We’ve actually been aboard AVATAR for nearly a month and our visit to New Zealand is at an end. This trip has probably offered the worst overall weather since we started cruising in 2004! Apparently La Nina has had an adverse effect; what is the height of summer here in New Zealand has felt more like mid winter in Tucson (something we were trying to escape). I can count the warm sunny days on one hand; mostly we’ve had variations of overcast skies, enveloping fog, wind, chilly temperatures, drizzle, rain, and drenching downpours – and rainbows! Last weekend we were even treated to a meteorological ‘bomb’ – an extreme low pressure system that generated winds clocked up to 65mph on the open ocean.
Which is not to say we haven’t been enjoying ourselves! AVATAR has spent the past several months in the yard at Circa Marine receiving some welcome additions – most notably a stern extension and a get-home engine, plus an assortment of smaller refinements. When we arrived on February 9 Circa was just buttoning up the last of the tweaks. Nick, who is in charge of babysitting AVATAR in our and Rod’s absence, just barely had time to stow the clutter, shine up the interior, and make the boat presentable again before our plane landed in Auckland.
Nick stayed aboard with us for a week or so as we cruised north from Whangarei to our pre-determined headquarters in Opua, dispensing some last-minute advice on anchoring, docking and boat handling in general; then Mike and I had AVATAR to ourselves for the first time ever. We’ve definitely enjoyed the change in our routine and, truth be told, that was the highlight of the trip.
Our day to day activities were pretty ordinary – a hike when the weather cooperated, some star-gazing on the few clear nights, my photography forays, a bit of kayaking – all the usual. On wet days we inventoried the provisions and spare parts, tackled a difficult puzzle, read books, and tried to surf the internet (which was relatively uncooperative – hence no blogs!). What was new for me was organizing and cooking meals in the galley – something that is usually part of Rod’s job description. Also I was in charge of driving the boat when we docked in the marinas while Mike handled the docklines. Mike was in his element exploring and tweaking the electronics, of which we have lots. He put the new get-home engine through its paces and recorded its performance statistics.
In general it was just a nice relaxing break from routine and that’s really what it’s all about!
Following is a quick photo tour of a few of the highlights. Click HERE to play fullscreen.