Day 1,341 - Gulf Harbour, NZ (36° 37S 174° 47E)
18:14hrs - January 31st 2011
Wilma! - Update

We survived!

Actually there's really not much to report. While Wilma was the strongest Cyclone so far this season, as predicted, it lost much of its strength before reaching New Zealand, delivering more rain than wind - in some parts of the North Island almost twelve inches in just twelve hours. So weathering the storm on a boat, it seems, was probably the best decision after-all.

Australia, however, is not as fortunate this cyclone season. The strong La Nina weather phenomenon in the South Pacific (the colder currents to the east pushing the warmer water west) is heating up the southwestern region, which is cooking up a lot of activity and has already dished out five tropical cyclones this season. In fact there are three cyclones heading to the land down under right now - Bianca, Yasi and Anthony. Yasi and Anthony both have their eye set on the Queensland coast, while Bianca is aiming for the southwest region. Yasi is a severe cyclone and is the one to watch out for, it's expected to make landfall early Thursday morning.

The cyclones can be tracked at:


Day 1,337 - Gulf Harbour, NZ (36° 37S 174° 47E)
09:32hrs - January 27th 2011

After a few weeks away from the boat, it seems we've returned to the marina just in time - cyclone Wilma is racing across the South Pacific, leaving
a trail of debris in her wake, and is expected to make landfall here in New Zealand tomorrow!

With maximum sustained winds near 132 mph, Wilma is an impressive category 4 cyclone. She has already tormented American Somoa and Tonga, and is now heading our way.

A NASA satellite captured a photo of Wilma staring up into space - her well defined eye a whopping 10 nautical miles in diameter. She's in an area of the South Pacific that we've traversed three times, sailing from Tonga down to New Zealand and a round trip up to Fiji and back. This particular patch of water feels almost familiar to us now, after-all we've spent over three weeks sailing in the area that Wilma is now churning to whitewater. It's difficult to imagine the calm, blue seas that we experienced on our passages, now transformed to a maelstrom of thirty-foot waves and screaming wind. Where foam, rain and water mix together, blending sea and sky to what must be any sailors worst nightmare.

But with some luck, the cold seawater that we so often complain about down here will dampen Wilma's spirit, and she'll run out of energy before she does any more damage.

But I think we'll double-up on the dock lines just in case.


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Day 1,323 - Gulf Harbour, NZ (36° 37S 174° 47E)
16:30hrs - January 13th 2011
Let's Go Again!

This is exciting! A few days ago Catherine and I drove into Auckland and purchased a chart, specifically, international chart #61 for the South Pacific; a chart that covers a vast portion of the largest ocean in
the world.

Our new chart stretches from longitude 165° east to 110° west, and from 50° to 5° south, an area of over nine million square nautical miles, from New Zealand, New Caledonia and Vanuatu all the way east past Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, the Cook and Society Islands, and ending with Easter Island, which sits alone on the very right hand margin, completely isolated, included on the chart, perhaps more out of compassion than anything else.

We've bought this chart because in a few months Dream Time will sail back east, and I suspect the furthest south she has ever sailed before. Now, we're tropical sailors, we embrace the tradewind coconut milk run, the relatively settled weather and following seas. We're not out here to prove anything. Like our boat name suggests, this trip is pure pleasure. So why would we sail over 2,500 nautical miles back the way we just came, and potentially against the tradewinds? In a word - Tahiti, or more specifically all things French Polynesian: uninhabited atolls, juicy sweet pamplemousse, tikis, drift diving, Bora Bora... you get the idea. So before we continue west, on to Australia, Asia and the Indian Ocean, we're going back for another lap across what many consider to be the best cruising ground in the world, and from what we've seen so far, we would have to agree.

So for the next few weeks while we're in Auckland, we'll be readying Dream Time for her second longest passage ever, one that will swing her east-southeast away from New Zealand, down, but hopefully not too far down, until we find the westerlies, the anti-trades, which we'll ride before arcing north, back up to the tropics, the warm southeast trade winds and, with a bit of luck, Tahiti!

Dream Time: Fitted color anchor chain markers (Made by Osculati). Installed SSB antenna cable stand-offs and cleaned connection to backstay. Installed new 750 gallon/hour automatic bilge pump. Installed smoke alarms in the aft cabin and lazarette.


Day 1,313 - Gulf Harbour, NZ (36° 37S 174° 47E)
12:03hrs - January 3rd 2011
A Happy Kiwi New Year!

Well once again we have sailed into another new year on Dream Time, but in a first for us this year, we are back in New Zealand for another chance to be some of the first folks in the world to say Happy New Year!

It's unusual for us to revisit an already visited country on this journey, we seem to have been pushing forward with our eyes firmly on the next goal for the longest time,  so it's a bit odd to go back somewhere for a second time.  But the second time around here has proven to be a real treat.  Almost everything looks slightly different than I remember, and having a chance to see it all a second time has allowed me to see all kinds of details I missed the first time, and the details here are lovely. 

New Zealand is probably a lovely surprise every time you come here, and our lovely surprise as we were making our way to the anchorage in Kawau Island this time, was a kiwi fisherman pulling up alongside and giving us 10 fresh snapper that he had just caught, but could use as he had too many!  A pretty nice welcome to any anchorage but it got better. We then gave 5 of the pretty pink fish over to the boat next door to us, an 80 foot luxury yacht Eclipse, as even we couldn't eat that many fish, which they then thanked us for by giving us a bottle of chilled Moet champagne!!

So, fresh snapper and chilled champagne given with a wide kiwi smile at sunset, now that's what I call a friendly place.  All those nice things you hear about New Zealanders really are true, just come to Kawau and see.