Saturday, April 30, 2016

Not Quite-Fiji-Bound NZ Anniversary

Estuary creek, just outside Marsden Cove,
New Zealand.  Note the striped towers of
Marsden Point port and refinery in
the distance.  Our walk turnaround point.
"Happy 11th Anniversary, Wayne!"; this morning's Marsden Cove Marina toast, aboard the good ship Journey.

Last year this time we hiked up to a hilltop resort restaurant Hiva Oa in the French Marquesas for a special sunset anniversary dinner; our 10th since we became “an item.”  The lookout was beautiful.  The swimming pool, lovely.  The screaming children were not.  We opted instead for a toast, a hitched ride back down in the ensuing darkness and eating a splendid albeit far more casual meal from the Hiva Oa food truck.  They do at least serve on regular, not paper plates.

Pampas grass along Marsden Point’s estuary, as ethereal
approaching sunset as beargrass in the Pacific Northwest.

This year, we find ourselves betwixt and between weather windows from New Zealand to Fiji for the next and final cruising season on Journey.  We’re in a sweet little marina, Marsden Cove, even if decidedly in the middle of nowhere.  Unless, maybe you’re into ½ million dollar patches of grass for sale, some with waterside or Whangarei Heads on the horizon views.

Three days ago we arrived here, about 12 miles from Whangarei and 1/100th of our passage to fill up on fuel and water, pump out (don’t ask if you don’t know – trust me) and check out.  But once we checked the weather, we decided going sooner wasn’t worth several days of getting beat up in 25-knot winds and 12-foot waves to get to Fiji.  For $18 NZ (about $12 USD)/night for a slip, we decided after all our getting-ready-to-go frenzy, including selling our car the afternoon before we left, it was worth it to relax for a bit.

Actual flames, from the Marsden Point
refinery torched the sky.  I will miss
New Zealand’s dramatically spiked
cabbage palms, visible in the foreground.
There are walking paths in the area….  We took them past the mangrove-lined estuary, toward the flaming torch of the local Marsden Point refinery to its industrial port at sunset. The air exuded a tinge of bovine presence, along with the more pleasing scent of freshly mown grass and almost minty odor decaying leaves.

As the sun approached the horizon off Marsden Point, New Zealand,
we knew needed to hustle to get back before dark.

This morning we celebrated our anniversary with mimosas and Italian-style potato stir fry, loaded with sopresso salami, bell pepper, onion, garlic, capers, feta cheese and herbes du Provence.  Tonight we’ll take a peek at the elegant port restaurant and probably instead serve up the lamb chops originally intended for passage stew.  It still beats the heck out of getting pounded out at sea on what looks like a nasty passage right now.

Native New Zealand flax and power lines silhouetted against
the sunset near Marsden Cove.  Even the most industrial settings
evoke a beauty of their own, if you’re looking for it.
Indeed, unless the weather forecast changes, we’ll be chillin’ (it is autumn in New Zealand, and a relatively warm one for here if not for our tropics-thinned blood) until perhaps May 10th before the next decent weather window opens to sail the nearly 1170+ miles to Savusavu, Fiji.  We expect that trip, our second longest passage, in our slow boat will take us nearly two weeks.

Certainly, while there are more traditionally romantic ways to celebrate an anniversary, spending time relaxing with my love awaiting our departure to Fiji via our very own sailboat ain’t half bad.

Cheers!  May you find the best possible way to make the most of your celebrations, wherever you are!

Journey, our Pearson 365 sailboat at Marsden Cove, all
loaded up and ready to go for her 4th and final year
of cruising with us.
Location Location
We're still in Marsden Cove (S35.50.235 E174.28.156), New Zealand, waiting for a better weather window to our first major stop - Fiji.  Tomorrow, we're headed to Tutukaka, New Zealand. Once we clear New Zealand customs (probably May 10th, from Opua, Bay of Islands - where we first arrived in New Zealand in November) and set sail, it will take us nearly two weeks to get to Fiji,  at 1170 nm, our 2nd longest ever passage.   

Sailing by the Numbers
Last year, between December 2014 and November 2015 we sailed from Florida USA to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles.  This year, from Fiji, we’ll go to Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Australia.  After we arrive in Australia in around November, completing another 4,500 or so miles this cruising season, we plan to sell our boat.  Then, it's back to work, somewhere.

NZ: "Sweet As" Kinda Kiwi Confections

Lamingtons at Orakei Korako, in New Zealand's geothermal country.
I didn't bite.
What the Heck's A Lamington?
Shortly after arriving in New Zealand, a friend* sent a link to "a list of 60 things we think you should to do while you are in New Zealand," from Jucy, possibly New Zealand's most prevalent camper van rental company.  

*Thanks, AJ Schricker!

Item #37 (and the Jucy folks noted their list was in no particular order) 
"Eat a lamington, oh yeah – you won't look back!" caught my curiosity.  What the heck was a lamington? I wondered.  An eel, maybe?  The name after all sounded a like lamprey to me, whose creepy mouths I recall suctioned to the display window back home in Bonneville Dam's fish ladders.

Imagine my surprise when instead I found out lamington was a cake!  "The Lamington is a small squarish piece of spongecake dipped in chocolate icing and covered in dessicated coconut," duly notes About Australian/New Zealand food expert, Syrie Wongkaew.  I did eventually encounter them in my travels, but decided they didn't pass my sweet calorie-to-pleasure ratio, like an occasional eclair does.

Besides, even wikipedia admits lamington's exact origins are a bit murky, and Australia but not New Zealand's deemed lamington's worthy of their very own national holiday, National Lamington Day.  Really!

Hummingbird cake in Omaru.  Looked yummy but instead
I opted for the bakery's savory pies. 
Hedgehogs, Hummingbirds & Pavlova Oh My!
In Omaru, one of the baked goods that intrigued me when I popped in for my obligatory classic Kiwi road food, the savory pie was the chocolate hedgehog slice.  Likewise the hummingbird.  As neither of these were true New Zealand natives I stuck with my humble pie and didn't indulge.  Oddly enough, one New Zealand nibble I once made in the US and never tried here is the pretty pavlova.

Ok, these little chocolate orange confections
got my vote.

Jaffa - Tasty Treat Or Ugly Acronym?
Another Kiwi confection with a murky lineage is the Jaffa, which just marginally preceded its kissing cousin, the more mainstream Yankee crunchy confection, the M&M by about 10 years.  I first heard about these little crunchy orange coated chocolate balls when we stayed with a local just outside Auckland.  "You know what Jaffa stands for?" smirked Bevan.  "Just another f------ Aucklander!"  Dunedin, New Zealand-based baker Richard Hudson is credited with creations that Cadbury took over.  Cadbury's History claims the Jaffa came out to be chomped on in cinemas, in 1931.

Jaffas - take two, they're small!
Just before leaving New Zealand, I gave Jaffas a try,  as I'm fond of the chocolate-orange taste combo.  Like M&Ms, I figured these candy-coated chocolates be good to tropical chocolate-craving treats, a better alternative for hiking snacks, when bar chocolate would melt. More cheap than brand loyal, I went for the cheapest generic bulk ones I could find, and packed them into very small ziploc for better portion control.

Not local, but my new favorite
chocolate bar flavor, found in
New Zealand., though not originated here.
Whose Bar's Best?  Chocolate Champs...
Actually, despite New Zealand's dairy prowess, I side-stepped the whole "who's better, Cadbury or Whittaker?" argument by picking Lindt's dark chocolate bar with lime zest as my favorite.  Cadbury's Old Gold Rum Raisin bars sucked me in before Whitaker had a chance, but it was the Old Gold sale price that prompted my chocolate provisioning cache.  I was curious about the locally influenced flavors, Hokey Pokey, Jelly Top and L&P, but not enough to pay top dollar for chocolates that were milk or white chocolates.  No matter who makes the bars, I'm definitely a dark chocolate aficionado.

And the "Sweet As" Kiwi Winner?
For me, the real New Zealand  sweetie pie winner isn't its sweets, it's savory pies.  I will miss them, though my waist will not!

Location Location
We're still in Marsden Cove (S35.50.235 E174.28.156), New Zealand, waiting for a better weather window to our first major stop - Fiji.  At 1170 nm, our 2nd longest ever passage. Once we clear New Zealand customs (probably several days hence, from Opua, Bay of Islands) and set sail, it will take us about two weeks to get to Fiji.  Well provisioned for items hard to find or expensive in Fiji and Vanuatu (where we'll spend the next 6 months or so), Journey's sitting a bit lower than usual.

Sailing by the Numbers
Last year, between December 2014 and November 2015 we sailed from Florida USA to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles.  This year, from Fiji, we’ll go to Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Australia.  After we arrive in Australia in around November, completing another 4,500 or so miles this cruising season, we plan to sell our boat.  Then, it's back to work, somewhere.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Heart of New Zealand: Anzac Day

Evening falls over Anzac commemorative crosses at Whangarei's Returned Service Association (RSA).
Seemed every New Zealand museum, regardless of focus or size, ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) commemorations were heavily featured.  Perhaps it’s because it’s the 100-year anniversary of “The Great War.” World War I (WWI)’s devastatingly bloody battle at Gallipoli, a flashpoint of recognition of the great sacrifice made by those who lost their lives in the battle.  Many believe Gallipoli unified and oft-divided Kiwi nation across all classes and races in their grief.
Even the ATM sported Anzac poppies. Whangarei's ANZ Bank.
The preponderance of paper poppies caught my attention before I knew what they represented.  Eventually, as paper poppy popped up all over, I put learned about the poppy’s significance as memorial flowers, their inspiration stemming from John McCrae’s touching war poem, “in Flander’s Fields.…”

In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Setting up at the site of Whangarei's dawn Anzac service.

Anzac’s managed to hold true to its intent by deliberately resisting “Monday-fication” that dilutes so many holidays.  However, by luck of the draw, we happened to be in New Zealand when Anzac fell on a Monday. 
Anzac service underway, complete with sign language translator at the lower left, and color guard, upper right.
Whangarei, Northland, New Zealand.

“Meet me at the ablution block at 5 am if you’d like to join me for the dawn service,” Litara said.  Litara’s Western Samoan by birth, though she’s lived in New Zealand many years and in my definition is as Kiwi as any All Black fan.  Sadly, I don’t consider myself that patriotic, yet I wanted to sense this small but important moment that appears deeply core to the New Zealand identity.
Wreaths are laid in memory of the fallen.  Anzac ceremony, Whangarei, North Island, New Zealand.
Litara, French-Canadian cruiser and fellow walking buddy Louise, and I joined what eventually became a crowd of several thousand who participated by attending the remembrance ceremony.

We were early, watching the speakers, color guard and band set up, well before the parade wended its way from the Returning Service Association (RSA) to the war memorial site where the ceremony was held. 
Anzac ceremony just ending, Whangarei, New Zealand.
“We will remember,” was the message of profound respect conveyed to honor and credit those who gave their lives and thus helped make New Zealand what it is today. 

Whangarei’s Anzac ceremony followed the current, multicultural tradition, 
  • opening with a hymn
  • followed by two brief scriptural readings and prayers
  • a speech from the Whangarei RSA President
  • the naming of the fallen whilst wreaths were laid to the accompaniment of bagpipes
  • concluded with a speaker from the Navy
  • reveille hymn, Sons of Gallipoli
  • drum roll
  • singing of the Australian and New Zealand National anthems, the latter in both English and Maori
  • student marching bands playing as the crowds dispersed

Student marching bands play as the last of the crowd disperses.  Whangarei, New Zealand, Anzac Day.
It was interesting to note the participants did indeed appear cut across all classes and age groups  – with the young in particularly strong attendance.  Death, after all, like life, is one experience we all share. 
Five days after Anzac, this commemorative Maori wreath with frangipani still looks fresh.  Parihaki War Memorial,
Whangarei, New Zealand.
The next day, on our usual climb up Mt. Parihaki, we noticed several wreaths laid at the base of the summit’s war memorial.  Several of the cards accompanying the wreaths were in Maori one even laced with frangipani, fitting as Parihaki is considered a holy place, one now dedicated to remembering those lost in the battles held there long ago. 

From the Talmud, we’re taught, “We live on in the lives of those who knew us.”  In New Zealand, those who fought for their country are indeed well remembered.

As we leave New Zealand, it is with a sense of gratitude to experiencing the wonder of this beautiful country, and more so, the generosity and kindness of it people.  We hope someday to return.

We didn't get too far today, but we did make it out of Whangarei.  
Here, we're  just about to cross under the bridge lift on our way out.

Location Location
As you read this, we’ve just resumed cruising.  We left our pole mooring in Whangarei's Town Basin Marina (S35.43.414 E174.19.539) at 11 am today and pausing overnight 12 nm downriver at Marsden Cove (S35.50.235 E174.28.156), assessing whether weather's good enough, or not yet.  Our first stop's Fiji, ~1170 nm, our 2nd longest ever passage. Once we clear New Zealand customs and set sail, it will take us about two weeks to get to Fiji.

Sailing by the Numbers
Last year, between December 2014 and November 2015 we sailed from Florida USA to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles.  This year, from Fiji, we’ll go to Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Australia.  After we arrive in Australia in around November, completing another 4,500 or so miles this cruising season, we plan to sell our boat.  Then, it's back to work, somewhere.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

NZ’s Most Visited Attraction Outdoors?

Huka Falls first drop-off point.  Eventually will post my video of
the falls so you can hear the mighty roar of its water.
Not edited; water's really this aqua.  Taupo, New Zealand.

Maybe it is. 

It’s free.  The access is quick and easy with two sizeable parking lots, pleasant walkways and several photo-op-worthy viewing platforms. Part of the Waikato River, Huka Falls is only a few hundred meters from Lake Taupo, in the heart of New Zealand’s popular thermal country. 

Waikato River, just above Huka Falls.  Note the shadows
on the bridge, where the photo was taken from.

Most of all, it’s not every day you get to see brilliant aqua water spiked with crisp white foam thundering down a small canyon at 220,000 liters (over 58,000 gallons) a second.  That may be small potatoes compared to the highest volume waterfall of all, Boyoma Falls, formerly known as Stanley Falls, which pumps out over 17 million liters per second.  Then again, how many of us plan to visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo? 

One of several excellent viewing platforms at the
Huka Falls walk.  This one looks back at the
bridge crossing over the Waikato River.
Huka Falls is a beautiful visual illustration of the Venturi effect, as the Waikato, New Zealand’s longest river, narrows from 100 meters to 15 meters before it practically explodes out the canyon into a waterfall, cascading down 35 feet via a series of falls into aqua pools and frothy rapids. A New Zealand website explains, “The effect is nature's large-scale equivalent of a fire hose feeding into a very fine nozzle.”

No wonder the company that manages Huka Falls flow for hydropower is called Mighty River Power!  Mighty River Power provides between 8-9% of New Zealand’s power.  

According to the New Zealand Herald, “Starting at Lake Taupo [the largest freshwater lake in all of Australasia], [the Waikato] runs 425km [264 miles] to the Tasman Sea at Port Waikato.  As [the Waikato] flows north and out to the West Coast. [It] runs through farms, towns and Hamilton, surges over rapids, fills lakes behind eight dams and spins turbines at nine hydro stations that produce electricity for the national grid. Before the dams were built, it took six days for a drop of water to reach the sea from Lake Taupo. Now it takes a month.”

If all that beauty and power isn’t sufficiently dramatic, it might intrigue you to learn that a little over 25 years ago, Huka Falls was the drop site for a kinky celebrity corpse.  Per Wikipedia, “The falls featured in a national scandal in February 1989 when the body of cricket umpire Peter Plumley-Walker was found downstream, with wrists and ankles bound. The resulting investigation exposed the Auckland bondage scene. Dominatrix Renee Chignall was acquitted of his murder after three trials.”

Noticed these balloons on the Waikato River both above and below
Huka Falls.  Were they sent off just for fun?  Or a way to track or
monitor flow direction?  Dunno.
I went to visit Huka Falls when Christina, the same Kiwi who directed us to the fun little New Zealand town of New Plymouth, lit up when she described Huka Falls as “a very special place.”

I agree.  While Huka Falls isn’t the reason to visit New Zealand, if you’re in the Lake Taupo area, it’s a darn fine way to spend a half hour and walk away with a great sense of satisfaction.

My favorite viewpoint at Huka Falls, New Zealand,
on the Waikato River, near Taupo.

Location Location
We're still on a pole mooring in Whangarei's Town Basin Marina (S35.43.414 E174.19.539).  Weather and to-dos-done permitting, we'll likely leave Whangarei as early as April 28th, 2016, for checkout then to Fiji.

Sailing by the Numbers
Last year, between December 2014 and November 2015 we sailed from Florida USA to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles.  Current plan's to resume cruising by this May.  First stop's Fiji, ~1170 nm, which will take us about two weeks to get to once we clear New Zealand customs and set sail.  We plan to sell our boat in Australia, after completing another 4,000 or so miles this cruising season.  Then, it's back to work, somewhere.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

NZ: Expensive Lesson in Marine Repair

Hiva Oa, French Marquesas, after our bow anchor roller
went bye-bye.
Even before I unwittingly snapped off our bow anchor platform in the French Marquesas, Wayne planned to deploy New Zealand’s excellent maritime services to replace it.  Given it was as old as our 39-year-old Pearson 365 sailboat, we knew it was overdue for replacement.  We just wanted it to hang in there a little bit longer.  No such luck.

Wayne used a discarded bow anchor roller to
streamline our Frankfix
.  It definitely helped!
Meanwhile, Wayne gimped together a somewhat sturdy but rusty, pig-iron-based interim solution in conjunction with our existing, but reinforced wooden platform,.  Indeed, with some adjustments, that Frankenfix bow anchor platform setup got us through ~ 5,000 miles -- all the rest of French Polynesia, a Cook Islands stop (where another fix was required), American Samoa, Tonga and, finally, into New Zealand. 

Deja vu, Suwarrow, Cook Islands.
This time our roller was retrieved.
When the time came for our New Zealand haul-out, “the guy” most recommended was heading off on vacation, unsure of when he’d get around to becoming available.  While Wayne mulled over what to do about it, he was also busy with a couple other major projects, including pulling out our engine, and removingour original enclosed-below-the-cockpit fuel tank for replacement.

Then, when we moved fromWhangarei’s Riverside Engine Bay to the stands on the hard, another major,totally unexpected repair sidetracked us, at a worst-case cost of $2,500-$3,000 NZD*.  Since “the guy” recommended to repair our bow anchor platform was still on vacation, we asked the folks (we’ll call them “the boat builders”) who saved our bacon on our unexpected repair about also replacing our bow anchor platform.  Sure, the boat builders said.

*note:  all $ in this post will be in NZD.  To convert to US dollars, multiply by .69, roughly the exchange rate at repair time.

Temporary Frankenfix fix in place again.  Still working 4,000 miles
or so at our repair destination, Whangarei New Zealand.
We figured there were three options on how to replace the bow anchor roller.

  1. Quality timber, which we would either finish ourselves or leave to weather.  This is what our original bow anchor roller was made of.  It lasted nearly 35 years.  Wayne’s time, spent on more pressing engine issues was the primary reason we didn’t insist on this approach, though we considered it a viable one.
  2. Plywood, fiberglass covered.  The primary appeal to this approach for us was we thought it was a solid solution, and would take less of Wayne’s time, but cost less than stainless steel.  We feel it’s a higher maintenance solution than either timber or steel, but still good, and our cost sensitivity factored into our willingness to consider it. 
  3. Stainless steel.  Longest-lasting approach.  Primary reason we didn’t insist on it was we figured it was also the costliest approach.
Wayne shows boat builders what we have
and describes our bow anchor roller
replacement objectives.
In some friendly, informal conversations, Wayne explained our sailboat was built in 1977 and our plan was to sell her in a year.  She is not a high-end boat.  Thus, every time we spend money on her, our focus is on safety and resale. Wayne thought he recalled requesting, before the bow anchor roller work began, to “Keep it to $1,000 or less.  Let us know the best / most affordable approach.”

When the boat builder recommended the fiberglass approach, we assumed it was the most cost effective, viable solution, and would come in at or at least around $1,000.

That’s where we made our two costliest mistakes. 
1.    Nothing was ever put in writing, though there was clarity around the “worst case” on our unexpected repair, $2500-$300.  That project came in at slightly less then the “worst case.”  We thought there was a discussion the total combined bill for both projects could come in for grand total of $3000.  But there were no separate written cost parameters around the bow anchor platform roller alone.
2.    We didn’t research up front the local costs for doing all three solutions before agreeing to what was proposed by the boat builder.  We took it on faith fiberglassed plywood was the most cost effective, viable solution, and would come in at $3000 or somewhere close to that.

This problem – a hole in our hull – prompted
our call to the boat builder for help.
The boat builders did an awesome job on our unexpected repair.  They also did an awesome job on the bow anchor platform roller.

When we were applying the final bottom paint touchups on our boat’s hull, just few hours before it was to return to the water after a month in the yard, we were handed the final invoice.  It came in at nearly $4.500 NZD -- $4,471.46 to be exact.

We were stunned.  Of that, ~$2,100 was for the bow anchor platform.

This project – our engine’s removal, maintenance, repair and return
tapped most of Wayne’s energy while we were in the yard.  Then
again, it’s not good to sail a boat with a gaping hole in its bottom!
Plus our bow anchor roller platform still needed replacement, too.

We then did what we should have done in the first place – local pricing research.

From other reputable local service providers, we were told

  • Option #1, a wood bow anchor roller, would cost about $1,000.  It was the most recommended approach.
  • Option #3, a stainless steel bow anchor roller, would cost about $1,700 - $1,800.
  • Option #2, the fiberglass coated plywood, could be delivered for less, but mostly the feedback we got was it wasn’t the recommended approach.  “Too flash for your older, fiberglass boat with wood trim,” was the feedback.
After much protest, given we weren’t notified of the final cost until it was too late, we counter-offered $3,500.

The boat builder counter-offered $4,000. 

Our original fuel tank getting removed.  In
replacing our original fuel tank Wayne felt
it was “easiest” to pull our engine out first
to make room to pull the old fuel tank and
put its replacement in.  Besides, removing
the engine made it much easier to inspect
and service before returning it.
While we never once took issue with the quality of the boat builder’s service, we did with the invoicing expectations.  Certainly, we understood it was quite possible their fully-loaded costs were justified, albeit unexpectedly high.

When the time came to go to pay, I gritted my teeth, prepared for further negotiation.  I admitted our mistake was not getting a bid in writing and fully researching our options up front, but theirs was in not keeping us informed of the costs in a timely manner. 

The boat builder admitted at the time of our project, they were not monitoring their hours as closely, and now were, even added staff to do so.

Ultimately, the boat builder cared more about my leaving as a happy customer, and agreed to accept $3,500.  I told him I felt that was fair, and believed he probably didn’t, but that I appreciated his doing the right thing from my perspective, as he met me more than halfway.  Did the boat builder make as he claimed “No profit”?  Debatable.

Regardless, we both learned some hard lessons.

Bottom line?  If we had it to do over again, given what we know now, we’d have gone with either stainless steel (best), or (cheapest, yet still good and most appropriate for our boat’s style and vintage) a wood bow anchor roller.   Will what we still provide a strong, viable solution? Yes. 

Old bow Frankenfix bow anchor roller channel on left.
Note the rust?  To right is the old bow anchor platform;
it lasted 38 years.
Would I recommend this boat builder to other cruisers?  Yes, as the quality of their work and service was excellent. In fact, I have recommended them since to other cruisers, with the following caveats:

  1. Boat owners request an agreement around cost parameters in writing up front. 
  2. Boat owners monitor the progress, verifying that it’s within parameters or the work stops until there’s mutual agreement on how best to proceed if the cost are exceeding the parameters.
  3. If there’s more than one solution, ideally, boat owners take responsibility for seeking quotes, from more than one service provide if appropriate, to evaluate the best solution prior to beginning work.

In sailing, when it comes to reefing, if you think you need to do it, you need to do it.  When it comes to best practices in commissioning boat work, if you think you need to do up front and progressive due diligence, you need to do up front and progressive due diligence.  Unlike reefing, even if you don’t think you need to do up front and progressive due diligence, you need to do it anyway.

New fiberglass on wood bow anchor platform.
No more rusty iron channel to guide the chain
over the roller.  Stainless steel skid plate, not
yet installed in this image, to reduce
chain chipping the new fiberglass platform.
Meanwhile, I am grateful. In the end, I felt given the circumstances, our boat builder behaved honorably, even though he no doubt felt it hurt him financially as much or more as it hurt us.

We try to remember we're all in this together.  Boat builders need earn enough to sustainably offer good, quality work.  Cruisers need to find ways to sail safely within our means and share our experiences and best practice advice with other cruisers to support the best and when appropriate, weed out the rest.  Sadly, there’s a reason the term “boat bucks” (1 boat buck = $1,000 expense) came into being.  May your boat bucks be well spent, for your maximum sailing safety and pleasure.

Fixed and ready to splash in Whangarei.
Journey’s keel fiberglass repaired to better
than the original design with extra epoxy
and vermiculite to stiffen up what was
previously an overly deep bilge.
Location Location
We're back on a pole mooring in Whangarei’s Town Basin Marina (S35.43.412 E174.19.539).  Likely we'll leave Whangarei as early as April 27, 2016, with a test run to Opua, then checkout.

Sailing by the Numbers
Last year, between December 2014 and November 2015 we sailed from Florida USA to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles. Current plan's to resume cruising this May.  First stop's Fiji, ~1170 nm.  We plan to sell our boat in Australia.  We've done our best to make sure our boat's in excellent shape for her next owner.