Tuesday, March 31, 2009

On your mark, get set........(almost ready to go!)

Malachi front and center in the Town Basin, Whangarei

Busy-Busy-Busy that best describes the past week here in Whangarei. While I've been busy provisioning, packaging and preparing food for the passage, Jay's been busy crossing a number of little jobs off the 'to do' list. Getting ready to go to sea is alot of work!
Yesterday, I cleaned the lifelines and the stainless stanchions while Jay bleached the teak toe rails and scrubbed the deck! Malachi has never looked better.

I think we're all feeling ready to go and are getting a little antsy waiting for the weather to cooperate. The high pressures are slowly moving north which is perfect for us, but they're still down around 38 degrees south so our initial route as we depart New Zealand will be SE even though our destination is NE, ahh such is sailing. Jay has been brushing up on his celestial navigation math and is making great progress. Hopefully we will not have to depend on the stars to bring us home safely, but it's always good to have a back up plan. Each of the three legs of our passage home to Vancouver is approximately 2,400 miles and will take between 2-3 weeks. This means, that we'll be at sea for most of the next three months! Our plan is to stop in the Australs at the beautiful island of Tubuai, part of French Polynesia, to rest and relax before stopping at Tahiti to pick up some fresh supplies. Then we'll be off to Hawaii!

BUT...it's not ALL work. We have had our share of fun times as well. Last weekend, there was a special event as part of Whangarei's 'Endless Summer' celebration, an open air cinema! We went both nights to watch a movie in the park. Friday we saw the Kiwi flick 'Show of Hands' and on Saturday it was 'The Tale of Despereaux', the park was packed!

The kids have been looking for boredom busters and spent one whole afternoon creating, editing, producing and showing their own movie 'Daily Park News'. They all worked together and did a great job on this funny look at the local park. Be sure to check it out at:
DPN Cast and Crew: Maya, Jenny, Jocelyn, Eitan, Kyle, Grant, Jared

While hanging out at this most excellent playground, the girls met up with a group of local kids. They've really enjoyed spending time with them and learning some of the unique Kiwi phrases like 'keen as...'. The girls stayed for dinner on Saturday night then they all went to the open air cinema together, fun fun fun!

Jessica, Jenny, Liz, Jocelyn - spaghetti dinner on Malachi

And our friends from Austria are back in town and Dionne and I went over to Ahu for 'coffee' one morning, all I can say is WOW! Those Europeans sure know how to do coffee! Fresh apple pie, coffee, champagne, oj, chicken, sundried tomatoes etc. Jacqueline, you're amazing!

Me, Jacqueline & Dionne on Ahu

Peter and Jacqueline from Ahu

We've sure been feeling the chill lately as Autumn has arrived. At the cinema, we were all wrapped up in blankets and wearing our New Zealand beanies. One morning, Jenny was so cold she bundled up in like form to do her school work!

The days always start with school

Well, I've sure talked alot about Whangarei and thought I'd include a couple of new pictures for you all to see. The marina is located near the head of the Whangarei River, where a bridge crosses at the narrow to link to the opposite shore. We are on the south side of the river, where boats tie alongside the esplanade while the north shore boasts docks and pile moorings.
Malachi in front of the Marina office, restaurants and gazebo

Looking east from the bridge - Malachi is on the right

As you can see, we're tied to the dock right in front of a big gazebo on the esplanade, this has resulted in many wonderful conversations with visitors to the marina. This morning, the first rainy day in a very long time, we were visited by a group of local primary students. We could hear them outside trying to pronounce 'Malachi' and talking about our boat, so I went out to visit with them. The kids loved my accent and were thrilled to meet Jocelyn and Jenny and had all kinds of questions for them about our travels. I gave them some Canadian pencils, which they were very excited to receive, and they sang us a thank you song! It was a lovely experience. Instead of 'Miss' they called me 'Fire' which is the Maori equivalent, it was wonderful to hear them all say 'thank you Fire' as they continued on their way.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fresh Figs and Fancy Frocks

We had a couple of firsts today aboard Malachi.

Since Autumn is upon us, there are wonderful new fruits and vegetables to try, so we started our morning with a packet of fresh figs...mmm!

While I was driving to the market, the 'for sale' sign in our car was spotted and with some luck and persistence, the people following me managed to put together the right combination of numbers to reach us. Happy, they liked our car and bought it! It's a good deal for them as it really is a great car and it's great timing for us to have the car sold. Everything is so close to the boat in Whangarei that we can easily manage on foot.

We've gotten used to the wheel on the right, but I imagine you'll all find it odd. Jocelyn will really miss driving but will have fond memories of her first car and learning to drive on the the left side of the road and the right side of the car.
As dinner time drew near, we were taken in by a bride and groom and their wedding party, who had come down to the harbour to have their photos taken. Since Malachi was the backdrop for many of their photos, I invited them to have some photos taken aboard. It was fun to see all the beautiful people having such a nice time at the end of a special day.
Congratulations Tracy and Jai!
Just couldn't resist the Titanic pose!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Work, work, work!

After a nice Australian vacation, it was time to get down to the nitty gritty and get some big boat chores done. The biggest job was to clean and paint the bottom of the boat.

Now, I know all you fellow boaties know how this is done, but for the benefit of our landlubbing friends, I'll attempt to explain a little. In order to get Malachi out of the water, we need to drive her into a man made, rectangular, boat sized bay. There is a huge lift that straddles the bay. Heavy straps are submerged before the boat drives over them, then they are cinched up against the hull just in front of and behind the keel. The 70 ton lift then hoists us out of the water then drives over to a wash bay where a pressure wash can be done to remove excess slime and growth. FYI, Malachi weighs 23 tons, about the same as 5 1/2 full grown African elephants!

Then it's off to our temporary home in the yard. A steel cradle constructed of heavy I beams and metal arms and pads, supports the boat which rests on the keel while on the hard. Extra supports are put in place since we still live aboard during this time, using a ladder to get on and off. Not so bad, except when you have to use the bathroom!

We came out just before the wind picked up.

Wet sanding all the rough spots

One last rinse before the primer

Jenny cleaning the shaft

Jocelyn on prop detail

We were out of the water for a total of six days during which time, we scrubbed, scraped, sanded and painted the bottom. Jay put alot of effort into polishing the hull too, now Malachi looks better than ever!

Malachi on the cradle, with the bottom all done

Looking good! Jay adds the last bit of paint to the resting points

Off come the slings and we're good to go!

Now we're back in our slip in Whangarei, home-sweet-home, at least for the next three weeks or so. Malachi will be setting sail once again around the beginning of April as we start the long trip home to Vancouver.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Brisbane, Barrier and Beyond

(ok, it's actually back,but beyond sounds better)

The drive north from Coffs Harbour to Brisbane consists of a good windy highway through mostly forested area, it was so nice to get a glimpse of the farmlands and ocean as we approached the coast just south of Brisbane. As you can see, the vegetation is a little different from that in NZ, but it's very beautiful.

Red police car in Brisbane

Brisbane is a big city, not unlike Vancouver, but everything, it seems, is centered around the harbour where multiple ferries and fast cats take you to various points across the water. The city also boasts many bridges, the most notable is the Story Bridge which, like the others, links the north and south shores.

Jenny, Jay & Jocelyn with Story Bridge in the background

Jenny in Brisbane harbour

There is a huge botanical garden in downtown Brisbane which borders the water and we enjoyed a lovely walk along the boardwalk and through the gardens. As you all know, I love taking pictures of flowers and it was here that I was dubbed an 'old person' by a group of teenagers curious about why I was standing in a flower bed taking a picture of a tree. I was shocked! but it won't stop me from continuing one of my favorite hobbies.

While in Brizzy, we took a drive up Mt. Coot-tha for a panoramic view of the city. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed a nice 3k mini-hike to see the art trail. We are always on the lookout for koalas and kangaroos, but have yet to see them in the wild. Mt. Coot-tha stands 287 metres above sea level at the eastern end of the Taylor range. It used to be know as One Tree Hill after the bush was cleared leaving a lone eucalyptus tree standing atop the hill. In 1880, when the area became a public recreational reserve, it was renamed and the name comes from the honey 'ku-ta' which the aboriginal people used to collect in the area.

Marg & Jay at the top of Mt. Coot-tha

Aboriginal style art at Mt. Coot-tha

One of Brisbanes latest attractions is the Wheel of Brisbane, a 60 metre ferris wheel with 42 air conditioned cars. The ride offers a comfortable and spectacular view of Brisbane and beyond. Since we had just enjoyed a similar vew from the mountain top, we opted not to fork out the $50 to ride the ferris wheel, and took pictures of it instead.

Wheel of Brisbane

Beautiful walkway on Brizzy's south shore

One of the many public garden areas in downtown Brisbane

Anzac memorial in the center of town

These signs are everywhere, but we didn't see any wild kangaroos on the road.

We were on a mission to drive as far north as possible to facilitate a snorkel trip out to the Great Barrier Reef and after much deliberation, we decided to go as far as the Town of 1770 rather than all the way up to Cairns. It was here that we boarded the Spirit of 1770 for a daytrip to Lady Musgrave island, one of only a few islands located on the Barrier Reef. It was a perfect day, sunny and calm, for a snorkel. We saw lots of coral and some cool fish, but our favorites were the sea turtles!
Lady Musgrave Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The Town of 1770 marked our turning point. On our trip back south, we drove through Bundaberg, where most of Australias sugar is grown, milled and exported. The town is also the birthplace of Bert Hinkler, famous solo aviator, who made his first solo flight from England to Australia in 1928 in 15 days. In 1933, after years of successful flight, he left England once again, bound for Australia, but his plane went missing early in his flight. He and his plane were later found in Itlay and by order of Benito Mussolini, he was burried in Florence with full military honours. Bundaberg has an aviation museum in honour of its hometown hero.

Sugar cane growing in Bundaberg

Since we'd already visited Brisbane, we opted to stop in Mooloolaba, a city about an hour north of Brisbane. We loved it here! We had a beautiful waterfront hotel that looked out over the marina. Mooloolaba is on a narrow peninsula, so there are beaches all around and they've built up a really pretty esplanade with restaurants and boutique shops which made for a nice afternoon stroll.

I had spotted the Peanut Van on the drive north, but since it's claim to fame is 'the worlds best and freshest peanuts' we just had to stop on the drive south. We tasted all different flavors, settling on chill-lime and sweet and salty. MMMM!

The Peanut Van

Next it was back to Coffs Harbour, which we enjoyed so much on the way up. This time, we visited the famous Big Banana!

From Coffs, we detoured off the main highway to the farming community of Booral, where we stayed with Rod and Barbara, parents of Elizabeth from Shambala. They, very generously, hosted us for two days and showed us around their huge property. We loved learning about the various farm chores that are done everyday and we also enjoyed the animals, especially the dogs and cats. Rod and Barbara have a herd of cattle, sheep, goats and chucks (chikens for you Canadians) as well as three huge Maremma dogs and one herding dog. Bundy, the hearder, loved chasing the stick and the girls loved playing with him.

Welcome to the farm!

Rod and Barbara's farmhouse

Bernardo, guard dog or welcoming committee?

Jocelyn & Tabitha, she looks like Zoe

Jenny and Bundy

Jay & Bernardo

Jay, learning from Barbara, how to move the electric fence

These are some hungry cows!

Aussie Chucks!

We drove in to Newcastle and did some sightseeing. Pretty harbour city! It was here that we visited the famous Harry's Cafe de Wheels. Harry's began in the late 1930's when it's founder realized an absence of late night 'good eats'. The location in Newcastle is one of the last tram cars to run in Sydney. Harry's has become a National icon and has been visited by many celebrities (other than us!) such as Frank Sinatra, Robert Mitchum, Marelene Dietrich, Kerry Packer and more recently, Sir Richard Branson, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Brook Shields, Pat Rafter, Olivia Newton-John, Jerry Lewis, Billy Crystal, Pamela Anderson, Sara O’Hare, Lachlan Murdoch, Kerri-Anne Kennerley, Adrian Greiner, Anthony Bourdain and Peter Blakely. All come in search of Harry's famous pies and peas, a mince pie topped with mashed potatoes and peas and covered in gravy - a delicious messy meal.

Harry's Cafe de Wheels, Newcastle

Newcastle Harbour

Newcastle Ocean Baths

Just before tea on our last night on the farm, Rod took us out for a farm tour in one of his many vintage cars. Us girls had a riot riding up top but had to keep our mouths closed to avoid eating too many of the the mozzies that show up at dusk. It was really funny, Bundy was told to stay behind and was closed in behind the gate at the house, but when we reached the Peppercorn Anchorage, 2 km down the way, he was there to greet us! We got to see a couple of kangaroos in behind the garage but they were too far away for a good picture, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Ready to go on the farm tour

Rod and Barbara, we can't thank you enough for your kind hospitality. We really enjoyed meeting you both and visiting your beautiful home.

So now, we had to make our way back to Sydney for our early flight out. We stopped in Manly, on the north shore of the Sydney harbour to get a picture of the city and hopefully the Opera House, but it was cloudy and we couldn't figure out where to go for that Opera House pic. Manly was buzzing with activity even though it was a Sunday. Throughout our stay in Australia, surfers were a common sight, it's not unlikely to see them walking along the streets with their boards or riding their bikes with special board brackets.

Some Manly men

Never seen a sign like this before!

Our last experience in Sydney, was a visit to Hillsong Church. It was so busy, but we were welcomed by several people to their 'live recording' service. It was quite exciting to see all the cameras and lights set up for this special event and, as usual, the music and worship were excellent! We'll look forward to getting the new CD when it comes out.
Getting ready for the start of the service

Extreme worship!