealand eventually, but not apparently yet, jeeze louise! 

After waiting in Opua for what seems like an age for the weather to take us east, we actually almost left last weekend but the weather pulled a fast one at the last minute and changed its mind.  In fact it did it just as we were finishing up all our customs departure paperwork , suddenly the wind was reported as gusting up to 50 knots with thunderstorms, after it had promised something quite different the day before.  So we decided to change our minds too, and stayed put. 

We rented a car (again) and took a little country road trip up north to take one more look at the pretty countryside that has now become so familiar to us.  We booked into a little hotel with a huge bath and a huge TV and spent a few days enjoying the decadent delights of life on land, while keeping a quiet eye on our capricious friend the weather. 

Well its Wednesday now, and we have a tentative eye on Friday, but I'm not going to say anything other than I'm crossing my fingers, which is about as much influence as I can wield over the weather gods.  Wish us luck and perhaps if you know any weather gods, you could put a good word in for us?

TRAVEL TIP: If you find yourself in this corner of the world looking for the perfect place to stay, we highly recommend the Acacia Lodge in Mangonui. Located on the water in Mill Bay, and offering a pool, spa baths, WiFi and Sky TV, it provides all the essentials (and luxuries) for the weary traveler.

Thank you Marilyn and Roger for making us feel so welcome.

 
 



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Day 1,446 - Opua, NZ (35° 12S 174° 12E)
07:45hrs - May 16th 2011
Happy To Be Here

You may have noticed that the radar 'blip' on our home page hasn't moved very far, don't bother hitting your 'refresh' key, because it hasn't moved at all - we're still in Opua.

Yesterday we spent the day putting our sail covers back on, stowing the leecloth, the jacklines, and decommissioning the boat. And now, a day after our intended departure, sadly we're beginning to consume all the produce and supplies we purchased specifically for our passage.

You see we decided to stay in New Zealand, not permanently, we hope, but long enough for another weather-window. The system we were hoping to ride out to Raivavae disintegrated into a mess with forecasts predicting gusts up to 50 knots, squalls and unsettled seas. So we figured as we've waited this long for a descent window, we might as well wait a little longer, after all, we're not in a hurry, we're cruisers!

As disappointed as we are, we can't very well complain; 'Oh, I feel so sorry for you, having to spend another week relaxing in New Zealand on a sailboat before you sail to Tahiti - that sucks!'

So despite the inconvenience, we're still very happy to be here.





 


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Day 1,443 - Opua, NZ (35° 12S 174° 12E)
20:05hrs - May 13th 2011
Surf's Up!

The sail covers are off and we're going surfing! A wave of low pressure is forecast to roll across New Zealand, bringing some much needed westerly winds, so in a day or two we hope to be riding its northern edge... to Ravaivae!

After spending so long sailing in and out of New Zealand, it's just a little difficult to believe that this time, when we sail across the Bay of Islands, we won't be returning. We won't be anchoring for the night off Roberton Island, or coastal cruising down to Auckland, but that we will keep going, past Pahia, Russell, across the bay, and far out to sea.

For three weeks our world will be in constant motion. We will wake in the darkest hours to begin a night watch, analyze weather, adjust sails. We'll try to stay warm, sleep in a bunk that rolls and pitches, finding sleep, in the beginning at least, through exhaustion. The first few days are the hardest, but after 72 hours our bodies will (hopefully) adjust, we'll settle into a routine, we will relax, and to the surprise of many (most of which are our fellow cruisers) we will actually enjoy ourselves. That's right, we like passages!

For me it's the combination of the challenge, the adventure, and the exhilarating freedom of it all. I feel alive out there. There are no rules on the ocean, mankind is not the boss, mother nature is. You have no control, yet at the same time, total control. You are on your own, and can rely only on yourselves.

Of course I feel this way now, after a piping-hot shower, in a nice steady warm cabin with 8-hours of sleep behind and ahead of me snuggled-up in a cozy bed with my wife, but when the reality settles in out there, I may just feel a little differently. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.





   
 


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Day 1,431 - Opua, NZ (35° 12S 174° 12E)
10:30hrs - May 1st 2011
Departure Lounge

Dream Time is grounded along with the rest of the cruising fleet in Opua. The quarantine dock, an area usually reserved for those entering the country, is now almost full with those trying to leave, and the marina is overflowing with cruisers. It feels a little like we've arrived at the airport, with our luggage in tow and passports in hand ready to begin a journey, only to find travelers camping out in the departure lounge because every flight has been cancelled.

The weather down here, at a time when most cruisers are anxious to head back to the tropics, is being less than cooperative. We've got rain, driven by thirty knots of wind blowing through the marina, and out there, on the open ocean, winds are gusting over fifty knots are piling seas into thirty foot waves. It's not a great time to begin a passage.

A series of lows, highs, ridges and troughs are producing less than favorable conditions, and while I may not fully understand all the intricacies of these weather systems (does anyone?) I do know the basics - that sailing headfirst into 30 knot northeasterly winds is a bad idea. So we'll spend the next few days lounging around on Dream Time waiting for the weather to clear, which we hope is sooner rather than later, because it's starting to get a little chilly down here!

Dream Time: Fitted new sound insulation in engine room. Installed new LED lights throughout cabin. Changed transmission fluid.