It is always a special moment when you pull up your anchor and leave a port, specially if you have spent such a long time as we have here in New Zealand from were we will probably be leaving in 2 days towards Fiji We have spent 5 ½ months in this beautiful country having had great experiences and have shared many discoveries with new and old friends.
What we are proud of: to see how quick our kids integrated in Whangarei School. Luna, Noa and Nils spent two months at school. All three had great teachers. Nils has learned how to speak and even started reading and writing in English , he has made lots of friends and has had a great relationship with his teacher Mrs. D. Noa, participated a lot in school, she started being a little shy and ended up having lots of friends as well, enjoying schooltime very much and even went camping for 4 days with her class to Mount Manaia were she celebrated her birthday!
Luna was happy to be surrounded by friends, loved the Kapa Haka (Maori culture), music and choir. She did well at school and enjoyed having a teacher, classmates and a room away from Lumbaz. Ainara in the meantime went with Ella, a swedish friend from S/Y Breeze to the library. She organized herself like a university student, learning on her own and took the chance to read a lot! One of our highlights: was to spend two days observing the orcas in the Bay of Islands and getting to know them through Ingrid Visser. Last week she generously offered us to join her in her Foundation www.orcafoundation.com where she has her lab and learned about her new projects regarding the study of orcas and their protection. It was fascinating, as she says: “Orcasome!!”.
Time for Lumbaz: we spent 7 weeks working very hard on Lumbaz to prepare her to take us further up Melanesia, Micronesia and hopefully Indonesia and Malaysia. Rigging, works on gel coat, servicing propellers, mechanics, sanding, varnishing, touch ups, polishing, antifouling,… were some of the jobs done on board. Even if Norsand has been a great yard and it is setup for liveaboards, it is still a yard.
Living so many weeks without a fridge, having to climb up and down a ladder to use a bathroom made launching Lumbaz back in the sea a very special and happy moment.
Surprises. Dani left us for 10 days for a quick trip to Spain (considering that you need 2 days to get there and 2 to come back). With jet lag, the flu, and some work he had to do for his ex company he was really busy and had little time. In the meantime cyclone Pam got further South than anybody thought initially, hitting New Zealand’s coastline. The reason to come to NZ and spend these months here is partially to avoid the cyclone season of the tropics but sometimes it happens that a cyclone ventures himself a lot further south and in this case Pam paid us a visit.
So we had to prepare Lumbaz, still on the hard so she wouldn’t start sailing on land. She was secured, all tided up on deck and outside just in case the river flooded. Gérard from Blue Note, our friends that lie next to us helped going through the boat and make sure everything was Ok. At one stage we expected 60 knots. Dani came back just in time, flying over the cyclone in a rough flight where they even couldn’t serve dinner and flew into Auckland hours before they shot down the airport and got home just before the afternoon where the biggest winds and rain were expected. At the end it didn’t blow that hard and everything was fine but we got all ready just in case. Unfortunately Cyclone Pam did a lot of destruction in Vanuatu.
Sadness We got the incredibly sad news of one of our uncle’s loss on a plane that went down in the French Alps. Being far away from the family, when all you want is to grieve and hug together is hard. All we could do is bond together, felt very vulnerable for a time and learn to accept fate.
Our great trip to South Island where we got to know New Zealand’s other half. The farm land, the glaciers of the west coast, the Southern Alps, new animals like Albatrosses and penguins and great encounters with people like Gaye and Bruce Lamb who hosted us a night.
Family time: we were happy to spend some time with family that visited us on board and specially celebrating Christmas in a beautiful house all together. Those moments were precious. We also will always remember how we all got the chance to swim for two hours with a big pod of dolphins in the Bay of Islands. We had a great time as well with Ingrid, Glenn and the girls with whom we fished the biggest snapper we could have imagined or the weekend with Kim and Jack in Omaha.
History moments: we took the chance to take several field trips to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the treaty between the Maori and the Bristish was signed, which represents the founding moment of modern New Zealand. We tried to understand the pioneer settlements of the Europeans and to get to know the present social and political issues, which in part date back to 1840, when the Waitangi Treaty was signed. We also joined the crowds for ANZAC day that commemorates those who died serving New Zealand during war and it honours returned servicemen and women, past and present.
Time to leave: Winter is settling in New Zealand. With it comes a fair amount of rain, chilly
weather and specially frequent visits of arctic low pressure systems, storms, that rise from the far South and cross New Zealand West to East. You do not want to get caught in one of those and boy, they do move fast !! We have one hitting NZ on Monday, a second one on Wednesday. But before that there will be a little window, which we will try to use to gain enough distance between us and NZ to not get slammed by the storms. We have an appointment with the Customs official on Saturday morning to clear us out of the country. We hope to be able to tell you with brief messages how we are doing and you will be able to follow our route on :
Now we will have to start thinking again which way to go, and as you might appreciate, opinions are quite diversified.